This class assignment was for "Piracy: From Black Beard to Bill Gates," one of the treasured classes I took that were taught by Clark Speed. I essentially tried formulating how society changes over time within capitalism to reshape who is at the center, thus always having pirates because it's always transforming.
Everyone participates in capitalism; even those who are down at the bottom, working for a penny a week. But in order for the economic demand to be supplied, and even surplus-ed, suffering has to occur. Often, the question is, “why?” It all really has to do with the knowledge of the general public and occasionally their willingness to intervene and, of course, money—more specifically, greed. However, there are multiple publics just as there are multiple governments and cultures.
A key part of capitalism is indeed marketing to/in an unknowing mass. This has been shown throughout history: the pirates of the printing press who replicated works in places where the locals did not know it was otherwise stolen or produced elsewhere…or the locals didn’t perceive doing that as such a morally incorrect thing to do(Johns); the way a businesses can put “100% natural” on a bottle and yet their customers are too ignorant or otherwise uneducated to know that the label doesn’t at all mean the animals see direct sunlight or roam in an open pasture or even a pen; the act of capitalizing off of travel and formulating an experience of “hanging with the locals” and taking pictures of them as if they’re some zoo animal in their natural habitat to be marveled at, creating an other. The act of a girl shaving her legs was never even an expectation until someone decided to make it one and capitalize off of it. Most of these things are not necessarily legal but nor or they quite ethical either. In Johns’ words, “the company while claiming the moral high ground, [is] violating the principals that truly united the trade” (171).
Perhaps, once the internet and mass media began being what we know it as today, this is why an internaut—literally the mix of the words “internet” and “surfer” in French—especially a pirate one, has a newfound treasure: communication and information. These became such sought-after, and even illegal, items because the public seems to know less and less of what is actually happening behind a product, behind a picture, behind a label, behind the government in some cases. Thus, in order to educate, information must be spread, and it’s not nearly as invasive as plopping into another place and culture when it’s on the internet and/or social media platforms.
As soon as the willingness to intervene sparks, there will be an ultimate clash of the legal system and its civilians. Once tensions become too high, blood will be shed. One could even call these anonymous groups of pirates on the internet “secret societies” but the thing about those is that “…such secret societies…metastasize into something far more dangerous” (Johns 173). This means that the more an entity or a company or a thing within authority becomes undesired or unwanted by the public or deemed as immoral, the more there will be bodies of people to push back against that figure. This happened with the printing press, with music, and is currently happening with the internet. Even worse, “the moral identity of piracy depend[s] on the moral economy of the…industry” (Johns 439). As an industry or figure becomes more oppressive, immoral, and even violent so, too, will its antithesis. That is, until there’s a big collision and one nearly annihilates its opponent—but annihilation takes time, even the fragments of the loser can persist over hundreds of years.
Bringing in, again, the concept of the absentee: when a person or entire group of people, or head of an organization or government (a principal), are completely removed from the situation at hand with the locals/workers (AKA agents), the principal(s) is unaware and perhaps cannot even fully comprehend what is going on at that lower level. The system, then, becomes cloaked because only one group of people knows and feels the truths and yet there is more than just that one group involved.
Moreover, especially in regards to the internet, regulation and capitalism, there is a huge non-mutual gain. Now, at no time will there ever be a gain that is completely mutual, or balanced; unfortunately, as paradoxical as it sounds, wherever there is a gain in one place, there is a loss somewhere else: “…rulers, like everyone else, exist in a world of scarcity and thus must make choices that involve trade-offs” (Leeson 199). It is when this gap or “trade-off” between gain and loss is “too large” that the person(s) who is stuck with the losses becomes angry and wants to do something about it. This is the ultimate climax, a rupture in the system. The marginalized demand to either become the center or partake in the center of the system and this causes a rip in the seams of the structure, which must then be reconstructed or patched up.
