Subsidized “Hustle”

While I like Richard Wolff to some degree when he gets it, I think I’m more bothered when he’s off the mark than I would be from someone else as he claims to be an economist, and an anti-capitalist (for the most part). In this program he discusses this Routers article as well as what “capitalism” means. The Router’s article notes that “four of the biggest U.S. technology groups collectively hold an estimated $124 billion in U.S. Treasury debt, much of it offshore, earning them tax-free interest.”

As Wolff points out, we pay more for our tech devices and search engine use than previously thought because we subsidize tax breaks. The irony being that because the tax is not collected in the first place we then have to borrow for x,y,z…from the very people that ‘didn’t pay enough to begin with’ according to Wolff. We could borrow less (and pay less interest) if the tech giants were taxed ‘correctly’ to begin with. Not that I’m a fan of taxes, the State, or capitalism to begin with anyway, I just find this “hustle,” as Wolff calls it, particularly amusing because I help pay for it like it or not. This is “redistribution,” for the fat cats, and back to the fat cats again…getting screwed squared, capitalism squared. Honestly, I’d rather see “cost be the limit of price,” (Josiah Warren) to hell with profits, and taxes for products I don’t want, and interest/usury ta boot. Wolff fails to recognize the inflated cost-plus price at the root of profits as capitalism.

What bothers me about Wolff, besides the last point made, is that he thinks taxes are OK, or so it seems. What are taxes if not a market, a forced market? And why whine, as Wolff does, about companies ‘not paying enough considering the profits they make’? Profits should be his focus, not that companies aren’t paying enough taxes on the profits. So while he bashes capitalism, he defends it, because to defend profits and taxes is to defend theft, they are both capitalism. Profit is theft because profits are created by charging more than cost (cost plus), and/or stealing/skimming the cost plus from the workers that produced profits to begin with.

With cost plus the buyer pays more than they should; and with tax the economic relationship is a forced one where the payee purchases products they may not want to buy. Force is not democracy, but this depends on who you ask. Taxes supports the coercive institutions that sees to it that capitalism and taxes survive, i.e. the State. State Socialism is State Capitalism. No taxes, no state, no state, no capitalism. Their parasitic nature makes them depend on each other. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t pay the full value and externalities of products, just not taxes for products we don’t consume or demand. Wolff is against markets, but fails to mention or perhaps see free market anti-capitalism because he’s the in  trees of a State Socialist forest wearing rose colored lenses.

Wolff who appears to be a State Socialist is essentially a capitalist. At 38 minutes he goes over how he defines capitalism: the private ownership of the means of production (pootmop), resources are exchanged voluntarily (market exchange)… he then goes on to describe government/state socialism, and market planning. In addition, he defines capitalism on the organization of production, at ~42 minutes he states that decisions should be democratic, essentially plugging his Democracy at Work idea. A forerunner to Wolff in this regards is David Ellerman’s who has a similar take, but he’s a little more elegant. What bugs me is not how Wolff wants to have democracy in the workplace, but how he does not want democracy in markets. He complains about hierarchy and capitalism on the production end, but stops short of democracy in exchange, and wants hierarchical planning, and profits (i.e. capitalism), or so it seems.

Capitalism is usury, aka rent (aka interest, and profit). Rent, profit, and interest are often separated, but profit and interest are both rent (usury). Capitalism is privilege or gratuitous appropriation, i.e. usury, with artificial “ownership Rights to control access to natural opportunities.” Capitalism can happen between two or more people or systemically ‘where the State intervenes in the economy on behalf of capitalists to create artificial scarcities, artificial property rights, erect entry barriers, enforce monopolies, and cartels so capitalists can collect rents…because free competition is prevented from driving the price of things to their true cost of production.’ Kevin Carson

Rent is a credit or a right to ownership of material and immaterial resources that grant the appropriation of surplus based on a relation of distribution other than any normal function in the process of production. In other words,

surplus-value/profit expropriation from:

