The Rise of Pirates: Political Identities and Technological Subjectivities in a Network Society

Chapter
Part of the Philosophy of Engineering and Technology book series (POET, volume 27)

Abstract

Rodrigo Saturnino analyses the emergence and ideology of the Pirate Party of Sweden, whose trajectory reflects the ambiguous nature of the Internet. The main aim of this party, which arose in response to technical and legal attacks on the free sharing of information, was to question the legitimacy of the private sector’s drive to monopolize information and thereby restrict civic autonomy.

Its success to date lies in the adoption of a holistic strategy which caters to the needs of different cultural contexts, in line with the basic principles which rely on the technological imaginary. Like Musso with the disciples of Saint-Simon, Saturnino identifies in the Pirate Party’s trajectory a utopian inclination based on the reticular imaginary. But the pirates know that to achieve their reticular democratic imaginary they need to institutionalize the struggle and the resistance, by reiterating the libertarian and techno-utopian nature of the network as a democratic instrument. For the pirates, the rhyzomatic nature of the network, which makes control and surveillance possible and provides the means for a new capitalism, also provides the guidelines for a new path of resistance.

Saturnino’s contribution is also notable for the way he identifies which forms of network allow for polysemantic interpretations and shows how the uses of the Internet depend above all on their technical structure, even if they have their origins in the reticular ideology and imaginary. The fact that information circulating on the Internet has successfully been placed in the service of the market is a prime example of the polysemantics of technical networks and more specifically of the Internet. A second example of this ambiguity is to be found in the paradoxical relationship between the privatization of information and privacy, inasmuch as the logic of the privatization of knowledge has taken place alongside the adoption of policies which disregard users’ privacy. The third example lies in the objectification of contradictory advantages: while on the one hand it encourages the circulation of information, on the other hand it lends itself to control and the institutionalizing of surveillance.

In this sense, because competition for power and the colliding interests of markets and citizens attach to the idea of information and because, in the Pirate Party’s philosophy, information is a common good, not only “are we all connected”, but “we are all pirates” also.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto de Ciências SociaisUniversidade de LisboaLisbonPortugal

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