I was blessed by a meeting in Athens last week with several members of the Greek Pirate Party, including the Greek Minister of the Flying Spaghetti Monster Church, Vassilis Perantzakis. His Highness told me that the Pirate Party in Greece needs money: The expensive entrance fee of 25k Euros for the elections, a requirement which is no novelty of the austerity measures. They want to do it via Crowd funding: elections.pirateparty.gr Vassilis is still part of those aspiring politicians, who have not entered the pattern of the leftists towards the hardened, real-world rightwingery. “Tsipras sold himself quite rapidly” according to Vassilis, but “abandoning ideologies and playing by the rules is an unavoidable outcome of politics”, so says Tsipras’ old friend, the Finnish Left Alliance MP Paavo Arhinmäki, whom I also bumped into in downtown Αθήνα.
The etymology of the word pirate means to try, which is a far more pleasant naming of a party basing its policies on free culture and transparency rather than that of war and secrecy. The name originates from the Pirate Bay, a P2P file exchange platform under heavy legal firing.
There are over 32 parties in Greece which take part on the elections (7 of which are seated in the parliament through the threshold of 3% of acquired votes). It’s a large number of parties for such a small country which is partly explained due to the small number of 200 signatures required (a wedding’s equivalent!). The real tricky part is the entrance fee of 25.000 Euros. This money goes to pay state bureaucracy (someone’s new swimming pool?) and for the printing out of the ballot papers. There are 450 pirates in Greece (2000 unregistered) but if all the pirates worldwide pitched in, it would be easy.
Vassilis’ points are ones that any reasonable person would stand for: - The separation of legislative and executive branches in Greece must be boosted - Bureaucracy must be reduced to speed up justice (it takes up to 15 years to wait for a dispute on taxes, in Finland for example it’s a maximum of 6 months) - Corruption must be fought (Greek surgeon doctors usually accept cash only and give back receipts several thousand euros shorter to save on taxes) - More transparency on public affairs and more privacy on personal affairs (e.g. Greek banks sell private information of people who have had surgery to private insurance companies) - A Secular Government with no tax exemptions for churches (there is money for classes on Christianity at Greek schools but not for programming) - A smaller budget for military than the current 2% of GDP - A more united and transparent European Union (Now, around 20.000 immigrants come in to Greece every week. Last year this number was for the whole year.)
The current insurgence of parties Europe wide, such as of the pirate party, is a natural reply to the last decades of selling off of politicians, once left wing oriented, to careerism and self-aggrandizement (remember that the former President of the E.U., Durão Barroso, started off as a Maoist on its youth!) One surely gets tired of swimming against a strong tide and life is surely easier if you acquiesce (see Durão’s retirement!). Indeed citizens are getting tired of politics especially due to politicians. These could be called fanatics, in desperate need for stardom (take say, the Portuguese left wing candidate of AGIR, Joana Amaral Dias who just posed naked and pregnant with her boyfriend touching her from behind, just short of the upcoming Portuguese elections!). Where is democracy in this context heading to?
In a perfect setting, if everyone were to be more informed, a perfect decision could be made jointly (democracy being the rule by the people). But to be well informed takes much time, and the following discussion even longer! That is one “detail” Juha Sipilä, the new prime minister of Finland, was deeply surprised about just after his recent election: “He is frustrated as he thought decisions were done in a quarterly way like in a company” so I was told by Paavo Arhinmäki.
Thus, if one cannot involve all people, we need to move towards a representation. And so we have evolved towards a parliamentary democratic system accepted by most countries, and yes, infested by those attention seeking politicians. We must evolve further as we know that the method of checks and balances failed and fails in preventing abuses of power. We need a further “goldilocks” moment in our political organization, not radicalisms but constructive measures.
And here comes the strongest point of the pirate party: It is advocating for the creation of a direct online voting system so that all citizens who want to be active about decision making can do so (the pirate party already has such an online voting system in its trial version) and for the implementation of alternative online digital currencies which aim to end the centralized and private banking system. This sounds closer to the true ruling system we ought to have: one with no rulers as, yes, EVERYONE rules. One could also name it anarchy, the absence of rulers, a self-regulated system where power by the people (democracy) is exercised. I support anarcho-syndicalism, or democracy in its purest definition, but I do vote despite disagreeing with the current legitimacy of power, as we must work to improve what we have now and avoid radicalisms.The best choice along these lines is then probably a party with a significant pan-European voice and practical measures to break down power structures: pirate party. All the left wing alternative parties in Portugal are filled with attention seeking, immature, irresponsible and unaware wannabe politicians. My vote here will be blank. But alas, there is a pirate party in Greece. I know you will not like to vote for another narcissist politician, but a vote on them is an optimistic and realistic step forward.