This can be shown within Robert Stevenson’s Treasure Island. The marginalized, represented as Long John Silver and even little Jimmy Hawkins, can become the center—through a lot of violence and crossing borders. Essentially, Long John Silver started out as the marginalized due to being a pirate, but was able to cloak himself well enough to be at least partly in the center—a good-hearted shipmate but nonetheless with an impairment. He switches back over to the life of a pirate multiple times and even contemplates it in the mere possibility of treasure near the end of the book. Had Long John Silver not recognized that he had crossed the threshold once again, his ultimate escape from the marginalized and into the center would’ve been sacrificed. Jimmy Hawkins began in the center for the most part, even though in a poor family, and then transitioned back and forth into the marginalized and into the center on multiple occasions; one of the most dramatic being when he killed Israel Hands. If anything, this is all a reflection of how the center and the marginal are not definitive. Over the course of time, revolts are practically inevitable and thus can break borders, upset new people, create chaos and make sure that the marginal and the center are always in flux.
Truly, the secret tool to most capitalization is you, the individual, the public within its system. The only way marketing truly works is when it’s accepted. Murphy claims, “most incidences [of piracy] involve only the threat of violence” (page 19). The only reason this remains true, or is true at least in the majority of cases, is because violence is the instigator of the climax to revolution. Thus, these threats occur much more often over a course of time than the actual change/revolt does (since it occurs, as Johns says, “about once every century,” but our current era of intellectual property has lasted about “150 years” (Johns508)). By automatic comparison of frequency, the threats outweigh the actual violence. Once the “norm” or system isn’t accepted or at least once the company’s or the system’s mystification is demystified, change happens. But, as has been suggested throughout this paper, the change is generally achieved through a type of revolution and violence.
Johns, Adrian. Piracy: The Intellectual Property Wars from Gutenberg to
Gates. Chicago: U of Chicago, 2009. Print.
Leeson, Peter T. The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates.
Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2009. Print.
Louis Stevenson Robert, Anna M. Hong, and Cynthia B. Johnson.
Treasure Island. New York, NY: POCKET BOOKS, 2005. Print.
Murphy, Martin N. Small Boats, Weak States, Dirty Money: The Challenge
of Piracy. New York: Columbia UP, 2009. Print.
Random thought: Intellectual property, “property” assigns an owner but what’s intellectual should always be on a free market???
Definition: (n.) and economic and political system in which
a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private
owners for profit rather than by state.
Twist The Text [TTT]: The actual term “capitalism” didn’t come about until
Karl Marx. But the concept of it had existed on pirate ships
for quite some time before him. To capitalize requires
crossing borders, from centers out into exteriors, and those
exteriors quite possibly could already have a history of
whatever it is that is being newly introduced, it’s just
being introduced in a different approach. Moreover,
whether it’s been present in one form or another
beforehand doesn’t quite make a difference because one
world is trying to coexist within another entirely different
world, and that cannot happen without collision. The
differences may appear subtle, the change, the social
clashes, but that’s because capitalism practically requires a
job that looks from afar, rather than being in the
situation/place/Other world itself. Capitalizing is an
obtrusive and inconsiderate process when
one-sided negotiation occurs—which it almost always does.
But the thing about capitalism being controlled by private
owners and not by state is that those control most of the
flows of capitalism are generally either a part of the state
itself, creating laws and regulations (perhaps even to
benefit for themselves) or are outside of the state and
Definition: (n.) the lowest point or part; the buttocks
TTT: the group of people or even animals who suffer
the most in a society; they are not part of the center.
I guess I called it the bottom because the world still
has a hierarchy, no matter how much people want to
say it doesn’t.
Definition: (n) the state of undergoing pain, distress, or
TTT: a state of going through a prolonged epoch in which
pain is constantly battering itself against one’s emotions or
even well-being. It’s basically a requirement of change. The
Latin root “-fer” means to bear, to carry, to produce, to
bring. And “suf-“ often becomes “sub,” or “under.”
Definition: (n.) facts, information and skills acquired by a
person through experience or education; the theoretical or
practical understanding of a subject
TTT: The only thing I have to tweak about this is that
even though a person can have learned about a subject
does not mean that they essentially fully understand it.
