November 21, 2011 · Lessig
So it’s flattering to be missed, @JeffRoberts. Thank you for that. You’re right, I am not at the center of the SOPA fight (though obviously a strong supporter). Here’s a couple sentences why.
First, and again, this is a critical battle to wage and win. SOPA is just the latest, but in many ways, the most absurd campaign in the endless saga of America’s copyright wars. It will be yet another failed attempt in a failed war, and I obviously believe it should be opposed.
But second, and as you describe, this isn’t my war anymore. Not because my heart isn’t in it, but because I don’t believe we will win that war (or better, win the peace and move on) — even if we can win battles like this one — until the more basic corruption that is our government gets addressed. That’s the fight I have spent the last 4 years working on. That’s where I’ll be for at least the next 6.
Third, my going missing here is not something to miss. There is a world of fantastic and powerful new advocates here — my favorites include Fight for the Future and Demand Progress, and the just launched today, StopCensorship.org — and there remains the incredible gaggle of more traditional heros, including EFF and Public Knowledge. More importantly, there are crucial statesmen (and women) who are the rightful leaders on this fight — email Senator Wyden and Congresswoman Lofgren and thank them, please. If I have anything to contribute to these fights, I have contributed it again and again in writing and lectures. My lectures in this space are CC licensed (RSS); my books in this space are CC licensed (Remix, Free Culture, The Future of Ideas, Codev2, Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace). When your own writing gets called “derivative“ of your own writing, it is time to move on.
But fourth: I don’t think it’s fair to call the current project “quixotic and at worst as a Nader-like vanity project.” I’m not running for anything, and I’m not alone in this fight. There is an extraordinary range of powerful souls fighting now for this essential change — from Cenk Ugur’s WolfPAC, to Dylan Ratigan & Jimmy Williams’ GetMoneyOut, to the just launched United Re:Public, to the longstanding work of Americans for Campaign Reform, Public Campaign, Public Citizen and Common Cause. We are all working for the same fundamental change, as we are all convinced that until we achieve that change, this democracy will not work.
Of course, as my book, Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress and a Plan to Stop It (Twelve 2011), describes, this is an insanely difficult, possibly impossible, fight. But whether difficult or not, it is the fight that must be waged.
For this is what I know: We will never (as in not ever) win the war you care about until we win the war against this corruption of our Republic.
There is only one sacred text in this war: For every thousand hacking at the branches of evil, there is one striking at the root. So, please, Jeff: rally many many souls to those thousands. But please set aside at least some cycles to be one with that one as well.