© The Author(s) 2018. Pirates are often described as existing on the margins of the world economy, emerging from the outskirts to disrupt otherwise free capitalist markets. With this narrative in mind, it is not surprising that the pirate remains a marginal figure within both the fictional stories and historical accounts of the emergence of capitalism. This article, however, asks: What do we learn about the capitalist world economy if we understand the pirate not as an outlaw but as a fellow capitalist? Weaving together stories of the golden age of piracy in the Atlantic world with contemporary piracy in the Gulf of Aden, I argue that pirate capitalism helps us to understand the capitalist world economy, not only demonstrating the violence and dispossession at the centre of capitalist accumulation but also making visible the fluid relationship between capital, sovereignty, violence, and freedom.
Millennium: Journal of International Studies