The Faux Slavery Analogy to Voting

July 31st, 2013   Submitted by Wendy McElroy

prohibitedI oppose electoral voting on both moral and strategic grounds.

In presenting the Voluntaryist case against electoral voting, however, I commonly encounter the slavery analogy as a counterargument in support of defensive voting. A classic formulation of it comes from Walter Block who argues, “Suppose we were slaves, and the master offered us a vote for either Overseer Baddy, who beat the crap out of us all the time, or Overseer Goody, who only beat us once in a while, and then more gently.” Block concludes that voting for Goody would be an act of self-defense and not an endorsement; voting is morally justified.

One problem I have with the slavery analogy is that I disagree with how the issue is presented. But, before exploring that disagreement, I should state the bare-bone reason why I oppose electoral voting. I consider political office to be a position of unjust power over my life and the lives of innocent third parties. I cannot in good conscience assist anyone to assume that power, especially over others. Doing so would be akin to providing bullets to a person I knew would use his gun in a robbery. It is often argued that a libertarian politician would be an exception…but it is not the man, rather it is the position of power to which I object. Besides which, a libertarian politician would still take an oath to uphold the law of the land, which is massively unjust. Either he would be lying as he took the oath or he would be lying when he claimed to be a libertarian.

My disagreement: the slave analogy focuses incorrectly on two issues. First, electoral voting is wrong only because the position being facilitated is unjust; by contrast, electing a clubhouse President is a neutral act. The focus should be on the office of politician or slave-master because that is what gives moral meaning to the vote. In other words, the key question is whether a libertarian could hold either position. If the answer is ‘no’, as I believe it is, then neither can a libertarian properly assist the politician or slave-master into an unjust position by voting for him. The office for which the vote is cast is the key moral question, and it should be the very beginning of any discussion on voting.

Indeed, the most interesting aspect of the analogy for me is that it likens the libertarian politician to a slave-master. It implicitly concedes that political office is the moral equivalent of slave owning. This makes “voting for a libertarian” into an impossibility because no libertarian could run for political office any more than he could own slaves.

The second incorrect focus: I may have a moral right to vote for a lesser evil within my own life but I have no similar right to facilitate the presence of that evil within someone else’s life. I have no right to knowingly harm innocent others in the name of self-defense. And that’s what voting does. The elected politician holds authority over everyone within a given jurisdiction, not just over me or over those who voted for him.

Other problems quickly arise with the slavery analogy. Block and others postulate situations in which the ‘voter’ confronts real physical violence depending on how he votes or if he does not vote. (Block follows up the slavery analogy with “Now posit that a mugger held us at gun point, and demanded either our watch or our wallet, and we gave him our time piece.” Again, real physical violence is in play.) Electoral voters do not confront that situation. I have never voted and I have never been punished or even threatened with violence for abstaining. If I had been, if someone held a gun to my head, then I would prudently cast a ballot.

In other words, the fact that I voted as a slave who was under threat of imminent violence says nothing about whether or not I would or should cast a voluntary ballot for which I would bear no real consequences if I tore it up.

Frankly, I find the framework of violence within the slavery analogy to be peculiar. If voting is a morally neutral act, as the analogy wishes to argue, then why even introduce the atmosphere of violence to justify it? You don’t justify the commission of other morally neutral acts, such as cheering one football team as opposed to another, by creating a framework of fear as the reason for doing so. Justifying the act of voting in the presence of violence seems to concede that there would be something wrong with the act sans such a threat.

Equally, the argument of self-defense itself seems to indicate that the politician (or the aspiring one) is committing an act of aggression against you. That’s what self-defense means. Again, this concedes that there is something fundamentally wrong with a libertarian or anyone else running for political office or else the self-defense argument would not arise. And if there is something wrong with seeking political office, then there is something wrong with facilitating the rent-seeker.

In the end, the slavery analogy also fails because it provides an unrealistically limited set of alternatives. In the analogy, the slave has no other means to ease his oppression other than by casting a vote. The slavery analogy never envisions or permits the possibility of a slave revolt on the spot or an escape attempt. The choice is always restricted to voting for Baddy or Goody, and this is simply unrealistic even in conditions of slavery.

