Lars Gustafsson: “Why my vote goes to the Pirate Party” (English translation of today’s text)

Lars Gustafsson is probably Sweden’s most profilic living writer. Since the late 1950′s he has produced a steady flow of poetry, novels and literary criticism. At the same time, he has until recently been active as professor of philosophy at the University of Texas. Now he’s back in Sweden and just started publishing himself on a blog. He has also received a long list of literary awards, most recently – only two days ago – the Selma Lagerlöf award.
Therefore, it is making quite an excitement in Sweden as Lars Gustafsson, in today’s issue of Expressen, explains why copyright must be left behind and declares that he is voting for the Pirate Party in the ongoing European elections.

As this text could probably be of interest for a few people also outside of Sweden, I made a very fast translation. It is certainly not perfect, but please do not complain on translation wrongs in the comments – make an updated version instead, and post the link to it!
I could also add that I do not personally share every detail in Lars Gustafsson’s analysis. Especially, the dichotomy between “material” and “immaterial” is problematic, as digital technologies indeed lead to re-materializations everywhere – something we are right now exploring in the project Embassy of Piracy, culminating next week on the Venice Biennale. There are also good reasons to questions the status of Walter Benjamin’s concept of “reproducibility”. However, Lars Gustafsson – like Walter Benjamin – is powerfully formulating the ongoing conflicts in materialist terms and putting them in a very relevant historical perspective. Let this be a starting point for discussions. And once again, apologized for any translation wrongs…

Lars Gustafsson: “Why my vote goes to the Pirate Party”

According to an ancient source, the Emperor of Persia gave orders that the waves of the sea must be punished by beating, as the storm hindered him from transporting his troups by ship.
That was quite stupid of him. Today, would he maybe have tried with Stockholm district court? Or a consultative conversation with the judge?
It is odd, how strongly the situation spring 2009 – on the area of civil rights – reminds about the struggles over freedom of press in France, during the decades preceding the French revolution.
A new world of ideas is emerging and would not have been able to, were it not for an accelerating technology.
Raids against secret printing houses, confiscated pamphlets and – even more – confiscated printing equipment. Orders of arrest and adventurous nightly transports between Prussian enclave Neuchâtel – where not only large parts of the Encyclopedia was produced, but also lots of daring pornography, between the atheist pamphlets – and Paris.
Between the 1730′s and 1780′s, the number of state censors in France was doubled by four. The raids against illegal printing houses was rising at about the same pace. In retrospect, we know it did not help. Rather, the increase of censorship and printing house raids had a stimulating effect on the new ideas and made them spread even faster.

Now the conflict rage over the net’s continued existence as a forum of ideas and as an institution of civil rights, protected from privacy-threatening interventions and against powerful private interests.
That a mad French-German proposal just fell in the European parliament does certainly not mean that the freeedom of the net and the privacy is now safeguarded.
Hur real are then these threats? Let us think about the Dalälven river in spring flood times. A really critical year, the water may trespass 100 meters, maybe 200 meters, into house lots and meadows. Does it help to call the Ludvika police?

So for – this is shown by most historical experience – legislation has never been able to stop technological development.
Walter Benjamin wrote an influential essay, whose title usually is translated as “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction“, where he draws a series of interesting conclusions about what the radical changes that must follow on his time’s relatively modest degree of reproducibility. The digital revolution has brought about a reproducibility which Walter Benjamin could hardly ever have dreamt about. One could talk about maximal reproducibility. Google is about to build a library that, if is is allowed to grow, will make most material libraries obsolete or at least outmoded.
Cinema and paper newspapers are since long drawn into this new immateriality. Films, novels, magazines let themselves be reproduced. Further on; also three-dimensional objects, like products of programmable lathes let themselves be reproduced. Wirelessy and rapidly.
This immaterialisation naturally threatens the material copyright. And then were are not only talking about run-of-the-mill writers like Mr. Jan Guillou, whose social problems of acquiring new country estates I am honestly ignoring.

