[...] Racism isn’t just a bad feeling in your heart, as a liberal believes when she insists that she isn’t at all racist. It’s a force that emerges from the pressures of maintaining one’s own position, and the resentments that spring forth from this process. It produces fear and hatred of the poor for being poor, for having any pretense of being on equal footing with the propertied. It is a hatred for the potential threat to the property values which underpin a tenuous future among the professional middle class: blackness.
“What choice do I have?” ask the liberal gentrifiers, if you press them a bit. “This is the only place I can afford to live!” This sums everything up perfectly, puncturing the bubble of individual choices that make up liberal politics.
You have no choice; everything’s been decided ahead of time. If you want the American dream of a middle-class life with a home you own in the city in which you work, you have few other choices than to join the shock troops of the onslaught against the urban poor. Align with big capital and the repressive state in the conquest of the city, and maybe you’ll have enough equity to send your kids to college.
soooo good omg
However, not everything online lent itself to the metaphor of a frontier. Particularly in the realm of music and video, artisans dealt with a field crowded with existing content, as well as thickets of intellectual property laws that attempted to regulate how that content was created and distributed. [...] The project of Lessig and others was not to create the conditions for erecting a new society upon a frontier, as a yeoman farmer might, but to politicize this class of artisans in order to challenge larger industrial concerns, such as record labels and film studios, who used copyright to protect their incumbent position. This very different terrain requires a different perspective from Jefferson’s.
recognising this terrain as the latest battleground, maybe?
Since small producers own their own tools and depend largely on their own labor, they do not perceive any conflict between ownership of the means of production and labor: analysis from this standpoint, such as Proudhon’s, tends to collapse these categories together. Marx’s theorization of capitalism centered an emergent class of industrial proletarians, who, unlike small producers, owned nothing but their ability to sell their labor-power for a wage. Without any other means of survival, the proletarian could not experience the “labor market” as a meeting of equals coming to a mutually beneficial exchange of commodities, but as an abstraction from the concrete truth that working for whatever wage offered was compulsory, rather than a voluntary contract. Further, it was this very market for labor-power that, in the guise of equal exchange of commodities, helped to obscure that capitalist profit depended on extracting value from workers beyond what their wages compensated. This surplus value emerged in the production process, not, as Proudhon argued, at a later point where the goods produced were bought and sold. Without a conception of a contradiction between ownership and labor, the petty producer standpoint cannot see exploitation occurring in production.
Instead, Proudhon saw exploitation occurring after production, during exchanges on the market distorted by unfair monopolies held intact through state intervention, with which petty producers could not compete. However, Marx ( 1992) demonstrated that “monopolies” were simply the outcome of the concentration of capital due to competition: in his memorable wording from Capital, “One capitalist always strikes down many others” (929). As producers compete and more and more producers fail and are proletarianized, capital is held in fewer and fewer hands. In other words, monopolies are a feature, not a bug, of market economies.
really good summary
While the thrust of these critiques of copyright focus on egregious overreach by the culture industries and their assault upon all manner of benign noncommercial activity, they also reveal a vision of an alternative cultural economy of independent producers who, while not necessarily anti-capitalist, can escape the clutches of massive centralized corporations through networked digital technologies. This facilitates both economic and political freedom via independence from control and regulation, and maximum opportunities on the market. [...] As it so often does, the fusion of ownership and labor characteristic of the petty producer standpoint, the structure of feeling of the independent artisan, articulates itself through the mantra of “Do It Yourself.”
These analyses and polemics reproduce the Proudhonist vision of an alternative to existing digital capitalism. Individual independent creators will achieve political autonomy and economic benefit through the embrace digital network technologies, as long as these creators are allowed to compete fairly with incumbents. Rather than insist on collective regulation of production, Digital Proudhonism seeks forms of deregulation, such as copyright reform, that will chip away at the existence of “monopoly” power of existing media corporations that fetters the market chances of these digital artisans.
very relevant to decentralisation!!
[...] C4SS subscribes to the techno-utopian potentials for a new arrangement of production driven by digital technology, which has the potential to reduce prices on goods, making them within the reach of anyone (once again, music piracy is held up as a precursor). However, this potential has not been realized because “economic ruling classes are able to enclose the increased efficiencies from new technology as a source of rents mainly through artificial scarcities, artificial property rights, and entry barriers enforced by the state” (Carson 2015a). Monopolies, enforced by the state, have “artificially” distorted free market transactions.
These monopolies, in the form of intellectual property rights, are preventing a proper Proudhonian revolution in which everyone would control their own individual production process. [...] once these artificial monopolies are removed, corporations will lose their power [...]
This revolution is a quiet one, requiring no strikes or other confrontations with capitalists. Instead, the answer is to create this new economy within the larger one, and hollow it out from the inside:
he then goes into the invisible surplus value extracted from proletarian labour undergirding all this. next paragraph ends with
These “companies” of course are staffed by workers very different from “makers,” who work in facilities of mass production. Their labor is obscured by an influential ideology of artisans who believe themselves reliant on nothing but a personal computer and their own creativity.
The goal of this paper is not to question the creativity of remix culture or the maker movement, or to indict their potentials for artistic expression, or negate all their criticisms of intellectual property. What I wish to criticize is the outsized economic and political claims made about it. [...]
Digital Proudhonism and its vision of federations of independent individual producers and creators (perhaps now augmented with the latest cryptographic tools) dominates the imagination of a radical challenge to digital capitalism. Its critiques of the corporate internet have become common sense. What kind of alternative radical vision is possible? Here I believe it is useful to return to the core of Marx’s critique of Proudhon.
The socialization of production under the development of the means of production—the necessity of greater collaboration and the reliance on past labors in the form of machines—gives way to a radical redefinition of the relationship to one’s output. No one can claim a product was made by them alone; rather, production demands to be recognized as social. [...]
[...] The romance of “DIY” obscures the reality that nothing digital is done by oneself: it is always already a component of a larger formation of socialized labor.
!!! so good
The labor of digital creatives and innovators, sutured as it is to a technical apparatus fashioned from dead labor and meant for producing commodities for profit, is therefore already socialized. While some of this socialization is apparent in peer production, much of it is mystified through the real abstraction of commodity fetishism, which masks socialization under wage relations and contracts. Rather than further rely on these contracts to better benefit digital artisans, a Marxist politics of digital culture would begin from the fact of socialization, and as Radhika Desai (2011) argues, take seriously Marx’s call for “a general organization of labour in society” via political organizations such as unions and labor parties (212). Creative workers could align with others in the production chain as a class of laborers rather than as an assortment of individual producers, and form the kinds of organizations, such as unions, that have been the vehicles of class politics, with the aim of controlling society’s means of production, not simply one’s “own” tools or products. These would be bonds of solidarity, not bonds of market transactions. Then the apparatus of digital cultural production might be controlled democratically, rather than by the despotism of markets and private profit.
!!! holy shit