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Doktor Spinn

The Pirate Party – An Epilogue

It seems like the pirate movement in Sweden disappeared from the spotlight rather quickly. It wasn’t very unexpected. The movement will go on, but will we ever see any political ramifications which can match the FRA resistance and the the two seats in European Parliament? Probably not. But what did the movement accomplish?


The pirates fought for personal integrity, but you could argue that very little was won. Our private e-mails are still scanned for key words by the government and it seems like leading officials in the political sphere still don’t understand how the web actually can be used against us all, that the road to hell very well can be paved with the best intentions.

Sure, politicians will think twice about dealing with these questions lightly, but it seems like the changes mostly lies within the PR activities around these types of questions, rather than any signinficant changes in public policy.

The general public got to be involved in history and is getting more and more used to seeing the web as a powerful leverage for a multitude of grassrot voices. But we are still giving away personal data almost faster than the speed of light to companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google.

So, from a political, legislative, and integrity perspective, it might seem like a “lost” movement.

But the events weren’t by any means “lost in translation”. Once upon a time the Swedes were regarded as a liberal population of early adopters, and the Pirate movement has restored that image to some extent. People around the world could have been laughing at the Swedish pirates”, but they didn’t. No-one did. The pirates, through their political actions, have definitely earned respect for standing up as a collective for the rights and the integrity of the individual.

We have also seen the economical aspects of the prophesies come to life. Spotify, Headweb, Voddler and the likes of up-and-coming services like menyou.com, they all build upon the notion that business must thrive on sharing. We see an advent of new business models on the web, as well as several corporate functions turns from top-down to collaborative and value-driven approaches.

Also, culture didn’t die. Instead it became richer beyond imagination, exactly what the pirates said it would be. Content creators are still making money, but in new ways than before, even if this has meant a cruel process where content creators in old structures is getting replaced by new ones. Those who can’t survive this, they simply fade out without having anyone missing them but themselves.

The power of social networks are here to stay, whether it is to give voice to the voiceless, to overthrow governments, to monitor the establishemnet, or simply to connect and share knowledge with each other without interference.

Freedom is never a given and the only sure thing is that we sometimes must fight for it. My prediction is that the coming years will be more of a silent fight, where the biggest enemy seamlessly will be opting us all into complex registers. It will be for our own good, they will say. Freedom is, as it always have been, easy to give up, but a freakish struggle to keep intact.

But maybe this was the last fight where the establishments used brute force to deprive us from our rights? I think they’ve learned their lessons. From now on, we’ll be fighting a faceless enemy that asks for our freedom nicely…

I guess this is how fights should be regarded. It’s seldom black and white. As in any war, it’s hard to determine winners and loosers in a definite manner.

A lot could be said about the tactics used by both sides. At times, the fight was indeed messy. The Pirate movement was always a political movement, but it was a big decision to actually enter the political arena as a party. I still think this was the right decision, and the short-term success really sent out a powerful message to the world. It sparked thousands of important conversations.

The real mistake was to go for the national elections. The Swedish people were prepared to send a strong message on integrity to Europe and to the world, but every indication made clear that the people weren’t prepared to give such a narrow and technocratic movement access to our national treasury.

Being in politics is knowing what fights to choose, and the pirate movement chose the wrong fight. If the movement should stand any chance at all in the national elections, the program needed to include education, healthcare, and finances. Instead, greed came in to play, and the movement decided to also run for the regional elections.

Basically without budget, without sufficient support from potential voters, without enough professionals understanding the dynamics of politics, the pirate movement went for the Big Win. And subsequently, they didn’t even come close. Not by any standard, not in the national election, nor in the regional elections.

After the success in the election to the European Parliament, the pirate movement should’ve reassessed their possibilities in conjunction to their higher purpose—accomplishing real change.

At that point, the Pirate movement could have turned back into a powerful movement on the web, offering leverage for those candidates from any party who showed their support. The movement could have made it worth while for delegates from right to left to come out as Pirates. In return, they could’ve gotten a massive support from the online community. The objective should’ve been getting as many Pirates as possible from other established parties into the Swedish parliament, not getting party officials elected.

Instead, the pirates in the established parties became enemies, and the discussion ended up in pointless nuancees. In leveraging this strategy, the Pirate movement alienated any potential supporters within the establishment, which in turn didn’t help, neither the pirate officials, nor the established sympathizers to become elected into these important forum.

