Voting

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Spartacus's picture
Spartacus
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Apr 3 2004 23:00

i'm not arguing that we shouldn't vote because there's no difference between politicians, i'm arguing we shouldn't vote because it offers no tactical advantages and puts us at a tactical disadvantage, and to me i think other people would find it absurd to have people arguing that we should have no government who then go and take part in the most obvious and institutionalised aspects of determining who is in government. if we're against all authority then we should not be taking part in the machinery of authority beyond what is necessary for survival. and in terms of voting, what we do has no effect while we are a small minority with no influence within wider society, the only time it would make any difference, which is the only time this arguement would have any relevance, is when the anarchist movement is large and influential enough to effect that sort of thing in direct confrontation with the state rather than participation in it.

i'm not denying that you're an anarchist, i just have trouble seeing who voting can possibly be reconciled with anarchism. i have the same trouble understanding why durruti argued for people to vote in spain, and so far i haven't been convinced that you have, but maybe i'm just being thick. to me, all action anarchists take should be trying to empower ourselves and other people who take the same action, voting is inherantly disempowering. i have no objection to achieving short term improvements in conditions, but if it isn't done using methods that reduce people's reliance on leaders and increase their sense of collective strength and accustom them to working non-hierarchically, then i don't see how those methods can be promoted as anarchist tactics.

brizzul
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Apr 4 2004 00:43
nosos wrote:
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.

No sorry. You can't be an anarchist and support voting in elections. This has been a bedrock of anarchist thinking forever. We cannot give up the wealth of anarchist thinking just because you weren't invited to the party anytime in the last hundred years.

nosos
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Apr 4 2004 02:07
GT wrote:
i don't see how those methods can be promoted as anarchist tactics

I'm not promoting them as anarchist tactics which is, I guess, where we differ.

brizzul wrote:
No sorry. You can't be an anarchist and support voting in elections. This has been a bedrock of anarchist thinking forever. We cannot give up the wealth of anarchist thinking just because you weren't invited to the party anytime in the last hundred years.

Oh woe is me! roll eyes

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pingtiao
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Apr 5 2004 15:43

Brizzul: does that mean our AnarcoMembership cards get torn up if we visit a polling booth?

Gen: nosos didn't seem to be arguing that voting could be an anarchist tactic, just that anarchists could justify voting in certain circumstances. Yes, it is a shitty thing, but it is much less shitty than violence, which (AFAIK) all anarchists are prepared to use when neccessary.

And I don't see where you have shown that AT ALL TIMES not-voting is "tactically" wrong. That is clearly crap.

Under a liberal democracy, we can discuss anarchist politics on a bulletin board, but under fascism we cannot. Both are solutions capital can take under sifferent circumstances, yet one is clearly preferable to the other. If it came down to it, there are plenty of scenarios in which voting would be acceptable.

Just as political assassinations can be perfectly acceptable under certain circumstances.

nastyned
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Apr 5 2004 16:58

I don't think voting would stop a liberal democracy turning to fascism if it was in the interests of the ruling class

Coconut man
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Apr 5 2004 20:02

I really dont see what all you people who are against voting are getting at. OK, so voting will not make all that big a difference, but it wil make some difference and however small that change may be, if its for the better, it will be good. Its not as if you are going to somehow bring down the system by not voting. How is not voting going to change anything?

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Spartacus
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Apr 5 2004 22:23

well, i took the original question to be about whether anarchists vote as part of their anarchist convictions, as i've said i don't think we would, if anarchists want to vote for other reasons then fine, i don't care, this isn't some party where we all have to follow the line, but i don't think it can be seen as part of anarchism. obviously this is my opinion, not something set in stone for all anarchists, but until now i assumed the vast majority of anarchists would take the same view.