1. interest or financial rent- privatization of currency and public debt

2. scarcity, natural or artificial(monopoly, Intellectual Property Rights)

3. ground rent– the transformation of land and labor into fictitious commodities- de-socialization, re-socialization and then new de-socialization

Socialism is low to no rents/profits, worker owed production, where workers receive/divide profit/surplus-value to receive their full product, it is not siphoned out of their pockets as in the case of capitalism (this holds for reproducible goods anyway)

“Socialism, practically, is war upon usury in all its forms, the great Anti-Theft Movement of the nineteenth century; and Socialists are the only people to whom the preachers of morality have no right or occasion to cite the eighth commandment, “Thou shalt not steal!” That commandment is Socialism’s flag.” Benjamin Tucker

Mutualists advocate free-market socialism, collectivist anarchist advocate workers cooperatives and salaries based on the amount of time contributed to production, anarcho-communists advocate a direct transition from capitalism to libertarian communism, and anarcho-syndicalists advocate worker’s direct action and the general strike to abolish privilege.

Socialist Definitional Free-for-All

Wolff’s arguments are a “clever game to play” just as he says the capitalists do, but if he is playing the State Socialist card he is a capitalist. The gains he claims will occur in the workplace are washed away in a planned market, not to mention a State that plans how to put its hands in our pockets and force us to pay for products we don’t want. Taxes are not democratic they are tyrannical, and bolster a coercive machine that can only survive by a theft analogous to the theft Wolff claims he is seeking to ameliorate in the workplace.

While I like democracy, it possess a number of problems not the least of which is the very thing it purports to do: adhere to the Lockean consent theory. The consent theory demolishes democracy (Josiah Tucker). To consent to be governed is to be a slave under State Socialism or capitalism.

Cost, The Limit

Today’s big hit is a cute little paper by a couple econophysicists in Bremen. They built a toy model where a whole bunch of limited agents each have two types of interactions: they decide a ‘trustworthiness’ value for themselves [0-1] as well as who all to contract with, and strategize to maximize the number of folks contracting with them times those folks’ trustworthiness and minimize their own trustworthiness in the contracts they initialize with others (each agent is forced to initiate said contracts/interactions with a set number of people per round). This asymmetry between initiated interactions and responsive interactions is intended to mirror a distinction between selling and buying and I’ll stick to that metaphor from here on out although it’s not unproblematic. Who to buy from in this model is decided by a straight comparison of prices while sellers set prices (quality/trustworthiness) by comparing the immediately preceding prices and resulting payoffs of their competitors. Long story short there were three major environmental variables, the set number of people the buyers were forced to buy from, a randomness factor localized to a single agent each iteration and the relative speed at which buyers updated their strategies versus sellers. The resulting system behavior revealed that this market had only two stable points: extreme competition (selling with next to no profit above marginal costs) or extreme cartelization (sellers get ridiculous profit). source

‘Cost should be the limit of price’ Josiah Warren, or similarly: “the labor theory of value recognizes no distinction between profit and plunder” SEK3. Nice to see an example.

I remember a friend lamenting that his bids for roadwork were approaching the cost of doing the work because of the competition in bids from “cheaper” guys. A real world example I just loved to hear considering Warren’s catchphrase. I didn’t think his lament was a bad thing, but didn’t really get into with him. I did wonder how “extra” money, i.e. profit, if small, could ever pay for repairs and future new equipment, but all things equal, if the market for the equipment and everything else were near cost I could see them doing just fine, and giving taxpayers the true price, not some inflated price to go into bonuses, investors, and who knows what else. The only ‘problem’ here was that labor was paid a ‘prevailing’ State mandated wage. This is a problem if the market says one thing, and the State another. The bid essentially revolves, or devolves, around this ‘prevailing’ number. I realize this can be a good thing for the prevailing employee, but if all things were at cost, including labor, then the bids could even be cheaper not to mention the cost of living (and taxes ta boot). A simple solution with complicated implementation when beholden to what amounts to a fettered market.

