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as a Business Force | Adrian Johns | Culture Machine (2009) -
"Today’s pirate philosophy is a moral philosophy through and through. An extreme form of the commitments seen more mundanely in various open-source and free-software circles, it has to do centrally with convictions about freedom, rights, duties, obligations, and the like (e.g. Coleman, 2005). In many cases these are tackled in a frankly libertarian framework, which bears comparison to Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974), the classic statement of modern philosophical libertarianism the title of which was reflected in Ludlow’s volume. But here and now the arguments extend to matters of information and knowledge: to what extent ideas originate in creative authors, and if so, how far they may legitimately be enclosed.2 And here they mesh with a discrete tradition of economics and political science, including rational choice theory. What the Sealand/Pirate Bay moment highlights is the extent to which that conjunction is, first, historical in general - it extends back beyond the 1960s, in fact, to the 1920s, and perhaps even to the 1820s - and, second, specifically a product of debates triggered by broadcasting. Those debates concerned the proper relation between media, knowledge, and the public. To trace today’s moral philosophy – the kind of thing seen in legitimate practical contexts in the anthropologies of hacker groups researched by Gabriella Coleman and Chris Kelty – back to pirate radio is to suggest for it a genealogy rather different from that most commonly invoked. The appropriate inspirations become not Stewart Brand and the Whole Earth Catalog, but Friedrich Hayek and – especially – Ronald Coase and their assaults on public media.3 The difference matters because it in turn suggests that a much more ambiguous political legacy is in play." -
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