Domestic Wars Redux: Obama, Digital Prohibition and the New 'Reefer Madness'
January 2009: In a reflexive public gesture, the U.S.'s first African-American President-elect, the ectomorphic
Barack Obama, retraced Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural train route (1865) to the capitol, two hundred years after the
birth of the similarly ectomorphic Lincoln. In another reflexive echo of a turbulent past, as the bloated and behemoth
U.S. economy wobbled, cold-turkey, in withdrawal from its macro-economic drugs of choice, easy credit and unbridled
consumption, Obama faced a dire economic and social configuration similar to that which confronted Franklin Roosevelt
in March of 1933. Hemorrhaging jobs, personal and institutional debt while spewing endemic mortgages defaults, the U.S.
faced its most severe legitimacy crisis since the late 1960s.
As a marker that the past sins of slavery and segregation could be jettisoned in favor of meritocratic ascension,
there could be no better legitimation symbol than Barack Obama. Articulate, attractive, with an understated ironic tone,
and often frank in discussing personal failings, Obama simultaneously signified the ultimate success of a new
African-American class of elites while buttressing faltering cross-ethnic, cross-racial and cross-generational
allegiances to the tattered tenets of the American Dream. Exemplified by street artist Shepard Fairey's red, white and
blue iconic poster of Obama's upturned visage, the human heart's desire for "Hope" (often embodied in ideological
allegiances) became thoroughly conflated, through Fairey's composition, with Obama's message and image.  Fairey's widely reproduced icon was a masterful and thoroughly intentional
gesture in the aesthetics of politics, praised both by the original Associated Press photographer, and by Obama,
Yet what has happened to Fairey, in the wake of this representational triumph, may be instructive. Two weeks after
the Obama inauguration, Fairey was simultaneously threatened with a lawsuit by the Associated Press (which claimed a
violation of their Intellectual Property rights) over how he appropriated some elements of a 2006 AP photo, just as he
was arrested on graffiti charges, in Boston, on the opening night of his first major formal exhibit ("Supply and
Demand") at the Institute of Contemporary Art.  The AP's legal threat,
Fairey's simultaneous arrest (combined with the non-starter drug-use revelations in Obama's autobiographical Dreams
From My Father  and the likely and significant reduction in the
U.S.'s broad and expensive incarceration of non-violent drug users) arguably signifies a transition in the objects of
Prohibition, as the portion of the generation-long War on Drugs that has targeted recreational users ratchets down.  This downshift occurs just as the Baby Boomers retire, en masse, accessing
expensive entitlements, and as state governments find that they can no longer afford to house, feed, clothe and provide
Federally-mandated medical services for aging inmates, many who were given long prison sentences for non-violent drug
offenses. However, if past is prologue, the U.S. will not be without a new form of Prohibition for long, with a new set
of targets constructed by a dominant demographic slipping from power; a new domestic "War" against a rival demographic,
under the discursive cover of a newly fashioned political correctness. (It's just what Americans "do.") For example,
after the passage of the Twenty First Amendment in 1933, it was not long before Prohibitionist impulses settled on a new
target population, and a new set of cultural practices. In the 1930s, these impulses were instantiated in the Federal
Bureau of Narcotics anti-Marijuana campaign, a campaign that demonized Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, and generated the
perceptions that paved the way for the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act. In the second decade of the Twenty First century, the
demonization geist will fall hard on those who remix and mash up digitized cultural icons and images. This uptick in a
global "War on Pirates" is the contested site of an emergent generational "war," the latest site in which post-Baby
Boomer generations, already saddled with elephantine debt, crumbling infrastructure, and intensive responsibilization
techniques that shift governmental functions onto their privatized collective backs (think "service learning" and "civic
engagement" initiatives)  now face Boomer-based criminalization of their
cultural practices of quotation and communication;  all in the service of
indefinitely maintaining Boomer-era models of cultural production, circulation and profit, in a post-Boomer world.  It's the latest and onerous manifestation of "low intensity conflict," of a
cultural guerrilla war that pits a subset of well-heeled and well-positioned Boomers against their children and
grandchildren. The ramped up stakes are evident in recent high-level appointments in the Obama Administration's
Department of Justice, and in the deeds of U.S. Vice President Biden and his Congressional allies. The conceptual
coherence and persistence of these efforts point to a demographically-defined, and increasingly probable period of
Digital Prohibition. The politics of Prohibition are alive and well; the population and objects have changed, but the
general game resembles that of 1930s America. A brief look backwards, as prologue, is instructive.
Roosevelt's America as Prologue
During the thirteen-year life of the U.S. Eighteenth Amendment (1920-1933), which banned commercial manufacture
or importing of alcohol, the U.S. had just been demographically transformed, from a predominately rural, White-Anglo
Saxon Protestant country to an urban society, populated by Eastern and Southern European immigrants and their U.S.-born
progeny. The restrictive immigration policies mandated by the eugenic language of the 1924 Johnson Act reduced the flow
of foreign nationals to a relative trickle for the next forty years, stabilizing the domestic demographic composition of
the population during the mid-20th Century. Alcohol Prohibition was a temporary victory of a once-dominant demographic
in decline, the unstable end-point of a decades-long crusade by a coalition of cultural warriors and moral
entrepreneurs, a coalition that included the Women's Christian Temperance Union, suffragettes, the managerial
interests of new industrial magnates, such as Henry Ford, traditional WASPs, the emergent public relations industry and
fervent WWI-related anti-German sentiment. Less than a year after the finalization of the Treaty of Versailles, the
U.S. ratified women's suffrage and instituted Prohibition. Concurrently, the 1920 Census revealed, for the first time,
that a majority population was urban.
