For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Flying the Black Flag: Revolt, Revolution and the Social Organization of Piracy in the ‘golden Age’"

by Land, Chris (2007)


This article examines the forms of social organization that emerged in the practice of piracy in the North Atlantic in the early 18th century. It argues that, for a short period, the pirates of the ‘golden age’ developed an autonomous, radically democratic, anarchistic form of social organization that stood as a challenge to the dominant social order of the time. As well as examining the historical reality of 18th century piracy and its relation to fictional and cultural representations of piracy, the paper examines two contemporary forms of ‘piracy’ which have inherited the symbolism, ideals and organizational forms of their 18th century forebears: digital piracy and contemporary anti-capitalism. The article concludes by asking whether piracy can be considered to be a revolutionary force and answers with a cautious and conditional affirmative. If we want to claim that the pirates of the golden age were revolutionary then we must overturn our historically conditioned understanding of ‘revolution’ itself.


Management, Management Studies, Organisation Studies, History, Historical Context, Eighteenth Century, Piracy, Anarchy, Anarchism, Revolution



Links to Reference



How to contribute.