We are going to be devoting as much time as possible to discussing strategy at Congress this year. In order to lay the ground work, I thought it would be good to post two discussion papers which can be used as discussion starters. This is the first one, which lays out our strategic vision, I.E. what we are fighting for. The second paper will be focused on practical organisation, what we need to do to realise our goals.
The political environment has shifted a lot since the foundation of the Pirate Party almost 10 years ago. It has become clear that the basic principles that have united us have become contested, that the old foundations of the party have become unstable.
The Trump election marked a significant change in the political landscape, the end of the neo-liberal consensus. On the other side of politics, both Corbyn and Sanders represent the progressive rejection of the endless austerity. It has thrown many basic assumptions out the window and we need to reassess our position in the contemporary political landscape.
This is just a consequence of the times. As the pace of change in computing and in the automation of production continues to build steam, the old social institutions will continue to break down. Parliament is already lagging woefully behind technology, it is a system for stable government over a stable system. The system is no longer stable. The Australian government’s calls to break encryption, the sale of Australian health records on the darknet, #robodebt and #censusfail are all glaring examples of government lagging years behind technology.
There is an excellent essay by Nick Land called A Quick and Dirty Introduction to Accelerationism which goes through the material and philosophical basis for this social and technological acceleration and is well worth a read. Having said that, Nick Land is a leading philosopher of the Neo-reactionary movement. He advocates for a kind of corporate feudalism to replace parliamentary democracy, so whilst his analysis of the current state of politics is good, his solutions are about as far from what we fight for as can be imagined.
From the essay:
For accelerationism the crucial lesson was this: A negative feedback circuit – such as a steam-engine ‘governor’ or a thermostat – functions to keep some state of a system in the same place. Its product, in the language formulated by French philosophical cyberneticists Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, is territorialisation. Negative feedback stabilises a process, by correcting drift, and thus inhibiting departure beyond a limited range. Dynamics are placed in the service of fixity – a higher-level stasis, or state. All equilibrium models of complex systems and processes are like this. To capture the contrary trend, characterised by self-reinforcing errancy, flight, or escape, D&G coin the inelegant but influential term deterritorialisation. Deterritorialisation is the only thing accelerationism has ever really talked about.
In socio-historical terms, the line of deterritorialisation corresponds to uncompensated capitalism. The basic – and, of course, to some real highly consequential degree actually installed – schema is a positive feedback circuit, within which commercialisation and industrialisation mutually excite each other in a runaway process, from which modernity draws its gradient. Karl Marx and Friedrich Nietzsche were among those to capture important aspects of the trend. As the circuit is incrementally closed, or intensified, it exhibits ever greater autonomy, or automation. It becomes more tightly auto-productive (which is only what ‘positive feedback’ already says). Because it appeals to nothing beyond itself, it is inherently nihilistic. It has no conceivable meaning beside self-amplification. It grows in order to grow. Mankind is its temporary host, not its master. Its only purpose is itself.
This is a bleak if accurate description of where we are. States founded on centuries old ideas are not going to be capable of navigating the increasing rate of change. Humans are experiencing ever increasing Future Shock (to steal a term from Alvin Toffler) because there is no stability, only change. The underlying assumptions of mainstream politics are going to be completely and repeatedly undermined.
What I think Nick Land misses, although it is completely understandable considering his politics, is that in the face of automation, in the face of the unrelenting change of modern society, humans have solidarity. We have each other.
In Australia the major parties are all clinging to neo-liberalism in the face of the publics’ desire for social services, for the protection of the environment and for a more equitable society. Politicians have stayed loyal to neo-liberalism because they have been living on massive corporate ‘donations’ for a long time, which when coupled with incessant spin and positive media coverage from the MSM, made the ideological foundation unassailable. What Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders show is that people (especially young people) are rejecting what has been political business as usual for the last 30 years.
I think we need to re-emphasise the techno-utopian ideals of the Pirate Party. We need to position ourselves so we are seen as the party of a brighter future. A party that wants to address inequality, ensure that the worst off have enough, that we work to limit climate change and damage to the environment. A Party that protects and extends civil liberties, makes government more accountable, transparent and democratic. A party that reduces rent-seeking encourages science and engineering and supports a free culture.
We are known for our grasp on technological issues at a time when politicians seem to revel in their ignorance. Our commitment to scientific practice and technological understanding is the base from which we can build our image as the party for a brighter future for all.
Beyond our already excellent platform, we need to continue our work on developing more responsive and representative ways to democratically manage society. We need to make sure we work to reduce social divisions with justice and equality of opportunity for all. We can’t continue as we have been, we need to evolve or we shall stagnate and die.