Pirates Away From Keyboard
On 9 March 2016, here in the Pirate Times, we read the Spanish answer to Falkvinge’s analysis of Pirate Party’s first decade. The judgment on Falkvinge is quite harsh: according to the authors, “he lives in a bubble” and “seems to believe the world circles around Sweden”. But, above all, he has been accused of only focusing on digital rights, instead of other and more important issues, such as crises, unemployment, refugees flows etc.
Now, the first thing we can notice is that these two visions (“digital rights first” vs “first things first”) exist in almost every Pirate Party. However, in our opinion, this is not necessarily a problem. In other words, the question is: can we find a harmonious synthesis? And above all: can we create a Party capable of representing, at the same time, the “happy middle class” (or what’s left of it) -interested in copyright, patents etc. problems – and the “lower class”?
Our answer is yes! (we can).
More specifically, we believe that it would be a serious error to consider the digital themes as a “luxury” problem. After all, what are copyright and patents? They are two of the many instruments used by the richest 1% of global population to maintain its dominant position and keep others at a lower level.
By patenting seeds some companies try to monopolize agriculture and blackmail farmers in developing countries. Scientific publishers use copyright laws to earn billions of dollars from the work of researchers. Additionally they also force the researchers to pay tens of dollars for every article they need; and also in this situation, the most disadvantaged people are those who live in countries where US$25 can represent a substantial figure.
On the other hand, projects in Free Software, Free Hardware and Free knowledge are doing great things for developing countries. The RepRap project made 3D printing technology cheap and accessible to everyone. With the help of this the Open Biomedical initiative managed to create low-cost prostheses for people living in poor countries. Additionally “The Science Pirate Bay” (Sci-Hub) is allowing researchers worldwide to work and contribute to sustainable development, instead of making Elsevier (and similar publishers) richer; Wikipedia and similar projects are bringing the free culture in places that are not attractive enough to market logic.
As Pirates, our challenge is make people understand that talking about these themes means talking about sustainable development, justice and freedom. However, as Spanish Pirates stated, we cannot focus only on these themes; we have to bring them “away from keyboard”. The fight for free file-sharing, free Internet, copyright and patents etc. is just a piece of a larger struggle for democracy, transparency and equality.
Europe is the continent that, more than any other, was finding the right balance between individual and collective rights; between welfare and free market. It is not a coincidence that the Human Development Index top 10, is mostly European countries. However, since the crisis began (due to US anarcho-liberalism and financial speculation), there are those who are trying to do in Europe what has already been done in many parts of the world from 1975 to today: the imposition of liberal recipes made of welfare cuts, massive dismissals and wild privatization (ref. The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein).
Thus, exactly as happened in the third decade of the last century, the discomfort caused by the crisis is causing a struggle between the poor. In political terms, that means the rise of declared fascist Parties around the world: from Sweden to Germany, from ‘Italy to Greece, and then in the Netherlands, Hungary and others. Not to mention Donald Trump in the United States, of course. These Parties direct the anger of people towards those who are further down the social ladder. The poor are angry with the poorer, instead of with white collared, double-breasted big predators.
As Pirates, we must remember that our strength is to exist “without skin color, without nationality, without religious bias”, and that our enemies are those who “build atomic bombs, wage wars, murder, cheat, and lie to us and try to make us believe it’s for our own good” (The Hacker’s Manifesto). We invite everyone to not fall into the trap of the sowers of discord. As Varoufakis explained, we must build a Europe capable of overcoming national egoism.
And, if anyone can do it, that’s us.
Guest Author: Leonardo
Some years ago I “discovered” Linux, the free-software and free-knowledge movement.
I live in Florence and I am a member of the local FabLab; I have always been interested in politics and this year (2015) I decided to join the italian Pirate Party, as it is the only political party with a completely horizontal structure.
Featured image: CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication