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Do you vote?

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cantdocartwheels's picture
cantdocartwheels
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Sep 14 2006 09:43
Devrim wrote:
Oh dear, the anarchists are discusing whether to vote, or not again. This does seem to come up quite regulary. It is quite sad really.
Devrim

This is the introductory forum, so could you explain how your post is of any use whatsoever to the discussion?

Blacknred Ned
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Sep 14 2006 11:14

I think it's quite amusing for Dev, the great heavyweight, to indulge in a little bit of putting the boot into anarchists.

Dev, you said you'd prefer all non-class struggle anarchists to call themselves middle class liberal anarchists and, as I recall I think you've already used that old Marxist standby petit bourgeois against me once. I'd prefer it if you started to call yourself "Workerist Fossil" or "Hero of the Proletariat (educational branch)", or even better "The Revolutionary that Time Forgot".

As CdcW points out this is an introductory forum, we should be free to discuss the most fundamental aspects of anarchism without "comrades" getting chippy!

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Devrim
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Sep 14 2006 12:05
cantdocartwheels wrote:
Devrim wrote:
Oh dear, the anarchists are discussing whether to vote, or not again. This does seem to come up quite regularly. It is quite sad really.
Devrim

This is the introductory forum, so could you explain how your post is of any use whatsoever to the discussion?

Blacknred Ned wrote:
I think it's quite amusing for Dev, the great heavyweight, to indulge in a little bit of putting the boot into anarchists.

Well if amused Ned, who I actually quite like, it is good enough for me. I don't see where the term 'the great heavyweight' comes from. I am actually on a diet, and have been losing weight.

Blacknred Ned wrote:
Dev, you said you'd prefer all non-class struggle anarchists to call themselves middle class liberal anarchists and, as I recall I think you've already used that old Marxist standby petit bourgeois against me once. I'd prefer it if you started to call yourself "Workerist Fossil" or "Hero of the Proletariat (educational branch)", or even better "The Revolutionary that Time Forgot".

I think from the three I prefer 'workerist fossil'.

Blacknred Ned wrote:
As CdcW points out this is an introductory forum, we should be free to discuss the most fundamental aspects of anarchism without "comrades" getting chippy!

Ok seriously, I think that the rejection of parliamentarianism is one of the basics of anarchism, and I think that you would agree with me, Ned. It is not only new posters who advocate voting. It has been argued for on these boards if not on this thread by people who have been around a long time. I have no objection to arguing with people about the nature of parliament, and bourgeois democracy, but I don't expect to do it on an anarchist board. Nor do I expect to have to defend one of the basic tenets of anarchist theory against anarchists as I have in the past.

I am not actually sure what the term 'getting chippy' means, but I don't think that a sarcastic comment was completely uncalled for.

Devrim

ticking_fool
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Sep 14 2006 12:34
Devrim wrote:
I am not actually sure what the term 'getting chippy' means, but I don't think that a sarcastic comment was completely uncalled for.

Oh it was entirely called for, but I notice that most people are taking their own advice from the last time we did this and just not bothering posting. It really isn't that important.

Blacknred Ned
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Sep 14 2006 13:24

Dev & ticking, two points arise from this for me:

There have been calls from more or less respected libertarian luminaries for anarchists to vote, Bookchin in his latter years dabbled with endorsing certain forms of electoralism. With this in mind it maybe worthwhile to rehearse from time-to-time our (by-and-large) objections to the vote.

Secondly, perhaps a more meaningful debate would be around participation in "mainstream" politics. Voting is a kind of participation but there are many others along a road that might just end up with involvement with some level of political Administration - the beast otherwise known as Government. Attitudes to involvement in intergroup activity (e.g. community forums; green fairs; demonstrations etc); to phenomena like participatory municipal budgets and other areas of community "democracy" might be interesting.

Dev, "chippy" means critical in a sniping sort of way. Most of the time your interventions are erudite & more than worthwhile; this time I was taken aback a little by your shot across the bows of an introductory forum, that's all. smile

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Sep 14 2006 20:22

Ned,
I think that their is a much deeper root to this discussion than the actually question of voting. It comes down to how you see change in society coming about. Now although any change will involve things that we can't foresee, both the left communists, and the class struggle anarchists have a vision of how they see it happening.
As for anarchists who reject the idea of class, I really have no idea as to how they envisage this change coming about (This isn't polemic by the way. It is just ignorance tongue ).
When you talk about Bookchin and his 'dabbl[ing] with endorsing certain forms of electorialism'. I must also profess ignorance.
I know that Chomsky advocated voting against Bush in the last election, but then I would say that he is just a liberal who uses the anarchist tag. I haven't read much of his work, but the few books that I have read haven't really talked about class at all.
It doesn't surprise me when people who I would regard as liberals start to advocate voting in the name of anarchism.
It does surprise me when those who claim to be for a workers' revolution do because by doing this they are rejecting the tradition from which they come, and it my opinion rejecting working class politics.

