As I prepare for the gala reception in Washington DC where the Top 100 Global Thinkers are being honored, I am reminded that I am about to turn 40 this winter. There are two things I wish for on that occasion that would help my work.
I was born on January 21, 1972, on a Friday under the full moon, 17 minutes into the sign of Aquarius. The next January 21, in 2012, is a Saturday that also marks my fortieth birthday.
This amuses me quite a bit, seeing how much I have managed to accomplish in the six years since I started the first Pirate Party, and considering I have at least forty more years of work still ahead. Sometimes, I try to imagine what I will have done in another six years, or in the next twenty. But the truth is that things are moving at a rapidly accelerating pace and surprise me too — everything is happening in roughly the same order that I had anticipated, but much, much faster. Still, I see how I can use my name and my work to keep pushing it in the right direction, and I keep doing so.
So for my 40th birthday, there are two presents that I wish for. Neither is givable by ordinary people or activists. But they are well within reach from people inside organizations who would like to see me succeed in what I am doing, and who want to give me a little nudge in that direction. One of these two things costs a lot of money, the other one doesn’t.
The first thing is an honorary doctorate. Like many trailblazers before me, I am a college drop-out. When I go up in battle against people of the old guard who justify the privileges of the monopoly nobilities, they have been following the beaten path and therefore have a “Dr.” in front of their name by this age. While this is not too important in the Nordic countries, it carries great weight elsewhere. Many universities who fight for the right of ideas and knowledge to flourish have the ability to level the playing field here, in the favor of freedom of information and ideas — especially universities in Brazil and India, seeing how I fight against informational neocolonialism that hits those countries among the hardest.
But of course, such an honor would not just be political play. That would be a devaluing of and a disrespect to the title. Rather, seeing my contributions to the world so far, I hope I have contributed in a marked way to the world’s collective thinking to match that of other people carrying the title, well clearing the bar. The attention I have received in my efforts to change the world (as well as the successes thereof) would then be the second level of justification.
The second thing is financial independence. Again, this is out of reach for ordinary people, but there are many who would benefit from letting me loose and not having to worry about food and rent in the future, but being able to worrilessly focus on freeing the world’s knowledge and culture for the rest of my life. Again, governmental agencies and large players in Brazil and India spring to mind, but seeing the geopolitical landscape, there are also many organizations in Russia or the Arab world and a few other places where this would be — frankly — a very good geopolitical investment.
Currently, I am getting by on an assistant’s paycheck from the European Parliament. The amount of money I would need to support myself and my work for the rest of my life is on the order of five million euros. (Seeing the current turbulence of the euro, and needing that amount to survive for fifty years, quite a bit of it would be channeled into diversification just to safeguard its survival.) This would unchain me completely. While I have done a lot in six years while dependent on the good will of key other people, I could progress with even less fear of the status quo if unchained.
Finally, for activists and other people without access to such resources, who just want to say hi on my 40th birthday, it is on January 21 of next year.