November 25, 2012

The EU could use some opposition


A thing that is rather troublesome with the European Union is that there is no proper opposition.

This is not only a democratic problem as such. It also mean that megalomaniac politicians and eurocrats can get away with the stupidest things, without ever being challenged.

Naturally, there is some opposition in the European Parliament. But none that really matters.

There is a small euro-sceptic group. But many of its' members are rather nationalist, goofy or just a bit hostile to foreign people. The most reasonable in this group seems to be the people from UKIP, United Kingdom Independece Party. At least they manage to stir things up, quite often by pointing out the obvious. But no one seems to like being told that the emperor is naked.

Then we have some pretty decent liberal and green MEP:s. But far too few. And us – a few Pirates – trying to cover as much of civil rights, democracy, transparency and freedom of information as we can muster.

That is about it. The Commission is Isengard and the Council is Mordor. Most journalists are covering Justin Bieber and X-factor, so they have little time for abuse of power, embezzlement of taxpayers money and the plain incompetence with which this union is run. (With exception from some British media, who have realized that much that is going on in the EU is just as silly and stupid as what is going on on your average tv reality- or talent show.)

I find the lack of opposition very strange. Because there ought to be room for some fair critique. One that put people over special interests. One that is interested in liberty and free markets. One that understands the value of openness and diversity. One that regards the people as individual citizens - not as a stupid, faceless mass. Or something along those lines.

Some real opposition might also liven up the stiff and rather dull EU nomenclature. Today, it shows signs of a late state of altitude sickness. These people cannot handle critique or admit mistakes. They are not willing to consider any alternative options nor to listen to other voices. They do stupid things just because they can. They are bureaucratic and revengeful. They stay away from logic, facts and principles. They dislike being evaluated and duck accountability. They make the freemasons seem transparent.

OK, I'm not perfect either. But then, I do not run for public office. And I have no urge to rule over other people.

The EU really could do with some liberal or libertarian, humanist opposition.

[In Swedish]

November 10, 2012

Privacy - the Political Divider


Privacy issues are political dividers.

Either you take the classical liberal stand – that citizens are individuals, who should be judged by their actions.

Or you choose a socialist or conservative stand – where citizens are to be seen and treated as a collective.

Almost no one denies the need for surveillance when it comes to people who are suspected for serious crime (or obvious preparation of such crimes).

The issue is if you want surveillance of all citizens, all the time. Just in case.

The public Big Brother-discourse seems to focus on things like terrorism, drug carteles, human trafficking, sexual abuse of children, public order and similar all alarming issues.

But the justification for surveillance has nothing to do with the approach to it as such. Everything can be excused. Practically everything.

How ever, we cannot draw the line on a case to case basis. Because the boundaries of what our elected representatives deem to be acceptable or not keeps changing depending on time, zeitgeist and place. There are no guarantees that the ruling classes will use surveillance only for reasonable purposes, at all times.

We must draw a line that stands on principle.

Surveillance should only be used if there is a tangible notion about a crime being committed or about to be committed.

When this principle is established – but at no earlier point – we can take on the day to day discussion about what should be legal and illegal. That is a never ending and ever changing process.

But first, we must accept and respect the right to privacy as a fundamental human right.

Today's day by day and case by case approach will with absolute certainty lead to the right to privacy being hollowed out all together. You need only to give politics a glance to understand that.

A society without the right to privacy will be a highly unpleasant, hostile and dangerous society. Not least for the innocent.

We, the people, must demand our right to privacy back. Because no one else will do it for us.

[In Swedish]

November 3, 2012

In the Twighlight Zone of Compassion


Having worked some years in the European Parliament, I will never be the same again. The way I view things around me has changed. I guess that is what happens to you, after falling through the looking glass.

Some things are just absurd. Like the cocktail party in solidarity with earth quake victims in Haiti. Or the three course french lunch to discuss what to do about the citizens of Europe being so fat. The cocktails opening an exhibition against drunk driving also fall into my mind.

Other things are totally freaking surreal. And on top of that list, I put the champagne reception against homelessness.

Members of the European Parliament are free to host exhibitions in the premisses. This is often used by corporations or special interests, wanting to show their work for the elected few.

Once in a while these exhibitions are used for different charities. In this case, to make a statement that homelessness is a serious problem. Fair enough. But the way it was done…

To start, some ten to twenty live sized metal cast sculptures of homeless people where placed in the exhibition area together with some posters informing about the problem.

Then, the exhibition was opened with lengthy speeches by a Member and a spokes person for some charity. Then - Champagne!

I will never be able to free my mind from this picture. Expensive suits and dresses, french hair work and an air of exclusive eau-de-toilettes, the guests hands grasping Champagne glassware and plates of cocktail canapés - mingling with the static, bronze cast less fortunate citizens.

Mind you, this was not a fund raising event. Nothing of substance was given to or done for the homeless. The whole point of this exercise was to show off an image of commitment and compassion, from a very high altitude.

The thing is, this kind of behaviour does not in any way strike the average Member as elitist, von oben, disturbing or even odd. This is what life is like in the political bubble.

An ordinary Member is never closer to an actual homeless people then when whizzing by them in a chauffeur driven black Parliament Mercedez-Benz.

This is the ruling political class. The band of the morally unkempt – from left to right, from north to south. The view of Very Important People in their glass tower.

I and my boss, Swedish Pirate MEP Christian Engström, watched this picture in disbelief on our way out of the Parliament - to pay for a pint or two by our selfs, in the real world.

On Place Luxembourg we found an actual homeless Belgian man. For a moment we considered escorting him in to the Parliament and take him to the event. But we soon recognized that it would not be appreciated...

[In Swedish»]