Liberty-Loving Pirates Look to Conquer Iceland!

Peacefully, at the polls-not with swords and cannons and Johnny Depp.


Birgitta Jónsdóttir
Julia W?schenbach/dpa/picture-alliance/Newscom

Some Americans (typically on the left) habitually threaten to move to Canada if the presidential election doesn't go their way. Maybe libertarians should look overseas to Iceland.

The small island nation of Iceland (population: 320,000) got a significant amount of attention during the banking crisis by not bailing out its financial institutions. It seemed to have worked out well enough for them.

Iceland has also seen the rise of the Pirate Party as a political force. The Pirate Party is only a decade old, a small political movement focused on intellectual property reform, freedom of information, government transparency, opposition to censorship, and direct democracy. The party supports net neutrality as well, but otherwise, the average American libertarian would likely feel more at home with the Pirates than any other non-libertarian party. Reason has previously noted Pirate Party parliamentarian Birgitta Jónsdóttir trying to help Edward Snowden get asylum in Iceland before he ended up pretty much trapped in Russia.

The Pirate Party had seen some modest success in Iceland, winning three seats in the country's lawmaking body. But after the release of the Panama Papers earlier in the year, interest in the Pirate Party skyrocketed. Americans may have already forgotten about the scandal, part of which was heavily about how public officials in many countries were hiding their wealth outside their home countries and avoiding taxes.

Iceland's prime minister got caught up in the scandal when the papers revealed that he owned half of a company connected to one of the bankrupt banks and sold his share to his wife in order to avoid transparency requirements that went into effect in 2010. There were protests in the tens of thousands (massive, when you consider the size of Iceland's population), and he stepped down in April.

Interest in the Pirate Party boomed in Iceland, and their polling support approached nearly 40 percent in the spring. They've dropped a bit since then, but they could pick up between 18 to 20 new seats in Iceland's parliament if these poll numbers hold up in their election Oct. 29. This would not give them control over parliament but would make them a dominant force.

It's an important trend to pay attention to given the populist insurgencies we've been seeing in the elections both in the United States and in other Western countries. This appears to be just like all these other voter revolts (it's being treated as such in some reporting), but note how different the goals are. There's a push for limiting the power of government and therefore limiting the corruptibility of government that is different from what we're seeing here from Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders supporters. As Nick Gillespie has previously written, there tends to be a paradox that when people don't trust the government, the end result is often more regulation, bureaucracy, and control, not less.

The Pirate Party and their potential success could be an indicator of a counterpush, just as increased in interest in the Libertarian Party's candidate this year gives voice to those who are frustrated with a government who is interested only in perpetuating an agenda that will make it grow more and more powerful over the lives of citizens.

Read more analysis of the rise of Iceland's Pirate Party here. Read a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" (in English) with Iceland Pirate Party representatives here.

NEXT: Sean Hannity's Suggestion that "Journalism is DEAD IN AMERICA!" Is Slightly Exaggerated

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  1. I can think of another libertarian land that has a lot of pirates that’s not faring so well.

    1. The Philippines?

      1. Is that next to whore island?

        1. It’s a figure of speech.

    2. Silicon Valley?

    3. [Road] Island?

    4. wherever Doc Brown went where they don’t need roads?

    5. Somalia does seem pretty free of government oversight.

  2. Liberty-Loving Pirates Look to Conquer Iceland!
    Peacefully, at the polls?not with swords and cannons and Johnny Depp.

    I believe that according to Michael Moore, this is “legal terrorism”.

    1. Obviously the Trumputins are meddling in the election.

  3. Don’t worry, Bill Weld will be there shortly to ‘help out’.

  4. The net neutrality crowd seem to mostly have their hearts in the right place. But like so many, their preferred solution will ultimately undermine their goals.

    1. If a non-issue fabricated by the left to justify sweeping controls counts as “the right place” to have your heart.

    2. No, it will add more government control, therefore meeting their goals.

      1. Not necessarily, part of me is for Net Neutrality especially thinking about cable lines. Comcast was allowed to dig up my parents yard and run lines across them because of imminent domain law. My parents were not Comcast customers. They should have had the right to negotiate a price for the use of their land. Companies that feed at the government trough have no business complaining when they are then poisoned by the government. There is no difference in my mind between the government forcing my parents to allow lines to be ran on their property and the government forcing Comcast to connect all the internet sites at the same price point.

        But then I come back to the realization that I love the Internet and the government will only fuck it up so much more then any Internet provider could.

