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Pirate Party Gaining Strength In Germany

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the patches-for-all dept.

Piracy 242

bs0d3 writes "For the third consecutive regional election, The German Pirate Party has breached the five-percent mark needed to enter the state parliament, winning 8.2 percent of the vote in state of Schleswig-Holstein. From the article: 'The big winners on the night were the Pirates, an upstart party that has shaken up the staid world of German politics with a campaign based on more transparency in the political process and internet freedom.'"

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Arrg-tung! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39912225)

Too easy. Mod me down.

Re:Arrg-tung! (1)

formfeed (703859) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912881)

Too easy. Mod me down.

Which some bozo apparently did..

Re:Arrg-tung! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39913245)

Power of suggestion, you know.
 
Mod me up!

Yar! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39912235)

Yo ho!

you're lyrics are weak (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39912239)

like clock radio speakers

All the Crap (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39912273)

...going on in the world that nations need to address and these fucks run for office so they can download shit for free.

Re:All the Crap (2)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912299)

Maybe they will be able to make a valuable contribution to the situation in the seas off the horn of Africa.

Re:All the Crap (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39912305)

They already could "download shit for free" before. If you're pro-censorship on the Internet, WTF are you doing here anyway?

Re:All the Crap (5, Insightful)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912313)

I'd mod you flamebait but instead....

All this shit that's happened is because a handful of uber rich fucks are in bed with a handful of uber powerful fucks. The pirate party is for exposing that and being more open. Why do we have dinosaur-lifespan copyright? Because Disney is in bed with the US congress. And every other country is in bed with US Congress, at least when it comes to copyright.

So let's shine a light on what's going on between the sheets.

Re:All the Crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39912387)

I think the OP was talking about problems aside from copyright issues.
 
WOOSH!!!

Re:All the Crap (5, Insightful)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912427)

And so was I. Look at the big winners in the housing market bubble. Who came out on top, and who lost? This was possibly the biggest transfer of wealth from the middle class to the uber wealthy in modern history. How many of the uber rich have lost everything? How many middle class people have?

Re:All the Crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39912467)

No. You mention the "uber rich" than go on a rant about copyright. If your intent was outside the scope of copyright you did an exceptionally bad job in presenting your larger point.

Re:All the Crap (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39912669)

No, he said a lot of problems are caused by rich and powerful corrupting the political process, and then gave an example using copyright law.

Re:All the Crap (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39913011)

People should have really listened to the lecturers in Economics 101.

It doesn't make sense to own your own home. Period. Why pretty much every government is advocating home ownership is beyond me (Granted, it used to be wealth that was relatively hard to tap into, thus forcing medium income peeps to save up, but nowadays even that's not true). There are only a few cases where home ownership makes sense; First, if it is a really truly unique home that simply is not available on the rental market (Not many of these around, and in any way when you can afford them, they won't make even close to 40% of your net worth), or second, if there is a price regulation scheme in place for this home, but most of the homes in the area are not in the said scheme, and the regulated price is less than 50% of market value of comparable homes

The housing bubble was, and still is, akin to convincing 85% of the population that it's a wise idea to take out a loan for $400k and invest it in a single non-liquid commodity, when your annual pre-tax, pre-expense income is less than $100k. Would anyone in the middle class march to the bank and take out a loan for $400k to buy shares of a single company?

My advice, if you want to stay in the real estate market, buy stake in a REIT or similar depending on your locality, and don't fall into the trap of thinking of home ownership as investing

Disclaimer: I'm a real estate investor, and I rent

Re:All the Crap (4, Insightful)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 2 years ago | (#39913219)

It doesn't make sense to own your own home. Period.

It (usually) doesn't make sense to own your own home as an investment. Otherwise, the above sentence is completely moronic, as most absolute blanket statements tend to be.

Re:All the Crap (1)

Sique (173459) | more than 2 years ago | (#39913535)

I did some experimental runs with a real estate administration software which was the main result of a project I worked with and I compared it with alternate investments or none at all for different income, taxation and interest levels.

There was a clear picture: A very narrow band of income actually profits from investing in a house, because they can then save on rent, and the savings on rent and the investment in real estate in sum trumped the possible income of paying rent and investing the surplus into mutual funds or other means of relatively safe investments. It was at the lower bound of income. If someone can barely pay for the rent, it doesn't pay to invest in real estate. If, after paying the rent, the income surplus is above a certain amount, it does pay to invest it into a mutual fund instead of paying off a debt for a house.

The higher interest on a loan together with the necessary maintenance for a house makes it unattractive in most cases to use a house bought on a loan as an investment. The case is different if you can buy the house with money you already have, then the savings on rent might offset the cost of maintenance for your property and thus yield some interest on the not payed rent.

Re:All the Crap (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912483)

I'm pretty sure that the parent's point is that the problems of transparency, regulatory capture, questionably-representative democracy, and such are also at play in the context of many issues aside from copyright. Given the involvement of those issues in such minor matters as the EU's ugly 'austerity vs. popular opinion' and 'web censorship and surveillance: awesome or mega awesome?' controversies, this isn't a hard point to argue for...

(Also, in the context of a parliamentary system, it is much more usual to have assorted issue-focused parties that don't need to have an opinion on all matters because their expected outcome is to end up as part of a coalition government with one or more other parties that bring other positions to the table. Given voter inertia, it is as illogical as it is unproductive to form a new party with too significant an overlap with an existing one, so you expect upstart parties to be mainly focused on some issue they feel to have been previously unaddressed or mis-handled, with the assumption that whatever coalition they end up in will take care of issues on which they don't differ significantly from the mainstream.)