With an estimated 50,000 speakeasies (illicit but widely tolerated bars) cropping up in New York City alone, by the
mid-1920s, Alcohol Prohibition was a spectacular failure at achieving its stated goal. Part of the overall atmosphere of
the "Roaring Twenties" characterized by Republican laissez-faire economic policies, the emergence of the Great
Depression at the end of the 1920s, and President Hoover's indifferent response to the events that began in October,
1929, led to the broad repudiation of many of the economic and social policies of that decade. This popular repudiation
included Roosevelt's election and the subsequent repeal of alcohol Prohibition; all these changes were markers of
demographic succession and WASP political failure.
Concurrently, destructive macro-agricultural practices of the 1920s and 1930s (around the industrialization of wheat
production) in the Great Plains states generated the ecological disaster of and demographic migrations from the "Great
Dust Bowl," adding new strains to the economic and political trials of Depression-era America.  In this cauldron of dislocation and discontent, the political staples of marginalization and
Prohibition turned to different, less assimilated populations. As one round of Prohibition over the use of a cultural
staple, alcohol, ended, another round of Prohibitionist politics began. For example, the same period also saw mass,
organized illegal deportation of tens of thousands of U.S.-born Mexican-Americans families, in a South Texas action then
known as "Operation Rio Grande." 
Concurrently, Federal Bureau of Narcotics chief Harry J. Anslinger began a propaganda campaign to toughen criminal
penalties around marijuana use, via public relations vehicles such as the well-known 1936 agit-prop film, "Reefer
Madness,"  and the dissemination and updating of what became known as
"Gore Files." Below are typical entries from Anslinger's "Gore Files" and their yellow journalism brethren:
Alamossa Daily Courier Colo. -- [The Editor] Describing an attack by a Mexican-American allegedly under the
influence of marihuana on a girl of his region. -- Two weeks ago a sex-mad degenerate, named Lee Fernandez, brutally
attacked a young Alamosa girl. He was convicted of assault with intent to rape and sentenced to ten to fourteen in the
state penitentiary. Police officers here know definitely that Fernandez was under the influence of marihuana... 
TAMPA, FLA. October 1933. Victor Licata, while under the influence of marihuana, murdered his mother,
father, sister and two brothers with an axe... 
Dec. 8, 1943 life imprisonment was decreed for Pablo Rodriguez of Laredo, Tex., when he was convicted of
whipping to death his 10-year-old niece, Guadalupe Flores. She and another niece had been kept in the back yard of the
Rodriguez residence in a doghouse-like shack where they were sometimes chained. When Rodriguez was arrested, marihuana
cigarettes were found on his person. It was the opinion of officials that he had been a marihuana smoker. 
TEXAS - Sep 11, 1940. Del Rio, TEXAS. September 1940. Eleutero Gonzales, allegedly while under the
influence of marihuana, shot to death two women and then committed suicide by literally slicing himself to bits about
the abdomen, around the heart and throat, in a manner which indicated that he was bereft of all reasoning. Law
enforcement officers believed that Gonzales was under the influence of marihuana at the time of the double murder and
suicide, and that he had previously used marihuana. It was the opinion of the doctor who saw Gonzales just before he
died that no one could so mutilate himself unless he was unable to feel "shock" and the only thing he knew that would
produce such a condition, to such a degree, is marihuana. Gonzales had wandered around in the fields for hours after the
killing and self-mutilation 
Although the tonality varies, because of the narrowcast to a target audience, the linkages and claims of damage are
every bit as incredible in a contemporary version of such "Gore Files," the 2007 video, "In Trial," co-produced by the
NDAA (National District Attorney's Association) and the RIAA (the Recording Industry of America), for distribution to
6,000 prosecutors and assistant prosecutors, around the U.S. The video's purpose was to convince public prosecutors to
devote their limited time and public tax dollars to pursue music CD sellers and counterfeiters. Two ex-public law
enforcement employees (Deborah Robinson, RIAA counsel, and ex-Philadelphia Assistant District Attorney) and Frank
Walters (a former Maryland state trooper and current RIAA investigator) chat with Jim Dedman of the NDAA, (an ex-Memphis
ADA) about the alleged national and regional security risks posed by these illicit CD manufacturers and street vendors:
Dedman: What is it that you could bring to the D.A.'s Office that would make them
appreciate what music piracy investigations can do for their regular criminal case load?
Robinson: It has to be stressed that this is the type of crime that affects "quality of life" in the
D.A.'s jurisdiction, in the cities in which they work and live. But the other thing is that it's a link to a lot of
other kinds of crime and I tell the prosecutors and ... the police officers that I work with ... to use this type of
crime as a tool. It might lead you to a drug investigation. It might allow you to have probable cause for [securing a
warrant to search] a drug house. You couldn't get in before... doing [these] undercover purchases of CDs. So it has
links to some terrorist organizations for those federal prosecutors "out there" [in the targeted audience of ADAs].
There's a number of cases that we're working on, right now. But what we see out there is a link to selling drugs with
the CDs, and some "gun activity" as well.