Material copyright has much more serious aspects: What has the large pharmaceutical firms patents on aids medicin meant for the third world? Or what about Monsanto‘s claim of holding rights on crops and pigs?
Every society must make its balance between differing interests and every hypocritic attempt to ignore that is nonsense. A functioning military defence is more important than ice hockey rinks and bicycle lanes. Probably the net implies a threat against the copyright of the material. And so what?

Intellectual and personal integrity for the citizens, briefly speaking an internet that has not been transformed into a government channel by lobby-marinated courts and EU politicians in leashes, is arguably more important than the needs of a primarily industrial scene of literarature and music, which is rapidly crumbling away already within the lifetime of the authors. The need of being read, of influenceing, to formulate one’s times, may but does not need to get in conflict with the wish to sell many copies. When the both needs are getting in conflict, the industrial interest must be put aside and the great intellectual sphere of the arts must be defended against threats.

The essential interest of artists and authors, given that they are intellectually and morally serious in hat they are doing, must certainly be to get read, to let their voice become heard in their generation. How that goal is attained, that is, how to reach the readers, is in this perspective of secondary importance.

The growing defence of the internet’s expanded freedom of speech, of the immaterial civil rights, that we are now witnessing in country after country, is the start of an – just as the last time in the early 18th century – liberalism that is carried by technology and therefore emancipated.

Therefore, my vote goes to the Pirate Party.

36 kommentarer ↓

#1 Anaïs on 27 May 2009 at 10:55 am

Enastående! tack för översättningen! Jag har vidarebefodrat den till Guillaume Champeau på franska nätsajten Numerama. Han är en helt enastående förmedlare av nätnyheter; snabb, analytisk och tillförlitlig. Han vill gärna ha nyheter från Sverige: han uppdaterar de franska “internauterna” om vad som händer i Sverige. Jag har bett honom kolla upp the Embassy of Piracy.

#2 brantan on 27 May 2009 at 11:35 am

Kanon!
Förutom att han är en enastående författare så har han en pondus som få.

P.S. Visste inte ens att man kunde välja “kultur” på expressen. Trodde bara man kunde välja “nöje”.

#3 rasmus on 27 May 2009 at 11:48 am

Brantan: Expressens kultursida är nog faktiskt min favorit bland de svenska dagstidningarnas kultursidor. (Och det säger jag inte bara för att jag själv skrivit där några gånger.)

#4 SBJ on 27 May 2009 at 11:54 am

Wow, helt fantastiskt att få läsa detta, måste ta och kolla efter hans skrifter på biblioteket här i trollhättan och se om det är något som intresserar mig.

#5 brantan on 27 May 2009 at 3:49 pm

Min Gustafssonfavorit är Sigismund. Lite SF, lite Polen, lite historia.

Tennisspelaren var min ingång till hans förf.skap. Gissar att det även gällt en hel del andra…

#6 Opinion: De Rödgröna stöds av 66 % av de unga! « the Campaign Dossier on 27 May 2009 at 4:20 pm

[...] väljare och partiföreträdare har. (Sen kan det inte skada att även gamlingar som författaren Lars Gustafsson har kommit ut som [...]

#7 Maria Lj on 27 May 2009 at 6:18 pm

Några Gustafsson-rekommendationer, till er som inte redan har läst honom i flera decennier…

“Sigismund” och “Tennisspelarna”, som nämndes i en kommentar, är bra att börja med. För folk som i likhet med många i piratrörelsen (varför tänker jag på “pingströrelsen” när jag ser det ordet?) känner sig som missförstådda nördar i ett oförstående Landet Lagom folkhem, kan den tragiska historien “Yllet” (om ett tonårigt mattegeni på den svenska landsbygden, 1970-tal) passa. Mera: “Bernard Foys tredje rockad” är en tredelad äventyrshistoria som är väldigt givande att läsa om man någon gång undrat hur Dan Brown-sorten av thrillers (som Da Vincikoden) skulle ha kunnat vara gestaltade om de författats gemensamt av Jules Verne, Philip Pullman och Hjalmar Gullberg – och återberättats av en AI. Så får man inte glömma bort att botanisera bland Gustafssons lyrikproduktion, som faktiskt kan fascinera även sådana som normalt inte läser poesi. Pröva “Artesiska brunnar”.

