Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Fri Feb 16 08:59:36 MST 2001

[The most in-depth analysis I've seen on Napster from a Marxist perspective
was written by list member Billy Wharton a while back.]


Thought folks might be interested in the following article for a socialist
student newspaper... Peace, Billy

Napster, Private Property and the Internet "Revolution" By William Wharton

"The sense of private property - freed of its alienation - is the
existence of essential objects for man, both as object for enjoyment and
object of activity."

Karl Marx The Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts Part I Vol. 3

Each new commercial hails the "revolution" in computing, a new
"revolutionary" program or a "revolutionary" new Internet community.  The
word revolution seems to be splashed across every other page of mainstream
media.  As defined by Madison Ave., the new meaning of "revolution" lies
in the "transformation without a transformation," a new chapter in the
consumer revolution, where society can be transformed at the click of a
mouse and the insertion of a credit card.  Stripped of its real
transformative qualities, "revolution" is the shiny new package employed
to advertise the notion of progress to increasingly numb American
consumers.  However, like the genie in the bottle that wakes at the
recantation of its name, the transformative qualities of revolution - the
questioning of all existing social relations - have begun to rear their
collective heads.

Napster and Private Property

Created by a first-year computer science student at Northwestern
University, the basic ideal of the "Napster community", which is in line
with a more radical definition of the term revolution, is that if
ownership is collective there are no owners.  Members who log onto the
system do not pay a fee but agree to have their private music collections
placed into a library that is downloadable by any other member.  The
member who wishes to hear a song from your library can then access it and
transfer a copy to her/his own collection.  In this sense, there are no
financial transactions per se, just the unlimited sharing of products...

Full article at:

Louis Proyect
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