Strategy Paper 1

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.

Strategic Vision

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.


Agree 100%. Not even bitching.


Why I #votepirate

I’m not sure what you mean. The core princples as listed on the front page of freedom of information and culture, civil and digital liberties, privacy and anonymity, etc are just as relevant as ever. More so, even, since things have been mostly getting worse. Is anyone contesting their importance?

The only significant changes that occurred along with the Trump election were a marked downturn in public perception of the media and the rise of a reactionary anti-identity-politics faction on the right. Everything else - polarisation, ending US hedgemony, increasing authoritarianism, erosions of privacy - have all continued on roughly the same trend as they have for over a decade. Ascribing those issues to Trump is giving him a level of importance that he hasn’t earned.

Corbyn is more on point, but austerity hasn’t been emphasised in the USA for again, over a decade, and has generally taken a back seat here too.

My main objection here though is that this isn’t Australian politics. If you want to talk about shifts in that, then Tony Abbott would probably feature prominently. Much as a lot of people would rather he didn’t.

Some of that is more likely to be malice rather than incompetence. The encryption and robodebt issues in particular.

While I agree with the sentiment of pragmatism and adapting to circumstances, I’m still scratching my head over what sort of change of direction you’re advocating here.

This was the bit the NC got me to remove before the paper was published. The example I used was the back-lash we got for tweeting about a rally in support of Julian Assange. Members were enraged that we would support someone who in their minds is a fascist. This change in attitude comes from a significant number of our members and supporters. The liberal consensus is gone (not just the neo-liberal consensus), in part because Trump and his supporters are authoritarian and whilst they cry about free speech when it suits them, don’t actually support free speech. I don’t really want to get into the ins and outs of this debate here because it is a massive side-track that deserves a thread all of its own.

Ironically I think what you call the anti identity politics of the right is identity politics, just of alienated white males. They illustrate what is wrong with identity politics so well, that they are a caricature of what they claim to hate. I don’t think Trump changed that much himself, but he marks a change in political era in the US. Where professional politicians have governed for at least my whole adult life, he was elected as an outsider because the neo-liberal consensus is gone. No-one wants another Clintonesque political insider who lives off Wall Street ‘donations’.

Politics is globalised. The Nick Land essay really spells out the changes in the situation faced by everyone on the planet. We need to look ahead and outside the insular world of Australian politics to see what is happening. The world gets smaller every day and will continue to do so for the forseeable future. If you want to write your own analysis of Australian politics knock yourself out. Could be interesting.

Depends who you are talking about. Spies wanting encryption breaking would be malice, Brandis, probably incompetence. Robodebt is malice though. Most politicians struggle with technological issues, I can name only one person in each large party (excluding the Nats) who really understands computers and technological issues.



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Sometimes you have to take a stand on values and real world data rather than whatever the politically correct perception is at the moment. If members/supporters feel that strongly about selectively not supporting civil liberties when it suits them then I question whether they actually support the concept at all. And the word ‘fascist’ is getting quite a lot of abuse these days. But agreed, that’s a sidetrack.

Agreed. When I say ‘anti’ in this context I kinda mean more along the lines of ‘antisocial’. Rather than reject the idea (‘asocial’, in this bad analogy) they’ve just taken it in another direction. This is another sidetrack though, so I won’t mention it further.

I tend to be more interested in how minor parties can win, for various definitions of winning. It’s fairly easy to summarise and I don’t think it’s really changed much. Possible strategies fall into three categories:

  1. Persuade other parties to adopt policies. In our case, that’s mostly the Greens we would be persuading. You don’t technically need to win seats to get what you want. A lot of the current policy platform I’d tentatively place in this category.

  2. Exploit the system. This would involve focusing on the more democratic and smaller local, state and territory elections, particularly those with fewer votes necessary to win a seat. Most of the effort/time/money must be focused exclusively into one specific area until a foothold is established. The big problem with this one is that PPAU policies are mostly federal in scope at the moment, which is what you’d expect for a federal party but also not all that helpful for winning as a newcomer.

  3. Change the system. If the system is heavily and undemocratically biased against minor parties, which it is, then it should be changed. New Zealand provides a rough guide for how to get it done. Ideally an outrageous electoral result is needed to get the issue into public discussion. Fortunately, we had one of those. Unfortunately, that was back in 2010. Nonetheless, this is the strategy I tend to advocate as the one with the best long term results.

That will be the topic of the second paper. Should be up earlyish next week. I have addressed your point 2 in what I have written so far.

I divided the strategy posts into two categories roughly envisioned as 1. What we are fighting for. and 2. How do we fight for it?