Tunisia: the first Pirate revolution?

Slim Amamou

Blogger and Pirate Slim Amamou, now a minister in the Tunisian government

The Guardian has this to say on Slim Amamou:

Only last week, the dissident blogger Slim Amamou was handcuffed to a chair in the notorious interrogation rooms of Tunisia‘s interior ministry being psychologically tormented by the dictator’s henchmen and led to believe that the screams he could hear from neighbouring rooms was his family members being tortured.

It’s a sign of the dizzying speed of change in Tunisia that today he was being sworn in by the prime minister as minister for youth and sport, live-tweeting that the first clash between members of the ruling RCD party was over the fact that “I’m not wearing a tie.”.

Amamou is the CEO of a web development company and calls himself a “partisan of the neutrality of the net”. A member of the Pirate party, inspired by the Swedish movement, he has been active on the underground blogger’s circuit for many years. In a brutally repressive dictatorship, with the world’s most advanced internet censorship technology, rivalling that of China or north Korea, Amamou and his fellow bloggers circulated news and videos in the name of protesting against the repressive regime.

Do recent events in Tunisia constitute the first Pirate-inspired revolution? Certainly, one of the first things the new government has done is announced “the complete liberty of information”, which is an important Pirate principle.

And if Piratism does become the main revolutionary ideology in the Maghreb and the wider Arab and Muslim world, it’ll be a welcome improvement over Islamist extremism, which has brought a civil war in Algeria that killed 150,000, suicide killings and blown-up mosques in Iraq, rigged elections and repression in Iran, a government that made it a crime to educate girls in Afghanistan, and has brought Pakistan to the brink of being a failed state. I think if I was a Tunisian, I would have a distinct lack of enthusiasm for those results.

By contrast, what does the Pirate Party stand for? Modernity, freedom of speech on the Internet, wealth creation through new technology. Most of all, an end to the stifling global intellectual property regime that America is trying to force on the world (WIPO treaty, ACTA treaty, etc) which denies people life-saving drugs because of patents, and generally acts against the interests of middle-income countries such as Tunisia. (It also acts against the interests of most Americans, but that’s another story).

Furthermore, Piratism is an ideology that inspires people throughout the world, not just in Arab and Muslim countries.I think it has the potential to be one of the most important ideologies of the 21st century, because:

1. we’re an information society, no longer an industrial society

2. different forms of societies require different forms of social and political organisation. So agriculture caused feudalism; industrialisation caused capitalism and socialism; and the information society has caused Piratism.

3. the political leaders of the developed world are still living mentally in the 20th century, in the industrial society; for example, many of them have no real understanding of the internet. The Pirate Party is living mentally in the 21st century, in the information society; as a consequence we understand better than them how society should respond to this new technology.

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