Who are Pirates? What is the spirit of piracy? Are we like the “yarghhh, parrot-on-shoulder” Pirates? Are we internet ne’er-do-wells who want to stream for free? To answer your questions: yes.

The revolutionary, egalitarian, libertarian and fully democratic systems on their ships. The idea that the fruits of your labor belonged to those who worked for it. The idea of having a trusted leader democratically chosen and replaceable just as easily. The spirit of democracy and unity in the face of tyranny with the Edelweiss Pirates in Nazi Germany. Trying to live in an open and free culture, a democratic and egalitarian one, has always been a Pirate thing. That is the spirit of piracy. The name “Pirate”, and all the history and imagery included in that, is something we will not back away from. It is one we shall embrace with open arms. We are Pirates.

WJAZ radio station in Chicago, IL, 1926

In 1926, WJAZ in Chicago challenged the U.S. government’s authority to specify operating frequencies and was charged with being a “wave pirate”. The station responded with this February 1926 publicity photograph of its engineering staff dressed as “wave pirates”1

The United States Pirate Party was founded in 2006, the second Pirate Party in the world (after Sweden). In 2015, Massachusetts Pirates sent the first Pirate in US history, Steve Revilak, to elected office. Our chapter, the Illinois Pirate Party, was founded in 2012, but by year’s end was largely inactive and never received official recognition from the USPP and Pirate National Committee outside of observer status. In 2020, the party was reorganized into the current iteration.

On October 10th, 2021, the Illinois Pirate Party was recognized as the official Illinois state Pirate Party and was admitted into the PNC of the USPP.

Name & Values

For these values, we have been derided as “pirates”. For our hope that every person may be free to access all of human knowledge, we have been called “pirates”. For our belief that one need not ask permission to participate in governance, industry, culture, and other aspects of society, we have been called “pirates”. For our insistence that citizens should not be surveilled and distrusted as if they are criminals, we have been called “pirates”. For our rejection of authority and profit-seeking when it does not serve the common good of all people, we have been called “pirates”.

We reclaim this label of “pirate” and abjure its derogatory, incendiary implication. We are Pirates. We stand for the liberty, equality, and solidarity of all human beings, and against all threats they may face.

  • We stand for open culture. No one should have the power to prevent the free exchange and expression of ideas, tools, or works.
  • We stand for transparency and openness. Government activities should not be hidden from the public.
  • We stand for individual privacy. The amount of oppression in a society is inversely proportional to its privacy protections. Individuals must be free to make personal decisions that do not harm another person.
  • We are anti-monopoly. No monopoly should be able to prevent works, tools, or ideas from: being freely used, expressed, exchanged, recombined, or taught; nor to violate individual privacy or human rights. A creator’s right to be compensated for their work or idea is only acceptable within these limitations.
  • We stand for individuals over institutions. Universal human rights apply only to human beings, and not to corporations, limited liability organizations, or other group entities.
  • We are a post-ideological values-based meritocracy. We place all options on the table. We choose a specific approach because the available evidence shows that it is the best way to promote our values. We do not make decisions based merely on tradition, popularity, authority or political expediency.
  • We are egalitarian. We believe in equality and a level playing field. We accept input from all sources, and we value all people equally.
  • We actively practice these values. We hold ourselves accountable for our own adherence to these principles.