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How do contemporary pirates differ from pirates of the Golden Age?

Essay 2013 10 Pages

History Europe - Other Countries - Middle Ages, Early Modern Age

Excerpt

Content

Introduction

Topic

Problem

Relevancy

Knowledlge & Limits of Knowledge

Research Question

Contribution

Overview of the Essay

Body

Research interest:

Search Strategy

Findings

Who are/were they?

Attacked regions

Strategies

Organization

Pi ates·booty

Combating

Discussion

Conclusion

Summary of Key Findings

Limitations & Future Research Questions

References

Images

Introduction

Topic

Piracy is an inspiring phenomenon (Roth 2014, 2014b) which has been existed since the beginning of maritime trade and still exists up to now. As piracy is a crime, one might wonder how it can persist so many years and offer a solution for so many people.

Problem

Contemporary pirates seem to be far, far away from an European point of view and one could perhaps think that we, Europeans, have got nothing to do with them. But, due to the fact, that they block important trade seaways in some cases, this problem can have an impact on European economies faster than we expected it to have. Actually i t does already affect some shipping companies and could suddenly also affect more and more other sectors. One example is the biggest container shipping company Maersk Line. In 2009 the shipping company decided to avoid the Suez Canal because of increasing events of piracy in this region. However, their ships have to make a detour around Africa and the Cape of Good Hope, which can be seen as an enormous threat to international trade (Moiler & Group, 2013). Additionally, it is an enormous burden for maritime states and for the shipping industry (Oliver & Jablonski, 2012) (Gilpin, 2009).

Relevancy

Because of the fact that one can more and more often hear something in the news about pirate attacks, especially related to Somalia, the topic, I want to investigate in, is of current relevance. Furthermore, many countries are trying to fight piracy. I think to better understand contemporary pirates it is necessary to have a closer look on their predecessors because in some cultures piracy is deeply rooted in the culture.

Knowledge & Limits of Knowledge

If I think about a pirate, I have a barbarous man with an eye-patch and a peg-leg without any fear in my mind. That is why I was very surprised when I first heard something about contemporary pirates in the news a 1few years ago. Before I first heard about contemporary pirate attacks in the sea offshore Somalia in the news, I would have never imagined that pirates still exist today because I thought they were a typical phenomenon of the seventeenth and eighteenth century. Still up to now I do not know anything about contemporary pirates and how they operate. But there must be reasons that people still have to make their living from piracy. Due to the fact that I never really thought about former pirates in a serious way and from a business point of view before, I do not know a lot about their organization and the problems they had to face.

Research Question

Thus, the research question of my essay I want to investigate in. is how do contemporary pirates differ from the pirates of the Golden Age regarding their motives. their strategies. their organisation. their attacked regions and how this knowledge can help to better understand present-day pirates.

Contribution

This essay can help to better understand the reasons of contemporary pirates. their motives to become pirates and to find out what problems they have to oope with in contrast to the pirates of the Golden Age. As in some countries, like in Somalia, piracy has always been a part of the society and represents a tradition. one can better understand the pirates when knowing more about the roots of this phenomenon.

Overview of the Essay

First I am going to figure out what kind of people pirates actually are and about their reasons to become pirates. Second I want to focus on the regions where pirates attacked in early times and were they still can be found today. Furthermore. it will be good to find about the reasons for the regions to be attacked by pirates. Then I want to go into detail regarding their different strategies. Affter that the organization on board will be of specialinterest. One question to answer in this part will be the one of their booty and how they shared their booty. Before I am going to conclude my findings. I want to have a closer look on the strategies to combat piracy in recent days.

Body

Research interest:

As I have never asked myself before which problems pirates could have faced regarding their organisation and their life onboard of pirate vessels, I thought it would be very interesting to know how they managed to self-<>rganize themselves without any state driven law. Because of the fact that there was no law at sea, one could easily compare piracy to a situation where people strand on a lonely island like in the novel of Daniel Defoe "Robinson Crusoe" and have to cope with the deepest problems of society as how to get along with each other, how to estabish a fair system of rules, how to make sure, that rules are followed and how to make sure that no one only asserts his own interests. Due to the fact that contemporary pirates live in a totally different time, it is interesting to find out, what they still have in common with former pirates. Modern pirates have different technology available and there are different laws they have to cope with .Modern pirates have completely different types of arms to overbear their targeted ships. I want to find out how this fact influences ther strategy in contrast to former pirates.

Search Strategy

To get an overview about the topic itself I started with searching general information about piracy with the help of the search engine "Google scholar". On the one hand I searched for information on piracy of the Golden Age to get an overall impression of their life and their problems. On the other hand I tried to find out something about contemporary pirates. After having had a general overview about the topic I chose my key academic references, which mainly were articles of journals. I read the articles again by focusing on the aspects which were relevant for my topic. I found an article in a journal which described the life and the organization of former pirates very detailed. Regarding the contemporary pirates I chose articles who are giving data regarding pirate attacks and research essays, who try to pull together piracy and poor labour market conditions. To get a current view of the topic, as well, I also included websites of newspapers which report about current pirate attacks and the situation in piracy-prone regions.

