A Pirate Ideology

A Foreword on Ideologies and Our Current Democracy

I have thought a certain time about writing this mail. I was thinking long-time what is the pirate ideology? You know; I particularly don't like ideologies. This partly comes from the fact that I think that they are often used to an extreme which primes people in a certain way, which may clutter their ability to judge in a rational way. In fact I'm not that certain that these ideologies are the best for our current political system.

Successful ideologies are a bit like very stupid essentials which you try to apply everywhere. Why is that? Who tells you that it's a sane assumption? If you built upon such ideologies in a democracy where politicians have to decide almost everything then you are forcing politicians to become an expert in every field, which is completely bogus in a world which is becoming more and more complex and where it's difficult for an individual to keep all relevant things in mind. It's really no surprise to me that politicians are often influenced by lobbyists in dubious ways. I personally would like to see liquid democracy as a possible option for a new kind of democratic system. I'm not talking about using Liquid Feedback for discussing things in your party; that's a nice variant, but a mediocre thing at best; I'm talking about a radical democratic approach where topics are split among multiple parliaments (how this is to split should be up to the people) and where people have the option to not just give their vote to a certain politician which will try to apply the respective ideology to everything, but where they have the option to give weight to a certain politician in a certain area, but give weight to another one in another area. Let's consider the following example: Eve thinks family values are of high importance and she highly approves of the family values by the Christian party, but not of their view on ecological issues; however apart from that she doesn't like the rest of the Christian ideology but thinks in general we should strive for a sustainable world which is rather a concern in the Green party; however their open family model probably does not really fit her ideal of a family (keep in mind, that it's just an example). In another instance Eve thinks, she's the only that has enough knowledge on the financial system to know what would be best to prevent another collapse.

So in a world where Eve can only give her vote to one or the other party, she's stuck between deciding the lesser negative aspect; either the not so sustainable Christian party or the not so approved family model by the Green party. She might as well start her own party with those 3 topics, as then people might be then more willing to listen to her arguments about the financial system, if she's running for elections. But will this party be really successful? And what if it is successful? Should she retain to the 3 topics or does she need to broaden the program, even though she has only a mediocre understanding of all those other topics? Should she real take that hassle? This conflict would not exist if she could vote for once in the favour of the Green and the other time in favour of the Christian party and could be running herself for elections for the parliament that is responsible for discussing the financial system. That would be the real radical idea behind that system that is called “liquid democracy”. It's a completely different world of what we currently name as “democracy”.

The Core of Successful Ideologies

But let's get back. As said successful ideologies are a bit like very stupid essentials which you try to apply everywhere; at a certain point it may hardly not matter to you any more if they are sane assumptions to a certain extend or not. Examples? Neo-liberalism basically says that the state should be kept out of all things even if it may not serve “the interest of the people” (as some may define it), Socialism basically says the state you should always intervene in the interest of the people where it's democratically decided what is “in the interest of the people”. So what we see here is that ideologies usually build up one very simple things that can be described in one sentence and that should be applied to everything.

You will tell me now that there are counterexamples, such as the Christian party which builds up on the bible, which says many complex things in many sentences. That is correct; however it becomes extremely difficult for Christian parties to advocate that. What can be seen nowadays is that Christian parties either take not every sentence in the bible literally and also goes to something simple (like “the family and the faith (without particular extrema) is the basis of society”) or if they do take it literally in very obscure Christian parties, they are usually not voted on because educated people nowadays realize that if everything would be taken literally in the bible, we would be likely living in a contradictory and insane society, rather than in one that should be achieved on the grounds of morality.

Previous Approaches to the Pirate Parties Ideology

From my knowledge there has been only one really visible thus notable approach to the pirate parties ideologies: namely the ones put forward by Rick Falkinge, founder of the Swedish and first pirate party. Given that I do approve the work Rick has put in the Eight Spokes of Piracy, as it explains the de facto situation where we are based on, but it's far from an ideology and one should be careful by applying it in this form. Why is this? Well put simply if you put your weight on several different areas instead of a single sentence, you will rather likely run into a situation where the party will start to dispute within itself if one of the principles is really a sane assumption.

Then people will start to argue about it and there will be no definite answer. Then the party will more likely split up in 2 different branches; the one who care for that aspect and those who don't. You will likely not run intp that hallway of internal dispute if you start to apply a simple, single-minded principle; because then it's an All-Or-Nothing-Thing. Either you agree to it or you do not. If you don't agree to it, you can go and fuck yourself in the corner, as you're not welcomed in the party then (you may consider to start your own one, but it may hardly attract people just by that if they don't care for it enough themselves). We can clearly say that this does not apply to Rick's Eight Piracy Spokes text.

