This article does a very good job of summarizing the current outrages of the Recording Industry Association of America. The interesting question is whether Professor Felten, knowing that the gist of his research was publically available anyway, sucked the RIAA in by rapidly giving in to their threats and agreeing to censor his scientific research. Certainly the RIAA's panicky response indicates that the leaders of the RIAA are afraid they've been well and truly snookered.
Is it possible that the extreme measures now being taken to hurry through various 'free-trade' agreements reflect a realization by the big thinkers of the powers that be that capitalism is finally headed for some kind of apocalyptic 'crisis' (a la Marx) and that the only way to stall this is to turn everything in the world into a commodity?
It is probably a sad truth that violence is required to lead to real social change. Why would that be? By definition, progressive social change interferes with the existing power structure. Those on top of the heap will use any means at hand to preserve the status quo. As we recently saw in Quebec, that includes all the violence that is controlled by the state. In the modern world, with information controlled by the major media (owned by the powers that be with a strong bias to the status quo), the only way to get the message out is to create a spectacle, and the only spectacle which can entice the media is to put yourself in a position to be subject to violence at the hands of the police. The police are sophisticated enough to behave themselves whan confronted by non-violent protest, and therefore non-violent protest is ignored by the media. The reporting habits of the major media have made violence necessary.
The process of sneaking genetically modified foods into human food continues. Aventis, having 'inadvertently' mixed some of its StarLink corn (approved only for animal food) with corn for human consumption and therefore contaminating the human food supply, now wants relaxation of restrictions on the StarLink corn. What are the chances that the Bush administration will turn down a big corporation? Why should Aventis receive a benefit for its wrongdoing? The only just solution would be to wind up Aventis and use its assets to partially pay for the damage it has caused. Instead, it will almost certainly be allowed to use its 'inadvertence' to futher its long term plan to have us all eating frankenfood.
The most useful part of the Quebec City fandango is that the big fence, tear gas plumes, balaclava-clad protesters, and, best of all, robocop police with swell riot gear, make Canada look like a genuine third-world dictatorship. It is good to keep this in mind when we get full of ourselves about how 'democratic' we are.
The other irony of the violence is that the mainstream, NGO-associated protesters will disclaim any connection to the violence, 'nothing to do with us', blah, blah, blah, all the while realizing that without the violence the protests would be ignored by the press and the process of taking over that small sliver of power not yet held by big corporations would continue unabated. If nothing else, the riots serve as a reminder first, of the violence inherent in the state (even one as innocuous as Canada) in aid of money power, and second, of the fact there are still powers other than those wielded by the ruling class.
The irony of the riots is that, up to a point, they play into the hands of the ruling class, who can tar all the protesters with the same brush, and thus don't have to go through the tiresome and dangerous process of debating anyone. The problem that the ruling class has is that they have to hire bureaucrats to do their dirty work, and bureaucrats the world over are easily manipulated by threats of inconvenience (their favorite saying is "they don't pay me enough for this"). A little tear gas wafts through the lobby of the luxury hotel, and the bureaucrats suddenly want to get the next first-class flight home, leaving the process of 'negotiating' trade agreements for another resort hotel and another time. This pusillanimity must really steam the rulers of the world. You just can't get good help these days!
I've been reading lots of American nonsense about how the Chinese 'lost' in their recent confrontation with the United States over the spy plane. Somehow the great genius Bush is supposed to have tricked the Chinese by giving what they thought was an apology when it actually was no apology at all. Thus American amour-propre has been saved. This analysis completely misses the point. The Chinese now know that the addled Bush is completely hamstrung in a crisis situation, as he doesn't know how to choose between the advice given to him by his extreme right-wing advisors and the advice given to him by his rabidly insane right-wing advisors. They also know that Americans are still mesmerized by the concept of American hostages. Therefore, all the Chinese have to do to deter future spy planes is merely give the impression that they could bring another one down. All they have to do to get their way with the Bush administration in the future is to put Bush under some pressure where he has to make a decision in a hurry. On top of that they have a nice spy plane to look at.
There are still many unanswered questions about the U. S. spy plane currently in China. Why did it land on Chinese territory instead of in the sea? Why was apparently such a bad job done of destroying secret equipment on board? Was this whole enterprise a method of turning over American military secrets to the Chinese? If so, was this part of the Bush regime's attempt to reignite the Cold War by making China with U. S. secrets a more credible enemy? Will we see a connection made to this incident when new arms sales are made to Taiwan?
Francis Gary Powers and his U2 were downed in the Soviet Union in May 1960, thus conveniently (for those who make money from war) ending arms reduction negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union (Khrushchev angrily cancelled Eisenhower's planned trip to Moscow and the Paris Summit Conference was adjourned). Now a U. S. spy plane has apparently been forced to land in China at a time when the current President is clearly making every effort to damage relations with China with a view to reigniting the Cold War. This will allow him to claim that he needs to have a big increase in military spending, thus putting lots of money in the pockets of his friends in the military-industrial complex. It's ironic that Pa George has been lauded for his role in ending the Cold War, while Son George may go down in history as having started it up again!