Re:All the Crap (5, Interesting)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912523)

Specific links:

Media lives on copyright and money infusions from its owners.
Corrupt politicians live on media support.
Extremely rich own the media.

Politicians extent copyright granting media unprecedented ability to control information through legal means. Media pays back by not reporting on major issues that are harmful to political system that births such politicians (aka voluntary self-sensorship such as lack of coverage of occupy protests in USA causing a historic collapse on the reporters without borders media freedom chart).

And with extremely rich controlling both politicians and media they can ensure that laws that transfer wealth from poor and middle class to them are written and enacted while media keeps telling you that it's fair to have such laws.

Re:All the Crap (5, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912543)

The people who caused the copyright issues caused many (most?) of the other issues. Fix the people supporting copyright, and you'll fix many of the other issues.

Re:All the Crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39912767)

So... are they doing credit default swaps and derivatives yet, with copyrights as the underlying assets?

No?

I'll have to get in touch with JP Morgan...

Re:All the Crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39913443)

Fix the people supporting copyright, and you'll fix many of the other issues.

So what exactly broke? Exhaust issues are easy, carburetors are more expensive but gearboxes are a nightmare.

Shine a light ... like this ... maplight.org ...? (5, Interesting)

bd580slashdot (1948328) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912485)

maplight.org matches how politicians get paid by donors with how they vote and displays the correlations as nice graphics.

Cool ... Lessig thinks so too.

How to deal with this corruption?

Lawrence Lessig has a good idea about this:
search for his talk titled "How money corrupts Congress and a plan to stop it" on fora.tv and other sites.

Re:All the Crap (1)

Ranguvar (1924024) | more than 2 years ago | (#39913057)

I _knew_ the US Congress was a whore.

Re:All the Crap (5, Insightful)

colinrichardday (768814) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912363)

They also host Wikileaks. They have a broader view of internet freedom than merely downloading in violation of copyright.

Re:All the Crap (2)

scourningparading (2633143) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912397)

That could be said about the people who are doing shit like taking down websites (like Megaupload) which allow people to download copyrighted material. They're addressing extremely insignificant issues, wasting taxpayer money, hurting innocents, and enabling censoring (hurting innocents).

so they can download shit for free

They already can. Some people just want it to be legal. But you should have no complaints, right? That's the most peaceful way to go about it.

Re:All the Crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39913005)

Your post is another reason why the pirate party winning is a good thing. Hopefully it can help the government stop worrying so much about serving the rich through IP enforcement and start worrying about more important things, like serving its citizens.

Re:All the Crap (0, Flamebait)

sjwt (161428) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912805)

Interesting though, about an 8% vote for the Pirate party in Germany, and about an 8% vote for the Nazi party in Greece..

Greek neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party [news.com.au]

Re:All the Crap (1)

Baki (72515) | more than 2 years ago | (#39913447)

Saving money is one of todays big challenges for states.
Stop waisting money on "intellectual property" seems like an excellent plan to me.

Given the colleteral damage of limiting free speech, dangers of abuse and censorship, it is more than just wanting to download for free.

Another criticism is the one issue character of the pirate party. I fail to see what is wrong with that. In a democracy, if an issue is being ignored by established parties for a period of time, it is only right to start a party to change this and deal with the issue. Why should every party have a 100% "vision" for society, and not just be focussed to reach a particular goal which has the support of a majority of the population?

Re:All the Crap (1)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 2 years ago | (#39913555)

Somebody on the internet did it, somebody actually finally did it. It's too common to mix up 'you're' and 'your'. You went and mixed up 'waist' and 'waste'. Well done Sir.

Can someone explain to me (3, Interesting)

gagol (583737) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912311)

Aside from the obvious position of the party concerning copyright and p2p technologies, what exactly are the Pirate Party political positions.

Re:Can someone explain to me (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39912325)

Could someone explain to me how the fuck you think you DESERVE to post on slashdot and can't even figure out how to go to the source online and find out for your fucking self, you tool?

Re:Can someone explain to me (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39912361)

Anonymous FUCKING Coward, please contribute to conversation if you think YOU DESERVE a right to post here.

Re:Can someone explain to me (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39912583)

Says the Anonymous Coward...

Re:Can someone explain to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39912751)

Ok, guys, I am sorry. excuse me :)

Re:Can someone explain to me (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39912395)

Yeah! *This* is the type of person that deserves to post on Slashdot! You fucking fuck tool! Fuck! Go Linux!

Re:Can someone explain to me (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39912337)

Ten minutes and Google would have given you all the info you needed [lmgtfy.com] .

Re:Can someone explain to me (1)

gagol (583737) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912379)

Thank you sir. The thread is SO trashy, I tought about a little something constructive to help generate on topic conversation.

Re:Can someone explain to me (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39912345)

You'd think Slashdot users would know how to use Google or Wikipedia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pirate_party [wikipedia.org]

Re:Can someone explain to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39912367)

Those 2 issues are worthy political positions. As for the rest, germany has multiple political parties and political coalitions are the order of the day. The same for france, italy, spain, the netherlands etc... Every advanced western country has a parlamentary system with multiple political parties and coalitions. A reality that is very much alien to americans and its 2 party system (alike in everything but name).

Re:Can someone explain to me (2)

gagol (583737) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912399)

As a Canadian under a Tory government elected with fraud that got majority in parliement with around 1/3 of the votes, I can attest our political system is very archaic compared to europeans ones. I strongly believe we should adopt this model ASAP, but I am afraid I will have to expatriate to get a political system that somewhat works. Thanks for being on topic.

