[pp.int.general] Our ideology

Eric Priezkalns eric.priezkalns at pirateparty.org.uk
Fri Jul 31 13:48:38 CEST 2009


I think you miss the point.  I am saying you should not put the label  
of 'left' on other people.  In this example, you are not respecting  
the rights of people, including people in the Pirate Party, to  
describe themselves as they please.  As Mikko says, the the Pirate  
Party will appeal to people who consider themselves to be on the right  
and to people who consider themselves to be on the left.  If you  
insist that this is a party of the left, you are essentially saying  
that people who think themselves to be on the right are not welcome,  
or must change their way of thinking.  I do not see how that helps us  
achieve our goals.

The language of left and right is unhelpful because individuals see it  
differently.  The use of these words is not subject to common  
agreement.  They seem to be more often used by opponents as insults,  
and people spend a lot of time debating how much to the left-or-right  
a policy is.  It is very common that people describe themselves as  
being more towards the centre than their opponents describe them.  In  
turn it is very common that people describe their opponents as being  
more towards the extreme of left or right, compared to how their  
opponents describe themselves.  In this context, defining and debating  
where the Pirate Party is on left-right spectrum is unhelpful, as we  
are demonstrating by this very discussion!

If individuals use the words 'left' and 'right' differently, then  
there is little to gain by trying to use them to describe the party.   
We would be more productive agreeing and communicating specific  

Of course I am aware of George W. Bush's politics.  I am also aware of  
the politics of the Whigs and the Southern Democrats and other aspects  
of US political history.    The fact you do not like George W. Bush,  
and that he was conventionally described as on the right, and that he  
often talked about liberty, does not mean the Pirate Party must be on  
the left, or that it is wrong to emphasize liberty as our goal.

I note you introduced the word 'progressive' into your description of  
Lincoln's Republicanism.  You use that word because you know there are  
alternative versions of what is on the 'left'.  You wanted to  
distinguish Lincoln from a laissez-faire stance, which could also be  
associated with the political left.  And so now we are talking about  
what the word 'left' means and whether it helps to explain what  
Lincoln did or not.  But probably it would just be easier to just  
describe what Lincoln did and avoid debating whether he was on the  
left or what kind of left he represented.  I picked the Republicans  
precisely because their real political history, like the history of so  
many factions and movements, confounds a simple 'you are either left  
or right' analysis.  I can give other examples if think this example  
is deficient...

I am sorry that you are offended by my comments about the left-right  
spectrum not being helpful, but however you want to view left and  
right, there are many examples of authoritarian leftist governments.   
Perhaps you would recategorize every example of an authoritarian  
leftist government as being 'really' a government of the right... and  
hence why the terms of left and right are so unhelpful.

I am sorry you are upset.  I can see you are upset because of the  
comments you made about bankers, which had nothing to do with what we  
were debating.  But however you feel about bankers, may I observe that  
you are making a generalization?  Is it possible that somebody is both  
a banker, and agrees with our core principles?  Yes, of course it is.   
Is it good political tactics to identify many enemies and try to  
defeat them all?  No, it is not.  The Pirate Party will have plenty of  
political enemies, even if it just narrowly sticks to the core  
principles that we all share.  Diverting into debates about bankers  
and left vs. right is not going to help us win.  Big and radical  
reform movements do not win easily.  If we can make friends on both  
left and right, with bankers as well as bus drivers, we will have a  
better chance of winning.  That is what is on my mind.  I hope you can  
agree with that tactically, even if ideologically it means you have to  
have to sacrifice some of your ambitions in order to realize other  



On 31 Jul 2009, at 12:12, Alex Foti wrote:

> just a quick rejoinder to Eric, to whom i suggest he read the story of
> american freedom by another eric (foner), given that liberty was
> frequently invoked by Dubya Bush and all kinds of witch-hunters before
> him. Lincoln's republicanism was definitely on the progressive left
> and was understood as such in its day (Garibaldi was supposed to fight
> for the Union). Left/right divide is obsolete? Not until bankers get
> trillions while employees get the pink slip.
> freedom ciaos, lx
> On Fri, Jul 31, 2009 at 1:02 PM, Eric
> Priezkalns<eric.priezkalns at pirateparty.org.uk> wrote:
>> I agree with Mikko.  The Pirate Party has no need to define itself  
>> as a
>> party of the left.  I would go further, because I can imagine this  
>> debate
>> will come up again and again.  The left-right spectrum is  
>> simplistic and
>> unhelpful.  We should deliberately avoid placing ourselves on that  
>> spectrum.
>>  It would be better to talk about the specific things we want to do  
>> and the
>> principles that we have.  Talk about whether we are left or right is
>> unlikely to explain what we stand for; it may only cause confusion.
>> Some political theorists have conjectured that the left-right  
>> spectrum is
>> better understood as a circle, rather than a line.  Keep going to  
>> the left,
>> and you end up back at the right.  Anarchists can look like neo-cons.
>>  Authoritarian communists can look like authoritarian fascists.   
>> Even that
>> is simplistic, but it helps to explain why positioning ourselves as a
>> leftist party is not an effective way of communicating our concern  
>> for
>> liberties.  There have been thinkers all over the spectrum who favour
>> liberty.  In contrast, history shows us there have been plenty of  
>> repressive
>> leftist governments, as well as repressive rightist governments.  The
>> driving force in the formation of the US Republican Party was the  
>> abolition
>> of slavery.  Robespierre was responsible for the Terror.
>> The principles we deal with are very international, which is why we  
>> can see
>> parties being formed all over.  But the meaning of 'left' and  
>> 'right', in
>> normal conversation, gets twisted by local cultures.  Obama gets  
>> described
>> as on the left of American politics, but he advocates policies that  
>> would be
>> considered on the right in European countries.  Following the fall  
>> of the
>> Soviet Union, Russian communists were sometimes described as being  
>> on the
>> right, because they opposed liberalization of the market.  If  
>> parties in
>> individual nations find it helpful to describe themselves as to the  
>> left, or
>> to the right, let them do so.  But to describe the whole  
>> international
>> movement as left or right risks failing to understand the impact  
>> that will
>> have in different political cultures.
>> Liberty is a grand enough principle to aim for, without needing to  
>> colour it
>> as of the left or of the right.  If we can stay focused on that  
>> goal, many
>> other aspects of policy will follow.  Voters can understand that.   
>> They
>> might even prefer to hear that.  Sometimes, the debate between left  
>> and
>> right does not work.  Let us avoid it completely.
>> Regards,
>> Eric
>> On 31 Jul 2009, at 11:22, Mikko Särelä wrote:
>>> I don't share your view that the pirate party belongs to the left.  
>>> It
>>> seems to me rather that the pirate party gathers a group of people,
>>> liberal and libertarian both from the left and the right. That is,  
>>> all
>>> those people who agree on the need for certain civil liberties  
>>> (such as
>>> freedom of speech and privacy).
>>> We willingly set aside our differing views on other matters (such as
>>> economic, social policy, etc.) because civil liberties are the  
>>> foundations
>>> on which our western democracies are built - and they are  
>>> threatened.
>>> One way, thus, to explain where we are is to use the political  
>>> compass
>>> (http://www.politicalcompass.org/analysis2 shows the figure). The  
>>> choices
>>> PP has made puts it down and encompasses both right and left.
>>> As a curious note, historically, most parties have gathered both
>>> libertarian and authoritarian people on the left to one (or several)
>>> parties and on the right to one (or several) parties. This has  
>>> scattered
>>> the power of those people who believe in the basic individual  
>>> liberties as
>>> minorities in all the other parties. What I personally hope, is  
>>> that the
>>> PP can unite most (or even most) of those who share this non- 
>>> authoritarian
>>> mind set.
>>> I hazard a guess that the above is something common to most people  
>>> in
>>> pirate party - that is, it is a shared common part of our individual
>>> ideologies. And it is already a very big part of the Pirate Party  
>>> goals
>>> (again freedom of the speech and privacy). And thus part of the  
