An Evening with Marina Weisband and Direct Democracy
On the evening of Friday 17 May 2013 Marina Weisband introduced and read sections of her book “Wir Nennen es Politik” (We Call it Politics) with the subtitle “Ideas for a Contemporary Democracy” in an auditorium in Bremen, Germany.
Lesser known in the Pirate Movement outside Germany, Marina joined the Party in 2009 and has been the Political Director of the German Pirate Party during its spectacular rise and electoral success in the period up to 2012. With her laid back style and yet thorough grasp of her subject matter, her appearances on television and before the press won her respect from politicians, reporters and the German public. However, the demands of suddenly becoming a leading political figure on a volunteer basis and having to continue her studies was leading to burnout and she decided to step down and concentrate on finishing her diploma in psychology. She has put the saved time to good use and written her first book, making a transition from a political leader of the Party to a leading light of the Movement.
Her book consists of two parts: the first one is a primer on politics and an explanation of why a 24 year old student has the right to propose a total restructuring of democracy as we know it, while the second part is that proposal – liquid democracy. She discusses the rights and responsibilities of the citizens and the elements needed to enable them to participate properly such as education and a universal basic income. She started by stating that she was not used to being alone on a platform and would welcome questions and comments and so a physical event started to take on the nature of the net where she would read a passage and answer to interjections from the audience. Due to the largely young nature of the gathering she glossed over the first part and concentrated on the nature and possibilities of liquid democracy. There were not only Pirate Party members present and the questions came at a steady pace. Soon, a convivial atmosphere installed and she was able to explain her vision of a liquid democracy system, parallel to the current German political structure and even in a decentralized form that would allow people all over the world to propose, discuss and vote on ideas and proposals. She also pointed out the problems that would be encountered on the road to such goals. Not the least of these is getting the systems running in a way that they can adapt to needs identified as they scale up and the paradox of people not wanting to take part until enough people were taking part to make it effective.
As the evening drew on, we learnt more about the person of Marina Weisband from what she read from her book and anecdotes that came spontaneously as the discourse dictated. How she learned to cope with the limelight before television cameras and online. How she managed to stay focused despite “shit-storms” of criticism- notably absent in a face-to-face encounter. That is not to say that the questions from the Bremen people there where not well thought out and probing but they were at least put in civil way.
The book is, at the moment, only available in German and in a print and e-book edition. Marina insisted that people copying and sharing the book would not be persecuted for doing so. You would be doing the Movement and the world a favour if you took the time to encourage the publishers to provide an English translation of the book and an audio version for which Marina’s own voice would be well suited. Write them a letter or email.
She told us that she would be taking a break before setting forth her book-reading engagements after the next engagement in Köln in June and although no longer a functionary in the Pirate Party she will be available to appear for the coming federal election campaign if the Party needs her. She does not envisage running in any elections in the near future but wants to pursue her vision for a vastly more democratic world. Speaking fluent Russian, German and English and with a wealth of political experience she is well placed to become a prominent figure in the worldwide Pirate Movement and associated causes.
And in case you we wondering, we managed to get a signed copy of the book which will be the prize in an upcoming Pirate Times quiz.
Marina telling us why she is a Pirate.
Featured image: CC BY-SA Pirate Times