#8 P on 27 May 2009 at 7:17 pm

Och naturligtvis också science fiction-boken Det sällsamma djuret från norr, vars ramhandling utspelar sig c:a år 40 000 v. t. (Om jag minns rätt.)

#9 Gustav Larsson on 27 May 2009 at 7:34 pm

Hej, trevliga lästips. Kan man tanka ner hans verk nånstans?

#10 Tredimensionell Fildelning | Autonom Propaganda on 27 May 2009 at 9:47 pm

[...] Hans ställningstagande möttes snabbt av en serie hurrarop och välkomstmeddelanden i bloggosfären. Copyriot översätter till engelska. [...]

#11 Lars Gustafsson “kommer ut” som pirat « Viktor Ism on 28 May 2009 at 2:12 am

[...] sin åsikt i frågan. Sug på den du, kulturministern. Engelsk översättning av Gustafssons text finnes hos copyriot. Taggad med:piratpartiet Inga kommentarer « [...]

#12 NetRunner on 28 May 2009 at 6:10 am

“SBJ” … Om du nu inte hittar hans verk på biblioteket så kan du ju alltid köpa dom i en affär ha ha ha ….

#13 Tech Whiz Underground » Pirate Party Backed by Sweden’s Most Prolific Writer on 28 May 2009 at 7:43 am

[...] True to his defiant nature, Gustafsson – who has moved back from Texas to Sweden – is now openly supporting the Pirate Party’s ideologies. In an editorial he wrote for the Swedish news outlet Expressen today, he explains why he decided to vote for this up and coming political movement in the upcoming European elections (translation). [...]

#14 Piraten 2009 on 28 May 2009 at 9:17 am

Bekannter schwedischer Autor wählt die Piratenpartei…

Lars Gustafsson wählt die Piratenpartei. Und er führt auch genau aus warum. Das macht den verlinkten Artikel so lesenwert. Der verlinkte Blogger zweifelt übringens an Gustafssons Aussage, über die Nichtstofflichkeit von Informationen. Ich für mein…

#15 Digitale Notizen » Blog Archive » “Deshalb wähle ich die Piraten” on 28 May 2009 at 9:23 am

[...] Schriftsteller Lars Gustafsson hat in der Zeitung Expressen (schwedisch) eine sehr lesenswerte Wahlempfehlung für die Europawahl geschrieben. Darin begründet er, warum er die Piratenpartei wählen wird, die [...]

#16 Pirate Party Backed by Sweden’s Most Prolific Writer | InstantIdiocy on 28 May 2009 at 12:53 pm

[...] True to his defiant nature, Gustafsson – who has moved back from Texas to Sweden – is now openly supporting the Pirate Party’s ideologies. In an editorial he wrote for the Swedish news outlet Expressen today, he explains why he decided to vote for this up and coming political movement in the upcoming European elections (translation). [...]

#17 The Tech Town » Pirate Party Backed by Sweden’s Most Prolific Writer on 28 May 2009 at 1:16 pm

[...] True to his defiant nature, Gustafsson – who has moved back from Texas to Sweden – is now openly supporting the Pirate Party’s ideologies. In an editorial he wrote for the Swedish news outlet Expressen today, he explains why he decided to vote for this up and coming political movement in the upcoming European elections (translation). [...]

#18 bling on 28 May 2009 at 3:47 pm

Det verkar som en hel del av hans alster inte går att köpa. Hittade yllet på bokus, Tennisspelarna är slut och lyckas inte hitta Sigismund.

Det ser ut som man får låna böckerna.

#19 Le parti Pirate: la troisième force politique suédoise « on 28 May 2009 at 5:38 pm

[...] justifier son choix, Gusfasson explique que ce qui est en train de se passer aujourd’hui lui “rappelle les combats pour la [...]

#20 Click World News » Blog Archive » Prolific And Influential Swedish Author Throws Support Behind The Pirate Party on 28 May 2009 at 8:55 pm

[...] news that one of Sweden’s most influential and prolific authors has written an editorial where he throws his support behind The Pirate Party and explains why. He talks about the advance of technology and how silly it is to try and stop it, [...]

