Difference of Degree, or of Kind???

Pirates, commons and finance

A friend alerted me about this news about Somali pirates establishing a stock
exchange and I thought it is worth posting it in a day in which President Obama
— in his Nobel prise acceptance speech — referred to the pirates along the coast
of Somalia as if they were among the world scum bags justifying the US use of
force to promote world peace

“I believe that force can be justified on humanitarian grounds, as it was in
the Balkans, or in other places that have been scarred by war. Inaction tears at
our conscience and can lead to more costly intervention later. That is why all
responsible nations must embrace the role that militaries with a clear mandate
can play to keep the peace.

America’s commitment to global security will never waiver. But in a world in
which threats are more diffuse, and missions more complex, America cannot act
alone. This is true in Afghanistan. This is true in failed states like Somalia,
where terrorism and piracy is joined by famine and human suffering. And sadly,
it will continue to be true in unstable regions for years to come. (Obama)


Somali pirates show instead to be quite sophisticated, they establish a stock
exchange so communities and expatriots can pool resources to sponsor their
policing of their waters/piracy against foreign exploitation. As my friend

“this is a community using a financial logic to articulate a common agenda
(sponsoring their unofficial “security” against foreign exploitation) and using
an exchange market to reclaim value from the transnational pirate cartels of
capital. On the other, this is primitive accumulation and high finance rolled
into one. I suspect the ROI here is very high, partly because the “costs” of
this extremely dangerous labour are so minimal – investors do not have to
compensate workers for the dangers of piracy, especially where there is such
competition for the positions! Of course, I don’t expect Berkshire-Hathaway to
make a big investment in this piracy market quite yet, but there is something
deeply allegorical here.”

It is not only traditional finance they use. It looks like the stock exchange
they set up is a means to pull all types of resources, and not only monetary and
financial. Incidentally resource pulling is the first moment of a constitution
of commons. As the articles says

“The shares are open to all and everybody can take part, whether personally
at sea or on land by providing cash, weapons or useful materials … we’ve made
piracy a community activity.”

so, you do not need liquidity to be part of the business . . . it would be
interesting to see what conversions and weights exist — I read a great novel in
Italian last summer by Valerio Evangelisti about story of old pirates at sea,
which illustrated the negotiation/struggle within the community to measure ones
contribution in kind … Melvin’s Moby Dick had some similar illustration of
measuring of labour in the cooperative and hierarchical structure of the whale

In any case, not bad return for a donated rocket propelled granade:

“I am waiting for my share after I contributed a rocket-propelled grenade
for the operation,” she said, adding that she got the weapon from her ex-husband
in alimony.
“I am really happy and lucky. I have made $75,000 in only 38 days since I
joined the `company’.”


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