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Cory Doctorow @doctorow
, 16 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
There's an interesting parallel between the record industry's experience with file-sharing services and the GOP's experience with public sector unions.
Back in 1999, there was Napster, and it had a CEO, and venture capital, and a business plan. Napster's pitch to the labels was "Just tell us how many zeroes to put on the end of the check to get legit, we just polled our users and they'll pay $15/month"
But @RIAA killed Napster, and then successive generations of file-sharing platforms; each "victory" begat more decentralized -- and less label-friendly -- platforms. It was like breeding antibiotic resistant bacteria.
The industry went from "reckless kids who wanted to create a new kind of record store" to "ideological partisans who viewed the entertainment industry as an existential threat to the free and open internet and wanted to see it killed"
So even now, when the "legit" streaming services are providing so much revenue to the labels (who, of course, are not giving any of that money to the artists) that they're back to pre-Napster levels, there's more rogue music distribution than ever
And no end in sight. Killing Napster turned internet music from a manageable problem (co-opt Sean and Sean) into a land war in Asia with no path to victory.
Now onto the GOP and its assault on public sector unions. In blue states, the union leadership can be co-opted to take the employer's side -- they spend as much time negotiating with state officials as they do talking to the rank-and-file and come to "see both sides"
But in states where teachers' unions have been neutered or banned, the GOP was able to end any pretense of compromise and just raid the education budget until (eg) Oklahoma schools went to a 4-day week so teachers could make rent by moonlighting on F-S-Su at Walmart (seriously)
Thing is, they're still teachers. They want to teach the kids, and the kids need schools, and the schools need supplies and maintenance, and the teachers need to pay rent and eat, so the cuts just created fury and resolve
Without a leadership to co-opt, the teachers just created these amorphous insurgencies, coordinated on social media and unwilling to compromise - indeed, they can't even call things off because there's no one who can declare things to be called off
Calling things off is a process, not a product, emerging from social signals -- each teacher deciding for themselves to go home, and then either seeing the stalwarts on the line and coming back out, or demoralizing the stalwarts so they go home too
It's a nondeterministic process with no rules. The rank-and-file, meanwhile, are more radical than any leadership is likely to be. Even GOP-voting teachers are starting to see their party as the problem (hence #RedForEd)
The teachers are being offered historically unprecedented concessions by GOP state governments and instead of being mollified, they're being emboldened by signs of weakness!
"If the governor will give US raises, we can probably stay out on the line and get raises for TAs and janitors and other public sector workers." The GOP thought they were fighting a dragon, but it was a hydra: cutting off the head caused a thousand more to sprout
Now they're quagmired, fighting a jungle war against irregulars who have nothing to lose and no one to tell them to go home because the fight is done. They turned the personal cause of an individual teacher's classroom budget and rent money into a political cause
Just more evidence that the future is weirder than we could imagine or anticipate and that revolutionary vanguards are everywhere, lurking in potentia
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