“Sharing is caring” got forgotten as soon as officials saw their opportunity to get elected. But the truth is, that they never stood a chance.

I think it’s a good thing, all in all. The Pirate movement belongs underground, it’s where they can do most good for society. Knowing when to shift gears is difficult in politics, but maybe now the fighters for integrity, privacy, and information free for all can regroup and focus on something that actually can make this world of ours into a better place.

Getting the edge back in play.

I would advice the leading figures to forget about the next election. Instead, focus and find ways to recruit and educate already established influentials on the one hand, activate the grassroots on the other. The movement has the key ingredients to becoming one of the most powerful lobby groups in the world. Or, if hell freezes over, becoming a very weak political party with a few mandate only causing chaos and earning disrespect on the margin. The choice ought to be simple.

Because we see a powerful shift in value creation on the web. New business models emerge and the dynamics of global economy is changing. Crowdsourcing, community, and swarm technology is making an impact. Internet access might even be on the agenda for the United Nations bill of human rights in the years to come.

This is not the work for a political party; this is the passion and the fuel for a powerful lobby, operating on the social web in a way that no other movement in the history of man kind has ever done before. The Pirate movement has laid the groundwork for becoming such an organization. Or, make a fool of themselves by running for office again with virtually no chances at all of wining anything of substance.

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12 comments… add one

  • Challenge accepted then.

    • Yeah, the Gauntlet has been thrown yet again. Time to rise from the ashes as a new and more powerful Phoenix.

  • Challenge accepted then.

    • Yeah, the Gauntlet has been thrown yet again. Time to rise from the ashes as a new and more powerful Phoenix.

  • Bertil

    Thanks Jerry. It’s true that the Pirate movement would have fared better if they had stayed out of party politics. Their cause had, and still has, support from key individuals in most established parties. But that only goes for the privacy cause. You seem to forget that piracy, not privacy, was the main interest of PP supporters. Switching piracy with privacy on the top of their agenda helped the PP appear as a more credible movement, but also took away some of the renegade appeal that helped them win supporters in the first place. I think that the PP may have some lasting impact when it comes to the FRA stuff, while piracy seems to be a lost cause. Or when did you last see a member of Parliament stand up and challenge the intellectual property legislation?

    • Thanks Bertil. It’s a fair distinction, piracy and privacy. But we need to get facts straight. File sharing was the golden pony of the news media. Whenever the debate shows had a slot to fill, they recruited some kid with funny hair to talk about file sharing.

      Also, one of the hugest misconceptions of the movement was that pirates wanted to get rid of all legislation. This was never the case, in fact—pirates defend the importance of intellectual ownership. Pirates always cred creators and the whole Creative Commons movement builds upon this philosophy.

      The only thing is, if I spread digital replications of your creation, then you should be thanking me. Because this is common sense, brought to light by advances in IT. Here’s were we need legislative changes!

      But let me tell you that you’re dead wrong when you say that piracy is a lost cause. No. This is the fight that the pirates REALLY won. We lost a lot on integrity and privacy, but that fight? Fuggeddaboutit.

      You could buy a song for 99 cents today. Or find it for free. You’re paying for the hassle of not having to download it. Artists now want their stuff to be shared. Look at Lady Gaga, the most downloaded artist in the history of man kind. She embraces file sharing, by focusing on shared experiences, fame, and community building (her little monsters).

      Look at all the independent culture now being created by amateurs as well as professionals. Look att all the sharing of knowledge online; companies now share to get found and to build trust, instead of harboring their secrets.

      The Marxism is rapidly being eroded from the cultural arts, as we slowly replace “production cost” with “perceived value”. As I stated in the text, the global economy is changing due to the free flows of information between people. Some people call this file sharing, yes.

      The Pirate Bay maybe fell, but if you kill one, there’s just ten more. Economy will follow societal habits, the legislators will follow the economy. This fight was won, and the pirates is still #Winning at least that fight.

  • Bertil

    Thanks Jerry. It’s true that the Pirate movement would have fared better if they had stayed out of party politics. Their cause had, and still has, support from key individuals in most established parties. But that only goes for the privacy cause. You seem to forget that piracy, not privacy, was the main interest of PP supporters. Switching piracy with privacy on the top of their agenda helped the PP appear as a more credible movement, but also took away some of the renegade appeal that helped them win supporters in the first place. I think that the PP may have some lasting impact when it comes to the FRA stuff, while piracy seems to be a lost cause. Or when did you last see a member of Parliament stand up and challenge the intellectual property legislation?