from what i remember from gcse history, so obviously this could well be completely wrong, i thought that one of the reasons the nazis gained power was because the left as a whole focused on trying to oppose them using electoral methods rather than extra-parliamentary methods. which allowed them to manipulate the electoral process as they generally had control of the streets already. so either way really, i wouldn't have thought it would have made any difference if they'd gained power through elections or it had been a coup, the reason the working class resistance wasn't that strong was because of a general lack of organisation and so on on their part. if there had been a decently radical working class then they would at least have put up some sort of a fight, as happened in austria when their far right guy got in power via electoral means (dolfuss i think his name was), and there was widespread resistance (admittedly this was crushed, but they were at least able to put up a fight).

what i'm trying to get at is that whatever gains are made throw voting, they will not help bring about anarchism, which is after all what anarchists surely aim to do. voting does nothing for, in fact it has a detrimental on, encouraging anarchist forms of organising, struggling and living. voting actively encourages passivity, whereas if people make some gain, however small, through their own real efforts amongst themselves, then that will hopefully give them confidence in non-hierarchial organisation. voting will do the opposite, in fact even more so if it achieves some small improvement because why bother going to the trouble of doing stuff yourself if the system let's you do it? surely this is the fundamental difference betweem anarchists and all the variety of other political beliefs? that's why i think voting at all is tactically wrong in any situation.

Mystic
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Apr 5 2004 22:31

Sorry if this has been said endless times, but surely voting merely ends up legitimising the state. If many people are voting, then the state survives, if no-one does, then the state collapses. Voting is meaningless, it's just what the establishment uses to excuse itself. That's pretty obvious to me, who cares about dogma? You'd have to be one crazy anarchist to go out supporting the state tongue.

nosos
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Apr 5 2004 22:38

Right, I haven't got time for a full reply but I will try and make one asap. Before I start, sorry if I was being a moody cunt over the weekend, I didn't manage to get my glasto ticket despite 18 hours of sitting in front of a PC and as a result I spend the weekend being agressive with people over message boards. black bloc

GenerationTerrorist wrote:
i don't think it can be seen as part of anarchism. obviously this is my opinion, not something set in stone for all anarchists, but until now i assumed the vast majority of anarchists would take the same view.

No, I agree with this but as I said above, I think this is the differance between our respective approaches. Anarchism is the conclusion to my political beliefs, not the starting point. I'd argue that every deferance to authority (and if you look at it honestly, we do it rather frequently within capitalist society) is an 'unanarchist' act. If something seems prudent then it's right do it; recourse to ideology seems irrelavent to me.

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from what i remember from gcse history, so obviously this could well be completely wrong, i thought that one of the reasons the nazis gained power was because the left as a whole focused on trying to oppose them using electoral methods rather than extra-parliamentary methods. which allowed them to manipulate the electoral process as they generally had control of the streets already. so either way really, i wouldn't have thought it would have made any difference if they'd gained power through elections or it had been a coup, the reason the working class resistance wasn't that strong was because of a general lack of organisation and so on on their part. if there had been a decently radical working class then they would at least have put up some sort of a fight, as happened in austria when their far right guy got in power via electoral means (dolfuss i think his name was), and there was widespread resistance (admittedly this was crushed, but they were at least able to put up a fight).

Well, as much as it may surprise you, I agree with this completely. I don't think anyone's suggesting that there's merit in voting as an anarchist act. It's an act of tactics and tactics (especially in the sphere of anti-fascism) are in no way mutually exclusive. In fact I'd say that fighting the battle on one front (i.e. through voting alone) is where the error was made in the example you cite. It's a battle to be fought on many fronts.

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what i'm trying to get at is that whatever gains are made throw voting, they will not help bring about anarchism, which is after all what anarchists surely aim to do.

Personally, my aim is to help alleviate people's suffering where I find it and spread the values and idea I believe in throughout the society in which I find myself. Anarchism is a means to an end. Do you think an anarchist society is achievable any time soon? I sure as hell don't. So judging actions on how conducive they are to the achievment of an anarchist society seems very self-defeating imo.

