The Pirate Party – the politics of protest: Rick Falkvinge at TEDxObserver

Thank y’all! This is going to be a motivational speech. Because — imagine my motivation standing
between this strong, healthy crowd … and lunch. (Laughter) So … I’m @Falkvinge on Twitter. Feel free to quote me if I say something
memorable, stupid, funny, whatever. I love seeing my name on Twitter. So … Hi! I’m Rick. I’m a politician. I’m sorry. How many in here have heard
of the Swedish Pirate Party before? Let’s see a show of hands. OK, that’s practically everybody. Probably due to the fact
that we are Sweden’s neighbor. I frequently ask how many have heard
of any other political party and there’s always
just scattered hands in the audience compared to this first question
which is one-half to two-thirds. This is actually the first time ever
that does not match. It was practically everybody. So, for those who haven’t heard of us: well, the Pirate Party, we love the net. We love copying and sharing,
and we love civil liberties. For that, some people call us pirates. Probably in an attempt to make us
bow our heads and feel shame. That didn’t work very well. We decided to stand tall about it instead. And so in 2006,
I founded a new political party. I led it for its first five years. And the European elections,
the last European elections, we became the largest party and the most coveted
youth demographic, sub-30. And what’s interesting is we did that on less than one percent
of the competition’s budget. We had a campaign budget
total of 50,000 euros. They had six million between them —
and we beat them. That gave us a cost efficiency advantage
of over two orders of magnitude. And I’m gonna share
the secret recipe of how we did that. We developed swarm methodologies. And they can be applied
to any business or social cause. Well, almost any — there’s a small asterisk by the end, and I’ll get to that in just a minute. But applying these — and we’ve done this dozens of times,
we know that this works. We’ve put two people
in the European Parliament, we have 45 people
in various German state parliaments, we’re in the Icelandic parliament,
the Czech senate, many, many, many more, local councils — and, as said, we’ve spread
to 70 countries. And that’s not bad
for a political movement that hasn’t even been around for a decade. So today we’re going
to talk a bit about — how people are motivated
to be part of change, to be part of something
bigger than themselves. And how you can channel this
into an organization that harnesses this great power of wanting
to make the world a better place. And in the end,
come out a little on the better. When I speak to businesspeople,
I frequently make them very upset when I contradict them and say that no, your employees
are not your most valuable asset. Your most valuable asset
is the thousands of people who want to work for you for free. And you don’t let them. They get very upset about that. A swarm is a congregation
of tens of thousands of volunteers that have chosen of their own will
to converge on a common goal. There’s this “Futurama” quote: “When push comes to shove,
you gotta do what you love — even if it’s not a good idea.” (Laughter) I mean, seriously,
what kind of idiot thinks they can change the world
by starting a political party? (Laughter) This kind of idiot, apparently. But it works! What you need to do
is to put a stake in the ground. You need to announce your goal. Just say, “I want to accomplish this.” I’m going to do this. And it doesn’t need to be very costly. My announcement was
just two lines in a chat channel. “Hey, look, the Pirate Party
has its website up now after New Year’s.” And the address. That was all the advertising I ever did. The next time I had several hundred
activists wanting to work with us. When you provide such a focus point, a swarm intelligence emerges. When people can rally to a flag. And that’s what gives you this two orders
of magnitude of cost efficiency. It’s a huge advantage — you’re running circles
around all the legacy organizations. And there are four goals
that need to be fulfilled in your goal in order for this to work. These four criteria
are that your goal must be: tangible, credible, inclusive and epic. Let’s take a look at them:
It needs to be tangible. A lot of people say, “Well, you know, we should make
the world a better place,” or, “Yeah, we should all feel good now.” Not going to work. You need a binary. Are we there yet, or are we not there yet? It needs to be credible. Somebody seeing the project plan
that you’re posting needs to see that, yes, this project plan will take us from where we are to where we want to be. You need to break it down into subgoals that each by themselves
are seen as doable, and when you add the subgoals together, we’ve gone to where we want. It needs to be — and this is where it gets exciting
in terms of working swarmwise — it needs to be inclusive. Anybody who sees this project plan
needs to immediately say, “I want to do this —
and there’s my spot!” And they will be able
to jump right into the project and start working on it
without asking anybody’s permission. And that is exactly what’ll happen. And, last but not least,
it needs to be epic. It needs to energize people.
It needs to electrify people. Shoot for the moon! On second thought,
don’t shoot for the moon, we’ve already been there —
shoot for Mars! (Laughter) In contrast, you will never be able
to get a volunteer swarm forming around making the most
correct tax audit ever. Doesn’t electrify people. Go to Mars. A lot of people
kind of balk at the obstacles. We’re going to climb a huge mountain. So how do you motivate people to do that? Well, it turns out
that obstacles are not the problem. Not knowing the obstacles is the problem. If you know how high the mountain is, you know exactly
what it takes to scale it. We know exactly how far away Mars is
and what it takes to get there. If you can plan it like a project, you can plan what resources you need and you can execute it,
exactly like a project. Let’s see: we’re going to Mars, we need two dozen
volunteer rocket scientists, one dozen volunteer metallurgists, some crazy dude who will mix
rocket fuel in his backyard and so on. When you can list the resources,
you know what you need to get there. When you know what you need
to get there, you can go there. And the next thing is to encourage
this development of a swarm intelligence, which is where
the cost efficiency comes in. There’s a TED Talk on motivation
that debunks that we work for money, and it presents science on how
we’re really motivated by three things, in terms of larger creative tasks, when we work for something
bigger than ourselves. We work for autonomy, mastery and purpose. We’ve covered purpose already. As in, working for something bigger,
