Voting

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ComradeAlone
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Mar 27 2004 23:35
Voting

Do anarchists vote?

If so who for?

Also what are the anarchists views of ALL the parties that you can vote for in the general election?

RadikalProfit
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Mar 28 2004 08:53

Anarchists have nothing against the act of voting, its rather voting into power an individual which is not done. in theory, votes would be the only appropriate way to come to a community decision which would be open for all to participate in. this structure is important to anarchism etc, and so voting itself. as for an election, as far as i am concerned if someone can come up with a good reason to vote for someone then i cant tell them not to. i can question their motives, etc, but there is good reason to have some people in power and some not even if the whole system is corrupt.

Coconut man
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Mar 28 2004 18:15

Well I think voting is important, for the reason of keeping the greater evil out of power. As for who to vote for, well I'd say that depends on who you think has the best policies. Also, I advise against voting for smaller parties, because lets face it, its almost certainly going to be a wasted vote.

BlackEconomyBooks
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Mar 28 2004 19:20

VOTE NOBODY, NOBODY CARES

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Spartacus
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Mar 29 2004 09:57

anarchists have a long and proud history of not voting, most notably in spain in 1933 the cnt and fai (anarchist influenced union and anarchist group) ran a (compared to todays british anarchist standards) brilliant campaign for abstention in the run up to the election, holding huge meetings to get people involved in actual action. unfortunately for various reasons the movement was weakened of the next few years, and so many anarchists voted in the next election to prevent a fascistic government coming into power... sorry, i'm a little obsessed with spanish anarchists at the moment.

in general anarchists are completely opposed to voting in things such as state elections (although as someone said voting in meetings etc. is part of how anarchism works), as it means you are consenting to submitting to the power of the state. however, i suppose in very extreme circumstances such as if a really authoritarian was really likely to gain power and the anarchist movement didn't feel it could resist it, anarchists might go for the idea of a lesser evil, as long as they don't forget that the lesser evil is still evil.

Augusto_Sandino
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Mar 29 2004 13:21

I heard that when it came to "popular front" and being tolerated or "nationalists" and being persecuted viciously though, some CNT and FAI members voted for the "popular front", just for realism's sake.

I think that rather than not vote you should go to the ballot, and spoil the vote. This is much better than not even turning up, because it shows you arent just lazy.

Anonymous
Mar 29 2004 13:30

i don't think we should vote. and I don't think voting should be an integral part of anarchism.

Essentially, voting is about legitimating the decision of the majority. But, surely, one of the most important aspects of anarchism is its respect for the individual (the minority of one). We need to respect the wishes of each individual - which effectively means trying to reach mutually acceptable positions in which the wishes of each are respected and the behaviour of none is prohibited - I think this requires direct demoracy (which I also believe to be antithetical to voting)

meanoldman
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Mar 29 2004 15:14

The CNT voting in 1936 was a tactical move though, done primarily to get the thousands of anarchists in jail released in anticipation of a civil war.

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Jim Clarke
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Mar 29 2004 15:47

I got some interesting books on the Spanish civil war in the Freedom Press sale really cheap... smile

But back to voting - I voted in my student union elections (and ran in them). Didn't have a problem with it or anything.

I will never ever vote in a general election though, ever!

Vaneigemappreci...
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Mar 29 2004 16:50

There are numerous problems and inadequecies with the ballot box.

Clearly straight away with have the problem of the range of parties you are allowed to vote for, in most cases you have the choice of between 3 and 5 parties, often the lib dems being the most left wing.

Secondly all the mjor parties are funded by the same business clique, an important way of maintinaing the existing system is funding the politics of that society.

Thirdly you are voting someone in, theoretically so they may exert a power over you, make your decisions etc. Anarchists dont agree with the notion of power in the traditional sense of someone exerting power over the decisions and daily life of an individual.

