At turns, they’ve been called the “protest party of the moment” and members have been known to make questionable haberdashery choices. For all intent and purpose they’re like a political band of gypisies – independent and prone to eccentricities. Nope, I’m not talking about the Tea Party, but instead the Pirates of Germany.
A political party numbering approximately 30,000, the Pirates of Germany hold 20 seats in one state and 45 seats across the country. While the popular history of the party usually begins in 2009, the seeds of their union actually date back to around 2006. It was that year that the Mannheim court ruled that citizens are responsible for their WiFi routers and all the traffic that passed through it. When the decision hit, a group of Internet activists in Germany started conversing on a, what could be described as, a fan-boy/fan-girl wiki for the Swedish Pirate Party. The administrator of the wiki was “Mor Roguen” or “Dark Knight” and on September 1, 2006, the group moved their meeting offline and held their first in-person gathering. What emerged from that gathering was the beginnings of a new German political party called “The Pirates.”
In 2009 members mobilized to protest a national telecommunications law that was enacted to combat online pornography, but the Pirates argued that the law could be easily used against anyone. In 2010 the Federal Court of Justice ruled that citizens could be fined one-hundred euros or more for an open WiFi connection – and the Pirates grew in numbers.
The German Pirates are not the only online copyright “outlaws” who’ve made tremendous gains thanks to government interference. Notorious BitTorrent search engine, The Pirate Bay, saw their traffic more than double after it was shut down by officials. Plus, the Swedish Pirate Party also saw their numbers increase significantly after the highly publicized event.
So what do the Pirates in Germany stand for? Well, their manifesto is a little bit hyper-intelligent, sci-fi idealism, coupled with a healthy dose of ultra-socialistic principals (another point that separates the Pirates from Tea Partiers). Their main goal seems to be compiling “all human knowledge and culture and to store it for the present and future.” They also firmly believe that “the digital revolution brings humanity the opportunity of advancing democracy.” Which, hey, are noble ideals. However, the Pirates also have a more radical agenda than just advancing knowledge and culture via technology, they also believe that every individual should be guaranteed a regular check from the government to pursue learning and culture – every person. As X put it, it could be argued that technology is to The Pirates as industry was to the Communists.
Germany is not the only country with an active Pirate party. As mentioned earlier, the Swiss pioneered the movement, and today, Pirates are a registered party in nearly 15 countries; representatives hold seats in Spain, Switzerland and Czech Republic. In 2009, the Swiss even elected a Pirate Party member to the European Union Parliament.
And yep, in case you were wondering, there are Pirate movements in Canada, Mexico and the United States.