The incomplete but fervent libertarian alternative to the EU and EU parties served up to European voters, the Pirate Party, has surfaced in France just in time for their parliamentary election. Here’s a report and highlights below:
Founded in 2006 by a group of Swedes close to the Pirate Bay illegal download website, the Pirate Party has spread across Europe. The Pirates are the spiritual heirs of the libertarian hackers from the late 20th century, who dreamed of a free circulation of culture and knowledge on the Internet.
But unlike these hackers, the European Pirates have chosen legal political action to make their voices heard. Their success is spectacular in Germany where, since Fall of 2011, they have won between 7% and 9% of the votes in four regional elections, where they now count 45 seats in total.
Inspired by the German model, the French Pirate Party decided to pursue the electoral route, aiming to legally implement a series of reforms: free non-commercial use of cultural works, right to privacy for Internet users, reform of copyright and patent law, transparency of the state and access to public records and content.
I love the enthusiasm of the young people in the Pirates, no matter where they come from:
Maxime Rouquet, the Party leader, is 26 and a video game engineer. He is one of the few with an electoral experience: he ran for a by-election near Paris in 2009, under the Pirate banner, and won 2% of the votes. This year, he is running in the same district. Like a majority of his co-members, Rouquet got into politics in response to these barbaric sounding laws – Dadvis, Loppsi, Hadopi – intending to quell online downloading and strengthen Internet monitoring.
“When I realized that you could get a three-year sentence and a fine of 300,000 euros for sharing a cultural work with a friend, I realized that society was going the wrong way,” Rouquet explains.
Check out this idea:
The second part of the Pirates’ project is more atemporal: the establishment of a direct democracy regime, founded on citizens’ participation on every level – an old utopia about to come true thanks to the Internet. As an example, the Party set up a system of hybrid governance. At the head of the Party, the system is normal: an administrative and political council carries out the leadership, assisted by a national council to coordinate local actions. What is different here is the program, which is entirely determined by the base: every suggestion is debated on the Internet – sometimes with excess – and then voted during a general assembly.
The French Pirates adopted the British concept of “liquid democracy”: each activist and party member participates as much as he wants, in the topics he choses. Liquid Democracy is also the name of a software created by the German Pirates and that the French intend to adapt: it allows members to introduce a project on the Internet, then to debate about it, to amend it in real time and then to vote it.
Go Pirates go! They are not nearly perfect. But they are lengths ahead of the standard parties: Tweedledee and Tweedledum or extreme left/right.