Anarchists Who Vote Are Like Atheists Who Pray

July 11th, 2012   Submitted by Wendy McElroy

The similarity lies in the inconsistency displayed between stated belief and actions. But, in reality,  the consequences of an anarchist who votes are far worse than mere inconsistency. An atheist who sinks to his knees is engaging in a personal act that has no necessary impact on the right of others to remain standing. By contrast, the anarchist who votes is legitimizing a political process that he knows will be used by the State to violate the rights of others. After all the anarchist’s definition of the state is as “institutionalized violence.” Only if he believes the State is not institutionalized violence can the anarchist vote in good conscience. Upon accepting that belief, of course, he ceases to be an anarchist.

[NOTE: In response to various comments in the attached thread, I should clarify that this article refers specifically to electoral voting, not to voting on referendums or the like. That is, it refers to a voting process that results in a candidate assuming political office. I would argue against voting in referendums but my arguments would differ.]

A key question becomes, “In good conscience, how can an ‘electoral anarchist’ facilitate the imposition of unjust power upon unconsenting others – especially, upon non-voters.”

Of course, the State will aggress against everyone who voted for it, against it, or who abstained from casting a ballot. All will said to have consented to the State’s authority, which is merely one indication of how profoundly the electoral game is rigged against the possibility of escape. All who vote are said to render their consent to ‘the system’ by voluntarily participating in it. Even if their candidate was unsuccessful, they rendered a tacit consent to abide by the rules of the game and accept its outcome. Non-voters are also considered bound by electoral results; the common refrain is “you cannot complain if you didn’t participate.”

In his pivotal essay “The Right to Ignore the State”(1851), the classical liberal Herbert Spencer commented, “So, curiously enough, it seems that he [a voter] gave his consent in whatever way he acted – whether he said yes, whether he said no, or whether he remained neuter! A rather awkward doctrine, this. Here stands an unfortunate citizen who is asked if he will pay money for a certain proffered advantage; and whether he employs the only means of expressing his refusal or does not employ it, we are told that he practically agrees, if only the number of others who agree is greater than the number of those who dissent. And thus we are introduced to the novel principle that A’s consent to a thing is not determined by what A says, but by what B may happen to say!”

The preceding process makes a farce of consent by rendering it impossible for anyone to say ‘no’. The farce serves the purpose of the state, not the voters; namely, the State legitimizes itself by being established through the “will of the people.” Whether the electoral anarchist voted ‘for’ or ‘against’ does not diminish his role in sanctioning the result. It is non-voting that weakens the State.

In his essay “If We Quit Voting” (1945), Frank Chodorov put his finger on one of the main problems with casting a ballot: “when we oust the rascals, do we not, as a matter of course, invite a new crowd?” Non-voting reversed that problem. “All this would change if we quit voting. Such abstinence would be tantamount to this notice to politicians: since we as individuals have decided to look after our affairs, your services are no longer needed…. Would chaos result? No, there would be order, without law to disturb it.”

Chodorov concluded, “To effectuate the suggested revolution all that is necessary is to stay away from the polls. Unlike other revolutions, it calls for no organization, no violence, no war fund, no leader to sell it out. In the quiet of his conscience each citizen pledges himself, to himself, not to give moral support to an unmoral institution, and on election day he remains at home. That’s all.”

A specific counter-argument inevitably arises. It runs: as long as you vote to shrink the State, then your vote can be considered an act of self-defense and strategically positive.

I offer merely a few of many possible objections:

A moral objection: Individualist-anarchism – and, indeed, all forms of libertarianism – prohibit the initiation of force against innocent third parties. Voting for a less objectionable politician still sanctions someone’s quest for political office, which is a quest for such unjust power. The anarchist does not object to the State because the wrong hand is at the helm but because the helm is there at all. It is morally wrong to assist anyone into an unjust position of power over the rights and wealth of others.

A psychological objection: Non-voting should be an act of self-respect. Henry David Thoreau wrote in “On Civil Disobedience,” “How does it become a man to behave toward this American government to-day? I answer that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it. … What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.”

A political objection
: Shrinking government through political means is a fool’s errand; laws repealed today can be reinstated tomorrow. Moreover, the State’s power does not reside in the number of laws or agencies it creates; it does not depend on its size. Power rests on social conditions such as how many people respect the state’s authority. If a state loses its legitimacy, people will resist taxes and cease to render blind obedience. Freedom demands nothing so much as persuading others that “the Emperor has no clothes.” Voting for the ‘proper’ candidate steps in the wrong direction by increasing the legitimacy of the political process and offices.

A logical objection
: It is not possible to know what a politician will do once massive power is his to wield. All predictions that Candidate X will bring more freedom are based on believing campaign promises. The only sure way to achieve political freedom is to eliminate or delegitimize the positions of power being sought.

A practical objection
: Voting violates privacy with unfortunate consequences such as being called for jury duty or being trapped in other state databases. Samuel E. Konkin III once wrote, “Counter-economically, [people] are far better off remaining off the State’s books and practicing their respective trades than by stamping themselves as ‘prime sheep’ for the State’s records” and all in order “to get a piece of paper or a pull at the lever to be one of a million or so saying yea or nay to being fleeced.” Rather than voting in self-defense, you should not vote in self-protection.

There is one circumstance under which many of my arguments lose effectiveness. Namely, when an anarchist votes in such a manner as to defile the ballot. Writing “Bozo” into a blank slot is an example. But even then the act of voting relinquishes privacy; merely showing up at the polling station gives the appearance of consent and contributes to the official ‘voter turn-out’. Far better to shout “Bozo!” at televised politicians in the privacy of your own home.

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113 Responses to “Anarchists Who Vote Are Like Atheists Who Pray”

  1. HReardenNo Gravatar says:

    You and I part ways on this because I believe it depends on the candidate an Anarchist is voting for. Generally an Abarchist should not vote because there generally are no candidates an Anarchist in good conscience should vote for. In rare cases however there is a candidate who is unlike the others and by amd large supports liberty. If I lived in NH I would probably vote in state legislative elections becaue in recent years Free Staters have been elected to such offices and have been successful in mooving the state towards liberty. A recent example is the passage of a law that wull require judges to allow lawyers to inform juries that they have the right to judge the law as well as the facts of the case in criminal cases. I also believe there is no inconsistancy if an Anarchist votes on an issie on the ballot that would limit the state’s authority or not increase it. In my state foe ecample when there was an issue on the ballot that would force bar owners not to alloow patrons to smoke in their establishment I voted against it. As long as one is voting in favor of liberty and against agression that is ok with me. Btw, I will not ve voting in November. There is no candidate U believe is worth voting for.

    $

    • Good morning H.R. You raise an excellent point. If you reread my article, you will note that I refer specifically and repeatedly to electoral voting and not to voting on referendums, for example. The key moral argument against seeking to place a candidate into a position of political power simply does not apply to voting “yes” or “no” on an issue. (The moral argument is that you have no right to place anyone in a position of power over the lives of unconsenting others.) Clearly, if you vote against something like a new tax, then you are not participating in the violation of anyone’s rights. I would still object to such a vote but it would be on far ‘weaker’ grounds; for example, I would object strategically because any vote gives legitimacy to the political system.

      So, again, the article repeated the word “electoral” and dealt exclusively with political office because that was the specific form of voting it targeted.

      • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

        I skimmed over the article this morning and did not have time to read it in it’s entirety. Thus I miss that part asbout electoral voting. It was in italics so being short on time I overlooked it.

        $

      • TrogNo Gravatar says:

        Voting for a special candidate (Ron Paul) is like an atheist praying to a human who claims he is god.

        • Hi Trog: I always liked Sunni Maravilloso’s sardonic description of Ron Paul as “the one man fit to rule us all” — an obvious reference to The Lord of the Rings. Of course, I utterly reject the idea of anyone being fit to rule anyone else.

  2. Bob RobertsonNo Gravatar says:

    I vote as one more peaceful way to say “No”.

    Ballot measure? “No.” Tax increase? “No.” Bond? “No.” Big Party Candidate? “No.”

    Where there is no space for “No”, I leave it blank.

    Seth, could you have been referring in your position against voting to the idea of voting “for” things? Because I am certainly against voting “for” things that get imposed on others against their will, even if I like them.

    So long as there are peaceful ways to say “No”, I will continue to do so. Where there are no remaining peaceful ways, then I will no longer say “No” peacefully.

    • Bob RobertsonNo Gravatar says:

      I’m sorry, I meant “Wendy” of course.

      • Hi Bob: I hope my answer to H.R. also addresses some of your questions. You and may well continue to disagree on one point, however. I do not consider electoral voting to be a peaceful act. The entire structure of electoral politics is designed to legitimize the political offices through which an elite class called politicians are able to violate the rights and loot the wealth of others. If you facilitate putting anyone into a position of unjust power, then you are validating a system designed to violate rights and to loot. You become an indirect accomplice to an ongoing crime — namely, the institutionalization of violence. I am sympathetic to the idea of choosing the lesser of two evils but I do not see the particular man in a political office as the main problem. I consider the office itself to be the problem.

        • Bob RobertsonNo Gravatar says:

          My use of the roads also legitimizes govt roads, through my ongoing acceptance of the service.

          I also showed up for jury “duty” three times, and served once.

          I’m such a statist.

          • LOL Bob. If all so-called statists were like you, then I’d hang up my anarchist credentials and spend my life growing tomatoes instead of griping about the state. On a more serious note, the main argument against voting in a process that facilitates and legitimizes a candidate’s assumption of political office is that the office itself is an act of violence against unconsenting others. I don’t think using the roads is a parallel.

            Off to run errands now…to buy those tomatoes that the state keeps me too busy to grow.

