Friday, June 1, 2012

We’re used to a pirate looking like this, right?

They apparently look like this.
Company X’s global losses

'The Law.’ That species beast is a critical thing. It defines the right from the wrong. Demarcates sane from insane. Without it: generalized states of anarchy. Life sans ‘the Law’: Nasty, brutish, short. Right?

The global media frenzy on Somali pirates seems to highlight at least three things, if we were to delve into that dwelling place of media bias.

Firstly: The oil company is victim. The media haven’t pitched things in the light of law and legality, law of the sea, security, territorial sovereignty. No. Media coverage suggest it’s primarily all an issue of Business Interest. Dollar, dollar.

Secondly: Fine, let’s say it’s of Business Interest. Then the begged question is: whose business interest? Clearly, global minorities. I mean the share of people who belong to countries powerful enough to strike favorable oil sharing agreements. I mean: the percentage of global (6.6 billion) population that holds stakes to oil claims. I mean: the people who live unfathomably rich, energy flagrant lifestyles in contrast to the bulk of humanity that does not.

Finally: Let’s call it piracy, but transpose location elsewhere than Horn of Africa. Say: the English Channel. Do you think the issue will remain: global business losses? Would the word ‘pirate’ even emerge? Let’s take, ceteris paribus, the issue properly, say: upset teenage Greeks (apparently there’s a country stocked full of them) took to the seas and decided to rampage about. Given this unlikely scenario (and forget facts that not much oil in that English Channel part of world), just picture it: would the issue be, what tiers of profit losses would be at stake for oil companies and their proxies? Or would it rather be why on planet Earth would Greek teenagers take to looting post-Enlightenment era European boats?

Have you heard anybody mention the economic costs of rioting Greek youth over the last 3-days, destroying streets, stores and beating police, those seeming relics of state order?

The bottom-line usurps the bottom-billion.

Sure. Let’s hear the round of protests from the implicated: media is a profit business, and so they are free to follow the story wherever the cash leads. Okay, go ahead and take that cake. But don’t come then slicing at any notion like, the media is social watchdog; essential for democracy; Fourth Estate. Can’t have it both ways.

In Defense of Piracy

They say the pirates do good for their societies. The social equivalent impacts of remittances have surely been taken note of by media.

So a question pops up: How do we best assess the global good here?

On the one hand: Law. Law of the sea, security laws, national security, laws of the market. Business Interest.

On the other: wealth redistribution and global environmental commons good. Non-Business Interest, not at least in the way media mean it.

Delaying oil consumption by highly developed markets means halting carbon emissions means, gasp, slowing on-set of climate change adaptation. That would mean decreasing global vulnerabilities to a crisis the global vulnerable bear no historical or jurisdictional burden for. Well, aside that they’re screwed first, and hardest.

Some facts. Per capita carbon emissions of Somalia? They likely don’t produce enough global warming-affecting gases, on a whole, so we don’t have any data. Let’s take, for argument’s sake, emissions from a neighbor, Eritrea: 0.1 tonnes of CO2 per capita.

Per capita emissions for countries with high levels of human development? 25.5 tonnes. Average for rest of LDCs – that is, Least Developed Countries – other countries that figure on world list of really poor? 11.8 tonnes per capita.

That is a gap of 255. Meaning, if you’re born in any host of high human development countries, you will likely emit 255 times more carbon from your energy use than if you’re in Eritrea. I’m sure some Eritreans somewhere are thinking about renting a boat.

Scholars have long held that the notion of a pirate is mere chimera. That historical water criminal, performing outside the bounds of legality, thieving, as occupation, from the hard-earned gains of proper industrious folk – that notion of pirate really tends to always serve the interests of somebody else.

Somebody? Global media. Profit margins. Peter Pan.

Oil, Lifestyles and Related Matters

Who is responsible for piracy? Here are some options.

1. Greedy Pirates
2. Backward, Evil Africans
3. Poverty
4. Failed state
5. Colonialism
6. World History
7. Haitian revolution
8. Globalization
9. Capitalism
10. Socialism

And that’s just to end it at curt list of ten.

Moral of the Story?

Do I think sea water-borne theft is to be defended? No. I don’t.

I would make many an argument for ‘the Law’ here being rather necessary and all. But not one media pundit has spared us this thought.

But beyond these encoded notions of Business Interests, legality and other entrenched concepts void of global ethics, I would propose a slightly deeper vision is at stake: global justice. That's: Robbin Hood justice. Malcolm X justice. Chickens coming home to roost justice.

Pirates of the Gulf of Aden. Holds a catchy ring to it, doesn’t it? Coming to a theater near you.

Or at least your home television set.