Saturday, March 20, 2010

2010 Election special: the Pirate Party

Part 2 of our Pre-Election feature: Aaron Murin-Heath explains the merits of the Pirate Party.

I voted for Labour in the last three General Elections. In '97 I did it with conviction and hope. Four years later, before the War on Terror and all that jazz, I voted Labour with quiet content. At the last election, despite my better judgement and deep anger at the party, I did so again.

I will not be voting Labour in the coming General Election.

The fact remains that some of my closest political friends are still deeply wedded to the party. They don't have much love for Brown, and they're not defenders of the Iraq War, but their loyalty is to the party, not the personalities of the current car-wreck of a government. I've always been a pragmatist, not a tribalist.

I toyed with voting, and campaigning for, the Lib Dems. But having 'enjoyed' many run-ins with leadign Lib Dem bloggers, I found many of them to be insufferably self-righteous. I know Lib Dem bloggers who are great, but others seem to believe they have a monopoly on liberalism and a fabulous sense of their own importance.

So, I find myself without a natural home.

Recently I wrote encouraging voters to ignore the largely indistinguishable major parties and vote for the single issue that's closest to their heart. For me, it is individual rights and the increasing illiberalism of our lawmakers. Following my own advice I'm inclined to vote for the Pirate Party UK.

I know all about Godwin's law of internet debate, but there is something about the pending Digital Economy Bill that reeks of state-capitalism. I believe in artist rights and intellectual property, but to ram through a half-arsed statute that seems oblivious to the workings of the internet, is plain wrong.

(Read Paul Carr's excellent post at Tech Crunch for a fair-minded assessment of the Digital Economy Bill).

The Pirate Party knows that copyright law is broken. People should profit from innovation, but ideas that are in time shared and modified, contribute to our further advancement. And that has to be good.

Even with regard to media, it's important that all that is good and great is experienced by the maximum number of people. Artists should profit from their work, but they should also realise that the world that created the opportunity they enjoy, should be rewarded in turn by adding to the collective pool of human wisdom and creative output.

It's not socialism, far from it. It's about both rewarding creativity and also ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy the one limitless resource we have: knowledge.

Finally, with the internet, we can encourage children to discover and learn without limits. For politicians to consider cutting off an internet connection because someone is accused of downloading a copyrighted song is as baffling as cutting off a water supply because someone drowned a kitten in a bath. The internet is a utility. Fact.

(It's worth noting that there are no fines in the DEB for rights holders making spurious claims of infingement, meaning they can flood ISPs with complaints; that would ensure any fair process is impossible to implement).

Across the planet powerful lobbys are drafting draconian laws that endanger our freedom to share knowledge and propagate culture. A recent study found that file-sharers spend more money on new media than non file-sharers. We believe that artists and innovative companies should be rewarded for their efforts, but at the same time, we refuse to be held hostage to the excessive profit-mongering of monopoly rights holders.

If they stand in my area, I'll vote for the Pirate Party not because I believe in everything they stand for, but because I want this issue to get the scrutiny and focus it deserves. The DEB should be scrapped, and parliament should start again from scratch, drafting a law that has the propagation of knoweldge at its core, not the profts of big media.

I believe that the internet holds an astonishing power to realise otherwise unfulfilled potential in our young. Yes, many an internet hour is spent watching cats fall of sofas, but for the voracious and inquisitive young mind, the net presents an opportunity that previous generations could only dream of.

As Pope said, "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing".

Aaron Murin-Heath blogs at Rational Geekery.

[Tomorrow: the UK Independence Party, by Tim Worstall]


the patriot said...

Shiver me timbers, Ye Pirateman! What is the PPUK's view on immigration, defence, the economy, the banks, horneswaggling, education, the NHS etc?

Single issue parties are a waste of vote.

Arrr, so ye be wantin' t' go to sea an' ye don't be wantin' t' end up in Davy Jones' Locker. Then ye best be learnin' t' be talkin' like a waste o' vote.

Aaron Murin-Heath said...

What, as opposed to voting for one of three parties that basically share the same platform?

Seems perfectly reasonable to vote for an issue that matters to you personally.

Newmania said...

