The digital revolution changes people, societies and the world

(This is the text of the welcome speech of the Pirate GA in Ghent – 26/03/2016, remake of 2013)

Dear fellow Pirates

Welcome in Ghent! I’m glad we’re here together, despite the current culture of fear sparked by terror.

I really believe the Pirates have strong and consistent ideas: guidelines that could help us grow out of the mess we’re in as a society. Unlike other parties, we are taking into account the impact of the digital revolution. We are connecting the dots and see the bigger picture of what’s happening today. The ways we work together and share information are changing. A revolution of this kind changes people, societies and the world.

After Gutenberg introduced the printing press in 1450, non-catholic ideas such as Protestantism could spread easily and widely. Also, a much larger part of society became literate. Furthermore chaos and conflicts arose, for example the Thirty Years’ War (between protestants and catholics) in the beginning of the 17th century.

The digital revolution is of the same order of magnitude as the introduction of the printing press. But many of our institutions, laws and policy makers are still stuck in the previous century. They are disconnected from reality, hence the systemic crisis we’re in.

Revolutions cause chaos, because the power balance is shifting. And chaos brings about fear. Some parties are responding with conservative, hateful and repressive ideas. I think it is our task as Pirates to offer constructive and positive alternatives to overcome this transition period we’re in.

Our message consists out of transparency for governments and privacy for citizens, an open democracy, free culture and a reform of the copyright law, and a basic income to respond to a deeply changing labor market and growing precariat.

But, before we can bring this message in a convincing way, we need to get our shit together. We’re individuals and very individualistic, but we’re all together on this pirate ship, so we should cooperate and coordinate. We should “be the change you wish to see in the world”.

There are grassroots movements everywhere, bubbling up. Citizens are uniting to start up their own banks, to buy their own green energy, to grow their own food, to claim back the commons and their civil rights. We are one of the DIY grassroots movements this timeframe brings about.

Let’s make this General Assembly a turning point, an opportunity. People need a dream, a vision of the future. Where are we going to? And how do we get there? It’s not our task to offer a static and fixed solution. We need to ask the right questions, and invite people to get involved and think about possible answers.

Let’s get our message out on the streets. Let’s start today. And let’s not forget: United we stand, divided we fall.


Creative Commons-Licentie
Dit werk valt onder een Creative Commons Naamsvermelding 4.0 Internationaal-licentie.

Sarah Van Liefferinge



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