An angry response to Robert Webb and Robin Lustig's criticisms of those who choose not to vote, in the wake of Russell Brand's anti-electoral declaration.
As a non-voter, I now feel well and truly told that by sharing Russell Brand’s view on the matter I have entered a grouping of people who are variously daft, dangerous, apathetic, politically flighty, talking through our arses, in favour of gulags and murder, poorly-read and that we just don’t know how lucky we are. How very kind of you to submit such deep and worthy thoughts to the highbrow liberal outlets of the day.
I wonder though were either of you, steeped as you undoubtedly are in the political life of this country, on a picket line at 7am in the morning yesterday? Or at any of the thousands of other picket lines up and down the country that non-voters I know personally have attended week in, week out both in the cause of their own work and in attempts to help save the jobs, or wages, or conditions of others?
Have you felt compelled to stand there patiently explaining to truly apathetic people what a picket line actually does? Have you watched, devastated, as truly daft people have deliberately flouted the democratic decisions of their peers, their friends, their families by walking into work and undermining the very essence of collective action for the sake of a few lousy bob?
Have either of you ever taken a truly dangerous police boot to the knee, or a baton to the face, in the cause of stopping a single one of the outrageous redistributions of wealth from poor to rich that have taken place under murderous governments, both Labour and Tory, in the course of the last 30 years?
No? You mean you haven’t given up hours, weeks, months, years of your time, spent an intimidating percentage of your own capital, risked your very livelihood and freedom for the sake of a hoped-for future you know you probably won’t live to see? Or even just to stop the world from getting any worse?
You haven’t done these things that I see my fellow anarchists do? I know you haven’t. Because I know that for all your fine words about the importance of democracy you, unlike my “apathetic” peers and I, have never actually found yourself having to go to the wire for something truly important.
You sit in your comfortable chair tapping away at your keyboard about the mighty democratic mandate of the people, about the influence of the ballot box, fully in line with and backed by the most powerful forces this island has to offer. You find yourself lauded by your fellow liberals and media pundits, pat yourself on the back and head off for a nice latte.
But you don’t know what it is to join the dots on Labour’s introduction of Workfare and tests for work availability and realise that people are going to die from it, that in one government’s time, maybe two at the outside, you’re going to be stood in the rain outside a jobcentre or a shop trying desperately to build enough momentum to force those bastards to cut it out.
You haven’t the faintest idea about the black fog of despair that descends as a non-voter when you read about Labour’s introduction of a few “minor privatisations” within the NHS and know as sure as eggs is eggs that this is a deliberate wedge designed to soften the service up for a full-on orgy of profitmaking that will ruin countless lives and end more than a few before their time.
And you clearly haven’t remembered your own past, as you are both old enough to have seen a million people stretched through the streets of London, telling a Labour government not to go to war in a land far away on a lie. A big lie. A lie that eventually would lead to the deaths of half a million innocents. A lie told over and over again by the very people you are now asking us to hold our noses and vote for. Not different people, the same fucking ones.
How dare you? How dare you sit there with that smug smirk on your fat wealthy face and tell us we are dangerously apathetic or impractically romantic when you can’t even face up to the fact that you vote for men who were the backroom boys of this murderous campaign done in our name. When you vote for killers who again and again follow the leverage of big money the moment they’ve occupied their comfy seats in the Commons. When you vote for the scum who have wrought such inconceivable damage against the working classes, who have in toffee-nosed accents told people living off nothing “go get a job or we’ll take your benefits you slacker.”
You castigate Brand for ranting about governments not representing him. You call on him and presumably us to “read some fucking Orwell.” I’ve read some fucking Orwell you blithering fool, enough to remember that even this icon of liberality was sharp enough to know of and sympathise with anarchist theory in Homage to Catalonia. Orwell would laugh at you and disavow any connection to your poorly-wrought propaganda for people to vote rather than fight. He would spit on your self-satisfaction you vacuous whelp.
It is not we who are uninformed. It is not we who deny reality. It is not we who pretend that politics for the last 30 years have revolved around who’s sat on the green benches and use that as an excuse to do the sum total of fuck all to contribute to our world and our future because some other bloke will sort it out. That’s you. It’s your casual acceptance and shrug of the shoulders that capitalist representative democracy is the best of a bad lot that has led to the utter destruction of first working class power, then our protections and rights.
You haven’t brought your thunderous disdain down on the hypocrites and charlatans who have lied to us over and over, with sharp suits and sharp smiles and sharp machine minds as they promise “we’ll be different, honest” and then promptly forget we ever existed the day after the election. No, instead you’ve carped and moaned at the millions of disenfranchised who have finally had enough of those liars.
You are the apathetic. You are the problem. It is your politics that must die.
2015 update: Rather amusingly, Mr "if you don't vote you get death camps" is now quitting the Labour Party because some people were mean to him on Twitter.
Maybe I'll vote for them. Maybe not.
Yeah Robert, that's the spirit of Orwell. Right There.