If the overall governance structure reinforces the capability of local groups to deal with their own problems, then user groups have an incentive to manage their own common-pool resources wisely. Under these circumstances, development is likely to be sustainable. Conversely, if local rules are routinely superceded by the policies of higher authorities, then it will be much more difficult to restrain individual appropriators from engaging in opportunistic behavior. In those circumstances, any effort to develop the national economy as a whole will rest on shaky foundations at the local level. source

The solution seems to be local, duh…Smash the State! Smash Government, Not governance.


Spying on Democracy and Reversing the Panopticon

Spying_on_Democracy_coverI recently heard Heidi Boghosian on WBAI and was not surprized to hear what I did in regards to Democracy and spying. She wrote a book to document the phenomenon:

It’s not surprising that the power elite want to maintain their hegemony and thwart democracy. I pointed out many problems with democracy here. Nevertheless, if we followed Thomas Jefferson’s democracy to its logical end we would indeed have anarchism, as to follow Locke’s consent theory leads to just that. A republic was born to maintain some hegemony, but a democracy remains free.

I’ve often thought the key to freedom is to “reverse the panopticon” of spying as I wrote some time ago:

nixonbackgroundpanopticontrans2“Fight the Power”(with counter counter-intelligence).
The Panopticon Reversal Symbol:

  • The triangle and all-seeing-eye:
    • does not necessarily stand for “The Illuminati,” though can if that’s what you think goes on. This isn’t to say there certainly aren’t “real” conspiracies, as several come to mind: COINTELPRO, Watergate, The Manhattan Project, Iran-Contra, Gulf of Tonkin, BCCI, The Dark Alliance, The Federal Reserve, Iraqgate…
    • is “societal controls which include institutional indoctrination (schools), surveillance (the police-state), and propaganda defining normal and abnormal behavior so as to stamp-out any challenges to the status quo.”
    • is the conscious effort of the ruling elite to maintain a system of power brokerage controlled from the inside of the triangle, where most do not have access. It is an affront against liberty, the denial of individual-sovereignty, or individual-autonomy, in favor of conformity and vanguardism.
  • The circle and arrows:
    • represent outsiders looking at the ruling elite observe and rule from the inside. The arrows represent the questioning of authority, i.e. the “reversing” of the panopticon.
    • attack each side of the triangle, and the circle also does this, encircling the panopticon.
  • The “i” inside the eye:
    • represents information the ruling vanguard has, and desires from us, including the information they feed us to maintain their power and control. TrapWire, ECHELON?
    • means we have to fight fire with fire, it is where those outside the inside come into play– ‘we,’ the arrows, fight info/disinfo emanating from the ‘eye’ with info and networking of our own– counter counter-intelligence. We question the rules, policy, economy, media, history etc. that keep their feet on our backs. Wikileaks comes to mind.

The original use of the word “Panopticon” (all observe) comes from social theorist Jeremy Bentham, who designed a prison with a central watchtower, Panopticon_blueprintno doubt inspired by his views on society and ethics. Ironically, the word is actually “all observe,” not “observe all” as that’s what Bentham intended. The design was used and popularized as a metaphor by Michel Foucault, in Discipline and Punish, to mean a form of power or hierarchy via observation and normalization. Emma Goldman, before Foucault’s time, summed up the idea nicely: “The most unpardonable sin in society is independence of thought.” Of course the gravity of your social “sin” depends on who your company is, and what your thoughts and actions are.

I am pretty sure Naomi Klein wrote the panopticon article below. It was posted almost a year after it was downloaded from the web (back in 2003?). The author’s name was lost and we can’t locate it with any search engines. If I remember correctly it is Klein– the content and language are definitely reminiscent of her work.

