Tag Archives: voting

A quote showing everything wrong with the liberal ideology

ATHENS, GREECE - OCTOBER 04:  Supporters of th...

Quoth redditor blue_delicious (in regards to using the occupy movement to shut down a major port)

This is idiotic. Just vote! If you want things to change, you need to work hard registering people to vote. Get people registered and run OWS endorsed candidates in Democratic primaries. If you start winning primaries against establishment Democrats, the rest of the Democrats will start listening.

Head, meet desk.

This is the most infuriating argument I see coming from liberals, and especially the headstrong ones who will say it with a moralizing and smug attitude. In the sense that if you don’t adhere to this principle, you’re immature and deserve what you get.

I’ve already pointed the past why voting is against our interests, so I won’t rehash my arguments but I will point out the sheer “insanity”1 of this sentiment. Liberal parties like the Democrats of the USA, or the PASOK of Greece and especially their more enthusiastic supporters have been arguing thus for decades now. That not only people need to vote, but that voting for minor parties is just as harmful. Rather, the only course of action is to try to merge your ideology into a larger party and try to affect their policies from within.

But how many times does this tactic needs to fail before they might start recognizing that it does not work? Using all your energy to simply promote a spokesperson into politics has such small returns that it’s essentially a waste of effort. So you got your OWS candidate into your democratic primaries. Now they need to be elected to run, thus more effort needs to be extended. A new candidate is almost impossible to be elected the first time, so the best you will hope for, is some small position in the government where they need to “prove” and “market” themselves until the next elections. So remember, don’t rock the boat in order to show how well your candidate maintains order and thus brings in more voters.

Immediately, you’ve set back the demands of the OWS movement by 4 years (at best), which might as well be an eternity. Not only will the OWS fury and passion have dissipated by the next elections (thus basically removing all the voting base of the OWS candidate) but your efforts will have achieved nothing at all, except put another pretty and convincing face in office. A person you have no idea will continue to support popular sentiments rather than simply play the game of politics like everyone else and thus get corrupted in no time flat.

The OWS movement, within a scant few months of simple occupations and direct action, is already shaking the world, as liberal as it already is. Just by the fact that it inspires, radicalizes and agitates people and thus goads the state machine to greater repression, which in turn radicalizes onlookers and fence sitters even more. And if anarchists and other autonomists manage to successfully agitate for more significant direct action, then more and more people will join, just because the improvements in their lives will be immediate. At the moment this is still an anarchist’s wet dream of course, but direct action movements have a proven record for snowball effects. It is precisely the reason why the state reaction is swift and brutal.

Using all your energy to mold such a movement into a toothless electioneering campaign is a waste and most likely fatal to it. But even if, against all odds, such a grass-roots movement manages to sustain itself for 4 years until the next elections (and the whole system hasn’t collapsed by then anyway), then you still have to fight to put your own candidate in office, at which point, you’re already playing by their rules and not yours. You will have lost all the autonomist support, and the best you can hope is that you can muster a campaign as big as Obama’s, despite a completely disillusioned voting base and a huge lobby on the other side running candidates with more history and corporate backing then you’ll ever get with your fresh and hostile-to-their interests OWS person.

It is very likely that you won’t get them elected the next time either, or the time after that. And by that time, OWS will be in the annals of history and your OWS candidate will be just another democrat with a grass-roots history. Kinda like Obama, and look how that turned out, where that was a liberal victory where “all the stars were right” so to speak.

And even if, and that’s a huge “if”, you manage to get a “radical candidate” (*snort*) elected, you still have no certainty they’ll do what they say, that the bureaucracy will let them, or that the right reaction won’t intervene and destabilize via right-wing populists (after all, you’ve now aligned yourself perfectly to the democrats, which makes them an easy target for teabaggers) and, if worse comes to worst, military intervention.

In short, following such misguided proposals, when you have a red-hot social movement behind you, is the absolute worst thing you could do. Not only is the chance to get someone radical actually elected immediately slim to none, not only is it unlikely they’ll achieve anything even if they manage to get elected, but worst of all, your movements momentum will simply be wasted on trying to achieve useless things in the far future, rather than actually improving things and therefore snowballing in the here and now.

  1. In the classic definitional sense of doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. []

Does not-voting help the fascists?

flag of the Spanish Falange Party
Image via Wikipedia

One very frequent argument I hear when I suggest that people, and especially anarchists should abstain from voting is that by doing this, we only play into the hands of fascists who use the lower turnout to get a bigger influence in electoral politics and therefore actual power. It is claimed that if the fascists manage to get in the government, things can only end up being worse than if a liberal or social democrat was there. It’s suggested then that it is a a better option to vote for the lesser evil just so that things don’t deteriorate even more.