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voting does nothing for, in fact it has a detrimental on, encouraging anarchist forms of organising, struggling and living. voting actively encourages passivity, whereas if people make some gain, however small, through their own real efforts amongst themselves, then that will hopefully give them confidence in non-hierarchial organisation. voting will do the opposite

You're conflating all motivations for voting into one. I fail to see how this holds true for, the admittadly very specific example, of anarchists tactically voting to try and keep the far-right out.

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in fact even more so if it achieves some small improvement because why bother going to the trouble of doing stuff yourself if the system let's you do it?

Because people aren't short-sighted enough to believe that small improvements are lasting?

You seem to think that:

Capitalism ---> the acts of anarchists ---> anarchism

The situation we find ourselves in is infinately more complex than that, mate.

nosos
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Apr 5 2004 22:39
Mystic wrote:
You'd have to be one crazy anarchist to go out supporting the state

By doing anything that any authority figure ever tells you to do, you're supporting and perpetuating the institution of authority within society. You'd have to be one crazy anarchist to go out supporting authority.

tongue

LeighGionaire
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Apr 5 2004 22:55

Why can't Anarchists stand as M.P's on the sole platform of abolishing the state?

brizzul
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Apr 6 2004 03:11
pingtiao wrote:
Brizzul: does that mean our AnarcoMembership cards get torn up if we visit a polling booth?

Yes

pingtiao wrote:
Gen: nosos didn't seem to be arguing that voting could be an anarchist tactic, just that anarchists could justify voting in certain circumstances. Yes, it is a shitty thing, but it is much less shitty than violence, which (AFAIK) all anarchists are prepared to use when neccessary.

That would turn you from being a libertarian socialist (an anarchist) into a state socialist (most marxists). The state *is* violence.

pingtiao wrote:
And I don't see where you have shown that AT ALL TIMES not-voting is "tactically" wrong. That is clearly crap.

Every time a government is elected the army, the judges, the bosses and the police get in. Only direct action and the redistribution of power to everyone (neighbourhood and workplace assemblies federated nationally & internationally) can get the goods. We don't want good government (never happens), we want no government.

pingtiao wrote:
Under a liberal democracy, we can discuss anarchist politics on a bulletin board, but under fascism we cannot. Both are solutions capital can take under sifferent circumstances, yet one is clearly preferable to the other. If it came down to it, there are plenty of scenarios in which voting would be acceptable.

As I seem to say once a week on this board without fail we don't live in a liberal democracy we live in the illusion of one. Northern Ireland is in the UK, so if you want to see somewhere closer to liverpool than london that has summary executions, imprisonment without trial and the army on the streets, have a look there.

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JoeMaguire
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Apr 6 2004 09:01
LeighGionaire wrote:
Why can't Anarchists stand as M.P's on the sole platform of abolishing the state?

The system as no legitimacy and we should seek methods which effectively undermine it, that means participating is out and actually channelling your energies into an election (even if only to get signatories to stand for a piss take) is right out of the question...

Take this from someone who was active canvassing in two seperate elections, they really count for fuck all

nosos
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Apr 6 2004 12:34
brizzul wrote:
Yes

I never membership card! Do the rest of you have one? cry

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That would turn you from being a libertarian socialist (an anarchist) into a state socialist (most marxists). The state *is* violence.

No, that doesn't address the point raised. Violence as an act involves the subjugation of one by another, which is by definition unanarchist, but anarchists are (for the most part) prepared to use violence when they deem it tactically necessary.

Quote:
Every time a government is elected the army, the judges, the bosses and the police get in. Only direct action and the redistribution of power to everyone (neighbourhood and workplace assemblies federated nationally & internationally) can get the goods. We don't want good government (never happens), we want no government.

Are you trying to recruit people or something!? You're on Enrager, not urban75. confused

pingtiao wrote:
As I seem to say once a week on this board without fail we don't live in a liberal democracy we live in the illusion of one. Northern Ireland is in the UK, so if you want to see somewhere closer to liverpool than london that has summary executions, imprisonment without trial and the army on the streets, have a look there.

