(Before I begin this post, I want to say that this is in no way a preaching post to be taken as ME saying what YOU do with your right to vote!)
This is a chance for me to discuss my position, open a discussion and explain why some politically active people such as myself do not vote in general elections.
Firstly let me explain my position and views:
I am an anarchist in my political philosophical persuasion and am from the school of thought of Social Anarchism and Anarchist Feminism.
“ANARCHISM, a social philosophy that rejects authoritarian government and maintains that voluntary institutions are best suited to express man’s natural social tendencies.” George Woodcock. “Anarchism” at The Encyclopaedia of Philosophy
“Harmony in such a society being obtained, not by submission to law, or by obedience to any authority, but by free agreements concluded between the various groups, territorial and professional, freely constituted for the sake of production and consumption, as also for the satisfaction of the infinite variety of needs and aspirations of a civilized being”.
For me I arrived at my anarchist perspective through years of study in philosophy, social psychology, International Relations and History. Also being well read on these matters has helped a great deal.
When I was younger and first eligible to vote, I couldn’t due to being homeless and unregistered, I felt so cheated by this and disconnected, deemed the underclass of society as a young adult with mental illness and no job or home, the right to vote fell to the bottom of my list of priorities. By my next eligible vote I was in a less dyer situation and registered, I campaigned for the Liberal Democrats and even got people who were not going to vote to vote. I felt empowered and thought this is it I can change things now, even though I was well aware that First Past The Post was undemocratic, I felt this “vote” would mean I was part of the movement for change.
Needless to say the Liberal Democrats then joined a coalition with The Conservatives and the rest is now a joke in the political rhetoric of the last 5 years. The Liberal Democrats took my vote and others and used it against us, with a political party which was in complete opposition to the policies I had chosen as a reason to vote Lib-Dem. Felling betrayed and as if I was a accomplice to a horrific crime on society, I began to re-think my position. I knew what I believed in, I knew what I wanted but still had no idea how to go about it?
When I started my degree in Philosophy I had already done an A-level and had been reading about philosophy since an early age. Being French it has always been instilled in me to pay great attention to philosophy and philosophers as without this “the theory of knowledge” how could one learn anything and truly understand the knowledge they posses?
Having always felt on the outside, regarding many things, such as my own personality, mental illness, political ideas, religious beliefs and generally in how I live my life. The only choice I had was to find a way to continue being as politically active but not compromise my mission to create change and to stay true to my beliefs.
So as I do most things I went head first into truly understanding my opinions and ideas for a better world.
I knew what I wanted in simplistic terms:
- A world beyond a monetary system
- A resource based economy
- Environmental conservation
- Getting rid of archaic establishments
- The use of technology for greater goods available to the worlds population
- More education of the highest quality available for all
- The abolishment of Nationalism, Capitalism, Elitism and Fascism
- Free Speech and less censorship
- Using media for education and change
The list could go on, but these were fundamental things I knew I believed in and still do. I knew that we could all do what we do, as well as governments and institutions, without the little bits of paper which we call money, that we so desperately want more of. The reality is the powers that be have the agenda to control one thing, which in turn controls everything, those little bits of paper. The amazing thing is, that we allow ourselves to believe in this power, as if the “little bits of paper” were sent from the heavens and revealed to us, we put faith in money, holding it up as if it were a God, believing happiness is attainable through our faith. This is where governments hit us most and rely on us most, pulling a Houdini like magic trick, creating an illusion of power. But some of us are not fooled by this illusion and can see the trickery behind the trick.
Now let me tell you what I face as criticism as an anarchist and non voter, here are common things said to me by people:
- You are an idiot!
- You are delusional
- You must vote because you are a women and women dyed for the right to vote, if not they died in vain.
- If you don’t vote you will not be able to complain or comment on the political situation
- As an anarchist I hope you do not use any public services!
- Even if you don’t like anyone, vote!
- This one day is your chance to have a voice, do not waste it!
So with the help from the internet I have found an alternative list of points on why not to vote:
22 reasons not to vote:
- If one votes, one participates. If one participates, one condones and endorses the process, and subsequently, what those elected ‘representatives’ do and say in your name.
- Electoral promises are meaningless because politicians lie to gain the favour of the electorate, and then do exactly what they want once they have it. Then there is no accountability or recourse, other than waiting another 4 years or so to vote them out and replace them with someone else who will do the exact same thing.
- The act of voting grants legitimacy to the idea that it’s acceptable for the majority/collective to use the coercive arm of the state to impose their will on the minority/individual using force, or threats of force, and for that reason, it is immoral to vote. As such, the only way to truly de-legitimise the system is by not voting. When the people stay home in droves the international community won’t recognise the results of the election. This perceived legitimacy is such a concern for politicians that in some countries it’s now a legal requirement to vote (e.g., Australia).
- A non-voter effectively emerges from the electoral process with a clean conscience because they can proudly proclaim that what the elected ‘representatives’ subsequently say and do after they’ve gained power is not done in their name, not with their permission, and not with their encouragement.
