The German Pirate Party’s General Assembly is in progress, with 2800 people gathered in Neumünster – the largest party assembly in Germany’s democratic history, and I’m told the largest in the world, too. I was given the honor and privilege of addressing the assembly, and would like to share my words with the rest of the world here:
Dear colleagues, dear friends, dear pirates,
I am Rick Falkvinge, founder of the Swedish and first Pirate Party.
As you gather here, you are more than a party. You are the heroes of a generation. For the world has changed.
With the net, the previously unsung heroes have begun to tell their stories. Every day, something I see on the net moves me to tears. From joy, from laughter, from happiness.
So when the previous politicians tell us that this or that group is good, is evil, or wants something – when those politicians make themselves into unwanted spokespeople for others, we no longer need to believe them blindly: we can talk to the concerned people directly.
This creates a problem for the old politicians, who have lost the ability to lie to the world. That makes them confused. When it comes to the net and online liberties, those old politicians are behaving like drunken, blindfolded elephants trumpeting about in a porcelain factory.
But for the rest of the world, we are richer than ever before. In this world, a schoolgirl in South America who has just got her first laptop has just as strong a voice as me, a white middle-aged male in the privileged parts of Europe. I think that’s absolutely wonderful, and something worth defending, even if – no, especially if it means that old politicians can’t lie to us anymore.
The net is the greatest equalizer that humankind has ever invented. In fighting for its potential, we are already better at equality than any other party. Not just in Sweden, not just in Germany, but in the world.
Those who call themselves left-wing say you should share with people who are poor when they are in need. We don’t think like that – for we share with everybody, all the time. We don’t share out of pity with the poor – we share because it is who we are, and because we feel it creates a better world.
When people’s voices are threatened by war, censorship, or dictatorships, activists in our ranks make sure that those silenced can still reach out to the world to tell their stories – under our banner or under that of an activist group we’re proud to call our sisters and brothers on the barricades.
So we are better at solidarity, than those who would call themselves left-wing. And we are also better at equality. Not because of how we reason, but because of who we are.
Yet other politicians try to pitch groups of people against each other. Not just the extreme right – this happens all the time. But where old politicians portray differences between groups as a problem, we see people. We see different people, and we celebrate their diversity every single day. Diversity is something positive that should never be allowed to be made into a set of problems between fabricated groups. Once you remove this silly need to sort people into normal and abnormal, you also get rid of the pathological need for invasive surveillance to find the abnormal.
In this, we are an international community fighting for liberty in over 50 countries. Our numbers are growing by the day. Just as Sweden was the starter engine for the movement, the German Piratenpartei is now the shining beacon of our community.
For what we fight for is not rocket science. We demand that the civil liberties that our parents enjoyed in their offline world should carry over to our children in their online world – even if it means that some corporations can’t make money anymore and that some old politicians can’t lie to us anymore.
Because of this very simple demand, we are already better at liberty than those who would call themselves right-wing or liberal, before we have even started talking about all the additional wonderful liberties that the net brings with the connected lifestyle.
Paradoxically, we are also better at conservative ideals than those who call themselves conservative. For where they have sold the ideals of democracy to the highest corporate bidder, we carry the torch of the Enlightenment ideals and its thinkers with respect to those who once gave their lives for our liberty, and demand that this liberty applies on the net too, applies equally to all the people in the world.
In all election stress, it is easy to focus on the here and now. Paperwork, candidacies, recent polls, flyer supplies. But take a minute and listen to the world – using no matter what source – and you will hear the people whispering about us, all over the world, in countries where we are strong and in countries where we are needed.
We are giving people hope – for they see that they need no longer sit down and accept things as they are. We are showing people that they have the power in their own hands to change things. 250 million Europeans who share culture with the world are not a problem; they are a power base of 250 million voters. If they are being painted as a problem, we are showing that they can and should vote the real problem – the old politicians – out of a job.
We are giving people faith – for they see that in the twilight of democracy, where our children’s liberties are being sold to the highest corporate bidder, the system still works and can rescue and repair itself from within.
And perhaps most importantly, we are giving people respect. There is nothing shameful about the connected lifestyle that the net generation lives by, and if the old politicians feel threatened by it and the transparency it demands, people do not need to accept the bad attitude from those politicians. The net generation has every right to demand respect for themselves as citizens, even if it means that the old politicians lose control. That’s part of our gift to the world – of what we share with the world.
So fair winds, my friends. I am honored to call myself your colleague. I am overjoyed at the opportunity to be part of this journey to change the world for the better. I am proud to be a pirate.