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Digital Maoism as P2P Surveillance

It may not be Ender’s Game, but it may spell GAME OVER for file swappers: Hong Kong is training 200,000 youths to scour internet sites for illegal downloads. Sounds “of a piece” with some trendy vigilantism on the mainland. But I have to say, China, we’re way ahead of you on this one. Children played an integral role at the Salem Witch Trials, identifying all manner of offenders.

Seriously, it is interesting to speculate on what might happen to the content generated by an industry whose business model becomes so reliant on pervasive and coercive governmental interventions. We already have some reflections on the quietism arising out of state subvention in the U.S.:

[In the mid-20th century,] [s]cholars eschewed political commitments because they wished not to offend their granting agencies. The idea that academics, particularly in the social sciences, could provide the state with neutral research results on which pragmatic public policies could be based was an animating idea in the 1950s university. In the sciences, it helped establish what Talcott Parsons called the ethos of “cognitive rationality.” In fields like history, it led to the consensus approach. In sociology, it produced what Robert Merton called theories of the middle range—an emphasis on the formulation of limited hypotheses subject to empirical verification. Behaviorism and rational choice theory became dominant paradigms in psychology and political science. In literature, even when the mindset was anti-scientific, as in the case of New Criticism and structuralism, the ethos remained scientistic: theorists aspired to analytic rigor. Boundaries were respected and methodologies were codified. Discipline reigned in the disciplines.

Might increasing reliance on criminal copyright enforcement shape content? Or is the purse more powerful?