Chapter One

INTRODUCTION

It would be a tremendous story if the author of the mythical text about the rise of capitalism was also the author of a history of pirates. However, this is not simple coincidence.

—Toshiya Ueno, “Piracy Now and Then”1

Pirates appear at pivotal periods in history. When capitalism began to spread along the trading routes toward the Indies. When radio opened an era of mass communication. When the Internet became part of the global economy. When the biotech revolution began bubbling to the surface. And it’s no coincidence that these four Golden Ages of piracy correspond to major turning points in the history of capitalism. In fact, we argue, piracy could very well be one of the drivers of capitalism’s growth and evolution. ...

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