Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Jan Lokpal Bill and Lokavidhyadhar Samaj - Lalit Kaul

The root cause for birth of corruption in activities related to social, political, religious, and economic affairs of a human society is dishonest intent. Consequently the impact of such dishonest maneuvers in managing, family affairs, societal affairs, and that of the whole Nation varies in the quantum of harm it does within its specified boundaries.

To experiment while trying to plan and implement certain programs perceived to do good for the populace that is under consideration cannot be denied to any head of a family, sarpanch/panchayat of a village, and/or the elected government of a Nation. The failure of such an experiment too does not deserve any kind of ridicule for the thought process that initiated it and the effort/resources that were expended to make a success of it, but to stick on to a failed experiment is tantamount to pursuing certain interests that are at once at variance with, and/or in contrast to, its avowed aim – the good of the people. The failed experiments do benefit a section of people who are a part of planning and implementing agencies because of very huge (incomprehensible for a commoner on the street) quantum of financial investments in activities under the experiments. The intent to carry on endlessly with the experiment because of vested interests is Dishonest Intent and amassing of wealth at the cost of perceived beneficiaries is only its by-product- defined as corruption. An honest intent would scrap the experiment.

Organic Link:

The Indian caste system is perhaps as old as its civilizations have been. Each caste has had its own samaj visibly and inherently different from the others. The singular and most momentous contribution of post independence Indian governments is creation of a new samaj – the anglicized Indian samaj - visibly and inherently different from the Lok Vidyadhar Samaj. Yet, like the old times, there exists an organic link between these two and because of which the dynamics of anglicized samaj adversely affect those of the Lok Vidyadhar Samaj.

The Failed Experiment and the Dishonest Intent:

Before embarking on the development process based on Five Year Plans, the first Prime Minister of India requested Professor P C Mahalnobis to work on the alternative plans for socio-economic development of the people of India. Professor P C Mahalnobis, accordingly, submitted two plans, 1) capital intensive and 2) engaging crores of unemployed hands in productive activities. The then Prime Minister chose the former. An experiment based on the collective perception of those at the helm of the affairs then cannot be a matter of ridicule today.

However, the fact that this experiment had not yielded expected results and in fact had continued to inflict more and more miseries on the ever growing section of the populace, was ignored subsequently, is tantamount to dishonest intent that completely inhibited initiation of another experiment as proposed by Professor P C Mahalnobis the inspiration for which remained the Gandhian perspective of the Indian samaj.

Corruption on the Rise:

The big money temptations bred and nurtured the nexus between the politicians of the day, the big business, and the bureaucracy that also led to vast increase in the strengths of police forces and creation of ever growing paramilitary forces to inhibit/suppress any kind of protest, organized in any possible way, from the sea of humanity that perennially found itself exploited and left out of the process of growth and economic development.

In fact the annoyance at raising the issue of corruption was expressed by Pandit Nehru who did not like Sri Feroz Gandhi, the then Congress M.P., raising the Mundhra Deal scandal in the Parliament! Not only the seed of intolerance had been sown against anything that went against the Congress party, the hint that corruption was the last point on agenda for discussion subtly went across the Congress MPs. Smt. Indira Gandhi went many steps further to boldly declare in the Parliament that ‘corruption was a global phenomenon’!

While Bofors scandal opened the flood gates of corruption because it was the first time that the Prime Minister had been accused of accepting commissions, publicly honouring Sri P V Narsimha Rao for his literary contributions at a time when he remained implicated by a lower court and ordered to be imprisoned for 3 years, legitimized corrupt ways and corruption. Both the governments had one common feature and that was innumerable scandals. The flight of capital from this country to safe havens abroad was only a natural corollary.

The proposed Jan Lokpal Bill is essentially an attempt to eradicate, over a period of time, this corruption that essentially addresses this disease of ‘giving and taking bribes’. The reason why it has caught imagination of lakhs of people cutting across social, religious, class, and age barriers is that in addition to losing money by way of giving bribes it defeats all rationality to accept government employees demand of ‘cash for work’- the work he/she is employed to do! How much of it will succeed is not a matter for discussion here.

