Formal proposal to rename the Pirate Party by 2018

I don’t think “Libertarian” works without the “Left” bit or “Left” works without “Libertarian”.

Big L Libertarians, as in the Ayn Rand loving, tax hating, gun toting, radical capitalists are a long way from us on a wide range of issues. Essentially, we believe the State should provide healthcare, education and a social safety-net and they do not.

That said, libertarianism as a broad definition fits with our view of civil liberties and the importance of individual choice. We don’t support censorship, drug prohibition or media ownership laws. We don’t believe the State should have unfettered access to our information to protect us from terrorism or criminals because the State must have its power over individuals limited as much as possible whilst providing benefits for society. As often stated, ‘it is the government who should fear the people, not the people who should fear the government.’

From Wikipedia:

Libertarianism (Latin: liber, “free”) is a political philosophy that upholds liberty as its principal objective. Libertarians seek to maximize autonomy and freedom of choice, emphasizing political freedom, voluntary association, and the primacy of individual judgment.

Libertarians generally share a skepticism of authority; however, they diverge on the scope of their opposition to existing political and economic systems. Various schools of libertarian thought offer a range of views regarding the legitimate functions of state and private power, often calling to restrict or even to wholly dissolve coercive social institutions. Rather than embodying a singular, rigid systematic theory or ideology, libertarianism has been applied as an umbrella term to a wide range of sometimes discordant political ideas through modern history.

We definitely fit under the libertarian ‘umbrella’, but firmly to the left of said umbrella.

The term ‘Left’ has been damaged by the authoritarian strain of left wing politics, most notably through the various Communist Parties around the world and the (now waning) influence of Marxism. Even the Greens are more authoritarian than us (relatively), with support for media ownership laws and limiting free speech more than we believe healthy. That said, our outlook is firmly to the left.

From Wikipedia:

Left-wing politics support social equality and egalitarianism, often in opposition to social hierarchy and social inequality. They typically involve concern for those in society whom they perceive as disadvantaged relative to others and a belief that there are unjustified inequalities that need to be reduced or abolished.

Our approach to social policies quite clearly fit in with this outlook. We don’t support social hierarchy such as Monarchy or systematic inequality caused by discrimination and many of our policies are aimed at addressing inequalities.

As Brendan suggested in the OP:

Q: I think you’ll lose the ‘right’ for calling it left and the ‘left’ for calling it libertarian. What do you think?

I think that is a reasonable assertion based on the traditionally narrow minded views of the mainstream media that paints Australian politics on a one-dimensional axis.

However, the argument falls apart very quickly as it becomes evident that the Party stands on a platform that significantly differs not only from the two major parties, but even the Greens and the LDP. We are an independent and unique party that is largely the only one that fits in the left-libertarian part of the political axis. I again invite you to consider the a left-libertarianism page on Wikipedia and see how well the Pirate Party fits within this broad quadrant of politics and how no other Australian party does.

Read the wikipedia entry. Whilst I don’t know the philosophical backgrounds of every person in PPAU, where I do know where people come from, we all fit within the definition of left libertarian as stated. As soon as you mess with the name, you start to exclude parts of our current active membership base.

All of this said, I still like the name Pirate Party and would only want to change if the proposed name is better. Libertarian Left Party is IMO the first name that has been suggested that accurately encapsulates what the Party stands for and is decent. I’m open to other ideas, but names like ‘Social Democrats’ or ‘Libertarian Party’ are much worse than Pirate Party and in those cases I would prefer our name remained the same.


Now this is an interesting question. On balance, I agree that a name change could be good, but I would take a different direction in terms of the name itself. I’ll come back to that, but the first question is why change at all?

Here are some of the advantages of the existing “Pirate” name:

  1. It has currency in the digital rights community, being a well known global brand. That relative fame gives us a vote floor of around 0.5% (which dips only when we’re running against wikileaks). It’s kept us consistently among the top tier of small parties.
  2. The name stands out from the crowd and sparks interest among curious voters.
  3. The name sums up our platform and what makes it unique.
  4. It is a name and brand that lured a lot of us to join, so we’re naturally attached to it.

But then there are the problems:

  1. It’s hard to explain to people who aren’t nerds. This risks us not being taken seriously enough and may mean our vote ceiling is not far above our vote floor. And of course “among the top tier of small parties” in no way means electable.
  2. The name could be an affront to people we ought to have on-side (creators and artists).
  3. The global pirate movement is declining and the name could be losing its currency.
  4. Digital rights issues are increasingly being decided by technological change and consumer choice, and not by political parties.