For me, it is individual rights

..and you have expressed this by voting for a Party whose DNA is the subordination of individual rights for the sake of “collective” benefits ? I am not a Liberal especially because they are liars and poseurs but the Labour Party ?Individual rights ?
We live in a country where the media is so dominated by a state broadcaster that everyone one of us interacts with it in a day. We have a health Service whose founding principle is “universalism”.I have no special objection to it, for all its manifold absurdities, on pragmatic conservative grounds but you could not make it up , as they say. Children are herded into Soviet crèches , the state watches you all day and everything you say is politicized the very essence of totalitarianism.. New Labour have increased the state slice by the same amount as income tax during their period and those of us who wondered why the Economy was not imploding now know it was just as all planned economies do.
Sub state ties, church , family , Nation are under constant assault as the state instinctively seeks to crush its rivals history is replaced by a politically convenient narratives designed to crush loyalties other than to the state . The state seeks to expand and homogenize by sucking in immigrants, against the wishes of those it supposedly serves , and avoid democracy by making treaties with foreign powers to export law making into pooled bureaucracies .

Don`t get me started on ID cards , government by media health fascism ( Jesus they even ruined the pubs ), this is a catastrophically illiberal government .

I can see the appeal of socialism and I can see that individual Liberty is not the only consideration but to vote for the Labour Party on the basis it would increase the is deluded nonsense. Like many British lefties you secretly hate the country you have made and would feel happier in America being Democrats.

Political Parties are unions against the elite , thats why they want PR so we cannot get rid of them By joining the kidult atomised single issue pretend political playground you are doing exactly what they want you to.

But then you always have, the perfect little Blairite

Ceri said...

Given the nature of our voting system and the fact that your vote is highly unlikely to make a difference to the result, you can hardly be accused of wasting your vote by voting for smaller parties.
And the idea of forming a party to press for change at least engages with the political system, which is more than 40% of the population is minimally willing to do.

As for Newmania, I feel sorry for you if you do feel that you live in a totalitarian state, although I doubt you'd find anywhere in the industrialised world which didn't feel totalitarian on these grounds.
I particularly liked ' expand and homogenize by sucking in immigrants', which is at least is a different perspective to the other right-wing loons.

Newmania said...

Ceri - The UK is slightly more than averagely taxed and regulated than other advanced countries , including such luminously Liberal regimes as China . For centuries this free country looked out at the despotic regimes of the Continent and the East with horror and now w e are one of them as you rightly say. Well I assume you say good goody .
Mass immigration encouraged by New Labour does of course expand the state . The Lords concluded that the benefit per capita was negligible and that’s without the social cost born by atomised communities. As we know from Neath there was also a political goal which is dilution of the distinctiveness the Nation . That’s what I mean by homogenzing , the process of fragmenting and endless new dependency is of ,course ,also useful to the left

There is only one group of people who want a larger GDP whatever the cost to the people of the country and that is the State and its political court .

claude said...

"the UK is slightly more than averagely taxed and regulated than other advanced countries".

Where did you read that? The Daily Mail?

In the real world, UK corporate tax ranges from 19 to 28 per cent.

Perfectly within average. It's 26% in Sweden and Finalnd, but also 30% in Spain, 33% in France, 37.25% in Italy, 33.99% in Belgium, etc.

As for the top rate on personal income, it's 58% in Denmark, 55% in Sweden, 54% in Norway, 53% in Finland, 52% in the Netherlands, 50% in Austria and Belgium, 45% in Germany, etc...

As for labour laws, let's not even go there. The UK is possibly the most deregulated in the EU.

Newmania said...

Claude ,the “myth” is that this country is vastly more regulated than any other and is a miserable land of soup kitchens five year plans and state issue dungarees…funny it looks that but I digress The facts as quoted on John B`s irascibly far left blog is that we are more or less average . This was on some broad comparison international survey which I assumed to be skewed to the l;eft
It struck me that advanced societies are often European or Asian and both of these areas have been by words for despotism in this country . That we are no longer exceptionally free was less a cause for celebration than s socialist might claim.

The top rate in this country has been show by the IFS to be at a level that reduces revenue to the exchequer. This is a dynamic process in time , however and it would initially provide boost, plus embarrass the Conservative Party .As an example of the moral bankruptcy of Brown and his Kremlin it serves well . It also shows that international comparisons are fraught with difficulty .
In Australia for example the tax code looks similar but they use tax for some of the purposes we use the tax in disguise . The long tradition of emigration from this country to Australia is driven by the vast increase in disposable income due to the relatively tiny cost of housing

To pick out the Nordic far left socialist group beloved of Polly Toynbee as representative is unusually feeble isn’t it ? There is much to admire about Sweden true , a less redistributive tax system ( after transfers ) than ours a ferocious attack on balancing the budget , free market schools a small homogenous population and lots of space .

Its amazing so few people have the slightest wish to go to this earthly paradise and how many go the t States .

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Between Newmania and Patriot we have a real troll army forming here, oh well, Arron is the most compelling case so far.