Marginally free human beings, as North Americans still are, have a myriad of other strategies available through which to fight for their rights and freedom. I prefer non-violent resistance and the construction of parallel institutions that provide free-market alternatives to government ‘services’.

The slavery analogy is an intellectual sleight-of-hand that focuses attention incorrectly and concedes the points that it is trying to defend. It is not merely weak. It is a distraction, a derailing of productive discussion.

82 Responses to “The Faux Slavery Analogy to Voting”

  1. HReardenNo Gravatar says:

    Well you seem to have taken your position to it’s logical end. I did not vote in the 2012 general election. In elections for POTUS there are really only 538 people who actually vote. Others just select who they want the electors in their state to vote for. I doubt that I will vote in 2016 and I am rather certain that I will not vote next year.

    Voting on the Jones Plantation
    http://youtu.be/vb8Rj5xkDPk

    You Gotta Vote!
    http://youtu.be/OAJCFfVAdUg

  2. DarrenNo Gravatar says:

    Nailed it as usual Wendy!

    Let’s say it was a summary offense not to vote, you’d pay (or not :-) ) a fine for your insolence. Just out of curiosity, what would you do if they instituted this kind of mandatory voting?

    • Good morning Darren: Good question because many nations have mandatory voting laws and there is such a “get out the vote” thrust in the States that I would not be surprised if a similar law was floated in Congress. If I encountered a mandatory voting law, I would approach it in the same manner as I do any other unjust law that acts to harm others — evade it if I could. If I couldn’t evade it, then I would pay the fine.

      There are many unjust laws I obey out of self-interest but these are laws that do not harm others, that do not violate any rights but my own. For example, I drive the speed limit and pay any tickets I get for going over the limit. Neither of these actions involve harming others. Voting does.

      • DarrenNo Gravatar says:

        A Brazilian, where they have mandatory voting, once told me that many people write in the names of monkeys at the zoo to get around the law there. If mandatory voting is implemented here I’ll start the Write in Bonzo for President Campaign.

  3. Seth KingNo Gravatar says:

    Well said.

    I feel like telling my friends, family, and colleagues that I’m an anarchist would be completely negated if I then went and voted.

    I’m not a Catholic. So, why would I be concerned about who the next Pope is going to be?

    Martin Luther didn’t try to work within the Catholic Church for reform. He opted out completely and started something new and had a lot of followers, which significantly weakened the Catholic Church.

  4. AuNeroNo Gravatar says:

    Would you say that voting violates the Non-Aggression Principle?

    • Seth KingNo Gravatar says:

      It’s a good question. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it violates the NAP, but I think it’s definitely bad karma, way more so if you’re voting for more statism.

      So, when I see people who support the state get shit on by the state, I don’t stress out about it. It’s karma coming to bite them in the ass and it needs to happen in order for them to wake up.

      But that doesn’t mean I support retribution against voters or anything.

    • MAMNo Gravatar says:

      Does voting violate the NAP?

      In my experience most voters don’t realize what they’re supporting when they vote. That being said if we say that voting does in fact violate the NAP. so what? What are we going to do? Does that justify killing off voters? Well if they’re aggressing against you then I guess so.

      However the reality is that hurting/killing voters is risky and a waste of time.

      However the more I think about it the more I agree with Seth. I wouldn’t consider mindlessly filling bubbles on a shit of paper an act in violation of the NAP. I would consider it stupid, masturbatory, and asinine though.

      • Hi MAM:

        It doesn’t matter if voters realize they are facilitating the violation of rights any more than it mattered that slave owners did not recognize blacks as people but thought of them as animals. It was still slavery and not animal husbandry. BTW, I think people are increasingly aware that their votes are sanctioning oppression…if only because the oppression is becoming more blatant.

        As for harming voters, I have no desire to harm anyone who is not physically attacking me. As I mentioned in the article, I favor non-violent resistance and civil disobedience over all strategies except education.

      • spiritspliceNo Gravatar says:

        Voting definitely is a violation of NAP since the voters know that violence will be used to enforce the edicts of the winner.