So fair enough—there is a reasonable argument for changing the name. My first thought was “Progressive Libertarian Party”; Brendan has suggested “Left Libertarian” and we have also heard “Social Democrat”, “Liberty Party”, “Digitarian Party”—and various others including some at the Sydney meetup.

Before we pick the name though, we need to step back and look at the big picture. The whole game is about to change for minor parties. Senate reforms are passing which will attach optional preferential voting to a 14% quota—this will categorically lock out parties with little money. We are seeing parliament turn into a gated community for large publicly funded party machines and ‘outsider’ billionaires.

In this environment, the best (perhaps only) option for small parties is to run for state parliaments instead.

There are good arguments for this. The quotas for state senates are low enough to allow small parties through, if they can build support in the community. The resources needed to campaign are lower in state elections. Parties that get into parliament gain resources, staff, publicity, and generally stick around. Registering for state elections might be more difficult, but the flip-side is more clear air and less crowded ballot papers for the parties that manage it. (The exception here is NSW, where the requirement for groups to run 15 candidates has created tablecloths).

If our avenue for succeeding is at the state level, then it makes sense to look at which parties have already succeeded there. And this is where the name issue really matters. Here are all the minor parties which currently have seats in a state upper house:

Shooters party
Christian Democratic Party
Animal Justice Party
Local Jobs Party
Democratic Labour Party
Shooters Party
Sex Party
South Australia
Family First
Dignity for Disability
West Australia
Shooters and Fishers

There is a clear common factor here: every successful minor party has a name which is a “resonant phrase”. All of the names appeal to an easily-understood cause and avoid reference to generic ideology. (yes there is the Democratic Labour Party, but that begun as an offshoot from a major party rather than something which had to grow up from the ground).

If we take an ‘ideology’ name—even one as technically correct as ‘left-libertarian’—we will be going against the evidence about what actually works for minor parties. Broad ideological terms are poorly understood by the general public and would leave us struggling to punch through with a clear message. We’d risk melting into the ballot paper as a generic party and being overlooked.

So if we change, I think we should pick a ‘cause’ based name. There are various causes we could pick out from our policies. One is digital rights—which we could use literally (Digital Rights Party), or slightly figuratively (Internet Party). The problem with that is that the digital rights voter base is small, and most of those involved probably know us already. Also, as noted, the future of digital rights is increasingly being fixed outside of the political arena.

IP-reform type names share many of the same problems.

I see a possibility in being called something like the Basic Income Party. Basic income is a much bigger cause now than when we first adopted it. The name and concept generate real energy and could infuse the party with a larger volunteer base. It could also draw members and help us get registered for state elections. The basic income movement has a long way to rise yet and if we rose along with it we may get the critical mass to break through in one state or another.

On the other hand, there’s some controversy around basic income, and many other possible causes we could pick instead, so if you favour one then let’s hear it.

There’s also a middle path we can follow. Look at what the Christian Democratic Party did in marrying a cause (“Christian”) with an ideology-type name (“Democratic”). A name like Basic Income Digital Society Party or Basic Income and Liberty Party (or whatever) would allow us to keep the punch-through but also have something which reflects our broader platform. We will have to think of something that doesn’t sound awkward and make sure we put the memorable part (cause) first so people can find it on the ballot paper.

The risk in all this is that some other group will take on a version of our cause and/or name and split our vote (it would be particularly awkward if the other group got the name ahead of us). But to be fair, that’s a risk we’ll face to some degree with any name, including our current one—wikileaks clearly split our vote last time.

Finally here’s the ritual reminder that all of this needs to be considered at length by our members. The reception to our social media posts makes it pretty clear that the focus of our supporters is digital liberty, and they may not appreciate a paradigm shift out of the blue. We will need to retain our digital rights advocacy no matter what guise we take, and nobody should feel ambushed by any change or get a sense that the party is moving out from under them—or we could schism.

Thanks to Brendan for opening up this useful discussion.


Let’s do a little dialogue.

Random Person: “Oh, you’re a political party, what’s the story?”

PPAU Member: “We’re based around the core tenets of freedom of information and culture, civil and digital liberties, governmental transparency and participatory democracy”.

Random Person: “Oh, cool. Why Pirate?”

PPAU Member: “Because a group with copyright reform as a core policy were always going to be called Pirates by, for example, the movie industry, so we claimed the name for ourselves”.

Random Person: “Ah, I get it”.

