Wednesday, 1 April 2015

How Pirate Thinking Makes All The Difference

Yesterday's post was all about how thinking like a Pirate is a good, good thing in general. I realise it may sound a bit pie in the sky when you read it out loud but would you believe that Pirate influence is spreading throughout our society, making a difference NOW? Allow me to explain.

Building a solid foundation for change

Our one and only MEP, Julia Reda, has written a report that is causing some considerable consternation in the EU Parliament, mostly because the pro-IPR lobbyists, who have fought long and hard to increase their monopoly privilege and the terms thereof, are being outflanked by a knowledgeable politician who is willing to stand up for the people who voted for her. In doing this, she is following in the footsteps of the excellent Christian Engström, who was fighting the failed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement back in 2010, when elected to office. Sadly, he lost his seat in the last European Parliamentary elections, but not before he had taken part in the mass dance on ACTA's grave two years later. Christian staked the ground out and laid the foundations with Amelia Andersdotter who also lost her seat last year, but Julia is building a structure in which to house a new set of ideas for moving internet freedom and copyright reform forwards.

How it works

The trick is to gain a quorum of supporters till the floaters join her, then put pressure on the others till they either cave in or are so ridiculously outnumbered they lose ignominiously. Thinking like a Pirate means she follows the path of common sense and leaves ideology behind as it can only hamper her efforts; this is a war, not a battle, and we need to pick each fight with care — the idea is to win in the long term, after all. This means gathering information, gathering support, making sure you've got existing legal precedents on your side, then adding logic to cement it together. Bear in mind that the opposition are doing this too and that they've had more practice at it than we have. Still, encouraging voter participation and engagement has always been the key to success in any Pirate campaign. We talk to people and with them, not at them.

Using proven strategies

The much-maligned TAFTA, TTIP, CETA, and other FTAs that are being negotiated in secret (no, it seems they'll never learn. They actually expect us to just roll over and go back to sleep when we're bored of telling our elders and betters what to do with our money and our freedom) just keep coming. Time and again the USTR and its corporate cronies throw yet another treaty at us that they've negotiated behind closed doors. Some well-meaning aide or other finds a way to get hold of some documents, Mission Impossible-style (I like that idea, it seems more fun than imagine someone just leaving the door unlocked one day or using "Pa55word" as the password) and leak them to Wikileaks, etc., and we find out that we were wrong about everything we suspected. The proposals being negotiated behind our backs are much, much worse. So we push back again and again and sometimes this provides the desired results, e.g. ACTA's demise. But it often doesn't because a) we're not really paying attention and b) we don't care enough to keep fighting. Our would-be corporate overlords actually count on campaign fatigue on our part to help them win. The trick to winning, then, is to rally support and keep the flame of resistance burning by trickling in the information and spreading it around till we have enough support to topple the treaty at the pre-ratification stage.

How we're doing

Pretty well, as it happens.
Trade agreements' death throes tend to take a while. There's a fair amount of "Ohhh, he got me. It's getting dark, Johnny. Tell Laura I love her," etc. before they finally take their last rattling breath and let their heads flop sideways, their eyes half open. ACTA was a case in point, the way Christofer Fjellner carried on was downright hilarious — he comes across in his blog post on the subject like a captain valiantly going down with his ship, one hand on the helm, saluting as the water pours into the bridge. Meanwhile, EU Commissioner Karel de Gucht was afroth with indignation, saying pretty much, "By Grabthar's hammer, by the suns of Worvan, you shall be avenged." His actual statement sounds just as ridiculous if you read it out loud. Watch out for more plutocratic lapdoggy histrionics when TTIP kicks the bucket — the EU Commission, in its infinite wisdom, is deploying the same failed tactics it used to promote ACTA to try to persuade us that we have nothing to fear from a corporate bonanza trade agreement negotiated in secret. Like, don't make it too easy for us, or anything!

Cultivating alliances

The most stupid thing about partisanship is the conformity shaming that goes with it. The idea that you're either on side or an enemy creates a polarising effect that might win hardcore supporters over and convince them that you're on their side. However, it also alienates people who might agree with some of the things you stand for, just not all of them. I'm an opinionated moderate conservative but since I'm a Pirate I'm not shackled to any particular ideology. This frees me up to consider and accept policies that actually make sense, whoever came up with them. That's why I'm friendly with people who subscribe to ideologies I'm generally opposed to; sometimes they're right.

Working together makes things better

Without our allies in other parties we would never have defeated ACTA in 2012, nor would we have gotten the Reda Report on the political map. We need these people whether we agree with them on everything or not because we agree on enough issues to get things done. Pirates in office don't just go looking for personal advancement, they serve the people who voted for them. However, since they tend to be few in number they need public support. This means taking part in campaigns where you're asked to contact your representatives in order to persuade them to make changes to their policies, e.g. accepting the Reda Report instead of working to undermine it because the lobbyists said so. We work together with individuals and public interest groups as much as with other politicians because it gets stuff done. And people are starting to notice.

Vote Pirate!

The Pirate Party UK has announced its list of candidates for this year's election. Be sure to check it out. I'll be blogging about the candidates and doing what I can to raise awareness of them and their campaigns as the election draws nearer. We need Pirates in office NOW. Look, you've seen the difference they've already made when there's only one in the EU Parliament. Imagine having one or two in the UK Parliament. Imagine how we'd have due process and the rule of law restored. Imagine having the social contract reinforced. Imagine an end to austerity and the implementation of policies that put people, not corporations, first.

Don't swallow the FUD

Or you can vote for one of the usual suspects from the party you dislike the least because you're afraid that the party you dislike the most might get in. That wobbling gave us a coalition last time but proved that third parties can get a seat at the table. Let's see what can happen if we are a little braver this time and more of us vote for the smaller parties, particularly Pirates and Greens. But if there's a Pirate where you are, vote for him or her. If we get one in, we can expect great things to happen. Watch this space.

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