tangible, credible, inclusive and epic. So, where that motivation talk ends, what it doesn’t answer is, how do you build an organization
that harnesses this motivational power. And this is where
working swarmwise comes in, this is where swarm intelligence comes in. Turns out that there are three factors
that you optimize for — and each of these are in complete opposite
to what you learn at a business school. But it works. We know it works. We have people in many, many
parliaments to prove it. Those three factors are:
speed, trust and scalability. We optimize for speed
by cutting bottlenecks out of the loop, cutting them out of the decision loop. That means cutting yourself
out of the decision loop, which can be hard. But you’ve got to communicate your vision
so passionately, so strongly, that everybody knows what the goal is and can find something, some step that takes the movement
just a little closer to that goal. And when tens of thousands of people
do that on a weekly basis, you become an unstoppable force. We had a three-person rule
in our organization, saying that if three self-identified
volunteers in the movement were in agreement that something
was good for the movement, they had the green light
from the highest office to go ahead and act
in the name of the organization, including spending resources. When you talk about
this kind of empowerment to traditional businesspeople, they think you belong in a zoo. But you know what? I led this organization for five years, there were 50,000 registered members and many, many more anonymous activists. It was not abused once. Everybody had the key
to the treasure chest. It was not abused one single time. Turns out when you give people
the keys to the castle, and look them in the eye
and say, “I trust you,” they step up to the plate. And that’s a beautiful thing
to see happen. Obviously, not everything
went according to plan, but that’s a different thing. We made mistakes.
We should expect mistakes. If you’re pioneering something,
that means you must, by definition, venture into the unknown. When you’re trying the unknown,
some things won’t go as planned. That’s part of the definition
of venturing into the unknown. To find the great,
you must allow mistakes to happen. So you must communicate
that we expect some things to go wrong to create a risk-positive environment. Therefore we optimize for iteration speed. Meaning that we try, we fail,
we try again, we fail faster, we fail better, we try again,
we fail better again. Maybe after we’ve tried 15 times,
we’ve mastered some specific subject, so you want to minimize the time
it takes to try those 15 times. We optimize on trust.
We encourage diversity. You need to communicate
your vision so strongly so that everybody can translate it
into their own context because language is an incredibly strong inclusionary and exclusionary
social marker. This one-brand-fits-all message — forget it! That’s what they teach you
at business school — it doesn’t work. Or at least, it doesn’t give you
the cost-efficiency advantage of working swarmwise. This leads to a lot of different
approaches tried in parallel in different social groups who try out different methods
of working toward the goal. Some of them will work but in order to find the great ones,
you need this diversity. And you need to communicate
that we need that diversity. If somebody on this side
does not understand what those guys are doing, that’s OK because we all trust each other
to work for the better of the movement. And it’s OK that I don’t understand
their social context. I’m not expected to —
I understand my social context. I contribute with something I know. Make people aware of this diversity. Finally, scalability.
Get feet on the ground. Again, in business school,
they teach you to use a lean organization. Forget that. Just scale up the organization
from the get-go. Start with 10,000 empty boxes
and an org chart covering down to every minor city. When you have lots and lots
of small responsibilities in such a scaffolding
that supports the swarm, supports the activists, you’ll find that these boxes
in the org charts are getting filled in quite rapidly, and they start to get filled in
beyond your horizon with people you’ve never heard of. And so, this swarm keeps growing
to tens of thousands of people, each taking on something small
with very, very decentralized mandate to act on the organization. And this is when
a swarm intelligence emerges. This is when you have this beehive logic
where everybody knows what’s to be done. Everybody is taking
their own small steps towards it. So the swarm starts to act
as a coherent organism. And it’s amazing to watch. This is when you’re awarded
by the cost-efficiency advantage over your competitors by two orders of magnitude. Two orders of magnitude. This is not just a silver bullet. So we’ve been talking a lot
about the big picture today. You can use these swarm methods
for a lot of stuff. Do you want to change the world? Do you want to bring clean water
to a billion people? Teach three billion people to read? Maybe you’re into social change; you want to introduce
unconditional basic income. Or maybe you want
to take humanity to Mars. You can do this using these methods. You can do this. It’s about leadership. It’s about deciding what you want to do
and telling it to the world. Because no matter whether you think
you can or cannot change the world, no matter whether you think
you can or cannot change the world, you are probably right. So one question I want everybody here
to ask themselves today is the observation that change doesn’t
just happen, somebody makes it happen — do you want to be that person? Do you want to be that person? And then one last thing: There’s one component more
that’s required to work swarmwise that I haven’t mentioned yet. And that is fun. This goes beyond just enjoying your job, this goes beyond having
a pinball machine in the office. Because this is actually required
to succeed in a swarmwise scenario. This is required to succeed to get that cost-efficiency advantage
of two orders of magnitude. For the reason that you need
to attract volunteers. And people, in this aspect,
are rather predictable. People will go to other people
who are having fun. In contrast, they will walk an extra mile
to avoid people who are not having fun. So, having fun is more than just
having a pinball machine in the office. It’s an absolute
and unavoidable requirement for organizational and operational success
when you’re working swarmwise. So, in summary — a recipe for a swarm organization using these motivational methods
to a huge competitive advantage. Your goal: it needs to be tangible,
credible, inclusive and epic. Your organization needs to be optimized
for speed, trust and scalability. You need to enjoy yourselves. And that will reward you with two orders of magnitude
of cost-efficiency advantage. Thank you. (Applause)

