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July 17, 2006

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J. Alva Scruggs
Take, for instance, FaceBook and MySpace, which enable kids to proclaim their individuality as if they are new corporate entities or celebrities. Or, think about how we can customize products as if we own our own showrooms.

The kids just want to produce something that other people will admire. Every other outlet has a pay to play price that's beyond their means. After the big government libertarians get done ramming through their idiot's delight of a beefed enclosure scheme, the kids whose parents can afford it will doubtless turn to watching HDTV schlock streamed over the internets (it's a series of tangled up tubes!).

People don't attempt to become hyperindividualists without a lot of pushing along the way. The kids have the examples of their seniors quacking about community values, then mandating urine tests before anyone can enter the playground. And they still want to produce something other people will appreciate. Rather than fret about enabling narcissism, why not address the character of the people who turn their schools into career-training conformity factories?

How do we create and maintain public goods when the Hidden Hand drops the ball?

I gather sending the Senate to prison, as a positive first step, is not on the table at this time? It would help put a stop to violent, misanthropic tax and spend conservatism.

It's very difficult to get anything going with the guarantee in place that it will be stolen.

phil

Getting to "we" in the world we want is tricky. We can be kids and bloggers admiring one another's work, forming social cliques and social identities, but we can also be the we of "we the people," or the will of the people, or of the public in public goods. The internets have given us a taste of how it goes from individual posturing, to conversation, to community, to collective action. Collective action is what cannot be bought in stores. Corporate action is a surrogate. Collective action is at the heart of politics. It has been subverted in our ownership society by atomizing us into consumers, but it can never be extinguished, not by capitalism any more than it could be extinquished under socialism, fascism, or any other regime. The will of the people can be numbed, ignored, framed, remanufactured, defined out of existence, but it expresses itself in song, poetry, jokes, and carnival even in the darkest of days. The difference between that voice and soundbites is quite striking.

J. Alva Scruggs

Phil, I agree wholeheartedly. One positive step would be curtailing the white collar thuggery that thwarts people's efforts. It's unconscionable that people can build something for themselves, as in the case of the community farm I linked, and then have it legally stolen from them, even when their elected representatives are willing to pay the thug to go away.

The internets have given us a taste of how it goes from individual posturing, to conversation, to community, to collective action. Collective action is what cannot be bought in stores.

Amen to that especially. Many of the kids splashing pixels in the first efforts will get a taste for something more meaningful. I'd like it to be harder for the thugs to steal their future work.

phil

"Property is theft," said Prudhomme, father to anarchist theory. We work with the laws we are given by the law-makers. To whom they are answerable is the sad part in our current owernship society.

Gerry

Do we seriously debate the status of property any more? The public rhetoric has the population in fear of the myth of a parasitic state while the rich don't have to pick your pocket, they have license to build machinery to squeeze it out of you. WB is ubiquitous and invisible like the air we breath.

How do you question the property rights of the few billionaires without everyone else fearing whatever the few want them too. After all, who owns the media.

Phil

"Res publica" - public goods, what we own in common, that is the leverage point, if the conversation could be turned. Air, water, literary traditions, moral traditions, political freedom, individual human rights, those are not "owned" like chairs or cattle, they are created, nutured, or maintained by collective action. The media may indeed stifle the conversation, but word may leak out yet.

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