Much in the way that a person who knows another
language might not know the culture or background
behind it until he or she is immersed in it.
Definition: (n.) the action or business of promoting and
selling products or services, including market research
TTT: might as well be called deceiving. In most cases,
marketing generally requires some form of
misinformation or miscommunication. It’s funny because
the root “mar,” for sea is in there. But, truly, marketing
involves a huge, huge fetishization process as well as a
cloaking (of the truth) process.
Definition: (n.) a quantity of precious metals, gems, or
other valuable objects
TTT: treasure doesn’t necessarily have to be something
like ye old booty; it doesn’t even really have to be in a
physical state. It just has to be held as an ideal goal
or even achievement/possession that is sought after or
fetishized. The translation isn’t necessarily the worth in
currency but in value. Also the amount of risk and effort
that it takes to maintain/obtain it.
Definition: (n.) facts provided or learned about something
or someone; what is conveyed or represented by a
particular arrangement or sequence of things
TTT: the current treasure of modernity. The latin root for
“in-“ means not or no, but most people recognize this root
as being inside of something. The latin root for “-form” is,
well, just that: a shape/structure, visual appearance,
composition. So in this sense it means “not visual” or
“not the shape/make-up of something.” Formationàhaving
been fabricated through time up to whatever it currently is
Definition: (adj.) (especially of an act or consequence) not
wanted or desired
TTT: de is just of in french but “-sire”àsideroàsider
means star. But sire is also an archaic word for a
respectful way to address a king or lord. It is also a verb--
to breed or parent a domestic animal. Whatever is desired
in culture is never quite natural, but it formulated through
that society or even formulated by the center.
Definition: (adj.) not conforming to accepted standards of
TTT: a pretty good definition but just wanted to point
out, again, how this changes with time and location.
Definition: (n.) a person who acts on behalf of another, in
particular; a person or thing that takes an active role or
produces specified effects
TTT: this reminds me of the word “agency” that I see so often in communications, which primarily relates to human
agency, the ability to choose, and our ability to interpret
things in our own ways based off our previous experiences
and our culture, etc. It is that and Leeson’s definition which
essential says that we are the tenor of which our principal
uses to get somewhere/obtain a goal that he or she cannot
(or will not) perform on his or her own. In this sense, our
principal is also our constraint.
Definition: (n.) the person with the highest authority or
most important position in an organization, institution,
or group; a sum of money lent or invested on which
interest can be paid
TTT: those who are in the center and have most control
over a society
Definition: (v.) to treat (a person, group, or concept) as
insignificant or peripheral
TTT: again, here one can see the root “mar.” The people
in this group are perhaps there because they represent
a range of uncertainties in the system conditions. They
are othered or oppressed or not influential enough to
make a difference in the system/center (yet).
Definition: (n.) the middle point of a circle or sphere,
equidistant from every point on the circumference or
TTT: synonymous with interior; a world that is conveniently
named those inside of it generally think they are the center
of all things, when really they are just a single island among
other islands, yet functioning through an asymmetrical,
unjustified (yet partially necessary) system. This island can
be representative of the illites or those with authority inside
one small system, or it can be and island representative of a
single type of society/culture, different from those around
it. It is a fetish of a fetish of a fetish, dragging on through
time and history to formulate the current commodities,
definitions, connotations. Everything within it is embedded
in a past, but a past that is not altogether recognized
because it molds and changes and morphs over the ages to
become something seemingly “new,” when it has really been
there all along, it has just taken on a different style. As
in what once as a “pirate” over time will be considered the
center and what was once the center will be considered the
marginalized if/when people get upset enough for there to
be a revolution and enough time passes by. Johns had
explained how Condorcet conceded that “’Originality’ could
exist…but it resided only in the matters of style, not of
knowledge”(52). So this center has an ever-changing,
distinctive genre, a location, and an asserted cultural
authority; none of which is quite original or authentic. The
roots found in center are “cen” and “cent.” There are three
distinct Greek root meanings for “cen,” and those are
“quick,” “new,” and “empty.” Cent is just the renown latin
rood for a hundred.