The Fallout:

A kind of respectability gets accorded to those millions of half-naked, starved, emaciated, and exploited lot when they are perceived as members of a samaj- the Lokavidhyadhar Samaj. This classification may be new, but the membership has lived through more than six decades (excluding the span of British rule because their intentions were honest in that looting India was their primary aim). It is a legitimate child of multifarious dishonest intents of the ruling class. This is a greater question. That the dishonest intent has given birth to a wholly deprived Lokavidhyadhar Samaj is a question that Jan Lokpal Bill fails to address. The fallout of dishonest intent is not that ‘garib aadmi’ is fed up with and/or against giving bribes because it eats in to his coffers, but that it has deprived him of his enterprise and consequently a dignified living based on his productive capabilities (It can be nobody’s case that institutionalization of Lokavidya will ensure a corruption free society, whereas it is bound to improve material quality of life for Lokavidhyadhar samaj).

Imperatives for LJA:

Therefore nothing defines corruption more poignantly than his quality of existence. Looking at it from this angle, the issue of corruption gets transcended to a plane from where giving and taking bribes becomes too mundane to be seized with.

Therefore, the movement for eradication of corruption, in the said context, would necessarily have to address to the extant basic structures of, socio-economic development, electoral politics and the mechanisms in place for elections, the mechanisms for deliverance of justice, socio-religious divide, etc; etc.

Hence, it is required of the Lokavidya Jan Andolan to define ‘dishonest intent’ and its fallout with reference to Lokavidhyadhar Samaj like, its exploitation creating abysmal poverty all across; systematic neglect and suppression of its knowledge base culminating in to production of millions of unskilled labourers forced to migrate to cities from their villages in search of livelihood just to subsist, and the process of dehumanizing concomitant with large scale migrations leading to increase in crime rates requiring more and more police force and judiciary for ‘managing’ law and order.

To articulate that the movement for establishment of honest intent is all about eradication of such systems/mechanisms which encourage and institutionalize dishonesty for personal gains is to ask for prime space for Lokavidhyadhar Samaj in the political, social, economical, and religious dynamics of Indian society.

The struggle for getting that ‘prime space’ is the genuine one against the dishonest intent and its by-product, the corruption.

Lalit Kaul

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Some Observations and Some Questions on Lokavidya – A. V. Balasubramanian

[What follows is an email sent by AVB to Sunil Sahasrabudhey]

As I had explained to you earlier I would be unable to participate in the meeting. However, I have gone through some of the background material and I have the following comments / questions.

1. Other movements and efforts

Over the last twenty five years or so there have been several other movements and efforts which in my opinion are addressing the very same or similar issues in specific domains. For example, LSPSS (Lok Swasthya Parampara Samvardhan Samithi) was formed in 1986 and was very active for about fifteen years and FRLHT (Foundation for Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions) of Darshan Shankar is an offshoot of LSPSS which is building on it. It is engaged with organizing gram vaidyas, getting a status for them, making them interact with classical scholars on Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani. Local health traditions have been put on the map of the planning commission which now has a sub group and a budgetary allocation for it. There are similar efforts of people who are working with metal workers, textiles, weaving, dyeing, design etc.

2. Indian context

In the Indian context Lok Vidya has by and large had a more friendly and symbiotic relationship compared to the west. For example, classical texts of Ayurveda explicitly recognizes the folk traditions or knowledge and a strong similar thinking runs through various other domains of knowledge including – language and grammar, dance and music, jyotish etc. This is a strong understanding that some people have been trying to build on like FRLHT.

3. What is the kind of space that Lok Vidya will occupy in today’s society?

While there may indeed be institutions particularly set up (or existing in the traditional domain) to nurture and support them, it is a fact that the bulk of modern resource and patronage is being cornered by the modern western system. Do we negotiate for spaces within these institutions for Lok Vidya? These kinds of efforts are already on. For example, when the planning commission sets up a sub group on local health traditions and the Ministry of AYUSH makes an allocation for it. Similarly IGNOU (Indira Gandhi National Open University) now has a programme on traditional knowledge and is seized with the fact that knowledge is not what is just created in Universities but there is also a certain “Pre existing knowledge” as the modern term goes and that needs to be recognized. IGNOU has formed a committee to find the ways and means to do this and Darshan and myself are both members of this committee.

In the 1980s during the early days of PPST much of our energy was spent in making a case to show to others (and also to ourselves) that there is tremendous cultural, geographical and civilisational specificity to knowledge that India had and still has these traditions of knowledge, sciences and technologies. Thirty years later today, I think that the present situation is that much of what we argued is readily granted but this is at the level of the sociology of sciences or epistemology of sciences and none of this is reflected in the way in which working scientists or modern institutions operate. Also since the 1980s various members of the PPST group have indeed gathered rich experience and some insights doing some active work in specific domains of science and technology both within and outside modern scientific institutions.