Forthly we are voting for representatives, people who do things rightly or wrongly in our name, this is essentlally the case because we have no effective power over our own lives, we are too busy working to the dictates of contemporary capitalism (work, consumption, commuting etc) to organise our own lives thus individuals fueled by corporate cash do so in our name, and supposedly in our interests.

Fufthly, the ballot box, in todays society cannot bring about any real change, even if there was a party that purported to be revolutionary which stood for election and got elected (a highly unlikely occurence due to the costs of being funded for such an election, and the concentration of media in the hands of a few who directly benefit from the existing system) then they would be impotent to change anything from within due to the constraints that international capital and foreign governments with interests in the country would exert upon that 'revolutionary' government, if there was an inclination that the government in question was to be succesful in its aims of complete change the US would probably send the army in.

The possibilities of the ballot box are redundant, every vote is a wasted vote. The best thing to do is to raise awareness of the impossibilities of parliamentary democracy and aim towsrd the abolition of all political parties.

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JoeMaguire
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Mar 29 2004 17:23
ComradeAlone wrote:
Do anarchists vote?

If so who for?

Also what are the anarchists views of ALL the parties that you can vote for in the general election?

We differ from marxists in this sense because we believe that the actions and aspiritations of ordinary people will be nullified by the parliamentry system and by providing political support to it. So while the vanguards seek inroads into the system (!) we expose it in all its futilities.

Invariably a small section of anarchists argue wrongly in my opinion that we should vote to keep out fascists or the greater evil, there actions have two negative repurcussions, 1. they provide political support to a system we should be rejecting, 2. political support for a lesser evil only deepens support for the greater evil in the future....

Coconut man
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Mar 30 2004 00:37
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Invariably a small section of anarchists argue wrongly in my opinion that we should vote to keep out fascists or the greater evil, there actions have two negative repurcussions, 1. they provide political support to a system we should be rejecting

If you vote you are supporting the system. So what? Everytime you buy something from a major company you support the system. When you work you support the system.If supporting the system means that fascists and right wing parties dont rule the country then why not do it.

Imagine if every anarchist in England did not vote in the next general election and a really shit government was elected, but they beat their competitors by less than half of the number of votes than the number of anarchists who didnt vote. So, if only half of all the anarchists had voted we'd all be better off.

blackcladmessenger
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Mar 30 2004 08:45
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Well I think voting is important, for the reason of keeping the greater evil out of power

And who are the greater 'evil' ?

Munster
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Mar 30 2004 10:20
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Well I think voting is important, for the reason of keeping the greater evil out of power. As for who to vote for, well I'd say that depends on who you think has the best policies. Also, I advise against voting for smaller parties, because lets face it, its almost certainly going to be a wasted vote.

But why bullshit for bullshiting sake?

Surely you should be true to yourself and an example to others? Saying "I believe in the struggle but I'm still going to vote", doesn't make sense, does it?

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JoeMaguire
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Mar 30 2004 11:22
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If you vote you are supporting the system. So what? Everytime you buy something from a major company you support the system. When you work you support the system.If supporting the system means that fascists and right wing parties dont rule the country then why not do it.

Really this is a strawman. Living off consumer products and earning money are a necessary compromise to live, this is fundementally different from giving the political system support, which we dont need to do in order to pay bills, feed and clothe ourself.

Quote:

Imagine if every anarchist in England did not vote in the next general election and a really shit government was elected, but they beat their competitors by less than half of the number of votes than the number of anarchists who didnt vote. So, if only half of all the anarchists had voted we'd all be better off.

The crux of the problem is that your providing illusions in the system when the only necessary course to liberating ourselves is through our own actions. Most sensible people have withdrawn from ballots because they realise how trivial the whole thing is.

Second point is who exactly do we vote? As Ive argued previously voting for a centre-left social democrat party only bolsters the fash in the long run, arguably our best option would be the lib dems or the tories angry , but can you really see anarchos suggesting people vote in these knobheads? And a vote for the WESPECT or the Greens is wasted since they wont be able to prevent others from getting elected.

