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A blog of Post-Capitalist critique in general, economic, philosophical and political analyses, Post-Capitalist poetry and prose, Post-Capitalist philology, book reviews, Postcapitalist news, interviews, praxis, art and much more! For the record, Davide Ferri is a Postcapitalist, who graduated with a B.A.Economics(Honours) degree from Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University, India. He currently lives and works in Mumbai.

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Thursday, 19 April 2012

ON COPYRIGHT AND SOCIALLY NECESSARY SHARING


ON COPYRIGHT AND SOCIALLY NECESSARY SHARING

excerpt from: A Theory of Revolution
Written by: Davide Ferri
B.A.Economics(Honours)
SRCC, Delhi University
First published on: January 16, 2012
Lastly modified on:  March 25, 2012


<<[...] talk about the recent legislative imbroglio of SOPA and PIPA in America! Its political dynamics clearly show that it is becoming increasingly difficult for Monopoly Capitalism to enforce property rights over  the sharing of certain internet data having certain use-values, though it was always relatively easy for Capitalist to enforce property rights on the means of production, over human material and immaterial "offline labour".
One might - not without reason - wonder whether something called "online labour" really exists or not. I shall return later on the matter.

The limits within this liberal political repression of internet sharing come from medium and small networking Capitalists, whose liability costs would consistently rise in case an anti-piracy bill is passed by the US congress and monitoring of sharing activity is imposed on the pockets of free websites owners (not to mention the lower profits that big electronics firms would realise without the help of piracy!).

Talk about Copyright! Wanna see what all happens behind Capitalist production?
Bourgeois economics says:
there's no need, dude!  Our economics is value-free!
There is only price, and there is no value based on labour.


Why does the "legal economics" need this fancy bourgeois trick?

Because behind production (and non-production), there is sheer exploitation of socially necessary labour on the part of ownership of the means of production.
In fact, the buyer - by craving commodities on the market- implicitly desires the human labour necessary to their production, which is the only precondition for a value that satisfies needs (namely, use-value), as embodied by the commodities.
Capitalist ownership of the means of production, a transitory historical product of Capitalism, is not a value, as one can achieve social production without it.
Whatever happens behind its production does not matter to the buyer, because one does not care about exploitation or profit behind commodities/service, one cares only about the use-value of commodities. Value is given neither by labour, nor by desire. Value is given by "desired labour", the dialectical combination of both these elements (which we can call "socially necessary labour").
With complete automation, nobody would have to pay for the robots'produce, insofar as there would be no human socially necessary labour objectified by the production.
But, as hinted above, the copyright question - as we shall see in a while - is not something relative to socially necessary labour.

In general, the less is the price the higher is the demand, teaches us Bourgeois economics.
If the price of one service/commodity is zero, there will be the highest possible demand.


What about Online "services"?

These "services" approximately have zero cost and should approximately have zero price in terms of electronic distribution, where little external offline labour is required.

If one artist or scientist allegedly performs "socially necessary labour" within his or her production of online use-values, then why nobody should pay for it?

Because what's behind online use-values is not socially necessary labour, insofar as the historical degree of technological development does not objectify the online activity as labour, but as artistic/cognitive contribution to the human growth, a natural ideological process; a normal social relation, like "talking, discussing and hugging".

In brief, people, by desiring online the artist's or scientist's online material, regards his or her' performance as a gift to humanity and not as a commodity.
Within the framework of online use-values, people are naturally bound to be people, and not buyers.
By desiring the artist's performance, people implicitly desire his or her gift to humanity, his or her normal social interaction; and not "his or her labour on payment".

If not socially necessary labour, what does an artist/intellectual's activity represent?
It represents what I call socially necessary sharing.


Needless to say, one doesn't feel like paying for insightful comment below an article or in a social network, exactly because one doesn't regard sharing as labour. And internet use-values are pure elements of sharing, unless there is an external reactionary force that curbs this natural scientifico-historical process and forcefully makes you pay for it, as if one could make you pay for the information he tells you by sharing something with you in a cafe.

Sharing is perfectly natural - whether it occurs on a social network, down the street or all over internet -  in the sense that is a natural need; and Nature has use-value too, yet we don't pay for its products (unless some fancy bourgeois privatises its fruits and reminds us we have to pay for what's naturally free!).
The only remuneration of sharing is the happiness behind the use-value enjoyment of a user, perhaps returned by his or her sharing.

One might cry out: but I worked hard to share it! I need money!

Do one asks for money whenever s/he shares an interesting mutually-enriching discussion on physics, art, politics or psychology?

