Let me take you back to to my middle school years. It’s 2004-2005 and my best friend and I were very obsessed with pirates. I mean, we were big nerds in general but with the Pirates of the Caribbean movies that came out it gave us a new obsession.
The romanticized version of pirates:
I mean why wouldn’t you want to be a version a Captain Jack Sparrow? He freed a ship of slaves which had him branded as a pirate for “stealing product” from the government. This socialist demon fully supports sending a big “fuck you” to government! Especially in that manner.
He fucks up a lot. He drinks too much, objectives women, and puts his own needs ahead of others but I think the reason we look past that is because he seems to constantly be trying to be better. Modernly, we may view ourselves as too educated to fall into those mistakes and when he does a good deed we ignore the rest. I mean, he’s a relatable protagonist. Mostly goofy, tries his damnist but is just a hot mess that no one has taken the time to understand.
Let’s move away from movie pirates now and look at the historical. Pirates have been around since there were boats in the water. In the SCA (see this post for more info) I take on the identity of an Ushkuynik, which are best described as medieval Russian river pirates that came out of Novgorod. They existed as a named group from 1320s to sometime in the 15th century when Moscow started to censor mention of them in documents. So who knows how long they were around.
What most people think of as pirates exist during the golden age of piracy. The Royal Museums Greenwich (RMG) site has a wonderful page dedicated to this topic. They state that the golden age is usually dates between 1650 and 1720 when more than 5000 pirates were said to be at sea. “Though this Golden Age came to an end in the 18th century, piracy still exists today in some parts of the world, especially the South China Seas.” -RMG
So, why do I like pirates? Because (in the romanized version anyway) they stand for what I believe in! Fuck the government! Take the excess and redistribute it. You know damn well those pirates were pumping money into every port they stopped. Women became pirate captains with many ships under them and, depending on the size of your crews, you could outnumber armies
Yes, they made governments come together to stamp them out with international pirate law, but that law actually became a very effective tool in trying Nazis after WWII. Modernly there are still disenfranchised people who have resorted to piracy and kidnapping as a way of making a living. Which, in my opinion, shows how their local government is failing at providing them better opportunities. While I wish there was a platform in which people could discuss what they need in order to get out of that life, there is no easy solution.
In the end, pirates left a large mark on human history. There are groups dedicated to reflecting that period, songs/movies romanticizing the culture, and people still committing acts of piracy. Whatever your opinion on the matter, you have to respect how much they still influence us today.
Of course I’ll leave you with a few good pirate songs to round everything out. You can never have enough pirate in your life.
The Sailors Society is a charity I found when researching modern pirates and kidnappings. They aim at offering services and support to sailors around the world whether they are stranded, kidnapped or dealing with other hardships. Check out their page here