Welcome to the new version of European Tribune. It's just a new layout, so everything should work as before - please report bugs here.

Pirates at sail in Germany.

by r------ Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 08:19:09 AM EST

Today comes news, via Le Monde, that the Pirate Party has surged to third place in a major German poll in advance of next years elections:



Dans la foulée de ses très bons résultats aux élections du Land de Berlin, fin 2011 (8,6 % des voix), le Parti pirate allemand (PiratenPartei, PP) grimpe à grande vitesse dans les sondages. Pour la première fois, un sondage réalisé par l'institut Forsa pour le compte de RTL et du quotidien Stern place les Pirates devant les Verts, avec 13 % des intentions de vote.
.

Following its very successful election of Berlin, 2011 (8.6% of the vote), the German Pirate Party (Piratenpartei, PP) is rising rapidly in the polls. For the first time, a poll by Forsa institute on behalf of RTL and Stern peg the Pirates ahead of the Greens, with 13% of the vote.


The Berlin elections hailed the second electoral success for the Pirate Party, following the victory in Swedish European elections, where PP gained MEPs, though to date still has no representation in Sweden's legislative body, the Riksdag.

The popularity of PP's stances on intellectual property have provoked other parties in Sweden, notably the Left Party (which does have representation in the Riksdag), to adopt their position. Having surpassed on a membership basis the Green Party in that country in 2006, Swedish founder Rick Falkvinge may well be right to declare the Pirates to be the new Green movement.

And beyond Sweden and Germany, Pirates have grown further afield, even gaining a ministry in Tunisia.



Le PP reste loin derrière la CDU-CSU (36 %) et le SPD (24 %), mais devance dans ce sondage les Verts (11 %) et Die Linke (8 %) pour se hisser à la troisième place. La progression du PP a été très rapide : après avoir plafonné à 2 % des voix après les législatives de 2009, il est parvenu à dépasser le seuil des 5 % nécessaire pour obtenir des députés dans plusieurs élections partielles.
.

The PP remains far behind the CDU-CSU (36%) and SPD (24%) but ahead of the Greens in this survey (11%) and the Left Party (8%), climbing to third place. The rise of the Pirates has very fast: after reaching a plateau  of 2% of the vote after the general election of 2009, it has managed to surpass the 5% threshold needed to be allotted MPs in several by-elections since.

It remains to be seen whether this advance will hold until next year's elections for the Bundestag, but were it to do so, the PP's entry into the German lower house would certainly be an historic event.



La croissance du PP semble se faire aux dépens des Verts et de Die Linke, avec lesquels le parti partage certaines positions sur les sujets sociaux et environnementaux. Il continue cependant de faire campagne principalement sur les thématiques de transparence gouvernementale, de réforme du droit de la propriété intellectuelle et de protection des libertés numériques.
 


Growth of the Pirate Party seems to be at the expense of the Greens and Left Party, with which the party shares some positions on social and environmental issues. However, it continues to campaign primarily on the themes of transparency in government, law reform and intellectual property protection of digital freedom.

.

This growing popularity is seen by some commentators as being a boon to the conservative CDU/CSU in Germany, though in truth, this depends a lot on how willing the putatively "left" parties in that government are willing to either adopt and co-opt their key positions or to create alliances with it.

Other observers, including many of the same, assume that the PP's successes are simply a temporary, unsustainable surge, and that they will disappear or become irrelevant after an election or two, much the same way the Hunter and Fisherman party in France has.

However, this misses the fundamental importance of the ideological terrain the Pirates are credibly occupying in the space of intellectual property, in opposition to what Zizek refers to as "the privatisation of the public intellect:"

When "immaterial work" (education, therapy, et c.) is celebrated as the kind of work which directly produces social relations, one should not forget what this means within a commodity economy: namely, that new domains, hitherto excluded from the market, are now commodified. When in trouble, we no longer talk to a friend but pay a psychiatrist or counselor to take care of the problem; children are increasingly cared for not by parents but by paid nurseries or child-minders, and so on. We are thus in the midst of a new process of the privatisation of the social, of establishing new enclosures.