There are nice graphs which show how this spokes are intertwined, but there is no real common ground on which each spoke stands. Once "humanism" has been suggested at the centre. Well; to be honest I'm not against “humanism”, just as I'm not against “ecological protection” but these terms are often defined in very odd ways and it's not clear how to interpret them in certain situations; is allowing women to have abortions for or against humanity? It clearly depends where you're standing; either close to freedom-loving people, or close to people that give foetuses the same rights as to every already born person (for whatever reasons, rational or irrational). Same goes for “ecological protection”; depending on your situation this is a term that can be interpreted to various ways; something that is between “doing a bit that nature does not degenerate that fast” and “nature has to become the same as before”. While those 2 terms give a certain exclusion of certain actions that certainly do not apply to them (there are things that can't sanely labeled as “humanism” or “ecological protection”) they do not define an aim by themselves. That is a problem as people will start to argue on non-rational ways if their definition of the term does match their actions. You will have more or less extreme interpretations of the terms, but nothing that can be agreed on them just by that. It depends what other goals you have as well.

You are free to correct me here and show me how you would argue that “this” or “that” is inherently closer to “humanism” or “ecological protection”. Even better: provide me a coherent definition for it, which can be directly used to infer if situation described above what is the action that is clearly for “humanism”. Clearly Rick himself has seen that this kind of term is probably not the best one to put at the core.

In the most recent version "Empowerment" has been suggested as the core. While I like “empowerment” I don't see the argument why it is something that should be achieved. Why is “empowerment” of everyone our ideal? Why should we have “good faith” in everyone? Why is not each human just a wolf which needs to be controlled by a system of society (see Thomas Hobbes)? The argumentation is clearly missing there. I'm not saying that it's impossible to come up with an explanation. But it will be likely influenced by arguments that are harder to rationalize. In this proposal I try to avoid the non rationalizable parts as much as possible, that are part of need that is as intuitive as possible and needs to be fulfilled (from my perspective).

Furthermore a real ideology usually does not start by stating a certain amount of things you think it is supported by what you are striving for. Because if those things are not naturally connected to each other you may as well add another “random” topic. There are few sound arguments why - if you already have a number of things of topics you are in favour for, but which show no inherent self-standing ideology - you should not add something else as well. Then again we will have a fight again about what is the core of the pirate ideology. That is something we usually want to avoid in the name of the common ideals we are standing for.

A Pirate Ideology and It's Explanation

In the following paragraph I hereby state what I think could be a possible pirate ideology. Consider that I write “a possible pirate ideology” instead of “the pirate ideology”. I'm not that arrogant to assume that I'm the one that should define “the pirate ideology”; also I'm not that blind to think that there are no other possible interpretations to the current pirate topics. This one just tries to be as intuitive as I can come up with. You likely will disagree on this one; you may accuse it of being of this and this category (likely you will accuse it of being a partly “green ideology”); just go on. But consider the explanation which I give when you start to argue against it. So the pirate ideology as I would define it as follows:

The long-term goal of humanity is to sustain as species on this world in peace and with equality where nature can co-exist. Knowledge is the only natural thing that can keep humans not equal in possibilities and measures such as control or censorship that keeps people from sharing knowledge stripping them of self-control, qualitative inequality that can lead to war and dictatorship is a non avoidable thing to come.

I admit: It's not one sentence and you may could make it shorter; or you may come up with your own ideas of a pirate ideology that leaves certain parts out; but please really read on, before criticising. After I stated this to several people likely the first fight will start to continue among speciest and non-speciest (“extreme animal rights people” if you want to have the mainstream term). However even the most extreme non-speciest will hardly want a world where humans are extinct (okay, we all nowadays realize that this would be probably to a certain extent better for “nature”, however one may define it; however no one going into politics will strive for that publicly) or where he basically strives for living on the trees (one bourgeois relative once told me that the greens want us to “live on the trees again” but that's of course nonsense apart from a few extremists). Yet neither any speciest want to live completely without any sort of nature. Okay, I admit; I'm from a country where people in cities are at least 99% still aware that milk is coming from cows and not machines. I admit that this definition is based on the assumption that there is only one material world, and we are the ones that have to take of it. If you believe in an afterlife you are probably less eager to care for this world, as you consider that you and all possible successors (that are behaving by the ideas of your belief) will come to some sort of paradise anyway.

