An army of pirates prepares for war today, led by the meta-ghost of Winston Churchill, against the forces of censorship and the governments of the world. Philip K Dick told us the future was going to be weird.

The Pirate bay, the world’s most infamous Bit-torrent search engine, is calling on supporters to take up virtual arms against the growing forces of internet censorship. And to do it, they’re paraphrasing Churchill himself. The Pirate Bay, a site which has always been explicitly political in outlook, has become a lighting rod for opposition to internet censorship. They’ve gone to court and even helped form “Pirate Parties” in a number of nations, which managed to win a Sweedish seat in the European Parliament. They won 3198 votes in last week’s Canadian federal election.

This move has been largely prompted by calls in the EU for a private European internet capable of censoring “inappropriate” content, much like the Great Firewall of China. Worldwide, many nations, including our own, are instituting broad new laws criminalizing “piracy” and restricting access to content on the internet. This comes of course in light of recent internet-powered revolts in Africa and the Middle East, and the general scourge of Wikileaks. The internet has become established to the point where it’s allowing people to challenge power in frightening ways, and power is responding with a crackdown.

How this war will be fought, if it happens at all, will likely begin in the now-familiar manner of massive DDOS attacks, such as those Anonymous has been using to traumatize governments and corporations for some time now. The response will come thorough mercenary hackers and trumped up court charges, in a manner which is also now all too familiar. But where will it go from there? Can an online campaign make the jump into real-world direct action, such as a peaceful occupation of a corporate head office or the CRTC? Or a far more devastating series of online attacks, which cripple networks and scuttle companies?

Pressure has been building for some time now. On one hand, there’s a large chunk of the world’s established elite, and on the other a large chunk of global popular opinion. These new laws are massively unpopular, and those in opposition tend to be among the most tech-saavy of our age. Whether this war happens now or later, the future of the internet may be at stake for both sides.