>>> party's
>>> ideology.
>>> -Mikko
>>> On Fri, 31 Jul 2009, Alex Foti wrote:
>>>> it is, i believe, a widely shared view that the pirate party  
>>>> belongs
>>>> to both the liberal and the libertarian left, as all freedom of  
>>>> speech
>>>> movements before it. it is by no coincindence that it it sits on  
>>>> the
>>>> left of the european parliament, no?
>>>> ciao, lx
>>>> On 7/30/09, Reinier Bakels <r.bakels at planet.nl> wrote:
>>>>>> Still, I think this can be done - and this _needs_ to be done.  
>>>>>> Such
>>>>>> openness is a prerequisite for limiting the power of corporate  
>>>>>> lobbying
>>>>>> (which, I believe, is needed so that we can eventually get to the
>>>>>> copyright reform). It should not be our primary 'populist' goal  
>>>>>> - as it
>>>>>> does not get so many people worked up about. But it does fall in
>>>>>> naturally
>>>>>> with our other goals - and it shows that Pirate Party is not a  
>>>>>> one
>>>>>> trick
>>>>>> pony.
>>>>> I guess that a very basic means to get more people involved in  
>>>>> politics
>>>>> is
>>>>> better communication. No one knows what is happening in Brussels  
>>>>> - so
>>>>> European election results effectively are based on national  
>>>>> politics. A
>>>>> major theme at the last European elections was: are you in  
>>>>> favour or
>>>>> against
>>>>> "more Europe"? That is NOT a decision of the European  
>>>>> Parliament, but of
>>>>> the
>>>>> national parliaments. Politicians make a habit to spread lies.  
>>>>> In more
>>>>> polite words: the political "truth" is often different from the  
>>>>> factual
>>>>> truth. When our Minister of Justice told that in the past years,  
>>>>> so that
>>>>> we
>>>>> need less prisons in the future, there is less and less severe  
>>>>> crime,
>>>>> right-wing politicians politicised this statement and said that  
>>>>> only the
>>>>> police should work harder. For political purposes, the difference
>>>>> between
>>>>> severe crime and feelings of unsafety on the street are  
>>>>> deliberately
>>>>> confused. A drunken hooligan is unpleasant, but it is not a severe
>>>>> criminal.
>>>>> Somehow, it is a checken-and-egg  problem. Newspapers and TV  
>>>>> networks
>>>>> spend
>>>>> little attention to European themes, so no one knows about them,  
>>>>> and no
>>>>> one
>>>>> is interested, so it is is not attractive to make newspaper  
>>>>> articles or
>>>>> TV
>>>>> news items on EU politics. Perhaps there should be an (initially
>>>>> subsidised)
>>>>> European TV network - which should have full journalistic freedom,
>>>>> except
>>>>> that it should concentrate on "Brussels" and "Strassbourg".
>>>>> One could learn from populists that they are often very good
>>>>> communicators
>>>>> (even if the means are occasionally questionable, like  
>>>>> Berlusconi owning
>>>>> TV
>>>>> netwoirks himself). Wilders, a very dangerous fascist Dutch  
>>>>> politican,
>>>>> is a
>>>>> genius in attracting media attention. Of course, PP should  
>>>>> distinguish
>>>>> itself from populists in the sense that it spreads *honest*  
>>>>> messages.
>>>>> Incidentally, in he aftermath of the EP elections, my (Dutch)  
>>>>> newspaper
>>>>> qualified the PP as "populist" from the perception that its sole  
>>>>> purpose
>>>>> was
>>>>> to allow youngsters to download "illegal" content for free. Just  
>>>>> a way
>>>>> to
>>>>> please spoilt children ...  Needless to say that is a stark
>>>>> simplification
>>>>> of the PP objectives!
>>>>> reinier
>>>>> ____________________________________________________
>>>>> Pirate Parties International - General Talk
>>>>> pp.international.general at lists.pirateweb.net
>>>>> http://lists.pirateweb.net/mailman/listinfo/pp.international.general
>>>> ____________________________________________________
>>>> Pirate Parties International - General Talk
>>>> pp.international.general at lists.pirateweb.net
>>>> http://lists.pirateweb.net/mailman/listinfo/ 
>>>> pp.international.general
>>> --
>>> Mikko Särelä
>>> "It is through exchange that difference becomes a blessing, not a
>>> curse", Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of Great Britain
>>> ____________________________________________________
>>> Pirate Parties International - General Talk
>>> pp.international.general at lists.pirateweb.net
>>> http://lists.pirateweb.net/mailman/listinfo/pp.international.general
>> ____________________________________________________
>> Pirate Parties International - General Talk
>> pp.international.general at lists.pirateweb.net
>> http://lists.pirateweb.net/mailman/listinfo/pp.international.general
> ____________________________________________________
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> pp.international.general at lists.pirateweb.net
> http://lists.pirateweb.net/mailman/listinfo/pp.international.general

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