        1. Imminent domain was not invented by your cable provider. It exists only through government vis a vis “the common good” theory. As much as one might be inclined to say “fuck you cable company, sleep in the bed you made”, that’s not what you’re saying when supporting net neutrality. What your saying with net neutrality is “fuck me, fuck me hard government, limit my choices and erect regulations that will allow telecom providers an even greater means of fucking me than they had before.”

          1. Another point: even though you can’t recover damages for the initial injury of the loss of property to eminent domain, you can sue Comcast and recover damages if they fuck up your yard beyond the remit of their easement. Good luck suing the government.

          2. Hence the 2nd paragraph. The government would probably do something I may even like off the bat but once they got their hands on the Internet I am positive it would end up being as efficient as a VA hospital. And then it would have been me being poisoned by the government by my own request. Best left to the free market and hopefully I will soon be able to choose from other providers.

            1. The second paragraph implies that you wouldn’t go after the cable company because it would hurt you too much to do so, not that you wouldn’t go after the cable company because they’re the wrong target to choose in the first place.

              1. True. But I get tired of the cable companies acting like they are free market private entities when in fact they are happy to lobby and accept government largesse when it suits them. They are as much of a problem as the government.

                I should have stated though that based on principle despite the cable companies crony capitalist business plan the government should not be interfering with the market. As that is my opinion; as well as I don’t want the government fucking up the Internet.

                1. I don’t disagree with you necessarily. Time Warner, Comcast and AT&T are widely regarded as cronies, and that’s not false, but we should take note this is true of basically every ISP or cable provider that has more than a regional market-share, which tells you that it’s the nature of the system. In order to be a mid to large size utility provider, under our current body of (statutory) law, they must make use of government power to compete. It’s bullshit, but we’re basically stuck living with this John Stuart Mills conception of ‘natural monoplies’ as a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy under the law until people decide that it’s time to rethink our disrespect for property rights and the role of government in regulating utilities.

        2. Companies that feed at the government trough have no business complaining when they are then poisoned by the government.

          This is such a stupid argument. What interest of yours is served by poisoning the company? None, unless you’ve decided that spite is a compelling interest.

          Did your parents do something about their local government after their yard was dug up? Would the injury to them have been any different if the local government dug it up to put in a water line instead?

          1. I apologize for the aggressive tone here, I see now that you said “But then I come back to the realization that I love the Internet and the government will only fuck it up so much more then any Internet provider could.”

        3. Your parents weren’t Comcast customers, but there could’ve been other customers those lines were running to. It’s the common law right of passage. Why should your parents have been allowed to hold up Comcast and/or their customers for more than their actual damages?

          1. My parent shouldn’t have been able to say give us a million dollars or go fuck off, but they should be able to charge a rent for the use of their personal property, based on the square footage that Comcast took. I’m not talking large sums here but market based rents say along the lines of $5 per month. The Constitution granted the power of eminent domain to the government (which I tend to agree with) but it also states that just compensation must be provided.

            Not only was this a private company that took land but they also didn’t have to pay a just compensation which I have a serious problem with and Comcast should be forced at this point to pay that if they don’t want the government interfering with their business. Otherwise its heads I win tails you lose and that type of shit gets people wanting the government to step in and regulate which is the worse thing that could happen.

            1. Was it ED or was it an easement?

              The latter they agreed to at the time they purchased the property.

              For ED, they would have had to pay just compensation. I think comcast got access to the easement.

        4. I don’t know what the laws are like where your parents live, but in general principle in the US telecom companies don’t have the power of eminent domain. Eminent domain is generally only granted to companies that are common carriers, who allow all comers the use of their lines for a fixed rate without preference or partiality. Thus, eminent domain is usually only granted to electric utilities and gas companies, as telecom companies generally are very territorial and protective of their infrastructure. However, it is common practice for cities to acquire public utility easements on land, usually as a condition of re-platting the property, and these easements can be used by any utility company under regulation by the city. Your parents property was most likely already encumbered by a public utility easement (especially if it was on a main road), so any telecom, gas, or electric company could have laid lines without their permission, as could the city if they decided they needed more water/wastewater lines. Your ire towards Comcast is misplaced, as if anything it should be directed towards the city or utilities in general. It’s a difficult issue, as property rights are important but basic infrastructure is important as well, and I don’t think we could have as robust of an infrastructure network as we currently enjoy if we were to encumber private property less than we do now.

        5. Bob K

          Are you sure that Comcast was allowed to dig up your parents yard and run lines across them because of imminent[sic] domain law, or because there was already a “public utility” easement across your parents yard because of the way that the subdivision in which your parents live was originally created?

