The Pirate Organization: Lessons from the Fringes of Capitalism
Rodolphe Durand, Jean-Philippe Vergne
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
When capitalism spread along the trade routes toward the Indies…when radio opened an era of mass communication . . . when the Internet became part of the global economy…pirates were there. And although most people see pirates as solitary anarchists out to destroy capitalism, it turns out the opposite is true. They are the ones who forge the path.
In The Pirate Organization, Rodolphe Durand and Jean-Philippe Vergne argue that piracy drives capitalism’s evolution and foreshadows the direction of the economy. Through a rigorous yet engaging analysis of the history and golden ages of piracy, the authors show how pirates form complex and sophisticated organizations that change the course of capitalism. Surprisingly, pirate organizations also behave in predictable ways: challenging widespread norms; controlling resources, communication, and transportation; maintaining trade relationships with other communities; and formulating strategies favoring speed and surprise. We could learn a lot from them—if only we paid more attention.
Durand and Vergne recommend that rather than trying to stamp out piracy, savvy entrepreneurs and organizations should keep a sharp eye on the pirate space to stay successful as the game changes—and it always does.
First published in French to great critical acclaim and commercial success as L’Organisation Pirate: Essai sur l’évolution du capitalisme, this book shows that piracy is not random. It’s predictable, it cannot be separated from capitalism, and it likely will be the source of capitalism’s continuing evolution.
organizations remained the same. Individual pirates and corsairs should neither be confused nor seen as extreme opposites. But in fact, the relevant distinction should be made at the organizational level: the pirate organization differs from the corsair organization with respect to its position vis-à-vis the sovereign state. In a constantly expanding capitalistic space, the pirate organization and the corsair organization bend sovereign norms in opposite directions, and it is important to adopt
“Child pornography is great! It is great because politicians understand child pornography. By playing that card, we can get them to act, and start blocking sites. And once they have done that, we can get them to start blocking file-sharing sites.”4 But some people reject the idea that private content should be subjected to government regulations—when public documents, such as government agency reports, are kept secret on protected servers. Cyberpirates are organized groups that work to eliminate
1894. By the time competitors could enter the telephony market, AT&T had used its monopoly rents to subsidize the construction of a national network. Armed with the largest customer base, AT&T kept attracting more new subscribers than any other competitor, owing to interoperability problems across competing networks (i.e., new subscribers had incentives to sign up with the company allowing them to reach the largest number of people across the United States). In a bold lobbying effort, AT&T pushed
normative fabric in the making. The pirate organization is a counterpart to capitalism that shifts norms and redraws the boundaries imposed by the sovereign. Normalizing a territory means expanding the set spaces on which a code can be practiced, deterritorialized resources can be assembled, and flows of men, products, and capital can be circulated. However, moving into gray areas also contributes to the rapid development of the pirate organization, which in turn slows the advancement of the
they all confronted other pirate organizations at one time or another. Where is the unity of the pirate class? Where is its so-called unique destiny? Nowhere. At the intermediate organizational level, however, it becomes possible to examine how pirates set their objectives and defend a public cause against accepted codes. The legal analysis of the pirate phenomenon does not do justice to its power of economic transformation. Historical analysis misses the symmetry among pirate organizations