However this argument, especially when coming from anarchists, seems to suggest the the slugginess and ineffectiveness of the state somehow is lifted when a extremist right-wing party is in power. That somehow fascists will be able to push through measures that other governments couldn’t without a hassle and that they would be even more in league with the ruling elite than every other politician.

I do not see any of this as very likely. The state will remain ineffective and the fascists will not be able to change either the constitutions or the legal system.  Much like the conservatives and the social democrats, they will be mired in parliamentarism and forced to sing the capitalist’s tune like every other politician. This means that they will be unable to boost their support in the working class by making things any better for them in any practical way and they will be unable to crony up to the capitalists without risking working class direct action.

Perhaps the fear is that they’re going to try to pass more xenophobic and authoritarian measures while they’re in force, but to tell you the truth, I don’t see this as any different than what the current governments are doing already. Perhaps you fear that they’re going to accelerate this? I doubt it, not only because it’s unlikely that they’ll have enough electoral majority to do this without the usual degree  of incompetence but even if there’s enough people abstaining from elections (in favour of direct action) to give them a powerful parliamentary majority, then it would also mean that there’s a lot of people to resist and consciously ignore any new fascist rules.

Perhaps the fear is that through Parliamentarism, they’ll be able to gather popular support by gaining visibility and/or funds from the laws that provide state funding to parties. History should have proven how useless the former is. Marxist-Leninist parties have been in the parliament for ages and it has done nothing to increase their support or their visibility. They only end up sounding antiquated and largely ignored except by those who are already convinced. Using parliamentarism for propaganda is a failure. As for the latter, this is not really going to empower them any more than any other party. At best they’ll simply abuse the money for their own personal expenses and destroy their own trust and at worst they’ll use it to fund extra-parliamentary activities with an amount that is less than what they would have if they put their efforts there in the first place.

Perhaps the fear is that they’ll increase and intensify the corporate cronyism, but this in turn would simply make them indistinguishable as a party from any other right-winger. History has shown how much the state is a tool for capital anyway, regardless of which position the ruling party espouses rhetorically. A Fascist party will at best sell the interests of the working class to the capitalist at an unsustainable rate, that is, a rate of exploitation that will quickly radicalize the working class to the point of rebellion, rather than the slow erosion of conservatives or the sweet palliatives of the social democrats.  This in turn will only marginalize the Fascists more and turn more people towards the only thing that can actually work for change: Direct Action.

Perhaps the fear is that the parties of the early 20th century will be revived in different forms and enact similar atrocities. However this misses a few very important differences with that time. First of all, those parties manage to do what they did, exactly because they had significant support from the populace at large, who at that time was clueless about the intentions of Fascists. This was in fact the reason why they managed to gain power even while not being democratically elected and why they didn’t have to. Their power did not stem from elections but by the large number of citizens who, even when not supportive, were willing to passively accept their rule, even when they voted against them during elections.

In fact, elections had very little to do with the power of those regimes. Mussolini practically grabbed power by the throat through fear and terror. Franco simply maneuvered himself into position within the Rebel forces during the Spanish revolution and then conquered all the outside opposition – and was not even a fascist to boot. Hirohito was a monarch and assumed power via birthright. Hitler was the only one who could be said to have been elected, but that is seriously stretching the meaning of democracy and ignores the significant maneuvering and terror he had to manufacture in order to place himself into power. It’s ignoring the real material circumstances that surrounded his rise to power (the economic situation in Germany particularly) and how those don’t exist in most areas which have fascists running for office. It was the material circumstances, combined with a reign of terror, ignorance of fascism, handy scapegoats and the still heavy religious and traditional populace which could be dragged along via their delusions and respect for authority.

In almost every area where people claim that we need to vote just to prevent the fascists, almost none of these circumstances exist and in fact, many can’t exist anymore. For most of the first world nations, respect for religious authority and especially organized religion is in decline. Traditionalism is fading and only Nationalism is poised to regain some credence given worsening economic conditions. But nationalism cannot carry the ball alone. Furthermore, there’s no handy USSR and evil commies to use an as external threat, although I’m certain China might come in handy for that purpose if push comes to shove. Fascism has also been severely discredited in the minds of most humans by now, making it even more unlikely that they’ll ever enjoy the mindless support of the 20s and 30s.

So at the end, you have a toothless threat. I’m not saying it’s not a threat at all of course, but the issue will not come through elections, but by them gathering popular support and/or pushing through an agenda via terror and lies. And those direct action tactics will not be defeated by counter-electioneering any more than voting prevented Mussolini, Hitler or Franco from coming into power. They will not be defeated by simple arguments either for that matter as Fascism is far more about emotion than it is about reason.