Findings

Who are/were they?

According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) maritime piracy is any

" illegal act of violence or detention , or any act of depredation , committed for pr i vate ends by the crew or the passengers of a private ship or a private aircraft , and directed: (i) on the high seas, against another ship or airc r aft , or against persons or property on board such ship or ai r craft ; (ii) against a ship, aircraft , persons or property in a place outside the jurisdiction of any state " (UN, 1982: Article 101) (Nations, 1982)

This definition of piracy leads to the question who are these people, who commit illegal acts in order to earn their money over years. In the past pirates often were discards of society and were forced to become pirates because of misery. But there were also several other reasons to become a pirate. Some were members of organized crime or even privateers. Furthermore, in former times it was very attractive for men to become a pirate because on merchant ships the conditions were worse, they were treated in a bad manner and even earned not much. Because of the fact that piracy was associated with wealth and liberty, many men joined a pirate crew in these days to live this dream. Today's pirates are young men (up to the early 30s) who live within the society and are embedded in the society (Gilpin, 2009). In some cases they additionally have a regular employment. They live in the villages on the coast among non-pirates. These societies, like in the case of Somaia are often based on a cooperative basis. They do not see themselves as pirates, as they call themselves guardians of the sea (Klein, 2012). According to Oliver and Jablonski today's poor labor market opportunities in some regions are the main reason for pirates. They argue that the economic situation and the wage level directly influence the number of piratical events because people always weigh out the revenue they can gain through piracy, and the one gained through work in other sectors (Oliver & Jablonski, 2012). But there also other reasons which are not directly money related. In Somalia, for example, the pirates try to defend themselves by arguing that the main motive can be seen as the overfishing of foreign fishing fleets in the inshore waters of Somalia. Due to the fact that in Somalia many people have been dependent on the fishing to earn their living, many people lost their jobs because of the overfishing. Another reason, pirates in this region mention, is the ocean dumping of poisonous waste of foreign ships. Thus, the pirates in Somalia see themselves as defenders of their resources (Klein, 2012).

Attacked regions

Pirates of the Golden Age, which lasted from 1690 to 1730, hijacked mainly in the seaway of the trade triangle between Europe, Africa and the American colonies, where they aimed on attacking Spanish galleons, which transported gold, raw material and silver from America to Spain.

Contemporary pirates can, first of all, be found in regions where the government is weak and does not show much intervention (Leeson, 2007). These regions are, in the first instance the Straits of Malacca, the Indonesian Archipelago, and the Gulf of Aden. But also in Nigeria, Bangladesh, Vietnam, the Philippines and Brazil piratical attacks are not unusual (Oliver & Jablonski, 2012). In some of these countries there does not exist an efficient government like in the case of Somalia or the government is powerless against the pirates.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 1 Worldwide piracy events, 2009 (Coggins, 2012)

Strategies

Former pirates used fast and airy boats to easily attack big merchant-ships. Their boats were equipped with canons. If the distance to tlhe merchant-ship was small enough the pirates threw a grappling hook, connected the two ships and entered the merchant-ship. Pirates overcame their opponents with rapier, daggers, pistols and muskets.

Modern pirates, in contrast, mainly operate in organized gangs. They use speedboats, machine guns and other automatic guns, as well as grenade launcher, for their attacks. With their speedboats their targets are especially big ships, whi ch need to reduce their speed in sea gates like in the Strait of Malacca. The attacks take place at night, especially between one and six o·clock. Pirates. who aim on getting ransom, capture the vessel including the crew and keep them until they get the ransom paid by the shipping company of the kidnapped ship. In some cases the pirates even kidnap the whole vessel, the crew is brought to a small isle. the vessel is brought to a port, uploaded and then used under a new name. The pirates then sell the cargo on the next market. This method is also called "shipjacking". Some argue that piracy is often related to other threats such as terrorism, weapons. human and even drug trafficking (Oliver & Jablonski, 2012).

Organization

Thinking about pirates, an image of very egoistic and brutal men, who care about themselves more than they do about other people, come·s to my mind. This raises the question, if the pirates of the Golden Age behaved in a social manner among themselves. But it becomes clear that pirates in the early times must have developed a system of codes, laws and rules somehow because they could not have been efficient if every pirate had done what he wanted to do. As I have a very brutal image of a pirate, I only thought that they somehow behaved to the rule - the strongest always survives.

