July 8, 2016

Basic Text

About this text

The text below is the basic text of the Belgian Pirates. It is not a fixed and static truth, but a dynamic working text that can be reviewed in the future, and on which can be built further for writing a manifesto.
The text has grown from the Ghent Pirates Crew, which badly needs a basic text for communicating to the outside world what the pirates stand for. Thus the crew can continue to grow. The text is a compilation of text from the Pirates Program in 2014, and the (translated) basic texts of the Icelandic and German Pirate Party, with additions from the Ghent crew and Belgian Pirates. Everything that is in the text, is discussed by Pirates.

Introduction

The Pirates are a worldwide movement of freedom-loving, critical, constructive and responsible citizens who observe a system in crisis. They look for alternatives and participate in building parallel structures, inspired by experiments and evidence. So they want to provide answers to the current ecological, political, economic and societal challenges.

Pirates follow the concrete contemporary reality, and not presupposed abstract ideals such as the self-regulating market, the socialist paradise or fate-connected people. Their ideal is not situated in the distant future or a shadowy past. They build a better world and live their dreams for the future here and now. In this way the Pirates embody the changes they want to see in the world.

Pirates do not believe in big election shows, in regime change or party policy. They advocate a thorough update of our democratic system. To reach this goal, they deem, among other things, necessary to infiltrate the political arena through a political party: the Pirate Party.

The Pirate Party stands for a network of grassroots citizen groups that want to change the policy bottom up. They do this by working out ideas, by gathering evidence and building local support around specific themes, such as urban agriculture and permaculture, healthy air and nature, the local share-economy, complementary currencies and the commons (= community well).

The Pirate Party is growing due to the Pirate movement and its political wing. but politics means power, and power corrupts and can be abused. Critical self-reflection is and remains fundamental. The Pirate movement has the task to monitor the party does not deny its democratic values.

The Pirate Codex

The codex shows the values pursued by the Pirates. But Pirates are people and people make mistakes. That’s okay, as long as we learn from it.

  • Pirates are free
    Pirates are freedom-loving, independent and autonomous. They refuse blind obedience and
    eschew dogmatic “truths.” They stand for self-determination and freedom of expression. Pirates bear the responsibility arising from freedom.
  • Pirates protect privacy
    Pirates fight against the advancing surveillance and controlled state, as this hampers free development of the individual. A free and democratic society is impossible without private and unspyed free space.
  • Pirates are critical
    The Pirates are curious, creative and not based on the status quo. They challenge systems out, point out weaknesses and find ways to correct them. Pirates believe in trial-and- error and learn from their mistakes. They choose to be “for” constructive alternatives instead of merely “against” anything that goes wrong.
  • Pirates have integrity
    Pirates are honest and keep their word. They act in good faith and dare to admit their mistakes. The Pirates reveal social problems and take action when moral courage is needed.
  • Pirates respect all forms of life
    Pirates are tolerant and peace-loving: they oppose the war and reject the death penalty. Moreover, they are committed to the protection of our environment and for the dignified treatment of animals. Pirates stand for sustainability and the preservation of the nature.
  • Pirates share knowledge
    Information, education, knowledge and scientific findings are part of our shared cultural heritage and should be accessible to everyone. Pirates support an open share culture and free software, and are form of copyright. On the other hand they respect also the work from the makers, and they are aware of the obstacles they encounter in the current system.
  • Pirates are empathetic
    Pirates respect human dignity. They build an inclusive society, in which those who are vulnerable play a full role. Pirates stand for a political culture of empowerment and justice.
  • Pirates are world citizens
    Pirates are part of a global movement. They exploit the possibilities of the Internet fully, and are therefore able to think and act without boundaries. Pirates see the world as a whole and help to find solutions to global problems (such as inequality, migration, climate change and resource scarcity).
  • Pirates are equal
    Pirates strive for equality between people, regardless of gender, race, age, sexual nature, education level, marital status, national origin or disability. People are free to choose how they develop themselves.
  • Pirates inspire
    The Pirates do not claim to have the ultimate solution for all social problems. They want to initiate a constructive approach and invite all citizens to engage with politics. Everyone can make a contribution from his or her knowledge, experience and perspectives. Pirates welcome the out of the box thinking.
  • Pirates are connected
    Pirates know that both individual and communal happiness are in the interconnectedness of people with themself, with others, with society, with nature and with the world. due to the digitization and the Internet is half of the world joined in a horizontal and decentralized network. This collective consciousness transforms the world.
  • Pirates have confidence
    Pirates have confidence in themselves and dare to trust the other. They believe in collaboration and the wisdom of the crowd. Pirates look with a constructive look at the society. They build the commons (= good community) and collective goals.
  • Corporate pirates
    The Pirates believe in a DIY approach (Do It Yourself). They do not wait for top-down solutions of those who occupy power, but take action themself from below. The Pirates believe in the powerof grassroots and bottom-up movements.
  • Pirates are diverse
    The Pirates are a movement of citizens who unite all the population and all political intentions. Pirates want to learn from each other’s differences and thus progress. They want to transcend polarity and do not believe in the traditional classification of “left and right”. Everyone can be pirate.

