Of course it feels often like tyranny – in the understanding of Hannah Arendt:
Not cruelty is the attribute of tyranny, but the destruction of the public political realm, monopolised by the despot by claiming ‘wisdom’ … or based on thirst for power, i.e. insisting on citizens looking after their private concerns, leaving it to him, the ‘ruler, to take of the public matters’.*
But then it may be necessary to blame a bit ourselves, us, the members of the scientific community, but more in general: we as member of any republic. Isn’t there a tendency towards accepting that we as members are made to res, to things instead of making things public?
Much had been said about open access, and the spirit of the words quoted above may be taken as a guidance for further thinking about the direction and necessity. It is of utmost importance to acknowledge developments that move into the direction of open access – surely in very different directions as The Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities
of 22 October 2003, but also the increasingly mushrooming sites as libgen.io, sci-hub.tw or achieve.org and even google, researchgate, academia and the like…, or the non-commercials as RePEc, Mupra and in addition one I only spotted now: http://www.knowledgeunlatched.org
The really interesting point is that apparently all in the field are under various pressures: publishers, libraries, academics, students, readers – and of course, in many cases we are concerned, occupying different of these roles at the same time. Doesn’t this suggest to switch to organising, controlling, coordinating an counter-hegemony? – Sure, without forgetting complaining? May be the long march through the institutions
should be seen in a more political light, seeing OA not simply as something one may beneficially use but as a weapon.
* Arendt, Hannah, 1958: Vita Activa oder Vom Tätigen Leben; München/Zuerich: Piper, 1981, new edition: 215; translated from the German edition; the 2nd English edition: Arendt, Hannah, 1958: The Human Condition; Introduction by Margaret Canovan; Chicago: University of Chicago Press; second edition 1998 does not contain the passage in this way