The first question arising when one thinks about a traditional piratical organization is the one about the existence of a captain who has the power over the whole crew. Of course, pirates in former times needed to have a captain who could quickly make decisions in critical situations and create an internal order to achieve their goals. In these situations it would have been counteractive if the crew would have not acted like a collaborative crew. In these critical situations every member of the crew must have had a special role to fulfil. Furthermore, also onboard in the daily life they must have had rules to maintain order. One must have been responsible for cooking, another for cleaning. The difficulty pirate crews had regarding their captain is that they needed to have a captain who had control over the crew on the one hand, but on the other hand they had to overcome the danger of misuse of the captain's authority (Leeson, 2007). For this purpose pirates established a system of divided power, which means that besides the captain there has always been a quartermaster who was one of the officers. This system is also called "checks and balances". Because of the divided power, the captain was always dependent on the quartermaster's approval. The captain was mainly in charge of making decisions in situations of battle. In contrast, the quartermaster was responsible for controlling the implementation of the captain's orders and keeping things organized on board. This meant di viding the booty, punishing crew members and mediating in terms of conflicts between the crew members. My typical image of a captain of a piratical vessel was that he does not have to do any work himself and just bosses the other pirates around. By researching I found out that this image does not correspond to reality because the captain was not such an easy job as I expected it to be. The captain did not earn much more than the other members of the crew, commonly he even had to share a cabin with the other crew members and he did not have any special rights. As the captain and the quartermaster were democratically elected by the crew they were forced to behave appropriate to the crew's attitude because there was always the possibility to be voted out of office. As the limitations of the captain's and quartermaster's authority were clearly set, an acting beyond their authority normally resulted in a deselection. After being voted out of office one of the officers became the new captain and one of the officers the new quartermaster. Furthermore pirates had constitutions which stated the rights of the captain and the quartermaster, instructions about the distribution of the booty, laws for all crew members and punishments, when the laws were disregarded and compensation in cases of injury. In addition the constitutions often contained rules regarding security and social behaviour, as well. Incentives like bonuses for crew members who showed special commitments in times of battle, were also part of the constitutions to encourage special dedication of the crew members. Constitutions first appeared on buccaneer ships in the seventeenth century where they were called "chasse partie". Later they were developed and known under different names like "Custom of the coast" or "Jamaica Discipline" (Leeson, 2007). When ships aligned with other pirate vessels as a fleet, they agreed on common constitutions of the partnership (Leeson, 2007). These constitutions had to be signed by every crew member before the beginning of a trip. The pirates strictly behaved according to their constitutions.

For contemporary pirates there is not the need to organize their life on board in such a way in which pirates in early times had to, because they do not live on board and thus, do not spend much time together. As their attacks in most cases take place at night they just meet at the coast before starting their attack. After their raid they return to their villages on the coast. Therefore, one cannot compare the organization of former pirates with the one of contemporary pirates. Present-day pirates are not as dependent on each other as their predecessors used to be (Leeson, 2007).

Pirates' booty

In a piratical crew the quartermaster was responsible for splitting and allocating the booty like drapery, spices, food, wine and arms or even silver, gold and jewelry to all crew members. In cases when the value of the booty was indeterminable or the booty was not divisible, the pirates sold it or sold it by auction on the markets of the seaports and divided the revenue to prevent any conflicts between crew members (Leeson, 2007). Once in a while pirates actually captured slaves which they sold on the next slave market.

In recent times it is much easier for pirates to deal with the booty. In the most cases the cargo of the ships is not the objective of the pirates today, as they usually aim on getting the board safe which often contains high amounts of money in cash. But in some cases in recent years the attacks involved hijacking and even kidnapping (Oliver & Jablonski, 2012). Naturally the pirates have to divide it amongst them, but the value is easier to determine. In the cases of pirates-for-hire it is even easier. Pirates-for-hire are hired by criminals who stay on land and are assign the pirates to steal boats. The pirates have to give their booty to their employer and the employer regularly pays them their wages. The client then transforms the boats into "phantom ships" and resells them (Leeson, 2007).

Combating

One important factor which makes it very difficult to combat piracy is that one cannot obviously identify pirates as it was possible backwards. Another problem is that many shipping companies which were mugged by pirates do not even report the occurrence. The shipping companies do not report anything to not increase their insurance payments. Another danger is that they will not receive orders anymore being once attacked by pirates (Moiler & Group, 2013). In addition, in some regions corruption plays an important role (Petretto & Petrovic, 2012). For modern ships there are possibilities to use technical means like water- and long range acoustic canons, infrared and radar systems, as well as, electric railings to keep away pirates. But these means are very expensive to use.

