The Future of Politics

Pirate politician: We want open, online government - opinion - 04 October 2011 - New Scientist

What changes does your party want to see?
Long term, we want to run Berlin on an open-government model. We want all bureaucratic paperwork, publicly financed creative works and the products of publicly funded research not hidden away but freely accessible online. And we want a free wireless network infrastructure.

Who are the Pirates?
The "Pirate party" name was thought up in Sweden in 2006 as part of an initiative for more file-sharing freedom. People were fed up with being criminalised as "pirates" by the media and other organisations lobbying against free internet content. Our political goals are greater public participation and transparency - the internet simply offers the best means to achieve these.

How do you explain your success in Germany?
Berlin is the biggest city in Germany and a very young city. Most of our votes came from 18 to 35-year-olds. The established parties browse the internet but we work with it. The internet is not an end in itself, but a tool. Established parties haven't realised this but younger people who started life with the internet do. They want politics to change - to Politics 3.0 if you like - so politicians talk with them, not about them.

Why is free access to online content, as well as getting online for free, such a big deal for you?
Using the net to change politics depends on free access to the technology. Only then can we tap into the potential and resourcefulness of all the people we want to involve in finding solutions for political problems. The establishment confines work on big questions to an inner circle. Attempts to censor information and restrict it to those who can pay have upset many people. Our alternative - give people a choice to be part of politics and decisions - seems to have struck a chord.

What changes does your party want to see?
Long term, we want to run Berlin on an open-government model. We want all bureaucratic paperwork, publicly financed creative works and the products of publicly funded research not hidden away but freely accessible online. And we want a free wireless network infrastructure.

What about the short term?
We are trying new ways of opposition. We'll put out to the people every enquiry and proposition we have for the coalition, as well as the replies they give us. With tools like Twitter we'll tap into and involve thousands of people.

Do the elected Pirates have an IT background - and if so, does it affect their politics?
About half do. The rest know how to use net technologies. Many have a science background. They can do the mathematics and work out that there is a discrepancy between our finite resources and what is said and promised by the establishment. I'd say the Pirates' unifying feature is the desire for a more transparent and honest model of politics and to make a new deal within society.

Is the Pirate movement set to take off?
Definitely. There are Pirate parties in many other countries. Estonia is already practising many aspects of the new politics - for example, it has a digital bureaucracy. We have had many inquiries from Greece and Spain, where people feel a need for greater transparency during the current economic crisis. If we can show success in Berlin, this will be a key to going forward elsewhere.

Ben de Biel is a documentary photographer and spokesman for the Pirate party in Germany. It has just won 9 per cent of the vote (15 seats) in elections to Berlin's state parliament

Here's the UK lot:
UK 2011 - Pirate Party UK

Not sure I agree with all their policies, they've got a few seats in Berlin but the ban on patents is daft. I like the idea of an open document policy though, might give our politicians something to think about.

Slightly oblique... but the thought that sprang to mind was "Orphanware". Back when I ran a (fairly successful!) Computer business, I explained to customers who asked, that "in many ways, computers and software are like cars and caravans". (Punters get put off by technobabble, but when you explain things as being LIKE something that they DO understand...) "Every year, the car makers come out with a new model that'll go 25% faster than the previous one. Cars are like computer hardware. Software is like a caravan, and on hearing that the new car will be 25% more powerful, they think not in terms of more speed... but 'goody, that means we can make our caravans 25% heavier, and cars will still be able to haul them at the same speed!'"The problem arises when you attempt to haul THIS year's caravan model behind a four or five year old car. You get overtaken by joggers and people on bicycles. So, why not just buy the software that was current when your computer/car was manufactured? Simple reason why not: they haven't been selling it for several years!

There are a hell of a lot of programs for computers that are "out of date". That is, there's nothing at all WRONG with them, but the publisher dropped them years back to make way for the latest fad. And likewise, there are a hell of a lot of "Obsolete" computers around... again, nothing at all wrong with them, they're just "cars that are too underpowered to pull this year's model of caravan". The publishers of the "Old" programs derive no commercial advantage from them; they don't support them. They're known as "orphanware". I can think of no good reason why they shouldn't be 100% freely copyable. It would in fact be a very "Green" thing to legislate. Right now, a perfectly working "Pentium 2" computer is of almost zero use; mainly because there's almost no software still available that'll run on it. But if you added a compendium of "obsolete" contemporary software... it magically becomes useful again. I note (because my undergraduate son is an addict!) that we're up to FIFA v12. The graphics are very impressive. But for a family with very little money... what's wrong with FIFA 6? OK, so nobody's selling it. Then what grounds for complaint would they have if you COPIED it?
There's no real political agenda here. It's just a student argument about copying DVD's that some humourless **** took way too far.

I think the **** had a wicked sense of humor actually.

I like the idea of pirate party as a non political f the establishment vote.
I thought it was a non entity too but they're doing rather well in Berlin, they've got a few seats already.

IMHO I think it would be a good idea to put political debate on the internet, especially if the voters actually had a voice and things could be debated extensively. Labour did make a forum and ask the general populace for some ideas once, and some very good ideas came forward, but the whole thing was consequently abandoned because it was nothing more than a political stunt.

Professional politicians aren't infallible and they aren't always the best people to run a country. I think it would be better to have a virtual Parliament where anyone interested in politics could come forward and suggest some ideas to improve the country. These could then be discussed in detail and voted upon by anyone who wanted, common sense of the majority would prevail (one hopes).

What have we got at the moment? Some bloke who claims to represent us and when he gets to the House usually toes the party line and goes with whatever the big man says, and the big man is usually backed by money and finance rather than what the population want.
The reasom why no one under 50 should be allowed to become a politician. It would force them to work for a living first and understand the realities of life.
There is an irony in the approach of the Pirates. They believe that party politics, with its inherent 'party line', bloc voting and pretend manifestos, holds back true democracy. I agree. So what do they do; form a party in response.

Do any of you remember the original German Green Party of Joschka Fischer and Petra Kelly (who strangely was married to a Bundeswehr general)? It started as a loose knit group of differently minded individuals, but as soon as they got some seats in the Bundestag, they became just like the other robots only without suits and ties. I see a similar future for the Pirates if they achieve any amount of electoral success.

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