Pirate Democracy

Perhaps surprisingly, democracy was the norm amongst pirate crews who ravaged the Caribbean and other parts of the world in the 18th century.

While many European states were still reluctant to give power to the people, most pirate crews already elected their captains on the basis of universal pirate suffrage; and not only that, they also regularly deposed them by democratic elections if they were not satisfied with their performance.

“The best argument against [form of government] is a conversation with the average [governing actor].” – Willem Etsenmaker

The rules on many pirate ships were surprisingly strict. It was usually run by two senior officers: the captain and the quartermaster. The captain could be vetoed by the quartermaster on all matters except battle. The quartermaster would decide how treasure would be divided out, including the captain’s share. The captain also had no special quarters.

Other than this rule of two, ruling the ship was more-or-less democratic. The rules on Captain Bartholomew Roberts ship The Fortune were clear: there was no gambling, no smuggling girls into the dorm, no playing music on a Sunday and “lights out” were at 8 o’clock sharp.

Pirate Captain George Lowther said concerning women on his ship: “If at any time meet with a prudent woman, that man that offers her to meddle with her without her consent shall suffer present death.” In other words, rape was a capital offence.

The actor Robert Newton invented the stereotypical pirate voice in the first sound adaptation of Treasure Island in 1950. He is considered the “Patron Saint” of International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Finally, there is an academic book called Sodomy and the Piratical Tradition.

On Gun Legislation

Guns save lives – in the sense that if we all have guns, we would all be safe. Such is the logical fallacy: if we all have guns, there is less gun violence; along the same lines that if we all have a disease, there is less illness; if we are all right-wing, there are less fascists; if we all own a car, there are less traffic jams.

If you feel like you want to own a gun because you tend to feel safer, freer, less insecure, or just good in general, just say so, but do not pretend it has any beneficial use in civilised society.

If you want to save lives, you remove the things that cause deaths, you do not hand everyone a piece of the lethal problem. That is to say, if you are concerned about saving lives, and you find that alpha causes deaths, you do not hand everyone an alpha. Less guns in society equals less gun-related violence in society. This is a claim which is factually sound. Sometimes it is that easy.

If you need a gun to feel safe, you might just not live in the safest society in the world.

Now, as societies become more prosperous, equal, highly educated, liberal, et cetera, you will find that the need for every individual in that society to own a weapon slowly diminishes. We can observe this tendency in many modern societies today. It is important that we are aware that more often than not, proponents of the sale of arms on quite a large scale – people who also often tend to regard the last resort, i.e. self defence with a firearm, as some sort of a reasonable first response – are not very often individuals who were raised in these societies.

If you need a gun to feel free, you might just not be the most independent person in the world.

There are a number of societies which have – because of several socio-economic reasons like relatively high levels of general prosperity, equality, liberalism, education, et cetera – moved beyond the need for the possession of a firearm. As societies become more prosperous, happy, and secure, people tend to become less scared, insecure, and mistrusting of other people in society. You will also find that those societies have a lower rate of violent firearm-related crimes. This is not a coincidence.

If you need a gun to feel less insecure, you might just not have the strongest personality in the world.

Now, in another country, it may well be a legal right to own a gun. Again, that’s all very well. However, there is no reason to make the mistake of regarding this as a timeless universal human right that has been written in some cosmic rulebook; nor is there any reason to be so narrowly minded or misinformed to deny the fact there are more highly developed societies (highly developed, that is, for the reasons listed above) which function perfectly fine, arguably, perhaps even better, than the societies in which people generally feel the need to be armed when they appear in public.

If you need a gun to constantly re-establish your freedom, you either have very uncivilised neighbours, or you might just not live in the most libertarian society in the world.

The ironic thing is, there may well be societies in which it is indeed virtually suicidal to walk around in public unarmed. However, we shall always need to advocate changes in society that move towards better economic standards, less criminal activity, and higher standards of general human well-being instead only trying to ‘shoot’ our way out of problems. And at some stage, for reasons that have been already mentioned, this means introducing some kind of gun legislation. Any other conviction is nothing short of dogmatic.”

– Willem Etsenmaker


Bloedrode bladeren in de vorst
Zo is de winter te bevechten
En bemoedigt aller eeuwige dorst
Om twee harten te vervlechten

Mijn bekleedt land rood vergeeld
Maakt de aarde deugdzaam sober
Met vallende kleuren zacht bespeelt
Droomt de herfstspreker in oktober

Zoals alle bloemen die verflensen
Lovend lieflijk en ontroerd
Zou ik verlangend alles wensen
In haar boezem meegevoerd

– Willem Etsenmaker

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