Again you're not addressing the point, are you actually capable of debate or is this sort of self-aggrandising political monologue all it's possible to get out of you?

Under a liberal democracy, we can discuss anarchist politics on a bulletin board, but under fascism we cannot. Both are solutions capital can take under sifferent circumstances, yet one is clearly preferable to the other. If it came down to it, there are plenty of scenarios in which voting would be acceptable.

Is one preferable to the other? Yes/No?

nosos
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Apr 6 2004 12:36
october_lost wrote:
The system as no legitimacy and we should seek methods which effectively undermine it, that means participating is out and actually channelling your energies into an election (even if only to get signatories to stand for a piss take) is right out of the question...

Innit.

I'd say this is the distinction between visiting a polling booth when you think there's a good political justification for doing so and actually buying into this shit and playing the game...

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JoeMaguire
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Apr 6 2004 17:09

Nosos, im sorry mate but we have gone full circle again. Who exactly is or what is this 'political jusification' your speaking of, because with the few exceptions like that of Spain I can no longer see how voting is or ever was a viable option.

nosos
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Apr 7 2004 01:27
october_lost wrote:
Who exactly is or what is this 'political jusification' your speaking of, because with the few exceptions like that of Spain I can no longer see how voting is or ever was a viable option.

Obviously it's an utterly subjective thing as to what justification is required to make you take part in an act which goes against your ideological principles. For me, as I said earlier in the thread, it would be a significant qualitative political difference between the candidates. Say between Labour and the BNP.

I'm not trying to encourage people to vote, I have no intention of doing it any time soon, all I'm trying to argue on this thread is that an absolutist line on not voting is overly-simplistic.

black bloc

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pingtiao
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Apr 7 2004 09:16

I'd just like to quote myself here. Not for any real reason, just interested in answers to the point raised. And to distract people from nosos' attribution of something Brizzul said to me

Quote:

Under a liberal democracy, we can discuss anarchist politics on a bulletin board, but under fascism we cannot. Both are solutions capital can take under sifferent circumstances, yet one is clearly preferable to the other. If it came down to it, there are plenty of scenarios in which voting would be acceptable.

AlexA
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Apr 7 2004 10:07

Yes but isn't it also true that voting will not stop the change between democracy and fascism.

HOWEVER we all seem to agree that voting in some circumstances acn be useful. Even the most anti-voting types pointed out it was useful in Spain to get all the political prisoners released, no?

brizzul
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Apr 7 2004 17:58
nosos wrote:
No, that doesn't address the point raised. Violence as an act involves the subjugation of one by another, which is by definition unanarchist, but anarchists are (for the most part) prepared to use violence when they deem it tactically necessary.

Violence is not by definition unanarchistic, you are confusing it with militant liberal pacifism. How can you come on this board and talk about a subject you know nothing about?. If I went on to a board, say, alliance for workers' liberty, I would learn a little about the subject. I'd read the communist manifesto, learn about rank-and-files, trotsky, etc. Why don't you try reading up on the subject first and then engaging in debate?. As for violence we have exactly the same attitude to violence as everyone else - we're not looking for trouble but if you hit me I'll hit you.

Someone who refuses parliamentary means is not automatically taking the road of armed struggle. SolFed of which I am a *card carrying* member argue for the revolutionary general strike which can and must include community no-go zones & solidarity. This isn't violence but the asphixiation of the state.

nosos wrote:
Again you're not addressing the point, are you actually capable of debate or is this sort of self-aggrandising political monologue all it's possible to get out of you?

It can't be self-aggrandising if it's not my words. These (paraphrased) are the words of Kropotkin, Zerzan, Bakunin, Durruti, Rudolf Rocker & millions of workers who worked out an idealogy decades ago. Many of the tactics can be messed with but the core idealogy can't. Don't vote - it ligitimises the system.

nosos wrote:

Under a liberal democracy, we can discuss anarchist politics on a bulletin board, but under fascism we cannot. Both are solutions capital can take under sifferent circumstances, yet one is clearly preferable to the other. If it came down to it, there are plenty of scenarios in which voting would be acceptable.