At the ground level, I feel that to practically address a whole range of problems and issues today, be it in the dimension of health or agriculture or housing or architecture it seems unlikely to impossible that all solutions will emerge from a single stream of science or technology either modern or classical, Indian or Lok Vidya. Most of us are making a synthesis with inputs drawn from various aspects of this knowledge for all our requirements such as treatment of diseases. Today this is taking place without any recognition, support or blessings from any formal institutional structure or expert practitioners. It seems to me that there is an urgent need to support these efforts institutionally. Sometime back I had authored an article with the title – Seeing With Two Eyes: How The Patient Is Trying To Integrate Medical Systems And What The Professionals Can Do To Help which I had published in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine. I had circulated it to a few friends including yourself and I am sending you a copy of it once again as attachment file for your ready reference.


I am happy to receive your mail and be on the know about various discussions and developments. However, my major questions remains in terms of how and where you are taking note of various of these developments (even if you have critical observations).

I am copying this mail to C. N. Krishnan with whom from time to time I discuss some of these issues and you may feel free to circulate it to others in the group who may be interested.

Best wishes,

Yours sincerely,

A. V. Balasubramanian

No.30, Gandhi Mandapam Road
Kotturpuram, Chennai - 600 085, Tamil Nadu
Ph : +91-044-2447 1087 / 5862
E-mail : info@ciks.org / ciksorg@gmail.com
Website : www.ciks.org

Sunday, August 21, 2011

On silence and cultural workers - Bojana Piškur

What is missing in most discourses on this subject today is concrete and radical proposals on how to separate culture from ideology, and an understanding of how the different levels of hegemony, exploitation and power relations manifest themselves in culture. The problem is primarily how to identify these issues in a way that would allow the multiple struggles in one field (i.e., culture) to connect with the struggles in other parts of the social factory. Or, as the students of the UC Santa Cruz put it in their manifesto: a free university in an unfree world is worthless; it can hardly exist. That is why cultural workers must address, in addition to the particular issues concerning their status, also the broader social issues surrounding the revolution of the everyday.[5]

[1] See: Isabell Lorey, 2006, Governmentality and Self-Precarization: On the normalization of cultural producers, http://transform.eipcp.net/transversal/1106/lorey/en#redir; (accessed on November 1, 2010)

[2] Cultural workers are usually considered those who are involved in “cultural production”. We would like to expand this notion to the whole field of culture, therefore including all the workers in cultural institutions, such as service workers, staff workers, technicians, security etc.

[3] What we mean here is the lack of solidarity between cultural workers and other “workers in struggle”.

[4] George Caffentzis / Silvia Federici, 2007, Notes on edu-factory and Cognitive Capitalism, http://eipcp.net/transversal/0809/caffentzisfederici/en

[5] Thanks to Tjaša Pureber for pointing out this to me.

[6] For best compilation of such texts see http://www.eipcp.net/transversal

[7] Hal Foster, The Artist as Etnographer, in The return of the real, MIT Press, 1996, p. 175?

[8] See Gayatri Spivak. The concept refers to using the group identity as a basis of struggle to achieve certain goals.

[9] Jasna Koteska, 2006, Against the pre-Archival Mentality, http://jasnakoteska.blogspot.com/2008/06/5622-2006-314.html

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Lokavidya and Science

When speaking of lokavidya, and science too, it would be less confusing if we can distinguish between two levels on which we speak.

One is the empirical level of description. By lokavidya, we refer to knowledge that is spread out in societies, communities and individuals. It may be knowledge of food, farming, health, child rearing, artisanship, mobile phones, steel, art, music and so on. Science also refers empirically to the various sciences. At this level there is a great variety among different kinds of knowledge within lokavidya as well as within science. Seen in this manner, lokavidya as well as science can be seen constituted by a myriad of knowledge traditions. As knowledge, they are all knowledge, even if with different ontologies, values, methods, etc. What is distinctive of lokavidya is that it is carried upon the stream of ordinary life.