Walters: More often than not, we find that most of the defendants that we deal with are recidivists.
They have spent time incarcerated on much more serious crimes. We've had situations where there are robberies [and with]
homicide parolees. As Deborah stated, there are some sayings in certain parts of the jurisdiction that when you buy a
CD, "would you like it with or without?" The "with" is enclosing a piece of crack or whatever the case may be. Ahh, we
continually, in working with law enforcement that these locations have everything from handguns to large quantities of
narcotics --- cocaine, marijuana to counterfeit money. It really goes through the gamut as to what can be found during
these investigations. 
This part of the RIAA's campaign has been crudely propagandistic, claiming to link the illegal reproduction and
street sale of an obsolete platform for digital music, CDs, with major forms of social disorganization, political
terror, violence, and the moral decay of Western civilization. As laughable as its 1930s counterpart, "Reefer Madness,"
a video that preceded the passage of the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act, the RIAA, under withering criticism for these efforts
and for some terroristic "general deterrence" civil suits against old women and children accused of downloading music,
has shifted its focus, tactics and rhetoric to legislation. With the passage of the Prioritizing Resources and
Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2008 (PRO-IP Act), which ports the language and the enforcement
penalties of the failed Drug War directly onto the emerging "Intellectual Property Wars," the campaign for Digital
Prohibition has entered a new phase. The stakes have been raised in the polyfocal "low intensity conflict" between
Boomers and Post-Boomers. Commodifying (and criminalizing) generationally-specific quotation and representation
conventions spawns a new form of policing, along with a new politics of inclusion and exclusion, a new form of
censorship, one with inevitably political and generationally-specific consequences, via the propagation of novel
property rights. How the PRO-IP Act facilitates the escalation of generational low-intensity conflict is discussed
Porting Tactics and Strategies: From the War on Drugs to the Intellectual Property Wars
U.S. Public Law 110-403  brought together, in sponsoring
coalitions, such ideologically diverse players as Hollywood's U.S. Representatives Dan Berman (D-CA) and Lamar Smith
(R-TX) as well as, on the Senate side, between this legislation's sponsor, Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and John Cornyn (R-TX):
The PRO-IP Act (U.S. Public Law 110-403), signed on October 13, 2008 by George W. Bush, created the post of
"Intellectual Property" or "Copyright" Czar (who reports to the Deputy Attorney General in the Justice Department), as a
new cabinet-level post in the executive branch to coordinate anti-piracy and anti-intellectual property violations. The
PRO-IP Act stiffens penalties for illegal reproduction and distribution of music and films. Some of the key points are
- Minor, unintended and harmless errors in copyright registrations do not preclude civil lawsuits;
- Expanded penalties for criminal copyright infringement by exponentially expanding categories of what constitutes
infringement, with harsher penalties on recidivists, where a subsequent offense constitutes a felony;
- Definitional Change: The statutory definition of a "computer crime" was revised to include copyright infringement
over the Internet;
- New Post: The creation of an "Intellectual Property Intellectual Coordinator" (IPEC), a position, subject to Senate
confirmation, charged with creating an Intellectual Property Enforcement Commission (IPEC) The Commission
along with its "IP Czar" will be responsible for generating a Joint Strategic Plan to enforce IP rights;
- Increased monies for training, enforcement, prevention and prosecution of intellectual property theft and
infringement, including beefing up the number of FBI agents assigned to investigate IP rights violations. 
In U.S. Public Law 110-403, accused copyright infringers confront more than the requirement to expunge offending
data, and the payment of behemoth fines. In civil and criminal enforcement matters, equipment used or obtained, broadly
defined, may be seized and forfeited, in addition to a statutory restitutive requirement:
Sec. 2323. Forfeiture, Destruction and Restitution
- (a) CIVIL FORFEITURE. --
- (1) PROPERTY SUBJECT TO FORFEITURE -- The following is subject to forfeiture to the United State Government:
- (A) Any article, the making or trafficking of which is prohibited under section 506 of title 17, or section 2318,
2319, 2319A, 2319B or 2320, or chapter 90
- (B) Any property used, in any manner or part to commit or facilitate the commission of an offense referred to
- (C) Any property constituting or derived from any proceeds obtained directly or indirectly as a result of the
commission of an offense referred to in subparagraph (A)...
- (b) CRIMINAL FORFEITURE --
- (1) PROPERTY SUBJECT TO FORFEITURE -- The court, in imposing sentence on a person convicted of ... [such an]
offense ... shall order, in addition to any other sentence imposed, that the person forfeit to the United States
Government any property subject to forfeiture ... 
To be clear about who and what constitutes a legally legitimate target, and what the philosophical and procedural
model this forfeiture is modeled after, consider these two points: First, under SEC. 102 of this law (and subsequent
sections), the snare is set quite broadly:
(A) All copies or phonorecords made or used in violation...
(B) all plates, molds, matrices, masters, tapes, film negative or other articles by means of which such copies of
phonorecords may be reproduced...
(C) of records documenting the manufacture, sale [etc. of any of the above] 
The term "other articles by means of which ... matrices ... may be reproduced" is a broad and vague category, and
could be easily take the form of a multipurpose family computer, used for finances and/or the homework of several
siblings or even a parent in college or university. That computer and its contents could be legally seized and then
sold, even if the owner of the device had not infringed a corporate copyright. 