    • Thanks Bertil. It’s a fair distinction, piracy and privacy. But we need to get facts straight. File sharing was the golden pony of the news media. Whenever the debate shows had a slot to fill, they recruited some kid with funny hair to talk about file sharing.

      Also, one of the hugest misconceptions of the movement was that pirates wanted to get rid of all legislation. This was never the case, in fact—pirates defend the importance of intellectual ownership. Pirates always cred creators and the whole Creative Commons movement builds upon this philosophy.

      The only thing is, if I spread digital replications of your creation, then you should be thanking me. Because this is common sense, brought to light by advances in IT. Here’s were we need legislative changes!

      But let me tell you that you’re dead wrong when you say that piracy is a lost cause. No. This is the fight that the pirates REALLY won. We lost a lot on integrity and privacy, but that fight? Fuggeddaboutit.

      You could buy a song for 99 cents today. Or find it for free. You’re paying for the hassle of not having to download it. Artists now want their stuff to be shared. Look at Lady Gaga, the most downloaded artist in the history of man kind. She embraces file sharing, by focusing on shared experiences, fame, and community building (her little monsters).

      Look at all the independent culture now being created by amateurs as well as professionals. Look att all the sharing of knowledge online; companies now share to get found and to build trust, instead of harboring their secrets.

      The Marxism is rapidly being eroded from the cultural arts, as we slowly replace “production cost” with “perceived value”. As I stated in the text, the global economy is changing due to the free flows of information between people. Some people call this file sharing, yes.

      The Pirate Bay maybe fell, but if you kill one, there’s just ten more. Economy will follow societal habits, the legislators will follow the economy. This fight was won, and the pirates is still #Winning at least that fight.

  • Bertil

    Think I get it. At least I know the CD is dead. But winners don’t end up in jail. As for the misconception, I think it is fair to say that the average PP supporter cared a whole lot more about Pirate Bay being online than they did about Creative Commons. For all the idealism out there, for which you speak so well, good old self-interest was still the main driver behind PP. That will never be a working formula for building a political movement. Or try to explain the success of PP in the EU elections vs. their failure in the national elections any other way: The first was a vote of protest / support for Pirate Bay following the trial; the second, a pretty good indication that the Swedish people wasn’t very upset about FRA or any similar perceived privacy threats.

    • You’re making some false assumptions, Bertil. First of all, winners DO end up in jail. Think Nelson Mandela.

      Secondly, self-interest is the basic political driver of any political movement. Sure, in every camp there are intellectuals setting up the ideological framework continuously, but no political entity can escape the self-interest side of their existence. The left has little and wants more, the right has a lot and wants to keep it. This goes for money, freedom, education and security. The Full Maslowian Monty.

      Thirdly, people who share files think that they’re doing the creators a favor and they get upset when they get called thieves—or gets thrown into jail. There’s a huge difference between multiplying and stealing. That’s the real self-interest that we’re dealing with, not a sort of “immorality disease” induced by IT into whole generations.

  • Bertil

    Think I get it. At least I know the CD is dead. But winners don’t end up in jail. As for the misconception, I think it is fair to say that the average PP supporter cared a whole lot more about Pirate Bay being online than they did about Creative Commons. For all the idealism out there, for which you speak so well, good old self-interest was still the main driver behind PP. That will never be a working formula for building a political movement. Or try to explain the success of PP in the EU elections vs. their failure in the national elections any other way: The first was a vote of protest / support for Pirate Bay following the trial; the second, a pretty good indication that the Swedish people wasn’t very upset about FRA or any similar perceived privacy threats.

    • You’re making some false assumptions, Bertil. First of all, winners DO end up in jail. Think Nelson Mandela.

      Secondly, self-interest is the basic political driver of any political movement. Sure, in every camp there are intellectuals setting up the ideological framework continuously, but no political entity can escape the self-interest side of their existence. The left has little and wants more, the right has a lot and wants to keep it. This goes for money, freedom, education and security. The Full Maslowian Monty.

      Thirdly, people who share files think that they’re doing the creators a favor and they get upset when they get called thieves—or gets thrown into jail. There’s a huge difference between multiplying and stealing. That’s the real self-interest that we’re dealing with, not a sort of “immorality disease” induced by IT into whole generations.

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