            • Bob RobertsonNo Gravatar says:

              Fair and Wondrous Lady, if all “statists” were like me, there would be no state.

            • Bob RobertsonNo Gravatar says:

              “I don’t think using the roads is a parallel.”

              Ah, but it is. Participation legitimizes the process.

              The argument against voting at all is that participation legitimizes the process.

              So if participation in the use of govt roads does not by itself legitimize the process by which those roads are built and maintained by the state, then participation in the use of govt ballots does not by itself legitimize the process by which those ballots are issued and maintained by the state.

              If I use a road in my process of harming others, if I cast ballots for higher taxes on others or candidates I believe will increase oppression and abuse, then it is my act which is wrong not the mode of my acting or the asphalt or paper or electronic bits with which I act.

              All that said, the faith in the ballot box does deserve to be attacked and destroyed. The belief that somehow “winning the election” legitimizes the outcome must be overcome, a belief that may be so ingrained into the culture of “democracy” that it may be impossible to eradicate.

              • StormNo Gravatar says:

                Bob, no your disanalogy does not fit due to the dramatic and rather obvious difference of type between the two actions. Voting is explicitly and directly claiming a right to own other people (to control their peaceful lives via government) and obviously an explicit acceptance and condoning of the state qua the state. Using roads when private roads are unavailable because of actions of the state says NOTHING about accepting the state at all.

                If we adopted your disanalogy, then the wrongfully imprisoned prisoner “owes” a debt to the jailer for imprisoning him. Clearly this is absurd, so your argument must be invalid.

              • cb750No Gravatar says:

                Storm is correct. You do not have a choice in using the roads since gov monopolized the roads. You do have a choice in voting. Don’t vote. If you would care to show us the free market roads we can use instead I’d love to use them.

                I also don’t believe in using public transportation or libraries since these would be legitimized if used. But I do not have to use either. Roads are a complete monopoly and now so is health care.

                • macsnafuNo Gravatar says:

                  Man, I really dislike the “legitimization” argument. It is true that one has a choice of voting or not voting, but the results of the vote are still forced upon people, whether they vote or not. It may be true that the value of voting is minimal or insignificant, or that there are no good options to vote for.

                  If participation in the process legitimizes the process, then why is the process still considered legitimate by most people? After all, only about half of the people who could do so actually register, and of those registered, only about half of them actually vote in elections. So only about one quarter of the eligible population participates in the electoral process.

                  At what point does it become illegitimate? 20% participation? 10%? 5%?

              • TridentNo Gravatar says:

                Unless you are a hermit that lives off the land, you are given no alternative but to use “government roads”. To lead anything resembling an ordinary life you MUST use them. Being painted into a corner like this you are not legitimizing anything.

                Voting is different because you have a choice of not voting.
                And not voting would not making any changes to your life whatsoever, because of the minuscule chances of their being a substantial difference between candidates, and even if there were a substantial difference, yours would just be one meazly ineffectual vote.
                You are therefor not at all “painted into a corner” by the difference between voting or not voting.

        • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

          Wendy it is my opinio that the physical act of voting is not agressive. It is merely selecting a choice on a ballot. In that sense I don’t agre with the argument that voting is violent or as some people claim evil as far as the phusical act itself.

          $

    • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

      You sound like Dr. Ron Paul. Dr. No. lol I voted for Dr. Ron Paul in the primary in my state and have no regret about that.

      $

  3. Dave-BLNo Gravatar says:

    If you use violence and force to defend yourself from an attacker do you then condone violence and the use of force? Of course not. Self defense in no way legitimizes the use of force.

    Voting is no different.

    Yes, voting for statists who will use their “power” to steal, murder, and plunder is consenting to government and their use of force. But voting purely for self defense is not consent.

    If you were a slave and you could vote to get beat once a day or once a week. Would you be consenting to slavery if you choose to be beaten once a week rather than daily?

    • Dave: When you act in self-defense against a mugger, you are not justified in shooting bullets through innocent bystanders in order to retain your wallet. When you facilitate and legitimize placing anyone into a position of unjust power over the lives of unconsenting others, then you are injuring those innocent others upon whom that power will be exercised. There is no right to initiate force against people who have done you no harm. There is not even the argument that the harm inflicted was accidental, as it might be with the mugger, because voting is a known process that predictably ends in someone being handed the power to violate rights.

      • Dave-BLNo Gravatar says:

        Wendy, I agree with you. Government is force. But that force is already upon us whether we like it or not. Voting or not voting isn’t going to change that in the short run. Only education of ideas to the masses will have any effect.

        If there was a ballot measure to secede from the union, would you refuse to vote on it? Or a ballot measure to reduce income tax from 6.25% to 0%, would you refuse to vote for it? To me, that is voting to protect yourself, not consenting government force.

        I don’t believe anything can or will be changed through voting in the long run because if it did the state would make it illegal. Voting is more less a mirage to keep people content with the feeling that they had a choice.

        • Hello again Dave: Voting on a referendum or an issue is a very different matter than electoral voting, which was what the article discussed. Frankly, I wish I had included a distinction between the two forms of voting because I contributed to confusion. But I did address the distinction in my response to H.R. who is first on this comment thread.

          As for merely participating in something that is going on anyway…well, an unjustifiable war might well be going on anyway and, yet, I would not pick up a gun and shoot an innocent person who happened to be on the wrong side of a mythical border encasing a ‘nation’.

          • Dave-BLNo Gravatar says:

            Wendy, I guess that is where the confusion was. I missed your response to HR. I agree with you that voting for the electoral process is pretty much pointless. I think we are in pretty much agreement on the issue now.

            I agree with you with your analogy that participating in an unjust war is consenting to it. But it wouldn’t be consent if troops invaded your house and you use lethal force to repel them.

            Force should only be used for self defense. Which, as I think you agree, voting is force.

            • FYI…you and H.R. ‘convinced’ to add a clarification to the article to the effect that I was referring only to electoral voting. I noted that the clarification was in response to reader’s comments so no one will go through the thread and think you guys were careless readers.

    • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

      Dave Pasifism is support of agression because by doing nothing to defend one’s self is to support agression against one’s self.

      $

      • StormNo Gravatar says:

        Obviously this is not the case Rearden. There is a massive and obvious difference of type between supporting aggression and refraining from defense.

  4. StormNo Gravatar says:

    Sadly the comparison runs even deeper. Those who still believe in political solutions do so with the fervor and devotion of the religious zealot. Pointing out the problems, from the moral to the practical, seldom sways their faith in the state as giver of liberty and all things good, even though they may preach about the evils of government.

    I always cringe when I see the “strategic voting” response that we get from “anarchists” who vote. They seem to believe that harming everyone, or at least actively supporting harming everyone via the state, is some form of self defense, though strangely other than appeals to authority (Usually Spooner and Rothbard) they never offer any real support for this claim. I sometimes wonder if these folks are not more devout than even the average statist voter.

    Thanks for another great article!

    • StormNo Gravatar says:

      Upon reflection, the “anarchist” who votes is more like the atheist who not merely prays, but gets baptized and joins the seminary.. They do more than merely wish that X person is in power, or Y, where Y is greater than zero, state of affairs comes to be, they are actively trying to maintain the system and support it.

  5. BrodieNo Gravatar says:

    Voting is not a violent act. It confers no authority to anyone elected. It is not an inconsistent act for an anarchist to vote. It’s just a waste of time, just like it is a waste of time to pray.

    • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

      I made a similar point before reading your post. The physical act of voting is not violent.

      $

    • cb750No Gravatar says:

      So is the act of hiring a hitman violence even though you don’t directly murder anyone? Is the act of the high school cheerleader encouraging her bully boyfriend to beat up the nerd she does not like an act of violence. So if voters voted to enact slavery would they be absolved of violence because the state that carried out that voted mandate actually performs the slavery while they benefit?

      • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

        cb750 That is a good point.I the opposite true? If a politician orders an agent of the state to commit agression is the politician partially or entirely responsible? Or is the agent entirely responsible because he committed the agression?

        $

        • Hi H.R. Perhaps I should have directed my last comment to you as well as to CB. BTW, I’m pleased to read that you will not be voting this November. The choices in the States are particularly offensive this time around. I have no idea what to hope for…other than that no one party dominates both the House and the Senate.

          • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

            Wendy perhaps if the Republicrats dominate Obamacare will possibly be repealed. If they don’t dominate it definately will not be repealed. Who really knows? We will just have to wait and see. I don’t see it as a reason to vote for Republicrates.

            $

      • Hi CB: Good to see you on the thread.

        You ask a key question re: hiring a hit man. If the only person responsible for an act of violent is the agent who commits it, then Hitler has no responsibility for the deaths and destruction of WWII. As far as I know, Hitler killed no one directly, mugged no one…he only gave speeches, signed papers, gave orders. By contrast, a 17-year-old German who was drafted against his will and stayed on the Russian front only because they were shooting deserters would be a murderer for executing an innocent civilian on his commander’s orders. The commander, of course, would be blameless. I hope people see a problem with this logic.

        • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

          Wendy that is a good point. By that reasoning one could not argue that voting is supporting agression because politicians seldom engage in agression personally. Others carry out their dictates.

          $

        • LatexNo Gravatar says:

          I disagree slightly with your article. When a person votes it’s an approval of the person he voted for and everything that person does in office. If I ran for office, and voted “No” on every single piece of legislation, then neither you nor I are morally responsible for the state’s actions.
          That’s, of course, a theorhetical example. In reality, voters are murderers and thieves. The hitman example is good IMO. You are getting someone else to do your dirty work. In effect, the state becomes God, absolving everyone of their sins. You can vote to murder. You can vote to steal. God then changes those bad words to “Police Action” and “tax”. Making everyone think they are going to heaven. But if there is a real God, he ain’t gonna be fooled by the Proxy.