I agree when you tell me that “sustainability” is - according to our insights in physics - possibly only an illusion as our universe will probably end up in a state where energy has been distributed evenly on all matter and where it can't be used any more (I guess all of you had thermodynamics and the history of the universe at some point in school; but probably not all of you saw the implications of what has been taught there?). Still it's better to strive for the sustainability of our species than for more or less distanced death of our species. Maybe we may even overcome that named obstacle (if it is the case that the universe is expanding and energy goes down to the last level, I assume not; but that's not the question) by getting more insights into the universe in the long-term. It's basically a game where we have to decide how we should use our resources that are currently available.

Even if you do not dispute this aspect, you may all disagree what is the most important part of human existence then (if it can and should be sustained). Even those that are in favour of a hedonist approach here (the basic is that everyone gets as most joy as possible), will agree that it would quite terrible if we keep the whole waste for our children to clean up and therefore not having more but clearly less things to enjoy in the world. You may say it's for “striving for knowledge” and I agree particularly on that, but that's not important for the core of the ideology; it's rather a nice addition to the core, which could have rather stand for itself. “striving for knowledge” also may help to get a better relationship with nature again, but it's not like this is any sort of necessary aspect; it's more one way to do it.

Why should we strive for peace? Well basically said anything else than peace means suffering for certain. You may not be aware of that, but war is nothing to joke about. I hope it will keep an option that is not taken any country near mine, but also on the world; and if it's taken then only as a really “last option”, not as something that is fueled by economic interests which could have been solve politically as well.

Why should we strive for equality? Well, equality is the one thing that keeps the society together. You can always clearly observe if the inequality rises to high in a country (especially in a country where the poor part of society can hardly survive) the likelihood either for dictatorial or for internal wars rises. But hardly anyone sober wants war. Officially there are “losers” and “winners” but in general it's nothing but that both sides loose to a certain extent. Now let's get to the second sentence; it reads “Knowledge is the only natural thing that can keep humans not equal in possibilities”. Okay at least marxists will know attack me by saying “what about production means? what about money?” I say, yes, well they matter. But the tangible production means are something that can be usually always taken; either by war or revolution. Of course there are dark fantasies where people have lost so many tangible means that they are even unable to resist the regime. But that's something which will hopefully never happen. Also equality incorporates this of course. About the second thing…“money”…well that's actually only a human invention. It's not that people could not live without it. They did so “before money”. It's harder, but usually possible. “Money” is nothing more than an idea itself; most of the money does not have a value by itself (it's a bit of metal, special ink and paper), but money only is been given value in a system where people . So you can keep that out of the equation completely. One can think of societies which use money and such that don't use any money. It actually does not really matter in the long-term perspective that much if you have realized these aspects.

The only natural thing that can be really controlled to an extent which is hard to take by revolution or war however is information. You can use information to spread your propaganda, you can thus use it to influence the public. Information can be used against you; if you see such information and feel threatened by it, you will try to control it by whatever means possible. Information comes before all other things. If you would have no means to communicate you will have a very hard time to control other people. You can do so by force, but force is an element which is bound to our tangible world and as said the tangible world could be usually be taken away by war or revolution. Only in combination with information the malice control over the tangible things becomes a real problem. With information you can spread ideas in people's head which will hinder them to revolt against you, with information you can dictate your subordinates to control those that you don't want to rebel against you.

Accidental information is also the only thing that can be shared indefinitely. It does not diminish; everyone can profit from it. There are 2 arguments to be made here.

First information does not only diminish it is als the only natural thing that can grow by sharing more of it, but which on the other side does not reduce others from the possibility from enjoying it. Information does not reduce resources in general. Now some will argue that the Internet is using a huge amount of resources and cannot be sustainable. But the current Internet is only one option to have a society where information is shared. If we want to keep the Internet (or similar information exchange systems) for our future generations we will have certainly to find a way to put the resource usage to a minimum. Of course even consuming information as a human being uses tangible resources as our bodies and primary our brains need chemical decomposition to work. However I'm positive that it's possible to get to a point where the resource usage can be reduced to a minimum that can be fueled by the sun. If you think about information in the terms of "memes" you will realize that allowing for a free information exchange is actually a measure in order to allow memes to commit evolution. A huge amount of our society is based on people who have taken up a meme someone else conceived before them and started to refine it into something even better. The previous memes therefore had “sex” in the mind of that person an thus where brought forward in evolution.