(Yes, I have actually had this conversation several times)

Now, change the name and play the second half of the conversation again:

Random Person: “Oh, cool. Why Left Libertarian?”

LLP Member: "Because putting politics in terms of only left and right creates an overly simplistic binary which is incapable of expressing the full political spectrum. If, instead, we have two axes, and use left vs. right for economic issues and libertarian vs. authoritarian for government control over personal behaviour, we can much more accurately express someone’s position. In our case, that means we support social equality (the “left” part) combined with individual freedom (the “libertarian” part).

I’ll leave the random person’s answer up to someone who’s had this conversation recently (I’ll assume it’s also “Ah, I get it”), but suffice it to say I’m not buying the “significantly easier to explain what left-libertarianism is than Pirate” argument. IMO it’s about the same effort/difficulty either way.

FUD is a disinformation strategy used to influence people based on fear. That’s not what I’m aiming for here. The “loss of a certain spirit” has nothing to do with how I think we’ll be perceived, and everything to do with how I, as a member, will feel if the name is changed. The Pirate Bureau of the Libertarian Left Party has all the spirit of a wet bar cloth. Call me a cultist or irrational if you like, but there it is.

When people join a movement, a political party, a sports team, whatever, part of the reason they do so is because something about that group resonates with them, and to a greater or lesser degree tends to mesh with part of their identity. An important part of that thing is the name of the group (people, myself included, along with being irrational, also tend to be rather tribal).

If I was shooting for FUD, I’d have asked “how many of our current membership will leave if the name is changed?” and “how many people who’ve backed our crowdfunding campaigns won’t know who we are anymore?”

You seem to be assuming that a name change is inevitable, and that I am somehow obligated to argue either for Pirate, or for some other name. I’m quite happy with “Pirate” myself, and, as far as I’m concerned, no sufficient argument has been presented to initiate a name change in the first place, so I’m not going to fall into this trap.

Despite the long list of arguments in the original post in favour of a name change, the only one that might hold water is “Pirate scares people off”. But who are these people? Potential voters? Potential members? Other groups we might partner with?

To be fair, I can actually see this being a problem in some circumstances, but it’s in no way clear to me how much of a problem it is in practice.

AFAICT, a name change is, effectively, a gamble.

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I am quite certain we’ve all had that conversation several times, and it is great when it goes that way. The other side of the coin is that sometimes it will simply go: ‘Pirate? What a stupid name!’ and they’ll walk away, or they’ll obsess over the fundamental non-electability of name (which happens frequently, at least to me).

But I will agree that Pirate is easy to explain if given a chance.

I think this is unfair. Explaining the name does not require such a long response: ‘The “left” part reflects our support for equality and government services. The “libertarian” part reflects our dedication to personal freedoms.’

I personally find that explanation more appealing than explaining ‘Pirate’.[quote=“tserong, post:30, topic:682”]
The Pirate Bureau of the Libertarian Left Party has all the spirit of a wet bar cloth. Call me a cultist or irrational if you like, but there it is.

I had assumed the NGO would simply be ‘The Pirate Bureau’ (that is, the English translation of Piratbyrån).[quote=“tserong, post:30, topic:682”]
You seem to be assuming that a name change is inevitable, and that I am somehow obligated to argue either for Pirate, or for some other name. I’m quite happy with “Pirate” myself, and, as far as I’m concerned, no sufficient argument has been presented to initiate a name change in the first place, so I’m not going to fall into this trap.

It would be helpful to have counter-arguments in my view.

That is true of almost any branding (or rebranding) decision.


My experience of talking Pirate politics with a variety of people from outside the party, is that there is almost never any disagreement on the substance of our policies, but they baulk at the name. “You can’t be serious with that name”, “I thought it was a joke party”, “Arrrrrr”, “Do you parley and stuff” and “Do you wear costumes?”.
It’s a barrier to entry for most of the population, and so a barrier to our growth.

I see you also describing this as “a gamble”.
I agree. It is, but like the saying goes, “A ship is safe in harbour, but that’s not what ships are for.”.
Safety is not what new political parties are for either.

I’m not 100% sold on the proposed new name.
I prefer “Libertarian-Left” to “Left-Libertarian”.
I think we start from a cultural libertarian position, but care about equality and opportunity.
I think our policy base reflects this focus, in this order.

I think there’s a huge portion of the population that has a generally libertarian outlook, but hates what that seems to mean on the right wing, capitalism obsessed, gun toting side of the arena.
The gap to the left of libertarian in the Australian political space looks like us.