No, the only thing that can prevent fascism from ever coming back to power is the same thing they will use to practically do so: Direct Action. By countering their terror through mutual aid. By countering their shows of power via counter-rallies. By striking back on their acts of violence. In short, by not letting people believe that the Fascists are the only ones willing to take action in difficult situations when words are not enough.

Suggesting to take part in elections in order to oppose the fascists is not only useless, but is furthermore playing into the hands of the state which uses a handy boogieman to gain votes for the lesser evil parties at best or simply provide itself with legitimacy at worst. And anarchists especially, should know better than to play into the hand of the ruling elite just because fascists are considered to be the greatest evil.

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Voting is bad, M'kay?

Second round of the French presidential electi...
Image via Wikipedia

It seems a lot of discussions have been going on lately, both in the Anarchosphere and in reddit, on the subject of voting in state elections. Surprisingly a lot of anarchists have come out in favour of voting with various arguments on the issue. Since I keep getting caught in these discussions, I’ll try to explain my own reasoning on why I refuse to participate in elections, why this is not bad and counter some of the arguments for voting commonly thrown around by anarchists.

Why I refuse to vote

I used to vote black/white and I used to vote for third/small parties. Then I wisened up. I realized that no matter who one votes for, they end up voting for the system as a whole as well. Our choice between the few bad options we’re presented within a rigged game only serve to reinforce the lie that the government is simply following “the will of the people”.

To give a more extreme example to make the point: If some random people suddenly asked your society to vote on whether you’d prefer to become chattel slaves, work in a sweatshop, or become sex slave, it’s obvious that some choice might be better than the others for you. Some of those would be the “lesser evil”. However, as a whole, all those options are worse than many other alternatives which involves neither of these three. If you society nevertheless voted on one of these three and the majority decided that they’d prefer to become sweatshop workers, you have just granted legitimacy to those random people to decide the options by which you’d have to live. The healthy option would have been to wonder why these crazy people are asking you to vote on crazy options and ignore them while you continue with your lives.

Now imagine that those random people forcefully conquered your society anyway and made you all chattel slaves. After a while, when the people in your society have increased their power and outright military control is not enough, the conquerors get “enlightened”, declare a democracy and ask you to choose from one of the three options above. Only a fool would not notice that this is a desperate ploy to defuse the situation before a revolt. Only a fool would not notice that the choices given are not as good as what preceded the military conquest.

The difference between this theoretical example and the situation we are now is only that we’ve already been forced into one of the worst choices by historical precedence (i.e. the state violence that preceded and support capitalism) and instead of outright discarding all the bad choices and laughing at the crazy people who ask us to make them, we instead vote on the slightly better choice that will naturally retain the power of those random people. The difference is that we do not see the alternatives as clearly as would those theoretical people who started out free.The difference is that the conquerors left a few generations pass so that we now consider our situation normal and voting an improvement.

In short, voting serves to masquerade the violent acts which preceded it and make the bad choices we’re presented seem as better than they truly are. The reason we should not vote is because we need to expose the farce that is representative democracy and point out that we’re not bound by the options set by conquerors. The more people that do this, the shakier the propaganda the state has to legitimize itself. Once the percentage of people voting drops below 25%1, then the government starts looking a lot less like “the will of the people” and much more than the usurpers of power and the gendarme of the ruling elite that they truly are. Once less than 25% percent of people vote, I can easily argue that a government that is ignored by 3/4ths of the population has no legitimacy to govern over me and agitate that any use of force by the police or the army is an act of aggression by an external party.

But I cannot argue this as easily when the majority of people around me continue to vote and continue to think that the government, while not exactly representing themselves, represents the collective will. And this is why it’s especially counter-productive for anarchists to vote. We’re the ones who should be setting the example for fuck’s sake. If even we can’t refrain from participating in the farce, how do we expect that non-anarchists would even consider that there’s anything horribly wrong about it? How does one then answer the question “If you think elections don’t work, then why do you participate?” by a non-anarchist? Do you tell them that they work a little instead? But if they “work a little” for an anarchist, certainly they would work a lot for a non-anarchist. If for someone who is aiming for a stateless society, elections can be useful at times, then for someone who still believes in the state, proper participation in electioneering campaigns and putting one’s efforts in that area, would be a worthwhile prospect.

Is Non-Voting Bad?

Not if one considers that “democratic” governments don’t work for us. Not voting for the bad choices that I’m presented with will not change anything about my situation. Oh we hear talk about the greater and lesser evil and rampart fear-mongering from both sides of the puppet show, but the truth of the matter is that no matter how evil the other side is to us, they end up acting very similar in actual practise. There’s very very little substantial differences between parties in power at the moment, no matter their rhetoric.