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Spartacus
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Mar 30 2004 15:06
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The CNT voting in 1936 was a tactical move though, done primarily to get the thousands of anarchists in jail released in anticipation of a civil war.

and it also had the problem of leading to a swing towards political action on the part of the cnt and the fai, eventually leading to collaboration of the popular front and therefore contribution to the crushing of the spanish anarchist movement.

really, if whether or not anarchists voted made a difference to an authoritarian group getting into power, then that would mean that the anarchist movement would surely be organised, large, and influential enough to start an insurrection against the authoritarians once in power, so they'd be no point in voting. this was actually the tactic of the spanish anarchists before 1936, and it very nearly worked.

as one of the central aspects of anarchism is that you should not subordinate your power to a representative, then it seems highly unanarchistic (and with no practical advantage that i can see) to vote or encourage others to vote. they only time we should be allowing someone else to speak for us is with directly recallable delegates, so that if they get drunk with power their decisions can be nullified.

nosos
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Mar 30 2004 15:48
GenerationTerrorist wrote:
really, if whether or not anarchists voted made a difference to an authoritarian group getting into power, then that would mean that the anarchist movement would surely be organised, large, and influential enough to start an insurrection against the authoritarians once in power, so they'd be no point in voting. this was actually the tactic of the

So any group within society able to influence the outcome of an election via the ballot box is 'organised, large, and influential enough to start an insurrection'? Or is it simply a rule that holds when it's anarchists who are trying to say that voting is pointless?

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Spartacus
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Mar 30 2004 15:51

well i'd have thought the group would have to be large, if it is influencing others to do similarly it would have to be influential, and in the case of an anarchist movement to be that influential i would have thought it would be fairly organised. what's your point?

nosos
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Mar 30 2004 15:51
GenerationTerrorist wrote:
as one of the central aspects of anarchism is that you should not subordinate your power to a representative, then it seems highly unanarchistic (and with no practical advantage that i can see) to vote or encourage others to vote.

But the unanarchistic power-structures we are opposed to still exist and not voting will do fuck all to change them - I recognise that voting will do nothing either - but I think we should be open to the possible political prudency of exercising what little power we have over these systems. If there's a qualitive difference between candadites (which I recognise in many many cases, there isn't) then imo it's worth voting.

nosos
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Mar 30 2004 15:52
GenerationTerrorist wrote:
well i'd have thought the group would have to be large, if it is influencing others to do similarly it would have to be influential, and in the case of an anarchist movement to be that influential i would have thought it would be fairly organised. what's your point?

That your argument is utterly bogus? You're negating any potential effect of voting by speculating upon what else those that vote are capable of - I see where you're coming from - it just doesn't address the arguments that have been presented.

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JoeMaguire
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Apr 2 2004 12:50

Nosos, where is this 'qualitive difference' you speak of in elections? All political parties are about taking state power and telling other people how to live their lives, exactly why should we get roped into this?

As Ive previously said choosing a party to support is very precarious because it effects the balance of political forces. If Labour carry on into another term its very likely the BNP will continue to grow, but if the tories manage to creep in (how? im not sure) it will more than likely curtail the fash, so are you really prepared for the outcome of playing these type of games?

I think it was talked previously about doing a no vote campaign, and although I agree it could be done badly I think if anarchists are on hand to repeat peoples assessment of mainstream politics but provide a wider justification to why votings pointless then I think we could gain an audience for our ideas.

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pingtiao
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Apr 2 2004 13:56

Interesting point october_lost, about the Tories being a better brake on the growth of the BNP than Labour. I find this a little self-fulfilling though, as it is not just the progress of one particular party (the BNP) that interests us, but he prevalence of the views that it espouses. The BNP is simply acting as a vehicle to legitimate the right-ward shift of mainstream political discourse in this country. The mainstream parties can attack the form of the statements of the BNP to legitimise themselves, and then undermine them by adopting their content. We have seen this in the asylum and immigration debate quite clearly. Without the BNP, Labour would probably not have been able to take the positions that it has.

