Parties, Pirates and Party Programmes – Help! (II)

It still annoys me that the pirates had to drown so unnecessarily. Let me try and explain it with the following example:
In the Pirates’ Wiki, you will find a Simple Manifesto.

On January, 21st, 2013, the document looked like this:

  • We Pirates take the German Constitution very seriously and want everybody to strictly abide by it (that includes the judgements of the BVerfG).
  • All power in the state comes from the people. We are talking our state where we elect representatives and which we finance. We want to be extra alert when it comes to looking what they do with our money.
  • Representatives represent the entire population and have to answer only to their conscience.
  • Digital technology and the internet have caused a massive cultural change. The only thing it can be compared to is the invention of the printing press. We want to accompany our country, our EU, our world on its way towards this change with a critical and creative eye.
  • 0 and 1, along with all data composed with them, belong to the entire humanity.
  • We want to make a secure existence and social participation legally possible for all people.
  • We Pirates want a sustainable treatment of our environment.
  • Drug Politics: the Pirates follow a drug prevention policy that is based on scientific facts.

Basically, all of this sounds quite well. And it is certainly a lot better than all those long-winded “programs” the other parties have written.

The sad news, however, is that until today (July, 11th, 2013) nothing whatsoever was modified in this text. Even though the author posted it on the Pirate Wiki for discussion. And even though modifications would have been highly advisable on all points…

Because if you read with a focus on precision, the formulations actually hurt. Regardless of the fact that quite a lot of good stuff could have come from them. In fact, you could have discussed every individual item and then developed a clear statement.

Here is an example:

Representatives represent the entire population and have to answer only to their conscience.

That sounds great – but it is a total catastrophe. Dialectically spoken, it is nonsense. How can a representative represent the entire population? And: not the people have to answer to their conscience, but their behaviour.

Now my criticism might sound extra pedantic to some. But that is not what it is. Because treating language with the highest possible diligence is a necessary requirement for finding a social consensus – i.e. god political work – in a morally acceptable way.

Stating that representatives are “answerable only to their conscience” makes it a lot worse. People like Hitler and Stalin followed their conscience when they committed all those atrocities. The terrorists who are such a threat to us follow their conscience when they commit their atrocities. A father who beats his child because he believes beating a child is necessary, even though it hurts him more than the child, follows his conscience. A mother who makes her children look small very often follows her conscience.

Consequently, all these people would be good representatives in this sense. After all, they followed their conscience. It is just tough luck that their conscience ignored the shared values of humanity.

I believe I can guess at what message the sentence is meant to convey and what the Pirates (or the one Pirate) wanted to say. Maybe you could say it as follows:

Representatives should follow their behaviourally motivated values autonomously and steadfastly! Because they are elected for what they said in this context. Consequently, they have to be autonomous and refuse squad belief. They must be immune to lobbyism and all kinds of temptations. And the values behind their behaviour must be compatible with the “social consensus” of all humanity.

This is how the Pirates might, for instance, have improved on their manifesto in every topic through an upright and domination-free discourse. And in doing so, they would have had a chance to rub against each other to their liking and goal-oriented while discussing not always trivial content. In this way, they could have found out what is right or wrong, good or bad.

What a great chance that would have been! But no – the Pirates followed the stupidity of other parties and gave themselves a program! And, of course, they get their reward – when it comes to election time. Because in our new world, emancipated citizens want values underlying your behaviour, along with people who remain true to their values. Instead of programs! Because nobody wants dogmatic programs (probably with good reason). After all, decisions will always depend on the context of the time. Consequently, it is unpredictable what future decisions will be right and good. How, then, is anybody supposed to write a reasonable program?

But you can get to the roots of your values and make them your behavioural maxime. And then you can ask questions about your own convictions. And I feel definitely more at home among people who try to gain insight in an ethical and enlightened way than among politicians who dogmatize through their own life program.

The Pirates have missed their historical chance. And, politically spoken, we regressed several decades and will have to start all over again. What a pity!

(Translated by EG)

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