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Re: <nettime> Re: Reflections on Dan Hunter's Culture War
Felix Stalder on Thu, 7 Oct 2004 18:40:18 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> Re: Reflections on Dan Hunter's Culture War


On Wednesday 06 October 2004 12:54, Jamie King wrote:
> In respect to 'Marxist-Lessigism', it is a good gag, but a one-liner. It
> should be restricted to one line. Lessig's reformist position has very
> little in common with a Marxist analysis.

While reading the original article, I kept wondering what Hunter was 
really after. There are so many inconsistencies in his text, it's 
mind-boggling.

'Marxism-Lessigm' is not an analytical category but a polemical one. It does
not illuminate in any way what what Lessig, much less the broader 'movement',
are all about. The main intention is to associate Lessig with something that
has, in the these circles, clearly very negativ connotations. I'm sure, we
will see this phrase soon in Forbes or in the Wall Street Journal.

At one point Hunter himself seems to recognize the purely polemical 
character of his argument. He criticizes those who call Lessig a Marxist 
for using "a simple rhetorical cherry-bomb that makes plenty of noise and 
smoke, but illuminates little." How different is what he does?

Of course, Jamie is right to point out that Lessig's position has nothing 
to do with a systemic critique a la Marx. Curiously, Hunter himself knows 
this as well, he writes "in reality, Marxist-Lessigism is little more than 
a small set of limitations on the expansion of intellectual property." 
Lessig's critique of IP is about as revolutionary as George Soros' 
analysis of global capitalism.

So, what does Hunter want? He clearly is not a IP maximalist, because it calls
this a "ridiculous position".

Strangely, after criticizing Lessig for being both a radical _and_ for 
focusing only on a 'small set of limitations' he abruptly switches the 
argument and adopts Moglen's line: The law doesn't really matter, because 
the revolution is inevitable. The low costs of production suddenly enable 
people to follow non-economic incentives in the production of culture. 
Like Moglen, Hunter completely ignores the possibility of a capitalist 
service economy on top of a free software commons (which is what IBM, 
Novell, RedHat, etc are after), and he also ignores the threat to the open 
source communities posed by software patents (which is what Microsoft, etc 
are after).

In many ways, Hunter's main motivation seems to take a piss at Lessig by 
painting him as a radical reformist working in an area that is of no 
relevance. Ouch! While I think a solid critique of Lessig is necessary, 
Hunter's is wanting on almost every level imaginable.


Felix




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