I just released a new video: Voting & Electoralism: Steelman Debates Steelman https://youtu.be/Mv7naNWfZ4A
Noah Fence is the one who suggested the idea for this video and even wrote a rough script for me to use. Although I ended up writing a new script from scratch, I used a lot of their ideas.
I wanted to make Noah's script available for people to read so I'm going to post it here and put the link in the video description on YouTube.
(As you may know, Noah Fence hates electoral politics perhaps more than any anarchist that has ever lived, but they made a sincere effort to present the strongest arguments each side has to offer.)
Scroll below the video for Noah's script...
Rough Script for Lucky Black Cat
By Noah Fence
LBC does intro to subject of voting, etc. and introduces her comrades who have different opinions on the matter and then asks the following two questions:
“Should I campaign for a Social Democrat candidate on grounds of harm reduction?” followed by “Should I even vote at all?”
PRO: Why are you even asking these questions? The answers are obvious!
ANTI: Why are you even asking these questions? The answers are fucking obvious!
PRO: Glad we agree here. No need to even discuss this, let’s just go do our revolutionary duty and get campaigning. Now where the fuck did I put my nose peg?
ANTI: Oh shit. Revolutionary duty? Signal boosting for a faction of the ruling class! You’re shitting me, right?
PRO: Well, what do you think we should do in the run up to the election?
ANTI: The same shit we would be doing at all times, and none of that has anything to do with bourgeois politics.
PRO: So you think we should keep the focus on organising? Don’t agree with you on that comrade. This shit is important, you don’t have to stop organising, just use a little of that time to campaign for the least bad option.
ANTI: But stopping organising is *exactly* what people do at election time, especially when some new naked emperor appears offering ‘socialism’ [facepalm] like Sanders or Corbyn. When that weirdy beardy muthafucka took charge of the UK Labour Party, getting him in power became an obsession with much of the radical left, including anarchists [facepalm]. Grassroots groups suffered from a loss in interest and a fall in membership.
PRO: Well it’s worth paying the price. It matters who’s in power. You agree with that, right? I mean, you will be voting? Like, you agree that we *must* vote?
ANTI: No, I do not! And no, I will *not* be voting. The problem is Capitalism and the state administers for it, now which party holds power, not who the figurehead is.
PRO: Whaaat?! You’re not gonna vote?!
ANTI: Nope, why would I?
PRO: Well, you privileged fuck, to protect people worse off than you.
ANTI: [facepalm] Here we go, the accusations of the privilege just ‘cos I disagree with you. Care to explain why you call me privileged? And while you’re at it, explain how your supposed lesser of two evils government is going to improve the lives of these less fortunate people? You’re a libertarian socialist, right? You don’t want government and you do want socialism. How does supporting a pro capitalist government align with your political aims? How the fuck can you be anti-capitalist, anti-government, and pro-socialist yet support a pro-capitalist, pro-government, anti-socialist faction of the ruling class? Where’s your consistency? Where’s your integrity? Where your fucking principles for fuck’s sake? Typical fucking liberal! [facepalm]
PRO: Oh right, so you’re a puritan as well as being privileged then. Well, POC, women, and LGBTQ+ folk don’t have the time to wait for your revolution and they can’t afford your high and mighty principles. But of course, you don’t care about them, all you care about is yourself and your fucking posturing!
LBC: Woah, comrades, simmer down there! Keep it civil, eh? How am I supposed to figure this shit out if you’re just gonna insult each other. How about you guys look at the issues and actually debate them?
PRO: OK, OK. So, yeah, I’m a libertarian socialist. I believe a socialist economy in a society organised horizontally by the people and not by a government will emancipate all oppressed people and create a better world for *everyone*.
ANTI: Me too.
PRO: The problem is that right now we live in a capitalist economy and the government has the power to directly affect everyone’s lives. This is important for everyone, but especially for poor and marginalised people.
ANTI: Yep, that’s right. That’s why we need to build grassroots, working class movements right now. As long as we live under capitalism and the authority of a state, the poor will remain poor and the marginalised will remain marginalised.