Re:Can someone explain to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39912645)

Germany has half a dozen parties, and yet when I hear about their policies and the results all I see is the same status quo Americans get with only two, with the possible addition of Germany's cultural love of protesting early, often, and just for the hell of it.

Re:Can someone explain to me (4, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912377)

http://www.piratenpartei.de/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/parteiprogramm-englisch.pdf [piratenpartei.de]

They don't seem to have an overt foreign policy platform; but I'm going to take the wild guess that they aren't particularly hawkish.

Re:Can someone explain to me (5, Interesting)

gagol (583737) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912423)

It seems, fomr a very quick overview that Pirate Party is very interrested in giving people more power using new technologies and "direct democracy". That is very compelling to me, I will certainly join my local chapter. Thanks for the link.

Re:Can someone explain to me (5, Informative)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912541)

From what I understood, the German PP tries to advocate the original direct democracy over the current representative democracy by utilizing social networking as a forum for collecting votes on each issue within the party. The problem with system itself originally was scaling, it simply didn't scale well beyond small city-state sized community and only now do we have realistic technological means to try to make it actually work on larger scale.

There are some issues with this approach, but it's certainly far more democratic then various representative democratic systems we currently have in the West.

Re:Can someone explain to me (5, Insightful)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912697)

Honestly, direct democracy doesn't scale very well above a village level population, let alone a small city. The problem is that the issues quickly become complex enough and numerous enough that keeping abreast of them is a full time job. Yes, it is useful to get everyone's input for some major piece of infrastructure. But for direct democracy to really work you have to find a way to get the population just as engaged with reviewing the sanitary regulations.

What you quickly get is a small class of 'professional' politicians who guide and control the general votes. But since it theoretically remains a direct democracy you get none of the necessary controls and safeguards intentionally built into any sane representative democracy. And since the full time politicians don't enjoy the same official position that they would in a representative democracy they typically find less official ways to compensate themselves.

I'll take a well designed representative democracy built around proportional representation or preferential voting (or some mix of the two) any day over the nasty mess of a large scale direct democracy.

Re:Can someone explain to me (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912785)

Interesting analysis. Nice.

Hybridization? (3, Interesting)

Immerman (2627577) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912891)

You raise a good point, but it seems equally apparent that representative democracies pretty much universally fall prey to corruption. I don't know the details of how Germany's government works, but in a US context where our congressional branch is split into a Senate that represents each state equally and a House of Representatives that represents each state based on population, I've often thought that the latter might be profitably replaced with a direct democracy. Or perhaps a third "House of Commons" branch could be added with any two branches being able to override the third. Or maybe just give the Commons the ability to veto and repeal laws unilaterally to keep the career folks in line.

There's lots of different ways it could be implemented, and I think now that the technology has made it possible it would be good for governments to start exploring ways in which direct democracy could be integrated into the system. Probably not replacing the existing structure, as you point out you'll have trouble getting the populace interested in a lot of the menial details of governing, but it seems like some measure of direct voice would help to counteract the creeping spread of corruption and cronyism. Even if it's largely advisorial to start with - if politicians had a central source where they could get direct information as to the leanings of their constituents who care enough to take part, perhaps even draw upon them for suggestions - I imagine something like an "Ask Slashdot" about how a bill under consideration could be improved. And I do think veto power would be a good thing, even if the bar is set pretty high to start with - say you need 60-70% of participants to vote against it, with some minimum quorum of citizens participating. Basically a leash to keep the representatives in check on specific issues rather than being limited to replacing them entirely.

Re:Hybridization? (2)

Znork (31774) | more than 2 years ago | (#39913211)

First-past-post systems like the US or UK tend to be worse than proportional representation so they don't give a completely fair view of representative democracies. When you basically just have to buy two candidates to win each election corruption becomes very cheap. Proportional systems are slightly less susceptible as the population has a chance to get someone who represents them into power and the corruption tends to take a while.

The Swiss system where a number of citizens can call a vote on an issue seems fairly reasonable.

Of course, having more "input", like a popular veto, into the political process may make it more difficult to pass laws, but then again, personally I've gotten to be of the opinion that if you can't pass a law with more than 75% of the population in favour, then just maybe it's a bad law and you shouldn't be passing it. Laws are not an end to themselves (except for the lawyer profession).

Re:Hybridization? (1)

Immerman (2627577) | more than 2 years ago | (#39913463)

I'll give you the first-past-the-post criticism, I'd *love* to have a proportional system in the US, but as you said it only slows down the spread of corruption, we still need to find weapons to actually fight back with, and I think direct democracy (preferably the kind that doesn't involve violent revolution) is probably the only one with a real chance of success. Politicians will likely always be for sale*, whether they're bought with campaign contributions before they're elected, cushy jobs after their terms, or outright bribery doesn't make a lot of difference. We have to find ways of limiting the damage when it happens. Personally I think political corruption in a democracy should be prosecuted as treason, after all The People are held as the supreme power of the nation, to betray them is is to betray The State, but somehow I don't see such a provision getting much legislative support...

* One possible exception - require all politicians to be recorded and broadcast 24/7 from the moment they enter the race until they leave office. Their every conversation, gesture, and facial expression belong to the people for as long as they serve. Especially in surveillance societies this would be hard to ague against, seems like the populace should get more comprehensive information than the politicians they employ. Alternately we develop accurate, easily interpretable lie detectors and establish the expectation that they be connected and readily visible whenever a politician is acting in an official capacity. Actually I prefer this one - gives politicians their privacy and allows for the keeping of state secrets, while simultaneously making cynical manipulation of the populous more difficult.

