Over the past month, the Pirate Parties International (PPI) “organisation” – I use the term lightly, as while it qualifies as such by dint of being a legal entity, it is far from organised – has undergone several blows, as national parties, tired of self-serving officials scheming and lying for their own benefit and prestige, sever their connections.
To help guide understanding of just how broken and deluded those in charge are, I’ve chosen to highlight issues that have come up ONLY as a result of parties leaving, a process which started less than a month ago. Since Australia announced their decision to leave on February 11th, the UK Pirate Party has also left, and the Belgian Pirate Party suspended its membership, pending a full party discussion at the end of this month. It was the response from the Board of the PPI to this last announcement that prompted this piece, and so it’s from there I start.
On March 3rd, Thomas Goorden sent the following email to all pirate leaders.
The PPI board, with 3 parties leaving in 3 weeks, had to try and deal with it, and they did in a manner that’s typical for the PPI. From the minutes of their March 3 meeting:
“PP-BE suspended from their membership, and propose the upcoming GA of PP-BE to terminate the PPI Membership altogether.
Bastian complains about the acting of the co-chairman who seems to be working against the aims of PPI in public. The board is asked to decide upon “expelling” (the request to CoA to expell) the Co-Chair from the board of PPI. It will be dealt with on the 2015-03-21 in the regular meeting of the board. He shall be informed about it. The meeting is proposed to be a closed one discussing this item.”
From my understanding, Koen (the co-chair) has actually taken the statutes seriously, especially XII.(1) , which is the statute that states PPI officers can’t consider themselves as representing a particular party, the same one both Thomas and Gregory are being investigated over, and openly flouting at this same meeting
“Gregory: I have participated in a meeting with PP-CZ on the preparation of the Piratecon conference in Mariánské Lázně, CZ, that have earned a thank “to PPI” even if I had my hat on as international coordinator of PP-DE. https://twitter.com/vonpecka/status/572501856620052480” (source)
In fact, it’s been compounded as I was writing this as Gregory Engels, current PPI Board member, 3 time PPI chair, and de-facto leader of the cabal at the center of things, has sent a proposal to the PPI board (which includes him) in his role as PPDE International coordinator (and thus liaison between PPDE and PPI. Now PPDE actually has two International coordinators, but funnily enough, the other is Thomas Gaul, another of the PPI Board members. And remember, PPI’s statutes say
…The members of the Board shall consider the interests of the Pirate movement as a whole and shall neither consider themselves, nor be considered, as representing any particular Member or non-member Organization or region. (emphasis mine)
Oh dear. Anyway, I believe that Koen does not have a leadership position within PPBE. Additionally, the phrasing of Bastian’s “working against the interests of PPI” comment worries me. Especially since the ‘Goals‘ show nothing of the sort. Now, Koen might be working against the interests of “some of the PPI Board”, but that’s a different matter, and actually the kind of thing the Pirate movement is meant to be about (and indeed what his ‘mandate’ was from the GA, no?)
And to top it all off, they want to hold this in a “closed meeting”. By their own Rules of Procedure
The board meetings are public, unless the board votes in favor of a non-public meeting. The decision to hold a non-public meeting has to be motivated.”
This motivation is… what? Stifling dissent? Expressing butthurt without ridicule?
If the PPI Board wants to know why parties are leaving PPI, this is why. “Dissent against the troika is to be rooted out and exterminated” is the impression I, and others I’ve talked to in the last 24 hours have gotten.
There *are* people acting against the interests and goals of PPI (as actually enumerated in the statutes), and of its members parties on the Board and it’s not Koen. That’s why parties are leaving, as they can no-longer be associated with it.
Also, Fun thing that also brings a question of basic competence.
again from the minutes:
Marco has brought up again the question about his status, following the “complaint” from Brendan Molloy and asks for permission to write to the CoA for clarification for the interpretation on the statues.
-> motion: The board members do not consider Marco a full board member with full voting rights until the clarification from the CoA.
against: Gregory, Bastian, Stathis, Anders
abstain: Thomas, Marco
Welcome on board again, Marco
“Hey, there’s this question about A”
“Ok, let’s have this motion of NOT-A”
“YAY, this NOT-A motion failed, therefore A!”
“Well done, what’s next?”
As someone else from another Pirate Party noted, “you cannot positively decide something by have a motion fail to carry and concluding the reverse of said motion” FFS, this is something any 8yo knows, it’s absolutely BASIC and double-facepalmingly stupid.