PRO: I don’t disagree with that, but we can do that *and* engage with the current system in ways that make changes that have a real effect of people’s lives. The most obvious of these is to vote in a more left-leaning government.
ANTI: [facepalm] Why is it that every time I talk to you my hand seems to develop a powerful magnetic attraction to my face?
PRO: Very funny. The point is that reform can make a real difference to people’s lives. Reforms to welfare can put a few extra bucks in people’s pockets. Reforms to environmental policy might just give us the extra time we need to save the planet. Reforms to the police may mean fewer people getting shot by them. This is why we *must* do everything we can to get the lesser of two evils in power.
ANTI: Listen, the lesser of two evils is still evil! You want me to vote for evil? To campaign for evil? You want me to align myself with evil for fuck’s sake?
PRO: I’ll ignore your hyperbole, but yes. Right now it’s the only way.
ANTI: That’s a pretty one-dimensional view. For a start, you’re talking as though it’s self-evident. That your [bunny fingers] “left-leaning” gov will institute reforms and that if they do the overall effect of their administration will be comparatively better for the working class. That’s a big fucking assumption. But let’s say it’s true. You vote in the less bad party, they make some reforms and the working class gain a few minor concessions. All good, right? Wrong! It’s not only the reforms that matter, how you achieve them is massively important too. Sure, small reforms can make a small difference but we mustn’t forget the broader context in which they are made. We are looking to dismantle capitalism, we are looking to dismantle the state and establish autonomy for the working class. We want to destroy class all together!
So here’s the problem - we need to build working-class power to achieve our ultimate goals, but every time we collaborate or form allegiances with a faction of the ruling class, we strengthen their power and reduce our own. We send out the message to ourselves *and* to the ruling class that we need them. It’s like we’re spotting them in the gym and helping them build their political muscle while we passively allow our own muscles to shrink. You think it’s worth their sabotaging our long-term goals for the possibility (and it’s only a possibility) of a few measly reforms? You wanna prostrate yourself under the table of the ruling class in the hope they’ll sweep a few crumbs in our direction? You’re playing right into their hands. The very worst of it is when pro-state, pro-capitalist politicians such as Sanders or Corbyn are presented to us as saviours and then we signal boost for them, even idolise them for fuck’s sake. We’re creating the narrative that we need a saviour, that we’re weak and incapable. Fuck this shit and fuck these people!
PRO: Oh Christ, we get some decent people for once, people with integrity that potentially could get into power and give us the reforms we want and you say ‘fuck them’? You complain about me calling you privileged but what else am I to think? You clearly don’t need those reforms if you reject pursuing them on principle.
ANTI: I don’t say we shouldn’t pursue reform. I’m saying appeals to authority aren’t the way to do it. Direction action is. Not whimpering at their feet, but shouting in their faces. Loud demands with the threat of consequences. Look at history - the Labour movement in the US, the Suffrage movement in the UK… Big reforms through strong and persistent direct action. Compare that with the potential of your supposed good guys. How much power do they really have however well-intentioned they are? Don’t forget it’s capital that has most of the power. Go too far against the interest of capital and these muthafuckas are gone! A united working class has the potential for massive power.
PRO: Yeah, I know, but…
ANTI: You think the ruling class don’t know this? Social Democrat parties or at least parties less to-the-right on the spectrum like the Democrats in the States have been used as a diversion to lead the working class away from any direction action for decades. These fuckers are absolutely essential for the continued domination of the working class by the forces of capital. They are our class enemies. Why would we side with our enemies?