Re:Can someone explain to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39912955)

You can do direct democracy by initiative and referendum (interfere with politics when there's demand for doing so).

Or we now could allow people to ad-hoc switch representatives (obviously based on the full disclosed track record on how each representative used his allocated votes), Or even vote directly on individual bills, without any representatives in between.

Either option has direct democracy without any real restraints to what it can do in a legal sense, while having a reasonable representative element for those who do not care that much - all while allowing SOME immediate action if any of the representatives screws up.

An argument for direct democracy (5, Interesting)

Geof (153857) | more than 2 years ago | (#39913007)

Your critique of naive direct democracy - that leaders arise, but are informal and therefore not subject to safeguards - is an excellent one. But it's not enough.

Consider that the United States today suffers under exactly this scenario. Informal unelected elites have captured the levers of power to the point where the U.S. is not looking much like a democracy any more. This was accomplished despite the excellence of the design of the American system the strength of democratic principles among the American people - a citizenry still fairly engaged, and which was formerly also relatively well educated and informed.

Democracy is often present as the mechanism through which individuals, born citizens with their own preferences and interests, express and negotiate those preferences and interests, ideally with an eye to the common good. According to many advocates of direct democracy, this is wrong. We are not born citizens. It is not citizens who create democracy: rather it is the practice of democracy that creates citizens. We do not come to politics as individuals with already developed preferences and interests. It is by engaging with others in public discourse and debate that we learn to be citizens, to reason, to participate in public discourse, and through this process we discover and develop our preferences and interests. Democracy is thus a process of education. One of the great failings of representative democracy is that instead of treating us as active and evolving partners, it relegates us to the role of disengaged consumers who occasionally choose one option over another.

Yet realistically, even if we were to provide the perfect mechanism for people to participate, most of us, lacking interest and starved of time, wouldn't: with results like those you describe. One intriguing alternative draws on the jury system and the elections of ancient Athens. Decisions would be made not by professional politicians, but by randomly-selected groups of citizens with their range of private expertise. Such groups would be charged with investigating a particular issue for a period of time, after which they would disband.

I realize juries (chosen by counsel more for ignorance than independent thought) are typically reported as dysfunctional, and I don't doubt that this is so. Yet it only confirms that we do not know how to be citizens: and when it is demanded of us, we fail. Through failure, though, we can learn, and teach others. Forming a jury today, when virtually no one has substantial experience, amounts to throwing together a bunch of greenhorns and expecting them to spontaneously become experts.

For an idealized view of how a jury can teach its participants to be jurors, I suggest the film 12 Angry Men. I admit am not convinced of the wisdom of such a system. But if I was forced to choose, I would place my fate in the hands of a court rather than a politician. I would trust a random selection of my fellow citizens over a self-selected professional of politics. For with the crises we face today, our common fate is indeed the question.

Re:An argument for direct democracy (1)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 2 years ago | (#39913357)

Your critique of naive direct democracy - that leaders arise, but are informal and therefore not subject to safeguards - is an excellent one.

I disagree. It's a trivial one, and it doesn't address the basic improvement to "direct democracy" that has been with it from the start: lotteries. (Al least you do).

This was accomplished despite the excellence of the design of the American system

Excellence? By their fruits ye shall know them. The framers of the US constitution had many objectives, but all of them wanted to defend and foster a "natural" aristocracy of some kind. Most of them considered the disposessed merely a threat to the stability of the state, not persons with a legitimate stake in the system (which is why a certain level of wealth was a prerequisite of voting rights). For a long while, thanks in large part to Abe Lincoln and the civil war, the document's aristocratic values took the backseat to the more populistic ones it also contains.

The reason American juries are dysfunctional, is that they mandate unanimity. They are also (as a consequence of this dynfunctionality, apparent to all) not very randomly selected at all. The Athenians, in many matters, did not allow their juries to deliberate: They had an intutitive appreciation that a jury's collective choice (by majority voting) will only be good if they form their opinions independently.

Re:Can someone explain to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39913087)

"direct democracy doesn't scale very well above a village level population, let alone a small city."

I don't know, it seems to work fairly well even for a small country, the size of, say Switzerland.

Re:Can someone explain to me (1)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 2 years ago | (#39913309)

But for direct democracy to really work you have to find a way to get the population just as engaged with reviewing the sanitary regulations.

That was invented 2500 years ago, it's a shame that you haven't heard about it: Sortition, or selection by lot.

Re:Can someone explain to me (2)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39913497)

There's a middle ground here, realistically there's 7 parties in our parliament so my vote amounts to <3 bits of information every four years, maybe 5 bits on the outside if you include every party. Make that ~1 bit in the US. You're right I don't want to read the thousands of pages from every committee and proposal at work in the political system and manage every line item in the budget, but I don't have to be involved at every step of the way. If I got to vote on say 20-50 major changes each years for 80-200 bits of input instead of ~3 over a four year period that'd be great. Particularly when it comes to making things legal or illegal it's a simple binary question that is easy to answer.

This is how pretty much every modern version of direct democracy works, everyone can start an initiative but you need to collect signatures to get it on the agenda. It prevents the whole problem with flash mobs, sure a flash mob can get it put to a vote but you can't pull a fast one that's not in line with the general population. And I'd get to make a direct say in specific cases, I don't have to deal with misrepresenting parties because today I have little recourse when they abuse my vote. With so few choices they're still going to be on my shortlist next election and the other parties do it too. I'd love to see the possibility of their decisions getting overturned by a direct referendum, it'd make all politics more honest.

