The Why of Pirate Party Australia

I was also going to post my thoughts in here for discussion, but got carried away and put it into a blog post.

Oops. Just noticed I used the exact same title.

Anyway, it’s a really good area to be discussing, because it can open up different approaches to how we think about things, which can lead to policies we’d never considered, or new ways to market the policies we do have to reach the public better.

Thanks for the consciousness raiser.


My eyes. :frowning:


An English friend who’s teased me about Piratey stuff over the years read my post, linked through to this discussion, and now thinks he’s a Pirate.

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I completely agree with the power of understanding ‘why’. Pirate Party Australia already embodies this to a huge extent through its transparent processes and its sited publications. When Pirate Party Australia makes a decision, writes a policy, publishes a press release or a member talks on behalf of the party; anyone can find the answers to ‘why’. You don’t need to be part of a faction, part of the council or even a member of PPAU; IRC, mailing lists, discussion forms, twitter rants, congress and meetups are all open and accessible.

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Somehow it is a relief that you have nearly the same problems like we in the german pirate party… And by the way - Liquid Feedback doesn’t really work, only a small hand full people uses it and it has lost its magic… There are new systems on the way, next weekend we have our national congress to try to fix some problems (and yes, to vote a new “leadership”)…

Thanks for all your blogs, interesting to read.

I would find this blog post instructive:

The comment by Jimmy Wales and reply is also very instructive. Choice quote:

But I’ve actually gone one simpler. A Youtube clip linked in IRC talking about the PPAU described us as “humanists”, and that rung especially true to me: Pirates have faith in people

It’s not even about technology or rent seeking or power structures. These all become the “what”. We’re actually named after the people; As a reaction to the “anti-piracy bureau”. Because “everyone” doesn’t have a name as such, the people representing the people took the moniker “Pirate”.

We care about technology because it can help bring people together, but we’re also wary of its social impact: “Technology is neither good nor bad, nor is it neutral”.

We care about freedoms but we’re not Libertarians, because they want to create systems, and we want to create societies. Societies are created by and for people, with people making decisions and people being the beneficiaries. We see regulation as opt-in because seriously why wouldn’t you want to help each other the fuck out?

We care about power structures and accountability but mostly so that we can return that power to the people. Our ideas of direct democracy are rooted around the idea that people can figure it all out somehow.

If you look at every political persuasion out there and their opinion of Pirates, we’re batshit insane, more than the hippies, more than the hard chargers, even more than the nazis, because we put our faith in people. It’s fucking unheard of!


I think that paragraph is a little bit over the top to say the least, especially the nazi comparison (like wtf). If people think we’re “batshit insane” as you said, then why would they support us? Maybe lay off the hyperbole a bit and your point might be clearer. :smirk:

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Perhaps I wasn’t being clear. I don’t mean the Nazi party today, but Hitler’s Nazi party in the 1920s.

Just to put this in context, the Nazi Party started in 1920-ish, and by 1924 had 32 seats in parliament. By 1930 they had close to 20% of the vote. Contrast that with us. While today, people clearly associate the physical “Nazi Party” with the events of WW2, the political techniques and policies of the parties they do vote for aren’t really that different.

So, just to re-iterate – for an average person we are more crazy than the literal Nazi Party.The fact that you don’t believe that just goes to show how much of an optimist you are (according to the data, I mean. I’m a pirate and therefore am equally optimistic).

So, I was thinking about the “No True Scotsman” thing, and the fact that every movement sort of has a manifesto, or some similar thing (an oath?), which crystallises them. One claim is that a document like that defines “the scotsman”, so the “no true scotsman” logical fallacy does not apply. This, obviously, led my mind to this discussion right here.

So, do we want to take some of the ideas here and convert them into the definition of a “true pirate”? Pirates seem to agree passionately and vehemently, so I can’t help but believe we’d be able to whittle something substantial out. We could then put it on our website; a kind of list reading “A Pirate believes…”.

A huge part of movements is identity, that was why I really liked the “you are a pirate” meme going around, because it really connected with identity. If we can make a “model citizen Pirate” and basically place her front-and-center on our website, I believe that would really resonate.


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Go ahead Sunny, make a list.

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Here’s an attempt. Obviously, feel free to edit it :smile:

That’s quite good.

I tried just mentally matching a few of the things we seem to be about, against these values.

How would you explain our aversion to rent-seeking business models in terms of these values?
It seems to loosely fit the “creativity” description, but seems more like a “progressive” value thing to me.
I think we value progress and moving with the times, rather than getting stuck in old ways.
Our positions on copyright and patents are a reflection of this.