Or maybe it’s not. These things would make perfect sense if the idea was not to benefit all pirates, but to further the personal aims of the Board. Sounds unlikely, yes, but it’s one that came to mind only after seeing this tweet
— Thomas Gaul (@Thomas1G) March 3, 2015
And see, this is why Parties are leaving. The PPI Board no longer “performs actions according to the decisions of the General Assembly and the spirit of the Pirate Movement“, but for their own benefit. Another example are Bastian’s and Thomas’s comments following the CoA ruling on fees.
“Thomas: I whant to note that the court has made its decission without a hearing from the facts from the other side – the board had no opportunity to explain the view of the GA. Right now we would only have the opportunity to go to a regular court.”
“Bastian: in short – we have a right to be heard, as representatives of the PPI (and its GA between the seatings), and it is not right that the CoA have not heard the board on this matter.”
They demand to tell their story, and believe they have a right to be heard, just BECAUSE THEY ARE THE PPI BOARD. Even though the views, opinions, etc. of the Board were completely irrelevant to the issue, which was “did the GA vote get the required number of votes to pass according to the statutes”. The only facts at issue are ‘the requirements to pass such an action under the statutes’ and ‘the actual vote result’. Anything else is irrelevant. Also note the end of Thomas’ statement about going ‘to a regular court’. He clearly doesn’t think much of the statutes, which state
“(1) The exclusive power to resolve internal disputes shall be vested to the Court of Arbitration. All other organs and officers are required to cooperate with the Court of Arbitration to the extend needed for the proper exercise of its functions. … (3) In particular, the Court of Arbitration has the exclusive power to
a) issue a preliminary ruling in an urgent matter of its competence,
b) declare matters of fact when necessary for the functioning of the PPI,
c) decide the disputes between the officers and the organs of the PPI,
Basically, Thomas does not wish to abide by the statutes, which is funny coming from someone that stated
— Thomas Gaul (@Thomas1G) February 13, 2015
To top things off, just look at the hubris of Thomas and his wish to “explain the view of the GA” – they watched the video, many of them were also there. But even if ‘the view’ were relevant (it’s not) it doesn’t alter the fact that the vote didn’t meet the required standard. Or is he saying that because it’s something he wants? And while a majority of the people there may have been for it, it’s not a vote ‘of the people there’, it’s a vote of the member parties. It doesn’t matter if every delegate there is in favour of it personally, if the party they represent is against it, that’s what the vote is, no matter the “view”. Hey, ‘the view’ can be anything, but it doesn’t matter. The statutes say 2/3 of those voting, and so that’s the barrier; not half, and not some ‘general impression he got’ (god forbid that became important for any reason).
It is starting to become a bit of a joke in fact. PPI has fundamental problems. We all know this. We (as a large group) attempted to address them and had them shot down for one reason only – it would remove ‘power’ from those who currently have it. There is no other possible explanation. They’re blind to it though. In their response to the Australian departure, they say
“The resignation of PPAU is a decision of one particular member party, who has repeatedly expressed their disconcert in the course of the past years, but is not a symptom for general failing of the pirate movement or the PPI as an organization.”
But it’s NOT ‘one particular member party‘, it’s two, so far, a third already signaled intent, and there are rumblings from other parties too. They’re right that it’s not a symptom for general failing of the pirate movement, because they’re still a member of that overall movement. It however is precisely a symptom for general failing of PPI as an organisation, and can be nothing else, because that’s the only change made by these parties. And why had they ‘expressed their disconcert’ for so long if not because of the failing of PPI as an organisation? Even the ‘triumphs’ they boast about are hollow and overstated.
“We have organized four international gatherings with a total over 400 attendees that had, besides of handling the official business, given space for international collaboration and fostering numerous new projects.”
Projects that I for one have never hard mentioned, by ANYONE. In fact I don’t remember a single thing about any of those talks, not one memorable thing, or even a title. That doesn’t stand to their quality. The quality of the official business has become a standing joke, with how badly they’re organised and run. And PPI didn’t even organise those events, the local parties did. And 400 over 4 years? Wow.. that’s almost a hundred a year. I also do an annual event, a lot of the 35 panels each year are packed out, with lines from the ballroom through the lobby of a major Atlanta hotel.
