Are we a Pirate Pachydermocracy?

Are we a Pirate Pachydermocracy?

In the “rough and tumble” world of politics it is often stated that, to be a politician you must have a thick skin. This means, that no matter which form of representational government you live under, you are being ruled by people who have thick skins.

There is a term for this, from the Greek, pachyderm: any of various large, thick-skinned, hoofed mammals such as the elephant or hippopotamus. So by extension, a pachydermocracy is rule by people who are willing and able to handle the fair and more often unfair attacks by the public, the media and other politicians. This regarded as a good thing in most parliaments, notably  those based on the Westminster system where name calling, verbal abuse,  and even downright bullying is regarded as normal procedure.

A side effect is that often the most able and talented people are shut or forced out of political power because they do not have the “right” personality; they are not pachyderms. This inequity is typical of most polities but it should not be within the Pirate Party. We want to change the world. Many of us want to see increased citizen participation  including direct democracy though online systems such as liquid democracy. For this to be possible we need to see changes in political discourse in politics.  However, we can hardly do this if we act in the same way that the other parties do.

Many use the right to free speech as an excuse to personally attack, troll and bully their fellow Pirates, trying to force their own ideology on them. The sad fact is that this usually works by driving their victims to the margins or out of the party altogether. That is not how a democracy should work. All Pirates have the right to speak but not the right to abuse that privilege.

It is not just Pirates who will engage in destructive tactics. State and private intelligence agencies, like Stratfor and Total Intelligence Solutions can and do sabotage organisations that they regard as threats. This was reported by the think-tank, The Center for Corporate Policy in a 2013 report Spooky Business: Corporate Espionage Against Nonprofit Organizations [PDF]. It would not be surprising to learn that such infiltration is being used against us.

To protect ourselves from ourselves and others, we need to be very attentive to how we conduct ourselves and how we allow ourselves to be influenced by others. There are two interesting examples we can look at;17th Century Pirates and international diplomacy.

  • In the articles of agreement, that pirates used to govern themselves, fighting between pirates aboard ship was forbidden. If there were differences to be settled, it was done on land. Officers were elected and so long as they held power they had the support of the crew. The goals of the pirates were mutually agreed. The leadership facilitated the achievement of these goals.
  • In the absence of a superior authority, international relations are conducted by mutual agreement. Without mutually agreed rules, diplomacy would not work at all. International diplomacy may not be ideal but it works and it works in a state of anarchy.

In both instances, self discipline is essential to harmonious cooperation and successful outcomes. We too need to take personal responsibility for the way we treat each other.

What can we do to ensure that our dealings with each other is productive rather than destructive?

  • We need to learn how to argue principles and policy in a robust, logical  and persuasive way without attacking our fellow Pirates directly.
  • We need to learn how to keep Pirate Principles and politeness at the center of all our dealings with each other.
  • We need to democraticaly set goals for ourselves  and once set, work together to achieve these as a single body.


However, we still need pachyderms. We want to send out candidates into the electoral battlefield, where the opposition is more than ready to take advantage of any perceived weaknesses. They will have to take a lot of crap as they fight for Pirate policy on the campaign trails and the parliamentary chambers. But we want every Pirate to be able to contribute to the party without having to defend themselves against superfluous attacks from within the party.

In this first of a series of articles, the  Pirate Times will bring you a series of principles and tools; these will be designed to help you and your parties to develop ways to maintain decorum in your forums and meetings get things done smoothly.

 Featured Image: CC BY-NC-SA  Jim Crossley

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