Historians hot about Somali Pirates


On the same day that a Conspiracy Theory of the Week segment apeared on The Generator, Common Dreams ran an article about the nature of Geopolitical chess games and the Somali Pirates. The Generator Conspiracy Theory of the Week and the Common Dreams piece, both concentrated on the role of international politics in forcing Somali fishermen to lives of robbery on the high seas.

What neither article took into account is the role of piracy in tipping international affairs into new territory.

In the eighth decade before the Christian era, pirate activites against the Roman grain supply led a young Julius Caeser to become involved in a failed campaign against the pirates, followed by his first attempt at a tirumvarate combining business, military and political interests that cast the mould for his short but brilliant military and political career and cemented Roman imperialism.

Ancient history, perhaps. More recently a completely different take on piracy points to the future nature of activism and political power itself. Frustrated by the ineptness of the “chattering classes” (to borrow Rupert’s disengenous phrase) co-founder of Greenpeace, Paul Watson, resigned all positions in that organisation and set up a direct action group called Sea Shepherd. His comments on pirates are well documented, but have been publicised only by The Generator and the Epoch Times, independent mediia outlets with no corporate ownership.

Watson’s view, like those expressed in the Common Dream piece by Johann Hari, is that piracy arrives at times of political corruption as a marine form of guerilla warfare against imperial control of local resources. As Watson is only to happy to point out, the tradition of the noble pirate runs deep in revolutionary history as well as adventure stories and fantasies such as the Depp, Jack Sparrow franchise.

The lesson for all of us now, is that governments are increasingly sacrificing our interests to those of the corporations that fund them. It is at times like this that figures arise who take the law into their own hands in local uprisings.

Ironically, these heroic individuals often lay the foundations of empires to come. The Mediterranian pirates of classical times gave Caeser the impetus to create an empire that was formed in his name. The pirates of the Carribean lent support to a protestant Queen of England who was diplomatically stymied from throwing of the Roman yoke at home.

As Watson has memorably put it, “John Paul Jones, a pirate, founded the US Navy and the Russian Navy.” In a classic example of being careful what we wish for, we need deliverance from our corrupt and ineffectual leaders which can only come from charismatic individuals who practice a creed of courage over caution. The irony is that this creed tends to found populist regimes with potentially dictatorial tendencies.

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