Stay calm – Nothing will happen to TPB, us personally or file sharing what so ever. This is just a theater for the media.
That was Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi (a.k.a. Brokep)’s response to the conviction of The Pirate Bay. But of course, we won’t stay that calm, even if it is just a theater. Yes, hopefully it will be an epic win anyhow, but not only that — I hope it will also be an epic lost to such judgements in the future.
A quick recap of the news for those who haven’t heard. Five days ago The Pirate Bay was sentenced to a year in prison for its four defendants and some 3.5 billion USD in fines.
The sheer confidence of TPB guys upon that verdict astound me. It reminds me of the conviction of the communists of the olden days that they will finally win. Which has to do with a lot of things that I have been having in mind.
When I say communists, with the thought traditions I come from, I meant that fully as a compliment. It has been said often that the revolutionaries of today’s copyright laws are “modern-day communists”. Many defenders of copyright reformation — the supporters of Creative Commons, etc — would reject this idea. My guess is that they only know communism from its common abuses they have heard, the image of the gulag looming over them. But does not the very fact of them defending a right of a “common” whatsoever points to communist thinking?
Nor do I want to imply that pirates will become like the old communists — lost, defeated, only able to bathe in fantasmatic nostalgias of the past, the very term under which all its fights were conducted now terribly corrupted. If anything, the term “piracy” has gone through an entirely different set of fate: it began as a negative word for selfish bands of criminals, but today speak to adress heroes defending the rights of the common good, to tear down the walls of market oppression. If trajectory of terms mean anything, and we have known since structuralism that it means quite a lot, we should see something even bigger emerge from the pirates.
So, does the idea of piracy mean anything for the idea of communism? Would we see, emerging from it in its totality, a global Event? They say that we are much closer to the end of the 19th century in terms of the unhealthy cynicism presented by most of the society today. One realm, however, stays incredibly strong, positive, even militant in its conviction, and there is no cynicism at all about its longevity, although (or perhaps especially because) it acts outside the state. This is the realm of the defense for the digital crowd, the commons of the posthuman era. Movements such as the very recent Blackout Europe, in fact, rings so much more bell of truth, of chance, and of undying faith in the strength of the commons than, say, the recent G 20 protest.
Indeed, in every place of today’s defense of physical political struggle, we always see an element of cynicism — we already know that the struggle will just be another lost, at best another media sensation. The Pirate Bay, on the other hand, claims that their struggle will be another win, that it is just the media masturbating themselves with a theater. In fact, I personally have never seen a struggle for a digital/Internet rights movement imbued with any dose of cynicism whatsoever.
Does this attitude, and more specifically does Brokep’s amazing confidence not point to a faithfulness of an Event, one that all Leftists today are supposed to need?
Some people I know suggest that communist conferences and otherwise Leftist ones should be taken to the streets and factories instead of being kept inside lavish college buildings. While I applaud the anti-bourgeois spirit of this kind of criticism, it also presents us with a false trap — the political spaces and topologies today is such that I remain a pessimist that doing conferences in factories would only confuse the problem further while making it look like enough of a sensation to do much more. My suggestion would be otherwise — why not do a communist conference in an exclusive cruise liner instead, so that when the conference achieves nothing, we are confronted right with that fact instead of an “academic” or even a “worker” sensation that we have done something significantly meaningful?
Perhaps we are just looking for political movements in the wrong places with the wrong issues. What Marxists need to remember today is that we are already posthumans. All that is solid has melt into air. What had been Marx’s future is our present. Boycott all media products — we have nothing to lose but our chains.