Book

PIRACY IS NOT WHAT YOU THINK
NEITHER IS CAPITALISM 
The Pirate Organization
Lessons from the Fringes of Capitalism

Harvard Business Review Press (2013)
by R Durand & JP Vergne 


The book invites the reader to question common wisdom about capitalism and piracy by suggesting that:

• Capitalism cannot be conceived of independently from the notion of state sovereignty, as it appears in 17th century Europe. Without the state, capitalism would not exist. Consequently, the suggestion that we need "more state" or "more government" to compensate for the drawbacks of capitalism appears misleading at best. Similarly, anarcho-capitalism, or the suggestion that capitalist societies would be better off without the state, is a contradiction in terms.

• Piracy is an organized form of action that constantly questions and reshapes the boundaries of state sovereignty. When states conquer new territories, such as the high seas in the 17th century or cyberspace today, pirate organizations are always around to contest the state-imposed rules of exchange and to propose alternative norms.

• Looking back at capitalism's history, we observe a recurrent pattern: sovereign states rely on monopolistic organizations -- from the East India companies on the high seas, to AT&T in the early age of cyberspace -- to conquer new territories and regulate them. Thus, it turns out that those who believe that capitalism is all about hyper-competition and free markets are quite wrong. The political consequences of this confusion are huge -- and often tragic.

• Pirate organizations, through their defense of alternative rules of exchange, contribute to altering the functioning of capitalist societies. By producing new norms, pirates guide the renewal of capitalism and shape the emergence of new industries. For instance, 17th century sea pirates were at the vanguard of an early form of democracy that they implemented on the seas by being the first crews to accept women and Blacks on board their ships. In cyberspace, pirates have been key in defining new forms of shared ownership such as free & open source software. And so forth.