#21 András on 28 May 2009 at 10:19 pm

Hi,

thanks for sharing this; however, the translation is so hurried that it’s definitely hard to read and understand. By now, many sites are linking to this article, so maybe you could take a few minutes and clean it up? I read your opening remarks, but unfortunately can’t help as I don’t speak Swedish.

I could identify for you the parts that need fixing most, if that’s any help, but I guess you can find them just as easily.

#22 Os escritores também apoiam o Partido Pirata | Remixtures on 29 May 2009 at 12:08 am

[...] original esteja em sueco, o Rasmus Fleischer publicou uma tradução para inglês do texto no seu Copyriot. Embora a tradução não esteja perfeita, é perfeitamente possível entender o essencial da [...]

#23 Technical blogs with pictures and videos » Prolific And Influential Swedish Author Throws Support Behind The Pirate Party on 29 May 2009 at 1:59 am

[...] that one of Sweden’s most influential and prolific authors has written an editorial where he throws his support behind The Pirate Party and explains why. He talks about the advance of technology and how silly it is to try and stop it, [...]

#24 rasmus on 29 May 2009 at 8:44 am

András: Did I not make it clear enought? I will not clear up the hurried translation – others can take up the task now. That’s how we do it on the internets.

#25 Bookninja » Blog Archive » Climbing out of the news pit on 29 May 2009 at 1:10 pm

[...] Swedish poet on why he’s voting for the Pirate Party there [...]

#26 batch on 29 May 2009 at 5:22 pm

Thank you for posting this translation!

#27 Mi-e ruşine de mine « Byakkun’s web log on 29 May 2009 at 7:13 pm

[...] Poate-mi pun cu Photo Shopul cum îşi pun cocalarii steluţe (problema-i că n-am luat versiuni piratate de multă vreme). Ruşine-mi este [...]

#28 Michael Meigs on 29 May 2009 at 9:13 pm

I’ve done a full, idiomatic translation into English, available at
http://tinyurl.com/ln7zwf

regards, MM

#29 Famous Swedish Writer - Why I’m Voting Pirate Party on 29 May 2009 at 10:58 pm

[...] news for the party who stands to win, at minimum, one seat in the European election. A posting on Copyriot shows that Swedish writer Lars Gustafsson, one of Swedens most prolific writers, is saying that his [...]

#30 Famous Swedish Writer - Why I’m Voting Pirate Party - on 29 May 2009 at 11:50 pm

[...] news for the party who stands to win, at minimum, one seat in the European election. A posting on Copyriot shows that Swedish writer Lars Gustafsson, one of Swedens most prolific writers, is saying that his [...]

#31 ctail on 2 June 2009 at 8:53 am

Nu har Lars Gustafsson klippt in Copyriots översättning i sin egen ”blog”: http://larsgustafssonblog.blogspot.com/2009/06/libertintegritydefense-of-net.html

#32 הצבעת מחאה» ליבריסטאן on 3 June 2009 at 8:54 am

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#33 Die wunderbare Welt von Isotopp on 3 June 2009 at 7:10 pm

URL-Sturm Medien und Politik…

Ich habe zu viele Tabs offen. Also kippe ich die URLs, Soundbites und meine Notizen hier einmal am Stück ab.Piratenpartei
Piratenpartei, EU: Christian Engström EU-Spitzenkandidat der schwedischen Piratenpartei,
»Der Netz-Experte beschäftig sich da…

#34 E esta, hein?!… « Anus Cerebralis on 8 June 2009 at 3:06 pm

[...] a França) têm tomado. Mas não é um partido de crianças nem de ingénuos, e tem o apoio de personalidades importantes e bem estabelecidas que também acham que o “sistema” está doente e [...]

#35 Pirate Party Backed by Sweden’s Most Prolific Writer | TorrentFreak on 6 August 2009 at 6:33 pm

[...] True to his defiant nature, Gustafsson – who has moved back from Texas to Sweden – is now openly supporting the Pirate Party’s ideologies. In an editorial he wrote for the Swedish news outlet Expressen today, he explains why he decided to vote for this up and coming political movement in the upcoming European elections (translation). [...]

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