Today, the Brazilian Pirate Party is formally founded. I’ve spent the past few days traveling around Brazil, speaking at conferences and meeting activists, and I’m left with a very positive impression of the movement and culture.
As I write this, the ritual of formally founding the party is being carried out – the party program is being read aloud to the assembled activists and to-be-chartering-members, and the statutes of Partido Pirata do Brasil will follow, after which 101 chartering members from nine Brazilian states will sign the charter.
I started this trip to Brazil by visiting the FISL convention (Forum International de Software Livre) in Porto Alegre, speaking there, and flying up to Recife, where I met more activists and spoke at Campus Party Recife. My impression that Brazil has the ability and capacity to dropkick the current dominant economies remains, and has been strengthened somewhat.
The net makes it possible to perform many tasks with the same output at a tenth, or even a hundredth, of the previous cost. (Just look at how the Swedish Pirate Party became the largest below-30 party in the European Elections with one-hundredth the campaign budget of our competition.) The United States and the European Union seems hellbent on resisting and rejecting this radical improvement in productivity in the name of “saving jobs”, which is completely counterproductive in anything but the very short term, which leaves the field open for any other power that wants to leapfrog the US and the EU by rejecting monopolies that brake and hold back these efficiency improvements of magnitude.
Enter the BRIC(S) countries, which have been in my spotlight for a while. The so-called emerging economies. Brazil, Russia, India, China, and some also include South Africa in the collection. I don’t really believe in China’s ascent beyond the mid-term – two decades or so – based on how they treat the net. China actively prevents free speech in order to silence domestic dissent, and so, they also prevent people and ideas from rising to their full potential. Russia has regrettably chosen the same route.
I had high hopes for India for quite a while, seeing its burgeoning generic pharma industry and an assumed understanding that more copyright and patent monopolies were not necessarily in India’s national interest, but in the past year, it would seem India is starting to crack down on free speech and the net increasingly at the request of the usual lobbies. That leaves a stronger need for an Indian Pirate Party, but also sets an uphill battle there.
That leaves Brazil, which appears to go in the completely opposite direction. For example, there is currently a law proposal in Brazil called the Marco Civil which establishes a firm charter of rights online – it establishes net neutrality, it establishes that net access is a precondition for the ability to exercise citizenship, and it establishes that carriers are never responsible for carried traffic. If enacted, this would establish a firm world leadership in seeing the net as a fundamentally positive force of change.
Any country that starts having tenfold or hundredfold the output for the same invested time and resources is going to just dropkick the current dominant geopolitical powers, sending them spinning so fast they didn’t see it coming. Brazil is in a position to do exactly that, and the US and EU are being disastrously stupid in rejecting and postponing these structural changes in order to appease the sunk costs of Hollywood, Louis Vitton, and Vivendi Universal.
In this environment, the Partido Pirata do Brasil has a significant head start, in terms of hearts and minds before many other countries. People have seen the net, seen the advantages it brings, and reject the US-dominated monopoly industries. It starts out with a significantly larger program than most PPs have had on day one, a program that includes social diversity, a secular state, and net access. Running the numbers, it would appear that once registered as a party, they have an excellent shot at making it in the elections two years out.
Like many other countries, Brazil is overcome with political fatigue and apathy. People are yearning – no, screaming – for the very concept of a politician that doesn’t… well, behave like one. In speaking with people, the “we’re not politicians, we’re civil rights activists that you can vote for” message appears to chime a stronger resonance here than in most places, further increasing the PPBR’s potential.
The next step after today will be to collect 500,000 signatures (yes, that’s five hundred thousand) supporting the party’s registration. That’s the highest number I’ve seen anywhere in the world – but I am certain that it can be done.
Bem-vindo to the community, Partido Pirata do Brasil!