Secondly, under Section 2323, subsection (2) PROCEDURES, the direct connection of the PRO-IP Act to the Asset
Forfeiture provisions associated with the Drug War is unmistakable:
(2) PROCEDURES --
- (A) IN GENERAL -- The forfeiture of property under paragraph (1), including any seizure and disposition of the
property and any related judicial or administrative proceeding, shall be governed by the procedures set forth in section
413 of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 (21 U.S.C. 853)...
- (c) RESTITUTION -- When a person is convicted of [such] an offense ... the court ... shall order the person to pay
restitution to the victim [the RIAA or MPAA, presumably] as an offense against property. 
As such, this law mandates that forfeiture procedures in Intellectual Property cases conform to those used in asset
forfeiture drug cases, with the addition of specified guidelines for financial restitution (which is how the moral
discourse around restorative justice has come to be used, de facto and de jure, by the presumed corporate
victims: The RIAA and the MPAA).
STACKING THE ENFORCEMENT DECK: The Obama-Biden Team at the Department of Justice
The PRO-IP Statute (110-403) became Federal law in the waning days of the Bush Administration. Because of the
proximity of the November 2008 elections, and simultaneous cascade of financial failures and governmental bailouts which
sent much of the global economy into a deep tailspin, the dramatic speed and scope of events obscured the significance
of the PRO-IP Act. With the Obama Administration's staffing of major posts, a cast of unusually motivated and
well-placed allies of the RIAA and MPAA now occupy the three top posts at the U.S. Justice Department, under Attorney
General Eric Holder. Arguably, they stand ready to gear up enforcement of Public Law 110-403 (2008), the PRO-IP Act, in
concert with enabling sister legislation (such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act) of the last decade. Here are the
backgrounds of the relevant top players at the DOJ:
The new number three man is Thomas Perilli. According to Declan McCullagh, senior law and politics writer for
CNET.com, Perrelli is "the RIAA's favorite lawyer." He represented the RIAA in dozens of cases, often against college
students, as well as against ISPs, and for, most prominently, SoundExchange (which coerced a 250 percent increase in
broadcast royalties for the RIAA, against nascent Internet radio stations and larger Internet players, such as Yahoo and
AOL). Perrelli is the new chief of the DOJ's civil, antitrust and civil rights divisions. 
Second in command at the DOJ is Deputy Attorney General David Ogden. In an earlier stint at the DOJ, Ogden
spearheaded the defense of the Child Online Protection Act (COPA), a very broadly written anti-pornography law, a law
whose status is still under litigation, vigorously and successfully challenged by the ACLU. On the other hand, Odgen was
part of the legal team defending the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, in Eldred v. Ashcroft (arguing
against Larry Lessig) before the Supreme Court. Not surprisingly, Odgen has lucrative clients and powerful friends in
the entertainment and broadcasting industries. 
Joining these two appointees is the new Deputy Attorney General, Donald Verrilli. Verrilli was the lead attorney for
Viacom when it sued YouTube and Google for a billion dollars. Verrilli has been the lead attorney in the Joel Tennenbaum
case, brought by the Berkman Center (and Professor Charlie Nesson) at Harvard, charging the RIAA with criminal
racketeering (the shakedown of citizens for alleged copyright violations).  Additionally, Verrilli served as the RIAA lawyer for an infamous case, RIAA v. Jammie Thomas,
in which a single mother, Thomas, was found liable for file sharing damages in the hundreds of thousands of dollars,
even though there was no evidence she shared a single music file illegally.  Verrilli was also the zealous and fantastically successful lead attorney in MGM v. Grokster,
representing MGM's claim that Grokster and other peer-to-peer networks could be held liable for copyright infringement.
Arguably, behind all of these (and related) picks is the Vice President, Joe Biden. According to Declan McCullagh,
Biden has a long alliance with the purveyors of old formats and forms, such as entertainment companies:
In 2002, [Biden sponsored] a bill that would have make it a federal felony to trick certain types of devices
into playing unauthorized music or executing unapproved computer programs. Biden's bill was backed by content
companies...but [it] died after Verizon, Microsoft, Apple, eBay, and Yahoo lobbied against it.
Biden [also] signed a letter [urging] the Justice Department "to prosecute individuals who intentionally allow mass
copying... over peer-to-peer networks." [Biden's] critics ... said that the MPAA and RIAA, and not taxpayers, should
pay for their own lawsuits.
Biden sponsored an RIAA-backed bill, the Perform Act, aimed at restricting Americans' ability to record and play back
individual songs from satellite and Internet radio services.
[Not surprisingly, then] ... Biden was one of only four U.S. senators invited to a champagne reception in celebration
of the DMCA hosted by the MPAA, the RIAA, and the Business Software Alliance. 
Biden's three decades of anti-drug crusading bleeds into his approach to intellectual property issues, from
telemedicine to his disdain for a formal Net Neutrality doctrine:
The [self-promoted] Biden Crime Bill of 2007 expands electronic surveillance law to permit police wiretaps
in "crimes dangerous to the life, limb, and well-being of minor children." Another takes aim at Internet-based
telemedicine and online pharmacies, saying that physicians must have conducted "at least one in-person medical
evaluation of the patient" to prescribe medicine...
