2007 - 2022

Here Come the Pirates

iceland-pirate-party-wikileaksIn June 2014 we brought Smári McCarthy from Iceland to speak about post-Yes constitutional options and learning from our northern neighbour. He later joined our editorial board and he’s just been elected for the southern constituency of the Icelandic Parliament for the Pirate Party.

This means we have a Pirate on board.

As John Rodgers has written: “Hacking Politics: An In-Depth Look At Iceland’s Pirate Party”:

“Píratapartýið (The Pirate Party)—a small, radically forward-thinking, activism-based political organisation—stormed from being a marginal presence with three (out of 63) sitting MPs, to being the front-runner in the national opinion polls. Amongst many reformist policies, their agenda includes an eye-catching reboot of democracy itself, via increased voter participation that allows the people to guide parliament on key issues via e-democracy, direct influence on policymaking, and referendums.”

Hit the North

The Pirate Party offer some inspiration for Scottish Yes activists in their dynamism ambition and innovation cutting through stale thinking and emerging with contemporary and radical tools for participation. What’s striking is they take a much broader and deeper understanding of world geopolitics and shifting culture and apply it to local democracy. Like Podemos in Spain and Syriza in Greece they have proven that radical political movements can break through in a networked society conscious of the realities of collapsonomics.

If we have been looking successfully for advanced social policy to the Nordic and Scandic countries to our North East, we’d do well to look to our Icelandic friends for advanced ideas on liberty and participation, information and transparency.

Now, the Pirates, founded only four years ago by a group of activists anarchists and hackers, tripled their share of the vote to 14.5%, and together with an alliance of left parties won a total of 27 seats just short of a majority in the country’s 63-seat parliament. They haven’t formed a government but they’re a powerful force making huge gains.

A leading figure in the Icelandic Pirate Party’s leader is Birgitta Jónsdóttir. She writes:

“Our states are built around systems that are outdated, created in simpler times and for smaller societies. Today, those systems no longer serve the people but are simply self-serving and self-preserving. Welfare has been hollowed and is on the verge of collapse, often as a way to privatize it. We are running out of planet and our systems are unable to do anything about it.Draconian ‘anti-terrorism’ laws and secrecy have somehow become the norm. ‘Developed’ democracies have become a freaky mix of Brave New World and 1984. We are being manipulated every day into believing we are powerless, that there is nothing that can change these systems; but this is a lie. We have never been as connected as we are today, as able to share real-time stories of success and failure. Therefore, our learning curve is steeper than ever before. We are sharing, downloading, remixing and co-creating every day without knowing the power that lies in the abundance of information we are processing or storing.”

Here’s Smári’s talk in Edinburgh on ‘Crowdsourcing the Constitution – Lessons from Iceland’ (and a background interview here):


Comments (4)

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  1. bringiton says:

    I remember proposing something like this at a SNP hustings event some years ago,as a means of greater public participation but it was rejected by all the candidates,except one…..the oldest one!
    The attitude amongst many politicians seems to be that you elect them to make all decisions on your behalf until the reselection time comes around again.
    This will include many things which weren’t on the horizon at the time of election but you just have to trust their judgement on these matters.
    I do have concerns about how the public would make decisions on events when often it seems that the tabloid press are the only source of information for many.
    This is especially true when the press appear to act in concert in order to achieve a particular outcome which is in the interests of the establishment and the press barons.
    However,in principle,has to be a good thing to have greater participation.

  2. john young says:

    Anything or anybody that can attempt to change the “status quo” has to be encouraged,almost all present political parties SNP included are self seeking/self serving vehicles,they need to be cleansed or swept away.

  3. c rober says:

    Its relatively easy for a country with the population of Greater Glasgow to affect change , and the vehicle that did so was things like wiki leaks and the panama papers , however with the later it seems that this too was a tool – with the media only releasing excerpts when and where needed in order to do the most political capital possible.

    Iceland has had a hard time of it , the banking collapse due to people like the former president , and of course the British Empirical outlook on it being repaid on top. Of course casino banking was not the sole impact of a little place with one of the smallest populations in Europe.

    The British Empire still exists , on smaller nations , its not the first time Iceland has been in the British media dock without judge and jury. The pirate party is consigned to foot notes in British media . along the lines of the Monster Raving Looney party , and if it gets bigger will end up in the same treatment as we see of the SNP – or worse still they would be portrayed as taking our jobs , as EU immigrants into the UK have been.

    However it does have some great things going for it in the future – chp reduces home outgoings prehaps going some way for food import imbalance costs , eco generation as an export , and the cod that made the cod war slipping down its gdp income as a result.

    It is still small , so will always be a nation of importers , and this is its biggest problem – yet seems reluctant to repeat an Union at gunpoint , so negotiates trade deals ad hoc , and there lies an opportunity with Scotland…. that is if Scotland is brave enough to approach other Nordic nations about sealing a union of Sovereign nations against big trade.

    There is of course the possibility for data centres as a national industry , cheap power , lower cost to cool , tax powers are sovereign are not affected by EU , imo given the pirate party has some experience in the computer field it is something it should perhaps be offering on the open market via PPP.

    As the world wakes up to the energy costs of big data , of cloud storage on its energy grids , thus co2 generation – then perhaps those green parties around the world should be championing this to offset the co2.

    The future is bright for Iceland , well for most of the year.

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