PRO: Why? I’ll tell you why. Right now, people are suffering. They don’t have time to build a mass movement of the working class. They don’t have the time to create grassroots groups that deal with their problems. Hell, they don’t have the time or energy to do anything else than scrape a living at two or three jobs, grab a few precious hours with their family or friends, hours marred by extreme stress and tiredness caused by the shitty and precarious material conditions of their lives, then fall into a fitful and unrewarding sleep until the whole sorry shitshow starts again the following day. That’s their reality, that’s *our* reality! Have you any idea how far away, no, how impossible a revolution looks to most people right now? Even those that know what revolution is and yearn for it? Have you any idea how glib and delusionary your rejection of our small opportunity to have a say in real politics that have a real effect on our lives in favour of your grand ideas delivered to us from your imagined moral high ground? Get a grip, for fuck’s sake! Yes, we will need a revolution to rid us of the horrors of capitalism and the state but right now it ain’t fucking happening. You’re pissing into the wind and people’s suffering right now isn’t the only reason to support the least bad party. The further to-the-left they are, the closer to socialism we get. The more progressive the government, the easier it is to push for socialist policies.
ANTI: Oh yeah, and what if this progressive party turns out to be as anti-working class as the others? What if they don’t come through on their promises?
PRO: Then the working class take more radical action. Either way, we move towards the revolution that we both want.
ANTI: You seriously believe this shit? Do you know any political history at all? If more progressive governments lead us to socialism where’s the fucking socialism? If supposedly progressive governments letting us down leads to the working class taking more radical action, then where’s the radical fucking action?
See what I mean? This is a fantasy. The more progressive option has always been a diversionary tool for the ruling class and when they let us down (and they *always* let us down), the working class don’t rise up, they become even more demotivated and lethargic.Even worse than that though, is that sentiment is then more likely to move to the right.
PRO: That’s just bullshit and you know it. Anyways, this election is different to the rest. This time it’s about preventing a maniac getting a second term and plunging America into a fascist hell. This is our only chance, we must get him out-of-office or we’re all fucked. In a swing state, you not voting for Biden is the same as you voting for Trump and you acting on your privilege and puritanism and high-faulting principles instead of pragmatism sill be to blame when everything turns to shit.
ANTI: Bullshit, eh? You just proved my point. Progressive parties, the least right-wing option or whatever, don’t move us to the left, don’t move us closer to socialism. They’ve moved us to exactly where we are now. They diverted and fire-blanketed working class potential to create movements they’ve eroded our desire for self-determination. They’ve made us weak and submissive, reliant on our masters. Look at what we have now in the States and the UK. Trump is a self-seeking, habitually lying, ego-maniacal sociopath who’s revered by half the working class to the point where he’s almost become a deity. Then there’s Johnson: the very personification of privilege and detachment from reality, yet he’s seen by half the working class as a Churchillian hero. Both sides of the pond - instead of the righteous indignation, rejection of the status quo and uprisings we should expect, the most widespread epidemic of Stockholm Syndrome *ever* prevails. And yeah, you fucking liberals with your Sanders and your Corbyn are equally infected!
How ironic that your supposed pragmatism has led us to this sorry state of affairs. How ironic that your lame-ass liberal narrative of practicality and gradualism has led us to the brink of fascism. You think voting will help us now? You think the poverty and bigotry will disappear if he’s voted out-of-office? You think he’ll allow fair elections? You think he’ll even leave office if he loses? We’re in deep shit and your liberal tactics that helped us get here ain’t gonna save us now!
Imagine if we put the same amount of belief and effort into calling for a general strike as we do into calling for people to vote a certain way. Imagine the elevation and expansions of our goals. Imagine the reforms we might gain. Imagine the boost to working-class power and the damage to ruling-class power. Have a successful general strike and we really will move closer to revolution, closer to socialism. It would be infinitely more beneficial to our aims than the election of even the best of the progressive politicians you liberals love to jerk off over!
PRO: Stop calling me a fucking liberal!
ANTI: What else should I call you? Talks like a liberal, acts like a liberal… yep, you’re a fucking liberal.
PRO: Fuck you, you adolescent fantasist prick!
ANTI: Fuck you, you statist, bootlicking asshole.
PRO: Egotistical poser!
ANTI: Collaborating piece of shit.
PRO: Privileged fucking edgelord.
LBC: [facepalm] Well kids, still not sure if I should vote or not, but [insert conclusion here to emphasize that regardless of whether or not you vote, we should put our focus on class struggle and building a movement.]…