The Inverted Panopticon: Reclaiming Surveillance–The Inverted/Subverted Panopticon

      Indeed, not only is it feasible to suggest that there are ways out of the carceral archipelago, I would also like to suggest that the Panopticon can be inverted or perhaps subverted in order to provide a model for the ‘reacting-back’ of individuals against the institutions which seek to bind and control them.

What follows below is something of a ‘thought-experiment’: I am not claiming to offer a definitive view of the modus operandii of the new social movements, but rather want to suggest a possible model which demands further testing and empirical research to ascertain its viability as a metaphor.


So, let me begin this thought experiment by positing that there is a ‘domain’ of society – roughly speaking, a ‘public sphere’ – which in fact observes institutions themselves and scrutinizes them – albeit naively and idly – for infractions of the more basic human rights or standards of decency and accountability. This public sphere is ‘naive’ because it has no particular knowledge of the internal workings and dealings of corporations and/or nation-states: it is, for example, not trivial for Joe or Jane Public to know which factories Nike has contracted out to manufacture its shoes, and whether these factories adhere to basic labour standards. But if Joe or Jane were to be reliably informed that Nike were utilising Chinese sweatshops with no regard whatsoever for human rights, Nike risks going the way of Kathie Lee Gifford unless it can be extraordinarily light on its feet and charming in its PR. In short: the public gaze – properly directed – carries a great deal of weight.

But how can this gaze be directed? How can we ‘model’ the relations which uncover abuses of corporate trust and ‘focus’ public attention upon the transgressors? Perhaps the answer lies in not a rejection of Foucault’s metaphor, but rather an inversion of the power relations it entails: an ‘inverted Panopticon’, in which the power relations of domination and exploitation which are present in everyday life are turned on their head by the actions of activists [see fig.1]. fig.1 – the ‘Inverted’ Panopticon

Now, instead of institutions (be they states, corporations or any other dominant organisation) acting as the observers inside the tower, they instead can be pictured as the prisoners: not trapped physically, but symbolically by their brand, their public image. Of course, anyone can see into these cells from the outside – from the public sphere – into the cell, and see the presenting his outward image: smiling and open-armed, inviting them to peruse every inch of his or her cell. But, of course, the public’s vision is blocked by the prisoner’s very presence: he or she can stand in such a way as to obscure any less salubrious part of his/her cell: the public image is never the whole story. In fact, the only way to outmanoeuvre the prisoner – to see the whole picture of his/her doings – is to gain access to the tower behind the cell. From the tower, the prisoner no longer blocks the view: the angle has changed. And, indeed, by using his/her specialised skills (be they hacking, ‘culture jamming’, or defacing a corporate website), the activist can use various lines of flight – essentially lines of information passage, such as corporate network gateways – to gain access to the tower and, perhaps just for a split second, see the full picture: what is hidden from the view presented to the public.

Thus, once again, the operation of the inverted Panopticon is all a question of the control of vision and the positioning of bodies. The framework of Foucault’s metaphor holds good in reverse: all the thought experiment does is to turn the power/knowledge apparatus on its head and ask ‘what if…’. Control of the Panopticon is not inherently the privilege of a particular social group: with the right skills, the right knowledge, the functioning of the concept can be turned against those for whom it was originally designed, bringing discipline through surveillance – manifested as transparency through accountability – back into the institutions who would seek to impose its operations upon us.


Castells, M. 2000. Network Society: Second Edition. Oxford: Blackwells.

Foucault, M. 1977. Discipline and Punish. London: Penguin. -1981. History of Sexuality: Volume 1. London: Penguin.

Habermas, J. 1992 (1969). The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere. Cambridge: Polity.