Another [section of this proposed law] prohibits selling a product containing dextromethorphan -- including
Robitussin, Sucrets, Dayquil, and Vicks -- "to an individual under the age of 18 years, including any such sale using
the Internet." (Biden is a longtime drug warrior; he authored the Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act used by the Bush
administration used to shutter benefit concerts). 
Biden at the Cultural and Legal Juncture
On March 11, 2009 Biden (who has been also credited with coining the term "Drug Czar") ceremonially introduced
Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske as the new Director of the Office of National Drug Control Police. . Biden's announcement was replete with tropes that reframed the drug
issue as a disease, rather than as moral failing. As such, the event also served notice to the press that the position
had been formally downgraded, and was no longer a Cabinet-level post. Under Biden's sphere of policy management,
Kerlikowske, who had been active in promoting Seattle's needle exchange and medicalization programs for drug addicts,
will work directly for Biden. Put another way, as the Drug Wars ratchet down, Biden's notion of a Cabinet-level Drug
Czar exits, stage left . But the impulse to create Czars still remains, albeit it attached, these days, to a different
kind of interdiction and criminalization. Still to enter, stage right, the Copyright Czar, the creature of the PRO-IP
Meanwhile, states also usher out some aspects of the Drug War, in favor of taxing recreational use, as a form of
fiscal revenue enhancement. Strapped for cash, and constitutionally mandated to balance budgets, some state legislators
have filed proposals to allow the growth of medical marijuana in their state, subject to state control and taxes. For
example, in Oregon, bill H.R. 3247, co-sponsored by two Republicans and two Democrats, would require that the state of
Oregon cultivate, harvest and dispense medical marijuana, charging authorized "tokers" a $98 per ounce medical marijuana
state tax.  In California, a bill introduced in February 2009, in the
California State House, would legalize pot for those 21 and older, and sell commercial growers' licenses at $5,000,
while collecting a fifty dollar per ounce tax (roughly equivalent to a dollar a joint) as it simultaneously empties
state prisons of petty drug offenders, thereby complying with a Federal Court order to reduce the state's prison
population.  All-in-all, these processes represent the systolic (new
forms of IP criminalization) and the diastolic (decriminalization legalization of recreational/medical marijuana use)
heart of contemporary Prohibition processes.
In sum, then, the two tables below encapsulate some of the major taxonomic points of this essay. Table One compares
some of the isomorphisms between the decline of Alcohol Prohibition and the rise of Marijuana Prohibition with the early
21st Century decline of Drug Prohibition and the rise of Digital Prohibition:
Table One: The Rise and Fall and Rise of U.S. Prohibition Movements
The Decline of Alcohol Prohibition*|
The Rise of Marijuana Prohibition
|The Decline of Drug Prohibition*|
The Rise of Digital Prohibition
|Failure of Republican Laissez-Faire economics
(Harding, Coolidge, Hoover)
The need to tax the consumption of illegal but popular commodities for governmental functions.
|Failure of Republican Laissez-Faire economics
(Reagan, Bush 41 Clinton, Bush 43)
The need to tax the consumption of illegal but popular commodities for governmental functions.
|Demographic Transition - (1880-1920)|
Targeted Populations before Assimilation - Southern and Eastern Europeans
Icons of Assimilation/New Elites - Al Smith, LaGuardia, Cermak, etc.
|Demographic Transition - (1980-2020)|
Targeted Populations before Assimilation - Blacks, Latinos, Southeast Asians
Icons of Assimilation/New Elites - Obama, Rice, Powell, Patrick, Steele, Villaragosa, Jindhal.
|New Demographic group subject to "Low Intensity Conflict"|
|New Demographic group subject to "Low Intensity Conflict"|
Millennial Generation, particularly those
engaged in new forms of digital creativity and quotation
|Ecological crises - The Great Dust Bowl
||Ecological crises - Global Warming
|Demographic Migration to Central/Eastern U.S. Industrial Hubs - U.S. becomes an urban society
||Demographic Migration from suburbia to "Super Hub" urban centers such as Chicago, in the wake of
structural economic changes.
|Dissolving Coalitions: Suffragettes, eugenicists, WASP groups such as the Women's Christian Temperance
Union and the Prohibition Party, industrial magnates (Henry Ford, etc.), anti-German immigrant sentiment.
||Dissolving Coalitions: Victims' Rights groups, Correctional Officers' Unions, "Reagan Democrats"
(Southern and Western), retiring hordes of Baby Boomers now unwilling to sacrifice entitlements.
|New Media: Film, radio, television, mass market broadcasting.
||New Media: Internet-based media, mobile media, narrowcasting, niche digital media.
|Declining Empires: the U.K., French
||Declining Empires: U.S.
|* Note that in each case, the decline of Prohibition cannot be equated with the end of governmental
interdiction efforts against Organized Crime (whether these elements be the Mafia or terroristic Mexican drug cartels).
Table Two compares similarities between the late 20th Century "War on Drugs" and the ramping up of the early 21st
Century "War on Intellectual Piracy."