- To not vote DOES NOT mean one relinquishes the right to then comment on, complain about, or protest the actions of the government, it is completely the other way round. When one votes one effectively makes a contractual agreement (the voter is officially recorded doing so), which hands over the right for someone else to speak and act in their name and assents to whatever the government does. A non-voter however, has not done so, and therefore retains the right to complain and object all they want.
- Participation in the system (i.e., voting) reinforces the idea that people can’t live together without violent control.
- Participation in the system (i.e., voting) implies that the majority knows what’s best for everyone.
- Participation in the system (i.e., voting) implies that the majority knows what’s best for the individual.
- Voting is effectively participating in mob rule, and the mob then enforces it’s views on the rest of society with the threat of violence.
- By voting, an individual literally advocates the use of force against peaceful people.
- Voting reinforces the idea the ‘people’ have the power rather than the unaccountable bureaucrats who make the rules.
- Voting is futile because invariably the better financed candidate wins.
- Statistically, any one vote makes no more difference than a single grain of sand on a beach. Thinking that their vote counts tends to give people a mistakenly inflated sense of self-worth, and participation in a system creates a passive sense of accomplishment.
- An individual’s ability to make an informed choice is zero if the only information they reference is from the overtly bias main stream media, government news channels (propaganda), politicians and party manifestos (sales pitch), or from an ‘enforced’ state school education (indoctrination).
- Voting sends a false signal to the elected politicians that the voter approves of all their policies. Voters therefore encourage them.
- If an individual has not come to firm conclusion about the election, that individual will do more for their country by not voting, rather than making a mistake.
- If the outcome of a vote is unknown, then voting is tantamount to gambling. If the outcome of a vote is known, then voting is futile.
- No individual has the authority to make laws their neighbour, or anyone else, must obey. Then how is it morally acceptable for any individual to delegate authority they don’t have to someone else, such as a politician?
- Should people who know more about games shows, sports, reality TV and celebrities, rather than matters of any real importance (economics, political philosophy, history, logic, critical thinking, etc) be in a position to vote and influence the lives of others?
- Supporting the lesser of two evils is still supporting evil.
- “If voting made any difference they wouldn’t let us do it.” – Mark Twain
- “I have certain rules I live by. My first rule: I don’t believe anything the government tells me” – George Carlin
To me regardless of who you vote for, the system and establishment is the problem, this is where we need to come together and change this. You may not like what I am about to say but I believe this to be true. There is no quick fix! You have to be in this for the long game, believe that little steps as well as large steps count, that people could start individually or as a community, the aim is to change the world we live in for the future of our planet and the amazing inhabitance of it, such as us, the rest of the animal kingdom, nature and our extended universe.
I think the biggest disillusionment is in ourselves, not believing we can do more as a community, countries, continents and the world as a whole. Thinking the powerful (who lets face it are only concerned in facilitating ego and power not people) are going to change this for us is in my opinion an indication of social control and public dis-empowerment. Instead of looking to others and the government, start and look at yourself, ask yourself could I be more politically active? Could I be an active member in the change I want to see? Thinking this is too small in significance is a disservice to us all. Everyday I try and contribute to change and suggest you do too if you truly want a better world.
So instead of shaming people into voting, or judging others for who they vote for, get proactive!
Here are some suggestion on how to create change and work outside of the government as well as ways you can put pressure on the government regardless of who they are:
Changing the voting system:
The Electoral Reform Society operates on a simple premise – that politics can be better than it is. We are campaigning for a better democracy.
NOTA UK The home of the None of the Above electoral reform campaign for the UK. We demand that legislation be passed making it law that an official ‘None Of The Above’ (NOTA) option must be included on UK ballot papers for all future elections.
Alternative Ideas on Government:
The Venus Project proposes an alternative vision of what the future can be if we apply what we already know in order to achieve a sustainable new world civilization. It calls for a straightforward redesign of our culture in which the age-old inadequacies of war, poverty, hunger, debt and unnecessary human suffering are viewed not only as avoidable, but as totally unacceptable. Anything less will result in a continuation of the same catalogue of problems inherent in today’s world. Today many people believe what is needed is a higher sense of ethical standards and the enactment of international laws to assure a sustainable global society.
Tiered Democratic Governance (TDG) is a bottom-up strategy designed to confront many of the limitations of modern western democracy. It eliminates the need for parties thus eliminating the need for campaigning, partisanship and arrogance in our political world.
And for a bit of fun and some inspiring ideas 12 Futuristic Forms of Government That Could One Day Rule the World
So whatever it is you believe in and want for the greater good, get active and do not let your power be dictated to you. You have it and can use it how and when you wish. Also next time someone is expressing their political or philosophical opinion such as myself, please treat us with compassion and less judgement, we can all learn from each other.
I shall leave you with two quotes which are very important to me from two great anarchists:
“People have only as much liberty as they have the intelligence to want and the courage to take.”
― Emma Goldman
“You cannot buy the revolution. You cannot make the revolution. You can only be the revolution. It is in your spirit, or it is nowhere.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed
Thank you for taking the time to read this and let us all create change!