Posting in Government
BERLIN -- Germany's Pirate Party has emerged as one of the strongest of its kind in Europe. But can its open data platform and youthful sensitivity survive the restrained world of politics?
BERLIN — Tables strewn with cables, laptops, pecking fingers, black t-shirts and mischievious smiles: it’s not a hack-a-thon. It’s the national convention of Germany’s rising Pirate Party — now the 4th most popular in a country with a strong tradition of multi-party politics.
Marina Weissband, small in stature, big in presence, addressed the convention in April after stepping down as the party’s managing director to focus on a Master’s degree.
“Hello dear… people,” she opened, cracking a smile.
Aside from pushing for the removal of all gender-based references on government-issued documents, Germany’s Pirate Party actually unites most coherently under a strong belief in open data and the rising significance of the internet in politics.
“We are ready to entrust mankind with more than society currently does, and we are ready to give people both more freedom and more responsibility — two mutually dependent rights,” Weissband stated to cheers and applause.
In a country where data privacy concerns have caused big-shots like Google and Facebook major headaches, a party united under the flag of data freedom doesn’t seem necessarily likely.
But Germany’s Pirate Party has emerged as perhaps the strongest of its kind in Europe. Winning seats in four state parliaments, including Berlin and North Rhine Westphalia over the past nine months, the party has been painted as something of a dubious hero — strong on emotion and interest, particularly weak on issues like the Euro crisis and other foreign policy points.
Its platform though — which harps heavily on the concept of “liquid democracy” — has yielded technology that everyone from Germany's center-left Social Democrats to the conservative Christian Democrats is scrambling to copy.
Liquid Feedback is the name of open-source software developed by the party's Berlin branch for proposition development and decision making. In practice, it attempts to tow the Pirate Party’s most important line, equal two-way communication and influence between elected officials and the public.
“We believe in a network, because we know that the best ideas for society come from the input of many and not just a few,” Weissband said at the party convention.
But critics, including members of Germany’s environmentalist Green Party, argue that the Pirates are riding high on a gimmick, and that Liquid Feedback cannot compensate for the party’s lack of coherence on non-technology related issues — and for its general eccentricity.
Party committee member Julia Schramm was heavily criticized last year for comments she made suggesting that the private sphere no longer exists and cannot be protected. Furthermore, the writer has been under media pressure to reconcile her views on issues like intellectual property rights in the face of record advance payments she received for her upcoming book.
But the 26-year-old says it's tough pushing for openness with data and technology in a place like Germany, where even with a multi-party system, old political habits die hard.
“I think this kind of criticism results from a deeply-rooted belief in hierarchy, that politicians have to be earnest in order to be able to take responsibility," Schramm told SmartPlanet.
"It's the idea that, as a leader, a politician cannot be a manifold human being. I reject this kind of political thinking.”
Just this kind of perspective seems to shake the party internally over and over — as well as attracting intrigued new supporters all the time. But as they learn to deal with nationally-sized criticism and intra-party conflict, the Pirates continue to grow — as does Liquid Feedback, with version 2.0 due out this August.
Whether a growing portion of the public embraces the platform through development or participation — and whether large-scale legitimate decision-making processes can succeed on this basis — is a critical concern the Pirate Party has yet to quell.
But as its relatively young members across the country and Europe continue to develop, convene and learn for better or for worse both at home and abroad, its ideals have also begun to show signs of maturity.
"I want to engage in European politics as I believe in the European project," said Schramm. "I want Germany to be a part of this project. And the idea behind the European project is respect, solidarity, justice and democracy."
Jun 27, 2012
Marina Weissband, former Managing Director of the Pirate Party, says "we are ready to give people both more freedom and more responsibility" Been there, done that, Martina. This is exactly what the Founding Fathers of the United States of America did with their Constitution. (Maybe that's why more Americans came from Germany than from any other country.) The issue is that a society built on such principles depends on a moral and educated populace, else it degrades either to pure democracy (kratocracy), or anarchy, either of which then leads to authoritarian rule as a remedy. As James Madison, the Father of the U.S. Constitution, stated, "We have staked our future on our ability to follow the Ten Commandments." John Adams put it this way, "Our Consitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." When people don't regulate their own behavior, politicians and governments will step in to regulate it for you. Germany's Pirate Party - Geniocracy leaning towards Anarchy. There seems to be no end to people who don't wish to be governed by other people's rules, and seem to think that the rule of law does not apply to them.
Madison also later wrote this, concerning the establishment of a Chaplaincy in Congress, in his essay prepared for publication, Monopolies, Perpetuities, Corporations, Ecclesiastical Endowments: Is the appointment of Chaplains to the two Houses of Congress consistent with the Constitution, and with the pure principle of religious freedom? In strictness the answer on both points must be in the negative. The Constitution of the U S forbids everything like an establishment of a national religion. The law appointing Chaplains establishes a religious worship for the national representatives, to be performed by Ministers of religion, elected by a majority of them, and these are to be paid out of the national taxes. Does this not involve the principle of a national establishment...? (footnote) I doubt he said anything about Ten Commandments.
Please site sources of religions speaking of the founding father because most where not religions in any way site where you got your sources or just making up things. Ten Commandments is a farce no people or country need follow something so retarded.
America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the land of the free. President Andrew Shepherd, The American President.