Law in the Internet Society

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RickSchwartzPaper1-APetition 3 - 15 Nov 2008 - Main.EbenMoglen
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The following is my adaptation of "The Petition of the Candlemakers," the famous satire by Frederic Bastiat.
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 -- RickSchwartz - 28 Oct 2008

I think this is excellent, Rick.

I envy you the advantage of the material you have chosen to adapt. The Communist Manifesto isn't funny in itself, and the principle of consistency to stylistic commitments inhibits the introduction of jokes, for example, so the effort must rest entirely on the quality of the ideas and their ironic resonance. You allow yourself to succeed with the reader a little more cheaply.

Which you absolutely do. In the first place, you make a crucial advantage for yourself by proper use of hypertext. Marx & Engels, or Bastiat himself--or, to take another very literate source of possible analysis, Adam Smith, whose style (not so uncommon among great economic thinkers as it is among economists) well repays learning to imitate--must make do with footnotes. Because you link correctly, in a style natural to the flow of your prose, your text functions as a real part of the web, rather than as a machine that the reader must operate. I hope everyone else will learn how to write hypertext from you.

Because C.F. Bastiat is not quite as well known as Marx & Engels, and in particular there is no canonical English translation against whose familiar resonances one must occasionally contend, you can allow yourself some basic freedom in the selection of your style. Had you not done so, had you adopted Bastiat's mocking adoption of the style of French legislative oratory under the July Monarchy, you would be as unreadable for contemporary readers as the translation you cite. I am surprised, however, that you deny yourself the pleasure of a manure joke, which even Bastiat--occupant though he be of a more repressed society--need not forego.

Satire is harder than funny is. It is risky to attempt. Bravo.

-- EbenMoglen - 15 Nov 2008

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Revision 3r3 - 15 Nov 2008 - 15:36:03 - EbenMoglen
Revision 2r2 - 28 Oct 2008 - 13:07:03 - RickSchwartz
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