Maybe the “Left” bit will draw in some disenfranchised and disillusioned ex-Labour supporters.
Maybe our openness and dedication to democratic process will feel like a breath of fresh air to them.

Whatever the name, the proposal is not to change overnight.
The name discussion itself is probably a great basis for public exposure.
“Brash new party stakes claims new territory in political landscape”

Including the term Libertarian would lead me to leave the party.

My impression of the party is that it focuses on equity. Equity Party or Equity Australia might get my vote.


Thanks @Mozart and @AndrewDowning for the replies. I do see how the name “Pirate” doesn’t have mass appeal, and can be a barrier to entry / barrier to growth. So the question there is: how much growth and direct influence do we want? As @piecritic and others have pointed out, the party has done a good job of getting issues noticed, and having other parties adopt our policies. Are we content to keep playing at that level, so to speak, and hopefully just keep growing slowly?

OK, here goes. Bear in mind that if the answer to the above question is “we want mass appeal”, that probably trumps all these.

  1. All the members presumably like the name :wink:
  2. In the context of the Pirate movement, the name has a history/narrative. Whether or not the movement has tanked globally or in other places, there’s still value in being a part of that narrative. It speaks of where we came from, how our ideals and such have developed.
  3. “Pirate” in pop culture has connotations of “sticking it to the man”, a mistrust of authority, a certain sense of honour, and so forth. These are good images at a time where many, many people are suffering from politikverdrossenheit (political apathy/disenchantment).
  4. Bearing the above point in mind, actually, any even slightly unconventional name is better than something “normal”.
  5. Changing the name is going to involve a non-trivial amount of effort. Re-branding web sites, re-educating our current supporters and others we’ve dealt with in the past, placating any members who are really opposed to a name change ;), etc. Is the effort worthwhile?

I also have a specific argument against any name with the word “libertarian” in it. It’s become too toxic. I know exactly what it’s meant to mean, but it’s going to scare people off.


Personally, I think that spinning the party to the NGO and political party is a good idea on paper, but the logistics of the party alone are already a nightmare. Adding the NGO is only to make things more difficult in practice.

Also - LibLeft? Seriously? It doesn’t exactly scream originality, does it?

A more appropriate name would be something like “The Solutions Party” (Obvious) or “The Oreo Party” (Because like an Oreo, the world is complex, multicolor and fragile)

“Liber” is the root of the similarity. Voters will think that “Libertarian” is somehow associated with “Liberal”, and is what happened at the 2013 election. If we are voted under the “Libertarian” base name, I don’t want to feel that we duped people, even if inadvertently, into mistakingly voting for us if they did not intend to do so, but did so because of a similar name and not think twice about it. Although it’d be good times that we got the vote, but I don’t want to feel like we’ve misled people based on the issue of a similar name.

I don’t see why our name is our problem, particularly in this instance. Perhaps we need to improve on brand promotion. If we want people to talk to us rationally, we need to attract them. We need to sell ourselves in a way to convince them that the “Pirate” name is for real. I don’t feel a name change will work. A name change will give the impression that we faltered somehow with the Pirate name. I joined partly because the name stood out, and for its modern appeal. A re-label to where we stand on the political compass feels generic.

Using this opinion, if we were to adopt this as part of our name, this is how I feel people will see us:

Are we trying to rebrand ourselves to be more popular? The argument seems to be: “Libertarian left doesn’t really mean anything but people will think it’s serious and therefore will vote for it.”

“Labor” is also meaningless, possibly more so. It’s tied to a movement, and that is why it has credibility. That credibility had to be built over time, but it happened, and that’s why it is lasting. Enough people have fought that fight. There are a lot of people today who agree that copyright is bullshit, and “Pirate” is the best name to associate with that. The real question is: Is this the party of that movement?

If you see this party as a tax policy, privacy policy, and maybe some other things, “LibLeft” sort of makes sense. If you see this as a party dealing with culture and copyright and freedom, “LibLeft” seems like capitulating. We’re essentially saying “Let’s just disband the pirate party, but we can start a new party with a bunch of the same policies.”

Personally, I’m only aesthetically liberal left. It’s the closest thing on the spectrum which fits me, but I’m not an actual “liberal left” person. I don’t “believe” in the dogma. I don’t think political parties should have dogma. I think that’s how politics was ruined and huge amounts of money gets wasted. Being a party of dogma means being a party married to our policies. Being a pirate means “we don’t know, but we’ll find a solution, and this is the kind of solution we like.”

