Tag Archives: Ben Wikler

Ben Wikler Remembers Aaron Swartz

From 2014:

Hi, I’m Ben Wikler. I was a close friend of Aaron’s.

Aaron was somebody who had enormously wide-ranging interests and was dedicated to making as big a difference in the world as he possibly could. That’s what he loved to do.

When he downloaded articles, some people describe it as his great act of civil disobedience, and I don’t think he saw it that way at all.

This wasn’t the fight of his life, it was only the fight of his death.

The fight of his life is still unfinished. It’s the big project of making the world a just and safe and fair place for everyone.

*Clip above from the November 8, 2014 television broadcast of “The Internet’s Own Boy,” on PivotTV.

New Good Fight On Lessig’s MayDay PAC; After the Elections

What $10 million buys you in U.S. politics

(November 11, 2014) Mayday SuperPAC, Lawrence Lessig’s anti-corruption moonshot, lost nearly all of its races in the 2014 midterm election. Does that mean it failed? Did Politico’s screamer headline, “How to waste $10 million,” tell the whole story? Or does the shadow of money in politics extend beyond mere wins and losses?

Professor Lessig and the Progressive Campaign Change Committee’s Adam Green take us behind the vote tally and into the heart of the campaign-finance darkness for part 3 of The Good Fight’s Mayday 2014 trilogy.

Lawrence Lessig, Aaron Swartz, and the Super PAC to end Super PACs

The Good Fight #25: Lawrence Lessig, Aaron Swartz, and the Super PAC to end Super PACs (How challenge and tragedy inspired a mega-plan to fight money in politics)

Right about the time that Aaron was launching the campaign against SOPA, he was founding “The Flaming Sword of Justice” podcast (what would become “The Good Fight”), with Ben Wikler.

This episode covers how Aaron told Lawrence Lessig that he needed to go a different direction in life, and drop the copyright fight to fight corruption in politics.

From the show (at 11:09):

Ben Wikler: How did you start thinking about this broader fight?

Lawrence Lessig: In every one of my books, I had sort of pointed to this fact, and left it to the side. Even the first book, Code, I was like “here’s what the right policy would be, but, you know, forget it.” And then, as I was writing my last book on copyright, a book called “Remix,” I was in Berlin, and Aaron came to attend the Chaos Computer Conference. He came to visit me at the center where I was, and we had a long talk.

Ben: What year is this?

Lawrence: It was 2006. And so Aaron, you know, sort of said “How do you ever think you’re going to make any progress on these issues so long as there’s this corruption in the way that our political systems works? And I remember being kind of miffed because I wanted to be excited about what I was doing and he was basically the pouring cold water of reality on the fight.

Because, it’s true. We weren’t going to make any progress. But I defensively sort of said to him, “Look, you know, it’s not my field Aaron. I do internet policy, copyright. I’m not going to write a book about corruption of congress. It’s just not my expertise. And he said “Yeah, I get it, as an academic. But as a citizen. It’s your field as a citizen…”

…I was incredibly vulnerable to him. He was someone who I felt I had worked with for a long time. I’m not his father, but it was kind of relationship like that. And so, when your son says to you “Why can’t you’re not as good as you’re supposed to be?” It’s hard to say “because I can’t. It’s not my job.” I thought, “what is my excuse?” Did I really envision the next ten years of my life tweaking and perfecting the argument to show why copyright shouldn’t be extended. And I thought, “OK fine. I’ll give it up. I’ve got tenure. I’ll have money to feed my family. So yes, Aaron, you’re right. That’s what I should do, and that’s what I’ll do.