Our positions on privacy, rights, and even the drug policy seem to derive quite nicely from the liberty values.

Our positions on Tax and Welfare derive well from the sharing values.

and our overriding preference for transparency in government blends sharing with freedom/responsibility


I think Creativity is definitely the value for rent-seeking, but vehemently so as opposed to loosely. The thing is, Pirates aren’t “against rent seeking” as a core belief or anything, it’s just that given the society we live in we’re just calling it out as an obvious issue that needs fixing. The core idea is that creative people must evaluate and re-evaluate against reality. They must try out new ideas, and they value the truth hugely. This means that when things “aren’t right” then it’s like an itch that needs scratching.

Rent seeking is a huge sore spot. You can see that the biggest companies in the world are rent collectors. It’s screwing the system and it’s completely clear to a creative person (and incredibly annoying).

To the extent that PP critiques those capitalist who monopolize or hold back productivity, I want to bring out how much Marx permeates their thinking here. When you link the issue of ‘democratised’ productivity with technological innovation; or, as @MarkG says “the will for initiative and creativity” you get the productivity of capitalism released and made even stronger because what held productivity for its own sake is finally abolished and spread out to everyone in the world. I mean, this is Marx pure and simple. Marx expected that the productivity of capitalism would be liberated even further in communism, in great part because the bourgeois could not use their capitalist power, for example, as Bill Gates or the Taxi Industry (think Uber) do to stifle technological progress, i.e., productivity.

A related issue I have is PP’s faith in technology generally. Obviously, the ‘technological’ character of the Pirate Party is linked to progress in science/technology, which is also a modern faith in what @MarkG describes as the “human potential…in collective unlimitedness” However, what makes his collective unlimitedness so freakish is that it is divorced from restraint, esp morally. At the end of it all I think the problem you face is that when you realise capitalism and communism are two sides of the same reality; it is a reality that ends up turning the world into the ‘night of the world.’ "It means, as Marx had predicted, the victory of an ever more completely urbanized, every more completely technological West over the whole planet–complete levelling and uniformity regardless of whether it is brought about by human rights or technology. Not an easy problem I’m sure, and one that is solved less by “solid evidence” than sound reasoning.

We definitely aren’t Marxists in any conscious way. We are much more pluralistic and not particularly ideological. There used to be a document on a wiki somewhere that explained how the Pirate Party would be agreeable to a wide range of political persuasions (back when we were just the IRC channel, a wiki and discussion board. I couldn’t find the original document, it wasn’t ever completed, I assume it was ‘cleaned up’ but only has use in a historical context anyway). I spent most of my political life before becoming a Pirate as an Anarchist, MarkG is more influenced by Libertarianism (as a couple of contrasting EGs), we get along fine.

That also fits a Libertarian ideology. Free trade is harmed by artificial scarcity created by intellectual property rights. Temporary monopolies through copyright and patents stop someone using an idea to make something new off the same concepts, be that artistic or scientific. It all depends how you squint to see the world.

“Faith”? Science is the best method (or collection of methods) to figure out how the world works. All science is interconnected and if a theory fails in one area it either has to be modified to fit the evidence or a new theory is needed. Faith has nothing to do with it. Neil Degrasse Tyson said it best in the Cosmos:

“This adventure is made possible by generations of searchers strictly adherent to a simple set of rules. Test ideas by experiments and observations. Build on those ideas that pass the test. Reject the ones that fail. Follow the evidence wherever it leads, and question everything. Accept these terms, and the cosmos is yours.”

Not entirely sure what you are trying to say here. We support action on climate change, so we do put limits on physical production. Someone said “the lesson of the Greens is that there is no such thing as limitless material production, the lesson of the Pirate Party is that there is no such thing as limited immaterial production.” (Wish I remember who, I think it was in a tweet) We only have one habitable planet which we really can’t screw up if we want the species to survive.

Again, not entirely sure what you are trying to say. You mean you have issue with the Internet? That has huge benefits for all of humanity. Poor farmers can look up better farming techniques saving generations from starvation, people can learn about and understand different cultures and make friends regardless of geography, which lessens the likelihood of conflict. As technologies, be they scientific or social (human rights for EG, social organisation is a form of invention) have spread, things have gotten better for much of humanity. The most concrete evidence of this is large decline in poverty across the planet as explained in this TED talk. These are good things.