About the author


  1. And today the swedish parliament approved the DRD of which Rick spoke with just the greens and excommunist against.

  2. There's another good quote. "Your worst adversaries aren't evil, and trying to portray them as such does not help your cause. But it does something else: it defines you."

  3. I miss the old Pirate Party that focused on balancing intellectual property laws rather than protecting our online integrity. My goal is not to illegally download movies without being caught, it is to make it legal in the first place so that I would have nothing to hide.

  4. In israel people pirate freely, even though there's no such party!
    seriously, it got to a situation where teachers are not afraid to bring pirate copies of movies to class.

    as for privacy, i trust and hope that the shin bet (~USA's FBI) to wiretap at least those who are suspects. and I trust and hope that the Shin bet agents respect the information they are exposed to.

    it's the right of privacy vs the right of safety. and in an imperfect place like israel, the latter wins.

  5. If the wrong kind of southern cop overhears young adults discuss this party……what do you think is going to happen to the average youth? Resisting arrest plus assaulting an officer.

  6. I agree with his main thought but he is not a good speaker and this speech doesn't feel well thought out, it just sort of wander and meanders

  7. if people dont get to get rich for every softwere thay are doing there woldnt be so much pirecy…
    its like we live in a world that movie ,music , any softwer company are planing to get rich very fast..WORK LIKE EVERY BODY WORK. hard work and caring about customer will keep people buying your shit and comeback for more and then you get rich and be happy.

  8. The Pirates are awesome, they have my full suport unlike the fat asses trying to control us, people said fuck sopa pipa and acta, and guess what they didn't listen to us they shitted on us and now CISPA is in power. These people do NOT represent us, they do not listen to us, democracy is but a dream nowadays, its time for REAL change and real liberties.

