Lastly, I will suggest that IP is also a promising domain for distributive politics. Some of the very aspects – its globalized nature, and relative dissociation from material constraints – that make IP an accelerant of inequality under contemporary conditions could be leveraged to opposite effect. This is of particular importance on the global scale, where more general tax and transfer schemes do not exist. Indeed, one way to understand the recent evidence of modest decreases in global interpersonal inequality is through the lens of IP. That trend, if it is indeed a trend, is almost entirely due to growth in China and India – two countries that, not by chance, have in law and fact adapted their IP regimes to look quite different from those of the North, in an attempt to explicitly promote transfer of technology and local growth, and in some cases to directly protect values such as health. If we are interested in politically plausible measure to affect distribution, IP may be an important domain of action.
Working Paper Prepared for the SELA conference