In describing the matter in this way, we are already employing a particular perspective on knowledge. Lokavidya is also this perspective (presented here as I see it). This is the second level of talk about lokavidya. ‘Science’ (as a perspective on knowledge) described the situation in completely different way. According to this scientific perspective, society is the hotbed of superstitions, imaginative narratives, and some knowledge acquired through trial and error. In this perspective, the emancipation of humankind lies in slowly replacing all this pseudo-knowledge in society with proper scientific knowledge. It is this perspective, which has shaped the institution that is science and the place of science in society. One important feature of this perspective is that it does not recognize itself as a perspective. The way knowledge is produced in science is considered simply to be the most natural (and rational) way of pursuing knowledge, once we are ‘enlightened’ and free of all superstitions.

Lokavidya perspective is a contemporary perspective on knowledge and politics. It sees in society an abundance of knowledge. All societies are knowledge societies in some way. When this knowledge is denied, all initiative is sucked out of society, as it perhaps happened in more developed societies where any autonomous knowledge activity is seen as disruptive. In lokavidya perspective, there are no impermeable boundaries in knowledge. Knowledge travels both ways. In the ‘knowledge society’ that is being shaped today in the information age, knowledge travels from fields, farms, homes and workshops to the global network as well as from the labs, networks, etc. to ordinary life. The latter is termed piracy. In the WEB 2.0, social networking that is happening is structured to function on the basis of the knowledge of the people who are contributing. It is building structures to tap knowledge from the people. Science is part of this structure and contemporary scientists are worried that the knowledge they produce is taken away from the domain of the society and put into the hands of the profit-seeking and violence-spawning behemoths.

Science is two-faced, just as the Internet. Noble and the ignoble mix here. Roots of this entrenched ambiguity in matters of knowledge lie at least in part in the scientific perspective which evolved in 19th and 20th centuries. Even utopian thinkers of the Internet, ‘free knowledge’ advocates, are unable to extricate themselves from this conundrum.

Lokavidya standpoint on knowledge proposes equality in the sphere of knowledge as the basis for the making of an egalitarian society. This equality is posed in terms of locations of knowledge. Prima facie, knowledge at various locations in society, like university, religion, ordinary life, ethnic groups, political and social formations are equal. There cannot be a fiat that knowledge gained in this way or organized in that way only is knowledge. This equality goes beyond the relativism/absolutism debate. To someone schooled in the 20th century philosophies of knowledge, the assertions of lokavidya may seem strangely positivist and plural at the same time.

An important set of questions need to be about how such a standpoint on knowledge (or some other) can translate into a political project by connecting to the struggles of those people who were excluded from the ‘developments’ of the 20th century and are now again on the verge of being sucked into the global economies of exploitation and violence at massively unequal terms. Can staking a claim for lokavidya provide energy and direction for such struggles?

Avinash Jha

Librarian, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi &

Research Scholar, Centre for Exact Humanities, IIIT, Hyderabad.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Shudra of the Modern World and the Lokavidya

The protagonists and the apologists of the modern science and technology in our country have had very unique habitual indulgence- very tall claims of their own contributions in the realm of science and technology. They love to believe in their claims because it gives them sustenance notwithstanding the naked TRUTH that stares at their face that there has not been any contribution by them worth the name in the world of science and technology that puts India on its map. Nothing brings out this point more succinctly than the stark fact that India, as a modern state, continues to import technology through the process of either collaborations, one time purchase or business agreement. The situation is so pathetic that from design & manufacture of as simple a thing as sewing needle to ink pens, fan blades to any electronic gadget, power plant equipments, any state of the art machinery to the sophisticated medical equipments, etc., etc., nothing, just nothing has a stamp of Indian genius on it. This community has had only tall claims to make to bewilder an outsider to such an extent that these self styled scientists and technologists are held in awe by everyone and anyone.

The Grand failure:

The National Science & Technology Policy Document, 1975, among other things laid emphasis on Self-reliance and Self-sufficiency in scientific and technological pursuits. This document was brought out under the leadership of late Prime Minister, Smt. Indira Priyadrshani (Nehru) Gandhi. Prior to this document were the Five Year Plans that laid the foundations for the pursuit of modern science and technology in our country.

These were not just hollow words, but the intentions were made quite visible by the kind & quantum of spending the respective central governments took upon to help establish premier scientific laboratories, institutions, and infrastructure for pursuing science and technology development. This was done on the basis of the plans submitted by the ‘leading scientific minds’ of every generation and era ostensibly to fulfill the aims & objectives set forth in the aforesaid mentioned Policy Document and the Five Year Plans.