Devrim

Blacknred Ned
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Sep 14 2006 21:48
Quote:
Dev wrote:I think that their is a much deeper root to this discussion than the actually question of voting.

I agree with this entirely.

Quote:
both the left communists, and the class struggle anarchists have a vision of how they see it happening.

As do I. And yet I do not describe myself as a class struggle anarchist. This would be a good subject for an exploratory thread perhaps, but does not mean that I

Quote:
reject the idea of class

In his later years Bookchin argued that under certain circumstances it might be worthwhile putting up candidates in the cause of libertarian municipalism. He reckoned that candidates in town or city elections might stand on a platform promoting pretty much only the creation of assembly-style direct democracy. Stupid idea I think but who knows what crazy stuff they might come out with once they're old and bitter?

Chomsky does not see why voting is bad in principle but I do not believe that he advocates it as a way of changing society that might replace mass organisation. As he actually favours anarcho-syndicalism as a mode of social organisation I think it might be a little unfair to say he is a liberal.

I wouldn't go into a voting booth to pass water myself and I don't see how any anarchist could argue for such a practice in good faith. I am a believer in direct action and its full flowering in direct democracy and citizenship. Voting as part of an electorate in representative democracy has always been nothing more than a sham. I believe that this is a genuine benchmark for anarchists and therefore for anarchist communists, one of which I consider myself.

Neither this, nor my desire to see workers like myself living in a free ecological communist society as human beings (i.e not workers) means that I have to accept some dodgy old mythology about the revolutionary nature of the proletariat. Expecting the proletariat to overthrow capitalism is like imagining that the servants in the castle kitchen might have overthrown feudalism. This is admirably demonstrated by the propensity of the old fashioned solid working class to get out and regularly vote for social democrats and tankies at every given opportunity. Only people who had more to their own culture than being disciplined prol's ever made revolutions.

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Sep 14 2006 23:37

Ned,
Before we continue this further, I would like to ask what you see as being the driving force of a revolution, and how do you envisage it coming about?
You know what 'workist fossils' like myself think, but I really have no idea of what you opinions are.
Dev

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Joseph Kay
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Sep 15 2006 07:18
Blacknred Ned wrote:
This is admirably demonstrated by the propensity of the old fashioned solid working class to get out and regularly vote for social democrats and tankies at every given opportunity.

you know tankies got their name crushing a proletarian revolution right? (and kept their name doing the same 12 years later in Prague).

Feighnt
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Sep 15 2006 07:49
Blacknred Ned wrote:

I wouldn't go into a voting booth to pass water myself and I don't see how any anarchist could argue for such a practice in good faith.

well, i, for one, fully endorse passing water in the voting booth! long live Anarchy! grin

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Sep 15 2006 09:00
Devrim wrote:
Ok seriously, I think that the rejection of parliamentarianism is one of the basics of anarchism, and I think that you would agree with me, Ned. It is not only new posters who advocate voting. It has been argued for on these boards if not on this thread by people who have been around a long time. I have no objection to arguing with people about the nature of parliament, and bourgeois democracy, but I don't expect to do it on an anarchist board. Nor do I expect to have to defend one of the basic tenets of anarchist theory against anarchists as I have in the past.

So if someone asks you 'so, should i bother votng this time round' you would immediately answer, 'no i want a revolution'. While you have to argue against electoralism in certain circumstances, its pretty irrelevant whether you or any other individual votes and to claim it matters is making a moral issue out of it.
Personally i find this stance typical of your bizarre pseudo-bolshevist view that what we need is more people coming to the correct 'positions' on specific 'issues' (eg internationalism, anti-union etc) then taking this as a starting point for struggle. So i'd ask what does it matter if you vote or not? Given that our entire critique of bourgeois democracy is that the vote is utterly meaningless.

To Black and red ned
I don't think devrim is implying that our class should be celebrated as it is now, the elements of the left and anarchist movement that do so are pretty offensive, look at class war for a classic example of this. I mean who the fuck celebrrates the fact that they've got a shit job and no pension, i know i don't. In fact it is the very fact that we don't celebrate who we are now, that makes the overthrow of capitalkism possible, because we have no stake in it. This is why the category of class is useful and why the class is the revolutionary subject, since we are the only ones who have the motivation, desire and power to overthrow capitalism and contruct a new society.
If not the proletariat, crushed and degenerated tho we are by capital, who else has the ability to change it?

Blacknred Ned
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Sep 15 2006 09:12

Dev,I will try to give your question more than a glib answer somewhere else and later when I have more time.

JK, I understand the origin of the word tankies. However, your assumption that the events in Hungary & Czechoslovakia somehow shore up hopes of a proletarian revolution is weak. In the first place there were clearly elements of national struggle in those rebellions, also there were signs of a rising of the young. It would be instructive to study the make-up of the rebels to see just what proportion of the old fashioned industrial proletariat remained quiet during the events. Lastly, only limited areas of Hungary & Czechoslovakia could be said to have been mature industrial economies in the mid-20th century & even there most people retained links to a pre-industrial culture of earlier communities.