Is one preferable to the other? Yes/No?

We don't live in a liberal democracy. I am allowed & encouraged to use the internet because it is consumption. Your question means nothing to me while I go to work and breath in polysomething-or-other hydrocarbons, crying out "thank god for democracy and freespeech!". I won't answer your question because it is a trap for the unwary.

Oh, sorry pingtao I quoted you as saying all that in my previous post when you weren't. I was really quoting nosos. I'll be more careful next time.

brizzul
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Apr 7 2004 18:02
alexa wrote:
Yes but isn't it also true that voting will not stop the change between democracy and fascism.

HOWEVER we all seem to agree that voting in some circumstances acn be useful. Even the most anti-voting types pointed out it was useful in Spain to get all the political prisoners released, no?

Yeah and look how badly that turned out - 50 years of fascism anyone? We're not all agreed on this.

butchersapron
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Apr 7 2004 18:17

But that wasn't *because* of the voting! That was because of the 500 000 men under Francos control and the supplies, troops and materiel given by Germany and Italy - not to mention the backstabbing behind the republican lines by the stalinists and liberals.

Argue against that particular vote if you want, but please don't pretend that it was the reason for Franco winning or being able to maintain his power for 50 years.

nosos
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Apr 7 2004 18:47
brizzul wrote:
Violence is not by definition unanarchistic, you are confusing it with militant liberal pacifism.

No, I'm not confusing it with pacifism. If I'd been confusing it with pacifisim I wouldn't have defined violence as being tactically acceptable to anarchists because that wouldn't be pacifism! If you're going to engage in these pathetic attempts to patronise me, at least aim at some degree of coherancy! roll eyes

Let's go back to what I said and see if you're capable of responding to what people say rather than what you want people to have said.

Violence as an act involves the subjugation of one by another, which is by definition unanarchist

Now read it slowly and carefully.

Is the subjugation of one person by another by definition unanarchist? Does violence involve the subjugation of one person by another?

Quote:
Someone who refuses parliamentary means is not automatically taking the road of armed struggle. SolFed of which I am a *card carrying* member argue for the revolutionary general strike which can and must include community no-go zones & solidarity. This isn't violence but the asphixiation of the state.

I'm not making any presumptions about people who refuse 'parliamentary means'. In fact I'm not promoting parliamentary means in any way! All I'm arguing and all I have been arguing is that to take an absolutist line on not voting is overly-simplistic.

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It can't be self-aggrandising if it's not my words

But they are you words! They're your interpretation of other people's ideas. But that's besides the point. It wasn't the words I was criticising, it was your debating tactic of responding to specific points and questions with vague ideological ones.

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Your question means nothing to me while I go to work and breath in polysomething-or-other hydrocarbons, crying out "thank god for democracy and freespeech!"..

This is a straw man if ever there was one. I'm not saying that the degree of liberty within our society is at all sufficient or even that meaningful - I'm simply stating that there are differences in terms of political (as opposed to economic) liberty between our society and a fascist one.

Quote:
I won't answer your question because it is a trap for the unwary.

No it's a trap for dogmatists because your black&white world view breaks down if you recognise political differences between socities which aren't anarchist.

Mystic
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Apr 7 2004 19:12

If political change took place in some kind of vacuum, and it could be conclusively proven that the anarchist "vote" was the only means of keeping out the fash, then the situation would, imo, be clear-cut. But such a situation is almost inconceivable in reality. I mean, for a start, what the hell does it say about the kind of country we're living in if the number of people prepared to vote for the fash is greater than the non-anarchists opposed to fascism? Surely a non-vote to avoid hypocrisy followed up by violent resistance would be a better answer? The situation we're discussing would be invariably more complicated than you make it sound here.

