Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pirates of the Confederation

Article first published as Pirates of the Swiss Confederation on Technorati.

A self styled political party of the digital age is hoping to make big gains in up and coming local elections in the canton of Zurich, in the Swiss Confederation. With the slogan “It is Time for an Upgrade” the Swiss Pirate Party will be joining the more traditional parties in elections on April 3rd. Founded in 2009, with 150 members, the party membership has grown ten-fold and last year the Pirates experienced their first electoral victory, gaining one seat on the City Council in the industrial town of Winterthur.

The Pirates are unashamedly a party of youth – their president, Denis Simonet, a 25 year old IT student, describes the party as “neither right wing nor left wing” but as the party of “the information generation”. While the other parties battle it out over the burning issues of immigration and economic growth, the Pirate Party explain in their election manifesto that the:

“Fear of international terrorism replaces "freedom" with "security" as the greatest good--and many people fall unnecessarily silent in defense of freedom. Personal control of personal information, free access to knowledge and culture, and the protection of the private sphere are the foundation of a future information society. Only on this basis can we create a democratic, socially just, freely self-determined global order."

The Swiss Pirate Party sees itself part of a worldwide movement that wants to participate in shaping this order for the benefit of all. In other words, these young 21st century Voltarians are for Wikileaks and against body scanners in our airports; they are for the availability of culture for all and against taxing CDs, mobile telephones and iPods; they are for protecting our personal data and against governments that treat their citizens like children.


  1. Interesting use of the word "pirate" which in many peoples' minds would refer to pirates of the Caribbean etc in the 1700-1730 period. Pirates were not privateers; rather they were violent men who used cutlasses and flintlock guns against innocent passengers and crews going about their daily business at sea.

    Pirates were certainly not freedom fighters. They were thieves and murderers.

  2. Hels,

    True, but the word has other meanings too. When I was a teenager I listened to the legendary Radio Caroline - a Pirate radio station. And from radio stations that operated outside the law, and did not pay taxes, we come to the modern pirates of the open-source digital culture. In the online world, pirates are more likely to be computor geeks, like the Swiss Pirate Party (actually it is an international movement, founded in Sweden - there are Pirate Parties in over a dozen countires today and they contested elections for the European Parliament).

  3. In the online world, pirates are more likely to be computor geeks? Who knew? Well then, if the new party is to be the party of the information generation, then I suppose it isn't so inappropriate.

    *sigh* do you sometimes find your language skills, honed over the decades, do not necessarily increase communication with the younger generation?

  4. I know exactly what you mean! But I teach students who are in their late teens, so that keeps me acquainted with the latest streetspeak (did I just make up that word?). And my younger colleagues are very at home in the digital world, which forces me to keep abreast as well, not just with the mechanics, but the linguistic turns as well.