If you are interested in how politics, social media & the Internet can be weaved together – in technical, practical & philosophical terms – to achieve a more transparent and collaborative approach, then I urge you to follow the development of the Piratenpartei (Pirate Party) in Germany. They have just managed to enter another one of Germany’s regional parliaments and are on course to shake up German politics even more profoundly than Die Gr?nen (The Green Party) did following their emergence in the 80s.
The Sunday Times, in the article “Extremists rattle Europe’s old guard”, took the approach of lumping them into the same pack as the usual, backward-thinking, in-the-past-living, platitude-spouting left and right wing scaremongers and status quo enforcers. Obviously, the comparison is utter nonsense but the premise is true: they rattle the old guard.
They rattle them because the connected internet and social media is at their core, not just an add-on PR machine, defining their policies and stand points. They rattle them because they can’t be stuffed in the old outdated political party boxes of left or right, Labour and Tory, blue and red. They rattle them because they enable citizens to use their rights and shape politics instead of just ticking a box on a given Sunday.
They rattle them because all of the above attracts voters from every political block, including the traditionally non-voters and including the highly educated and wealthy ones (a clear sign that they have nothing in common with the extremists and fascists mentioned above). They rattle them because they practise transparency, co-creation and collaboration – they are a party of the future, a party that understands that democracy is about participating, a party that embraces the Internet and fights for a free internet and therefore challenges the status quo of the industrial age, from ownership to copyright and patents to the way they fluidly build a working organisation for election campaigns and only allow leaders of the party to remain in place for 1 year before re-election.
It will be interesting to see how the Piratenpartei will cope with being part of parliaments, how they will channel the grass root democracy principles and the social media ‘shitstorms’, how they will embrace freedom of speech without being held hostage by radicals, how they will create a vision of the future that is coherent and what kind of vision this will be? It will be interesting to see how they grow up.
Even if they would not succeed as a party they have already changed the political landscape in Germany and have given us all a glimpse of a future in which transparency, communication, co-creation and choice will supersede control and ownership.
Below are a couple of links to articles in English that give some more background into the Piratenpartei – showing both sides of the argument. Hopefully we will soon see an equally transforming UK and US equivalent of the Piratenpartei.
A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace – this explains some of the philosophical background, but isn’t from the Pirate Party