The second argument is that a culture where information is shared freely, is likely a culture where there's not such a high level of inequality. If people get access to information for education, if people get access to information on a non-explanatory unequal distribution, if people get the means to spread their information on an equal level, inequality is not necessary eliminated, but it's rather unlikely not to be eliminated. Furthermore in a wealthy society where people are encouraged to share information they are rather aware of inequalities themselves and will rather strive for helping those in a worse situation than they are themselves to a certain extend. You will notice that one may not necessarily come to “privacy” at this point. Well I did never say, that I will come up with something that weights all pirate topics equal. Privacy for me again is an addition here. However one can argue, that in a society where equality is not the weighted the same as hedonism often is, those who are wealthy are more likely to control information. They are more likely to control those that are less wealthy e.g. because the can blackmail them or similar and because they have more means to defend themselves against diffaming information for them. But then they are breaching the very basic premise of sharing information. So in a world where judgement is partially still not based on rational grounds, but more on the level of sensationalism like “oh! look that is a dirty politician!” privacy is condition which should be met, because it allows a several level of self-control instead of foreign control. Same goes for most “citizen rights” in general (where privacy is often mentioned), while this ideology itself does not say that the current citizen rights are the correct one, one can likely state that a society without any citizen rights will likely strip people to exert self-control.

If you have a society which believes in information sharing, some amount of equality and a care for future generations, an open and honest democracy is a rather natural thing to come. Admittetly such a kind of democracy would be less open for approaches that would completely disregard the needs of future generations; but seriously, are we that selfish to allow that? I'm not talking about questionning measures where it's dubious if they are really a contribution to sustainability. I'm talking about political decisions that clearly disregard sustainability completely alltogether. Decisions that do not do that should not be taken from my perspective, as there can be nothing but selfishness in such a decision.

Why is the opposite of sharing information a natural way to war or dictatorship? Well in a society where not even information is shared to a certain extent, the only thing that can be shared without diminishment it will rather come to social inequality. Thereby it will come a situation where those that have more will either need to control those with less (often by information again) or those that have less will likely rebel at a certain point of time, if the inequality becomes unbearable. Thus sharing information is one of the first steps towards equality and to a society where each individual can exert their respective part of information control and therefore self-control. Because freedom is only freedom if all people can exert it. Freedom that is only for you and which diminished the freedom of someone else is a kind of freedom that is illusionary. You are basically enslaving someone else for your own means. If you can't control your own information, you're basically in the same information as the convicted offender in Franz Kafka's roman "Der Process" how is stripped even of the knowledge on which ground he has been convicted. If you're still not convinced why information control is bad, you may also read up on Judith Butlers "Excitable Speech" which basically says “if information is censored, it may backfire by allowing a society not to change even for the better”.

“What about capitalism with your ideology?” Well this is actually not said anywhere. I see capitalism, just as idealistic communism (I'm not talking about the one that has been implemented for the worse) is just a society system. However it should be obvious that sustaining growth, which is a crucial issue for sustaining the species and nature, is a very delicate issue. Some will say this is completely contradictory, others will tell else. However I see it as quite unrealistic that endless economic growth will be sustainable. With wealth comes to wish to consume more, even so the wish comes to consume stuff that does not really help your life. In western countries people are hardly more happy than 30 years before. Why exactly should we produce stuff that no one needs, that does not alleviate happiness, but in contrast is likely to consume resources which can't be recycled in a sustainable way? If you ask me there is no reason for that. I can be a very lazy and hedonistic person myself; I do like a certain amount of luxury. But if my laziness leads to a world where the future generation will get a way less luxury way of life due to resource scarcity, I'm rather going to limit myself to an extend which is still better than “living on the trees” and question economic growth that does not improve my mood a lot.

“What about drugs legislation?” Well, drugs are not information themselves. They are something which can be applied both sides to the proposed ideology. If people loose their amount of self-control and get into a state where they are addicted, then this rather contradicts the theory of exerting self-control. So having addicted people that can't exert self-control is nothing this ideology wants. On the other hand if the usage of drugs is generally prohibited you strive people of their possibility to consensually alter their mind. Now this is something which you don't want neither. E.g. certain drugs can be an excellent tool as they allow you to separate them from the common day meaning and to bring the evolution of certain of your memes forward in your mind, which would have been difficult if not impossible without the usage of drugs. Thus the usage of drugs is - from my perspective - a thing that people should have the option to use, but which should be also controlled to an extent where they do no loose self-control.

What Makes the Proposed Pirate Ideology Appealing?

