Re: [rumori] Anti-Capital

Steev Hise (
Mon, 20 Dec 1999 12:29:42 -0800 (PST)

Sun, 19 Dec 1999 found GASK writing:

>>Many of us agree on some common basic points (e.g. "sampling
>>is fun") but some don't go as far as others on some other more extreme
>>points (e.g. the fight for the freedom to sample is part of the fight
>>against late capital).
>I can't say i believe, but i'm waiting to be convinced..
>steev, i presume you are talking about the erosion of individual rights when
>they come up against the all-conquering corporate machines.

ehhhh.....well, that's one way of looking at it, but what I mean is both
more specific and more general:

The fight for the freedom to sample, or more generally to engage in
"artistic appropriation", is an argument about copyright. copyright is a
certain kind of rule about intellectual property. (trademarks and patents
are others, btw.) The concept of intellectual property presumes that
ideas can be owned, that information can be someone's property. The
concept of property came about because capitalists wanted to accumulate
wealth. Whether it's a piece of land or the "rights" to a movie, a
"property" is a tool for accumulating capital (in fact it is a form of
capital itself). It is a fundamentally capitalist instrument. Therefore
by advocating in any way that intellectual property rules be done away
with or even loosened, one is weakening in some way the tools that modern
capitalists use to gain more wealth and power.

>what do you
>hope the struggle for sampling rights will achieve?

Well, in light of the above paragraph that should be easy to see: in
general I hope to decrease the power that capitalism has over people.

To elaborate - I think even a small victory, like making copyright
laws a little less draconian and more permissive to creative reuse, would
not only lessen the ability of the "Culture Trust" to control culture, but
it would also help to further bring into question the assumptions that
late capitalism relies on to keep our society under its control.
Assumptions not only about IP but also about property in general, and
other areas such as labor, equality, individual vs. social good,
human rights, and the purpose of society and life in general.

Of course it would just be one small chip in the mortar, but
that's all one can realistically expect, one chip at a time.

Related to that, whenever such a "radical" critique of society is voiced
it invites all sorts of conversational potshots, mainly various
accusations of hypocrisy and starry-eyed idealism - jabs like "well why do
you sell your CD for money if you're so against capitalism" and a host of
defensive rationalisations.

To head that off at the pass: I'd just like to mention that by making
these critiques I am in no way trying to make any recriminations about
anyone on this list, and I'm also not trying to say I have already
absolved myself of all the wrongs that I'm describing. We're all part of
this capitalist society, and we're acting for the most part in the best
way that we can, but it's a complicated web and it's not easy to
immediately or totally extricate oneself. Every action has effects, many
that we cannot see right away or ever. All we can do is keep trying to do
our best.

>i think the important talking point over the Sony/UR issue came about
>because of the difference between the "no-copyright" stance held by some
>here, and the "alternative-copyright" (copyleft?) ideas that you and others
>propose. Because if one wishes to abandon copyright, one can't very well
>complain if someone else violates it, even if it is Sony. The 'copyleft'
>viewpoint, however, as i recall it dimly, would retain some rights over a
>composition and would differentiate between "artistic"/"fair use" and
>bootlegging etc. Interesting to see what happened when the roles were
>reversed from normal, in that it was the major company who performed the
>invasive, copyright-violating act.

This is a very good way of portraying the discussion, and of explaining
what I would call the "limited copyright" position (rather than copyleft -
copyleft has a specific definition formulated by the Free Software
Foundation which might not be totally compatible with what we're talking
about, so let's not confuse things by using that word at this point).

Many people might assume that we are all trying to completely do away with
copyright. Not so. The way I see it, there are several stages, and
consequences, to the aforementioned struggle against late capital. To be
honest, I see the eventual, ideal goal regarding copyright as, indeed, the
total abolition of intellectual property. But, a lot of other things
would have to happen first before that. And I don't know if I need or want
to go into what all those things are. But the facts are that we live in a
society where some people are trying to make a living (in a modern
capitalist sense of that phrase) from their ideas and from their
creativity, and more importantly there are a few people trying to not just
make a living but _accumulate vast amounts of wealth and power_ from
_other people's_ ideas and creativity. As long as there are people like
that, there needs to be SOME intellectual property law, to protect the
people that have the ideas from the people that sell the ideas.

>So, should we really oppose anything sony does on principle, because they
>are just a money-grabbing monster? and is it relevant to a greater
>anti-corporate struggle if we fight for the freedom to sample? (Thinking
>about RTMARK, maybe it becomse more relevant.)

Are you asking permission for knee-jerk reactions? ;-)
I would prefer to justify the anti-sony stance in the UR case by again,
invoking intent. If they were "appropriating" UR in order to create some
new work of art, that would be okay. But they weren't. they were being
weaselly and money-grubbing. they were wholly focused on accumulating
wealth from someone else's idea. maybe that's unproveable, but at this
point, it's also moot, since it's pretty much over.

yours in the struggle,


Steev Hise, Automagickal Adept
recycled art site:
"Nature does not exist to serve humans."
            -Judi Bari

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