Famous Swedish Writer – Why I’m Voting Pirate Party

Freedom of expression, digital rights and privacy in a digital era. How many people knew topics like that would be a critical election issue in Europe 25 years ago? At first, the movement to bring these issues to the forefront started on someone’s personal website, but now a famous Swedish writer is throwing his support behind the Pirate Party and cites history as part of his reason for supporting the party.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

It is probably another piece of excellent news for the party who stands to win, at minimum, one seat in the European election. A posting on Copyriot shows that Swedish writer Lars Gustafsson, one of Swedens most prolific writers, is saying that his vote is going to the Pirate Party.

“It is odd,” Gustafsson writes (translated to English by Copyriot), “how strongly the situation spring 2009 — on the area of civil rights — reminds about the struggles over freedom of press in France, during the decades preceding the French revolution.”

He continues, “A new world of ideas is emerging and would not have been able to, were it not for an accelerating technology. Raids against secret printing houses, confiscated pamphlets and — even more — confiscated printing equipment. Orders of arrest and adventurous nightly transports between Prussian enclave Neuchâtel — where not only large parts of the Encyclopedia was produced, but also lots of daring pornography, between the atheist pamphlets — and Paris.”

“Between the 1730’s and 1780’s, the number of state censors in France was doubled by four. The raids against illegal printing houses was rising at about the same pace. In retrospect, we know it did not help. Rather, the increase of censorship and printing house raids had a stimulating effect on the new ideas and made them spread even faster.” He added.

For those wondering where Gutenberg was in all of this, Johannes Gutenberg was the first to use movable typeface printing in 1439, about 300 years earlier (which was, at the time, a controversial technology as well because, among other things, copies of the Bible could be made much more easily)

“So [far]” Gustafsson wrote, “this is shown by most historical experience — legislation has never been able to stop technological development.”

“Walter Benjamin wrote an influential essay, whose title usually is translated as “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction“, where he draws a series of interesting conclusions about what the radical changes that must follow on his time’s relatively modest degree of reproducibility. The digital revolution has brought about a reproducibility which Walter Benjamin could hardly ever have dreamt about. One could talk about maximal reproducibility. Google is about to build a library that, if is is allowed to grow, will make most material libraries obsolete or at least outmoded.”

He concludes, “This immaterialisation naturally threatens the material copyright.”

He then questions why it’s such a big deal that the internet threatens the concept of copyright and comments on how we, as a society, should be striking a balance between differing interests and any attempt to not do so is simply nonsense.

He also argues that free speech and any channel that is not controlled by a government of corporate interest is much more important than the interest of legacy industries. He also comments that the primary concern of artists is to be heard or read within their generation and how they do this is of secondary concern.

For those reasons, that is why his vote goes to the Pirate Party.

This also brings up another topic that has been floating around the political debates, does celebrity support actually help a given party? Whether or not it does, it certainly doesn’t appear to hurt the party they are supporting very much.

we do know that support for the Pirate Party has been growing quite a lot. Already, the most recent poll suggests that the Pirate Party has gotten 7.9% support, more than enough to win at least one seat. Yesterday, the party slammed a Swedish minister for applauding the guilty verdict of The Pirate Bay. The party, lately, seems to be on a roll for gathering good PR – something that is critical in an election.

[Hat tip: Cory Doctorow]

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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