Rolando Benjamin Vaz Ferreira: 1st January 2016, The Pirate Re-Birthday [Pirate Visions]
During the last EU elections the Pirate Party of Slovenia chose to have only one candidate in order to focus all attention on him. Today this candidate, Benjamin, tells us about how he felt proud over the past international pirate movement but how it has gone astray and needs a fresh start.
These articles are part of the weekly series ‘Pirate Visions’ from different prominent international pirates. We asked them to write as individuals and not in their official capacities in their party or organisation. We hope you would like to join us in discussing the future direction for pirates internationally by commenting on this article, sharing it and reflecting upon what the author is saying.
When I joined the Pirates in 2010, there was an atmosphere of optimism. Over these initial 4-5 years, the movement was growing internationally (and locally), new events were a regular occurrence, and there was a sense of camaraderie. Looking back on the past, I feel proud that I was able to be part of something as inspiring as the Pirate movement used to be.
But what happened to it? Instead of forging stronger bonds between international parties, internal party politics seemed to take precedence over common goals. Instead of striving to build one strong international organisation, which would be perfectly able to represent all our mutually agreed upon ideas, there was ever more bickering and paper-pushing, until nothing came of it. I believe that the European elections and the results were a clear message from all our (ex-)supporters that it is time for a renaissance of the Pirate movement.
We have to face the hard truth that, as we are now, there is little chance that we will prosper. Many large parties are internally divided. Many small ones lack the energy to roll the snowball to the slope. It will fall to the middle-sized group to rally, to start the second wave of the Pirate movement, which will return the movement to its roots.
The lessons of leadership and how to run a movement were hard, but we persevered. And now we can confidently say that we have at least an idea of what would work and, more importantly, what would not. It is time that we re-build the international Pirates movement with all these lessons. Time for patching has passed. It is up to us to do a complete rewrite.
We need a Pirate Union that will be democratically run, however still command enough authority and respect, so that its final decisions will be accepted without bickering. We need it to become the forum, where national parties send their most trusted members, not those, they are merely trying to get rid of. Most importantly: we need it to be our hard-hitting heavyweight champion in negotiations. It is one thing, to drive a hard yet reasonable bargain. It is quite another to already start out with a compromise in mind.
I remember the time when many of us used to be an idealistic bunch. Zero experience in politics, but burning with the desire to remove the cancer of privacy breaches and copyright monopolies. When ACTA was an issue, we did not try to reach a compromise. We made sure it absolutely “couldn’t into relevance”. And when it comes to future issues we all hold close to heart, we should not content ourselves with mere scraps any more than we would accept “only” being spied on 12 hours a day. It is the role of this Pirate Union to be radically reasonable yet reasonably radical at the same time.
We have an enormous group of supporters world-wide. It is the role of this Pirate Union to facilitate communication and mutual assistance between these groups. If there are elections somewhere, it is to rally Pirates from surrounding countries and even further to lend a hand. It should not fall to individual parties to ever have to ask other parties for help directly. A single email to the right person in the Pirate Union should suffice, as it would trigger a chain reaction that would activate everybody from Moscow to Washington, from Stockholm to Johannesburg.
I believe we forgot the simple fact that we are one of the few, if not the only truly international movement of the 21st century. There were armies in the past, with only a fraction of our numbers, that conquered millions and established vast empires. We live in times when distance means virtually nothing. We have no barriers for communication, and especially in the European Union, there are no obstacles for Pirates from different countries to help each other in every way imaginable.
Our old institutions have served us well, but they have lost the trust and respect they need to fulfil their objectives. Time has come for them to retire to future history books as the beginnings of an international movement that has swept the world and to give way for a fresh start, untainted by the divisions of the past.
On the 1st of January 2016, it will be the 10th anniversary of the founding of the first Pirate Party. We can mark that day with a re-birthday celebration and a return to our “new-old” vision, or we can linger, keep fighting among ourselves, continue with national isolationism, and slowly fade into obscurity as yet another idealistic, but finally unrealistic political experiment.
A Pirate since 2010, Rolando Benjamin helped spread the Pirate gospel in the 2014 MEP-Elections in Slovenia as the sole PPSI candidate. Now, he is trolling for a JR-developer position in English- and German-speaking countries, where he’d also love to lend a hand to the local Pirates.