Piracy (Pyracy) on the High-Seas – a Perspective!

Piracy upon the high-seas is basically waterborne thieving. Although at its romantic peak (between 1650-1730) – Elizabeth I authorised her (English) Navy to attack and steal from the competing Navies of Spain and Portugal. This development might explain why Britain’s first pirates were Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Francis Drake. Piracy (pyracy) seems to a clumsy abbreviation for ‘privateers’ (in a time before standard spelling) for those thieves acting in their own interests or the interests of other ‘private’ individuals. These faceless middle-men, for instance, protected Elizabeth’s good reputation as the ‘virgin queen’. However, pirates struck between and around ‘colonies’ because these were the clearing houses of early European imperialist expansion and exploitation – and the places that all the wealth and resources ‘stolen’ from the non-White populations was amassed in preparation to being shipped back to the European Motherlands. This flow of immense wealth was already the product of theft upon a monumental scale! Pirates, being aware of just how much obscene amounts of wealth there was, conspired to short-circuit the economic process and take relatively small amounts for themselves. European privacy may be viewed as the first example of ‘adventure capitalism’ (despite the fabled ‘democratic’ and ‘egalitarian’ systems of pirate social organisation aboard shop and on land). Modern piracy (from the 16th century onward) was an official policy begun by Elizabeth I as an unregulated financial mechanism used to reduce the profit margins of her competitors. Later, certain individuals (and groups) took it upon themselves to to ‘steal’ a small part of what had already been ‘stolen’ from the non-European peoples. The colonies acted like financial sponges sluice-gates all over the world directing endless streams of ill-gotten wealth to the British Isles! This process of wealth redirection simultaneously impoverished larges swathes of the world, whilst enriching Western Europe. A pattern, situation and tendency which can still be seen operating throughout the world today!

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