Internet pirates! Unite! You’ve nothing to lose

March 2nd, 2012

Published on Intrepid Report, by Prakash Kona, March 1, 2012.

… If I were just an ‘I,’ it would mean nothing. There are countless others with an ‘I’ attached to their bodies and minds like myself who benefit through piracy. When knowledge is pirated, it is the others who benefit. We get to see movies and download books. We learn for the sake of learning and the learning does not instill in us the artificial need to seek material compensation. Just as I’ve received without having to pay for it I give in equal measure to the world around me.  

I would’ve had to pay an impossible amount of money to read all that I’ve read and to watch all that I’ve watched. The young Marx in the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 says eloquently in the section “The Power of Money in Bourgeois Society,” “The extent of the power of money is the extent of my power. Money’s properties are my—the possessor’s—properties and essential powers. Thus, what I am and am capable of is by no means determined by my individuality . . . I am bad, dishonest, unscrupulous, stupid; but money is honored, and hence its possessor. Money is the supreme good, therefore its possessor is good.” I see no basis as to why we should not be able to acquire and enjoy the best that comes from the world of art, culture and scholarship without bringing money into the picture. There is no reason why money should come between me and what I love. Says Marx: “If you love without evoking love in return—that is, if your loving as loving does not produce reciprocal love; if through a living expression of yourself as a loving person you do not make yourself a beloved one, then your love is impotent—a misfortune.”

It’s an impotence and a misfortune we observe among them who are incapable of rising beyond monetary greed in the attempts to crush piracy because it benefits the corporations at the expense of the ones who cannot pay for these things. One of my favorite Tim Robbins movie is “Antitrust” (2001) which did badly in the United States and was generally not rated well by critics—what do you expect from a nation dedicated to preserving commercial interests over human concerns? I don’t think a movie that attacks corporations blatantly and shows a Bill Gates look alike CEO as a villain is welcome to the media and publishing industries. That is the case however. As the stand-up comedian George Carlin would say they want everything for themselves and nothing for others. When they speak of “life,” they mean their life and not the lives of others. They couldn’t care less for those others.

The argument that not everyone needs knowledge is a flimsy one. There cannot be a monopoly over ideas simply because even the downtrodden classes would like to learn and to know. It is just that they have no access to resources. In the biography of Johnson by Boswell, the great writer makes a similar point. “JOHNSON: ‘Why, Sir, that may be true in cases where learning cannot possibly be of any use; for instance, this boy rows us as well without learning, as if he could sing the song of Orpheus to the Argonauts, who were the first sailors.’ He then caned to the boy, ‘What would you give, my lad, to know about the Argonauts?’ ‘Sir, (said the boy,) I would give what I have.’ Johnson was much pleased with his answer, and we gave him a double fare. Dr. Johnson then turning to me, ‘Sir, (said he) a desire of knowledge is the natural feeling of mankind; and every human being, whose mind is not debauched, will be willing to give all that he has to get knowledge’” … (full text).

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