Microsoft copies an old playbook from Pravda

It’s interesting to see the parallels between the corporate power advocates, found at such sites as The Progress and Freedom Foundation, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, or the Association for Competitive Technology and old style authoritarians, such as Fascists and Communists. Of course, they both have a common goal, which is to oppress, so it is not surprising that there is a convergence in their vocabulary. From the Competitive Enterprise Institute, here’s a post by the proto-Fascist Cord Blomquist:

Of course none of this is revolutionary, in either a pro-liberty or pro-Marxist/statist way. Instead, this is just a case of customers annoying a store owner, a simple case of hooliganism, not political upheaval. If Digg takes down 1 or 1000 articles, freedom of speech is left intact. The evidence of that, the fact that this video exists, along with thousands of other pages about the HD-DVD encryption key.

Hooliganism? What is this, it sounds like a Pravda or Red Star editorial from 1956. So what is hooliganism, exactly? It’s not illegal in the USA (at least not yet) Doing a little search on wikipedia, I find that:

In the Soviet Union, hooliganism (хулиганство) was made a criminal offence under the penal codes of the Soviet republics. Article 213 of the penal code defined hooliganism as “any deliberate behaviour which violates public order and expresses explicit disrespect towards the society.” a wide range of behaviors, such as vagrancy, stalking and foul language. This law was often used by Soviet authorities against political dissidents. Hooliganism is still covered under the criminal and administrative codes of Russia, and is applicable to persons at least 16 years old. Hooliganism is graded into Malicious hooliganism(злостное хулиганство), hooliganism(хулиганство), and Petty hooliganism(мелкое хулиганство). Petty hooliganism is “subject to administrative proceedings” (roughly equivalent to application of the civil law) and classified as roughly equivalent to an infraction. It is mostly applied to minor street disorders and fighting by urban youth. Malicious hooliganism is defined as being committed “with extraordinary cynicism, with resistance to law enforcement, with usage of arms or attempt thereof, or committed by a recidivist.”[2]

Any deliberate behavior which violates public order. “Expresses explicit disrespect towards society”? Whoaa serious stuff here! Can we say “Orrin Hatch, please enact article 213 of the Soviet Penal code into American Law, pronto, and never mind those pesky Bills of Rights.”?

Well, then, I am guilty, as are almost all my heroes, from Thomas Paine to Jimi Hendrix to Robert Mapplethorpe to Patti Smith, and on down to Noam Chomsky. They are all potentially hooligans. I don’t think Cord and his ilk have been keyed in on little details of American Law such as the FIRST AMENDMENT, which obviously bears repeating:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

And over at the ACT Blog (ACT is a front for Microsoft, see http://www.sourcewatch.org for details) Mark Blafkin is trying his best to paint the digg users as a murderous mob, comparing digg’s Kevin Rose to Maximilian Robespierre:

Digg’s Kevin Rose = Robespierre?

Suffering from insomnia brought on by someone’s 3 day packing procastination (which has now devolved into packing panick), so I’ve been catching up on RSS feeds. Over at TLF, Tim Lee is using the AACS/Digg story to rehash the same tired arguments about DRM and DMCA. We all do it, but I feel like anyone focused on that angle is completely missing the real story.

Over at Silicon Valley Watcher, Tom Foremeski is all over it. The whole thing reminds me of a story about the French Revolution’s Robespierre, who supposedly leapt from his chair as soon as he saw a mob assembling outside and said “I must see which way the crowd is headed,for I am their leader.”

We’ve just seen one of them. When you’re relying on “mobs,” well, you’re relying on MOBS.

So, unfortunately it seems that everyone wants to outlaw things like hooliganism, and forgets that what makes America work is freedom, and that the freedom of the press is not some detail that can just be legislated away. It is a deeply resilient idea that will not die.

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4 comments
  1. Thanks for noticing my work. I wouldn’t consider myself a fascist though, proto or otherwise. I’m not saying that posting things on blogs should be illegal or anything of the sort and I’m sorry that the blog post wasn’t a bit more clear as to what I was talking about. What I wanted to convey was that regardless of how you feel about DRM the “Revolution” at Digg was not like the American Revolution, to which some have compared it. The Revolutionaries risked their own skins to defy an unjust law, namely excessive taxes. Posters at Digg aren’t risking anything of their own, but they are putting Digg in harms way. I can understand having a serious intellectual argument against DRM, the DMCA and even the idea of intellectual property, but protesting it by exposing Digg to massive lawsuits is just mean. if you want to see more on this please visit the Tech Liberation Front Page where Tim Lee and I have it out on this topic:

    http://www.techliberation.com/archives/042346.php#comments

  2. Oh Enigma, you really know how to sweet-talk a fella…”proto-fascists??”
    As you know, my point was simply that business story was more interesting the policy story here. And the use of the Robespierre quote was to illustrate the situation that Digg was in, not to characterize the Mob as particularly bloodthirsty.
    But, since we’re discussing fascists…your use of name-calling to characterize anyone who doesn’t agree with you as some bloodthirsty, faceless “other” (fascists, authoritarian, Gang of 8) does strike me as particularly Goebellian.

  3. “What I wanted to convey was that regardless of how you feel about DRM the “Revolution” at Digg was not like the American Revolution, to which some have compared it. The Revolutionaries risked their own skins to defy an unjust law, namely excessive taxes. Posters at Digg aren’t risking anything of their own, but they are putting Digg in harms way. I can understand having a serious intellectual argument against DRM, the DMCA and even the idea of intellectual property, but protesting it by exposing Digg to massive lawsuits is just mean.”

    Not really, they used the tools available to them, just like I used my blog to post about the number. Certainly, the risk to them was less, but after seeing how the RIAA sues grandmothers, and even those without computers, and then refuses to pay court costs when they are wrong, driving over rules like ‘probable cause’ before search, I can’t blame them.

    If you don’t want to be called names, stop calling others names, and stop advocating the removal of the First Amendment. It really is that simple.

  4. ‘Oh Enigma, you really know how to sweet-talk a fella…”proto-fascists??”
    As you know, my point was simply that business story was more interesting the policy story here. And the use of the Robespierre quote was to illustrate the situation that Digg was in, not to characterize the Mob as particularly bloodthirsty.
    But, since we’re discussing fascists…your use of name-calling to characterize anyone who doesn’t agree with you as some bloodthirsty, faceless “other” (fascists, authoritarian, Gang of 8) does strike me as particularly Goebellian.’

    Well the term ‘proto’ means in an incipient stage, and that was what I meant, albeit a little tongue in cheek.

    In any case I would think this post is relevant, to the decline in the quality of public debate:
    http://enigmafoundry.wordpress.com/2006/12/31/civility-where-art-thou/

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