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<nettime> How right wing are the Pirates?
Felix Stalder on Sun, 20 Sep 2009 11:33:33 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> How right wing are the Pirates?

In Germany at the end of a dull election season, things are heating up
a bit. One of the more interesting discussions focusses on the German
"Piraten Partei", probably the second strongest pirate party after
Sweden's. It currently has around 8'000 members.

It drew much criticism after two of its leaders gave interviews to a  
weekly newspaper, Junge Freiheit (young freedom), which is well-known 
for its history of providing far-right positions with a respectable,  
intellectual veneer [1].                                              

The party leaders where totally surprised by the controversy, and     
the other parties and the mainstream media jumped on that fact to     
highlight the political nativity of the pirates.                      

While much of this is political hyperbole typical for election
campaigns, even dull ones, reading through the comments on the pirate
party's website [2], one gets the impression that the issues run much
deeper[3], and reach all the way into the core of the pirate ideology.
There are some aspects makes them prone to steering to the right, or
being hijacked, so to speak, by the far right.

There have been long attempts of the far right to create a tactical 
alliance with the radical left based on a presumed common opposition to the 
state. The left always rejected that on all levels for good reasons.

The Pirate Party, on the other hand, seems to be quite open to the
right. Not in terms of explicit political coalitions, they reject
those like most Germans do, but in terms of the debates they foster
among their members and sympathizers. This could be just a processes
of finding their political identity, like the Green Party went through
in the late 1970s, but I think it's not.

The pirates, by and large angry white (young) men, advance primarily a 
negative concept of freedom (no surveillance, no copyright) in service of 
strong, productive individuals.  Based on this atomistic view of freedom 
they envision organic communities of the like-minded. A kind of American-
style libertarianism.

In certain contexts, like the volunteer communities of the internet, this 
can be a progressive position, but extended to society at large, it takes 
on a strong right-wing character. Because it has no sense of solidarity 
expect for peers, which are thought of as a select group. As long as there 
is infinite space to multiply the groups, as there is on-line, this is less 
of a problem, but off-line, this turns into exclusion.

Now, the pirate parties, which have very narrow and rudimentary political 
platforms, do not advocate far right positions, but the logic of their 
argument makes them attractive to, or at least compatible with, such views. 
And it seems they have little or no political substance to counter that.

This does not invalidate their core concerns (digital civil liberties, 
copyright / patent reform), nor do I want to imply that all pirates are 
crypto right wingers, it just indicates how easily progressive-seeming 
digital culture can serve the far right.


[1] http://www.jungefreiheit.de/Single-News-Display.154+M53306d54de9.0.html
[2] http://andipopp.wordpress.com/2009/09/14/zum-interview-mit-der-jungen-
[2] http://www.fixmbr.de/wie-hart-steuerbord-segeln-die-piraten/

--- http://felix.openflows.com ----------------------------- out now:
*|Mediale Kunst/Media Arts Zurich.13 Positions.Scheidegger&Spiess2008
*|Manuel Castells and the Theory of the Network Society. Polity, 2006 
*|Open Cultures and the Nature of Networks. Ed. Futura/Revolver, 2005 

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