"Why I'm Voting Pirate" – A Testimony From An Ex-Soviet

Red Square, Moscow

This testimony – “Why I’m Voting Pirate” – was published by Leila Borg, a person who grew up in the Soviet Union but moved to Sweden after the fall of the Iron Curtain. It has been translated to English and reposted here for a wider audience.

Act 1. Two-bedroom apartment in Moscow. Mother/daughter.

I was ten years old, and suddenly accused of having smoked in secret. My mother had found a cigarette butt floating in the toilet. It wasn’t me, and after discussing for some time, I managed to convince my mother of this fact. At that point, she got scared, and ran out to the drawers with our important papers and our money. I remember the composure she tried so hard to put up. All the money was there, but some private letters were in a slightly different position than how they were usually arranged.

Many years later, I learned that this only meant one thing: our home was being searched by the KGB. It wasn’t the first time, and every single trace left behind was deliberate. Somebody was “nice” and gave us a sign to be extra careful. For years, my mother carried the burden alone. Violated, disgusted, scared. She didn’t even dare tell her closest friends.

Act 2. Schools and streets in Moscow. Two friends.

The year was 1987. Two schoolgirls were rummaging through all the newspapers, watched all the newscasts. The words perestroika, glasnost, and freedom inspired and we were as happy as only twelve-year-olds can be. We tried to re-educate our teachers and make them read Sakharov and Solzhenitsyn, we planned our future and founded our own political party. Every day after school, we climbed onto the garage roof nearby and wrote flyers. “Get RID of the communists!!!”, “Get rid of the KGB!!”, “Yes to reforms!”, “Party rule no, Real democracy yes!”, “Yes to FREEDOM!!”. It was still somewhat dangerous, and therefore all the more appealing. We swapped jackets with each other to be harder to recognize, tiptoed about, kept watch, and glued, glued our flyers everywhere. Every time people gathered around our calls and talked about them, we felt exhilarated. I was flying with hope. I miss that time now, that spirit. Freedom felt so close!

Act 3. Moscow, 1990s.

Rallies and protests had turned into pointless gatherings. Glasnost was miscredited, with EVERY newspaper being owned by ONE oligarch. Economic reforms led to a select few people becoming disgustingly rich at the expense of the whole population. Freedom had turned into corruption. “Democracy” appeared to mean that you were allowed to open fire at the wrong parliament and burn it to the ground. Friendships with Western democracies led to national debt, dumping of surplus production, and robber-baron deals. Protests against propaganda led, among other things, to an extreme repression of women. In 1992, I moved to the democratic Sweden.

Act 4. Stockholm, 2014. Quadruple-election year.

Start of the new Cold War. Being Russian today means having to always defend Russia against everybody confusing Putin with the 200 million other people in the country. Are we freer in Sweden? Nobody is rummaging through my drawers (I think)… but my phone may be wiretapped, my mail might be read, my Google searches could be logged. I choose to be relatively open on my blog. That’s a choice I make. What’s being done to safeguard my privacy, when I choose to not be open?

A man presents evidence of a foreign power collecting the private data of Swedish citizens, and after after a few compulsory groans, nobody reacts any longer. What does the apathy say about our society? I don’t see any difference between the KGB who searched our apartment and the NSA searching my electronic life.

My mother had nothing to hide, I have nothing to hide. That still gives nobody the right to search through our private files.

Therefore, I vote for the only political party that considers this apathy to be a problem for democracy as such, that wants to shine light on shady power dealings, and keeps fighting an uphill battle for our right to privacy.

Rick Falkvinge

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. He works as Head of Privacy at the no-log VPN provider Private Internet Access; with his other 40 hours, he's developing an enterprise grade bitcoin wallet and HR system for activism.

Discussion

  1. Anonymous

    here here! as have many7 others. i look forward to seeing the results. i think a few people are in for shocks, probably because they fail to recognise that in general the people are pissed off at being spied on in democratic countries, fed up of having communications read in democratic countries, fed up of having conversations listened to in democratic countries and fed up of having their movements tracked in democratic countries! 99% of what is happening in the so-called free, democratic world is caused by the one country that is so paranoid, it is turning into the very same as it fought against 70years ago. the USA is now so afraid of terrorism it is creating it’s own terrorist society! even worse, it is forcing other countries to join it. those that have haven’t realised that in doing so, not only are they moving against their own people, their own beliefs, they are aiding the USA in this ‘attack’ on democracy. they are in fact, creating their own terrorism instead of the terrorists doing it! now that is fear to the max!!

    1. Patrik

      I think it is very unlikely that the cause of this is fear. Fear is the lubricant that makes the violation just that much smoother, but do you reallty think the heads of the NSA, CIA, and US government is acting out of fear of terrorists? I don’t. I don’t think they are that stupid.

      Fear of losing their jobs, on the other hand…? Fear of having to give up their power over people? Good old-fashioned hubris and whatever other motivations people have historically had for being tyrants? Those are much better explanations.

      What’s the difference? Well, the difference to me is that the ones orchestrating this are not innocent people acting out of genuine concern. They are criminals that should be behind bars.

  2. LennStar

    I have nothing to hide. So why am I beeing searched, logged, categorized? Why am I beeing treated like a criminal and like “they” have just not decided what it is that I have done?

    No, of course I have something to hide. I have lots to hide, not just the color of my underwear. Like everyone. And more importantly, I have the right to hide a lot of things.

    I like how the people in Germany wrote it after Hitler:
    Human dignity is inviolable. To respect and to protect it is the duty of all state authority.

  3. Stevie B

    As someone from an ex-communist country, I absolutely share these feelings. What is astonishing to me is how much we (of the former Eastern bloc) have forgotten the values we once so much yearned for. I was younger than the writer, but I still remember sitting on my father’s shoulders at one of the rallies, and the feeling all around that we, the people, can and will unite for the common good.

    We desperately need to get the Pirates into the European parliament. Now, when all the corporations and agencies have discovered the power of the free internet and are trying to push through their own disgusting legislation to curtail or misuse it, we must have someone competent in the seats to resist them. Someone who BELIEVES in the values they preach. The Pirates are the only choice available – the only free people’s choice for the information age.

  4. Zeissmann

    You should be careful with that title. “Ex-Soviet” sounds as if she used to endorse the Soviet system, when clearly she didn’t. You wouldn’t call someone an “Ex-Democrat” just because he used to live in a democratic country, but personally has always been all for dictatorships.

    1. Rick Falkvinge

      Yes, I did indeed find it hard to condense “former resident of the Soviet Union” into headline brevity, but she looked at the translation and was happy with it.

      Cheers,
      Rick

  5. Pirate

    http://www.jbhfile.com/entry4.html

    Please read this to see that the methods described above still exist outside the net and in the western world.

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