Values of the Pirate Party

First some definitions for a better understanding of the core values:

  • Civil rights are legally protected rights of individuals relating to the participation in a democratic society. Civil rights include (but are not limited to) voting rights, freedom of religion and belief, freedom of expression, press freedom and the right to peaceful protest.
  • Information enhances knowledge and thus reduces ignorance and uncertainty. ‘Information’ must not be confused with “data” (= raw facts) and ‘knowledge’ (= the result of a successful transmission of information). Information is data that has been made interpretable (eg. by describing or translate). Information is transferred using messages or by observation.
  • Commons are common goods which are built, managed and shared by a community. They can be both real (land, cooperatives) and virtual (information, knowledge, software). They transcend the logic of market and state, and that of nationalization and privatization. Members of the community can make free use of the commons, without patents and without paying licenses. Mutual respect is the basic condition.

A critical spirit and an evidence-based policy

  1. A legal framework is a human construction, and therefore controversial.
  2. Pirates emphasize the importance of a critical spirit and a fact-based policy.
  3. Pirates believe that policy decisions should be based on evidence and independent scientific studies (and not on speculation, dogmas, prejudices, habits, existing legislation, lobbying or party conventions).
  4. Pirates are willing to consider every good idea, regardless from who or what corner comes this idea.
  5. Pirates encourage experiments and pilot projects.
  6. Decisions can always be revised based on new evidence.

Civil rights

  1. Pirates are committed to strengthening and protecting civil rights, both in the real and the digital world.
  2. Civil rights take precedence over economic interests of groups and undertakings how are just out for profit and that harm society and its citizens.
  3. Pirates believe that civil rights belong to individuals, not to groups or classes. The rights of every individual weigh the same round.
  4. Pirates defend the right to freedom of religion and belief, but prefer a strict separation between church and state.
  5. Individual freedom can not conflict with the freedom of others or the public interest.

Direct democracy and self-determination right

  1. Pirates believe that all citizens have unlimited right to be involved in decisions that concern them.
  2. Pirates advocate a more direct democracy: an open, pragmatic, dynamic, realistic and transparent system in which citizens have the opportunity and receive the right to participate, and are encouraged to do so.
  3. The Internet enables new forms of citizen participation and democratic organization.The Pirates want to explore these possibilities and put them into practice.
  4. The power of party politics should be phased out.
  5. Pirates believe that corporatism, i.e. The mixture of economic and political power, should be avoided.

The right to privacy for citizens

  1. The right to privacy has to protect citizens against possible abuse by the rulers (= large organizations such as states and businesses).
  2. The Pirates understand privacy by the right to discretion (= secrecy correspondence, personal data, financial situation), the right to be anonymous and the right to self-determination.
  3. Privacy is in accordance with the Pirates a prerequisite for individual freedom. Under the guise of security the state wants to know more and more about its citizens. The Pirates are not willing to give up our privacy for the alleged safety.
  4. Confidentiality should never go beyond the protection of the individual and may never harm other individuals. The right to privacy may be violated if there are solid and individual-specific suspicions, and this only by the competent authorities.
  5. Anonymity relieves nobody from the responsibility for their actions.