Re:Can someone explain to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39913527)

The people don't need to vote on every issue. I'd be happy if we just had the option of direct democracy: if 51% of the population can be bothered to learn about an issue and vote on it, their representatives shouldn't be able to override them.

Re:Can someone explain to me (1)

lakeland (218447) | more than 2 years ago | (#39913549)

I agree with your critique but there's plenty of ways of addressing it. To pick one, everybody gets to vote on any issue or grant their vote to a proxy. That would lead to popular proxies getting many votes and so effectively create a different sort of politician.

I'm not saying my suggestion is perfect - for instance knowing your support can vanish in a flash is likely to lead to extremely cautious decision making (fear of rocking the boat). I just wanted to point out that the direct democracy strawman has slightly more legs than you've implied.

Re:Can someone explain to me (2)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912727)

More democratic, yes, but democratic isn't a synonym for good.

Representative governments (huge caveat: when working properly) are superior to direct democracy because the average voter doesn't have enough time to become informed on every issue. Instead, they find someone they trust, and give that person a full time job investigating issues and voting appropriately. It's a great system, except that in practice whoever we hire ends up getting bought off. The way to fix it is through draconian regulations on campaign finance and public/private sector crossover. For example, if you hold public office, you're banned from private sector employment for at least X years. We'd need to pay them pensions, but that's a small price compared to the amount of money wasted on kickbacks.

Abandoning the system altogether and instituting a direct democracy would just hand more power than ever to the demagogues who have already mastered the art of manipulating public opinion.

Re:Can someone explain to me (2)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912759)

There are some issues with this approach, but it's certainly far more democratic then various representative democratic systems we currently have in the West.

The question, of course, is whether we really want a true democracy.

"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." -- Winston Churchill

If you could have an idealised system where (a) anyone who cared enough to get properly informed on an issue and develop a considered opinion had earned the right to vote on that issue, (b) any time an issue required significant debate there was magically a freely available forum to host that debate, and (c) enough money grew on trees to pay for anyone interested in a particular subject to spend their time getting informed and debating about it before voting, then sure, I could buy into that.

In practice, since we can never have such a system, I think some form of representative democracy is the best we can achieve. However, we could do a lot better than we do in most places today at keeping those representatives honest. We could start by mandating a right to force a referendum on any single issue, removing the problem where someone who the population mostly agree with can push through other measures once elected even if the population as a whole is strongly opposed to those measures, for example because it gains the representative favour with powerful special interests. Then introduce a power of recall, removing the problem that politicians only need to care about the people they supposedly represent within a memory span of an election cycle, and we'd really be getting somewhere.

If you're going to take advantage of modern technology's ability to organise mass consultation far more easily and cheaply than before, I would suggest measures like these rather than anything resembling literal direct democracy on all matters. Use the Internet to run a consultation day, perhaps annually or even semiannually, so that the elected representatives still have a reasonable period of time to explore an issue and propose their response, but the general population can contribute to or even override big decisions frequently enough that they can't be ignored.

Re:Can someone explain to me (1)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 2 years ago | (#39913237)

The question, of course, is whether we really want a true democracy.

Absolutely, unequivocally, no.

Direct democracies can be beneficial to a point, but it's harder to create a tyranny of the majority if there is a systematic framework in place which makes changing certain aspects of governmental operation incredibly difficult. All one need do is look at any number of societies in existence now and in the past, where support for incredibly horrible practices was near-universal, to understand why completely unfettering the vote is a terrible idea.

Re:Can someone explain to me (1)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 2 years ago | (#39913297)

From what I understood, the German PP tries to advocate the original direct democracy over the current representative democracy by utilizing social networking as a forum for collecting votes on each issue within the party. The problem with system itself originally was scaling, it simply didn't scale well beyond small city-state sized community and only now do we have realistic technological means to try to make it actually work on larger scale.

It's a bit sad how this myth continues to spread, with no one looking at what ancient direct democracy was like at all.

(Not that the Pirates are any better, sadly).

Athenian democracy was based on sortition, the drawing of lots. Most decisions weren't done in the assembly - what we associate with direct democracy today. They were done by representative samples of eligible citizens.

It did scale. In fact, they moved towards increasing reliance on juries and decreased reliance on the assembly, precisely because they saw the scalability problems associated with "direct democracy" as we know it. They understood that what we today call direct democracy was not necessarily more democratic. They understood that voting was inherently supportive of oligarchy, as drawing of lots was for democracy. (The "direct democracy" forum of Athens was also shared by their hyperaristocratic neighbour Sparta).

The kind of internet "democracy" the Pirates use is of course extremely vulnerable to be couped by demagogic loudmouths, people who can afford to have an opinion on everything and be loud and persistent about it. Unless they (re)discover sortition, I expect the Pirates to ditch these experiments as the failures they are and become a conventional political party.

Re:Can someone explain to me (1)

colinrichardday (768814) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912713)

Correct, they're more parrotish.

Re:Can someone explain to me (1)

CheerfulMacFanboy (1900788) | more than 2 years ago | (#39913313)

They don't seem to have an overt foreign policy platform; but I'm going to take the wild guess that they aren't particularly hawkish.

Piss poor pirates they arrrrgh.

Re:Can someone explain to me (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912503)

Follow the cash as with any of the smaller 'new' parties around the world. Someone is funding "youth" groups as larger and traditional parties fail to win clean, clear political victories.
The type of person? Mostly the 20-30 something, never really worked and did 6 years of French or 4 of Maths.
They dream of publishing a book or making a movie or some open source project. Drive a very expensive Euro car, enjoy blogging about distilled beverages, wealthy parents look after them.
i.e. lost in post-college existence and clinging to some ideology that others in their clique seem to have found.
If a party survived registration and court challenges to get on the ballot and still has way too much working capitol .....
If your German expect to meet a few BND, BfV and ex MfS contractors whispering about 'other' options long term.

