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Krisis: Journal of Contemporary Philosophy

**Call for Papers: Extended Deadline**

Krisis presents a special issue in December 2014 on Pirates and Privateers. Contributions may be up to 7000 words (including references). If you would like to contribute, please send us a proposal of about 500 words. Abstracts are due 29 June 2014, and will be send to We will notify you before 1 July about acceptance of your proposal. The deadline for final contributions is 15 September.


Pirates & Privateers

When the King asked him what he meant by infesting the sea, the pirate defiantly replied: ‘The same as you do when you infest the whole world; but because I do it with a little ship I am called a robber, and because you do it with a great fleet, you are an emperor’ (St. Augustine)

We see these government agencies as among the most skilled players in this game (Eric Grosse, Google VP of security engineering)

The idea that in an ever globalising world the sovereignty and centrality of the nation state is declining is so well established that it has become a truism. Yet state agencies such as the NSA are in the process of reestablishing their grip on today’s network societies. So perhaps the proclaiming of the end of the state (not in terms of its national scope but as to the essence of its function) was premature. This raises the following questions: What is or will be the role of the state-function (national or international) in this globalised social-economic landscape? Will it be able to secure its de jure and de facto sovereignty by enforcing the distinction between pirates and privateers through law, i.e. by authorising neoliberal but restricting alternative appropriations of the commons? And is this state power a necessary condition for, or instead a limit to, the implementation of neoliberal principles? These questions are important because the distinction between pirate and privateer has substantial practical consequences in terms of the distribution of power.

Neoliberal privatisation – e.g. the exodus of financial capital from the welfare state system – is sanctioned by state. It is in the process of realising its particular solutions to the crises of the nation state, creating the conditions of its own legitimacy, in the form of gated communities, tax havens and special economic zones protected by private security firms. Seemingly bypassing state sovereignty, whilst simultaneously sanctioned by it, they are contemporary privateers.

Is this type of privatisation the destiny of this historical junction or are there alternatives? The institutionalised left does not seem to think so as it continues to defend the welfare system as a place of last resort against the powers of neoliberal globalisation. However, in the margins of the neoliberal project various different solutions are being experimented with. Insofar as these are not sanctioned by state, these are today’s pirates. Think of: torrent sites (The Pirate Bay comes to mind), hacker communities tied to international criminal syndicates, new local and digital currencies (Bristol Pound, Bitcoin, Litecoin), new forms of digital activism (Anonymous), counter-banking (OccupyBank, Timebank), anonymising networks (TOR’s Hidden Wiki and Silk Road), freestates and micronations (Principality of Sealand), eco-communities or hacker colonies ( and alternative internets (GNUnet).

How can or should we think about and critically evaluate the distinction between privateers and pirates in political-philosophical terms? What is the utility, in this particular context, of the conceptual and normative schemas still operative in political philosophy today? If not a return to a Hobbesian state of nature, yet also short of being a Commonwealth; if not the emergence of a post-state, anarchist or libertarian utopia, nor a technologically updated 1984 in which the state function has become absolute; how to understand and conceptualise the ambiguous in-between?

Krisis welcomes interdisciplinary answers to such questions, and encourages approaches that engage political-philosophical reflections on issues of state sovereignty, law and justice, to the above mentioned case-studies (or others). We also invite speculative approaches to future scenarios: will the conflict between neoliberal and ‘alternative’ solutions take place in ever more deterritorialised, technocratic networks beyond state control? Will we witness the proliferation of large self-regulative parallel systems, of password-protected enclaves, local communication ecologies and gated communities? Will the state be reduced to ‘one of the players in this game’, or will strategic shifts in its constitution as an apparatus in conjunction with neoliberalism secure its function as a sovereign mediator?


The first issue of Krisis in 2014 is online, and we start off with a wide variety of articles, essays, letters and reviews. What does it mean that gender and race are socially constructed? And how are we to understand the reality of the social relations of oppression with which sexism and racism go hand in hand? In a dossier on Sally Haslanger’s important book Resisting Reality: Social Construction and Social Critique (2012) these and other related questions are discussed in the form of three critical commentaries by Titus Stahl, Arianna Betti and Mari Mikkola and an extensive reply by Haslanger herself.

In addition, this issue contains articles on the relation between science, politics and society by Huub Dijstelbloem, and on the possibilities and meanings of emancipation in Jacques Rancière’s political thought by Ruth Sonderegger. An essay by Daniël de Zeeuw looks back at the political theory and strategy of Occupy, and Jan-Willem Duyvendak and Merijn Oudenampsen enter into a discussion about the sociological significance of recent political and cultural changes in the Netherlands.

Last but not least, the book reviews of this issue cover recent publications on climate skepticism (in the review essay by Chunglin Kwa), migration (Rogier van Reekum discusses Mezzadra & Neilson’s Border as Method, 2013) Rancière’s aesthetics (Aukje van Rooden reviews his latest publication Aisthesis. Scenes from the aesthetic regime of art, 2013), and the practical role of standards (a review of Laurence Bush’ Standards. Recipes for reality, 2011, by Koen Beumer).

In order to keep the reading of this journal free of charge, we would appreciate your support.


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