    • StormNo Gravatar says:

      Okay if we follow that reasoning, then pulling the trigger on a gun aimed at an innocent person’s head is not an act of violence. Driving your car into that person is not an act of violence (the car hit them, not you). Dropping anvils on their head is not an act of violence..

      It is very hard to come up with an act of violence under that sort of reasoning.. I suppose only if you hit them directly with your hand would count..

  6. MarthaNo Gravatar says:

    Wendy, thank you for putting into words how I feel about voting. I will save this article and send it to the next person (and there is always a next person) who thinks I am morally wrong for not voting for the lesser of two evils.

  7. ZackNo Gravatar says:

    I disagree, I see no reason to believe that they care whether you vote. They will just say, “if you don’t vote then you have no right to complain.” While no candidate is going to be good for liberty, some are clearly worse than others, while you can never know what a politician will do in office, you can sometimes get a pretty good guess. Does anyone honestly believe that Romney or Obama would be no worse than Ron Paul.
    An analogy that I have heard (I don’t remember where so I can’t give credit):
    If slaveholders allow the slaves to elect their overseer, and one whips them mercilessly and the other promises to only whip them half as much, voting for the less bad one doesn’t legitimize the slavery, because if they didn’t vote, then the slaveholders would just choose and they would probably be worse off.

    • RickNo Gravatar says:

      Modern statist slavery is horizontal, not vertical. We slaves keep each other in line through culture, social ostracism, etc. When we vote, we send a signal to our fellow slaves that says, “See, the system works! I’m voting for the lesser evil.” You become a participant in the system. You lend your support. You provide legitimacy.

      Not voting may or may not worsen your situation but at least you can say that you didn’t lend your support to the system that enslaves you.

    • Bob RobertsonNo Gravatar says:

      “if you don’t vote then you have no right to complain.”

      Yep. I’ve seen that one lots of times. Haters gonna hate.

      So long as there is a system, so long as democracy rules, the individual loses. Voting or not is irrelevant to the actual problem, the legitimacy of democracy itself.

    • I do not know from whom you heard the slaveowner-slave analogy but I do know that Walter Block is fond of using it in print and in speeches. If you are ‘voting’ on what *your* situation should be, then there is no problem. You can choose to participate in the grotesque pretense that you have some freedom or not. But you don’t have a right to cast a vote that determines the relationship of the other slaves, like me, to the slaveowner. As a fellow- or sister-slave, I would refuse to be part of a process that lends an air of ‘consent’ to anyone whippng me. And I would protest any other slave participating in a process that allowed the owner to whip me with the words, “The slaves have spoken. This is what you slaves wish me to do.” I do not wish to participate in my own punishment; I wish to rebel and be whipped no more.

      That’s only one of the problems with this analogy, BTW.

  8. Jacob SNo Gravatar says:

    “In truth, in the case of individuals their actual voting is not to be taken as proof of consent…. On the contrary, it is to be considered that, without his consent having even been asked a man finds himself environed by a government that he cannot resist; a government that forces him to pay money renders service, and foregoes the exercise of many of his natural rights, under peril of weighty punishments. He sees, too, that other men practice this tyranny over him by the use of the ballot. He sees further, that, if he will but use the ballot himself, he has some chance of relieving himself from this tyranny of others, by subjecting them to his own. In short, he finds himself, without his consent, so situated that, if he uses the ballot, he may become a master, if he does not use it, he must become a slave. And he has no other alternative than these two. In self-defense, he attempts the former. His case is analogous to that of a man who has been forced into battle, where he must either kill others, or be killed himself. Because, to save his own life in battle, a man attempts to take the lives of his opponents, it is not to be inferred that the battle is one of his own choosing. Neither in contests with the ballot – which is a mere substitute for a bullet – because, as his only chance of self-preservation, a man uses a ballot, is it to be inferred that the contest is one into which he voluntarily entered; that he voluntarily set up all his own natural rights, as a stake against those of others, to be lost or won by the mere power of numbers…. Doubtless the most miserable of men, under the most oppressive government in the world, if allowed the ballot would use it, if they could see any chance of meliorating their condition. But it would not, therefore, be a legitimate inference that the government itself, that crushes them, was one which they had voluntarily set up, or even consented to.” ~Lysander Spooner

    “And yet, all this pales before the most important problem: Is a Libertarian Party evil per se? Is voting evil per se? My answer is no. The State is a Moloch that surrounds us, and it would be grotesque and literally impossible to function if we refused it our ‘sanction’ across the board. I don’t think I am committing aggression when I walk on a government-owned and government-subsidized street, drive on a government-owned and subsidized highway, or fly on a government regulated airline. It would be participating in aggression if I lobbied for these institutions to continue. I didn’t ask for these institutions, dammit, and so don’t consider myself responsible if I am forced to use them. In the same way, if the State, for reasons of its own, allows us a periodic choice between two or more masters, I don’t believe we are aggressors if we participate in order to vote ourselves more kindly masters, or to vote in people who will abolish or repeal the oppression. In fact, I think that we owe it to our own liberty to use such opportunities to advance the cause. Let’s put it this way: Suppose we were slaves in the Old South, and that for some reason, each plantation had a system where the slaves were allowed to choose every four years between two alternative masters. Would it be evil, and sanctioning slavery, to participate in such a choice? Suppose one master was a monster who systematically tortured all the slaves, while the other one was kindly, enforced almost no work rules, freed one slave a year, or whatever. It would seem to me not only not aggression to vote for the kinder master, but idiotic if we failed to do so. Of course, there might well be circumstances—say when both masters are similar—where the slaves would be better off not voting in order to make a visible protest—but this is a tactical not a moral consideration. Voting would not be evil, but in such a case less effective than the protest. But if it is morally licit and non-aggressive for slaves to vote for a choice of masters, in the same way it is licit for us to vote for what we believe the lesser of two or more evils, and still more beneficial to vote for an avowedly libertarian candidates.”
    -Rothbard

    http://darjeelingzen.blogspot.com/2012/01/does-voting-legitimate- system.html

  9. DarrenNo Gravatar says:

    Hey Wendy, what do you have against Bozo? :-) I’ve been told that in Brasil, where voting is mandatory, they write in the names of monkeys at the zoo. Bonzo for president!

    To be serious now, another argument against voting is that it’s something that everyone can understand & do. We’re never going to get Joe Sixpack to end his identification with the state if he keeps voting & regarding it as sacred. Anarchists need to set the example by not voting. If we can get Joe to accept that as a legit thing to do we move him a step in the right direction.

    • JustSayNoToStatismNo Gravatar says:

      This. We don’t vote because it sets an example. As an anarchist, it would be quite embarrassing to get into a discussion about it and then have to confess to voting. You make it seem like even *YOU* think there’s some efficacy to it. For a well-informed person to not vote….now that sends a message. People are taken aback. That’s the goal. You want to leave an impression on people when talking about this.

      • Suverans2No Gravatar says:

        JustSayNoToStatism says: “For a well-informed person to not vote….now that sends a message.”

        Only one message? Apathy, (i.e. indifference)?

        Wait!! Before you jump on your high horse, I agree that voting is a waste of time and effort; all I am saying is that abstaining from voting will not measurably change the way the system works either. It sends no definitive message at all!

        The only thing an INDIVIDUAL can do, that “sends a message”, is “just say no to statism”, and we do that by withdrawing from membership in the STATE.

        “The right of self-government rests on the right to withdraw consent from an oppressive government. That is the only really effective restriction on power, in the last analysis.” ~ Clyde Wilson, Secession: The Last, Best Bulwark of Our Liberties

        Secession. The act of withdrawing from membership in a group. ~ Black’s Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition, page 1351

        • StormNo Gravatar says:

          Suverans, no one is claiming that MERELY not voting will instantly or magically rid us of the state. In fact the non-voting position should not even be a point of contention, were it not for the faith in the state that some “libertarians” maintain.

          When you find yourself too deep in a hole to get out, you FIRST stop digging. Ceasing to vote is akin to ceasing making things worse. If nothing else we know that doing the same thing over and over (voting) only leads us to the point we are at now, or even deeper into the hole.

          So we first stop being hypocrites who preach liberty but support the state, whether in the form of Ron Paul or any other politician, policy, or platform. THEN we work on creating alternatives to the state, liberty in our own personal lives, spreading the ideas of liberty, and the other methods which have proven effective in the past.

          So even if your characterization, which I contend is absurd, were true, ceasing making things worse is STILL a better approach and a more effective message than the one sent by voting.

  10. cb750No Gravatar says:

    I think George Carlin had it right in his monologue on voting that its the voter who’s at fault for what happens cause THEY voted and not the other way around. The non-voter has ALL the right to complain because they did not participate in the “mugging”. Its the voter who participated. Its the voter who legitimized the system.

    So many times from both the left and right I hear the same lame social contract argument. We supposedly consented to $15 tril of debt because we elect officials who then “managed” government. Yet no person in their right mind would consent to any contract that allows someone else to rake up any charges they wish on the citizen’s credit cards (so to speak), change the rules, take money by force then stick the citizen with the bill and the responsibility. If anything government has already violated social contract (if it did exist). If I give my money to an investment broker and he spends it on beer and whores then that investment broker violated his contract.

    I used to think that I would vote Obama just to accelerate the crash. We’re going to have a collapse anyway so instead of stretching it out for 10 years, force us to become Greece NOW and push the apple cart over as quickly as possible. Obama seems to be the best candidate for that. At least keep the dems in office when the collapse happens so they get the blame. Its not that I like republicans but a switch now will just allow both parties to buy another 4 years of good cop/bad cop.