      • KenNo Gravatar says:

        I would agree with those who say voting does, in fact, violate the NAP. However, not every violation of the NAP deserves the death penalty. Lex talionis doesn’t say “life for an eye”.

        The perfect retaliation for someone else voting, would be to vote back… the saner approach, in my opinion, would be to use the opportunity to educate and then be on your merry way.

  5. MAMNo Gravatar says:

    Whilst I agree with the article overall I take issue with this: ” And if there is something wrong with seeking political office, then there is something wrong with facilitating the rent-seeker.”

    Maybe I misunderstood what you meant by this sentence but to my mind helping a scumbag gain political office is very different from helping someone make rent. Would you please clarify this for me?

    Thanks for your time!

    Peace be with you.

    • ShawnNo Gravatar says:

      I believe what Wendy meant was that political office is “rent-seeking” behavior; an attempt to get something for essentially nothing. This isn’t to be confused with someone who merely is wanting to borrow rent money from you.

      • Shawn: You are correct. “Rent-seeker” is an old-fashioned British term that was often used for “politician,” with “rent” meaning taxes. I am fond of the term and often use it in conversation but I should be more careful because it is wide open to misinterpretation. I think I used it in this article because I have reading a great deal of Auberon Herbert these evenings.

  6. Ben StoneNo Gravatar says:

    Great writeup Wendy! Well said!
    As to AuNero and Seth’s comments about the NAP (or Zero Aggression Principle, as I prefer to call it), I absolutely believe voting is a violation. Every vote is an individual private petition for government to act in the way you want it to act. And every act of government is paid for with stolen money. As far as that goes, the voting machine was purchased with stolen money and the electricity used to count the votes will be paid for with stolen money. So any and every government vote is an act of aggression, and a request for further acts of aggression on behalf of the voter.

    Ben Stone
    Bad Quaker Dot Com

    • Seth KingNo Gravatar says:

      Well, it’s been an ongoing debate in my own head whether or not desiring and vocalizing a desire for a criminal act to happen is a violation of the NAP. I haven’t made up my own mind yet and can understand your point of view.

      • Don DuncanNo Gravatar says:

        Voting is not a matter of simply giving your opinion in written form. It implies a moral sanction for a violent, immoral activity: ruling. Also, it implies you will give material support by being a victim. This is exactly how voters act. I would not use violence against them if they were the only victims, but they are including me against my will. They claim to be beneficiaries, not victims, and insist on “benefiting” me, even if it means my suffering and death. My death would not deter them because they justify it as an involuntary sacrifice “for the greater good”, i.e., the group. Morally, some voters act with a clear conscience, just as the tribes of antiquity did when gathering to celebrate the murder of a virgin or child to appease or bribe the gods.

        When some people treat me as if I am property of others, with no right to exist for my own sake, I have no compassion for them, as they have none for me. They might beg me not to take it personal because they include themselves as property of the collective, but I still take it personal. I did not seek this fight. They trespassed and brought it to me. I am defending myself. They are defending an illusion.

    • MAMNo Gravatar says:

      Assuming that you’re right Mr. Stone, I don’t see how it matters all that much. Sure it’s nice to have the intellectual answer to the question, but at the end of the day the issue over whether or not voting violates the NAP or ZAP is moot.

      • Ben StoneNo Gravatar says:

        MAM, two points in regards to your comments.
        1) “Assuming that you’re right Mr. Stone, I don’t see how it matters all that much. Sure it’s nice to have the intellectual answer to the question, but at the end of the day the issue over whether or not voting violates the NAP or ZAP is moot.”
        Being able to recognize aggression and willfully abandon the practice is the heart of morality, and without morality and the will to abandon aggression a person may as well embrace the religion of the State and get all they can steal any way they can during this short wink of time we call life. It’s hardly a moot point. Recognizing and rejecting aggression is the only thing that separates us from the thieves we call “government”.