Re:Can someone explain to me (2)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 2 years ago | (#39913363)

Give me some more descriptions of what you imagine your political opponents to be like!

Re:Can someone explain to me (4, Informative)

echnaton192 (1118591) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912721)

http://wiki.piratenpartei.de/wiki/images/0/03/Parteiprogramm-englisch.pdf [piratenpartei.de]

This is the manifesto in english. The changes to this manifesto need 2/3 of votes on a party conference.

The statues are not available in english, so I'll post the translated German version:
  http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&ie=UTF8&twu=1&q=piratenpartei+grundsatzprogramm?sl=auto&tl=en&u=http%3A//wiki.piratenpartei.de/Bundessatzung%0A [google.com]

As for the rest (positions, election program) please try to find it yourself or ask.

Re:Can someone explain to me (4, Interesting)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912729)

It's quite interesting here in Germany - they've definitely got my vote, mainly because they've more or less stated, "We don't know everything about every issue, and are unwilling to voice statements or views on these issues until we've had time to look at them."

Compared to other politicians and parties, who will just start blowing hot air in order to save face, that's very refreshing. They don't seem to be quite sure where they're going, but at least they have the balls to admit it. Basic direction is on their website though (just run it through Google Translate).

Oh, and they seem to be kicking out anyone who's ever had anything at all to do with the modern Nazi parties, which is always a good thing.

Re:Can someone explain to me (4, Interesting)

bfandreas (603438) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912873)

It's a new party and like the Green party before it the PP will be housebroken in a few decades.
In the meantime they refreshingly don't have a stance on everything since they don't need a party line for each issue. That's what their members got their own minds for.
They do fill the hole the FDP(liberal party) left when they jettisoned their social-liberal wing and became a pure party for tax exemptions for their voters.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: if Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger gets kicked out of government for resisting implementation of EU snooping laws then I do hope she finds a home with PP. A politician with a nearly flawless track record is a very rare thing.

Being a liberal party they have their own problems how to deal with members who have a crap, neo-Nazi past. Which got blown way out of proportion by their political rivals, I may add. The past 5 years most parties had their own problems with extremist idiots.

Re:Can someone explain to me (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912915)

Let me see if I have this right - they have your vote because they admit they can't be bothered to keep up to date on the issues?

Compared to other politicians and parties, who will just start blowing hot air in order to save face

Oh, the Pirate Party is blowing hot air too - you just refuse to realize it.

Re:Can someone explain to me (5, Insightful)

bfandreas (603438) | more than 2 years ago | (#39913167)

You are quite off with your hot air remark. They do avoid this like the plague. In fact they remain silent if they don't have anything to say.

Let me give you an example how this not having a stance on everything manifests itsself.

In Germany a very popular question to ask a politician is his opinion on Israel. That's a political minefield. Anything you say will be used against you.
Some media bozo asked the new head honcho of the PP. His reply was that they didn't need to have an opinion on Israel and that the voters wouldn't punish that. Shimon Stein(former ambassador for Israel in Berlin) went on record that this is potentially the right way to start a constructive public discussion in Germany and Schlömer does deserve credits for his authentic and and honest answer instead of giving the usual knee-jerk formulaic answer any hardened politician would give. Which would have been that safety of Isreal is important as is the end to the Israel/Palestinian conflict.

Stein's original opinion piece(German): http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/0,1518,830968,00.html [spiegel.de] Honesty is a forgotten virtue in politics. It's nice if established politicians notice that. I wouldn't mind if this were common place.

This weekend was a major election weekend throughout Europe. Of course there were lots and lots of political talkshows featuring the usual talking heads. One of those had Jo Ponader from the PP in it. He spent most of his time twittering and listening. The most noteworthy thing he said was that he only had to sit there and smile since the representatives of the other parties did all his campaigning and called them a garrulous lot.
At the moment the PP gathers the votes of the disappointed and propably is a protest party. But over the past few months they have gained much substance and have the potential to become more than an experiment. At the moment they have a couple of teething problems. But the next few years will show what becomes of them.

I'm willing to vote for the experiment. Any party you vote for potentially fails you, so I willingly went with the experiment. It does help that they lean into the social-liberal direction I prefer and interestingly there is no party in Germany that fits into that political spectrum. This has a lot of potential.

Re:Can someone explain to me (2)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39913613)

But over the past few months they have gained much substance and have the potential to become more than an experiment. At the moment they have a couple of teething problems. But the next few years will show what becomes of them.

In 2009 when they got 2% in the national election they were an experiment, getting 8% of the votes is something that's already resonated with a large part of the population. Most parties go make-or-break on the minimum limit that is 5% in Germany I believe, either you get above it and become established or you fall below it and fizzle. Berlin, Saarland, Schleswig-Holstein and in a week Nordrhein-Westfalen they're now passing and not with 5.1% but way past. Unless they screw this up themselves, I think the Pirate Party is here to stay.

Incidentally... (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912347)

While the assorted techie shenanigans of the previous thread are all good fun, this sort of (much more difficult, and much less entertaining) work is arguably a much better strategy to keep your intertubes open.

Dodging the man is fun and all, and certainly can beat the alternatives; but playing cat-and-mouse with state power can be a poor long term strategy. You have to get away with it every time. They only have to catch you once...