And yet it seems people still listen to their rhetoric and believe it. They still believe that labour governments will be better than “Right-wing” ones, or that conservative governments will be more responsible than liberal ones. But in the end, they end up doing practically the same and often even worse. “Labour” governments usually assault workers with harsher measures than their predecessors. Conservative governments end up spending more. Liberal democracies end up restricting more. Communist parties end up increasing the rates of exploitation. And yet, some anarchists still believe that voting for Labour over Tory or Barack over McCain is somehow going to make things be less bad.

But this is based on faith and nothing else. The basic argument after the fact is always something like: Well, so-and-so is worse than I expected but certainly he’s not as bad as the other guy would have been. But this is based on nothing more than personal delusions. Both would have been just as bad as they serve primarily the same interests. Anarchists then engage in the same self-delusion that the rest of the “moderate left” is, by simply bloating the failing of those they consider the greater evil and trivializing the ones from the lesser evil. For example, all Clinton, Bush and Obama initiated wars of aggression and intensified already existing ones, covertly committed atrocities, sold their economies, destroyed labour orgs etc etc. The idea that Gore would not have done what Bush did is silly when we see what Clinton did. The idea that Bush would have been worse than Obama is silly when we see what Obama is doing (i.e. look past his promises and to his actual acts).

So how exactly is non-voting making things worse? Only a personal delusion of what-might-have-been gives the conviction that it did. But for someone like me, who stays away from the voting process altogether, they’re all as bad as each other and I don’t expect that any of them would have done anything less than the other if the ruling elite commanded it of them.

By far, the most common argument of this sort of course is that if we don’t vote, we allow the Fascists to gain power. However I’ll counter this point in another post as I’m already getting a bit long-winded. Until then, just remember: Voting is bad, m’kay?

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  1. The number chosen here is just an example. In practical terms, a higher or lower percent might be required to make a compelling case but we won’t know how much is needed unless we stop voting to drop this down in the first place []

How bipartisanism erodes society

Two Danish flags a-flutterThere’s quite a bit or worrying lately in Europe about the creeping Islamization that is occurring. We are seeing the slow buildup of tensions between the values that most European hold and the barbaric ones proposed in the Qu’ran and the Hadith.

Many people, including me, are quite annoyed in the way that our governments and international bodies are not only caving in to Islamic demands, but are actually protecting their hateful doctrine. Instead of seeing a strong secular opposition to the demands of religious extremists, they are given even more rights and more entitlements than any other European.

What most appals me is how the politicians who are supposedly representing us, instead cater to the religious extremist vocal minority, simply because it’s a very nice chunk of a voting block. Now that wouldn’t be much a problem if our republics were working as they should, as these pandering leaders could simply be voted out, but this is not really happening.

The same parties who at one point decide to pander to religion, end up simply getting re-elected, if not in the next election, at the one after that. Why? Because people will still vote them up, no matter what they do. It’s because people do not vote with their mind and based on previous events. They vote with tradition.

This is one the biggest failing of the bipartisan system most countries have ended up with.

  • You have two political parties that are neck-to-neck in each election. This is because the largest part of the electoral body traditionally votes for the same party and most are under the impression that not voting either, is the same as voting for the opposition.
  • Because these parties are so close in vote-count and because the traditional members of each cannot be swayed, the only ones who can tip the scales are the undecided voters.
  • Politicians thus tend to focus on appeasing what looks like the largest party of undecided which might make the difference in the next election.
  • The vocal minorities, always look as if they have a much bigger sway and presense than reality.
  • Religious extremists tend to be very vocal.

And there you have it. When politicians and political parties know that your vote is certain, no matter what they do, they will not look into your interests. They will try to appeal to the people who’s votes are not certain to go in either way and since they know you won’t dare to do anything else than keep voting for them, they will erode your freedoms, your rights and your society to appease the undecided voters.

The bipartisan system does not work. It has shown it does not work in every country that has achieved it as the only thing that ends up happening is that power passes from one party to the other and society gets a little bit worse with each election.

In Europe, this situation becomes even worse now. With the insertion of Muslims as a voting block, the only way to appease them is to push your society closer and closer to Sharia law as they will inadvertently vote for the party that does.

It is this why I am absolutely opposed to voting for any party that acts or has acted like that in the past. I do not care if not voting for the lesser evil will lead the “larger evil” to take place. I’d rather vote with my conscience than be a party to the dissolution of my freedom.

If we, as Secularists do not withhold our votes from the politicians who will move us towards theocracy in their attempt to appease the very same people we oppose, then we are consigning simply to the slow death of our societies and our eventual marginalization.

And not only is it our duty not to vote for them, but we should be telling them loud and clear, before and after each election why they did not get our vote. Perhaps then they might start listening.