Plus extremists tend to be voted in by higher turnouts. Where the BNP won their council seats, those were among the highest voter turnouts in the country. The idea that maximising the number of people voting discourages extremism is totally wrong.

nosos
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Apr 7 2004 19:17
Mystic wrote:
The situation we're discussing would be invariably more complicated than you make it sound here.

I didn't intend to try and describe a situation, in fact it was a mistake to open that can of worms, it just seemed the correct response to people's posts. I'm not postulating a political situation to which voting is the answer. I'm trying to make a point about the over-simplisticity of taking an absolutist line on not voting.

It's a simple, not particularly interesting and in all honesty slightly pedantic point. The joys of internet debate.

brizzul
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Apr 8 2004 01:07
nosos wrote:
Violence as an act involves the subjugation of one by another, which is by definition unanarchist

No definition of anarchism has ever declared violence as unanarchistic.

the_real_malatesta wrote:

Anarchists are opposed to every kind of violence; everyone knows that. The main plank of Anarchism is the removal of violence from human relations. It is life based on the freedom of the individual, without the intervention of the gendarme. For this reason we are enemies of capitalism which depends on the protection of the gendarme to oblige workers to allow themselves to be exploited - or even to remain idle and go hungry when it is not in the interest of the bosses to exploit them. We are therefore enemies of the State which is the coercive, violent organization of society.

But if a man of honor declares that he believes it stupid and barbarous to argue with a stick on his hand that it is unjust and evil to oblige a person to obey the will of another at pistol point, is it, perhaps, reasonable to deduce that that gentleman intends to allow himself to be beaten up and be made to submit to the will of another without having recourse to more extreme means for his defense?

Violence is justifiable only when it is necessary to defend oneself and others from violence. It is where necessity ceases that crime begins ...

brizzul
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Apr 8 2004 01:21

the very next paragraph is clearer:

real_malatesta wrote:

The slave is always in a state of legitimate defense and consequently, his violence against the boss, against the oppressor, is always morally justifiable, and must be controlled only by such considerations as that the best and most economical use is being made of human effort and human sufferings.

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Spartacus
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Apr 8 2004 12:22

um, brizzul, those quotes actually make it fairly clear that violence is unanarchistic, but a necessary tactic at times. the difference between violence and voting is that violence can be used in a collective and empowering manner, whereas voting can't, and also that (as i see it) voting won't make any difference in pretty much any circumstance, whereas violence might. if violence is part of any future anarchist society except in really incredibly exceptional circumstances, then i don't think that society would be an anarchist society.

nosos, i don't think anyone is saying that liberal democracy is as bad as fascism (at least i hope not), but voting would not make any difference if the far-right was powerful enough and had enough support to gain power by electoral means, because the nature of fascism is that that would be backed up by power on the streets before they gain power, and therefore the only possible effective tactic to oppose them is extra-parliamentary organisation and action.

taking the spanish example for instance, all voting did there was delay the far-right coming to power, which you could argue gave them more time to prepare. when the civil war did eventually break out, loads of prisons were liberated anyway, so whether getting a lefty government in power, which continued the repression of the anarchist movement anyway, was necessary is still a debatable point. and in the spanish case, the ambiguity of the anarchist movement over voting lead to a gradual deradicalisation and the slide into greater involvement in politics, ending in having anarchist ministers in government.

and in the meantime while the far-right is small and weak, a high turn out would only give them some degree of legitimacy, so i would say voting against them is counterproductive at the moment. voting is such a fundamental part of the functioning of modern society that i don't think anarchists can afford to be sucked into thinking that it can ever be used for useful ends. it's not like other aspects that involve obvious unanarchistic acts like buying food or working for someone else, because there is no reason or obligation to vote in order to survive or even to avoid hassle, and i'm still not convinced that it would ever give us a tactical advantage.

nosos
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Apr 8 2004 12:31
brizzul wrote:
No definition of anarchism has ever declared violence as unanarchistic.