Table Two: Characteristics of U.S. Cross-Generational Demographic Wars on Culture
|Elements of the U.S. Drug War (1980s)
||Elements of the Emerging IP War (2007-present)
|Changes (1970-present) to the post-U.S. Civil War Posse Commitatus Act allowing direct federal
assistance to local enforcement;
||Extension of roles for Federal Assistance to local enforcement, ported from expanded powers and
functions developed in the "War on Drugs."
|Drug War-related Civil Asset Forfeiture provisions enacted (1970)
||Civil Asset Forfeiture provisions enacted, directly imported from Drug War statutes (2008)
|Severe penalties for relatively lower-level infractions (small amounts of crack and pot)
||Potentially severe penalties for lower-level infractions (small amounts of unauthorized IP audio and
video) ported directly from Drug War legislation.
|Ethnic, Racial and Class "Low Intensity Conflict," Black, Latino, migrant, immigrant, the young.
||Generational-specific "Low Intensity Conflict" between Boomer and post-Boomer populations
|Creation of a Federal "Drug Czar"
||Creation of a Federal "IP-Copyright Czar"
In the section below, I'll sketch out a series of theoretical frames that could well be applied to how we think about
this "low intensity conflict," which may become the fulcrum of cultural and political conflict, in the coming decades.
In addition to forming constitutive ground for ominous intergenerational politics, recent and in-process contests
over the construction and emergent policing of Intellectual Property represents a broad, deep and active nexus of
economic, cultural, and political issues at play. In Creating Selves: Intellectual Property and the Narration of
Culture, Johanna Gibson analyses a variety of key socio-cultural and legal issues that are profoundly implicated in
such contests. She describes the general problematic below:
Creativity relationships can[not] be bound by the traditional models of producer and consumer, or sender and
receiver, ... The creativity complex is a diverse interplay and network of arguably uncertain categories of industry,
creator and users ... beyond the "creator" and the "text" ... complicat[ing] the relationship of producer and consumer
... recuperat[ing] the positive contribution of the user beyond that of mere appreciative spectator. This networking of
creativity is manifest in counter-cultural appropriations of the dominant models (as in blogs and other examples of the
"many-to-many" model of creativity); however, intellectual property discourse [and its embodiment in law and propaganda]
continues to ... [obscure] this network and a simplification of the traditional creator and user roles ... This
[mythologizes] ... the "creator" [as] the output simply commodified in terms of economic value ... [created by
Utilizing a wide variety of concepts from Bahktin, Barthes, Castells, de Certeau, Deleuze and Guattari, Bourdieu,
Lyotard, Mouffe, Fish, Latour and others, Gibson interrogates reductive corporatist legal and cultural constructions of
discursive and legal artifacts such as property rights, creativity, attribution, as well as the conflation of the terms
intellectual property with innovation, which Gibson condemns as "a misrepresentation of not only the creative process
but also creative use." 
In terms of the thesis of this essay (intellectual property policing as a constitutive political ground for
low-intensity generational conflict), Gibson's repositioning of Castells' notion of informationalism offers up some
insights. Castells describes informationalism as follows:
Informationalism is the technological paradigm that constitutes the material basis of early 21st Century
societies ... It replaced and subsumed industrialism as the dominant technological paradigm ... [based on] ...
self-expanding processing and communication capacity ... recombining abilit[ies] ... their distributing flexibility
through interactive, digitizing networks ... 
For Gibson, there's a debatable techno-determinism at the center of Castells' notion that technologically-inflected
changes in the relations of production will spawn new, positive, congruent and irrepressible forms of social
interaction, social control and social change. For while conceding Castells' point that some of these forms have
emerged, Gibson asserts that "informationalism nevertheless is coordinated through the [command and control] production
models of a persistent industrialism," even given the fact (or maybe because of the fact) that industrialism's notions
of property and production, derived from standard economic theories and institutional practices, for example, often
retard the polyproductive potentialities of digital networks. 
While an in-depth discussion of Gibson's analyses is beyond the scope of this essay, Gibson's meta-thesis is this: As
embodied in law and culture, a penumbra of industrialism's assumptions ported into national and international policies
and practices around digital networks, from notions of property rights, scarcity, authority, attribution, and the
linkage of "brands" with "officially sanctioned" creativity and authorized distribution networks; all of these
conceptual, economic and legal ports threaten the viability of healthy political expression, creative cultural
production, and economic stability, even as alternative models emerge, in the early 21st Century.
The PRO-IP Act became law during a de facto state-of-emergency, during the first critical phase of the 2008
financial meltdown, in the Fall of 2008. A reckless disregard for systemic risks was amplified through complex mortgage
default swaps enabled via digitized, globalized, finely fragmented, and geometrically amplified transactions, nearly all
of it unaudited. Not surprisingly, then, given the frantic destruction of wealth via networks that was occurring, it was
relatively easy to rhetorically and legally conflate (and, in doing so, to offer an ersatz conserving gesture in the
midst of a period of wealth destruction) the preservation of an industrial-era notion of intellectual property in a
network of society. And, as the bill worked its way through the U.S. Senate in late September, 2008, that is just what
the bill's author, Senator Patrick Leahy, did:
We are a Nation in the midst of an unprecedented financial crisis. It is not just our financial enterprises
that are shaken, but our confidence in our own economic strength. [We must] take extraordinary steps to contain the
explosions on Wall Street. We must not, as we try to repair the structure of our financial institutions, neglect the
very sources of our economic power. Intellectual property -- copyrights, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets -- is an
ever-growing sector of our economy. We are the envy of the world for the quality, and the quantity, of our innovative
and creative goods and services. If we want to continue to lead the world in producing intellectual property, we need
to protect our citizens' rights in that property.