One might also cry out (more coherently) I shared a lot! I need gratification!
Well, this would depend on how much its online sharing is socially necessary!

As hinted above, the historical degree of technological development of our advanced society compels a former labourer (e.g. a film maker or an artist) to perform what's wrongly regarded as "labour online" as a gift to humanity, or - if s/he Capitalistically wants - to curb the natural development of society tending to priceless socialisation of art and enforce unnatural property rights. Video sharing websites e.g. are not open markets, where people directly bargain and relate to each other. The technological development has simply gone beyond all this and increased the natural ability of people to share, fostering its quantity and quality and decreasing distances. Yet Capitalism doesn't care about the quantity and quality of this immense human dialectical development, because it is not give a fig about dialectics and the progressive growth of human beings and human society.


Does this mean that in Postcapitalism - where we find no production property - artists and film-makers will magically stop uploading material online?


Perhaps the only ones interested in uploading for profit will do, but not those interested in enriching humanity as a whole by sharing and psychologically enriching themselves through the gratification resulting out of it.


As discussed previously, offline activity is regarded as labour, whereas online activity as sharing.
Postcapitalism will realise an era, in which high-budget artistic and scientific performances may even require a Communal or State fund based on surveys or competitions.
On the other hand, low-budget artistic and scientific performances will come directly from working people, who desires to materialise their activity as a gift to humanity, as a hobby and as a de-commodified act of sharing, not on payment.


Will this reduce the amount of court directors making films for personal financial interests?

Yes. That's exactly what we Postcapitalists want. The remaining willing directors will be people producing (nay sharing) for the sake of people's and personal non-financial growth.
If the amount of, say, comedy movies decreases to such an extent that people feel the need to increase them, people will do so, by calling for Commune-level or State-level funds to be donated to whomever is disposed to contribute in artistic terms, under the right grassroots supervision.
This will go on until "artistic equilibrium" of supply and demand is restored.

What's paradoxical within the scenario of commodities/services is that, in the first place, bourgeois economists and various court philosophers claim one should not care about what all happens behind offline commodity production of use-values (perhaps for the worthy Capitalist enjoyment of sweatshop exploitation and "value-free" political economy!).
In the second place, with the assertion of property rights on online sharing, bourgeois economists and court philosophers claim that in this occasion one should grasp what all happens behind the online production of use-values and think about the worthy enjoyment of royalties (far from being "labour", just like sharing) on the part of bourgeois brats.
O Liberals!
The same ideological contradictions of democratic Capitalism prevent its own victory in the name of Copyright.
People pirate to learn and grow, as technology, nay science, (therefore "nature"), spontaneously curious people to do so.
Yet Capitalism,with its property rights and court philosophers, doesn't want this, even if human growth is socially desirable, while its repression is a mere bourgeois horror.
Capitalism doesn't want humanity to grow, it wants short-run returns and in the name of profit prefers creating the biggest market failure through the enforcement of property rights, namely, the destruction of an immense pool of online use-values, which could potentially enrich humanity in moral, cognitive, political and artistic terms.

By taking to account my concept of mechanical political labour, we may notice how pro-monopoly administrations wish to use their reactionary political labour-time, nay political surplus value, against what all natural technico-scientific development and social need historically require: free web content.

To conclude with this topic, I may also argue that the ability of one person with progressive ideas to contribute to a consistent dialectical change also depends on how much his/her social structure unwillingly or willingly allowed him/her to spread ideas through his/her political labour as mechanised by the mode of production, bearing in mind what all a certain superstructure could historically permit. In labour terms, the mode of production play an important role; a computer with an internet connection e.g. would reduce all that production labour necessary to his political activity, in terms of "transportation of data".
We are not discussing here, however, how much and how internet (or other "machinery") can really contribute to political success in modern times.
Socially necessary sharing e.g. has, like commodities, a determined use-value (namely, a value relative to the satisfaction of human needs) within our Capitalist society.
The example of internet piracy is very similar to the dynamics that would occur in case production is to be robotised and therefore value/prices to abolished.
With automised production, commodities would be free - given the fact that there would be no socially necessary labour time objectified within robot-produced commodities - and would be increasingly difficult for Capitalists to enforce property rights over "material" production.
With modern web circulation of data, any datum would be socially necessary sharing time circulating at zero cost; a gift from the user for humanity, given the technico-scientifical development that presupposes its free character and the will of the user to spread it for free.
The fact that one has to pay for certain content - which has been privatised by Capital - has nothing to do with socially necessary sharing; it has to do with labour (and, alas, the pockets of one boss, in Capitalism).>>

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