Re:Incidentally... (1)

rodarson2k (1122767) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912477)

Agreed. I've really been idling my brain with the idea of finding a viable third party idea that the dissatisfied 88% of the country can get behind, and I think that a party like the pirate party would do a good job. Unfortunately, the name is a serious problem for American voters...and at the same time there's no good way to get the publicity and initial support without the name.

Re:Incidentally... (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912521)

I'm certainly no pollster or focus-group junkie(nor do I doubt that there are better options than 'Pirate Party'); but there have been a number of stories in the past year or two about entertainment-industry flacks complaining that 'pirate', the term of abuse that they had worked so hard to assign to copyright infringers, had acquired a too-positive public image through some combination of the PR effects of genuine ideological sympathy, Johnny Depp, and Captain Morgan...

Re:Incidentally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39912625)

Why Don't you try "Liberal Party", I'm sure that would be even more loaded a name

Re:Incidentally... (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912689)

It's called "independent" and it's the only party that should be allowed in a representative democracy anyway.

Re:Incidentally... (4, Insightful)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912761)

Agreed. I've really been idling my brain with the idea of finding a viable third party idea that the dissatisfied 88% of the country can get behind, and I think that a party like the pirate party would do a good job. Unfortunately, the name is a serious problem for American voters...and at the same time there's no good way to get the publicity and initial support without the name.

Nor is there any real substantial access to matching Federal funds available to any 3rd Party candidate. If you're not a Republicrat (and I use that word to mean both wings of the Party, Democrat and Republican, it's all the same anymore except for transient soundbyte generating fluff disguised as Vital Issues), you're pretty much out of the consideration, especially when the Party keeps saying 'If you vote 3rd party, you're wasting your vote!! Vote for us instead!'

With zero options, and the Party finally being upfront about it, the 88% just doesn't vote anymore, they're smart enough to know there are no real choices, just different sets of meat puppets with the same set of hands up their asses.

How about (1)

Immerman (2627577) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912919)

The People's Party. Their platform could be focused on government transparency and accountability, some candidates might even incorporate certain aspects of direct democracy to guide their voting on issues not related to their platform.

Yeah, sounds rather similar to another party with the same initials but as you say it's all in the name.

Re:How about (1)

bfandreas (603438) | more than 2 years ago | (#39913197)

You do NOT want to use that name. It sounds very much like the Partido Popular in Spain and they carry on them the stink of the Falange. I do vividly recall how they deperately tried to pin the Madrid bombings on ETA because it was election sunday. Nobody bought it. That alone made them despicable, trying to turn an election over corpses before they even were identified.
There is a reason why Francisco Ibanez uses a swooping vulture when he depicts their party emblem.

And that's only ONE People's Party for you. Not a good name.

Finally! (3, Funny)

The Evil Atheist (2484676) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912357)

Global warming will be reduced a bit.

yeay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39912381)

Germany FTW

Why Not Support the Remaining 99% to Also Steal? (0, Flamebait)

ad454 (325846) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912517)

With crony capitalism that has legalized theft by the 1% from the remaining 99%, is it not a surprise that the popularity is increasing for political parties promoting the legalization of theft for everyone else, to make it a level playing field.

Heck, even I am thinking of joining the pirate party, but I will might need to mug someone to pay my membership dues. (Just kidding!)

But we do have a serious problem on how crony capitalism has corrupted copyright and patent law. Especially when you consider DMCA, SOPA, digital locks, copyright extensions that has choked off public domain, etc.

The only real possibility to fix crony capitalism is with true democracy, which means mandatory public financing of political campaigns, banning of private political contributions and lobbying, banning of super-pacs and other groups, etc. So I won't hold my breath that enough mundane people will magically become sufficiently enlighten enough to support it. (Especially with the steady decline in education.)

Re:Why Not Support the Remaining 99% to Also Steal (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912795)

The only real possibility to fix crony capitalism is with true democracy, which means mandatory public financing of political campaigns, banning of private political contributions and lobbying, banning of super-pacs and other groups, etc. So I won't hold my breath that enough mundane people will magically become sufficiently enlighten enough to support it. (Especially with the steady decline in education.)

This.

The problem with trying to fix the system from the inside is, once you're inside, you have a vested interest in keeping the system as is. Yes, it's broken, but the only people who can fix it are getting reelected due specifically to those campaign contributions from those high powered lobbyists and super-pacs. It's a classic case of 'who will bell the cat?'

Re:Why Not Support the Remaining 99% to Also Steal (1)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912835)

Just stumbled upon a great document that addresses that very topic. It's on market economies and the rule of law [oycf.org] . Worth the ~20 minutes to read.

Here's a particularly relevant excerpt:

The second economic function of the rule of law is for the state to enforce laws and contracts in an impartial way. This can be achieved only after the government distances itself from microeconomic decisions. Defining property rights, preserving fair competition, fighting monopoly and enforcing contracts are all essential to economic development because they are necessary for establishing credible commitments among economic agents. Without the enforcement of contracts, economic agents cannot become motivated because they will always worry about opportunistic behavior of the other parties to the transaction. But how can we establish an orderly market environment? The enforcement of contracts and preservation of competition should rest on the rule of law instead of the government's discretion. For example, the government should not be in a position to define arbitrarily what unfair competition is, or what business activities need to be regulated.

It is by no means an easy task for the government to act as a impartial arbitrator. For example, errors could occur during the enforcement of law, either unintentionally or intentionally such as when induced by vested interests. Therefore, under the rule of law, it is essential that individuals and business enterprises are empowered to challenge the government on laws, regulations and judgements and to sue the government if necessary. The Administrative Procedure Law and Administrative Redress Law that we have enacted is a promising start, but we still have a long way to go.

