- “Knowledge means power.” – Party program of the Pirate Party Germany; originally: “Knowledge is power“, Francis Bacon, 1597.
- “Use public data, protect private data.” – CCC hacker ethics (one of my favorite quotes)
- “In dictatorships, only the oppressed are ‘transparent’, never the rulers.” – TheCitizen.de, 8 October 2012 (see also: my comment on the press release)
- “The fundamental question of the digital age: the imbalance of power between the individual, corporations and government.” – Frank Rieger in FAZ: “Schufa & Facebook: Kredit auf Daten“, 9th June 2012 (my tweet to this; english)
- “Lobbyism is when money determines political decisions. Democracy is when voices and votes determine political decisions.” – TheCitizen.de, 8 October 2012 (4 October 2012)
We, the Pirate Party, want transparent representatives and transparent members of parliament.
Because of their power to make and decide on laws that affect many people, every representative/member of parliament should disclose to the public all of their perks / extra income and revenue in addition to their salary as representative/member of parliament (note that in some cases, for example with chancellor candidate and member of the Bundestag Steinbrück (SPD), the perks from corporations and banks are probably rather his main income, since they are bigger than his parliament salary; see my tweet, the Welt article and the Tagesschau article) and all of their interconnections with politics, business, lobbying agencies, foundations, associations, organizations and the media as a legal obligation. Not only the amount of the income must be disclosed, but also from whom it comes. This is transparency and good for democracy.
The quote of the candidate for chancellor Steinbrück (SPD) “I believe that there is transparency only in dictatorships” is outrageous.
(See Dradio interview with Steinbrück, 6 October 2012.)
In dictatorships, only the oppressed are ‘transparent’, never the rulers. Because the ruling people are well aware: Knowledge is power. Their knowledge and information lead prevents them from being overthrown and replaced by a democracy; or in democracies prevents that the concentration of power and power inequality is reduced. It is particularly insulting when someone who holds more power than the majority of the population (Steinbrück) equates the just demand for more transparency, meaning less power imbalance, with the demand for the opposite, namely dictatorship. Not only the SPD, but also and especially the FDP, the CDU and CSU so far blocked the improvement of transparency concerning perks/incomes of representatives/members of parliament. In addition, regrettably, Germany has not ratified the UN Convention against Corruption, even though virtually all other countries worldwide have ratified it already. The reduction of the knowledge lead of established power structures must be done by the essential disclosure of political exertion of influence and of networks in politics, business, lobbying agencies, foundations, associations, organizations and the media, and also by free, unrestricted, and gratis access to education and knowledge.
Transparency, data protection, and privacy.
We must increase the transparency of those who, by office, mandate, or great economic power, can make political decisions over others. And we must enhance the data protection for those who are subject of the decisions. The sphere of personal privacy is a human right and applies to every human. Because apparently in the current debate some politicians misunderstand the concept: Privacy does not include political contacts, influence, funding, decision-finding and decision-making in the official and elected activity or activity of great economic power. Instead, this applies to everyone: the strongest — and inviolable — protection within the privacy of every person are their own thoughts, their own body, their life with family and friends, their personal home and their personal data and computers.
Cultural shift towards understanding and enlightenment in politics.
Transparency does not increase the distrust of citizens in politics; instead unethical behavior, corruption, lobbyism and the lack of transparency do. The problem is not the messenger, but the message. Only in the short term transparency may benefit political opponents. The voters would be able to distinguish very well between mistakes they choose to forgive, and positions and decisions that they choose to oppose because of the additional knowledge by transparency. This distinction, which is only possible with access to knowledge, and transparency, I call a culture of understanding. In the long term, only those politicians and political parties are going to be supported by people who view the people fully as mature and critical citizens and who share with them their knowledge and decision making — truly letting them participate. Only those political movements will endure. A culture of the “pre-emptive force of ignorance and non-knowledge” that is widespread in all old political parties and regrettably occurs even with some individual cases within the Pirate Party (Stuttgarter Zeitung interview with Pirate Party federal chairman BuBernd, 26 June 2012), is opposed to an emancipatory, democratic culture of the Enlightenment which we want and which says: Question authority. Dare to know for yourself. Dare to think for yourself!
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