Is this for real? Did Bruce Sterling really write a novel in which the end of intellectual property rights leads to a complete collapse of social order, with bandits infesting the highways? Yes, it seems, he did. OK. Take away whatever picture you’ve got in your mental dictionary under “hegemony,” and put this there instead. Because what better ideological scaffolding could any form of privilege ask for, than the idea that society itself would fall apart without it. Around 1600, most people could not imagine a world without an inborn hierarchy, without gradations of greater and lesser in every area of life. “There is a degree above degree. … Take but degree away, untune that string, and hark what discord follows.” Today they say, take but perpetual copyright away. Not much has changed.