Definition: (n.) behavior involving physical force intended
to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something
TTT: not just physical but can involve a type of coercion
or assimilation, when this happens it still feels forcible and
so there is an inevitable oppression and ultimately a
very dramatic rise against that oppression. Latin root
for “viol:” force, injure, dishonor, forcible, vehement.
Definition: (n.) a line separating two political or
geographical areas, especially countries; the edge
TTT: it limits, yes, it limits any one world from other worlds.
The question is who forms these boundaries and also who
sees them? One thing is for sure: pirates can move across
them. But this isn’t to say that the marginalized as a whole
can do that; they have to be very aware and thus a
pirate themselves in order to achieve this. This is either
because they see the boundaries and use it to their
advantage, reinforcing a center and thus not entirely having
to move out of the boundaries themselves and thus deemed
“legal,” primarily because he or she is in high enough
authority to be allowed; or they see these boundaries and
dislike them, begin transgressing them, also for
their own benefit, going back and forth between the center
and the exterior/marginalized, making it “illegal.”
The climax to revolution
Definition: (n.) the most intense, exciting, or important
point of something; a culmination apex +(see next word)
TTT: a climax community in biology is a community at
equilibrium…which doesn’t quite make sense to me but
can probably be understood to mean that a community
at it’s best performance is in equilibrium between the
hunters and the hunted. I was going to say that this is
not exactly what leads up to a revolution, but perhaps
it does because the opposing sides needs to be able to
at least compete with each other and that cannot happen
if the numbers are not the same or if a minority (or the
marginalized) aren’t enough to make a difference; so
perhaps the climax is right when things start to get about
50/50 (50% for each side)? I mean there has to be enough
of an upset for there to be a revolution—clearly.
Definition: (n.) a forcible overthrow of a government or
social order in favor of a new system; and instance of
TTT: Latin root “re-“ to do again and latin root “-volution”
to bend, curve, turn around, twist, roll. In this sense, it’s
probably in reference to “revolutions around the sun” or
something of the like, but it still rings true. It is a “re”
because history practically repeats itself; moreover, what
was once the marginalized will become the center and then
back again; and what was once the center will become the
marginalized and then back again. It’s all cyclical. And for a
revolution to happen, it requires the bend, twist, or practical
turn around of whatever is current; but it doesn’t happen at
all overnight and the previous never really goes away
All word definitions that reside under the “Dictionary:” sections are taken from
Oxford Dictionaries (online)
Most root words that I didn’t previously know were found via English Word
Information. http://wordinfo.info/. Web.
 for, without them, how could big companies maximize profits?
 Notice that there’s not so much multiple companies listed here…
 Again, this perception always changes as boundaries are crossed and different worlds/cultures are/have already been formed.
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKTORFmMycQ ß eTalks-The Secret of Food Marketing; video posted by the user “Compassion in World Farming.” I highly recommend watching it. I drove past a cow farm identical to the one in the video every day on my way to school.
 As if it isn’t already
 As with the case of the civil war and segregation and various other cultural lingerings; which can also sometimes translate into legal lingerings.
 What problems persist, what new ones come forward, what pain occurs, who gets hurt and at what cost.
 Think net neutrality, which is regulated by the FCC, which is ALSO run by most past or current heads of big companies and thus have bias for them and not for the public.
 Here, I’ll assume Leeson is talking about the actual earth and its entirety, not the world that the politician is in per se.
 Put in quotations here because that is very subjective, culturally and individually
 Represented by Doctor Livesly and Mr. Trelawney
 and also most likely from the start: whatever upbringing he had; or maybe even having been out casted by the society/world/culture he was previously in
 Page 231
 if the treasure actually existed
 Though never as soon or as fast as the marginalized might hope
Kelsey Hamlin is finishing up her last year at the UW. Though her time is typically spent telling others' stories, here's a chance to get a peek at hers.