    But I realized that my vote will mean nothing and ultimately I would have supported a system that bankrupted this country. Besides, both parties will bankrupt us. Its only a matter of time.

    Not much difference between a giant douche and a terd sandwich.

  11. JoeNo Gravatar says:

    Re: practical objection. In some U.S. states, there are now “motor voter” laws, meaning people who get driver licenses are automatically sent a voting card, i.e., they’re already in a database simply because they wanted to exercise the privilege to drive.

    Also, consider that in some countries, e.g., in South America, voting is mandatory (just like military conscription for males–coincidentally the fact that you voted is recorded in the “enrollment book” showing your military service), and if you don’t vote (without a valid excuse such as being away from your voting district), you’re liable to be fined. This leads me to think that voting (even in more moderate countries such as the U.S.) isn’t condoning violence against others. I believe most states and politicians doesn’t really care about the legitimization or consent given by voting (it’s all part of a charade). If one is forced to vote or chooses to vote, and votes for the candidate least likely to be elected, then it’s hard to argue that one is advocating violence.

    • cb750No Gravatar says:

      It is condoning in that the voter is using voting as a means to effect change. Property is not community property nor are rights up for votes. Just because the vote is meaningless does not distract from the fact the voter is voting for “goodies”.

      Now if the voting took place in a voluntary manner like in a club people can join or leave at will then voting would not be force. But government is not a voluntary club (sorry but leaving the country is not a legitimate argument). Government uses force to obtain its goals. So when a voter votes to use government power they are voting to use force regardless if the vote is actually listened to or not.

      • JoeNo Gravatar says:

        That sounds like trying to read the mind of the voter. How can you accuse someone of “voting for ‘goodies’” if you can’t know what is going on in his/her mind? What “goodies” was someone voting for if they voted for say, Harry Browne or Michael Badnarik? Maybe if they had been elected (by some miracle!), they wouldn’t have been able to go through with what they promised, or even a tenth of that, but I can’t see how anyone can extrapolate that those voting for them wanted any “goodies”.

        • cb750No Gravatar says:

          As John Stewart Mill once said, there can be no other purpose of a reasoning being other than the pursuit of happiness. Ultimately even voting to be disruptive is always a motive of pursuit of happiness. Voting for a libertarian is still meaningless other than perhaps that libertarian would do nothing in the office. Its still the belief one can fix the system with the system. That’s akin to thinking one can fix the KKK by becoming the head of the KKK. Even if you reduced lynchings by 50% you’re still lynching.

          • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

            You hae not addressed the analogy of slaves on a plantation voting for the plantation manager who will whip them the least. Unless one enjoys being whipped would you not agree that it would be in a slave’s interest to vote for the manager who will whip them the least? If Mr. Jones will whip the slaves ecery day but Me. Smith would whip the slaves every 3 days if you were a slave on the plantation and has the opportunity to vote for either Mr. Jones or Mr. Smith to run the plantation would you vote? Yes, the lesser of 2 evils is evil but perhaps marginally better.

            $

            • HRearden wrote, “If Mr. Jones will whip the slaves ecery day but Me. Smith would whip the slaves every 3 days if you were a slave on the plantation and has the opportunity to vote for either Mr. Jones or Mr. Smith to run the plantation would you vote? Yes, the lesser of 2 evils is evil but perhaps marginally better.”

              Yes, without the ability to imagine a situation in which you are not whipped at all, it may be impossible to understand not voting for (refusing to consent to) the lesser whipping.

              Statists cannot envisage an absence of State, so they attempt to work within the State, to reform the State, not to abolish the State. Anarchists envision an absence of State and therefore attempt to work outside the State to abolish the State. Rather than fewer whippings, or kinder, gentler whippings, we work toward no whippings at all.

              • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

                Mark, very nicely put. The difference in a priori assumptions between statists and anarchists is probably an unbridgable divide. The state brainwashes kids in school, with the media, and even through their parents being controlled by the state. Is it any wonder that kids grow into adults that have no concept of what freedom actually entails?

                • Fritz, I think you’re right in saying that, “The difference in a priori assumptions between statists and anarchists is probably an unbridgable divide.”

                  I had a friend I argued with for years. She is a good person, has an organic garden, keeps goats and chickens, but she’s a Green Party voter. She believes the State is necessary, and so I spent a lot of time refuting her arguments. Finally she asked, “Without the State, how would I feed my chickens?”

                  I asked which came first, the State of the chickens? I asked if she thought that whoever sells her chicken feed would let it rot if the State wasn’t issuing money, rather than trade it to her for whatever she had of equal value to trade. I asked if the chickens would stop laying eggs if nobody was paying tax on the chicken feed. All to no avail. So I gave up, and she’s a former friend.

                  But I did send her some of the literature about how people got along without the State in Spain and other places, although she may never read it. We humans have a lot of inertia. Just because everything else may change, doesn’t mean that we change. So people tend to go right on doing whatever they’re doing, even if they no longer have a boss, a license, or any higher authority forcing them to do it. They just find that they’re more productive and happier without the State than with it.

                  My former friend believes that if there was no State, she couldn’t feed her chickens. But I know that she wouldn’t wake up one day and say, “OMG–there’s no President or Congress! I’d better not feed my chickens today!”

                  Once there is critical mass, the pedagogy changes, so that kids don’t grow up brainwashed. Just because some people can’t change doesn’t mean that their kids won’t.

      • Suverans2No Gravatar says:

        “Secession means the right to stay put, on one’s own property, and either to shift alliance to another political entity, or to set up shop as a sovereign on one’s own account.” ~ Walter Block

  12. dLNo Gravatar says:

    I wrote a post last year that addressed this issue. In part, it addressed the Walter Block attacks against Wendy.

    http://rulingclass.wordpress.com/2011/12/16/ron-paul-and-the-mora lity-of-voting/

    A summary( keeping in mind that I am a liberal and approach this from a liberal philosophic perspective):

    (1) The Morality of Voting: From an anarchist perspective(in the context of liberalism), there is neither a moral obligation to vote nor one not to vote. Since liberalism does not place consent/social contract in the legislature, a vote does not signify “consent.” Correspondingly, a refusal to vote does not signify “no consent.”

    Anarchists who claim that the act of voting confers consent are more or less affirming the progressive staple that legislative acts are “social contracts.” How many times have you read/heard a progressive refer to “pieces of legislation” as “social contact, as, in, say, “Social Security” is a social contract? In this sense, I would avoid conferring consent to an act of voting.

    I also attacked Block’s absurd contention that voting for Ron Paul constituted a moral obligation and that anyone who refused forfeited their “libertarian identity.”

    (2) The Rationality of Voting

    A second part addressed the Tom woods argument. Woods would not claim a moral obligation to vote for Ron Paul. However, he did make a “rationality” case for voting for Paul. I debunked this claim with an appeal to Public choice Theory.

    Note I have a very classical libertarian view regarding democracy and liberalism. Democracy is not a means for social justice ends. Instead, it is the primary means to enforce some degree of accountability in the political class. So i do not at all subscribe to the conservative contention(which more or less dominates libertarian thinking today) that “big government” is rooted in democracy and/or the stupidity of voters.

    it is only perhaps rational to vote in the obvious case of “correcting” egregious violations by the current political class. And we have actually seen these corrective attempts by voting in recent elections. But it simply does not matter. In the American context, the State is simply a Firm, meaning it is its own independent agency. This would follow along the lines of the de Jasay “total state model.” Political corrective action in this context is simply hopeless. It is not a means to impose any degree of accountability.

    • AuNeroNo Gravatar says:

      Rothbard argued that if you hate the state, you should accept gradual steps.

      Why do you complain that Ron Paul is for states rights, when you know that diminishing federal power is a step in the right direction?

      “[L]et us analyze the now famous ‘abolitionism’ vs. ‘gradualism’ debate…. There is not a single abolitionist who would not grab a feasible method, or a gradual gain, if it came his way. The difference is that the abolitionist always holds high the banner of his ultimate goal, never hides his basic principles, and wishes to get to his goal as fast as humanly possible. Hence, while the abolitionist will accept a gradual step in the right direction if that is all that he can achieve, he always accepts it grudgingly, as merely a first step toward a goal which he always keeps blazingly clear. The abolitionist is a ‘button pusher’ who would blister his thumb pushing a button that would abolish the State immediately, if such a button existed. But the abolitionist also knows that alas, such a button does not exist, and that he will take a bit of the loaf if necessary – while always preferring the whole loaf if he can achieve it.”

      http://www.lewrockwell.com/rothbard/rothbard75.html

      • StormNo Gravatar says:

        Setting aside why the approach itself is necessarily fatally flawed, let’s examine RP’s supposed reduction in government. In one of his mailings from this last winter, he preached that the way to control reproductive rights, to the point of removing any hint of anything that could be called reproductive rights, “we” needed to move the fight to the states where we could outlaw abortion and control behavior completely.

        Not exactly a move in the right direction.

        Now back to the theory. NEVER has gradualism even shown any hope of working. Then too how could it?

        When you put up an appeal to authority against the law of non-contradiction, I am going to side with reason, in this instance the law of non-contradiction every single time as will truth. Rothbard was undeniably a great thinker, but that does not mean that where his claims go against reality that we ought to deny reality.

        No matter how long you support the state, no matter how much you grow it, no matter how much you preach liberty rhetoric while advocating slavery of some form, liberty will not be the result. The state is the denial of liberty and while you support it you oppose liberty.

        Look to the private slavery issue in the US. Was it Lincoln’s generous and compassionate nature that led to the end of private slavery? Of course not. Lincoln was a rabid racist who did not care one whit about the plight of anyone who did not help his power grab. What made a difference were the efforts of the Quakers (primarily) and other abolitionists who refused to support the state. They changed public opinion to such a degree that the rabid racist president took up the rhetoric to fuel his lust for war.

