Someone just suggested to me that the Spanish loved pirates while the British hated them.
This isn’t even remotely true and it reminded me how a Spanish city official (Don Juan Pérez de Guzmán) once called Captain Morgan a pirate, meaning to insult him as the Spanish monarchy hated pirates. The story then goes Morgan indeed hated this insult so much that he then waged a devastatingly brutal siege of the Spanish city, torturing residents and pillaging it for weeks.
Morgan’s point to the Spanish was that he was a proud privateer in service of the British monarchy. He ran an autocratic and ruthless operation that cheated his own staff of wages and benefits. How dare anyone accuse him of being fair to his own people or a democratic leader? He would kill them if they did.
In that sense, pirates were entrepreneurs challenging the brutality of unjust political systems that expressly denied human rights and trafficked in human exploitation. Privateers were the opposite, business operators serving these awful political systems in high-risk markets.
It’s a significant difference between owner-operator businesses and exploitative vigilantism. Somehow pirates have become associated with the latter when historically they seem to have operated more as the former.
This perhaps is best explained in Chapter 8 of “The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates” by Peter T. Leeson