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Songs on the Security of Networks
a blog by Michał "rysiek" Woźniak

Party as a system hack

This is an ancient post, published more than 4 years ago.
As such, it might not anymore reflect the views of the author or the state of the world. It is provided as historical record.

Today I would like to talk about hacking the system, but not a computer one. I do feel, you see, that the current political system (in, mind you, which I include media) is inherently hackable as far as introducing concrete, well-defined changes into reality is concerned; it can be done by political parties that do not even have to win any elections – as long as the issues at hand are clearly defined.

How? It’s easy.

Let’s try this on the example of copyright reform, which undoubtedly is dearly needed, and yet is not to be found (as far as I know) in any large party’s political programme. It’s a very visible issue lately (thanks to ACTA, but not only) that the general public has spoken out about quite loudly and clearly, yet no big political party seems to know how to go about it.

It should be enough, now, to simply create a political party which would have a single stated aim: change the copyright law. Such a party would have almost no chances of entering the Parliament; however, as it would be a political party, media would instantly get interested, and its name would spring up at an occasion where copyright reform, “piracy” and similar topics is discussed.

If such a party had a well-defined aim and actions that need to be undertaken to achieve it (i.e. which laws need to be changed, and how), and if it had well thought-through arguments those so-called “serious” parties would start to consider this small party a threat to at least some part of their political base. And while the chances of it entering the Parliament would still be close to nil, the “large” parties – fighting over every opinion poll point – would likely find it unacceptable.

The easiest way out of this conundrum for those large parties is, of course, copying – by simply incorporating the particular aim of this small party in their political programmes and preparing well their argumentation (for or against).

This, of course, will make the chances of entering the Parliament by the small party even smaller, but by now that’s irrelevant: the postulate has just entered big parties programmes; even more, by taking part in debates on the issue they themselves make it more prominent. And that’s exactly what the doctor ordered.

Because suddenly a topic that was completely absent from political debate is prominently featured in it, including getting into parties’ programmes. If the small party founders did their job well and the aim was well and clearly defined (which usually is not the case with the majority of political programme wording), it’s quite possible to hold the big parties accountable for it – still using the small party as the boogeyman when needed.