        I’ve pointed this out before, but when you are in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging. You don’t say “well we will dig slower” or “we will take smaller shovelfulls” or “well we will use a different spade.” Those all may be gradualist answers, but they are not solutions.

        Stop digging first. Then start building the means to get out of the hole.

        Ron Paul is not a solution any more than Romney is. No politician can grant us freedom, nor would any ever even try. We have to take back our liberty. We have to respect ourselves again and stop begging for scraps from the political table.

        The change may not be sudden, so if that makes the gradualists feel better then great. Why not gradually work for liberty instead of gradually sink into the hole?

  13. Just FYI…I am heading out to Freedom Fest today and I will not check into the Daily Anarchist until Monday. Have a great time chatting everyone!

  14. Martin BrockNo Gravatar says:

    Though I registered and voted for Ron Paul in the primary this year, I agree with Wendy. I supported Paul more vigorously in ’08, in terms of direct action like speaking and signing and leafleting, but I didn’t vote. I had more free time then.

    Yes, voting was a waste of time, and participating in the process has increased my junk mail from Republican operatives, including mailings from the Romney campaign that go straight into the trash. I’m still thinking of supporting Gary Johnson somehow, but I haven’t taken any concrete action, and I’m not sure I will. His pledge to roll back the state, as much as a chief executive can, is as credible as Paul’s.

    On the other hand, I don’t follow baseball or other sports. My political participation is a mostly inconsequential, recreational pastime, and I don’t take it more seriously. Every word written here and in similar forums seems more consequential. Driving around with other Paulis and posting signs in the dark of night was fun if nothing else, and speaking to people at the county fair was also a consciousness raising exercise. It served a purpose beyond persuading people to vote for Paul, which is a good thing since it didn’t persuade many people.

    This voting cycle feels like my last, but I’ve taken the non-voting pledge before and fallen off the wagon, so …

    Ultimately, secession from states is the only hope for anything approaching a voluntary society. Entrepreneurship and relationship building among anarchists is a more fruitful use of my time, and I should finish my mutual credit web site and similar endeavors with all the time I spend reading and writing about the politics.

    But outside of the free state project, libertarians seem to spend most of their time flapping their lips, and flicking their fingertips, about the ills of politics. Even if we aren’t atheists praying, we’re atheists doing little else. Voting can’t build the relationships we seek, but not voting doesn’t build them either.

  15. LysanderNo Gravatar says:

    As a moral argument, it appears to be valid. As a tactic, it would be a more effective, if there were something like a quorum in electoral politics. As it is, the fewer people who vote, the more power is concentrated in those people, which appears to make nonvoting a self-limiting tactic.

  16. Suverans2No Gravatar says:

    An anarchist who is a citizen of a STATE is like an atheist who is a member of a CHURCH.

  17. I’ve been urging people not to vote for many years. I’ve listed some of the most common reasons for voting and refuted them here:

    http://fubarandgrill.org/node/1172

    Excellent essay, Wendy.

    There’s always some excuse for voting. The fact that the US government is killing innocent kids with drone bombs, and no matter who is elected, will continue to kill innocent kids with drone bombs, is acceptable to voters if they can, in return for consenting to these crimes against humanity, retain the illusory hope of gaining temporary benefits for themselves, like jobs, civil rights, reproductive rights, marriage equality, health care, getting the potholes fixed, or whatever it is they believe so precious that they’ll willingly sacrifice human lives for even the slightest possibility of gaining some selfish benefits. Voters definitely are religious people–they believe in Santa Claus.

    • Thanks Mark. Re: voters believing in Santa Claus… I have long maintained that America is not a secular nation in terms of separating religion and state. There is a very strong religious base to the state. For example, the belief in democracy is so strong that America is willing to bomb other nations into being democratic because it is “right.” I don’t know why Americans still believe they are the freest people in the world when it is so clearly untrue and so easily disproven…but that too is a religious belief upon which this secular society of ours is based. Death to Santa Claus. I’ll get my presents from my husband.

  18. Voters are also cruel and inhuman.

    If there is a good candidate, why would they want that good person to be part of a corrupt system? How does it help anything to put some good apples in a rotten barrel? At least one of those so-called good apples, Ron Paul, has been in the rotten barrel of Congress for 30 years and hasn’t accomplished a darned thing, while Congress has gotten steadily more more corrupt. Why not put such good people someplace where they could actually do some good?

    Many years ago I took a civics class where the teacher put all the names of candidates for an upcoming election on the blackboard and asked who we were voting for. He added up the totals, asked who hadn’t voted, and I raised my hand. I was firmly against voting. But some years later I relented, registered, and went to vote for JFK. To my horror, the voting was done on punch cards, and the device we had to use to punch the holes was shaped just like a bullet. When JFK was assassinated, I felt like I’d shot him myself.

    If there’s something or somebody you care about, keep it or them out of government–it’s the compassionate thing to do.

    • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

      We had a proplem with those hanging chads here in FL. After the 2000 race they stopped using the punch card system in FL.

      http://youtu.be/NGfEtlRa3oM

    • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

      Dr. Paul is one man. A hundred Ron Pauls would be a 100 times better.

      http://youtu.be/QHGRxa6QaI0

      ” We believe in what we’re doing.”

      – D.B. Norton

      • StormNo Gravatar says:

        100 RPS Would be better exactly how and why 100 Hitlers would be better.

        Any and all reasonable persons would prefer 100 liberty loving people to a single statist like RP or Hitler.

        • HReardenNo Gravatar says:

          Really? You are comparing Dr. Paul to Hitler? How absurd. Clearly I don’t think I can have a reasonble conversation with you. You apparently are not aware that Dr. Paul is why many people are in the liberty movement. I can not take someone who compares Dr. Paul to Hitler seriously and I will not waste my time trying to convine someone like that they are wrong.

          $

          • StormNo Gravatar says:

            I won’t speak as to your choice about having a reasonable conversation or not.

            As for comparing politician A with Politician B on their inherent natures as politicians.. well I’d suggest that the fact that they like different types of ice cream or wear different uniforms is irrelevant.

            Both want to seize control over the lives of innocent people.
            Both believe that the games that they are playing somehow legitimize their actions in stealing from and otherwise harming innocents.
            Both believe that there is some magic status that they have which makes them infinitely more morally worthwhile than any of the persons that they claim ownership over .

            So the choice to adopt reason or to remain devout in your faith in the state, and tangentially RP, is yours alone.

  19. Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

    It is a breath of fresh air to see Wendy’s article and so many folks who basically agree that voting is ridiculous and actually promoting our enemy the state rather than the social contract arguement that you can’t complain if you do not vote. I have never voted in any government sponsored election. At age 60, I doubt I ever will.
    I have often wondered why anyone who understands statistics at all would waste time voting in anything bigger than a town hall election even if you are statist in your philosophy?! Just like playing the lottery, many people vote not seeming to recognize the mathmatical futility of it all. It does remind me of Heinlein’s comment that people who can’t comprehend math are not quite human. Unfortunately it seems that that means most homo sapiens today must be less than fully human.

    • Hi Fritz: Good to see you back and posting. I just returned from Freedom Fest where I was deeply influenced by a presentation by Jacob Huebert on how the free market provides morality. I think I will be blogging on my home page about his speech tomorrow or the next day.

      Yes, yes, yes…people are beginning to understand that the Emperor Has No Clothes, that there is no legitimacy to political office, and that trying to reform the system from within is a flush-toilet waste of time given that the system is inherently, irredeemably corrupt. Better to spend two hours playing with your children, weeding your garden, making love to your spouse than the two hours it may well take to drive to a polling station and stand in line for the privilege of voting for who will fleece you next. Down with the state! Up with society!

  20. Paul BonneauNo Gravatar says:

    This is one question I have real trouble with, and am still not sure what side I come down on.

    One thing though, I wish people would ease up on straw men. I see no arguments here for voting for run-of-the-mill politicians. This is not a discussion over the “choice” between Romney and Obama. The only dispute is over voting defensively.

    If you’ve admitted that voting against a tax hike is permissible, then you’ve admitted that voting for certain politicians is permissible. For example, say an anarchist runs for county sheriff. He promises never to do anything when in office. He is known as a man of his word. He writes up a contract for anyone who asks, allowing that person to sue him for damages if he ever acts as sheriff or arrests anyone. And just assume his opponent is Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Really, is the “legitimizing” argument so strong that this anarchist should not be voted for?

    The thing I worry about is that this position appears to cut off one of the most viable routes to liberty: the election of figureheads. A town full of anarchists may exist in a statist state if only the figureheads are there. Imagine Hardyville, or one of L. Neil Smith’s scenarios (where a gorilla was president).

    I am not talking about putting someone in power over others, or “hiring a hit man”; I am talking about preventing that from happening by voting for the figurehead.

    I know human beings prefer hard and fast rules like “don’t vote” at least in part because it frees them from having to exercise judgement. However, human interactions are not a matter of mathematics, of ones and zeros. The question of “legitimizing the state” – is that an absolute, or just one of several factors bearing on voting? It reminds me a bit of the arguments by some feminists that firearms should not be utilized because they are the “tools of the master.”

    I still don’t know where I come down on this, but thanks Wendy for bringing the subject up. It really needs discussion.

    • Hello Paul: Voting on a referendum issue — e.g. a vote against a tax hike — is not at all the same as voting on a position of political office. Saying “no” to power is never the same as saying “yes” and any vote for a political candidate is a “yes” vote for the office itself. A referendum vote can well eliminate an issue from the political horizon but an electoral vote does not eliminate the political office — rather, it fortifies the office by legitimizing it. It is like playing poker; you agree to the casino rules when you buy chips and accept the card deal.

