The case against voting

NobodyForPresident“…while liberty of thought is written in the charter, slavery of thought, under the name of majority rule, is decreed by the charter.” – P. J. Proudhon

It should come as no surprise that the trend in rallying to the ballot box is declining. People are lacking incentive to vote, and with entirely good reason. Time and time again, people have been sold out, betrayed, and lied to. Is it any wonder, then, that they daren’t risk another round? It is figured that if people isolate themselves from the situation, they release themselves from the blame for governmental tyranny – and rightly so. The term “If you do not vote, you cannot complain,” is one that is frequently thrown against anti-voters; this is what should come back: If you do vote, it is you who holds the burden of justifying governmental tyranny in every instance that it occurs, especially if the party that has your preference is in control of governmental mechanisms. It is you who has legitimised their action, so it is you who owes the explanation to those negatively affected.

The idea of majoritarian democratic representation is to ensure that a government can control its own mechanisms, and to do so it claims to receive legitimisation from every single person that crossed their party’s box on the ballot paper. All of this is in spite of the fact that those who voted for a particular party rely on a situation of the lowest common denominator, i.e., a vague agreement over the party’s policy line. As such, parties aim to discourage critical thinking through the medium of whitewashing campaign issues in their favour. Equally as important to consider is the fact that in order to function adequately, a representative parliament presupposes certain conditions: namely, that people are free from political and economic constraint, and thus are able to rationally consider their choices in a manner that will genuinely benefit them and their communities. The first may be a condition which actually exists, but the latter most certainly is not. Take, for further example, the polities of ancient Greece, wherein the time dedicated to philosophical discourse came at the back of shameless slavery.

Today, it is much more subtle – but nevertheless, poverty can replicate and reproduce its effects and results everywhere it sees a fertile ground. Therefore, parties that run for parliamentary election are able to rely on the exploitation of economic constraints for their platform. For instance, parties may promise to reform tax and wages (such as the recent introduction of the so-called “living wage” in the UK), but will only do so within a framework that does not permanently disengage the usurious predation of capital. Instead, it will leave it as the main beneficiary in the long term.

As such, in order for a truly representative situation to occur, the preconditions must be the following: (1) that people are free from party political constraints – which discourage critical thinking – and instead are not put in a situation where the only commonality is the lowest denominator; rather, people are encourage to think and voice their opinion in a manner that is conducive to their feeling. (2) that people are free from any economic constraints, particularly those placed on them by the state and capitalism alike; instead, people must be in direct self-management of their workplace, be it on an individual basis or a common basis. Such will necessarily entail expropriation – redefining organisation to discard the role of the capital-investor and disengaging the theft of wealth that is inherently common – but what will follow is a series of events that will mean that people are in a position where their rationality is conducive to their self-management. In other words, people, being in control of their workplace, will not be at the behest of an invalid authority which speaks but does not act.

Now that this has been deconstructed, there are also certain problems with the voting situation that must be set out. One of the most prominent issues with voting is the fact that you are at the mercy of a field wherein the goalposts have already been set. Working outside of these parameters – or ‘proper channels’, as they are formally labelled – is discouraged, and instead we are encouraged to play by the rules of a game predisposed to benefit the powerful. This mentality filters down to the lowest level of class society, however, and can reproduce itself where necessary: “if you do not vote, you cannot complain!” My response has already been given. What’s more, the act of voting is synonymous with the definition of surrender: you are submitting to an illegitimate authority that will no sooner turn the tables to extricate you from the current social poverty. Regardless of who you vote for, the issues will persist and new ones will continuously arise.The point is not to accept passive channels that bring no permanent change. The way forward lies in opening up pockets and by extension channels that enable direct action that plays a positive and developmental role within the hearts of local communities. The initiative for change begins with the individual, but has no end.

The only way that they will be resolved is in a situation whereby self-management and reciprocity is at the heart of social consideration. Not only that, but we must ensure that all have the means to survival, all have the means to produce, and all have the means to consume. We, as a society, are well-equipped to supply these preconditions to an even healthier world; but until we release ourselves form the toxic institutions which discourage such activities, we will not be able to do such until we first reassess the mire that we are currently in.

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A UK-based anarchist without adjectives.