“PPI has participated with consultations at UNESCO and WTO events, our paper with the call for inclusion of free licenses into the TRIPS agreement has been published at the WTO website (pdf).”
PPI pushed hard and KEI helped give them access to the WTO. The paper was published not because of its quality (it had none. It was devoid of substance and was essentially a 3-paragraph wish, and smelt like it’d been written the night before (which it had), but because it was submitted, it’s publication was strictly pro forma. And UNESCO? not a formal PPI thing it seems as the ONLY thing in all the PPI board minutes are
“Gregory: I was visiting the UNESCO conference in Marrakech and spoke in a session about “copyright for the digital age”.( I also met a member of PP-MA on the side) I also had two interviews with two newspapers and one short tv one for the jn1.”
So, another lie. unless you count ‘participated with consultations’ as ‘spoke at a panel at a conference I went to’. It’s not like their response got a government department to delay releasing a consultation for months, and release an explanatory covering letter because of the problems highlighted by their participation in he consultation, as I have.
“We have always tried to include all of our members, especially the non-european, into all of our business. “
No they haven’t. When my help on social media was offered back in June, the reply from Thomas was
“Your experience will be welcome the time the board of PPI has sat together in London and the social media meeting due. I am sure you will participate in person just to ensure a high quality social media strategy. As others are invited as well to help PPI on the whole.”
Yes, I’m going to spend a thousand dollars, and a nine hour flight each way (plus a generous groping by the TSA) because you prefer it in person, not by email. Others have had similar experiences, and the pathetic joke that has been remote participation in their events is legendary. Just read my liveblogs of the past GAs (2012, 2013 day 1 and day 2)
“We have issued an open call for hosts for all of our events”
With requirements that are hard to meet in many places and aren’t even needed most of the time. But an ‘open call’ is easier than actually organising the event themselves.
“We never saw an application from outside Europe, and this includes Australia, for hosting any of our events. “
Well, except for that whole 100% online one. You know the one they agreed to, and then when they saw what was happening, stopped as soon as possible. In fact, that cancellation prompted the resignation they’re responding to. And it’s not the first time either, an online event has been repeatedly called for, just because a physical one is expensive for what little actually gets done, both for the participants and the party, and there are more time- and money-effective ways to get the job done. You’ll never get 50 pirates flying all the way to Australia, or braving the entry to the US, 50 at most, but the requirements are for 200+, so guess who’d take the loss (not PPI)
“Opposed to that – the vast majority (over two thirds) of the parties that where founding the PPI decided that the organization should also follow a political agenda and become a global player on the parquet of international politics, advocating for ideas shared by pirate parties at various UN bodies (like WIPO and WTO) and create cooperations with other international NGOs. According to the founding documents that was also the position of PPAU back then.”
So, PPAU voted once 5 years ago and that’s it? Or maybe they thought back then that while a body with a ‘political agenda’ might be a good idea in general, the specific of PPI is not? Is PPI the only possible (or only permitted) ‘political agenda pirate body’ in their mind? Whatever the thought of PPAU back then, the arrogance of PPI now is astounding. And don’t forget the pity-card
“PPI have managed to produce a number of astonishing results, given the fact that it had to operate on zero budget and with very little internal support since its foundation.”
Guess what the job of the board includes?
The functions of the board are: … c) to advise and assist Member Organizations, … h) to accept the responsibility for the raising of additional funds, and i) to exercise other functions resulting from these Statutes.
So, who’s responsible for having zero budget? Why, the Board are. They have zero budget because they don’t want to bother ‘raising additional funds’. And why is it they have little internal support? Oh that’s right, because they’re supposed to be the ones doing the support, instead of antagonising member orgs with lies and drivel.
At least they took out more of their hubris. This really gives you an idea of where they’re coming from.
“It appears to us, that the Assembly of PP-AU who issued the resolution that gave the national council the authority to withdraw from PPI at any time they feel right, was following the biased and uncomplete report and have not consulted opinions of other PPI members nor the PPI Board, nor had the opportunity to put the accused claims to a thruth test.”
As with the court, if it doesn’t contain a long diatribe of spin on “how great PPI is if only other people would do some work for it,” it’s biased and incomplete, that it’s all lies and no truth, because there’s no balance. This isn’t the only time they’ve tried this claim either. When PPUK left, PPI’s Gregory hurled the same claims against me.
