Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Defending (reenactor) Pirates

When I was at the Grande Muster at Saint Mary's City, one of the militia members complained to me about the pirate reenactors. As far as he was concerned, pirates were nothing but rapists, thieves, and murderers and he didn't know why anyone would want to recreate that. I can answer that.

First, there is some irony when someone who reenacts colonial militia complains about anyone else. after all, the colonists were stealing from, killing, and raping the Indians. The militia was there to keep down the Indians as much as anything.

Regardless, pirates have been romanticized since the GAoP. The first couple of books on pirates were written from first-hand experience and are still in print (here, and here). While everything the reenactor said about pirates is true, they also had some admirable traits. They were a rare example of democracy and meritocracy. Everyone got a vote. They chose their captain and, if he wasn't successful, they would choose a new captain.

Piracy also offers military reenactors a chance to cut loose a bit. A lot of military reenactment is marching and doing things as a unit. Pirates had to work as an effective unit but they didn't have (or need) the military discipline that military units have. It also allows for a great deal of individuality.

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