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Ethical Subjectivity of the Pirates in India: Survival Ethics, Hindu Morals and Neoliberalism
Maitrayee Deka

Last modified: 2015-08-17


The essay uses Partha Chatterjee’s concept of ‘civic society’ and ‘political society’ to illustrate the moral and political implications of inhibiting a pirate economy in India today. Civil society comprising of ‘corporate class’ and urban middle class criminalizes piracy through the spectrum of Intellectual property (IP) laws. The absence of a legal framework of pirates in India puts them in a political society where they use informal arrangements to negotiate with the state. The ‘bourgeoisie’ sphere of civil society that is traditionally marked by ‘normative’ aspirations makes the political society devoid of one. Political society is about groups of population including pirates and their use of electoral democracy to get strategic gains. Somewhere the aspirations of the pirates are limited to earning a livelihood using the mechanics of a parliamentary democracy, vote bank politics amongst other things. This essay argues otherwise. Far from a political society of pirates operating in a moral vacuum in India, they have a complex subjectivity. The pirates in the video gaming markets of Delhi grapple with a Hindu moral world, and the IP world. Interestingly, these ideals are part of the civil society in India. I argue by borrowing civil society morals while operating in a political society in India, pirates in Delhi show that Hinduism and neoliberalism are part of a process of extending individual selfinterests.


Pirate Economy; Ethics; Civil Society; Political Society; Rational Market Actors


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