I’ve been feeling more alienated from the party over the last few months, and I find people asking me things like “Why do you have a greens placard on the front of your house if you’re part of the Pirates?” and the answer, I think, is that this party doesn’t represent me.
I’m one of the founding members, having bartered a laptop video dongle at the party’s very first in person meeting to pay for my membership at Sydney’s Customs House Library. We sat upstairs in our own room, chairs arranged in a big circle eyeing each other off as we introduced ourselves in turn. There were three people who stood out - a beatnik musician from a roach infested slanty walled slum in Newtown, a woman - apparently the disinterested girlfriend of one of the participating men, and me, a hippy-like girl inspired by the great works of the Swedish Pirates. There was also something like 50 completely unmemorable white male IT professionals, some of whom lead our party today!
Still, it was a start. Since then, we’ve registered, contested, and lost an election, now we’re set to do so again. And we do it with a team of candidates who are white men. I look at this, and see that meeting, and the values of the party. A party I joined with hopes that it would represent me as an artist, sculptor, and coder. A party which would value culture above nearly all else. A party which would embrace the “no copyright intended” attitudes of remix culture online. A party to help codify our culture of sharing in to law. A party to revive inventiveness, and help people build on the works of others, and stand on the shoulders of giants, and a party to help strengthen our democracy, through experiments with direct democracy and new ways of providing representation, as well as promoting technologies that distribute data, and power along with it. Technologies like BitTorrent, and presumably Bitcoin, which had only been invented a few months earlier.
I don’t think this party ended up being that thing at all. I don’t see the Australian Pirates taking stands against data silo’s like Google building nest eggs of risky personal data and hypocritically lashing out at governments when those governments dare to use their infrastructure to collect the same information (without paying google for it, of course!). I don’t see us speaking really at all about copyright, patents, or remix culture anymore. I don’t see the arts or culture itself valued, or any representation for remix culture beyond the bland mass market stale memes it publishes to try and stay relevant to an audience that is much more engrossed in the movements of Scott Ludlam than anything this party has ever done.
What I do see is a party that tries to distance itself from it’s heritage. Whose leadership openly discusses with great enthusiasm dropping the name Pirate, as if valuing remix culture is some shameful phase it has since has grown out of. I see a party desperate to be an issue party, but unable to decide what it cares about. Maybe it’s basic income? Maybe it’s broadband internet? Maybe it’s social welfare? Nobody knows! Perhaps cursed to retain a name with meaning and impact simply by it’s inability to figure out what it passionately stands for anymore.
So going in to this election, where I plan to give my primary vote to The Arts Party or perhaps The Greens, I wonder, why am I still a member of a party that I don’t even want to vote for?
Talk me out of it. I figure this could be an interesting topic.
A little about me: I’m a young lesbian, with severe illness, who has always been a non-worker on a Disability Support Pension. I spend my time creating new culture with people by building animatronic props and animating 3D VFX, helping build prosthetics for anyone whose life could be improved by it, trawling hashtags finding people like me and feeling less alone. I’m an award winning sculptural artist and game designer, and my software tools and libraries run on thousands of web servers around the world and tens of thousands of little hardware doodads used by Arduino fans. I contribute nearly all of my creativity to the public domain, or the creative commons. I value people, culture, and privacy, but not possessions, as I have always had a Basic Income of sorts.