Could The Pirate Party Become A Legitimate Political Force?

from the uphill-battle dept

I’ve said for a while now that I have problems with the Pirate Party’s choice of names. While it does get attention, and perhaps helped jumpstart membership interest in what the party had to say, it still feels like a gimmick. Not only that, but a gimmick that limits the party’s overall effectiveness in the longterm. It’s been easy for politicians to simply brush the concerns of the party aside as being laughable from the start, just based on the name. And yet… the movement keeps moving forward. Obviously, the big win was Sweden’s Pirate Party winning a seat in the EU Parliament, but soon after that, a well-known German politician switched affiliations to The Pirate Party, and last week came the news that another prominent German politician, a founder of that country’s Green Party, has also joined the Pirate Party in Germany. And, of course, if you actually take the time to understand the party’s position, it makes a lot of sense, and isn’t the sort of crazy ranting that those against The Pirate Party seem to assume it must be. So, here’s the question: can The Pirate Party really become a legitimate political force with such a name? Or will it always been seen as a fringe party?

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Comments on “Could The Pirate Party Become A Legitimate Political Force?”

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Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“What I want to know is if I consider my self a pirate partian what do I call myself.”

I actually don’t know, but my vote would be for: Arrrrgghhhgonaut.

But, and this is REALLY important, whenever a member or rival of the party, or a member of the media speaks of its members, they shall be required, BY LAW, to close one eye and emphasize the “Arggghhh”.

Reasonalbe? Hardly, but it sure would make Cspan a whole lot more fun….

thublihnk (profile) says:

Yarr. Methinks there shall always be a stigma to the party itself, but ye be warned, the ideas contained shall be spread like a wildfire in the streets of Tortuga.

Yeah, sorry about that. It should help draw attention, but I doubt it will ever be taken seriously. Then again, I think it’ll be taken seriously if its ideas are ever taken seriously. If we as a society decide to seriously think about copyright law, patent law, etc etc then I think public opinion of the Pirate Party will follow suit.

Designerfx (profile) says:

all the political powerhouses fight it

They know it’s coming, but it may take 4-8 years before the pirate party really has a good hold. Lobbyists hate it already and plenty of whisper campaigns are out there and well known on this Mike. RIAA and MPAA are by far not the only folks fighting against it, everyone with vested interest in patents too = lots of old rich people with lots of lobby power.

Meanwhile, it’s the first time that we’re really heading towards a global political party viewpoint, so that stands for something as well.

It’s also kind of hard to label something illegal that a political party condones. Just think of what happens if we ever declared the republican or democratic party illegal for their actions, at best they pay some money out but they have so many hands in congress they can probably sweep anything under the rug.

US pirate party = subdued at the moment, but not for too long I suspect.

ChurchHatesTucker (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“The could rename themselves Consumer Rights Party. Not quite as attention getting but more reflective of their political platform.”

It’s in trying to come up with better names that l came to believe that Pirate Party is as good, or better, than any.

The problem is that their focus is quite narrow, but it affects EVERYTHING. So you run the risk of defining as overly specific or blandly broad. Pirate works because it immediately begs the question, “What is that?” Then you define your terms. (As for the people who already have an opinion on the term, you’re not going to win them anyway.)

Designerfx (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

laws are considered unconstitutional if they are too vague. So pretty much makes sense. That is why a lot of stuff has been put out unconstitutionally for a few years to be abused.

If we ever had a law where those who drafted unconstitutional laws were to be held accountable a lot of the bad folks would be put into jail (most).

Josh (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“It’s in trying to come up with better names that l came to believe that Pirate Party is as good, or better, than any.”


It is not the first time that a fledgling political party has named itself with a word that has significant negative connotations. ‘Tory’ was originally a term for outlaws, and ‘Whig’ was originally an insult.

I would disagree that their focus is narrow, because as you point out, it effects everything. They have a very specific viewpoint, but since that viewpoint effects everything, it can be a big gain – at least in a coalition style government (as opposed to the US two-party government), because they can get behind many proposals that are beneficial to the end consumer as opposed to whichever entrenched incumbent.

bikey (profile) says:

Re: renaming pirates as consumers

Re renaming pirate party as consumer rights party, totally disagree. Consumer rights are finished. They’ve all become shareholders (you can’t have it both ways) and now they don’t have any money left to consume anyway. A hasbeen idea if ever there was one.
If Carla Bruni’s pillowtalk idea of three strikes gets off the ground (and it looks like it might now that free speech and due process are struggling for an ever-diminishing air supply) you will see whole nations proud to call themselves pirates – especially when the alternative is to be branded criminals.
Yes, where do we sign up?

andrew johnson (profile) says:

Call me a pirate

In defense of the name, although it is certainly gimmicky, it does accomplish its objective in capturing the attention of the only audience willing to listen. The entire young generation has been reviled as outlaw ‘pirates’ by society for the entirety of our adult lives; it is only natural that the party that claims to represent the interests of this digital generation should also carry the name.

On the other hand there is not much to lose by foregoing any attempt to cater to the current lot who consider any attempt at reasonable discussion ‘disgusting’. The only way that the interests of this party will gain any influence on public policy is through votes, and they are getting them, so something must be working for them.