Another substantial barrier to the effective enforcement of law is the judicial corruption. Obviously, a corrupt judiciary, which gives rise to insecure property rights and ineffective contract enforcement, forces business enterprises to resort to the traditional way of making back-door deals instead of using legal methods when there is a dispute. This is one of the factors that suffocate economic activities. A better way to tackle the problem of judicial corruption is to create better institutions rather than relying on political campaigns.

In summary, the second economic function of the rule of law is fundamentally about how the government acts as an impartial "third-party" in economic transactions.

Re:Why Not Support the Remaining 99% to Also Steal (1)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 2 years ago | (#39913263)

true democracy

Define it with something other than "true." Using that word in that manner is only objectively correct if you mean completely unfettered direct democracy, with no restrictions on vote topic, wherein a simple majority may command anything including servitude or death to the minority on a whim. Since you go on to talk about banning PACs, lobbying, etc, all of which would be completely allowable in a direct democracy, I'm going to assume that is not, in fact, what you actually meant. If that's not what you meant, then calling it "true" is using the word in the same way certain people use "true American" to denigrate those who do not agree with their positions.

American Priate Party? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39912539)

Is there an American Pirate Party and can anyone provide a link?

Re:American Priate Party? (1)

Sir Homer (549339) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912573)

Actually this link... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39912621)

Re:American Priate Party? (0)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912627)

Is there an American Pirate Party and can anyone provide a link?

Arrrh! America's love for pirates be so big, no mere "party" can contain it! We have:

Talk Like a Pirate Day [talklikeapirate.com] . Sure it's now "international", but it started with pirate-loving Americans!

Bus Pirates [buspirates.com] . Pirates, Robots, Mass Transit - ONLY IN AMERICA!

Spongebob Squarepants [nick.com] - which regularly features a PIRATE GHOST!

There have even been some obscure art-house movies recently about Pirates and the Gulf of Mexico or something...

legalize all non-commercial file sharing (5, Insightful)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 2 years ago | (#39912723)

The Pirate Parties are the only parties that support unlimited non-commercial file sharing, which is the only sane position on the matter.

Personally, I think it's the most important IP issue we have, since, if we're shutting down websites for copyright infringement, we are shutting down websites.  And thence, we cannot discuss anything freely.

Re:legalize all non-commercial file sharing (5, Insightful)

Immerman (2627577) | more than 2 years ago | (#39913055)

Honestly I think that may be going too far - there are good reasons for copyright even if it's gotten out of control in the last half-century. However there's a difference between supporting copyright and supporting draconian enforcement policies. And yeah, I think we need to simply accept that realistically there's no way to enforce it without trampling all over privacy and free speech.

Still, if we gave copyright a realistic duration (Maybe 5-10 years? I'm betting the majority of profit has been made by that point) and made violation a strictly civil offense so copyright holders could hunt down and sue individual infringers if they were so inclined, but law enforcement wouldn't get involved, I think that would be enough to keep honest people honest. If you illegally host a lot of copyrighted data on your web server expect to be shut down and fined - AFTER a trial. But in an environment where it's understood that there's lots of alternate sources for that data I don't think they can make any sort of argument that you should be shut down prior to the trial to prevent ongoing damages.

There are some issues there with unenforced laws degrading the respect for all laws, but that's an endemic problem hardly restricted to copyright. You don't see SWAT teams hunting down jay-walkers and litterbugs, but likewise you (hopefully) don't see a lot of folks flaunting those laws directly in front of an officer. In such a way does society declare a code of acceptable behavior and punish the worst offenders so that the code is obeyed by most of the people, most of the time, which is all any law will ever accomplish.

Re:legalize all non-commercial file sharing (1)

bfandreas (603438) | more than 2 years ago | (#39913217)

I can't speak for the other Pirate Parties but the German one isn't a one-trick pony.
The former head of the Green party Angelika Beer joined Die Piratenpartei. The German Greens are not a crackpot party and Angelika was a member of the German parliament for over 10 years. After that she was a member of the European parliament for 5 years. So she also is an established parliamentarian. And she left the Greens after she became disenfranchised with how housebroken they were.

The German Pirate Party has quite a lot of established politicos like her and is NOT only an organization for 20-something freetards.

And in other news... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39912783)

Stealth RIAA bombers are flying over Berlin.

Protest Party (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39912907)

I am sorry to disappoint those who think that the German Pirate Party gets their votes from their main issues like copyright, opposition to surveillance laws, etc. The vast majority are people fed up with the political parties in Germany. They are (for now?) mostly a protest party.

Why Schleswig-Holstein? (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 2 years ago | (#39913013)

What's there that's not in other parts of the country?

Re:Why Schleswig-Holstein? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39913127)

yesterday? elections

The 16 federal states of germany have their elections on different dates in a 5 year cycle. The next one is next sunday in Nordrhein-Westfalen. The PP won seats in all of the last 3 elections and is prognosed to do the same next sunday. The next federal election is fall next year but that is to far ahaed to give any credible prognosis for this small, new, sometimes chaotic party.

Re:Why Schleswig-Holstein? (1)

rohan972 (880586) | more than 2 years ago | (#39913473)

An election.

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America, take note (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39913361)

Proportional representation allows new ideas a chance to grow and become a political force. Often the newcomer will not stay for long or grow big but the bigger parties have to incorporate the idea in their respective programs to stay competitive.

The American political system is showing its age. The people have the right to vote but are disgusted by the ruling duopoly and thus the majority stays home on election day.

Proportional representation is not the only option. Pretty much any alternative voting scheme is an enhancement to the existing one.

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