Feighnt: grin

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Sep 15 2006 09:20

Can'tdo, you are misrepresenting or misunderstanding the left communist approach. It's not a matter of insisting that 'correct positions' are the minimal starting point for the struggle; rather it's the other way round, workers will reappropriate what are essentially the lessons of the past in the course of their struggles, out of the need to take their movement forward. But the struggle has to be a real collective class struggle, and this can no longer be expressed in the framework of bourgeois elections, where the working class is atomised into a mass of 'citizens'.
The problem with many of the posts on this thread is that they start from the same atomised standpoint - i.e. what should I do as as an individual, rather than what the working class needs to do in the face of elections.

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Sep 15 2006 09:40
Cantdocartwheels wrote:
So if someone asks you 'so, should i bother votng this time round' you would immediately answer, 'no i want a revolution'. While you have to argue against electoralism in certain circumstances, its pretty irrelevant whether you or any other individual votes and to claim it matters is making a moral issue out of it.
Personally i find this stance typical of your bizarre pseudo-bolshevist view that what we need is more people coming to the correct 'positions' on specific 'issues' (eg internationalism, anti-union etc) then taking this as a starting point for struggle. So i'd ask what does it matter if you vote or not? Given that our entire critique of bourgeois democracy is that the vote is utterly meaningless.

No, I wouldn't argue like that. As you say it is pretty irrelevant whether an individual votes. I don't vote as I think that it is meaningless. I think though that those who are considering it obviously don't think that it is. I don't know where this idea that I have the 'bizarre pseudo-bolshevist' view that you claim I have comes from. I think that the starting point for struggle is the struggle itself. The most important struggle in Turkey at the moment is the potential public sector strike, all the more so in that it is actually illegal for state employees to go on strike. The workers will be full of trade unionist, and nationalist ideology. That doesn't mean that communists should not get involved in supporting the strike, and also in arguing whether through leaflets, or discussing face to face for communist tactics, and for workers to take control of the struggle themselves.

That does not mean that other political discussion is unimportant. It helps people to clarify their ideas, and helps them in their involvement in their own struggles in the future.

So no, it doesn't matter if people vote, or not as individuals, but it does reflect the fact that have certain illusions in parliamentarianism, and democracy. And those who are likely to vote are also more likely to argue for the election of left-wing union officials, thus increasing other workers' faith in the union, as opposed to struggling autonomously. This I think is important.

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Sep 16 2006 04:51

Is voting compulsory in the UK?

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Sep 16 2006 05:05
jason wrote:
Is voting compulsory in the UK?

No.

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Sep 16 2006 05:18

Voting's compulsory in Australia. I'll refuse to vote if the Anarchist Black Cross pays my fine.

Blacknred Ned
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Sep 16 2006 08:03

Spoil you ballot! Do they fine people for that?

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Sep 17 2006 04:50

Ha ha. The "Donkey Vote" as its called. No, the Man can't get you for that. black star If my memory serves me rightly, it constitutes ca. 10% of the vote. Also, there is always a shit fight to be first on the ballot paper, because a significant portion of the irresponsible masses just tick 1,2,3... down the ballot.

But I normally vote for a "Communist" party if available. Call me a heretic, but I think the comic value of them getting a senate seat or something would be worth the violation of anarchist principles. grin

Seumus
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Sep 18 2006 07:45

The question about the BNP is not 'what have they done', but why are they being listened to.

They came to the fore in Burnley because of the incompetence or downright viciousness of a Labour Council, which, over a reign of some 66yrs in this town had reduced the working class areas to a slum.The social democrats,supported by the likes of Billy Smith, refused to listen to working class complaints, certainly there was no attempt made to ameliorate the conditions in working class areas.In fact social democratic policies collapsed in Burnley,under both Labour and Tory Governments as the Council simply followed Government poicies at the expense of the working class.The Party in Burnley had never been a model of action , but at least it met and discussed,in short it tried, but over the years it damped down what working class spirit it had. Consequently there was nothing and nowhere to turn to for the working class voters.

It was in the void created by Labour Politicians that the BNP, jumped. Shiny faces,short hair, clean shoes, articulate, brief cases filled with videos and pamphlets and most of all with time to spend for listening and helping.The BNP, were the consequence of Labour policies and political ineptness. There were no shortage of people to vote Labour! They just found out that doing so was a waste of time,in short Labour stayed at home.

Seumus
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Sep 18 2006 07:59

Regarding the question,"DO YOU VOTE?"

In my case the answer is no! I have not done so since 1951/5.
The Burnley Anarchist Communist Group and its successor the Burnley Dam ran don't vote campaigns and pushed the idea of alternative Community Councils or Communes for social organisation and Workers Councils for Industry. At one time we (Burnley,) had a Federation of some 7 Residents Councils and one (very right wing,) Ratepayers Association. All started at our prompting. We had the help of an anarchist planner draughtsman.

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Sep 18 2006 11:50

I might vote, but wouldn't see it as important one way or another, really. Voting is used as some major shibboleth too often.