IP reform is environmentalism, not Marxism

Wharton professor Dan Hunter has written a provocative paper in which Lessig-style free culture activism, open source software, and open spectrum are examined for their relation to Marxism.
The paper concludes that Lessigist IP reform is more like social democracy, which tempers the exploitative excesses of monopoly capitalism with safety nets; whereas the open spectrum and open source movements are more like Marxism, in that they attempt to remove property from the exploitive hands of owners.
I think the paper gets its Marxism wrong. For example, “a commons of any sort is inherently Marxian, even if other types of private property rights still operate within the commons.” Nope. Marxism argues that all property is theft, and all property is to be held in common. And “Marxism isn

2 thoughts on “IP reform is environmentalism, not Marxism”

  1. You’re right that he’s wrong about commons being inherently Marxian, but you’re wrong on the larger point. Marx didn’t give a rat’s ass one way or the other about private property in the everyday sense of the stuff we own, his beef was with private property in the realm of the means of production. That “property is theft” business is Proudhon, not Marx, and Marx thought Proudhon was a fool, and a lightweight to boot.
    And Marx’s (very underdeveloped) vision of a future communist society was not particularly collectivist. He saw it as a sphere of freedom where people could actually become individuals, which he considered more or less impossible under conditions of wage slavery. Remember the line from The German Ideology: Hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, criticize in the evening, etc?

  2. Came upon your posting by accident and would ordinarily not comment. Always nice to be read, but you are on shaky ground on your assertions:
    1. You should be really careful suggesting I don’t understand Marxism, when you get Marxism so wrong. Proudhonism (“P is theft”) is not Marxism. Besides the line is incoherent on its face, and Marxist scholars have disclaimed this for about 100 years.
    2. You should have a look at the Hegelian basis for Marxism if you want to maintain that your statist conception of communism is the only one that exists, and that therefore communism is inherently statist. It’s actually the opposite.
    3. I don’t use Marxism as a metaphor, but as a political philosophy to understand the IP reform movement. To the extent that i think that environmentalism is consistent with Marxism, then your example of commons-based environmentalism is consistent with the argument that IP reform is Marxist.

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