What is the difference between ‘sound reasoning’ and ‘solid evidence’? If something has been tested, you have evidence see how it works and reason whether it is beneficial to use or not. If it hasn’t been tested, then you can work out a way to test it by enacting it in an area that supports the idea and comparing it to how other areas work. Having a pluralistic approach means different areas, sectors or whatever divisions form organically can try different things and with organisational transparency, you can see what works and what doesn’t and adjust policy accordingly.

Thanks for the response Mr Frew, I’m having severe internet connectability (apparently the Dodo office has been evacuated) issues but hope to reply within the next day or two.

Thanks for the interesting feedback, Louis. I concur with Frew though that we are not Marxist. The ideas you quote about capitalism and productivity are hardly unique to Marx, and the ideas that were specific to him (class struggle, ‘to each according to his need’, etc) are far too totalitarian for me and probably most others here. The greatest flaw in our economic system is that we treat a finite resource (nature) as if it was infinite and an infinite resource (culture) as if it were finite. This is a consequence of IP and other laws made by governments and may be corrected without overthrowing capitalism (which is just voluntary exchange when you boil it down).

A world “divorced from restraint” is exactly what we don’t want. Restraint underpins life itself in a technological world where even the poorest and most disconnected people will be able to print firearms. We know that restraint comes when people have a stake in their society - look at all the ways in which our platform tries to extend the role of civil society and reduce adversarialism in our systems. This will be very important in the future, I think.

I may get a little ranty here, but I am talking with a great deal of respect to people who have a lot of in-depth knowledge, and I will say things I cannot defend, so I’m asking for forgiveness in advance.

The reason a lot of people see Science as “true” is because it is so easily proven false. The ideas are as rigid as they are ridiculous. Several parts of physics, whether it be quantum entanglement (“if quantum mechanics is true then you can get quantum entanglement which is a completely ridiculous idea and can’t possibly be real”) or black holes (“if general relativity is real then you should see these black holes which are a completely ridiculous idea and can’t possibly exist”) were actually postulated to show how crazy wrong the science was supposed to be.

That’s how you sort out truth from fiction: Good truths are rigid and can break easily, and yet they do not. Bad “truths” bend to whatever observations actually take place, and make predictions which have no value, or can otherwise be interpreted later.

No offense, but economics for one thing, and everything you’ve written above, stinks of “bad truth”. This is one of the reasons why Pirates are supposed to be pragmatic, and shun all dogma: because we’re after the good truths.

Why are these things bad truths? Because they are very hard to test, and the things that are easy / possible to test ignore a huge amount of “reality”. Just look at the complexity behind a game as simple as the prisoner’s dilemma to see what I mean there: repetition plays a huge part, culture plays a huge part, the incentives play a huge part, to the extent that the lessons from the game itself is almost meaningless.

So it is with Marx and Marxism. It picks a simple thread from a complex world. If you’ve seen someone make a documentary and weave a reality by picking and choosing threads that tie to make a whole, you’ll see exactly the kind of reasoning you need to see Marx as being right or wrong. It’s all in the framing, and this is seen as being “OK”, because saying “yeah it’s really complicated” is a boring explanation, and people want easy results. Of course you do it in a documentary, but you shouldn’t mistake that for the truth.

But so far I’m just equivocating, strawmanning, and slippery-sloping, so here’s an example from what I gather you’re saying: Uber is making the bourgeois taxi industry more productive.

That’s bollocks. While it’s true there are rental black holes where people have gotten filthy rich by holding onto, say, taxi licenses, the taxi industry is tightly regulated to ensure people have efficient transport at reasonable cost, and everyone is treated fairly, from the customer to the taxi driver to the city and infrastructure. Getting this right is a balancing act which some countries do well at and some countries do badly at. You can tell when a taxi service is running efficiently and when fat cats are collecting rent.

Also, “communism” isn’t some theoretical thing. It exists in a very real form in many countries around the world, and the dynamic range of great to shit is as wide as it is for capitalism. Communism doesn’t guarantee you anything, you need to put the effort in, and conversely, if you put the effort in you can make any system work well and efficiently.

In the end, I see this kind of left-right posturing as comparing Holden against Ford, or Cylinder based engines against Wankel Rotaries, or LCD vs OLED. In the end that’s not what makes a product good. It’s hard work and good engineering.

Precisely. A choice quote is: “Technology is not good or evil. Nor is it Neutral”. It is important for us to be responsible for the technology that we create as a society.


Sorry, I kind of lost the initiative to respond once I realized the ‘Pirate Party’ wasn’t associated with roguish and mischievous types. I take issue with most of what you say of course, but there’s really no reason for me to respond. Damn this ennui

Quality response, would read again.