      The parallel also breaks down in that an office of political power is like a gun to the temple of unconsenting people. A “no” vote on a referendum does not put a gun to anyone’s head. The position of Senator (or whatever) does. You can postulate a Senator who never does anything but vote “no” on all and everything and, so, try to draw a parallel but this is theory and not even a parallel at all.

      Re: not a parallel…The reality is that the office is legitimized force. I am not against any particular man in office but against the office itself. It is like giving someone the power to rape me with legal immunity. The man may vow to never rape me but I protest his ability to do so at will and consider its very existence to be a threat of force. Moreover, I do not sanction your perogative to give someone the ‘right’ and power to be my rapist on the premise that he promises NOT to do so.

      Re: theory. Why should I sanction you placing someone in position to rape me just because the potential rapist says his intentions are good? Someone with good intentions would eliminate the role of rapist altogether, he would not assume it, complete with tax-paid salary. And why should you believe anyone who aspires to be empowered as a rapist? Even if you do believe him, by what right do you put him in power over me? Just don’t do it. I do not deserve to be raped and your confidence that I will not be in NO way whatsoever justifies certifying a man’s immunity to physically violate me. And, yes, political office is just such a certification.

      Sorry Paul. I don’t accept your parallel.

      • Paul BonneauNo Gravatar says:

        Well, it seems to me the two cases are quite parallel. You maintain I am saying “yes” to the office even if I vote for a man who will not exercise it. But one could just as well say that voting against a tax implicitly agrees that one can legitimately be taxed. And a tax IS a gun to the head of other people, just as having an asshole in office is.

        Now you may say that you cannot know the mind of a man, but you can know what a referendum or initative says, so that voting for a man carries a risk that the other does not. True enough in the usual case of the typical politician, but we are not talking about such types. And keep in mind that initiatives are interpreted by men and women. Taxes are based on assessments which are decided by bureaucrats. Ballot measures may be overturned by courts. And so forth. So, it’s not so cut and dried as you imagine.

        I understand the argument about legitimizing the office; there is no need to repeat it. The question in my mind is whether that argument trumps all other considerations, no matter what, every single time. Seriously, if you knew a man who was an anarchist, you believe him to be honest because you’ve known him for years, you believe him when he says he will never exercise the office, and you know if your friend is not elected the office will still be there but with some bastard in it, you still would not vote because you worry about “legitimizing”?

        If you must bring in the analogy of rape, let’s see where it goes. The fact is that most men you meet have the power to rape you, not just some guy in office. Likewise anyone on the street can kill me. Government confers no special power that isn’t out in the world already. It only confers the ability to exercise power without risk of retribution.

        “Even if you do believe him, by what right do you put him in power over me?”

        There is no such thing as rights, other than as a meme in peoples’ minds, and an inconsistently held one at that. So this question is meaningless to me. I act in a way that removes or avoids harm to me, and secondarily to others in my “tribe”. You probably do the same. We may have disagreements as to the best recipe for doing so; that’s all right. I tend to be less doctrinaire about such things, I suppose.

        I want to see liberty, for my son if not for myself. I’m not going to eliminate a likely path to it – the election of figureheads – because of excessive worries about legitimizing. If the turnout in an election gets down to 10% or 5% then legitimizing becomes a much more important factor, but at the turnouts we have now it is not very important. If every libertarian and every anarchist stopped voting, it would make little difference.

        BTW I don’t actually vote. However I don’t rule it out altogether, in extraordinary circumstances. And so far I don’t see a reason to rule it out.

  21. Mark DavisNo Gravatar says:

    So many people have an emotional attachment to voting because it provides a placebo effect that allows the voter to believe that they are “doing something”; full of good intentions, of course.

    At best, voting is a waste of time, but soothing emotional needs seems to be more important to many whom like to fashion themselves as anarchists than remaining true to basic principles. Anybody that “does the math” and calculates how meaningless any vote is in the outcome of any election would realize that their participation in this quasi-religious ritual is completely self-serving. Delving into collectivist mumbo-jumbo is a dead give-away.

  22. Tom JNo Gravatar says:

    Unless it’s a case where a voting pool is very small, campaigning for a candidate for office, campaigning for a referendum, and being seen at the voting station, promotes the democracy delusion (and “opiate of the masses”) that the state needs most people to have, that ones solitary vote will effect or possibly affect public policy; when in fact it will not, because as others have pointed out, the math simply isn’t there. The state needs the public to have the delusion and belief that they, the individual, matter to the state- that they’re important to the state – when in fact they don’t and aren’t; and political campaigns (with the exception of those involving a very small voting pool) promote this delusion and belief.

  23. LysanderNo Gravatar says:

    I have been pondering the reply offered by Jacob S and more carefully reading what Wendy has written. I have come to agree with Jacob S, and have found what I believe to be errors in what Wendy has asserted.

    Here are some assertions that I believe to be unwarranted:

    1. ” … the anarchist who votes is legitimizing a political process …” A vote is just a vote. It does not, in and of itself, legitimize anything. Voting does not imply _legitimization of the state_ any more than the defensive use of force implies the legitimization of the initiation of force.

    2. “A moral objection: …It is morally wrong to assist anyone into an unjust position of power …” Would it be morally wrong to assist one in the purchase of a gun? Things are not simply either just or unjust. There are degrees of injustice. The power of office can be used to reduce the power of office. Is it inherently unjust to do so? It seems that people learn about individual liberty in increments. One can learn from having some individual liberty in one sphere that increasing individual liberty in another sphere is likely to produce desirable consequences. We would like to believe that people learn from only a tiny amount of individual liberty that individual liberty is generally moral and desirable. Unfortunately, the world around us suggests that few people have such powers of generalization. Let us help them, and thus ourselves.

    3. “A psychological objection: … I answer that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it. …” A vote is just a vote. It merely states the voter’s opinion of who is less objectionable. Such a statement no more associates the anarchist with the state than writing a blog about voting associates an anarchist with the state. Both assert one’s worthiness of justice, an important component of self-esteem.

    4. “A logical objection: It is not possible to know what a politician will do once massive power is his to wield.” True. One estimates probabilities. You do not _know_ that Ron Paul would wield power in a manner that is less unjust then Barack Obama. Is this the full extent of you powers of discrimination?

    Finally, I agree with the practical objection: At least, for me, the perceived costs of voting, outweigh the perceived benefits.

    An anarchist who votes, it seems to me, is neither immoral nor logically inconsistent; an anarchist who refuses to vote is essentially an electoral pacifist. While this may be seen as a position of conscience, it appears to me to be counterproductive to castigate anarchists who choose not to be electoral pacifists.

    • StormNo Gravatar says:

      Lysander there are some fundamental logical problems with your claims, not the least of which is the denial of the identity relation. You say that a vote is just a vote and not any sort of legitimizing of the system itself. But a vote is actually the statement that you believe and support the system, because you choose to participate, and furthermore you are putting your explicit support behind the effort to have slaver X in charge of that system. “I support slaver X to control the system which claims ownership over all persons in a given geographic region” is perhaps the best example of legitimizing a system that could possibly exist.

      So yes a vote is a vote, which makes your claim that it is something other than what it is clearly false.

      Since there is no hint of anything defensive about voting, your disanalogy does not apply.

      “Would it be morally wrong to assist one in the purchase of a gun? Things are not simply either just or unjust.”

      Really? As an ethicist, and logician, I would be VERY interested in your proof of this claim. Theft is unjust. Murder is unjust. Rape is unjust. Torture is unjust. I could go on and on with counter-examples when logically only one is necessary. Clearly there are actions which are simply unjust. Trying to make the unjust appear just by claiming subjectivity or relativism (not sure which way you are going on this since you did not support your claim) again denies the inherent nature of the act in question, thus again denying the identity relation.

      Your third point relies upon the grossly erroneous first assumption that X !=X which is clearly false. Yes actively PARTICIPATING and supporting the system is radically different in kind to opposing the system.

      As for the last, well first you did not address the logical issue. Secondly We know beyond any doubt that RP would still condone theft and slavery, as he has done for 30 years. Ignore his rhetoric (well except where he is honest and admits that he wants to prevent birth control and reproductive rights) and watch his actions. He has grown wealthy from his taking of stolen property and he has made a life out of being a slaver. Unless you have some evidence that he would magically change 180 degrees, I am inclined to believe that he would do the same in one office as the other.

      You say that you do not see the moral or logical contradition, so allow me to make it more clear. An anarchist says first “I oppose the existence of rulers over individuals.” The voter says explicitly: “I approve of and support this particular system which claims ownership over all individuals in a geographic region, AND I want this particular slaver to be that ruler.”

      Is the contradiction clear enough now?

      The last line is at the most generous reading an ad hominem. Refusing to initiate harm against innocents and refusing to support the state, does not imply or even hint at the idea that you do not oppose the state or defend others against it.

      • LysanderNo Gravatar says:

        You say “But a vote is actually the statement that you believe and support the system, …” No, it is not. I have voted and I do not believe and support the system. In general, if a person says A and you interpret it to mean B, that is not conclusive evidence that the person stated B.

        You say “Since there is no hint of anything defensive about voting, your disanalogy does not apply.” Voting can be a defensive act. Please carefully read the quote provided by Jacob S. above.

        You quote me and reply: “Really? As an ethicist, and logician, I would be VERY interested in your proof of this claim. Theft is unjust. … ”

        I believe that I may have been unclear. When I referred to degrees, I was referring to the difference between an elected official who would continue the degree of unjust actions unchanged vs. one who would reduce the level of unjust actions (say by 50%). To save words, I again refer you to the quote provided by Jacob S. that explains voting for the latter as a defensive act.

