Arrr for One and One for Arrr!

Via Sam Boyd, it turns out that pirates lived in a reasonably egalitarian society:

Captains had total authority during battle, when debate and disagreement were likely to be both inefficient and dangerous. Outside of battle, the quartermaster, not the captain, was in charge—responsible for food rations, discipline, and the allocation of plunder. On most ships, the distribution of booty was set down in writing, and it was relatively equal; pirate captains often received only twice as many shares as crewmen. (Woodward writes that Privateer captains typically received fourteen times as much loot as crewmen.) The most powerful check on captains and quartermasters was that they did not hold their positions by natural right or blood or success in combat; the crew elected them and could depose them. And when questions arose about the rules that governed behavior on board, interpretation was left not to the captain but to a jury of crewmen.

What’s striking, of course, is how much more ethical the pirates were than modern American business.

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “Arrr for One and One for Arrr!

  1. Best. Last. Line. Ever.

  2. r@d@r

    required reading: “pirate utopias” by hakim bey, a.k.a. peter lamborn wilson, acclaimed author of “TAZ – the temporary autonomous zone”.

    apparently quite a few of the most notorious pirates of the classic pirate period we’re familiar with, that being the mid to late 1600’s up until as late as the 1800’s, were ordinary middle class people fed up with mainstream society who wanted to embrace a functional anarchism. which is not to say that many of them didn’t “do bad things”, but that the traditional “common knowledge/conventional wisdom” pirate narratives may be sorely incomplete.

  3. anangryoldbroad

    I read somewhere once(during the kiddo’s “pirate phase” a few yrs back)that the pirates also took care of pirate widows and their children,and had a sort of retirement fund in place for older pirates.

  4. William K. Wolfrum

    I read that the favorite vegetable of pirates was arrrrr-tichokes.

    –WKW

  5. I read somewhere once(during the kiddo’s “pirate phase” a few yrs back)that the pirates also took care of pirate widows and their children,and had a sort of retirement fund in place for older pirates.

    Got any idea if that’s till going? I could use a boost what with the dollar, (My Pension.) going further down the shitter every day thanks to you all know who.

  6. They even had insurance for injuries and death. You got so much for losing a hand, an eye, a leg, and so forth. Very elaborate contracts, some of them.

  7. Paen

    It’s ironic that you posted this today because I was just listening to the old Woodie Guthrie song Pretty Boy Floyd where Woodie compared the banks to outlaws.My favorite lines are”In this world are many strange men,some will rob you with a 6 shooter,others with a fountain pen.”and”You will never see
    an outlaw drive a family from their home”

  8. Melangell

    I’ve been reading the Raised by Wolves series of historical fiction by W. A. Hoffman. She makes a well-researched claim for the practice of Matlotage – a kind of same-sex (though not always involving a sexual relationship) partnership between buccaneers. A matelot was given his partner’s share if his partner were to die in battle.
    Fascinating, no? And so much more civilized than “marriage= 1 man 1 woman”

  9. The Pirate’s Code:

    Care for widows and orphans, disability insurance, democracy, and civil partnerships.

    “They’re more like guidelines, anyway.”

  10. Pingback: From Wikipedia: Take Care o’Yer Breasts for Mother Russia « Cap’n Dyke, Lesbian Pirate Queen & Rogue Blogger

  11. Jeff you mentioned businesses, how about this sounds better than Bush and Co. Can’t we just depose him and get us a pirate instead? They take care of their retired and injured and have same-sex partnerships, sounds like where I want to live, where do I sign up?

  12. Jeff you mentioned businesses, how about this sounds better than Bush and Co.

    Well, he is the first CEO president…. 😛

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