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The subject of conflict and anarchism in anthropological studies of the pirates

Ramin Adibi-Editor in chief of JAML

August 05, 2017 | Ramin.adibi2012@Gmail.com | info@farhang-darya.com


Pirates have always had different motivations, where by reading the remaining evidence of them in archaeological and historical records, their stories can be found. Ironically, one of the most interesting areas in the analysis and research of past human events is the issue of pirates (you can get more information), which has so far been limited to archaeological records and a fairly large number of historical records. The definition of pirate in International Law: The armed ships without the permission of one of the governments, they will be able to take refuge and commercial vessels and the lives of their passengers. In the study of popular culture in English, pirates are known as “criminals, lawbreakers, rebels, opportunists, bandits, murderers, and even as Robin Hood and hero”, which is almost the same as in the Iranian popular culture. They are also known as “Glorious criminals, common enemies of humanity, the substitute for civilization and the enemies of all and everyone”. From an etymological viewpoint, many scholars believe that the term “pirate” means an attempt or attack that was used during the ancient Greek. In addition, in the notes of “Dehkhoda“, it is referred to as the people who rob others on the sea.


Pirate and conflict

based on ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ANTHROPOLOGY(2006): “In the field of anthropological studies, “conflict” means an antagonistic relationship between ideas, interests and the individuals. This phenomenon may occur at different levels, such as an esoteric conflict in internal, interpersonal, small groups, or in a large-scale context between different regions and systems and widespread social principles. It may also emerge in different forms, from silence to verbal discourse, from interpersonal violence to organized warfare. Important forms of conflict are more implicit than explicit and include differences in the concepts and interests buried in the flow of social life. Paying attention to these distinctions is very important. Anthropology has a very good position with a vast territory in the field of comparative studies to identify all kinds of conflict and to explain each as part of a complex system. Humans have high biological capacities for conflict. War and class relations are among the main reasons for social studies in the context of the phenomenon of conflict. Although it is heavily debated, many anthropologists today reserve “war” for organized violence in stratified societies and thus distinguish it from general aggression and interpersonal violence. War sometimes (but not always) involves strategic geography and control over resources, but its most fundamental association seems to be with centralization of political power” . The role of conflict in the formation of piracy phenomenon is clearly evident at times due to the protest of relatively small groups over the upper strata or a particular type of thinking (for example, protesting the capitalist system). It is worth noting that the formation of pirate groups have not always been based on the above-mentioned factors; in the following, this issue is addressed:

Shannon Lee Dawdy & Joe Bonni on their article was mentioned (2012): “It is often referred to as a “phenomenon” in the sense of ” undeclared war “, ” violent maritime predation ” or ” indiscriminate taking of property (or persons) with violence “, which in the definitions referred to as a conflict and violence, but according to some Other definitions focus not so much on violence or ethico-legal considerations, but on economy. Thus, some authors aver that piracy can be understood as “tribute taking,” “commerce raiding,” “taxing foreigners by force,” or simply, as in Leeson’s freakonomics take on piracy  as “a business”].

The general definition of piracy is as follows: a form of morally ambiguous property seizure committed by an organized group, which can include thievery, hijacking, smuggling, counterfeiting, or kidnapping. the pirates are the wicked people like Edward Teach (black beard) or Long John Silver in the Treasure Island. In cultural representations in literature and film pirates are adventurous and masculine, far away from the routines of everyday life. In the scientific discussion, a similar Imagine is drawn from the pirates, that is, men who have gained wealth from poverty or who have succeeded in conflicting times with the government. For example, the five movies of the Caribbean Pirates produced by Walt Disney Pictures, as well as today you can find items like: clothes, horses, toys, etc. in the theme of piracy. While it would be glib to make a too-literal link between the current pirate craze and the contemporary rise in intellectual piracy and tanker piracy (indeed most t-shirt fashions are in the vein of the “pillage idiot”—all about booty and rum), there are surprising consistencies between the bad attitudes of today’s neoliberal consumers and populist tensions that traversed early modern mercantilism.

The Golden Age of Piracy, as many have argued, was a warm up to the Age of Revolution as economic protests gained popular legitimacy. It is helpful to revisit this history to understand the real world referents that inspire piratical counter-cultures and protest movements. For example, The pirates of the Caribbean explicitly opposed the often violent control of labor and goods by nationalist mercantile companies and what they viewed as “tyrannical” inequalities. Although scholars have offered serious studies of ancient piracy in the Mediterranean and medieval piracy throughout the Old World (including Asia and Africa). the history of the early modern Atlantic—and especially its Caribbean theater—can safely be said to have provided us with the indelible ideal-typical pirate. In this period, we see a sailing situation in different type and dimensions, some of which are sometimes carried out by Pirates who operate with a legal license from a state government to attack enemy ships and ports during wartime. All of the above measures have two main keys: Property and economics. Even some of these economic activities cover the political actions.

Piracy and anarchism

By anarchism means group or profession that lives without government and they oppose any political authority. The co-ordination between individuals of such groups is not carried out by law or follow a reference person and, instead, call for the replacement of free associations and volunteer groups instead. Of course, they have never demanded the abolition of the institution of government in general, but the profession of pirates is more or less similar to the cruelty of anarchy and a disturbance society, and within the system of pirates there is a kind of radical anarchism. Shannon Lee Dawdy & Joe Bonni on their article was mentioned (2012):”Pirates not only attacked merchant ships to divert wealth to themselves, they often wantonly destroyed cargo and vessels or a sign of fighting a particular intellectual and economic style. The main currents of the lives of Pirates are based on Collectivism, anarchism (Anti-authoritarianism) and Egalitarianism. The golden age of the Pirates coincided with the period of capitalism (around 1492-1783) and colonialism, including the great companies. From among the great companies of this era are the Dutch East India Company, British East India Company, and French East India Company.

Both the Pirates and capitalist manifestation of a different form of thinking. And The golden age of the Pirates maybe be likened to a Socialism utopia (in fact ideology between radical liberalism and socialism).


– Dawdy, S. L., & Bonni, J. (2012). Towards a General Theory of Piracy. Anthropological Quarterly, 85(3), 673-699.
– Heyman, J. M. (2006). CONFLICT. In H. J. Birx, Encyclopedia of anthropology (pp. 556-557). Sage Publications Ltd.
– Stuart Rathbone (2017): Anarchist literature and the development of anarchist counter-archaeologies, World Archaeology, DOI: 10.1080/00438243.2017.1333921

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