…The two contrasting modes of punishing are snapshots drawn from the two types of what Foucault terms ‘technologies of punishment’. The first, the ‘monarchical’ technology of punishment involves the repression of the populace through brutal public executions and torture. The second, ‘disciplinary punishment’ – which according to Foucault is the form of punishment practised today – gives ‘professionals’ (psychologists, program facilitators, parole officers, etc.) power over the prisoner in the sense that the prisoner’s length of stay depends on the opinion of these professionals. Foucault compares modern society with Jeremy Bentham’s (unrealised in its original form, but nonetheless influential) “Panopticon” design for prisons, in which a single guard can watch over many prisoners while themselves remaining unseen. The dark dungeon of pre-modernity has become replaced with the bright modern prison, but Foucault cautions that “visibility is a trap” – it is through this optics of seeing that modern society exercises its controlling systems of power-knowledge. In this way, Foucault suggests that there is something that connects the maximum security prison with our everyday working and domestic lives, namely the (witting or unwitting) supervision (surveillance, application of norms of acceptable behaviour) of some humans by others. There is a ‘carceral continuum’ stretching from the prison, through to secure accommodation, to probation, social workers, the police, teachers… and us ourselves. (Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, source)

more on the Panopticon: Escaping the Panopticon: Protecting Data Privacy in the Information Age


Lucy Dalglish, Executive Director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, discuss possible prosecution of reporters in the NSA leaks and Senior Legal Analyst Norman Goldman on the 1917 Espionage Act. link



Reporters Committee For Free Press


The Ponzi Scheme for Managing the Planet

Is the environment a public good?

What we have actually had is a state capitalist marketplace, where the state artificially raised the transaction costs of enforcing civil protections against pollution — and thereby reduced the transaction costs of pollution.


As always, it’s not a question of what we’ll do when the state stops solving the problem. It’s a question of how to stop the state from creating the problem.


also see:

Capitalism’s Running Out Of Water — And Everything Else
The Clean Water Act Vs. Clean Water

Robbed of a Comfortable Retirement

7 Numbers that Show How Most Americans Were Robbed of a Comfortable Retirement

I won’t entertain the retirement question, besides stating that if people made enough perhaps they could save enough. It’s the “making” that I want to address.

Of all the institution to discover this, no other than The IMF recently found:

Income inequality can lead to slower or less sustainable economic growth, while redistribution of income, when measured, does not hurt and can even help an economy…


Although the study by International Monetary Fund economists does not reflect the Fund’s official position, it is another sign of a shift in its thinking about income disparity.

Income distribution can happen twice in the form of low pay and an additional subsidy to help an underpaid worker survive to the the next under-paid payday, as in the case of capitalism; or income distribution can happen once, where a worker sees all the money they helped create on payday, as in the case of socialism. (Of course this latter method may still require a subsidy depending on how well the business is doing.)

Question is, if a worker saw all they helped produce, and money wasn’t shunted off to pay a capitalist investor or overpaid boss, who is really getting the subsidy?The underpaid worker who needs assistance, or the capitalist/thief who has taxpayers foot the assistance bill they created?

What’s funny, or not so funny, is that the right cries foul when redistribution occurs while being the cause of redistribution to begin with, and the statist left often cries for redistribution to occur, when they should be decrying the theft at the bottom of the entire mess.

Fairness would be stopping the bucks where they are produced, and subsidizing no one.

Income inequality is bound to occur even in a socialist ‘system’, but my questions are: if workers were paid their ‘full product’ (no artificial income ‘deflation’) and the prices of goods were placed near the cost of production (no cost plus product inflation), then how much disparity would exist (and how much farther would a dollar go)?

Worker Self Directed Enterprises

There’s a lot I like, and dislike, about Richard Wolff.

One thing that seems OK is his promotion of Worker Self Directed Enterprises (WSDE). One of his latest works is a book (more here):

David Ellerman actually beat Wolff to it with Abolish Human Rentals. I like Ellerman’s approach better, but Wolff has commanded a lot of attention lately.

