There is a new political party in town, the so-called “Pirate Party”, who have caused some furore within established political structures and won several seats in Berlin’s Senate earlier this year. Also, they fucking annoy me.
What has started out (at least in popular perception) as a bit of a white nerd gathering (no offense, Pete ;)) over the – rightly heavily criticized – internet censorship and privacy-abolishment attempts by former Secretary Ursula von der Leyen and others, has, within 2 years, seemingly turned into a movement for more transparent and democratic political structures and processes and an alleged alternative to the tiresome political establishment in this country (and others).
Obviously, the Pirate Party is a new party on the political spectrum, and posing the same standards concerning professionalism (meant as: know what you’re doing and how to communicate it properly), elaborate party programme and routine in political processes is maybe too much to ask at this point. Nonetheless, the Pirate Party is aiming to play the “big boys’ game” (quite literally, sadly) and has entered major elections, so I do hold them to a certain standard if they think they’re ready for state and federal elections.
As examined in the post about Occupy Wall Street, the Pirates too embrace a political concept of openness that leads to specific chances and specific problems and, in my view, the Pirate Party is doing a really crappy job in dealing with the latter, and seems to have an almost amusingly naive (to use a friendly word) outlook on certain issues, particularly and not surprisingly, gender and race.
One of the long-held grievances by leftist activists against the Pirate Party has been its downright ignorance when dealing with gender issues and acknowledging that there might be certain structural problems if their percentage of women members is as low as it is and women seem to have a very hard time achieving positions of voice and influence in their seemingly progressive and gender equal party.
Pirates (men and women alike) tend to proclaim a pink-bubble-gender-and identity-equality, despite the actual status of women in their party and the influx of Men’s Right Activists (even if they do not call themselves that explicitly; also another article on men’s rights in the Pirate Party here) which clearly send quite different signals. It is therefore mildly amusing and annoying at the same time – especially, since some Pirates think they’re inventing something brand new here in terms of gender equality and identity politics, and just have to deal with inevitable childhood illnesses, no matter how many feminist activists have debated and lived through shit like this time and again in different organisations and their criticism could actually lead to some timely improvements if it wasn’t either negated or ignored.
The Pirates seem to be a diverse and officially anti-centralist organised party, in which one state association does not seem to know what the other one does. However, within this web of differing and maybe sometimes opposing opinions, there are certain trends in discriminatory behavior and discriminatory statements from diverse outlets that have been continuously repeated throughout the last two years. This ignorance or dumbassery does not seem to be a coincidence – not when explicit members of the party and their supportive fuzzy edges have developed the new hobby of showing up at various feminist blogs, assume they know exactly what they’re talking about, start mansplaining and mocking and simply trolling and then put their fingers in their ears and start singing “At World’s End” (I presume) when they get pushback, or get all flustered when one is refusing to take part in their derail or even dares to criticise their party or said supporters. A great example for this would be a thread on Rainer Langhans and his support for the potential rapist Julian Assange, where some of the same people who have already pissed me off on the Noah Sow thread showed up again with the same derailment and ignorance tactics – this time, the issue was not racism and white privilege, but sexism and rape apologism. The Pirates and their fans are clearly getting better at sexism and outright misogyny with all the practice they have lately.
After the last federal elections, a state association of Pirates deemed it appropriate to tweet that germany was now being governed by “two women” – chancellor Angela Merkel and ex-vice chancellor Guido Westerwelle who is openly gay. Obviously, this caused a Twitter uproar, the tweet was deleted and explained by the alcohol intake of certain members… sure. But in terms of sexism, misogyny and heterosexism, the Pirates (and their fuzzy surroundings…) certainly hit BINGO many times before and continue to do it.
As the political “concept” of openness tends to entail, there are certain people who one might not expect and hopefully does not want to include in a progressive party, namely some (allegedly…) former fascists. Nonetheless, some have found a new home in the Pirate party whose federal executive board believes that they have changed their political views and deserve a second chance. Despite the very adequate criticism of “established” parties, the one thing some of them got down is to not constantly attract alleged ex-fascists and then also let them stay in their midst. If you have been a functionary at the NPD (National Democratic [sic] Party) or believe the Shoah did not actually happen, then I am afraid I have to invoke the old saying that this is not an opinion, but a crime.
I personally think sugar frosting is disgusting. That is an opinion I might change over time. I do not think that people of colour are inherently worth less than white people. That is not an opinion but a discriminatory mindset that is more than often followed by violence in different forms. See the difference, Pirate Party? Some opinions are acceptable. Others are downright evil and have very real consequences for the people they attack. The lack of fear of contact with the political right-wing, however, seems generally not be too well-developed with some Pirates, when it is possible that their vice-chairman gives an interview to the twenty-five years old mouth piece of germany’s “New Right”, the newspaper “Junge Freiheit.” And no, this is not something you can brush off as naiveté and openness. There have been twenty years of research on the New Right and the particular role of Junge Freiheit and its function as a “hinge” between conservatives and radical right-wingers. And even if you’re oblivious enough to not know of it, a simple glance at the front page of Junge Freiheit would do the trick: they hit the mark on Carl Schmitt, Ernst Jünger, “ethnopluralism” (which means: racism, only with an emphasis on culture this time…), nationalism, sexism and heterosexism every single goddamn time.
You might call that coincidences and natural stages of a learning curve. I call that the most fucking ridiculous and stupid thing ever at best, and complete and total ignorance and white privilege in reality.
And this is what the Pirate party and a vast amount of their sympathizers boil down to at the moment: An array of mostly white cis-men trying to practice progressive politics among them and for a large scale of people despite their lack of knowledge and experience, anti-discriminatory, preventa- tive structures or any form of reflection that actually leads to some changes. If people point out these flaws, you get a lot of whining that they should then join the party and make a change if they don’t like it.
Turning their thought around about why so many people of colour and feminists do not want to join in the first place is something that does not occur to many of them, and I understand – it would be too much of a frustrating, self-reflective lesson. What the Pirates do at the moment, in my view, is basically advocating the redistribution of power and wealth from one group of influential white cis-men to another group of not yet so influential white cis-men (…themselves). Many of them easily reproduce every white middle-class pseudo-intellectual cliché about (left?) liberalism, the awesome freedom to be you and me and the subsequent discrimination this concept entails because of the sheer ignorance of social, structural oppression against very specific groups of people. Um, no – I do not want to come to your party convention and talk about that, and there is not enough rum in the whole goddamned world to make me.