I started a different thread explaining the motivation for this proposal to give everyone some perspective as to why this has been proposed. Posting a link because much of it is very relevant to this discussion. :slight_smile:

As an affiliated but distinct entity, I think the NGO would be much easier to operate than the Pirate Party. More than half the bureaucracy would be removed. The digital rights arena is current dominated by the ineffective Electronic Frontiers Australia (which does not hold a candle to the Electronic Frontiers Foundation), and the equally ineffective Australian Digital Alliance which seems to spend most of its time being so damn moderate it achieves nothing.

I think ‘Libertarian’ is sufficiently different from ‘Liberal’. Let’s not forget that the LDP literally uses ‘Liberal’ in its name.

I think more to the point is that we appear to have outgrown the name ‘Pirate Party’. Unfortunately ‘Pirate’ hasn’t become synonymous with ‘Left-Libertarian’ (despite the Pirate ideology being very clearly a left-libertarian ideology). Perhaps that could be improved upon, especially as most of our policies are now drifting away from what used to be called the ‘core’ issues, and many of those issues are now being resolved outside of the political arena.

So the question really, in my mind, comes down to whether the label ‘Pirate’ is actually the best label for us considering our now-extensive policy set and the future directions of the Party.

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9 posts were merged into an existing topic: Alternative names for the Party

So the name should be as reasonably:

  1. Unique; and
  2. Non-mockable

as is possible to make it?


Not convinced that there actually is a general understanding of this word based on my interactions with people over the last several years. Responses vary from “never heard of that” to “I like freedom” to “there once were crazy right-wingers, run away!”.

It’s not so cut and dried, hence my proposal in the first place.

That’s what makes this proposal a fairly difficult name. Also, we’re not a bank trying to sell a mortgage.

Pretty sure Libertarian Left covers off our entire platform.

It’s what it says beyond the platform that’s the problem.

While we’re at it, I’ve been looking for a term to convey the freedom aspect. Haven’t found anything that doesn’t smell too much like “Tea Party”.

Please enumerate what you believe the proposed name “says beyond the platform” so we can better understand your position.

In other news, an article about a new forming party called the ‘Wellbeing Party’ has a quip about us in it:

The electoral commission’s register of political parties lists the Pirate Party Australia and while it appears to be a force for pirate shirts as worn by Jerry Seinfeld in the sitcom, it is a movement against “draconian copyright and patent laws” and protecting civil and digital liberties against piracy.


First, you were warned:

Then, you showed that you already knew:

What impact on your case do you anticipate from your trolling?

Returning to honest discussion:
If the only option on offer is the one upon which you seem fixated, then I won’t vote for change. If the Party is renamed as you wish, then I believe we will lose members. It’s highly probable that the name will attract members that you won’t particularly want.

You’ve rejected all reference to common usage, clinging instead to narrow dictionary definitions. We’re the Pirate Party; how often do you rob ships at sea? Are the Liberals really liberal?

Tarnatiger Copter put it well:

If the Party really needs a new name, then it doesn’t need to reflect our policies or position. In fact, we’d be more nimble and flexible if it doesn’t.


Going to ignore the goading and get to the crux.

The only “restriction” that left-libertarianism imposes is no authoritarianism and no right-wing nonsense. It can’t get more nimble or flexible insofar as meeting the requirements of the party’s current culture and ensuring it isn’t restricted in the future without evolving into something it should never be.

I don’t care if—regardless of what the name changes to—we lose members. If they’re in it exclusively for the name, they’re in it definitely for the wrong reasons. I’ve spent the best part of 8 years on this party, so I’m not some nobody nom de plume trying to assert a point for no purpose than to gain attention. I want the party to grow going forward and it has largely stagnated in its current form. I will continue to argue for my proposal otherwise there would have been no reason to propose it in the first place.

Go read over @Frew’s post and see someone else who has spent just as many years on this organisation making the point about why the change is necessary.

Are Left Libertarians really right-wing? :no_mouth:

Also because I just can’t let this go: the Liberals are liberal in the sense they named themselves; see economic liberalism.

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It’s also worth mentioning, I think, that libertarian doesn’t actually have an established connotation in Australian politics. All the more reason for a truly left-libertarian party to grab hold of it.

The negative connotations attached to it do not seem to apply outside those familiar with American politics. Every example of ‘bad’ libertarianism raised comes the United States.

I am confident that the negative connotations of ‘libertarian’ would be tempered by the word ‘left’, and that anyone with a knowledge of libertarianism would know what left-libertarian means.

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