Leahy goes on to layer on both pastoral and industrial narratives, conflating the imperatives of those economic
worlds with the current crisis:
Long ago, I was the Chittenden County States' Attorney in Vermont. There is crime everywhere, even in
Vermont, and I prosecuted every kind of case. I will never forget how much successful prosecutions depend on whether
the investigators and lawyers charged with protecting the public from crime have the right tools to do
These individuals and industries are essential to restoring and building our fiscal health. In a time of
such frightening economic malaise, we should redouble our efforts to make sure that the productive and valuable sectors
of our economy are freed from the debilitating effects of theft and misappropriation. 
In the transmogrification of demons, the target of criminalization moves from Wall Street risk pirates to,
overwhelming, a domestic war on the country's young citizens. Across all the changes, the urge to criminalize
competing, if subordinate, demographic groups remains. If the specifics of the 2008 PRO-IP Act, and the cozy RIAA
appointments at the top of the Department of Justice are any indicators, there's a new target for stigmatization,
criminalization and incarceration: Now, it's the turn of the artists, the creators, the mashup masters and radical
remixers, the visual quotation artists. Are they to be recoded, in law and culture, as criminals, as a contemporary
equivalent of demonized crack users of the 1980s? Are they but thieves and moral degenerates who must be taught to
respect official property, accept personal responsibility for their actions, or otherwise be incapacitated or
disqualified, as cultural and political subjects? In the financial and moral panic that accompanies this massive moment
of moral hazard, have the elders in the U.S. Congress made the same mistake as to objects to punish, conflated the wrong
subjects and objects, and in the name of protecting wealth, impoverished the cultural, creative and economic lives of
their children? Whether this impulse represents the economic avarice of a portion of the Baby Boomer generation, and/or
the sheer ignorance of how authorship, creativity and quotation function in a networked world, and/or the maintenance of
an analog form of authority in a world whose modes of representation and creativity have collectively passed the Boomers
by, there is a nexus of troubling questions that remain.
Finally, consider these questions: Was the February 2009 arrest of Shepard Fairey, in the parking lot of the
Institute of Contemporary Art, in Boston, on the opening night of his exhibition, a contingent signifier of what
creative artists may expect, in the years to come?  Will this year be
remembered, not just for the Obama Presidency, or the travails of an economic collapse, but also for ramping up of the
asset forfeiture provisions of the PRO-IP Act, the establishment of a Cabinet-level Copyright Czar, and the
installation of top-drawer IP enforcement personnel, at the highest level of the government? Camouflaged by economic
ruin, a legitimacy crisis, the ongoing Iraqi occupation and the symbolic import of Obama's ascendance, I ask this: Has
the new war already begun, hidden in plain sight?
 A Google Images search on "Hope" and "Fairey" turns up 65,000 online
images of Fairey's "Hope" poster. See, on Fairey's site, a variant produced for Obama's Inauguration, the "Inauguration
Print, at this URL: http://obeygiant.com/prints/inauguration-print
See this Wikipedia URL for the original poster: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Obamaposter.jpg
 The media coverage around the intersection between the Obama poster,
Fairey's career, Fairey's lawsuit, and the AP counter lawsuit, has been dense and ongoing. For a sampling, see these
New York Times postings: "Artist Sues the A.P. Over the Obama Image," in the February 9, 2009 online edition of
The New York Times, Randy Kennedy, byline: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/10/arts/design/10fair.
"Associated Press Files Countersuit over Obama Poster," in the March 11, 2009 online edition of The New York
Times, David Itzkoff, byline: http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/11/associated-press-files-countersuit-over-obama
"Boston Vandalism Charges Stir Debate on Art's Place," in the March 11, 2009 online edition of The New York
Times, Abby Goodnough, byline. http://www.
 Obama's drug use was not unusual for young Boomers (1945-64). The
quote in Dreams From My Father, as cited by NORML, is this: "I had learned not to care," he wrote. "I blew a few
smoke rings, remembering those years. Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow when you could afford it ...
Junkie. Pothead. That's where I'd been headed: the final, fatal role of the young would-be black man ..." From the NORML
 Probably the most significant single gesture (apart from recent
decriminalization referendums, such as the successful 2008 Massachusetts decriminalization effort) is the Obama
Administration's statement, from Attorney General Eric Holder, that the U.S. Justice Department would no longer raid
medical marijuana dispensaries in states where such dispensaries are legal, under state law. See the following link,
with video: http://
 For the argument that college and university-based service learning
and civic engagement initiatives represent a new iteration of Neoliberalism, Neoliberalism 2.0, see Dion Dennis,
Forthcoming: "The Shepherd, The Marketer, and The Actuary: Education-Based Service Learning and Civic Engagement
Initiatives as Neoliberal Governmentalities," in Foucault for the 21st Century, Sam Binkley, editor. Cambridge,
UK. Cambridge Scholars' Press, 2009.
 This is an argument made in Lawrence Lessig's Remix: Making Art
and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy, New York: Penguin Press, 2008.
 The Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney, Fred von Lohmann, offers
up a succinct analysis, in this video: http://footage.stealthisfilm.com/video/16
 A U.S. Government documentary, from 1936, does a good job detailing
the devastation of Southern Plains. "The Plow That Broke the Prairie," Available at http://www.archive.org/details/PlowThatBrokethePlains1
 See Timothy J. Dunn, The Militarization of the U.S.-Mexico Border:
1978-1992: Low Intensity Conflict Comes Home, Austin, Texas: CMAS Books, 1996. Parenthetically, the Dunn text has an
excellent historical and bureaucratic discussion of the genesis of strategies, tactics and terminologies around "low
intensity conflict" doctrine.
