Pirates vs. Populism
The following article has been translated to Norwegian and sent to Verdens Gang, in response to an article on their web from January 29th:
Since the turn of the century, populism and the politics of fear have gradually gained an alarming grip on the Western world, offering an age-old paradigm of hate and isolation as solutions to the problems facing our societies.
This is by no means a new phenomenon, although the effects of the financial crisis and the fallout of the Syrian war have now brought these politics to center stage. Before that, the infringement of civil rights in the United States and war crimes in the Middle-East sought justification in the fear and shock following 9/11. What we are witnessing now is the natural culmination of this trend – barring strong resistance from the people.
The Pirates of Iceland were founded and still strive to be that resistance. To protect and strengthen civil rights in an age of surveillance and to offer a progressive, humanistic and democratic solution to the very real problems of our day.
We need to acknowledge these problems; among them are the negative effects of corruption and economic inequality on people’s livelihood and the genuine feelings of insecurity that many citizens feel in an increasingly globalised and diverse world. Combined with a total lack of transparency and political accountability, elitist and anti-democratic ways of governance and broken, out-of-date political cultures, these sentiments create a sense of resentment against “the establishment” that many of us share.
The political question of our times is how we respond to these concerns – and how we do not.
We Pirates strive to build a more democratic society that protects strong civil rights while providing every citizen with the basic needs, information and opportunities necessary to participate in society and live a fulfilling life.
We certainly strongly support a more effective, direct democracy; where the will of the people is respected as the foundation of modern government and where every citizen has a real opportunity to influence public policy, regardless of whether it is election year or not.
At the same time, we vehemently oppose the rise of populism in Western societies, where “strong” leaders such as Donald Trump, Geert Wilders, Nigel Farage and Marine Le Pen exploit their people’s despair by appealing to fear and hate, and by offering simple solutions through authoritarian government. We detest their divisive, bigoted rhetoric and we absolutely reject their isolationist and xenophobic policies; we strive to strengthen international cooperation and global solidarity against humanity’s common challenges, regardless of our origin or religion.
For these reasons, we strongly object to being branded populists or compared in any way to the likes of Trump, Wilders, Farage or Le Pen; we Pirates are in no way part of their movement. On the contrary, we are part of the democratic reform movement that intends to overcome them.
Viktor Orri Valgarðsson, Member of Parliament for the Pirate Party in Iceland
Dóra Björt Guðjónsdóttir, Leader of the Young Pirates of Iceland