<starts ripping hair out>

Brizzul, the passage you quoted says pretty much the same thing I said in my last post which you totally ignored!

the_real_malatesta wrote:
Anarchists are opposed to every kind of violence; everyone knows that. The main plank of Anarchism is the removal of violence from human relations.
Quote:
Violence is justifiable only when it is necessary to defend oneself and others from violence. It is where necessity ceases that crime begins

See? Violence is unanarchistic (i.e. 'anarchists are opposed to every kind of violence') but it's tactically justifiable.

Not only did you completely ignore my entire post, you resorted to appealing to anarchists writers to try and make a point you were, for whatever reason, unwilling to make yourself. Not only that but the anarchist writing you appealed to completely contradicted what you were saying and backed up what I was saying!

confused

nosos
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Apr 8 2004 12:54
GenerationTerrorist wrote:
the difference between violence and voting is that violence can be used in a collective and empowering manner

Um, I'd dispute this, basically because no matter what political context within which it occurs, violence necessarily involves one person or group inflicting power over another. I don't think an authoritarian act can empowering as such, more that it can give the illusion of empowerment. But that's a load of hippy shit for another thread. wink

Quote:
whereas voting can't, and also that (as i see it) voting won't make any difference in pretty much any circumstance, whereas violence might.

Hmm, yeah I accept. I really don't think I disagree that much with anyone on this thread (apart from Brizzul grin ), I just don't like the assertion that people make that there is never any justification for voting. Would you accept that this is perhaps a possibility? Albeit an unlikely one?

Quote:
nosos, i don't think anyone is saying that liberal democracy is as bad as fascism (at least i hope not), but voting would not make any difference if the far-right was powerful enough and had enough support to gain power by electoral means, because the nature of fascism is that that would be backed up by power on the streets before they gain power, and therefore the only possible effective tactic to oppose them is extra-parliamentary organisation and action.

I don't it's the 'only possible effective tactic' - it's a fight on many fronts - this is just one small, relatively insignificant one - it's not at all mutually exclusive.

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taking the spanish example for instance, all voting did there was delay the far-right coming to power, which you could argue gave them more time to prepare. when the civil war did eventually break out, loads of prisons were liberated anyway, so whether getting a lefty government in power, which continued the repression of the anarchist movement anyway, was necessary is still a debatable point. and in the spanish case, the ambiguity of the anarchist movement over voting lead to a gradual deradicalisation and the slide into greater involvement in politics, ending in having anarchist ministers in government.

Yeah, I see what you're saying but I would honestly link that down to confused notions about voting. If we vote, we vote with no illusions about the shiteness of the act we're performing. Just as if we use violence, we use violence with no romanticised notions of the virtue of the act we're performing. Voting is just one, pretty insiginficant, way to exercise our limited power.

I suppose the differences here might stem from our conception of the role of voting in relation to the state. I recognise voting as, in almost all terms, a disabling thing - it plays a massive part in making people come to the conclusion that they need to delegate power to authority. It encourages those people who still have political energy even after delegating to their representative to engage in the pathetic facade of party politics. When, quite obviously, they could work toward their political goals more effectively without spending all their energy trying to get a party of people (who are pretty much guaruanteed not to represent the grass roots or the population at large) into power. But I do think that the universal suffrage was won through mass struggle and I do think it's a way to exercise a very limitd power.

Beyond problems with the principles of representation, the problems with liberal democracy stem less from the fact that we can vote and more from the power-structures which underly 'democracy'. Before anyone accuses me of believing that it's possible to reform 'democracy', I don't. The kind of power-structures which exist between social groups, business and the political class seem a necessary result of any society which engages in 'representative democracy'.

Er, I've forgotten what my point was. confused

Oh and just to restart the debate, I don't really have much problem in voting in local elections. I can't forsee myself ever voting in a general election unless the political circumstances in this country change massively (and I mean massively) but I would happilly vote for the IWCA say, even though I disagree with some of their policies, if it came down to a choice between them and the Tories.

Sorry about the ramblingness of this post btw - I've only just gotten up. embarrassed