 Directed by Louis J. Gasnier: Writing credits Lawrence Meade
(story) Arthur Hoerl (screenplay), Reefer Madness, 1936, this sixty-six minute film can be viewed on YouTube and
Google Video: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-
6696582420128930236 or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZdhcNegZgU&feature=
 From The Online Reefer Madness Teaching Museum at http://www.reefermadnessteachingmuseum.org
 Anslinger's Gore Files at http://reefermadnessmuseum.org/chap10/GorePart-1.htm
 Ibid, at http://www.reefermadnessteachingmuseum.
 Ibid, at http://reefermadnessmuseum.org/chap10/GorePart-7.htm
 For a while, clips were available on YouTube, although those have
been taken down with a DMCA notice. For a good write-up of the video, see Ryan Paul's "Reviewing the RIAA's Reefer
Madness for a Digital Age," 2008, at arstechnica: http://
 122 STAT 4256, Public Law 110-403 --- OCT. 13, 2008.
Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2008. Available at http://
 Leahy chronicles the diversity and unanimity of his coalition for
S.3325/110-403 on one of his official web pages: http://leahy.senate.gov/press/200809/092608b.html
 This list is adapted from the "Background Points on S. 3325" on
Senator Leahy's Senate web site: http://leahy.senate.gov/press/200809/092608b.html
 Ibid at http://
 Ibid at http://
 In effect, the legislation responsibilizes parents to police their
children for possible Internet-based copyright infringement, even if the parents are not present (at work, school,
looking for work, at their second of third job, etc.). This is the kind of "offloading" characteristic of neoliberal
social control policies.
 Ibid at http://
 McCullagh, Declan. "Obama picks RIAA's favorite lawyer for a top
Justice post," CNET News, January 6, 2009. Available at http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-10133425-38.html
Perrelli was confirmed by the Senate on March 12, 2009. See the announcement on Senator Leahy's web site: http://leahy.senate.gov/press/200903/031209g.html
 Ibid, at http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-10133425-38.html
Parenthetically, the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act allowed for retroactive extension of copyrights.
 See the following press release from the Cyberone Defense Project
at the Harvard Law School, for details: http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/cyberone/files/2008/11/deterrence-act-unconstitutional-press-release-final-amended.pdf
Also see this Cyberone page for a comprehensive list of press coverage of this case: http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/cyberone/riaa/press/
 A brief summary of Capitol Records v. Thomas, along with
links, is available at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitol_v._Thomas
 McCullagh, Declan. "Obama DOJ pick: RIAA lawyer who killed
Grokster," CNET News, February 5, 2009. Available at http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-10157381-38.html
 McCullagh, Declan. "Joe Biden's pro-RIAA, pro-FBI tech voting
record," CNET News, August 23, 2008. Available at http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-10024163-38.html
 Ibid, at http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-10024163-38.html
 See the video of Biden's March 11, 2009 announcement on CSPAN: http://cspan.org/Watch/watch.aspx?MediaId=HP-A-16271
 Kgw.org: "Bill proposes that Oregon grow, sell pot to medical
users," Eric Adams, byline, posted on March 13, 2009 on MSNBC.com. Available at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29642758/
 "Ammiano wants to make marijuana legal in state," from the online
edition of the San Francisco Chronicle, Wyatt Buchanan, byline, February 24, 2009. Available at http://www.sfgate.
 Johanna Gibson, Creating Selves: Intellectual Property and the
Narration of Culture. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Limited. 2006. This excerpt is culled from pages 6-8.
 Ibid, page 4. In this regard, Gibson's arguments parallel those of
Lawrence Lessig, in his 2008 book, Remix.
 Manuel Castells, Informationalism, Networks, and the Network
Society: A Theoretical Blueprint. 2004. Available at http://
 Ibid, 30.
 See Leahy, ibid, http://leahy.senate.gov/press/200809/092608b.html
 "Defense Lawyer: Police Seeking 31 More Charges Against Shepard
Fairey," March 10, 2009 article in the Boston Globe, Brian R. Ballou and Andrew Ryan, byline. This treatment
parallels the absurdist activities of the local authorities in January, 2007, against the artists initially charged in
the "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" LED scare. Available at http://www.boston.com/news/local/
There are conflicting accounts of Shepard Fairey's arrest. One explanation is offered up by a local artist's
collective: "Was Shepard Fairey arrested to Embarrass the Mayor of Boston?" Available at http://www.
Here's a March 17 2009 review of the ICA exhibit in The New York Times, "Can A Rebel Stay a Rebel Without the
Claws," Ken Johnson, byline: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/18/arts/design/
Dion Dennis is Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Bridgewater State College (MA). He teaches courses on emerging
technology, new forms of property and equally new forms of social control; neo-liberalism and 21st Century policing and
corrections; and justice, media and crime. Dennis' essays have regularly appeared in CTheory. His essays and
reviews have also appeared in Postmodern Culture, The Education Policy Analysis Archives, the Academic
Exchange Quarterly, Rhizomes, Culture and Agriculture, Fast Capitalism, and First
Monday, as well as in new and reprinted form in several print anthologies.