What I don’t like is that Wolff falls into the same trench a lot of people on the so-called left do, mainly that they want to use the State to fix disasters that are a function of the State itself. He also fails to see or acknowledge an alternative to his Statist approach, that of free market anti-capitalism. He’s really anti-market, like Micheal Albert, and from what I can see thus far, like Albert, promotes a bureaucratic machine though Wolff says otherwise regularly in his Economic Update radio program. If Wolf understood that “cost should be the limit of price” and that markets can be anti capitalist, he may sing a different tune. Instead he’s stuck in the same same statist left paradigm that needs shifting.

Did You Say “Intellectual Property”? It’s a Seductive Mirage


by Richard M. Stallman

It has become fashionable to toss copyright, patents, and trademarks—three separate and different entities involving three separate and different sets of laws—plus a dozen other laws into one pot and call it “intellectual property”. The distorting and confusing term did not become common by accident. Companies that gain from the confusion promoted it. The clearest way out of the confusion is to reject the term entirely.

According to Professor Mark Lemley, now of the Stanford Law School, the widespread use of the term “intellectual property” is a fashion that followed the 1967 founding of the World “Intellectual Property” Organization (WIPO), and only became really common in recent years. (WIPO is formally a UN organization, but in fact represents the interests of the holders of copyrights, patents, and trademarks.) Wide use dates from around 1990. (Local image copy)

The term carries a bias that is not hard to see: it suggests thinking about copyright, patents and trademarks by analogy with property rights for physical objects. (This analogy is at odds with the legal philosophies of copyright law, of patent law, and of trademark law, but only specialists know that.) These laws are in fact not much like physical property law, but use of this term leads legislators to change them to be more so. Since that is the change desired by the companies that exercise copyright, patent and trademark powers, the bias introduced by the term “intellectual property” suits them.

The bias is reason enough to reject the term, and people have often asked me to propose some other name for the overall category—or have proposed their own alternatives (often humorous). Suggestions include IMPs, for Imposed Monopoly Privileges, and GOLEMs, for Government-Originated Legally Enforced Monopolies. Some speak of “exclusive rights regimes”, but referring to restrictions as “rights” is doublethink too.

Some of these alternative names would be an improvement, but it is a mistake to replace “intellectual property” with any other term. A different name will not address the term’s deeper problem: overgeneralization. There is no such unified thing as “intellectual property”—it is a mirage. The only reason people think it makes sense as a coherent category is that widespread use of the term has misled them.

The term “intellectual property” is at best a catch-all to lump together disparate laws. Nonlawyers who hear one term applied to these various laws tend to assume they are based on a common principle and function similarly.

Nothing could be further from the case. These laws originated separately, evolved differently, cover different activities, have different rules, and raise different public policy issues.

Copyright law was designed to promote authorship and art, and covers the details of expression of a work. Patent law was intended to promote the publication of useful ideas, at the price of giving the one who publishes an idea a temporary monopoly over it—a price that may be worth paying in some fields and not in others.

Trademark law, by contrast, was not intended to promote any particular way of acting, but simply to enable buyers to know what they are buying. Legislators under the influence of the term “intellectual property”, however, have turned it into a scheme that provides incentives for advertising.

Since these laws developed independently, they are different in every detail, as well as in their basic purposes and methods. Thus, if you learn some fact about copyright law, you’d be wise to assume that patent law is different. You’ll rarely go wrong!

People often say “intellectual property” when they really mean some larger or smaller category. For instance, rich countries often impose unjust laws on poor countries to squeeze money out of them. Some of these laws are “intellectual property” laws, and others are not; nonetheless, critics of the practice often grab for that label because it has become familiar to them. By using it, they misrepresent the nature of the issue. It would be better to use an accurate term, such as “legislative colonization”, that gets to the heart of the matter.

Laymen are not alone in being confused by this term. Even law professors who teach these laws are lured and distracted by the seductiveness of the term “intellectual property”, and make general statements that conflict with facts they know. For example, one professor wrote in 2006:

Unlike their descendants who now work the floor at WIPO, the framers of the US constitution had a principled, procompetitive attitude to intellectual property. They knew rights might be necessary, but…they tied congress’s hands, restricting its power in multiple ways.

