Piracy as an act of resistance

Cultural piracy is often recognized as a behavior resulting from the lack of money. For example this was the main form of explaining why Poles were protesting against ACTA in 2012. The mainstream media built rationalization based on economical discourse – people are fighting for free access to culture because they don’t have money for tickets, dvd’s, books etc. So – as one can understand from that reasoning – if they had more money they would buy cultural works or access to it.I’m sure that partially it can be truth but there are other ways to explain why people do piracy. My suggestion is that piracy is i.a. an act of resistance.

I’m trying to be sensitize for pitfall of limiting agency of researched people. This  results from subaltern studies’ reflection that western researchers easily create vision of individuals dominated by social structures and passively following cultural rules. This idea of people deprived of self-consciousnesses and enable to recognize their situation one can also find in Marxists or post-structuralist works.  But I’m sure that that this review of the limited agency of sub-dominated one must be debated. One of the reason of this common mistake is reckoning to resistance practices only confrontational methods. Especially valuable to me are the insights of James C. Scott. This American anthropologist conducting research in rural cultures in Asia pointed out number of behaviors which he described as „a weapon of the weak”. In his research Scott identified „silent” tactics of resistance such as tardiness, laziness or alleged ignorance. They are, in his opinion, forms of resistance. He pointed out that such behavior does not indicate acceptance of self- subordination and even less the internalization of the position of „dominated”. There are very rational behaviors in confrontation with the overwhelming power of the state. In my opinion therefore are strictly political behavior which are aimed at changing the power status quo – although not articulated in this way. People precisely recognize their situation (no internalization), see the injustice and try to confront the power int the way they consider as an effective and safe.
Such tactics of resistance can be observed today in Poland. For example people do not pay bills and loan repayments, not only because they can not afford but also because they do not accept the dominant position of banks or unjust economic system. They do not pay obligatory tv tax because they do not feel represented by the media, they are also aware of the mismanagement of the issuance of money flowing out of their payments. They don’t go to the cinema because ticket prices are too high as the wages of Hollywood actors. They don’t want to support a system that as they feel is not working in their favor.
From that perspective so-called piracy is also a tactic of resistance. People willingly use the Internet as a source of free (gratis) culture not only because it is free but because this is an action directed at a system that they don’t want to support. In commoditized world money are the weapon and as consumer boycotts shown before it is powerful weapon when people are united in using it.

Reklamy

weapon of – not so now – weak

James C. Scott – great anthropologist, almost unknown in Poland, now the most inspiring for me. He researched i.a. the Zomia, great Asian territory, last one on our planet without real state power over local communities (and huge as whole Eastern Europe). He defines such tactics of peasants like indolence, laziness, denial as the weapons of the weak, kind of passive resistance without politicizing. I guess it is close to anarchists interpretation of modern kind of rent strike which is common in Poland where lot of people just don’t pay theirs bills and loans. Suppose that it will be very useful in Web researching too :)