          Just asking.

  5. I guess it’s time to add Iceland to the list of potential retirement locations.

    1. Sorry, but the direct Democracy thing is an absolute non-starter for me.

      1. Why is it worse than the indirect kind?

        1. Ask a referendum that takes a freedom away …. for the children!

      2. Direct democracy with a strong constitution is better than a representative democracy with a weak constitution.

  6. I have to be honest, I think they’ll do better with the swords and cannons. Also, Iceland, too many white people, it’s a racist country no doubt. They probably hate women too, and children, and they want the terrorists to win. If they can just get rid of roads, they’ll be the first libertarian country.

    1. Yeah, the lack of colour in the Icelandic population is problematic, no doubt.

      1. How many transexual black hispanic asians who identify as baby seals do they have? This is an important issue we need to take a serious look at.


      2. They get like 4 hours of sunlight a year. You can move a bunch of Nigerians there and they’ll turn pasty within a month.

        1. There’s no stopping the white menace.

        2. No evil sun?

          I need to learn icelandic.

          1. Icelandic is basically the same as Old Norse, so you’d be able to read the eddas, too! You probably wouldn’t enjoy them, though.

          2. Its full of vampires just like you!

            1. Look, there are plenty of non-vampiric human beings who burst into flame when exposed to bright sunlight.

              1. Name one with a soul.

                1. Be fair. UCS has never claimed to possess a soul.

                  1. I have plenty of souls… Don’t ask where I got them.

    2. I have to be honest, I think they’ll do better with the swords and cannons.

      Cultural appropriation! They need to stick with longships and axes.

      1. SHIELD WALL!

        1. I thought that got nuked by Paul Atriedes?

  7. Killin’ it with the alt-text, Scott.

  8. If a government official flies an anarchy flag, would that create a matter-antimatter explosion?

    Enough with quantum physics analogies to unrelated topics. Tom Hanks already ruined it for everyone.

    1. Matter-antimatter could be effected by stuff at the quantum level. So stop appropriating Tom Hanks brain, he’s a super genius! You on the other hand, you don’t even know what socialism means! Rat bagger!

      1. I’m more of a Bat Ragger.

  9. PIRATES!!!!

    /Commodore Norrington

  10. “Some Americans (typically on the left) habitually threaten to move to Canada if the presidential election doesn’t go their way.”

    The only problem with this is they won’t do it.

  11. Skimming the AMA, things may not be as rosy as described. Someone asked about rent, and the answer was along the lines of having a more formal rent process, which I take to mean more laws and regulation.

  12. I’ve been to Iceland once. I’d go back. Plenty of good looking girls, and they’re pretty open sexually. Because of how Icelandic names work, there’s no stigma to being a bastard because no one can tell – if a man named Magnus has a son and a daughter, his son’s last name will be Magnusson and his daughter’s last name will be Magnusdottir. Literally, their last names are simply “son of X” or “daughter of X”. Had several excellent lamb dishes while I was there, too.

    1. Because of how Icelandic names work, there’s no stigma to being a bastard because no one can tell

      Feature, not bug. Small, isolated population. Best not to be too concerned about lineage.

      1. Besides, they’re all descended from the same people anyway.

      2. Which means you’d be helping expand the gene pool?

      3. Good point

  13. As I recall, Iceland uses proportional voting for its parliament. So a party could lose an election badly and still win a few seats. The LP, if it got say 2% in all the votes for U.S. Congress would get 8 seats (2% of 435) even it it
    finished dead last in every congressional district.

    1. What always bugged me was how they decided who got those seats. The whole party list idea is bothersome. I like candidate #3, but find the people at #1 and #2 odious, how am I supposed to just get person #3?

      1. Join your local party, go to the party meetings, and backstab and manipulate I presume.

      2. Single transferable vote.

        1. Single transferable vote.

          Exactly, In Tasmania, where the Single transferable vote system is called “Hare-Clark”, some analyses have shown that close to 80% of voters get a seat for their No1 preference.

          Mind you, that was before the house of Assembly was reduced from 35 seats (5 districts X 7 members) to 25 seats (5 X 5), to spite the Greens*. Considering the state’s dependence on resource extraction, it’s no wonder.

          *”Greenies” vs Loggers seems to be a staple of stories about Tasmania lately. See this and this.

  14. Sounds like more fun than our elections, at least.

  15. Well, who wants to join the American Pirate Party? Hmm. I promise we won’t nominate Garry Johnson for President.

  16. Of course, the only reason Icelandic culture even exists in the first place is because they realized they can’t let many people in…

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