That statement refers to Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 of the US Constitution, which authorizes copyright law and patent law. That clause, though, has nothing to do with trademark law or various others. The term “intellectual property” led that professor to make false generalization.

The term “intellectual property” also leads to simplistic thinking. It leads people to focus on the meager commonality in form that these disparate laws have—that they create artificial privileges for certain parties—and to disregard the details which form their substance: the specific restrictions each law places on the public, and the consequences that result. This simplistic focus on the form encourages an “economistic” approach to all these issues.

Economics operates here, as it often does, as a vehicle for unexamined assumptions. These include assumptions about values, such as that amount of production matters while freedom and way of life do not, and factual assumptions which are mostly false, such as that copyrights on music supports musicians, or that patents on drugs support life-saving research.

Another problem is that, at the broad scale implicit in the term “intellectual property”, the specific issues raised by the various laws become nearly invisible. These issues arise from the specifics of each law—precisely what the term “intellectual property” encourages people to ignore. For instance, one issue relating to copyright law is whether music sharing should be allowed; patent law has nothing to do with this. Patent law raises issues such as whether poor countries should be allowed to produce life-saving drugs and sell them cheaply to save lives; copyright law has nothing to do with such matters.

Neither of these issues is solely economic in nature, and their noneconomic aspects are very different; using the shallow economic overgeneralization as the basis for considering them means ignoring the differences. Putting the two laws in the “intellectual property” pot obstructs clear thinking about each one.

Thus, any opinions about “the issue of intellectual property” and any generalizations about this supposed category are almost surely foolish. If you think all those laws are one issue, you will tend to choose your opinions from a selection of sweeping overgeneralizations, none of which is any good.

If you want to think clearly about the issues raised by patents, or copyrights, or trademarks, or various other different laws, the first step is to forget the idea of lumping them together, and treat them as separate topics. The second step is to reject the narrow perspectives and simplistic picture the term “intellectual property” suggests. Consider each of these issues separately, in its fullness, and you have a chance of considering them well.

And when it comes to reforming WIPO, here is one proposal for changing the name and substance of WIPO.[Towards a

“World Intellectual Wealth Organisation”

Supporting the Geneva Declaration

The Geneva Declaration is an impressive step towards the creation of a broad coalition of people, organizations and countries1 demanding that the international community re-think the goals and mechanisms for awarding monopoly control over different kinds of knowledge. It offers many constructive, concrete suggestions for changes in WIPO goals, policies and priorities, and provides ample and insightful arguments for redesign of the copyright and patent bargains to better serve the public interest of all of humankind.

We are convinced that new answers sometimes require new questions, not more careful repetition of old questions. A World Intellectual Property Organization will always, understandably, lean towards applying the pre-selected tool-set of monopolization that it refers to as Intellectual Property; a term that we find to be ideologically charged and dangerously oblivious to the significant differences that exist between the many areas of law that it tries to subsume.

While it may look at better, possibly more socially sustainable ways of granting ownership-like monopolies over different forms of knowledge, WIPO will not have an easy time looking for alternative solutions. WIPO is not what we need.

We need a World Intellectual Wealth Organization, dedicated to the research and promotion of novel and imaginative ways to encourage the production and dissemination of knowledge. Granting limited monopolies and limited control over some kinds of knowledge may be part of this new organization's tool-set, but not the only one, and maybe not even the most important one.

We endorse and support the Geneva Declaration, and invite its drafters, signatories, and the United Nations to start thinking now not only about what the role of WIPO should be, but rather what kind of organisation we need in its place.]

Countries in Africa are a lot more similar than these laws, and “Africa” is a coherent geographical concept; nonetheless, talking about “Africa” instead of a specific country causes lots of confusion.

Rickard Falkvinge supports rejection of this term.