AW says:

The name is good

Pirate Party is a name. Is it really any less serious than any other? America had the Whig party, the Bull-Moose party, now we have Democrat and Republican. A single name that is recognizable and easy to wrap your head around is a good thing. Pirates are romanticized in current culture so there is actually a lot of good will for the underdog pirates fighting against the establishment.

Sheinen says:

I’d go with ‘fatbeard’ and be done with it.

The name really isn’t the most important element here, and the fact that it’s causing politicians to ignore them makes a really great point. We’re being overlooked because of an untrue stigma and we’re tired of it.

It just means that when (and I do mean when) the party grows into something with true hitting power it will put them in an even better position.

Keven Sutton says:


Perhaps the drawback that you feel is a good thing for them Mike. like you say, it’s hard for a person to take the name Pirate Party seriously, despite the fact that the underlying thoughts are sound.

That mental stumble probably causes a great number of those who would normally be against everything that the party stands for to marginalize it, thinking that it’s a non-threat/small threat. At the same time it draws a great deal of people who, for one reason or another, believe in the values they hold or just like the name pirate (Quite a number of young people). I might have the same success if we were under some sort of nationwide martial law and started the “Mobsters Party” Promoting a stand down of the national enforcement and a return of law to the area law enforcement. The mob being the original localized law enforcement (kinda freaky when you think about that).

Just some thoughts.

Andrew D. Todd (user link) says:

Politics and Horse Trading

You are thinking in terms of American politics, not European politics. Remember that Europe has the proportional representation system. See the Wikipedia article on the European Parliament. Look at the pie chart. Note that no one party has a majority, or close to one, and there are a lot of small parties.

viz: EPP (265, German Christian Democrats and French Gaulists); S&D (184, Socialist); ALDE (84, British Liberals and similar tendencies); Greens – EFA (55); ECR (54, English Conservatives plus Eastern Europeans); EUL-NGL (35, Nordic Green Left); EFD (32, Anti-EU); Non-Inscrits (27, not affiliated to EU parties).

Five percent or so is enough to hold the balance of power. The Pirate Party’s objectives are fairly modest. It is much less expensive to make them happy than it is to make the Greens happy. Most industries are not critically dependent on the more unreasonable extensions of intellectual property. The number of industries dependent on carbon emission policy is much larger.

I think I am safe in saying that if you could promise President Obama five additional votes in the senate for Obamacare, and for an additional stimulus/bailout package, if one becomes necessary, you could have a carte blanche for just about every issue which was ever discussed on Techdirt since its inception. The points at which Techdirt disagrees with the Administration, on these issues, seem to be fairly limited (mostly copyright, I think?). Of course, under the American system, you probably couldn’t deliver five senate votes in a simple way, but the European system is different.

Let me ask a question of the Americans here who generally support Mike Masnick: Granted, some of you are probably Libertarians, but, given that “Paris is worth a mass,” as Henri IV said, would the trade envisioned above be unacceptable?

For those of you who are European, of course, the question is much less hypothetical. A little more organizing, in England and in France, and you will have your swing vote. So what are you going to do with it?

Jason (profile) says:

Re: Politics and Horse Trading

And you are thinking in terms of European politics. Paris is worth a mass?

Let’s translate your terms into American: You think that it would be a likely trade(specifically to those you oddly presume to be Libertarians) to grant a whole new article’s worth of powers to the federal government just to re-secure freedom of speech, which we ought still to have?

You ask me to trade a good leg to pacify a slasher who wants my arm? I think I’ll feed him you instead.

Dan says:

European Parliament

I think that Andrew Todd believes that the European Parliament has more influence than it actually has. Only last week – a quiet word in Peter Mandelson’s ear from industry executives caused an announcement that Uk homes would be cut off from their broadband connections id found illegally downloading. remember that mandelson is not an elected member of the british government. Also the current policy of the labour government is to ensure that every household has a broadband connection – not to monitor every packet and file to stop the latest heroes espisode being illegally distributed!

Elohssa (profile) says:

Not your grandfather's party.

The Pirate Party can potentially succeed specifically because they are unlike any other party.

Their base IS the Internet community, and that demographic has certain expectations, like any other, which includes cynicism and irreverence. Other parties can only wish they were tapped in to such a powerful, global group of like-minded people.

It does not make us any less serious on issues. It is simply a way that we are meaningfully different from your normal run of politico.

Whether that translates into meaningful policy is another story.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Not your grandfather's party.

I think it’s because the Internet community isn’t as brainwashed as the non – Internet community who gets their news from the corrupt mainstream media and who is strongly encouraged by them to believe authorities, politicians, and the media and whoever else they are asked to believe without question. On the Internet ideas are scrutinized a lot more, your ideas have to compete with the ideas of others on a much more level playing field than normally exists, so we have a much better understanding of things.

MC says:

The Pirate party will continue to be a gimmick until the established parties are forced to take notice and alter their platforms to accomodate some of the Pirate party’s goals.

Even when that happens, the party itself will always be limited in size becuase it doesn’t currently have a comprehensive view on the majority of key political points (Foreign Policy/Economy/social welfare). While they touch on each one, it’s not definitive enough to win my vote.

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