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Thu Jan 3, 2013, 01:20 AM

 

Pirates, matey!

Once the heroes of nations, pirates went from being state-sponsored champions to tolerated annoyances to the basest sort of criminals. Henry Morgan was knighted after plundering Panama in 1674; fifty years later hundreds of pirates were dangling from the gibbet at remote trading posts along Africa’s Gold Coast...The change wasn’t so much what pirates did as the context in which they found themselves: a global market economy with England at its head...It was one thing when looted Spanish gold filled the Queen’s meager treasury; it was quite another when pirates threatened to disrupt the increasingly disciplined circulatory system of 
the...the British economy... Pirates represented a dual threat to the Atlantic Ocean factory of early capitalism. They were not only thieves; they were also free.

Being a sailor has never been easy, and it was particularly tough in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. To maximize profits, sailors were forced to eat rotten food and bunk in cramped quarters, and were paid on credit..You could die...Or you might be pressed into military service, or forced to work an extra few years on another ship, or forfeit your wages as a punishment for insolence....Any complaining or shirking could be deemed “mutinous,” and punishment could range from whipping to hanging to being dangled over the side of the ship to have your brains bashed in.

Pirate ships were different – they were under democratic worker control. Captains weren’t absolute rulers, but elected leaders who commanded only during battle...Loot was divided equally and immediately, and pirates ate – and drank – better than their law-abiding contemporaries. This was the major reason pirates were feared: it was easy to convince exploited sailors to join up with them. And join up they did. Pirate crews were a polyglot, multiracial multitude (this isn’t Hardt and Negri; this was the word used at the time) that included oppressed Irishmen, escaped slaves, French heretics, and members of Caribbean indigenous groups...Marcus Rediker notes in Villains of All Nations that sixty members of Blackbeard’s crew of one hundred were black...

Media piracy, the now-mundane practice of streaming a TV show or downloading an mp3, seems a far cry from the life-or-death struggles of buccaneers on the high seas. But the history of media piracy in the US is similar to that of seafaring pirates....

http://jacobinmag.com/2012/08/gimme-the-loot/

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Reply Pirates, matey! (Original post)
HiPointDem Jan 2013 OP
starroute Jan 2013 #1
Recursion Jan 2013 #2

Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 10:52 AM

1. Complaints about media piracy go back to the heyday of naval piracy

If you look up piracy in the Oxford English Dictionary, you find a complaint from 1668 about "some dishonest Booksellers, called Land-Pirats, who make it their practice to steal Impressions of other mens Copies.”

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Thu Jan 3, 2013, 10:54 AM

2. They also spoke Dutch, Yoruba, and Spanish more than West-Country English

Every "Talk Like a Pirate Day" I try to talk in a Dutch-Yoruba pidgin, but nobody plays along, sadly.

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