Monday, September 19, 2011

A clash of generations

Yesterday was a relatively minor election in Germany, more precisely in Berlin, in its roles as german capital and as one of the german federal states. The most remarkable thing about that election was this: The german pirate party (direct link in german) got no less than 9% of the votes and 15 seats in Berlins state parliament. (Luckily, they didn't get more because they didn't have more candidates. In other words, additional votes would likely have been lost....)

The reactions fro the mainstream media are remarkably similar to those responding to the first successes of the german green party a (direct link in german) about 35 years ago, along the lines of "This could only happen in a city-state, like Berlin, not in a territorial state." (I should mention that just this year Germany got its first greeen prime minister in a federal state, Baden W├╝rttemberg, which is a territorial state. Another typical reaction: "The accountability of being in parliament will quickly dissolve voters illusions.", expecting that the result will be quite different after the next election."

I believe, what most of these responders don't get is that the pirate party is driven by a clash of generations. They won't go away so quickly, if at all.

The pirates voters are mostly people below 40 years. That's exactly the generation that was raised with, or even in, the Internet. To them, the the Internet provides value. It's important. Things like "Vorratsdatenspeicherung" (telecommunications data retention) real name policies, various degrees of censorahip (regardless of the alleged reason: terroriam, child pornography, nazism, not to mention political grounds (Iran, China, Northern Korea) orcopyright violations) are threatening this value. Threatening something important that is.

Take, on the other hand, the elder generation. The internet isn't important to them. It's a toy, that their children or grandchildren are playing with. A real lot of them are even considering a threat. (I remember some politicians assuming that the recent terror attacks in Norway wouldn't have happened withut the Internet. Similar voices can be heard after each and any amok run. Guess the age of such politicians.) They are quixk to call for exactly those things that the younger generation perceives as a threat. To the elders, it's the cure.

To me, that's the same situation that we had when the green party was founded. Our generation considered the protection of the environment as important, our parents and grandparents considered it as a thread (mostly economical). The greens didn't go away. There time came when our generations and those of our children outnumbered our anchestors. I believe the time of the piraztes (or whoever follows them, should they break apart) Perhaps we'll have the first pirate prime minister in another 30 years?