[Pirate Visions] The Dream of True International Pirate Cooperation
The future pirate movement needs more exchanges of ideas and material. Rok Andrée is a Slovenian pirate who has been involved in the international movement a long time and he sees a need for it to change.
Almost four years ago, I participated in my first international Pirate conference, the Pirate Parties International (PPI) conference in Friedrichshafen, Germany. What I experienced there cemented my involvement in the movement and motivated me for the grind it took to register our own national party. Today, as I look upon the international Pirate movement, I feel sorrow for the things we could have achieved. When I look back I also have excitement, because that same potential is still there, and now the movement is older, more experienced and better organised. The question is: will we learn from our past mistakes and seize this potential?
My experience in Friedrichshafen was enlightening, because it seemed that the Pirates have successfully transferred that best part of many online communities (cooperation and sharing as the default state) to the real world. We did not first agree to cooperate and then do it. We cooperated first… and then agreed how to do it better and more often.
While this quality has endured in the community, it did not blossom. As the number of parties grew, so did the number of connections each party needed to keep, a basic problem of any distributed system. However, these connections are critical. We as a community of underfunded volunteers and Pirates by heart have an intrinsic need to share, but one can only do so through an active connection.
As our movement grew, so did the things we needed to share. Information, ideas, knowledge, promotional materials. There is also the issue of sharing activists with specific skills, coordinating research projects on complex topics (ie. TTIP), and coordinating international campaigns.
What we have always needed, and desperately need now more than ever, is central coordination – a router if you will – that will rationalize the expenditure of resources, so that every party only needs to maintain one connection through which all sharing is facilitated.
It saddens me that, for the last few years, there has been very little sharing and cooperating. This is in part due to a lack of resources, but, in my opinion, mostly due to a faulty router – the PPI, an organisation created for this very task, that has yet to fulfill its role.
The question is, why some national parties apparently at some point forgot that international cooperation is the number one priority for Pirate Parties and started handling it like all other political parties do – a necessary evil that is only used for some cheap PR. This then led to many parties sending people that were being disruptive at home to the PPI so as to get rid of them. The fact that PPI conferences are centered around statutes, amendments, and elections for highly coveted elected titles like “co-chairman” is proof of this.
But, as long as national parties allow for ego trips on the international level, the movement can not realize its full potential. National parties should and must define high benchmarks for their representatives and then recall any and all who do not live up to them.
We do not need fancy titles, fancy conferences, or fancy statutes. We are Pirates. The only thing we need for the inter-Pirate sharing and cooperation to blossom is a group of highly passionate and dedicated Pirates stepping together without the hindrance of rules or regulations and doing what needs to be done, while defining rules and structures only and where they are needed.
But the wind of change is coming. Some old parties are in decline, and new ones coming into their own. There is a renewed need for true international cooperation in the movement, and talk of change is becoming stronger and more frequent. There is a new era of the Pirate movement on the horizon.
And I cannot wait to be a part of it.
Rok Andrée is the Secretary of Pirate Party of Slovenia and has served in this role since restarting the local initiative in 2010 and all through official registration, European and national elections. He is also a web developer, developing parties internal tools, focusing on effective transparency.
Featured image: CC BY-NC-SA, Pirate Times – modified from original CC BY-NC-SA, Daniela Hartmann