        Referring to my claim that one can distinguish between Ron Paul as a President and Obama as a President, you say of Ron Paul “Unless you have some evidence that he would magically change 180 degrees, I am inclined to believe that he would do the same in one office as the other.” Your comment however does not address the claim that Ron Paul would likely be less unjust as a President than Obama.

        You repeat “The voter says explicitly: “I approve of and support this particular system which claims ownership over all individuals in a geographic region, AND I want this particular slaver to be that ruler.” Again, voting does not imply approval of the system. When you say a voter, by voting, says explicitly(!) that “I approve of and support this particular system …” it is more a case of you “hearing” what you want to hear than listening to what actually is, and is not, being said.

        • StormNo Gravatar says:

          Lysander, to your first statement, what do you think a vote is?? The refutation offered was not based on your feelings about the act of voting but on the inherent nature of voting. If I adopted your reasoning here that voting does not have the inherent traits of voting, then I too could claim that in explicitly joining the KKK I am not joining the KKK and I support racial tolerance.

          A vote is an explicit statement of support for the state and a particular candidate. Without this inherent trait, there is no electoral vote.

          I’ve read the attempts to make the claim that voting for government and for a candidate is “defensive” but so far none have made even a prima fascia case for that position. All rely upon features not found in electoral politics.

          I fail to see how this “degrees of evil” applies to either your original position or to the refutations.

          I do not accept the article of faith that RP would be any less unjust. I cited clear reasons why, which you claim do not address it. What would be the reason to believe in this 180 degree turn around?

          I get that you like the rhetoric of RP, but what I believe you are missing is that he is merely a different flavor of injustice and we ought to be opposing injustice instead of supporting and advancing it. It seems clear that you must first be conceding that government is unjust, including voting for government, before you can even start your degrees of evil argument.

          As for taking your claims as they were offered, this is not a case of hearing what I want to hear, it is simply acting on the assumption that you meant what you typed.

          Since you deny that a vote is a vote, that it has its inherent traits, I ask, what do you think voting IS without the affirmation of the desire in question??

          • Jacob SNo Gravatar says:

            @lysander & @storm

            If 99% of persons voted on a proposition, to kill the vote-abstaining 1%, would the votes of the 99% imply the legitimization of political-system that carried out the act of murder? If it would not, then by what rationale/principle, does the vote of any particular individual, legitimate the violation of another individual’s rights? If the vote of any particular individual, does not legitimate the acts carried out by a political-body, then how is any individual’s vote of moral consequence?

            What if a person were to vote for a “write-in” candidate by the name of, “I-do-not-consent-to-your-ruling-domination-over-me Abolish-all-government” (I think it’s a foreign name (-; ), does the person voting for this particular “write-in” candidate legitimate the political-system?

            If persons claiming to be agents of a political-body, use the votes cast in an election as their illegitimate excuse for subjugating others, could those persons claiming to be agents of a political-body, not also use the abstention of voting as a rationalization that those abstaining must be apathetic at best to the current political-system? Why would the illegitimate/irrational rationalization of persons claiming to act as agents of a political-body have any import upon the actions of free-individuals? Why must Lysander, act in a particular way, in order to deny to those persons claiming to act as agents of a political-body, one less “vote” to sustain their illegitimate/irrational rationalization/propaganda? If only 5% of the population voted, with 94% abstained due to apathy and only 1% abstaining as conscientious objectors to an illegitimate system, have we any doubt that those persons claiming to act as agents of a political-body, would continue their domination? Is it the the wide-spread abstention from voting that is seen as bringing about positive change, or is the wide-spread noncompliance to all political-domination that will deny to the those who wish to extend dominion upon non-consenting individuals, an obsequious and complicit population?

            • And individual’s vote is of moral consequence with regard to that individual. Their vote is that individual’s knowing and voluntary consent of the governed to be governed by the government holding the election.

              Writing in “Fuckyouandtheelectionyourodeinon” not only counts as part of the turnout, i.e., the demonstration by the government holding the election that it has the consent of whatever percentage of the population has enough faith in it to trust its electoral system, but since more than 92% of US ballots are “counted” by easily hacked central tabulators, if they’re counted at all, that vote might be counted as a vote for one of the major party candidates, and the voter would have no way of knowing it.

              An illegitimate government can continue its oppression even if nobody votes for it, but it can no longer claim the consent of the governed. Abstention from voting is part of noncompliance to political domination.

          • LysanderNo Gravatar says:

            Thank you for replying. I am sorry that I am so late in responding; I have been away, and since returning, I have been quite busy with other things.

            I think our disagreement is largely due to the language we are using. If this were mathematics, we would not be having this discussion. Regarding what I mean by voting, let us simply use a standard definition:

            “A formal expression of preference for a candidate for office or for a proposed resolution of an issue.” (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/vote)

            The claim under discussion: A property of voting is that it legitimizes the state.

            If voting itself has this property, then it does not depend on who is doing the voting. Voting can be shown to have this property either by definition (in this case, the definition of voting) or by following from the definition, the definition of other previously defined terms, established facts, and valid inferences. For example, we may define a prime number to be a natural number greater than 1 that has no positive divisors other than 1 and itself. One may conclude directly from the definition that 2 is a prime number. The claim that the set of prime numbers is infinite does not follow directly from the definition, but does follow from definitions, established facts, and valid rules of inference.

            I believe that the claimed property of voting is not true by definition (of voting given above). But, one might argue that the property follows logically from previous definitions, established facts, and valid rules of inference.

            Let us look at some customarily definitions:

            Legitimize: “to make legitimate; legalize” (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/legitimize)

            Legitimate:
            1. Being in compliance with the law;
            2. Being in accordance with established or accepted patterns and standards;
            3. Based on logical reasoning;
            4. Authentic;

            Anarchism:
            1. The theory or doctrine that all forms of government are oppressive and undesirable and should be abolished.
            2. Rejection of all forms of coercive control and authority

            I believe that anarchists believe that the state has no legitimacy. (We may disagree on this.)

            Here is an argument that “legitimizing the state” is not a property of voting.

            If the state is not legitimate, no action makes it legitimate.
            Voting is an act.
            Thus, if the state is not legitimate, voting does not make it legitimate.
            To the anarchist, the state is not legitimate.
            Thus, to the anarchist, voting does not make the state legitimate.

            While this may not settle the matter, I hope it serves to clarity the nature of our disagreement.

            • Seth KingNo Gravatar says:

              When people say “legitimize” what they mean is “perceived legitimacy.”

              • LysanderNo Gravatar says:

                Seth, I agree that a state worshipper may perceive that a vote cast by an anarchist legitimizes the state. I hope we can agree that we are not responsible for the perception of a state worshipper.

            • Mark DavisNo Gravatar says:

              So, if an anarchist believes that the state is not legitimate by definition, then he/she does not participate in voluntary state rituals including elections on principle. What would be the point of participating in an illegitimate exercise? Thus true anarchists don’t vote. I think that was the point of this article.

              • LysanderNo Gravatar says:

                Hi Mark. You have observed “So, if an anarchist believes that the state is not legitimate by definition, then he/she does not participate in voluntary state rituals including elections on principle.” Yes, an anarchist may choose not to vote. I choose not to vote. However, I have argued informally above, using customary definitions of anarchism and voting, that the implication “If an anarchist votes in a state election, the anarchist legitimizes the state (or its election).” is false.

                Regarding possible reasons for voting, please see the quotes, provided above by Jacob S,. of Lysander Spooner and Murray Rothbard as two examples, possibly among others.

                • Hi Lysander. With regard to the Spooner quote, let me intersperse as to why it is not applicable to US elections:

                  “…He sees further, that, if he will but use the ballot himself, he has some chance of relieving himself from this tyranny of others, by subjecting them to his own.”

                  That might be true in a system where people were allowed to vote on issues and the votes were actually counted. Neither is true in the US. There are claims that the votes are actually counted in 7% of voting districts, but that cannot sway a national election, and as people have learned when they voted to legalize medical marijuana, federal law doesn’t recognize state law.

                  “In short, he finds himself, without his consent, so situated that, if he uses the ballot, he may become a master, if he does not use it, he must become a slave.”

                  Where the votes are not counted, and in any event are merely votes for which master a person prefers, one cannot free oneself from slavery, no less become a master (who would want to be a slavemaster?) by voting.

                  “His case is analogous to that of a man who has been forced into battle, where he must either kill others, or be killed himself. Because, to save his own life in battle, a man attempts to take the lives of his opponents, it is not to be inferred that the battle is one of his own choosing. Neither in contests with the ballot – which is a mere substitute for a bullet – because, as his only chance of self-preservation, a man uses a ballot, is it to be inferred that the contest is one into which he voluntarily entered; that he voluntarily set up all his own natural rights, as a stake against those of others, to be lost or won by the mere power of numbers….”

                  If one’s own life were at stake and voting was a potential means of self-defense, that would be a valid argument. But in the case of US elections it is simply a choice between which puppets one would prefer to order the drone strikes, the wars of aggression, and the kill lists. Of course one can vote for somebody with no chance of winning, or cast a blank or spoiled ballot, but that counts as turnout, the consent of the governed, the numbers the government can use to prove that it has the consent of about half of the governed to continue its crimes against humanity.

                  “Doubtless the most miserable of men, under the most oppressive government in the world, if allowed the ballot would use it, if they could see any chance of meliorating their condition. But it would not, therefore, be a legitimate inference that the government itself, that crushes them, was one which they had voluntarily set up, or even consented to.”