To grasp these new forms of privatisation, we need to critical transform Marx's conceptual apparatus. Because he neglected the social dimension of the "general intellect," Marx failed to envisage the possibility of the privatisation of the "general intellect" itself - and this is what lies at the core of the struggle over "intellectual property."...within this framework, exploitation in the classical Marxist sense is no longer possible, which is why it has to be enforced more and more by direct legal measures...This is why, today, exploitation increasingly takes the form of rent...and this is why direct authority is needed: in order to impose the (arbitrary) legal conditions for extracting rent, conditions which are no longer "spontaneously" generated by the market. Perhaps therein resides the fundamental "contradiction" of today's "post-modern" capitalism: while its logic is deregulatory, "anti-statal," nomadic, deterritorialising and so on, its key tendancy to the "becoming-rent-of-profit" signals a strenghtening of the role of the state whose regulatory function is ever more omnipresent. Dynamic deterritorialisation co-exists with, and relies on, increasingly authoritarian interventions of the state...What one can discern at the horizon...is thus a society in which personal libertarianism and hedonism co-exist with (and are sustained by) a complex web of regulatory state mechanisms. Far from disappearing, the state is today gathering strength.

Slavoj Zizek, First As Tragedy, Then As Farce 2009, Verso, London, pp. 144-45.

Needless to say, while the state is growing more powerful, our people are not at the helm, and the state as guarantor of rent-seeking rather than solidarity is the order of the day. And this is precisely what we are up against, though it is also one of three main contradictions (the present system's inability to guarantee living conditions for those under its purview, and the environment joining the fight for the free sharing of the intellect in this regard) which are the current system's acchille's heal.

The left would do well to be mindful of the Pirates, whose aims may by many be considered "unserious". They occupy critical ideological terrain, which we should be sharing.  
   

Display:
The Pirates in NRW support cutting the public debts: We find the debt brake makes a lot of sense. Morons. And it's federal law anyway, so they wouldn't have needed a position at all.
by Katrin on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 02:40:55 PM EST
I reported on finding this in (one of) their manifestos month ago. That's the basis for a lot of my skepticism about them.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 04:57:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They want to appear serious.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 06:41:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think they are probably pretty economically illiterate, much like other parties which a borne out of the fact no existing party is occupying an important ideological space of the day. I don't know much about them in terms how they came to occupy that space but I also suspect their positions viz. intellectual property and the commons has no formal ideological basis either.

Probably their positions in other matters is improvised and, accordingly, reflects the prejudices of the class they come from, which to my mind is the first of three sectors of the popular class, knowledge workers, workers in the classical sense, and the excluded.

Knowledge workers are in the main a subset of a middle class which finds its position in society increasingly precarious (and therefore is progressively radicalising) and, given the countries we are talking about (Germany, Sweden), overwhelmingly white. So, what they are saying outside of the one issue they began with largely reflects what the press of the day is saying. It is where they are coming from, but probably not where they are heading to.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Thu Apr 12th, 2012 at 03:13:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
redstar:

Knowledge workers are in the main a subset of a middle class which finds its position in society increasingly precarious (and therefore is progressively radicalising) and, given the countries we are talking about (Germany, Sweden), overwhelmingly white. So, what they are saying outside of the one issue they began with largely reflects what the press of the day is saying. It is where they are coming from, but probably not where they are heading to.

I agree.

redstar:

I don't know much about them in terms how they came to occupy that space but I also suspect their positions viz. intellectual property and the commons has no formal ideological basis either.

I think from a marxist perspective the analysis is pretty simple. The main group are technical workers needing to preserve access to their means of production, ie computer programs, internet and the right to tinker.

It should be noted that at least the Swedish Pirate Party is more radical when it comes to patents (abolish) then copyright (limit to commercial rights for limited period) and trademarks (limit to ban against defrauding customers, in effect allowing knock-offs as longs as they are labeled as such). Patents are more intrusive in the engineers workplace, copyrights and trademarks are only intrusive when they are wielded to limit technology. The counter-parties in this battle about means of production are not singers, it is the promoters of the industrial order of the world, publishing houses and other gate keepers striving to maintain control and IP-lawyers who stands to benefit from an expanding job market.

So no, no formal ideological basis. A class basis, but you are unlikely to hear that.

redstar:

I think they are probably pretty economically illiterate, much like other parties which a borne out of the fact no existing party is occupying an important ideological space of the day.

Yes. But if Veblen is right, the Pirate Parties should be easier then some to swing to socialism. Engineers and socialism and all that.

