Wed Apr 11th, 2012 at 08:19:09 AM EST
Today comes news, via Le Monde, that the Pirate Party has surged to third place in a major German poll in advance of next years elections:
Dans la foulée de ses très bons résultats aux élections du Land de Berlin, fin 2011 (8,6 % des voix), le Parti pirate allemand (PiratenPartei, PP) grimpe à grande vitesse dans les sondages. Pour la première fois, un sondage réalisé par l'institut Forsa pour le compte de RTL et du quotidien Stern place les Pirates devant les Verts, avec 13 % des intentions de vote.
Following its very successful election of Berlin, 2011 (8.6% of the vote), the German Pirate Party (Piratenpartei, PP) is rising rapidly in the polls. For the first time, a poll by Forsa institute on behalf of RTL and Stern peg the Pirates ahead of the Greens, with 13% of the vote.
The Berlin elections hailed the second electoral success for the Pirate Party, following the victory in Swedish European elections, where PP gained MEPs, though to date still has no representation in Sweden's legislative body, the Riksdag.
The popularity of PP's stances on intellectual property have provoked other parties in Sweden, notably the Left Party (which does have representation in the Riksdag), to adopt their position. Having surpassed on a membership basis the Green Party in that country in 2006, Swedish founder Rick Falkvinge may well be right to declare the Pirates to be the new Green movement.
And beyond Sweden and Germany, Pirates have grown further afield, even gaining a ministry in Tunisia.
Le PP reste loin derrière la CDU-CSU (36 %) et le SPD (24 %), mais devance dans ce sondage les Verts (11 %) et Die Linke (8 %) pour se hisser à la troisième place. La progression du PP a été très rapide : après avoir plafonné à 2 % des voix après les législatives de 2009, il est parvenu à dépasser le seuil des 5 % nécessaire pour obtenir des députés dans plusieurs élections partielles.
The PP remains far behind the CDU-CSU (36%) and SPD (24%) but ahead of the Greens in this survey (11%) and the Left Party (8%), climbing to third place. The rise of the Pirates has very fast: after reaching a plateau of 2% of the vote after the general election of 2009, it has managed to surpass the 5% threshold needed to be allotted MPs in several by-elections since.
It remains to be seen whether this advance will hold until next year's elections for the Bundestag, but were it to do so, the PP's entry into the German lower house would certainly be an historic event.
La croissance du PP semble se faire aux dépens des Verts et de Die Linke, avec lesquels le parti partage certaines positions sur les sujets sociaux et environnementaux. Il continue cependant de faire campagne principalement sur les thématiques de transparence gouvernementale, de réforme du droit de la propriété intellectuelle et de protection des libertés numériques.
Growth of the Pirate Party seems to be at the expense of the Greens and Left Party, with which the party shares some positions on social and environmental issues. However, it continues to campaign primarily on the themes of transparency in government, law reform and intellectual property protection of digital freedom.
This growing popularity is seen by some commentators as being a boon to the conservative CDU/CSU in Germany, though in truth, this depends a lot on how willing the putatively "left" parties in that government are willing to either adopt and co-opt their key positions or to create alliances with it.
Other observers, including many of the same, assume that the PP's successes are simply a temporary, unsustainable surge, and that they will disappear or become irrelevant after an election or two, much the same way the Hunter and Fisherman party in France has.
However, this misses the fundamental importance of the ideological terrain the Pirates are credibly occupying in the space of intellectual property, in opposition to what Zizek refers to as "the privatisation of the public intellect:"
When "immaterial work" (education, therapy, et c.) is celebrated as the kind of work which directly produces social relations, one should not forget what this means within a commodity economy: namely, that new domains, hitherto excluded from the market, are now commodified. When in trouble, we no longer talk to a friend but pay a psychiatrist or counselor to take care of the problem; children are increasingly cared for not by parents but by paid nurseries or child-minders, and so on. We are thus in the midst of a new process of the privatisation of the social, of establishing new enclosures.
To grasp these new forms of privatisation, we need to critical transform Marx's conceptual apparatus. Because he neglected the social dimension of the "general intellect," Marx failed to envisage the possibility of the privatisation of the "general intellect" itself - and this is what lies at the core of the struggle over "intellectual property."...within this framework, exploitation in the classical Marxist sense is no longer possible, which is why it has to be enforced more and more by direct legal measures...This is why, today, exploitation increasingly takes the form of rent...and this is why direct authority is needed: in order to impose the (arbitrary) legal conditions for extracting rent, conditions which are no longer "spontaneously" generated by the market. Perhaps therein resides the fundamental "contradiction" of today's "post-modern" capitalism: while its logic is deregulatory, "anti-statal," nomadic, deterritorialising and so on, its key tendancy to the "becoming-rent-of-profit" signals a strenghtening of the role of the state whose regulatory function is ever more omnipresent. Dynamic deterritorialisation co-exists with, and relies on, increasingly authoritarian interventions of the state...What one can discern at the horizon...is thus a society in which personal libertarianism and hedonism co-exist with (and are sustained by) a complex web of regulatory state mechanisms. Far from disappearing, the state is today gathering strength.
Slavoj Zizek, First As Tragedy, Then As Farce 2009, Verso, London, pp. 144-45.
Needless to say, while the state is growing more powerful, our people are not at the helm, and the state as guarantor of rent-seeking rather than solidarity is the order of the day. And this is precisely what we are up against, though it is also one of three main contradictions (the present system's inability to guarantee living conditions for those under its purview, and the environment joining the fight for the free sharing of the intellect in this regard) which are the current system's acchille's heal.
The left would do well to be mindful of the Pirates, whose aims may by many be considered "unserious". They occupy critical ideological terrain, which we should be sharing.