                  Ah, but it is. Look at Egypt. They were ruled by a military junta, fronted by a dictator. When they forced the dictator to step down, the US designated the ruling military junta he’d fronted for as a “transition government” and “suggested” (when they’re dependent upon military aid from the US, it is more than a mere “suggestion”) that they hold elections. I warned the few I was in contact with that if they voted, they would be legitimizing the rule of the military junta, as once it had held an election, it could claim the consent of the governed. It would still be stronger than any elected civilians, so it would remain in power, but with the appearance of being under civilian rule, as is the case in the US where our government bureaucracy can only obey and fund the ruling military-industrial complex. Some did try to organize an election boycott, but it failed because too many believed that elections could bring about change. They elected a Parliament, but just prior to their Presidential elections, the military junta dissolved it. That led many more to see the truth of what I’d warned about. But there was still enough voter turnout to elect a President, and should the President challenge the military junta, the US will simply threaten to cut the billion plus dollars a year it sends the military unless the military gets rid of the President. Should the President obey the military, as our Presidents have all done since JFK, it will appear as if it was the President, not the military, making the decisions, but that won’t be the case.

                  As for Rothbard’s suggestion that it is not evil to reform slavery by voting for less evil slavemasters instead of fighting to abolish slavery, I hold that it is indeed evil. As long as slavery exists, some slaves may get the less cruel master, but others will get the crueler one. Lesser evilism is like the good cop/bad cop scenario. Yes, it is true that the good cop doesn’t brutalize you, but they are partners, both on the same team, both with the same goals, and cooperating with the good cop isn’t really a good idea. In reality, they are not at all akin to the nonviolent vs. diversity of tactics protesters, as the cop team utilizes both techniques, believing that sometimes, with different people, one technique might be more efficient than the other, and there are cases when real cops switch roles, if both happen to be proficient at both techniques. Some slavemasters believe that they get more work out of their slaves through kindness, while others believe that they get more work out of their slaves through violence. It isn’t the technique used to exploit the slaves that is the problem, it is the system of slavery.

                  If you don’t believe that voting can bring about change, there is no reason whatsoever to waste time and energy voting. If you do believe that voting can bring about change, you’re a statist, not an anarchist at all. You might believe in less government, better government, or a government with you and your friends in power, but you are not against the state, you simply want to influence, reform, or be the state.

                • Mark DavisNo Gravatar says:

                  So Lysander, do higher voter participation rates indicate more or less popular support for the state than lower voter participation rates? Isn’t popular support a credible indicator for determining the legitimacy of a system that chooses its “leaders” based on a popularity contest?

  24. macsnafuNo Gravatar says:

    I should think that a more fundamental concern is not whether or not you vote, but to realize that the electoral process and its results are in themselves an aggression against individuals. The results are going to be forced on people whether you vote or not. Whatever the majority votes for will become the reality regardless of minority and non-voters’ wishes.

    Furthermore, who decides who or what is allowed on the ballot for voting? That is a much more dangerous power than any actual vote could be.

  25. Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

    Thank you Wendy for your comment.
    Many years ago when my dad was attending Ohio State he proposed the concept of yes/no voting in an assignment for a political science class. The idea was that you could vote no for every candidate and that the position would remain vacant if no candidate recieved a majority of available votes. The professor put down Dad’s ideas but then used them as his own in a symposium where the professor recieved accolades for his innovative ideas. The professor was booed by his students for this theft of Dad’s idea, but nothing else came of it of course.
    I do not promote Dad’s idea because I do not believe one should back up statism by voting, and I do not think it would make a practical difference anyway for most people are so steeped in collectivist thought that the idea of individualism is alien to them. But it does represent an effort to try to get from where we are towards a free society. I guess I just am too cynical for I can’t see any way that an anarchistic society can evolve from where we are. I do not know anyone personally who has any leanings towards anarchism. I can’t even influence my own kids. I have tried to “drop out” of society as much as I reasonably could by living off the grid in the backwoods. It is much nicer there than being stuck in town with people all around you, but I see continual encroachment of collectivist types even way out in the boonies. I wish I could have your optimism, but for the life of me I can’t see any realistic hope for freedom lovers today. Do you like Claire Wolfe’s writing? I think The People vs. The State is brilliant except for its conclusion that we do not live in a police state. So long as the cops have rights we do not we do live in a police state.
    I have an interesting book I got from Loompanaics many years ago called The Policeman is your Friend and Other Lies. Have you ever read it? I liked the author’s straight forwardness. he said that nothing changes without violence or the threat of it. I wish he were wrong.

    • Paul BonneauNo Gravatar says:

      “The idea was that you could vote no for every candidate and that the position would remain vacant if no candidate recieved a majority of available votes.”

      FYI, the state of Oregon has something like this for tax measures; any tax measure must not only win a majority of votes cast, but also a majority of registered voters must have cast (casted?) a vote. Many tax measures were defeated even though they received a majority of votes because a majority of voters did not vote either yea or nay on it. That law was passed by initiative after the teacher’s union abused the system by putting tax measures on the ballot for minor election days, and getting all teachers out to vote for it.

      I actually do buy the legitimizing argument. A vote is not just a vote; it is an action within the system that cannot avoid supporting the system. I just don’t think it should be the only consideration out there.

    • Hello Fritz: I am sorry to take so long to respond but the ‘older’ an article gets, the less frequently I tend to check in. The author of “The Policeman is your Friend and Other Lies” may be correct that violence of the threat of it is the most common vehicle for change but many, many causes have used non-violent resistance and civil disobedience to very good advantage; Gandhi’s several campaigns for example. I also trust the results of non-violence far more than the results of a bloody upheaval.

      BTW, you might be interested in a 3-volume work by Gene Sharp entitled “The Politics of Nonviolent Action”, which had a profound impact upon me and how I view social change. He has many articles online if that’s a better approach for you.

      Cheers….me

      • Wendy wrote, “…I also trust the results of non-violence far more than the results of a bloody upheaval.”

        Do you really trust India’s independence from Great Britain (gained through Gandhi’s nonviolent tactics backed by the violent tactics of other groups) more than the independence of the United States from Great Britain, which was gained through violence? I see little difference.

    • macsnafuNo Gravatar says:

      Fritz, the Libertarian Party has also long proposed the idea of every office having a None of the Above (NOTA) option on the ballots. If NOTA wins the election, then the office would be vacant for that term. I’m not sure how far back the idea goes, but it had been around for some time by 1992, when I was involved with the LP.

  26. When I was actively working on my Debbie and Carl blog, reading old issues of The Voluntaryist, I finally came up with my personal view on voting:

    “However, I’m not too concerned about convincing people of the morality of voting or not voting based on the idea of whether or not it is affecting (and thereby possibly harming) others, I’m more about non-voting as an individual act of defiance.

    Not voting is the easiest way to start withdrawing your consent and removing yourself from state control. Oh sure, your individual refusal to vote will not do anything to change how the state treats you. They won’t suddenly leave you alone because you do not consent by voting.

    But there is one major positive result when not voting is done as a conscious, principled act of defiance against the state: you begin to free your mind.

    This is where all change begins. A free mind thinks more creatively. A free mind is open to investigating and critically examining ideas which can lead to fresh alternatives. A free mind is more at peace and naturally compassionate towards others.

    So why continue to do what the master wants you to do? Free your mind. Don’t vote, and do it as a conscious, principled act of defiance to the state.”

    • As a side benefit, you also free your mailbox of a TON of junk mail. Voter guides, campaign ads, sample ballots–just think of all the trees saved! Sure, I used to recycle all that garbage, but I’m happier not getting it. ;)

      I wholly agree with your argument, Debbie. If voting is doing one’s civic duty to the state, then not voting is an act of defiance. It is the only act of defiance I know of that is totally nonviolent, risk-free, and effortless.

      It also freaks statists out more than anything else. Their beloved corporations spend billions of dollars on election campaigns, so when somebody mentions quietly that they don’t vote, statists blow a fuse. It’s hilarious to watch, but it is also definitive proof that not voting is an act of defiance.

      • slickNo Gravatar says:

        Other non-violent acts of state defiance:

        1. Video/audio record the revenue agents aka the police.
        2. Refuse to pay tribute(taxes) to the state.

  27. The ProphetNo Gravatar says:

    Take it from an Anarchist that votes for third parties its like giving to charity.

    • Yes, voting for third parties is like giving to charities. Most charities are run by religions or governments. An excellent book about how charities do the work of capitalists, governments, and the 1%, is Thy Will Be Done The Conquest of the Amazon: Nelson Rockefeller and Evangelism in the Age of Oil by Colby and Dennett.

      The US has winner-take-all elections. A third party that gets 5% of the vote, does not get 5% of the seats in Congress, the way that they would in countries with proportional representation. The winner in the US gets the entire mandate, including the mandate of those who voted for third parties, wrote in their own names, or cast other protest votes. It’s like protesting police abuse by donating to the Police Benevolent Association. You’re supporting that which you oppose.

      Worse, since US elections are easily hacked and the results are not verifiable, you have no way of knowing if your third party vote was flipped to one of the major parties. Ralph Nader got a lot of votes in a district where he had no known supporters and hadn’t campaigned, and he suspected (but couldn’t prove) that the votes had been flipped to him to take votes away from one of the major candidates and allow the other to win.

      It’s like donating to a charity when you don’t know whose interests they really serve or where the money is actually spent.

      • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

        Mark, nicely put. Though votling was controlled long before computers, it is far easier now. Years ago an ex-CIA analyst wrote a book called Why Democracy Doesn’t Work. He pointed out the obvious problems like winning a popularity contest does not show aptitude for the job, but he also pointed out that bureaurocrats actually run the country on a daily basis. I agree and it scares the hell out of me that these “gray men” as Asimov labeled them in his Foundation Series control us all through collectivist systems that are basically out of anyone’s control.

  28. Ha. Even as a staunchly non-voting anarchist, I am charmed by that analogy.

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