The People's Library of Occupy Vancouver

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Consensus on the High Seas: Lessons from 18th-Century Pirate Democracy

It’s been a while since our last recommended reading, but this one is a goodie.

There have been a lot of discussions recently regarding the needs of governance at Occupy. Community members (including self-professed anarchists) have appealed to the police or taken independent and divisive action that the rest of the group didn’t agree with.

But if we don’t agree on the actions of other individuals, and if we can’t agree on a common framework, then what is Occupy? And what is the hope that we will ever re-converge as a “mass” movement, if we have nothing in common to bring us together?

The challenges of governance within the Occupy movement are complex, and new and innovative solutions must be invented to deal with the needs of our complex, globalised movement. While we may idolize Wall Street’s GA or the Paris Commune of yesteryear, different geographies call for different solutions.

Like other Occupies, Vancouver has been challenged to govern itself. More mainstream activists have often advocated a very different type of radical action than the anarchist-leaning community, while “new” activists advocate reinventing governance structures based on everything from corporate organization to computer logic.

In that spirit, I’d like to throw this article into the mix. Peter Leeson of George Mason University offers this analysis of Pirate democracy on the High Seas. It is a story of independence, self-determination, direct democracy and, yes, booty.


Click to access an-arrgh-chy.pdf

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