“Andrew, you are so totally right in everything, congratulation on your convincing PP-UK to leave PPI. Off for a new fresh start all to your liking!
Please stop obstructing people who are actually caring about an organization that you no longer part of. And stop repeating all over again LIES that are not backing up by reality, case some people are actually believe you.”
Unfortunately for Gregory, he was imposing his perspective on PPUK. While it seems that very few of the PPDE officials deal with PPI stuff, along with one or two German state party coordinators – prefering instead to rely on the international coordinators (who also both happen to be on the PPI board) – both the National Executive Committee (NEC) and the Board of Governors are subscribed to PPI lists. All those responsible for making the vote did so after years of first-hand observation (and often participation) into its dysfunctional nature. They didn’t need to be told anything. Gregory was caught lying again.
The problem with lying though, is that it can become habitual, especially in a political environment. Especially for poor Gregory, as he got caught making proposals to his fellow PPI board members on how to deal with the PP-AU resignation that were also based on lies. For a start, the email WAS digitally signed. Secondly, he’s now an expert on Belgian law? That’s odd, for someone who claims not to know what a simple majority is. And if Belgian law requires a member tell it’s organisation via registered letter of its intent to quit, it’s funny they don’t require said letter in reverse. PPI wants money from PPAU, but if PPAU want to quit, they need a special letter; if PPI want to kick PPAU out no such letter is needed? In fact, there’s a real easy way to leave
VII. Termination of Membership
(1) Any Member may resign from Pirate Parties International at any time. The Member gives notice to the Board of the decision to resign by registered letter. Members that resign are obliged to fulfill their financial obligations toward the association for all previous years.
(2) The decisions on the changes of Membership, such as suspension, reinstatement and exclusion, fall within the competence of the Court of Arbitration, and can be appealed to the General Assembly. If the Member appeals, the decision becomes effective at the end of the Meeting of the General Assembly, unless the General Assembly decides otherwise. A proposal for the exclusion of a Member may only be submitted by the Board, or by a tenth of Members from three different continents.
(3) A Member’s affiliation ceases automatically upon dissolution, disqualification, liquidation or in cases of temporary administration, court-ordered settlement or insolvency. The Membership also ends automatically when this Member does no longer fulfill the criteria that were necessary for its preliminary recognition as a Member.
Those criteria being:
IV. Ordinary Members
(1) The Ordinary Members are the founding Members and those accepted by the General Assembly according to section III, paragraph (4). To Ordinary Membership are eligible Members that
a) adhere to these statutes and the goals of the association as laid down by these statutes,
b) use the inflection of the word Pirate in their name, and
c) have an inner order based on democratic principles.
So object to the statutes, and you’re out automatically, and no ‘registered letter’ needed. I guess “Belgian Law” missed that trick – I guess I know why so many international orgs are based there now, they must have incompetents writing their legislation for loopholes that big. Or (far more likely) Gregory just made it up. This is just one set of examples, just from the past few weeks, of the problems with PPI at present. The whole list of problems go on and on, and don’t look to be solved any time soon. The lies continue, and every time they’re exposed, it’s ‘bias’, or ‘distorting the truth’ or they’re going to try and argue semantics by splitting hairs on the definition of words or phrases – quite a feat for people who then claim to not be fluent english speakers. They know it’s an issue, but again, love to deflect the issue and pretend it’s others that are always wrong.
However, their time is no more. 3 parties have effectively left, There are more on the way. While Rumours and distorted facts do indeed seem to rule among some pirates, many parties are putting their foot down and saying they will no longer put up with it, and have left. By the end of April, I expect a number of other parties to have left.
And so, here, now, 3500 words later, many will ask why I bothered. “Won’t this hurt the pirate movement?” some will ask (and others, especially those whose actions I have highlighted, will scream it). The answer is that it probably will, a little; compared to allowing it to go on unchallenged, to fester like some festering gangrenous sore will do a lot more damage. Furthermore, unlike some, I have a core philosophy that is based around integrity. Come what may, people always know exactly where I stand, and I think that’s more important than hiding our dirty linen. That is after all what regular polticians and parties do, and it’s the base cause of so much dysfunction in modern society. To solve a problem, we must first admit there’s a problem, and then deal with the problem, but you can’t deal with it if you refuse to admit it exists.
It does exist, and it MUST be dealt with, Shikata ga nai can no longer be the creed of PPI.