I sympathise with what nosos has said to be honest. There are certain scenarios in which I think I would vote in mainstream elections. If I genuinely thought that one candidate would behave differently enough that the lives of those in our class would be less shit than if another got in, then it would be wrong not to act. Despite the act of voting being one which we despise, we have to act to reduce the onslaught against our brothers and sisters if we can.

The upcoming US election is a case i point. The neocons around the PNAC project have firmly embedded themselves in the upper echelons of the Republican party, and although they are also embedded in the civil service, removing that party from power would lessen their grip on it's reins. This would potentially save lives, and perhaps reduce the level of attack on what remains of the welfare state in the USA. Despite our hatred of the Democrats, it is clear that the working class (not only in the US, but in the Middle East) would be slightly better off under them than under the Republicans. The left and right wings of Capital are qualitatively different, and it trivialises our position to conflate them totally. There are situations in which the difference between them would make the possibility of voting slightly less odious.

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JoeMaguire
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Apr 2 2004 14:20
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The left and right wings of Capital are qualitatively different, and it trivialises our position to conflate them totally. There are situations in which the difference between them would make the possibility of voting slightly less odious.

To some extent I agree, that a left government would do less damage but the lasting repurcussion will be that it will provide more disillusionment (ie currently where were at) because it operates under the guise of being 'friendly to the workers' and will open the door to a more strengthed right and far-right. Thus we come full-circle.

Why should we play the fool and continue to repeat the same process without learning to reject the political process which brings us more authoritarian governments?

Augusto_Sandino
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Apr 2 2004 19:20
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But back to voting - I voted in my student union elections (and ran in them). Didn't have a problem with it or anything.

That sort of small election is good though, anarchy would have lots of those (although not for a leader, obviously).

Quote:
The CNT voting in 1936 was a tactical move though, done primarily to get the thousands of anarchists in jail released in anticipation of a civil war.

I didnt know that, sheds new light on the whole thing.

I think tactical voting (like voting liberal to minimise labour majority, etc.) is ok though, thats just using a weapon that capitalism unwittingly provides you with. The best reason for not voting is that if there was a tiny turnout, a government might experience a crisis of legitamacy that could be used.

nosos
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Apr 2 2004 20:54
october_lost wrote:
All political parties are about taking state power and telling other people how to live their lives

Indeed, unless you think all political parties tell people how to live their lives in the same way, then surely you can recognise that, while political parties fulfill roughly the same purpose, they do so in socially (rather than economically) different ways. If you predicate a non-voting position on this conflation of the different faces of capital into one homogenous entity, you end up in a position which seems utterly absurd to anyone who's not coming at politics from a class struggle angle because you implicitly relegate social politics into seeming inconsequentiality. In the absense of any forthcoming radical change in the underlying power structures of British economics, I can see a qualitative difference (in social, if not particularly economic, terms) between Labour and the BNP say.

nosos
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Apr 2 2004 20:57
october_lost wrote:
Why should we play the fool and continue to repeat the same process without learning to reject the political process which brings us more authoritarian governments?

Looking at short-term advantage in the absense of radical change? Why can't we vote when we feel it's politically prudent to do so while at the same time working for our medium and long term aims? My problem with the 'voting is always a bad thing to do because it perpetuates the current political system' is that it's too black and white. It conflates short, medium and long-term aims into one.

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Apr 3 2004 10:39
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If you predicate a non-voting position on this conflation of the different faces of capital into one homogenous entity, you end up in a position which seems utterly absurd to anyone who's not coming at politics from a class struggle angle

that would be why so many non-class struggle anarchists vote then? roll eyes

the bnp are not going to get into power anytime soon, in fact apparently where they have gained a seat here and there they've lost some of their support. voting against them should only be a last desperate tactic when it's either that or them getting into power, because otherwise it's tactically stupid, let alone the objections based on such trivial things as anarchist principles. the only other time i could see the tactical need for voting would be something like in spain, in order to get prisoners released, but again for that to work you'd need a large and organised anarchist movement to force what ever load of socialist scumbags getting into power into fulfilling that kind of promise.

