Podcast 312 – “Occupy the Internet”


Guest speaker: Eben Moglen


[NOTE: All quotations are by Eben Moglen.]

“For the policy makers, in other words, an overwhelming problem is now at hand: How do we have innovation and economic growth under austerity? They do not know the answer to this question, and it is becoming so urgent that it is beginning to deteriorate their political control.”

“Nobody will ever try to create a commercial encyclopedia again.”

“Disintermediation, the movement of power out of the middle of the Net is a crucial fact about 21st century political economy. It proves itself all the time. Somebody’s going to win a Nobel Prize in Economics for describing, in formal terms, the nature of disintermediation.”

“The greatest technological innovation of the late 20th century is the thing we now call the World Wide Web, an invention less than 8,000 days old. That invention is already transforming human society more rapidly than anything since the adoption of writing.”

“The next Facebook should never happen. It’s intermediated innovation serving the needs of financiers, not serving the needs of people. Which is not to say that social networking shouldn’t happen. It shouldn’t happen with a man in the middle with tax build into it.”

“The way innovation really happens is that you provide young people with opportunities to create on an infrastructure which allows them to hack the real world and share the results.”

“We care about protecting people’s right to hack what they own. And the reason that we care about it is if you prevent people from hacking on what they own themselves you will destroy the engine of innovation from which everybody is profiting.”

“We said from the beginning that free software is the world’s most advanced technical education system. It allows anybody, anywhere in Earth, to get to the state of the art in anything computers can be made to do by reading what is fully available, and by experimenting with it and by sharing the consequences freely.”

“We should move to a world in which ALL knowledge previously available before this lifetime is universally available. If we don’t, we will stunt innovation which permits further growth. That’s a social requirement. The copyright bargain is not immutable. It is merely convenient.”

“The universalization of access to knowledge is the single more important force available for increasing innovation and human welfare on the planet. Nobody should be afraid to advocate for it because somebody might shout ‘copyright’.”

“Nobody should be fooled about the prospects for social growth in societies where fifty percent of the people under thirty are unemployed. This is not going to be resolved by giving them assembly line car-building jobs. Everybody sees that.”

“And we need to listen, democratically, to the large number of young people around the world who insist that Internet freedom, and an end to snooping and control, is necessary to their welfare and ability to create and live.”

“Disintermediation means there will be more service providers throughout the economy with whom we are directly in touch. That means more jobs outside hierarchies and fewer jobs inside hierarchies.”

“And there is a third aspect of privacy, which in my classroom I call autonomy. It is the opportunity to live a life in which the decisions you make are unaffected by others’ access to secret or anonymous communication.”

“The reason cities have been engines of economic growth since Sumner is that young people move to them to make new ways of being taking advantage of the fact that the city is where you escape the surveillance of the village and the social control of the farm.”

“The city is the historical system for the production of anonymity and the ability to experiment autonomously in ways of living. We are closing it.”

“We are on the verge of elimination of the human right to be alone. We are on the verge of the elimination of the human right to do your own thinking in your place in your own way without anybody knowing.”

“The Network, as it stands now, is an extraordinary platform for enhanced social control. Very rapidly, and with no apparent remorse, the two largest governments on Earth, that of the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China, have adopted essentially the identical points of view. A robust social graph connecting government to everybody, and the exhaustive date mining of society, is both governments’ fundamental policy with respect to their different forms of what they both refer to, or think of, as ‘stability maintenance’. . . . We need, ‘we’ who understand what is happening, need to be very vocal about that.”


PCs – Right click, select option
Macs – Ctrl-Click, select option

Eben Moglen’s University Web Site

Eben Moglen in Wikipedia

The FreedomBox Foundation

The TOR Project (Anonymity Online)

F2C: Freedom to Connect

F2C2012: Eben Moglen keynote – “Innovation under Austerity” (video link)

F2C2012: Eben Moglen keynote – “Innovation under Austerity” (audio link)

Posted in Consciousness, Creativity, Culture, Eben Moglen, Education, Evolution, Future, Occupy.


  1. Thank you SO much for this podcast. It has changed my life for the past 5 months and most likely for years to come.

    For anyone at all interested in this, here are some very interesting bits of further reading/listening from what I have discovered since this podcast launched me on a voyage of discovery…


    Heaps more besides but there are the nuggets for me.

    Everything I have read or heard since has been more “moderate” than Moglen, yet I believe Moglen is essentially correct. Moglen speaks too much truth at once for many people to bear, for example —


    History will one day vindicate Moglen. Either that or we’re destined for hell in a handbasket in relatively short order. (My money’s on the latter.)

  2. @ Revlin John,
    Thanks for the C.D. link. I didn’t find find the 93M cbr file they mention but snag the 24M pdf file. i guess that was the object.

    @ Lozo,
    I’m surprised I hadn’t heard of Ready Player One before now, as novel and original as it sounds but I appreciate your tipping us off about it now. Sounds great.

    …And I presently do live in Oklahoma City, to boot!
    Somebody may yet soon propose building ‘stacks’…

  3. I’m watching Spectres Of The Spectrum, by Craig Baldwin, at the moment. right after watching The Secret History of Hacking (Complete) 2012 which reminded me of Steve Wozniak’s begetting of Apple actually began with Blue Boxes, ironically enough. and of the real pioneer hackers like Benjamin Franklin, who caught lightning in a bottle from the Aether, and Samuel Morse, the first to electrically transmit actual intelligence instead of mere power, and finally come around to Marconi, Faraday, -all those pioneering radio guys -and this DVD I’m watching keeps underscoring it all… the spectrum is ours. any and all spectrums.