The resulting outcome was 1) buying of large chunks of real estate at prime locations in premier cities of India that definitely caused displacement of traditionally productive populace & on retrospect, a complete and total halt to any kind of productive activity, 2) building of huge laboratories equipped with the then state of the art equipments and duly air conditioned wherever required, 3) residential accommodations for the ‘brilliant’ minds who were to put India on the world map of Science & Technology, and 4) clubs and recreation avenues, parks, hospital facilities for health care, schools for emerging thinkers ,markets and what all you have!!

The enterprise stopped with large/medium scale recruitment of supporting staff and the scientists, technologists, etc. The biggest question that remained to be answered was- what to do with the established infrastructure and man-power? This question still remains un-answered, even though huge investments continue to be made in ‘indigenous’ ‘research & development’ activities.

Unable to relate themselves with the requirements of the Indian state, the manufacturing sector, the health services, the energy requirements for the near and distant future, etc., the natural outcome was a decent, quiet, and deep burial of the ‘self-reliant’ part of the National Science & Technology Policy.

Now onwards the catch word was to be ‘self-sufficiency’ and this meant never ending ‘assimilation’ of collaborated technologies and the so called R&D centre, big, medium, and small sized manufacturing units were to only absorb the manufacturing processes and churn out products that were bound to lose quality and market competitiveness and become stale –over the years- because of technological obsolescence. The classic examples are the Ambassador & Premier Padmini cars. The bankruptcy of Indian entrepreneur was overwhelmingly highlighted when LML Vespa (a two wheeler) was marketed with side indicators. Until then this feature of a two wheeler was incomprehensible to the native ‘entrepreneur’.

The affordable units went in for new collaborations whereas the lesser ones ended winding up their enterprise.

While all this happened before the era of ‘Globalization & Liberalization’ the engineering & scientific elite in the ‘premier’ institutions- christened as ‘… of Science & Technology’ or ‘Engineering’ remained as mute spectators to the whole scenario and never ever any worthwhile effort was made at a purposeful collaboration between Indian enterprise & institutions to tackle the issue of non-up-gradation of technology (manufacturing processes) by collective application of minds.

The Era of Globalization and Liberalization:

This era witnessed over flooding of Indian markets with technologically innovated products. Indian scientific and engineering community had long lost the race and that tantamount to colossal betrayal of the National aspirations enumerated by the then political leadership in the National Science & Technology Policy Document, 1975.

During the intervening one and a half decade the character of political leadership had also undergone a kind of metamorphosis in that it had no continuity with the leadership of the yore. The collaboration between the politicians of the day, the self proclaimed entrepreneurs and academicians was so innate and expedient that all the pretensions of product oriented research and development were divorced and the Indian markets were thrown open to multinationals. The Indian scientist, engineer, and technologist by virtue of their deeds over the decades in post independent India found themselves confined to the dustbin of history with no role to play in the modern ways of economic development except to implement the design of their masters for whatever their labour was priced at. The indenture labour was resurrected, in a seemingly dignified way though.

However, the ‘Temples of Modern India’ that lay in ruins had to be continued with for the reason that, it generated cheap manpower for the multinationals and their Indian caricatures to tap; its employees constituted a dominant and respectable section in the middle class; and the younger generations continued to aspire to join them as post training they would gain respectability from the society they belonged to. Therefore the character of these institutions underwent a wholesome change in that instead of project related technical reviews material budget reviews occupied the center stage because the governments of the day decreed that a basic minimum amount had to be spent on research and development activities. This led to expansions in terms of infrastructure; induction of more man-power, etc., etc,. The question “To What Use?” lost relevance as winning the race for spending the allocated funds was the new born aim and it got directly related to tax rebates. This vicious cycle of spending public money and misleading the very public is going on without inhibitions- no questions asked; none answered. The undocumented colossal waste of public money is going on unquestioned.

The major and most significant contribution of the era of Globalization and Liberalization lies in the classification of modern societies in to two castes: the Shudra and the Brahmin; the Brahmin personifying the Knowledge and Shudra the multitude of hands to perpetuate the dominance of Brahminical world view. The Brahmin originates from Europe & US while the Shudra is our own scientist, engineer and technologist.

The Lokavidya:

Quite contrary to the pampering of ‘emerging’ scientists, engineers and technologists of modern India by the governments of the day over the last 67 years, the native Brahmins (the owners of the knowledge of traditional science and technology) were all through treated as Shudra (ignorant, unknowledgeable and deep steeped in ‘superstitions’) deserving of contempt and ever usable as available commodity in the service of the new emerging class. What is strikingly remarkable, though, is that the designated Shudra (owners of Lokavidya) has managed to retain his productivity with the help of his Lokavidya against all odds and ever hostile conditions whereas the pampered ones languished in unproductiveness only to be relegated to a Shudra in the modern world.