and i think if anarchists don't say no voting except in these very extreme conditions, but say, well there are a few little differences between the parties, let's go for the lesser evil, then we undermine pretty much all our arguements and end up as little more than pathetic whining liberals. and then it's only a short step into forming political parties, which surely would fall under this:

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I think we should be open to the possible political prudency of exercising what little power we have over these systems
nosos
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Apr 3 2004 16:52
GenerationTerrorist wrote:
that would be why so many non-class struggle anarchists vote then? roll eyes

What? confused

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pathetic whining liberals. and then it's only a short step into forming political parties, which surely would fall under this:

Have you heard of the fallacy of unacceptable consequences? There's nothing in your reply for me to debate with because the only thing you're arguing against is your perception of the consequences of my argument, rather than the argument itself.

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Man, I can't believe I have to side with the liberals on this...

Indeed, before you know it you'll be a pathetic whining liberal rather than a pathetic whining anarchist.

I can't decide which irritates me more, dogma or dogmatists...

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Spartacus
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Apr 3 2004 19:25

i mean, your arguement that a no voting stand appears absurd to people outside of class struggle anarchism makes no sense when so many people with no connection to class struggle anarchism don't vote, in fact the majority of the country does not vote, so whatever their reasons for not voting, not voting is hardly going to seem absurd to them!

i have trouble understanding exactly what your arguement is, if those are not the consequences it implies. i fail to see why anyone who considers themselves an anarchist could possibly argue for voting for very small differences between different sets of politicians, which is what your were arguing before, unless i completely misunderstood you. i see how not voting is any more dogmatic than not forming political parties, not trying to get into government, or being against authority.

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Spartacus
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Apr 3 2004 19:32

i mean, your arguement that a no voting stand appears absurd to people outside of class struggle anarchism makes no sense when so many people with no connection to class struggle anarchism don't vote, in fact the majority of the country does not vote, so whatever their reasons for not voting, not voting is hardly going to seem absurd to them!

i have trouble understanding exactly what your arguement is, if those are not the consequences it implies. i fail to see why anyone who considers themselves an anarchist could possibly argue for voting for very small differences between different sets of politicians, which is what your were arguing before, unless i completely misunderstood you. i see how not voting is any more dogmatic than not forming political parties, not trying to get into government, or being against authority.

nosos
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Apr 3 2004 20:41
GenerationTerrorist wrote:
i mean, your arguement that a no voting stand appears absurd to people outside of class struggle anarchism makes no sense when so many people with no connection to class struggle anarchism don't vote, in fact the majority of the country does not vote, so whatever their reasons for not voting, not voting is hardly going to seem absurd to them!

Could you tell me where I claimed not voting is going to seem absurd to them? roll eyes

I didn't say that not voting seems absurd to anyone with no connection to class struggle, I said that not voting because you believe that there is absolutely no difference what-so-ever between the people you're voting for will seem stupid to people who aren't approaching the issue with a class-struggle analysis.

Quote:
i have trouble understanding exactly what your arguement is, if those are not the consequences it implies. i fail to see why anyone who considers themselves an anarchist could possibly argue for voting for very small differences between different sets of politicians, which is what your were arguing before, unless i completely misunderstood you. i see how not voting is any more dogmatic than not forming political parties, not trying to get into government, or being against authority.

I'm not saying that you're dogmatic because of what you're arguing, I'm saying that you're dogmatic because of the way you're arguing. You've done it again in this bit I've quoted, relying on your definition of 'anarchism' to shut down debate on issues (i.e. if you're an anarchist, then you can't believe x..) when the definition of 'anarchism' should stem from the debate on these political issues.

If you're actually going to criticise the logic of the arguments I've set out beyond simply saying that you can't be an anarchist if you believe x, or you're a liberal if you believe y, then I'd love to continue the conversation.