Why Activism Isn’t Enough

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Every now and then it's being questioned why the Pirate Party chose the political route to safeguard privacy and other liberties, as well as reform those monopolies that stand in its way, such as the copyright monopoly. The answer is simple: activism isn't enough.

It can be very educational to watch the behavior of career politicians. They frequently have opinions about individual activists and activist movements. You can hear them praising the efforts to change society and participate in the democratic process, in the media, in articles, and in person.

And then they move ahead with a bill that does the exact opposite.

To wit: In Sweden, in the week after the European Elections, a temporary and controversial wiretapping bill was made permanent. It may look like a coincidence. Then again, Peter Sunde, the spokesperson of the Pirate Bay, was arrested in the same week.

That’s another coincidence, just as when the Appeals Court hearings for The Pirate Bay mock trial which were slated for the week right after an election. And there was another coincidence when the evaluation of the illegal Data Retention Directive was to be presented right after the elections, rather than facing the music and abolishing it once it was declared illegal.

There are many more examples.

And then those career politicians usher more warm words over the activists for liberty – people who are personally responsible for you and me having some of our liberties we wouldn’t have otherwise. Let’s name a few of them.

Assange. Brown. Svartholm-Warg. Hammond. Sunde. Manning.

All of these have provided exemplary transparency and resistance to power grabs by overreaching and shameless governments. Each and every one of us owes a significant amount of liberty to each of these individuals. They also have another thing in common: They are all confined to a small room, their freedom of movement gone, their liberty shackled.

There are many more who find it impossible to return to their home country after such exemplary civic duty. Snowden. Appelbaum. Many anonymous people who have chosen to leave. The list just goes on.

Activism just isn’t enough. The fate of our best and brightest activists can be seen right here. As an activity, on its own, it’s not producing the necessary results. Not on its own.

It’s at this point that we need to look closer at the behavior of career politicians.

It’s important to realize that the first problem that a career politician tries to solve is how to get elected. The second problem a career politician tries to solve is how to get re-elected. Whatever comes in third place is so far behind the first two that it’ll never really surface.

In short, unless you threaten politicians’ jobs over their dismantling of liberty, they’ll not notice in the slightest but just smile at your proposals, praise you for engaging in civic society, kiss some babies, and then introduce more surveillance.

That’s why activism for liberty remains extremely necessary. That’s also why activism remains not sufficient. We absolutely, positively need to put politicians’ jobs on the line over Orwelling the world we live in.

That’s why the Pirate Party chose the political route, putting Orwellian politicians’ jobs on the line. But the party as a movement can’t function without tens of thousands of activists who also help in the common cause.

About The Author

Rick Falkvinge is a regular columnist on TorrentFreak, sharing his thoughts every other week. He is the founder of the Swedish and first Pirate Party, a whisky aficionado, and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. His blog at falkvinge.net focuses on information policy.

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