I have had a some discussions recently that has prompted this post. What are the underlying ideas behind the politics of Pirate Party Australia?
At the Sydney meeting on Saturday, AndrewD, member of the Policy Development Committee, raised a good question about our politics. What is our why?
To explain: The what of the Pirate Party is our policy set. What we are trying to change.
Why is harder to pin down. AndrewD pointed out that why is a more powerful motivator than what and we needed to spell it out to encourage more activists to get involved and to keep them around through any setbacks we may suffer in the future.
For example: The why of Communism is to create a society where everyone is equal, not just in opportunity, but materially and politically. It is a powerful why. So powerful that even today, despite the horrors and brutality of the Soviet Union, the Eastern Bloc and various other Communist dictatorships, there are thousands of people in Australia who identify as Communist. Despite evidence that their methods (their what) are a complete failure at creating a just and equitable society, they still believe in the why.
Pirate Parties internationally (not PPI) were formed with the goal of fighting for a free Internet, particularly around copyright issues. Initially there was an attempt to explain why people of a range of political persuasions would want to join the struggle against the copyright maximalists and there was a document floating around with explanations from perspectives of liberals, libertarians, socialists etc.
In Australia we have gone beyond the core policies of what was outlined in the Pirate movement’s early days. We are in the process of building a broad policy set that is based on evidence.
There is a broad and ill-defined morality underlying our policies. It isn’t clearly defined, yet I don’t recall any of our policies ever receiving less than 80% support from voting members, so a common morality as expressed by our policy set is widely supported.
What is it? I think trying to clearly spell out the underlying morality will strengthen our movement.
For me, Pirate Party Australia is about protecting and extending the principles of a free and just society; liberty, equality and democracy. We do this pragmatically, with thorough research and debate.
I think that both the morality and method are the main part of our why. It has never been spelled out explicitly because we haven’t really discussed it (hence the need for this post and the discussion that will hopefully flow from it).
Our approach to applying and extending democratic involvement is an example of this. Looking at efforts within the Pirate movement internationally shows the development of new ways to make decisions based on experimentation. Pirate Party Germany implemented liquid feedback as a technology to aid democratic decision making. This is being improved upon by other Pirate Parties, as there have been issues with how liquid feedback works in practice. Pirate Party Australia has its own democracy project called Polly. Each attempt is an experiment and only through testing the various methods can we figure out what works and how scalable this is as a decision making tool. In the meantime we practice old-fashioned one person, one vote democracy through our annual congresses (which will continue to be the final decision making process of any experiment until we find something better in our experiments).
As technology changes society, it also changes politics. Despite the major Parties moving away from a free, open and just society, the possibilities for more democracy, accountability and prosperity for all are opened up. The need for change grows by the day, and so too does the need for our politics.
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