Herein lays the difference between the two in that the owner of Lokavidya has survived all the onslaughts since the year 1757; has shown the capability to fight (within his means) injustice and oppression meted out to him; and is now trying to regroup to fight the predator in the garb of economic reforms that is threatening to deprive him of all his possessions; whereas the modern Shudra remained a rootless entity unable to identify with the modern ways, devoid of any spirit of ownership and therefore ever ready to capitulate for his survival. While the owner of Lokavidya draws his strength from his capability for independent enterprise, the modern Shudra is ever dependent on his Brahmin for survival.

Whereas, the designated Shudra has a valid claim over knowledge production, the modern Shudra can afford no such claim because the process of economic reforms has thoroughly exposed him. Lokavidya has roots in the soil of this land, whereas the modern Shudra’s knowledge system has roots in the alien lands; that is the reason why Lokavidya is here to stay.

Lalit K Kaul

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The pirate parties in Europe and struggle over intellectual property regime - Marko Ulvila

Recently an electoral political movement has emerged in Europe challenging specifically the century long trend of tightening intellectual property regime. This 'pirate' movement has its roots in youth culture where sharing of digital content over the Internet is considered a natural right that the entertainment industry tries illegitimately to curtail though copyright laws and litigations. At present the pirate parties have got representatives in the European Parliament and local councils of five countries in the continental Europe where proportional electoral system make it fairly easy for new parties to enter the arena.

The movement has taken its identity and name 'pirates' from a famous Swedish Internet web site the Pirate Bay that facilitates peer-to-peer sharing of digital content using bit torrent protocol. The group that runs the popular web site and operators that host the service have been taken several times to court by multinational entertainment industry for copyright violations. The court cases have became media events and the fact that the site is up and running despite several rulings against it have made the organisers almost mythical heros.

Against this background of popular struggle with the copyright regime in Sweden, the first Pirate Party was established there in 2006. Its aim was to reform laws regarding copyright and patents so that their realm in society would be limited in individual freedoms enhanced. The agenda also included support for a strengthening of the right to privacy and the transparency of state administration

In the national parliamentary elections in 2006 the Swedish Pierate Party got 0,63 % of the popular vote with no representation. However, the movement started growing fast. Joining the party was made easy over the Internet and membership has grown fast the traditional parties so that today it has third largest membership.

The Swedish Pirate Party got a surprising electoral success in the 2009 European Parliament elections when it got 7 % of the vote and 2 representatives. This can be explained by addressing a real political issue and creative mobilisation over the Internet. Also the fact that most Swedes disprove the European Union and tend to vote in the European Parliament elections outside traditional party loyalties is a factor.

The electoral success in Sweden in 2009 has inspired groups in most European countries to set up similar parties or movement groups under the same pirate title. In the past years the pirate parties have win seats in local councils in Gemarny, Spain, Switzerland and Czech Republic.

The pirate party movement has chosen to limit its agenda to a narrow set of issues important in the information society. Also it has chosen not to take a clear position on the traditional left-right continuum.

In my mind the narrow agenda of the pirate parties will limit their impact, since copyright and patent regimes can hardly be democratised unless there is overall societal democratisation. Just as the creation of the current exploitative intellectual property regime has been an initiative of the powerful elites, a just regime can be established only through democratic change in power relations.

Historically, making knowledge a realm of private property through copyright and patent legislation has been an important element of the capitalist world system. The Berne copyright convention from 1886 and Paris patent convention from 1883 were essential instruments in consolidating European power internationally. The infamous Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement from 1994 is the latest big leap in creating enclosures in the knowledge commons by the powerful.

Altering this trend requires noting short of revolution where the power of the capital would be replaced by the power of the people (democracy). The articulation of the private parties about the injustices in the intellectual property regime and new control technologies is very useful in understanding the challenges created by the digitalised technology. However, it is not enough to deal with the problems specific to the information era and leave aside the standing problems of the feudal and industrial eras that has origins in the same sources.

Marko Ulvila

The author is writer and democracy activist based in Tampere, Finland and an active member in the Green Party

More information about the pirate movement

The Swedish Pirate Party http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pirate_Party_%28Sweden%29

Pirate Parties International http://pp-international.net/