What I Wish For My 40th Birthday

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.

Rick Falkvinge

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. He lives on Alexanderplatz in Berlin, Germany, roasts his own coffee, and as of right now (2019-2020) is taking a little break.


  1. Fredrik

    Priceless post! Only you could have written it! Good luck!

    1. Rick Falkvinge

      Only me? Well, I wouldn’t be sure, but it is true that one of my key guidelines is that there are no limits to what we can do (within the laws of physics) except those limits which we choose to believe in. We create limits for ourselves. I choose not to.

      Not much I have done so far has been particularly normal. 🙂

      So it might be somewhat true as you say, and if so, then this post is an indication in itself for how much I can accomplish if let loose, displaying my lack of normal sense of limits but instead seeing mutual-win scenarios and opportunitites.


  2. AeliusBlythe

    re: honorary doctorate
    You’re one of many people who have demonstrated a level of knowledge and experience–and a powerful ability to use them–beyond many with a Dr. in front of their name. Often looking at activists and others with great accomplishments behind them, I wish that there were a more comprehensive method for recognizing achievement than the traditional degree system–something that recognized real-world research and contributions rather than just those within a set program. The honorary doctorate, I suppose, is one way of doing that for those, like you, that reach that level of influence.

    re: financial independence
    Who wouldn’t want the freedom to fight these all-important battles without having to worry about basic survival? You of all people deserve that privilege.

    I sincerely hope you get your birthday wishes.

  3. steelneck

    SÃ¥därja, nu tar det hus-i-jante… Sorry for the swedish, but i could not translate that.

  4. Christopher Wood

    If you ask each of your fans to give you $1, you could get enough! Start a campaign at Kickstarter.com

  5. Alice Harold

    Hi Rick,

    I notice you have used a photograph of mine in your post; my work is online and available for others to enjoy however please credit me either at http://www.morethantoast.org or http://www.flickr.com/photos/aliceharold/.

    Alice Harold

    1. Rick Falkvinge

      Hi Alice,

      I always credit when I use CC images; you can see the credit by holding the mouse over the image in all modern browsers. I am happy to include a link or two in your credit and have sent you a mail asking for more information.


  6. Werner

    Honorary doctorates are generally frowned upon if they try to use that title. I mean, it’s like Göran Persson would call himself a doctor of Medicine. Akin to using a title bought from a degree mill.
    Why do you think a doctoral title gives your words more weight in many countries? Hint: it’s not for all the honorary doctors …


  7. Kalops

    Rick sure makes a lousy ultracapitalist (which he sometimes describes himself as), begging for birthdaypresents and riches instead of achieving this by himself. If Rick would become an honorary Doctor that would drag that description even further down the drain reputationwise.

  8. Kalops

    By the way how are your BitCoin investment doing?

    1. Scary Devil Monastery

      I see Bonk! is back under a new handle. Or his intellectual twin in the derogatory comments department.

      I see nothing wrong in saying what you want. This makes for a refreshing change from every other politician who says one thing and tries to sneak the rest under the table by voting him/herself a fat raise in quiet.

      Your implication that you prefer the status quo under-the-table pork barrelling is duly noted and lamented.

      1. Kalops

        Scary as usual you deserve the title Rick’s asslicker no:1. And thats quite an achievemnt as he has so many eager lickers doing him that (dis)service!

        1. Rick Falkvinge

          Dear Kalops,

          this is not acceptable behavior towards other guests in my home. Allow me to show you the way out.


  9. Star

    This potnisg knocked my socks off

Comments are closed.