The rise of the Pirate party in recent Czech elections shows that the left may in fact be invigorated enough to go beyond the Occupy movement and its ultimate failure. Gaining 22 seats in the Czech parliament, the Pirates are now the third largest party in Czech Republic. The only irony here is that the Pirates consider themselves a center party. This digital ‘left’ acts as a counter point to the alt-right described by Angela Nagle in her book on the subject called ‘Kill All Normies.’ As if there is no end to all the irony in the world, in today’s upside-down world, it is the ‘right’ that is most plugged into the digital world and the internet, somehow able to coopt every tactic that the old ‘new left’ used in its political stance on very diverse issues, from feminism and gay rights, to environmentalism and animal rights, and literally turning them inside-out, into stances like men’s rights, which were initially tongue-in-cheek, but developed into a strangely potent political positions. The Pirates, precisely because of their unflinching determination to keep the party transparent and to the center, are probably the new ‘new left’s’ only hope for the future. And let’s not forget, for as long as the right has existed, it was never able to muster the wherewithal to come up with anything new or forward looking, because as conservative politics go, they are in fact ‘conservative,’ meaning the idea of keeping the status quo is inherent in its ontology. The reactionary right can only coopt and use what others created. This is the right’s natural state
In the recent Czech parliamentary elections, the political party ANO (YES), consistently calls itself a ‘movement’ with an anti-political stance, despite the fact that it is a fully functioning party. This is a charade that numerous other parties in Czech Republic began to copy this election cycle, most notably the anti-Islamist anti-immigrant ultra-right wing party SPD. Right wing populism, exemplified by the election of Donald Trump, found a copy-cat in Andrej Babis, a Czech billionaire with interests in agro-business and the media. ANO is Babis’ populist unholy brainchild, paying off hundreds of politicians to jump ship from other parties with similar ideologies and make them his rank and file. In numerous books and interviews Slavoj Zizek’s correct prognosis of the nature of politics in the 21st century, saw the rise of populist politicians based on the Italian model of Silvio Berlusconi, a corrupt and sleazy media mogul who was nonetheless entertaining and dominated the Italian political scene for many years due to his ties to and the ownership of the majority of Italian media. Berlusconi, Trump and now Babis seem to exist despite their many offences, whether legal, personal or otherwise because of their overwhelming media presence and a kind of bafoonish ‘authenticity.’ During 2016 Donald Trump got more than 15 times the media coverage than Bernie Sanders, most of it negative, almost all of it free, basically advertising for his brand for which he did not have to pay a dime.
As a counter point to the ridiculous spectacle that is Donald Trump or Andrej Babis and one that was Berlusconi, the Pirate party, made up mostly of the younger generation of 30 an under, is acting in-sync with the Zizekian call for decency in modern politics. Not only does the head of the Pirates in Czech Republic openly discuss his marijuana use, with the intent of complete legalization during his term as the opposition party in parliament, rarely or almost never does he stoop to ad hominem attacks upon the opposition. It is clear that he is aware that as a relative newcomer, even though the PP was established in Czech Republic more than 8 years ago, earlier than ANO, any mud-slinging on their part would probably render their party and its efforts in parliament dead-on-arrival. What is absolutely apparent is that the left now has a chance to finally stand as an alternative to the ever shifting coordinates of the political spectrum across Europe and the West in a rightward direction. No longer is the left relegated to the singing and chanting in the streets during protests that go largely unnoticed, and let’s face it, these ‘protests’ have never worked, not even at the height of the Vietnam war. The failure of the Occupy movement seems to have finally invigorated some to action, perhaps it was inevitable that the Millenial generation which was largely written off by the older generations, is growing up, getting its ‘shit’ together and beginning to act as adults should. The Pirate Party’s chairman Ivan Bartos pointed this out when he said that most of the PP members are now married and having kids. The left’s future lies in the dramatic rethinking of personal and social responsibility. Pragmatic thinking and action must go hand in hand even on the backs of a purely political, ideological thinking. The older generation that squandered most of the wealth and comfort built up by the previous generations that kept the millennials largely out of sight and out of mind is finally seeing what may in fact be armies on the horizon. Let’s not squander this opportunity.