What's in a name?

Editor's picture

Many people wonder why we are called the Pirate Party UK. It is certainly an unusual name for a serious political party. However there is a good reason for this, and an interesting explanation. Put simply, our name was gifted to us by the very organisations which we oppose.

Many people in today's society believe in the right of the individual to have freedom of speech and expression, free access to information, free access to our cultural commons, to be free from undue government and corporate interference in our lives and affairs, and for each individual to exercise these rights as they see fit.

Unfortunately, there are also groups of people in society who, motivated by profit or control, would rather this not be the case. These groups believe that the collective arts which we all share should be guarded by a small group of cultural gatekeepers only to be released as they see fit, and entirely on their own terms. They believe that information of great mutual benefit to all of society such as pharmaceutical innovations and paradigm-shifting inventions, should be encumbered by preferential laws and patents, and they are are often vigorous and vicious in invoking the legal process to maintain this status quo. They believe that people should be unduly punished and barred from inclusion in modern society, especially regarding the right of Internet access, simply for doing what comes naturally to all of us and what makes us human: sharing. They believe that the right of the individual to proclaim the truth about a situation or share information that everyone should have a right to know should be subject to their approval, and if they don't like what they hear, then that individual's message should just vanish.

They are aware of the groups of people who think that information and culture should be free and unrestricted for the mutual benefit of all, and they have sought to denigrate them in the public sphere and even downright criminalise them. Thus, they have over the past few years and decades labelled this group of people as 'pirates' in the hopes of conjuring up images of criminals and outlaws, pillaging what they can from the 'decent folk'.

However, this attempt to discredit the cultural pro-freedom groups has backfired on them to the point where they have recently tried to drop the 'pirate' label out of fear of creating a flag to which these people can rally.

Their fears in this regard have already been realised, because that is exactly what has happened. The 'pirates' have become a worldwide movement and spawned an entire subculture in their own right, with millions of progressively-minded people who would describe themselves thus. Many of these people have officially organized and formed legitimate political parties in their respective countries, starting with the Swedish Piratpartiet in 2006, to counter the intense lobbying and creeping legislation in favour of the industry worldwide, at the expense of the public, that has been a hallmark of this last decade. Now in just four short years, there is a Pirate MEP sitting in the EU Parliament representing our beliefs throughout Europe, with another waiting for confirmation, more than 40 individual Pirate Parties worldwide, all interconnected in solidarity through Pirate Parties International, working within the system to effect our ideologies on a massive scale, tens of thousands of volunteers and helpers working every day towards this common goal, and millions more normal, everyday people globally who are happy and proud to identify themselves as a Pirate.

So, the governments and corporations who would prefer that they retain undue control over our shared culture and information, for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many, who would discredit our beliefs and who would cast us as outsiders, sought to give us a label with negative connotations to try and keep us at the fringes of society and our voices unheard. However to their surprise and annoyance, we have taken this label and made it our own, and have used it to rally one of the biggest worldwide political and ideological movements of the last century.

We couldn't have achieved what we have so far on the scale that we have without their help in this regard, and for this, we thank them. We are among hundreds of thousands who are proud to be Pirates.