The duty of transparency for authorities

  1. Transparency enables the citizens to monitor those in power (= large organizations such as states and firms).
  2. Information about the policy should be accessible to the public, in open data formats and in forms which guarantee optimal usefulness of this information.
  3. Transparency and objectivity are fundamental for the pirates. The public should be properly informed to make the right decisions in a democratic way, for now and for later.
  4. Liability relates to participation: citizens can only take responsibility when they have initiative and the right to decision.
  5. Pirates believe that everyone has the right to be involved in decisions that concern them and should be encouraged to do so. Every citizen has a right to information of how decisions are made.

Information freedom and freedom of expression

  1. The right of individuals to be informed should not be affected.
  2. The Internet should be an open and democratic place where information can be shared freely. Every citizen has the right to access a high-speed, unlimited and cheap Internet to share and contribute information, knowledge and culture to the digital commons.
  3. Limitations of the freedom to gather and share information are unacceptable, except to protect the rights of individuals.
  4. Limitations on freedom of speech are unacceptable, except for the rights to protect individuals.
  5. Freedom of expression is more than the right to freely proclaim our opinion. It is also the right to be heard and not to be censored. Whistle-blowers deserve also protection from the society.

The right to a decent life

  1. Pirates give each man a life of dignity and security on basic needs, such as shelter, food and education.
  2. Pirates prevail ecological and human interests over economic interests. The economy should serve the people and not vice versa. The destructive financial economy based on speculation and investment in unethical projects (e.g. arms production) should be restricted.
  3. The Pirates argue for strengthening the local, fair and circular share-economy as a buffer against volatile and unpredictable global economy. The capital being sucked out of the real economy in the financial markets belongs to the society.
  4. The Pirates ascertain how the labor market is changing by technology: increasingly classic jobs are digitized or taken over by robots. In addition, the Internet offers low transaction costs and new opportunities for production, distribution and consumption. Also more and more people become self employed or a freelancer, with all the risks and uncertainties entailed. Legislation and social security should be adapted to this new reality. Entrepreneurship should encourage rather than be punished.
  5. The Pirates ascertain how the current growth model generates a lot of mental pressure and uncertainty. Pirates advocate setting up experiments with the Basic Income to find answers to the depressing rat race, the burnout culture and increasing inequality. The Pirates do not believe that the financial viability of the Basic Income is the biggest obstacle. On the contrary the lack of political will to present changing power relations is.

The share-culture

  1. The Pirates see how the Internet among others has become a platform for fast, cheap share stuff. This sharing is done both in the real world (tools, vehicles, place to sleep, …) and in the digital world (video and audio clips, …).
  2. The emerging circular share-economy offers opportunities for waste avoid, consume less and reduce our ecological footprint. In fablabs, maker spaces, pick farms and numerous communities build alternatives or hacks of global consumerism.
  3. The access to knowledge, technology and culture is a fundamental civil right. The current legislation concerning intellectual property, copyright and patent however is blocking this access. The Pirates do not accept that large organizations abuse copyright patent in order to protect their own position and make a profit at the expense of the community. It is in the interest of the community to continue to build on the previous achievements in technology, science and art.
  4. The Pirates recognize the importance of intellectual property for authors, artists, scientists or inventors: work and creativity they provide must be recognized and compensated. Pirates promote a curtailment of the copyright term (70 years after the death of the artist), in consultation with various representatives of the creative sector. In addition, the Pirates push forward the basic income as possible and investigate an alternative to the non-transparent artist status.

Sustainability as priority

  1. Ecology and ethics should take precedence over economic efficiency and profit maximization.
  2. Our environment is the most important common. But the health and survival of man and animals are threatened and our planet will be destroyed. Environmental interests and consequences are systematically minimized and ignored in taking economic and political decisions. Pirates advocate a holistic vision that respects the ecological balance and the capacity of the earth.
  3. Economic growth culture is incompatible with the scarcity and finiteness of natural resources. The Pirates believe that we should bet plenty on renewable and clean energy. The production capacity of the earth must be respected. The current overproduction and overconsumption must urgently be curtailed . We have no right to leave our planet behind plundered for the future generations, nor to build here our wealth on exploitation and slavery elsewhere in the world.
  4. According to the Pirates technology and scientific progress offer new opportunities for sustainable living. These should be fully explored and utilized, at the expense of old habits, power structures and lobbying groups.