August 4, 2010

Plagiarism and Corporatism

Filed under: Corporatism — Tags: — Russ @ 2:25 am


The NYT had a piece on today’s “student” rabble.

Ms. Blum argued that student writing exhibits some of the same qualities of pastiche that drive other creative endeavors today — TV shows that constantly reference other shows or rap music that samples from earlier songs.

In an interview, she said the idea of an author whose singular effort creates an original work is rooted in Enlightenment ideas of the individual. It is buttressed by the Western concept of intellectual property rights as secured by copyright law. But both traditions are being challenged.

“Our notion of authorship and originality was born, it flourished, and it may be waning,” Ms. Blum said.

She contends that undergraduates are less interested in cultivating a unique and authentic identity — as their 1960s counterparts were — than in trying on many different personas, which the Web enables with social networking.

“If you are not so worried about presenting yourself as absolutely unique, then it’s O.K. if you say other people’s words, it’s O.K. if you say things you don’t believe, it’s O.K. if you write papers you couldn’t care less about because they accomplish the task, which is turning something in and getting a grade,” Ms. Blum said, voicing student attitudes. “And it’s O.K. if you put words out there without getting any credit.”

I suppose the corporations must have mixed feelings about this. The death of originality as a value in itself, let alone as practice, fits in perfectly with the corporate demand for conformity. A shallow poser on principle who lets himself feel validated by his meretriciousness, but who otherwise implicitly affirms the system in all its tyranny and crimes, suits the corporate goal well.
But if this attitude is pervasive enough to encompass everything the corporations want to reserve as “intellectual property” as well, it becomes a problem. How do you encourage someone to be lazy and shallow enough to disparage non-conformity and originality, but to revere so vague and dubious an invention as corporate intellectual property?
(A corporation in itself is, on its face, a notion of mystical nonsense which any free, rational thinker would laugh at if he didn’t know that civilization has in reality enslaved itself to such apparitions. The notion that this empty pseudo-entity can also hold a “patent” or a “copyright”, both concepts which have been stretched way beyond reality-based definitions, is the ghost of a ghost, the derivative of a derivative, pure moonshine. How do people not see all this as a bizarre Moonie-type cult?)
Here again the goal is to destroy all human values and replace them with corporate anti-values, but at the same time impose all sorts of technical restrictions on how these anti-values can be applied. Thus for example corporations want our discourse to be only about corporate brands, but at the same time they want severe constraints on how we’re to be allowed to talk about the brands. No discouraging words. The McLibel case was the iconic example.
Once again we see the way corporations hate democracy and want to destroy it.


  1. “How do people not see all this as a bizarre Moonie-type cult?”

    So often curiosity collides with comfort, comfort is not the right word, collides with fear. And I think folks have many good reasons to be nervous even if they often behave like raving paranoids.

    It’s a vast hot universe barely better if we’re together. We’re wobbling here. People cuddle in cults. Cults change over the centuries as Voltaire hoped, but clinging is a big part of the way we do living. No?

    ‘In Corpora’ is the Latin root, to make a new body. It was to offer new rights if we joined in action – to own, to operate, even to outlive us. At the time we believed we needed stronger entities to do work beyond the lifetime of individuals. But these days corporations that live too long are leaving damage and cruelty.

    The roots of the word corporation seems to have become a thundering corpse rather than living body. Have these giant organizations morphed into chaotic complex systems, some say becoming alive, seeking survival and dominance no matter who’s in charge? Now that’s a cult!

    Comment by Brian — August 4, 2010 @ 4:55 am

  2. Hi Brian,

    American state governments originally rejected the idea of an immortal corporation (and every other tyrannical feature of the modern corporation).

    Among the many limitations on corporate charters was a limited lifespan at the end of which the corporation would have to apply for charter renewal, which wasn’t guaranteed to be granted.

    (In some states bank charters had to be renewed every three years!)

    Nor were any changes necessary for economic “progress”. American industry grew at a rapid clip throughout the 1st half of the 19th century, the time of the old-style constrained corporations.

    But all these safeguards were gradually eroded, not by any economic necessity, but the pressure of greed and powerlust.

    The post-Civil War era saw the escalation of the corporate onslaught against democracy.

    By now it sure is a cult. Indeed the concept of corporate personhood is radically anti-Christian, religious in its own way. I’ve seen it called a form of Satanism, in a precise theological sense (upholding demonic entities as “persons” over the souls of actual human beings).

    Comment by Russ — August 4, 2010 @ 5:45 am

  3. Ahh, it’s unnecessary to look to pulpits to certify that corporate mortality was on everyone’s lips. We buried Kings and Lords of feudalism and most of us were nervous about any rights beyond a grave.

    But civil action is never easy. Awhile ago, to defeat centuries of our discouragement, creating a potent corporate incentive was an ingenious trick to build us up against an old world of perpetual power.

    Today we moan that corporations have become new plutocrats, selling us couches, Cheetos and Katie Couric to keep us lazy.

    But we must seek incentive and keep what we’ve found. Oh no, not argument and war against natural error, but I think you rediscover it when you point out it’s our Secretary of State that can require or revoke a Charter.

    Recently in China, (who da thunk it?), a company must audit and pay for both its social and environmental impact. BP, unlike Exxon, immediately promised that, we’ll see. That’s Charter but through the back door.

    Wouldn’t we lift history to a new chapter if we trusted these recent new corporate beings instead of cowering under their sloppy knighthoods? They are potent and powerful, they can buy offices and, thanks to Justice Roberts, buy officeholders, but they’re not yet citizens. We have a few years to fix it.

    Comment by Brian — August 4, 2010 @ 7:08 am

  4. I should add that ‘gradual erosion’ stands out. Annoys me no end.

    I know good principles are not rare principles. I can’t bear it when issues are silly.

    It’s as if wakening is not a religious or political task, but personal. That’s good in your blog.

    Comment by Brian — August 4, 2010 @ 7:32 am

    • I suppose for the moment it’s personal first, in that a prerequisite for getting a movement started in the first place is a minimum of intelligent, committed activists who agree on the problem and the solution.

      So before anything can be done those people have to acheive that consciousness, each on a personal level.

      But then the process becomes dialectical – once the educational themes are being aggressively propounded, and especially once the movement and its visible, concomitant actions exist, it becomes the vector of consciousness raising to ever greater numbers from among the masses. So by then consciousness is no longer a “personal” achivement but a political one.

      Unfortunately we’re still in the preliminary stage.

      Comment by Russ — August 5, 2010 @ 6:56 am

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