  9. I think it’s wrong to use the wording of the MAFIAA for a very specific reason: Associations.
    They misused the word, to call us “murderous rapist thugs”. Just like they call copying “stealing” and similar bullshit.
    If we use those words, we not only trigger the same associations in the minds of people, but actually *validate* them. Which is the worst possible thing you can do to ridiculous accusations.
    It’s really sad.

  10. I just noticed something: There is no greater form of respect, than being able to live well and do what you want to do, solely off of the money people want to give you just for doing that.

  11. He’s right. Everyone of us *can* do it. We just say we can’t so we have an excuse. And when we “try”, we either try to be Hercules, and make it too hard, or are half-assed, and get bored/disappointed. (Or we let idiots drag us down. [Look up “crab mentality" on Wikipedia])
    As a game designer, I can tell you: It’s the balance, that makes it motivating! And it’s the vision of the epic reward of the ultimate goal, that gives you direction and purpose.
    Create those two, and be surprised! 🙂

  12. In European democracies it is actually feasible to start a political party in order to make a change. Most governments are formed by coalitions and the party's impact on the new polices is roughly in proportion to its size (so long as they belong to the winning coalition). How does that work in the US with a two party system?

  13. what ive noticed is usually one campaigns under the party that most fits their ideals. if your popular enough then information gets around and the like to the point you've influenced what people want from their politicians

  14. We've let corporations run our government into the ground. It gets worse every day while they distract people with this single party political system and its insane bipolar ideologies. The president and congress are just puppets. I doubt a single one of them is honest and even fewer actually belong to anything but the Corporate Party. It's impossible to get anywhere if you aren't "Rep." or "Dem." Voting is a joke too because you pick from the same guy twice. It really makes no difference.

  15. The keywords here are "corporations run our government." If we don't like something, we must vote with our money. That's the only thing corporations understand or respond to.

  16. but that doesnt work either do you think the newspapers would tell you if people were boycotting there paper? No and thats the problem the system works against the masses, not for them!

  17. i dont want to leave it negative so what needs to be done is to help empower the humans of the world to demand their governments represent the layman. Because the point is when a party is elected on certain promises and break them. Technically that is fraud. When a goverment colonises other countrys and uses the media to scaremonger and dehumanise the colonised to the governed this is the media conspiring with other and comitting war crimes and terrorism eg USA and UK in many countries

  18. 'vote with money' is the most moronic thing that someone can rely on. it assumes that those corporations – but more, their big shareholders, will just sit there and take your 'voting with money' and removing their power. they dont. they conspire, they collaborate, they monopolize. 'voting with money' bullshit is something which works only in 'wild west' economic situations – the frontier times of an economy ( or a new field of economy) in which there is no dominant power. let it go.

  19. your a god i wish things you send would be private selling drugs would be so much eaiser ! voting for the pirate party peace out from SwEdEn

  20. someone asked how the US two party system could add something like an effective party as Parliments easily add them.. Instead of a 3rd p, build a caucus into the Dem or Rep and b effective within.g

  21. Sure the Dems and Reps are thr right and far right of the "corporate party", but their polisitions shift over time on fluctuations and creation of internal caucuses. Look at the Tea Party in The GOP for a good exsmple

  22. "An Entrepreneur is tasked with making money given the constraints of society and technology. They do not get to dismantle civil liberties, even if, and perhaps especially if, they can't make money otherwise." Rick Falkvinge @ TEDx Observer

  23. "people will take your vision and do whatever they can to further it" If you are passionate, people will be attracted to that passion and help even though they dont really know why. I am passionate about something I do in my life and I can tell all and sundry, people are attracted to that passion like moths to a lamp. So, be passionate about your cause. It may not guarantee all the help you need, but in hindsight in my stuff, I have never been alone and my group of followers is growing. PS, I would like to end illiteracy too, that's a wonderful cause we can all do soooooo easily

  24. It is most certainly in the interest of every Allied scoundrel to align himself with the most glorious pirate party. Imagine a TEDx where you could have the most vilified, demonized, and despised antagonists and give them a platform to rail against the Allied Republics, even where the Allied citizens would really hear the arguments, presented to them neutrally, and be allowed to make up their own minds about them.

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