I’ve for some time now looked at extreme sides in conflicts/discussions as
a kind of a necessity. It’s not that you will always agree with them, but they
will inevitably broaden the scope of the argument.
I might, for instance, not agree with right-wing extremists, but having them there forces one into debates that would otherwise never be had, opening ones eyes to opinions outside what is seen as “normal”.
It was this kind of blindness to other opinion that permeated the Swedish (although not in any way limited to) politics when it came to a certain subject:
For the longest time, internet as an entity has been completely outside of the scope of Swedish politics. Media uses it extensively, the companies love it and the people wouldn’t want to live without it.
The current generation of politicians however have other issues to deal with,
be it the climate, the unstable economy or health care. In no way are these
subjects unimportant, they’re crucial to the workings of the society and should
not be neglected.
These are however problems that have been around for a great deal of time, and both the people and the politicians seem to have fallen into a jog trot where the same range of problems are debated year in and year out, with the same arguments coming from the same parties.
Internet does not fit into that jog trot; internet is an anarchistic yet
beautifully democratic place that collectively runs circles around any other
medium out there, a completely new way of thinking. The people have been given
an network that enables them to gain and share information, culture and tools
at will. A hive mind has been created.
However, a power of this magnitude can be used for a variety of different things, and some found that variety dangerous.
“In service of the industries” the state has given internet users a rough treatment the recent years, mainly (but not limited to) laws crafted by the hands of lobbyists. The politicians should most definitely seek for help if they know nothing on the subject, but asking profit driven organizations for advice has so far only resulted in everything from the mild offenses to the draconian and deeply disturbing laws.
It gets even worse when the words “For the public safety.” are used. Spying actively on millions of innocent people, forcing companies to store every last bit of digital information for at least six months and turning customs personnel into arbitrary copyright enforcers are some of my favourite material for getting my rant mode on.
The 7th of June here in Sweden it became apparent that there were those that
didn’t find this comforting at all. On the evening of election day, having
counted a large percentage of the districts, the Pirate Party had gotten 7,1%
of the votes (at the moment of writing 7,31%).
I’m not saying that each and every one of those votes came from the intelligent and rational people who want to preserve the rights to a protected digital life, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some who solely voted on the basis of wanting to preserve their ability to get hold of expensive digital material for free. On the other hand, there is a whole cast of people who vote for the social democrats only because they know that with them in power they can count on more welfare payments (which is one of the main reasons the Swedish economy was in tatters before the last elections.
So there are always those who will vote for what some will say are the “wrong” reasons, but isn’t that what democracy is about?
I am quite pleased to say that I was one of those who voted the party forth. Last elections to the Swedish parliament I voted for the moderates, mainly because I found, and still find, them the only party that has a clue how to handle the economy. The fact that they also support nuclear power and got all the welfare exploiters back into work has me overjoyed. But when it comes to the integrity and internet issues I feel the Alliance (as the right oriented government coalition is called) has totally dropped the ball.
Why the party is needed
A blogger recently wrote a response to a columnist from Swedish Metro who found the Pirate Party and the concept of single-issue parties repulsive (Swedish), an element that makes democracy more stupid than it should be. A translation of the reply follows:
You get into your house and take off your shoes. You take out a piece of paper
to make a to-do list. Time to get one’s hands dirty!
You walk through the apartment and take notes of everything needed to be done.
There’s a buildup of ice in the freezer, the doorknob to the bathroom is a bit
loose, the oven could use some cleaning, it’s dusty behind the computer desk,
the laundry basket is broken, the wooden chairs on the balcony need to get
oiled up, the coffee-table has gotten some specks of candle-grease on it, the
TV is on fire, the bathroom mirror has some stains on it, the toilet paper has
almost run out, some bottles are to taken to the recycling station, some
accounts are to be done, a light bulb has gone out in the bedroom, a blind is
broken and the entrance hall really needs a repainting of the walls.
So in the words of the blogger, all we pirates want is really to get in, put out the fire, and then let the guy fix the rest as he pleases. We know that this guy and his friends have painted entrance halls and cleaned coffee-tables a thousand times over and we trust he won’t do anything extraordinarily stupid this time over, but if putting the fire out is not his top priority then at least let us do it.
A black flag waves
I think this is nothing but a start. In every file sharer there is a potential voter for the Pirate Party. In every person who is against American lobbies poisoning global politics, there is a potential voter for the Pirate Party. In everyone who finds total surveillance of the digital realm a scary thought, there is a potential voter for the Pirate Party.
I voted for them now, and I hope that Christian Engström and possibly (depending on whether she gets into the EU-parliament) Amelia Andersdotter serve as a different perspective in EU, as the extremists that broaden the scope.
One can at least have hope.