Ever notice the Waffle House menu’s insistence that Double Waffle is for “dine-in only, no sharing”? A common prohibition at low-end restaurants, it’s also a small-print reminder of what capitalism is all about.
Products of intellectual labor, unlike land and waffles, can be shared by all without diminishing their use value for anyone, however. “Copies” are as perfect as “originals” for the most profitable products — such as drugs and software — in the age of mechanical production, withering the aura of private property and making the revolutionary act of sharing and sharing alike irresistible. Capital, of course, tries to stop it, but, in doing so, it makes visible the “invisible hand” of the market, demonstrating that it is not scarcity but state power at capital’s disposal that prevents us from having what we want — even what we need to save our lives.