Courtesy Reuters

Cartels, Patents and Politics

AWAR blurs the perspective of the social revolution within which it is set. Today a military façade conceals a great revolutionary movement. Thus a handful of phenomena reveals a culture in violent transition. The balance of power has become a term which no longer makes political sense. It is difficult, without an accent of the archaic, to talk of the sovereignty of small countries. New variations are being written to the old theme of the Polish question. It is impossible to assign the nations of the Balkans, the Near East, Latin America to sharp political categories. Portugal, with second-rate facilities, has come to be an important trading center. The Swiss merchant marine, without benefit of a national port, has for some years been sailing the seas; Switzerland, surrounded by an uncompromisingly militant Power, has kept her independence intact. Holland, in terms of downright fact, may be defined as a gigantic holding company fitted out with the attributes of sovereignty. The patent, through the license by which the invention is put to work, has come to be one of the most important of international controls. Each of these facts -- and a hundred like them -- has implications which bristle with meaning for the future of culture. Discover the significance of such strange phenomena and a measure of clarity is brought to the current scene.

The international trade in legal documents is a neglected aspect of the truce which prevailed between the two wars. The obligations of contract, corporate equities of assorted kinds, rights to the use of technical processes cross the frontier and leave their impress on the industrial pattern. Yet no official record is kept of their kinds and quantities; there are no statistics of import and export. Few public officials or business executives at the time of the last Armistice visualized such a traffic as one of the economic consequences of the peace. None seems to have anticipated the volume and importance of this commerce in intangibles. Yet,

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