What contrasts the previously proposed pirate ideology from all other succesful ideologies is that at it's core it states that information shall not be controlled. Other ideologies do not state this at their core. As we have seen information control is a way to power and power is the only thing ideologies usually strive for. Thus all of these other ideologies will come to a point where their representatives will naturally consider to (ab)use information control, because it does not contradict their ideology; be it while aspiring for power or be it after successfully getting into power in order to retain their power. Of course the proposed pirate ideology would be the same when it comes to aspiring for power, as this is a natural intention of ideologies. However in contrast to other ideologies the proposed pirate ideology would naturally contradict itself if it tries to control information in an amount as has been done e.g. in communist states, in fascism states and probably also in neo-liberal states. It is therefore one of the few ideologies that can't be used to aspire for power and then abuse this power by information control as this would inherently contradict the ideology at it's very core.

The ideology states that at it's core those that are in favour of controlling information on just one side, are the ones that want to dictate people instead of giving all people the same amount of influence.


As said before this text should be “a pirate ideology” and never “the pirate ideology”. I am very well aware that I'm in a privileged position to have conceived this text and I'm not entirely happy about that; if you're a male, Caucasian and western person, you have so much more possibilities than anyone else (and I think everyone should be given the possibilities to conceive such ideas). Actually I think it's not my idea alone, but that I would have been unable to conceive it without my connections to the pirate movement; without all of the fruitful environment and the exchange of ideas. It was a remix of memes which I got from several pirates, possibly including you. I think these ideas should spread freely. I want to have this text connected to the pirate movement 'though, that's why I would like to publish it as a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License, as those who want to make use of it, are obliged to cite where the idea sprang from (I know this is contradictory to real free flow of ideas, and I may reconsider that decision later on). Now who's the author? Most people living in the copy monopoly world would say it's mine. I would say that I'm just the writer and “the pirate movement” is the actual author as described above. But if people begin to cite “the pirate movement” with this text, they are not unlikely to confuse that all pirates agree on that. Then again that could be seen at a level of high arrogance by myself. So probably you may cite this as “conceived in the pirate movement, written by Pat Mächler”. I'm still not happy with that solution but it's probably best until the text is acknowledged as such; after that I'm happily considering applying the CC-0 license to it, which I don't do for now 'though (so, please don't use the text without proper citation for now).

Up to now I considered myself rather a “classical liberal” (and not a “green” as some might judge from the text); but I think I have gone now to a “pirate”. Certainly even some pirates might categorize me now differently, as they do not agree on the text. I don't care that much actually about judgements. Categorization and judgements are old times politics. I'm happily considering criticism that is directed at the text, but I will likely not consider personal ones, that have no connection to what is actually said in this text. Currently I am likely unable to see numerous problems in stringent philosophical argumentation in the text and I don't mind if you point these out. In fact I think that would be an overall positive thing to do, as ideologies can only be as strong as the assumptions and interferences that are used within them. Every ideology can be attacked at a certain position, but some are easier to attack than others, as great care was used to select sane assumptions and sound argumentation lines. A lot of people will probably consider this a “leftist” text, as it incorporates elements of ecology and socio-economic equality. Actually I never would describe myself as “leftist”. But I would consider myself to be an idealist to a certain extent. I'm always dubious when it comes to development aid. In fact I think certain form of development aid are rather harmful as they advise people to accept the gifts instead of getting out of their situation, while other forms of development help that advise people in how to exactly get out of their situation can be extremely helpful. Neither do I consider myself “green”; not all measures that are taken in the name of “environmental protection” are show forms of sustainability. In contrast “sustainability” is a rather clearly defined term, which can be rationalized to a high extent; that is if you take not the every day definition of “sustainability”, but the scientific definitions such as the one put forward by the Brundtland Commission. Probably I used a dubious name for this work. Because if another pirate wants to propose another pirate ideology it's not avoidable to use another name. Anyway, I guess it's “first come, first serve” sometimes when it comes to titles. ;-)

Oh…by the way…if you think this is insane (you likely will when you read this the first time) consider that there are some Maya calendar believers who tell people that the world will end in 363 days from now on. That is crazy shit man! ;-) (I doubt that “the world will end”, but I admit that I'm currently a bit afraid of another world war breaking out; that would be terrible enough for humans and other lifeforms on the planet)


“A Pirate Ideology” conceived in the pirate movement, written by Pat Mächler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Please respect proper citation rules for now.

publicaties/pirate_ideology.txt · Laatst gewijzigd: 2014/05/30 16:47 door