Discussion

Around 1720 England, Spain and France for the time being put an end to piracy with insistence and force (Minster, 2013). This shows that piracy has once in history been combated and diminished successfully. But can it work again? Contemporary pirates do not have a lot in common with their predecessors, but they still exist and piracy once again is a big problem. In my opinion contemporary piracy is not a problem which can be solved overnight because it is deeply rooted in some societies and in some cases it actually is a product of it. In the most cases people in these regions do not have an other option to earn their living. Thus, the whole society has to be changed to combat piracy. But the governments of the concerned regions cannot combat it on their own because it is all about organized gangs who have a lot of power. That is why also other states have to interfere in the situation. Many actions have been undertaken by governments and the shipping industry to address the problem, but they do not face the root the problem, tlhe state instability (Alessi & Hanson, 2012).

Conclusion

Summary of Key Findings

Contemp·orary pirates differ in many ways from former pirates. They commit pirate attacks because of different reasons than their predecessors and they are embedded in society. Furthermore, they are not dependent on each other than the pirates of the Golden Age used to be. That is why they do not require an organization in the dimension of former pirates. Pirate crews of former times can be seen as small societies and had to overcome a lot of difficulties resulting from this. The piratical organization system consisting of the democratic system of divided power and the constitutions was very progressive and served as a role model for later governments like the French government from 1789 on (Leeson, 2007). It becomes clear that pirates needed to mantain a certain order on board of their vessels to be efficient in terms of achieving bid booty. Contemporary pirates live within society and some of them are even holding down a regular job. That is why they do not require an organizational system and social rules like traditional pirate crews did. Obviously they have to have a captain who steers the boat and can be seen like a leader for the crew, but this captain cannot be compared to a captain o·f a former pirate crew.

Limitations & Future Research Questions

Having dealt with the topic of organization of the pirates of the Golden Age, I found out that this is a very interesting theme, as they developed a system of democracy, which I would have never imagined before. Pirate crews had a very advanced social system on board which was revolutionary for their time and can lead to further research regarding economic and political analysis. As this essay supposed to outline the main differences between contemporary pirates and the ones of the Golden Age, I could not go more into detail concerning the organization. Another important topic for a future, more detailed research can be the impact of piracy on the global economy. A very interesting aspect of the topic is also tlhe reasons for contemporary pirates and the society in the piracy prone regions which can lead to future research. Additionally, the question of methods against contemporary piracy could be answered in the future.

References

1. Alessi,C. & Hanson,S.,2012. Council on Foreign Relations. (Online). Available at: http:/(www.cfr.org/piracy/combati ng-maritime-piracy/p18376 (Access 14 December 2013].
2. Coggins, B. l., 2012. Global patterns of maritime piracy,2000-09:Introducing a new dataset. Journal of Peace Research, pp. 606-616.
3. Gilpin,R., 2009. Counting the Costs of Somali Piracy, Washington: United States Institute of Peace. Klein,R., 2012. Somalia und "Moderne Piraterie" (Interview) (9 November 2012).
4. Leeson,P. T., 2007.An- arrgh-chy: The Law and Economics of Pirate Organization. Journal of Political Economy,Vol. 115, No.6, December.pp. 1049-1094.
5. Minster, C 2013. about.com. (Online). Available at: http:1/latinamericanhistory.about.com/od/TheGoldenAgeofPiracy1700-1725/a/The- Golden-Age- Of-Piracy.htm [Access 16 December 2013].
6. Moiler,A. & Group,M.,2013. Maersk. [Online] Available at: http://www.maersk.com/sustainability/healthandsafety/pages/piracy.aspx [Access 2 December 2013].
7. i ne ] Available at: http://www.un.org/Depts/los/convention agreements/texts/unclos/closindx.htm (Access 2 December 2013].
8. Nations,U.,1982.United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas {UNCLOS}.(Online] Available at: http://www.un.org/Depts/los/convention agreements/texts/unclos/closindx.htm (Access 2 December 2013].
9. Olver,R. s_ & Jablonski, 5.,2012.The Political Economy of Plunder: Economic Opportunity and Modern Piracy. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 10 July.pp. 1-20.
10. Petretto,K _ & Petrovic,D.,2012.Bundeszentralefiir palitische Bildung. (Online]. Available at: http://www.bpb.de/apuz/149609/fernab-jeder-romantik-piraterie-vor-der- kueste-somailas?p=all (Access 7 December 2013].
11. Roth, S. (2014a), Booties, bounties, business models. A map to the next red oceans, International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, forthcoming.
12. Roth, S. (2014b), The eye-patch of the beholder. Introduction to entrepreneurship and piracy, International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Small Business, forthcoming.

Images

Figure 1 (Coggins,2012)

Details

Pages
10
Year
2013
ISBN (Book)
9783656840046
File size
783 KB
Language
English
Catalog Number
v284033
Institution / College
The ESC Rennes School of Business
Grade
B
Tags
golden

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Title: How do contemporary pirates differ from pirates of the Golden Age?