Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pirates prepare to hoist jolly roger in Germany

According to Newsweek:
Schneider, a 24-year-old TV producer, and his crew—one of dozens across Berlin—are the grassroots base of a political phenomenon sweeping through Europe: Pirate parties. Concentrating on Internet privacy, copyright reform, and online freedom of speech, pirate parties have recently gained official recognition, public office, and tons of newspaper ink in 10 countries, most notably Germany and Sweden (where they are the third-largest party in terms of membership). ...

The Pirates are, at heart, left-leaning libertarians—they want to get government monitors off the Internet and reform copyright laws to allow file-sharing and copying. They oppose biological patents and call for greater government transparency. And they propose vastly increasing educational spending, particularly in IT-related fields, as well as a new Internet ministry that would coordinate the federal government's online activities. Schneider, like most Pirates, says that without his party he would probably back the Greens or the Social Democrats, but "we're really not for left-right politics. These old ideological fights don't work for us."
The article goes on to point out that both of Germany's major political parties -- the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats -- are hostile to the free-wheeling nature of the Internet and have tried to impose regulations and censorship on the cyber world. That, of course, helped pave the way for a tech-inspired quasi-libertarian party (the Swedish incarnation of the Pirate Party is explicitly market-oriented, with founder Rick Falkvinger calling himself "ultra-capitalist").

It's interesting how the parliamentary system in Europe has left many countries more open to new parties and political movements even though those countries are, in many ways, more top-down governed than the United States and, traditionally, less open to grassroots movements. My personal theory is that Europeans are much more skeptical of their governments and ruling elites, having seen too many regimes degenerate into horror and too many "respectable" leaders collaborate with dictators and occupiers. Americans, on the other hand, have a quasi-theological regard for electoral outcomes and authorities, rooted, I would say, less in any earned respect than in long-term stability that has blunted the majority's spidey-senses when it comes to the evil that governments can do.

Note: I'm on vacation outside Seattle, with a really unreliable Internet connection.



Blogger akaGaGa said...

If you're on vacation, you shouldn't have an internet connection at all.

Relax and enjoy. We'll all be here when you get back. :)

September 27, 2009 6:57 PM  

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