Citizen salary appears quite popular within the Pirate Parties as a rational solution to how to organise society to avoid anyone starving. I think the Berlin pirates included it in their plattform. MMT should appeal to engineers for its clarity, engineers often also hold disdain for NCE modelling. But yes, unless the effort is made to convince otherwise, the Pirates will hold positions reflecting the opinions of their core group.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Apr 12th, 2012 at 08:24:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On the one hand, you are definitely correct. When you have a radical proposition for society, it's often the case that your party adopts conventional thinking on lots of other issues, because that aids "electability."

Still, I think there is more to it than that and I'd add a nuance to this part of the Le Monde article:

Growth of the Pirate Party seems to be at the expense of the Greens and Left Party, with which the party shares some positions on social and environmental issues.

When we observe the political scene in most of the post-Communist countries, we notice that parties are formed around gaps in the idealogical spectrum, as redstar has noted. We also note that the voting support for the party often comes from those most interested in the main content of the "gap." Here that would be, according to whatever stats Le Monde is using, mainly young Greens and Lefties who are attracted by the core stance (privacy, technology/IP freedom.)

There is, however, another question - who forms the backbone of the political party? And here is where the post-Communist comparison comes in. Every new party does attract some new people into being "politicians" or "party administrators" but at the same time, what we observe is that most new parties draw quite a bit of vital human infrastructure from one or more existing political units.

Here, I have only anecdotal evidence, but in my extended network, I keep running across medium-young FDP types who see the Pirate Party as a new home. Many of them are "organising" types and I think they are currently influencing quite a bit economic debates in the German Pirate Party. Part of the reason is that it's one of those easy homespun analogies to say "IP should be free, privacy should be protected - this is about individual freedoms, including the freedom not to be in a union, etc. etc."

All anecdotal, but I do think this is a significant anchor pulling the Overton Window of the German Pirates to the neo-liberal economic side. It may be overcome by other PP members, but I don't think it will be an easy battle.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Fri Apr 13th, 2012 at 04:11:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Obviously also anecdotal but in German comment threads I mostly see the Pirates basic position framed as one of opposition to censorship, not to commodification of everything or rent extraction. Add to that the swarm of opportunists a rising party attracts and I can see how they are in danger of neoliberal infection.
by generic on Fri Apr 13th, 2012 at 07:11:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
After all, it's the FDP collapsing, not the Greens or Left. So Green or Left sympathisers and especially activists already have a home.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Apr 13th, 2012 at 07:28:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Looking at the polls those green supporters they lost never actually voted for them. They still poll higher than at the last election just no longer in the twenties.
by generic on Fri Apr 13th, 2012 at 07:40:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
emergence of the PP movement, as I am recognising the promise of the ideological space they are occupying and which itself is generating enthousiasm.

This is a key space: all the while our liberal elites expound upon the virtue of the open society, of free markets in goods (and in this case, services) and above all, the primacy of liberty, what PP is effectively pointing out is the internal contradiction inherent in the commoditisation of intellectual property: you need a strong, coercive state in order to make such commoditisation work (thereby of course undermining in-the-real the liberty they are talking out of the other side of their mouths) by enforcing the terms of rent-seeking on the newly formed commodities, via patents, copyrights and the legal enforcement thereof.

Why else the pursuit of people for file sharing? Why else the pursuit of people, ultimately, for what is for the most part mistakenly refered to as "hacking". Enforcement of rent-seeking. We make, it is a product of our intellect, but we do not own, nor is it now a part of the commons: it has for the most part been privatised, and the state is there to enforce that privatisation.

And we have not even touched upon where the core is heading, in the exploitation of the human genome and other forms of enclosure which go beyond that of the intellect and push right up to our very own genetic code.  

Thus the importance of this ideological space. I personally do not think the PP movement will be up to the task to carrying it forward in societal discourse, it is for our parties to do so, which is why I don't bother with the rest of their programme. But this is all the same extremely important.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Fri Apr 13th, 2012 at 07:26:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...but far more dangerous.

Rather new elections (choices?) than new debt, that's my FDP

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu Apr 12th, 2012 at 06:07:01 AM EST
Guess you have to be here in 'Schland to appreciate that photo.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 03:02:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The parallel between the neolib's hand gesture and Kasper's mitt is clear enough.