    Eben’s talk had led me to other youtubes of him. listening to them, i’m struck by the incredible facility of even just his perspective alone; unintermediated freedom of thought creatively followed.

    time *is* short, and we *are* in a cusp period fraught with responsibility, but the cosmic giggle has it’s place at the table too, & perhaps first and foremost at the head of it if there’s to be one, right? well, i cannot recommend Craig Baldwin’s work enough. particularly Spectres Of The Spectrum. i simply cannot.
    here’s a poor short clip. tis all i can offer that’s free:

    perhaps the cosmic giggle can be viewed as a spectrum. and a network.

  4. @Niles, I also b`

    …and facebook, tumblr, twitter, google (all centralized, snoopy services) have a lot to do with these trends and shifts. This should not be forgotten as we move on to the next stage…

    @Zuma, Thx for the good vibes, brother. I’m headed to a listen of Mr. Doctorow, right now, who I also know as a print comic genius (ala Futuristic Tales of the Here and Now). I’ve been in and out of comic-land for many years (sometimes I just can’t handle the level of geek), but I always seem to come back to them by way of something new and incomprehensible. Did you know that Timothy Leary put out an independent comic in the 70’s explaining his 8 circuit theory of biology? That is worth looking up.

    Dream, play, have fun,

    [COMMENT by Lorenzo: For an exceptional geek-out, I highly recommend Ernest Cline’s “Ready Player One” (http://astore.amazon.com/matrixmasterscom/detail/0307887448/187-6223935-9949860). It’s the most fun I’ve had reading a novel since the first time I read “Neruomancer”. If you are a geek and/or like gaming and/or like 80s nostalgia then you won’t want to miss this one.]

  5. @Revlin John

    nice to hear from you as always RJ, i appreciated and enjoyed your links. The Anon one brought to mind something directly pertinent to this podcast, and your link, and the apps bit i touched on in my previous comment (Windows8 etc), and that something (the ‘war on general computing’) was laid on me first by Cory Doctorow in this speech [below]. it rang true for me when i heard it and continued to do so more as more events unfolded & more info came my way. as always, don’t just swallow my or anyone else’s koolaid for sure, but perhaps give this a listen -even if only to know what someone may be referring to if they talk of the ‘war on personal computing’…
    28c3: The coming war on general computation

    …it is a tad hard to code your own freedom on devices increasingly becoming content delivery systems and point-of-sale systems and such…

    this speech for me at the time i first heard it was also a major speech. still is. albeit now just one aspect (to me) of Eben’s magnum opus.

  6. It seems to me there is a fundamental contradiction in
    what Eben is saying. If all computer processes, coding and
    information is to be generally open and available how can
    personal communications be exempted? Information is free
    and it is currency (money).The problem with lack of personal
    communication privacy is commercialization-comodification
    and/or punitive use of the information. The fear of this
    occurring is what is stifling to creativity not the information collection in and of itself. If we can generate exchangeable credit for each bit of information taken into
    the system and somehow ensure the absence of retribution
    private emails become much less important.

  7. amazing. clearly thought out and carefully articulated.
    a completely central speech, certainly. a major speech. *the* major speech.

    involved with cartooning and comics as i am, i noted recently on The Comics Journal Site an article talking about the explosion of mini-comics throughout the world by independent creators and i saw that as versus the corporate model moving toward apps and digital content delivery platforms like tablets. -which the coming Windows8 embraces as a GUI model. Intermediaries are indeed a crux of herdchuting control.
    I hadn’t paper in mind before but i do now, moreso anyway. It’s like both print and digital are becoming two ships that pass in the night; independent creators pushing paper and corporate concerns pushing digital. (as just one trend, and just one perception.)

    a huge pre-internet network was the mail art culture (not unlike the comic book fandom network of the 1960’s that i saw and was a part of when i worked (free) for G.B. Love on his RBCC fan adzine that was so instrumental to it) that i was introduced to by Matt Howarth when i drove up to meet him and hang out with him for a month in Philly in 1980. several hundred mikes into my system and i’m handed the very first Stark Fist Of Removal. what the heck? what culture sprung *this thing* out?? he showed me a room piled to the brim of an entire universe comprised of self-published cassettes and xeroxed stuff that was so unbridled, so original, so various -and so unpublicly networked. no corporate intermediary whatsoever involved, and impossible to do so. the mail art culture still exists to this day even btw. self-commodification, ala The SubGenius Church, was a very tittilating notion. Stang was brilliant, certainly, and totally outside convention. so i have these past experiences informing and influencing my considerations of what Eben says.

    yes, i’ll listen to it again. & then again.
    he touches on everything, it seems. so many tangents…

  8. Good stuff Mr and Mrs Lorenzo! You now have a veritable sub library about Eben Moglen. Amazing how extraordinary people like Eben pop up in the flow and create a whole new set of doors and windows for us to look through. Eben feels to me like an authentic human being.

    All the best to y’all.

    John S

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