I get Presseurope, a roundup of translated opinion pieces from the EU, sent to my email.
For the most part, the newsletter is incredibly informative. For instance, I had no idea that someone could honestly think that the Greeks deserved pity… or that disbanding the German nuclear program was a great idea.
But I don’t necessarily recommend subscribing to Presseurope. It isn’t for the faint of heart; it entails reading a lot of crap.
Yesterday, for example, I was lured into reading this piece: Children of Marx and Microsoft
The piece is a profile on the German “Pirate Party,” who won nearly ten percent of the vote in Berlin’s mayoral election. As far as I’m concerned, pirates should be rugged seafaring men with a penchant for talking birds, but they’re apparently also political:
The party principles and the electoral programme of the Berlin Pirate Party, including points such as free public transport and the right to an unconditional basic income, were tagged as ‘radical left’ by commentators on election night. … ‘Free’, ‘open’, and especially ‘transparent’ are the buzzwords that have been shaping the platform of the Pirate movement since it first took shape five years ago in Sweden as a party born out of the struggle against existing copyright laws.
Okay, so they’re typical left-wingers who have one pet issue and topped that off with a bunch of moronic proposals. What brought my eyes to a roll was this section:
The thinking is deeply rooted in America, where it is known as libertarianism. From a high appreciation for the freedom of the individual derives an extreme scepticism towards the state and government, which receives legitimacy only through direct participation. In Germany, the best it had done till now was as the hobby horse of a kind of fundamentalist grouping within the Liberal Party. But libertarianism in the U.S. is a very broad movement. To it belong both disciples of Ayn Rand, the prophet of a radical egotistical capitalism, and libertarian socialists guided by anarchist thought from the turn of the 20th century.
Such theoretical roots should not be overestimated. [...] Among the new Berlin deputies are some who are passionate about Karl Marx, and the national chairman of the party was previously in the CDU. What’s libertarian about the pirates is their penchant for the most direct form of democracy possible.
The Pirate Party is not libertarian. Perhaps it started from good principles (demanding government transparency) but it became tainted once it transformed into a political movement and bribed the electorate with free (paid by other people) goodies.
I think the Pirate Party’s transformation shows the worst side of extreme democracy, offering to redistribute the property of others to gain favor. This stands in contrast to a libertarian paradigm of a a voluntary system of governance or one bound by certain inalienable rights; which are not necessarily places where popular opinion is always magically legitimate – as the piece suggests. I would praise direct democracy only insofar as it takes power away from politicians.
Sometimes I get so wrapped up in my echo chamber that I find it hard to understand how most people aren’t libertarians. That is, until I ask someone to explain to me what they think the philosophy is about and I get a stupid answer like the Süddeutsche Zeitung offered.