But I'm lacking the cultural associations of Kasper other than he's a clown.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 03:18:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The audience is part of the play. Kasper often turns round and asks for advice and help. The children will then for instance yell back he must watch out, because the robber is lurking behind the corner. Kasper would be lost without this help of the 5 year olds.
by Katrin on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 08:01:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The French equivalent, Guignol, is doing exactly the same: asking the children in the audience to help him escape the gendarme who's after him.
by Bernard on Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 07:30:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You also need to have seen the original campaign poster. I read "Schulden" as "Schulen", which didn't seem to make sense, even for the FDP.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 03:45:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is the FDP frontman called Kasper?

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 07:29:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
resigned former party sec Christian Lindner, now the up and coming face of the FDP. Neo-Randian, but charismatic enough to be dangerous.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 01:12:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This campaign vilifying debt costs the FDP about € 800,000. Donations for them have broken down of course. Guess where the funds come from...
by Katrin on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 07:40:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We Are Winning: How Pirate Parties Are Changing The World - Falkvinge on Infopolicy

The Swedish Piratpartiet showed that success was possible in the European Elections of 2009, getting 25% of the under-30 vote and two Europarliament seats out of Sweden's 20. That was the proof of concept. We failed to convert these votes into votes in the general elections a year later because of a very simple reason - that we didn't have a full political platform. Answering "we have no opinion on that issue" for nine out of ten policy questions wasn't good enough. People wouldn't vote for parties that didn't, not in a general election, and there was no way the Piratpartiet could expand its policies by the necessary magnitude between the 2009 and 2010 elections. This was a painful but necessary and educational experience in growth pains. (The Piratpartiet is now in full swing in expanding to a full policy platform ahead of the next elections in 2014.)

The German Piratenpartei, meanwhile, benefited hugely from the Swedish proof-of-concept in 2009 and climbed from 1% to 2% in the three months between the European and the German elections, with all the media spotlight from a new political movement making its way to front row center, and this result also rendered them substantial funding. Then, the Piratenpartei had two years to broaden their scope - from the fall of 2009 to the Berlin elections of 2011 - and pulled it off beautifully, being rewarded with parliamentary seats as a result.

So, let's return to our five-step plan. We didn't get into the Swedish parliament in 2010. But Sweden is not a country of any particular political significance. Exaggerating just slightly, it is a frozen country the size of a shoebox on top of the Arctic Circle. In this plan, the Swedish parliament in step three was never meant as anything more than an igniting spark.

what would the greens not get on board with the PP? what's to lose? make the PP green, then bingo...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 04:33:17 AM EST
what would the greens not get on board with the PP? what's to lose?

In my cynical opinion the Greens won't join the PP because it would diminish or eliminate the political power of the Green "leaders" and put Green party functionaries on the dole.

Never underestimate the petty-minded self-interest of political party insiders.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 01:37:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ATinNM:
because it would diminish or eliminate the political power of the Green "leaders" and put Green party functionaries on the dole.

with respect, isn't that a bit zero-sum? the two could have dovetailing, if not identical platforms.

green issues should ideally be rooted in local as well as global action, and one of the biggest handicaps to living in a deeply rural environment is the lack of cheap, ubiquitous broadband, which could have life-changing impacts on rural communities, so far deprived.

first to banish some of the parochiality, second to enable cottage industry have access to regional and global markets. it's vital, imo.

and with greater broadband rollout you're going to have more file sharing issues come up, with either more draconian measures taken to criminalise copiers, (driving more to the PP), or more liberal policies, furthering the growth of info/knowledge/connectivity, leading more to question status quo, and awareness of how to band together for change.

there's no greater isolation-killer than the web, and it should be as amply given to the people, one of mankind's most impressive and democratising achievements. i just read somewhere today how many are giving up driving, because they're happier surfing the web. that's the future, imo, and there's no axiomatic conflict between the two aspirations that i can see, there's symbiosis begging to be born. peoples' craving to rise out of ignorance by their own intellectual bootstraps, and the support we need to give each other to ensure better environmental stewardship in the future, rolled into one.

there's a lot of cynicism that i share, but this is shaping up quite well, new undreamed of possibilities are opening up, and the political left of centre is a vast, yawning vacuum.

or is it the hopium talkin again? ;)

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 02:50:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
with respect, isn't that a bit zero-sum?

Yes, and parochial too. That's ATinNM's point. Never underestimate how much apparatchiks think in parochial zero-sum games.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Apr 14th, 2012 at 02:56:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]