        2) “…Does that justify killing off voters? …”
        No one here said anything even remotely similar to that. Your statement seems to indicate that every act of aggression should end in the death penalty. What an odd thing for someone to assume, considering you also said that whether or not voters are aggressing is a moot point.
        Aggression is done in degrees. If I walk up and flip your nose with my finger, it’s aggression. But it’s clearly not as severe as if I walk up and shoot you in the face with a gun. These are different degrees of aggression, but they are both aggression.
        Likewise theft, by way of others collecting taxes to pay for the electricity so a machine can count your vote, is still theft.
        Considering that voting is one of the main tools used by the rulers to convince the masses they have a say in government, thereby justifying government to the masses, I would say the morality of votings is one of the most critical subjects of the day.

        • MAMNo Gravatar says:

          Anything the government does is done with the implicit threat of or we kill you. When the threat is clear I care not for the degrees with which it is carried out.

  7. ShawnNo Gravatar says:

    Another great article, Wendy. But you appear to be preaching to the choir here. :)

  8. cb750No Gravatar says:

    Evil always attains power by being the lesser of two bad choices. Or as the saying goes, any compromise on slavery is always slavery.

  9. Suppose there is a referendum to simply decriminalize drug, use, possession and sale. The propose law would simply overturn all laws against these activities.

    Would it be moral to vote in favor of such a law?

    • Hello John:

      I am usually very careful to specify “electoral voting” in my critiques because the arguments I offer in the article cannot and should not be used against voting on referendums. I would still oppose casting a ballot in a referendum because I believe it legitimizes the state and the political process, which means it is negative in its impact. But this is a strategic matter. I would not argue on moral grounds against voting on a referendum because, clearly, voting to remove an unjust law does not violate any rights.

      • Wendy,

        In response to my question about referendums you conceded that an individual can vote on an issue without violating rights. So can an elected official. I could run on an anarchist platform pledging to vote against any measure that violates rights and pledging also to draft only bills which would remove violations of rights. There is no reason in principle I could not honor this pledge. I might have to lie in taking the oath of office, but so what? There is no moral obligation to tell the truth to a gang of thieves.

        • Hello John:

          “Concede” is a strange word to use as I have always maintained that voting on referendums is an entirely different dynamic than voting in an election. If you read the Daily Anarchist article carefully, you will note that I clearly and repeatedly specify “electoral politics.” The word “concede” makes it sound like I backed down from a position when nothing of the sort happened.

          As to “lying to thieves” when you swear an oath of office…no, you are lying to the public and everyone who reads or sees your oath. Your assessment of the people holding up the Bible (or whatever) is no more relevant than your opinion of people with whom you sign a contract. You either take your oath and signature seriously or you don’t. (I mean no personal offense here but it seems an obvious point.) As a witness to your oath or contract, I would believe either 1) you don’t mean it and your oath/word means nothing to you or, 2) you do mean it and you are an active threat to my liberty.

          As to becoming a politician who votes only on referendums and only to repeal or block measures…that is an entirely unrealistic view of what the office consists of. If you refused to enforce, sign or any manner facilitate an unjust law or proposal, then you would soon be out of office. Nevertheless, even if you *did* vote only on referendums for the brevity of your office, then many other questions remain. For example, would you take a tax salary and, so, be the recipient of stolen goods? The list of problems attending a “libertarian politician” scrolls on and on…

    • VanmindNo Gravatar says:

      Ignore existing codes that conflict with personal opinions about morality. Otherwise, life is but a string of obsequious failures.

      So, it’s a no. You must not vote in any referendum either. Smoke all you want, and pour shame upon those who pretend to wield authority — even all the way into a cage built just for “people like you” (i.e. obligate the violent bigots to display their bigoted violence).

      btw: “decriminalization” is a terrible thing to desire anyway. “Legalization” would be the (lowlife) voter’s best option, but as there is no legitimate “code” against it in the first place why follow the NWO-authored script at all?

      “Please, oh please, I put my mark on this ballot like you suggested so can I please now have permission to ?” Nothing is prohibited in the first place other than fraud (i.e. The Golden Rule is the only rule), and no one gets permission either to commit fraud or to grant others second-hand permission to commit fraud — although operatives for the State would claim otherwise for its own sake and then turn around and start calling it the magical Social Contract (which is merely an act of fraud).

    • Don DuncanNo Gravatar says:

      This is a real tough question. I would not vote to legalize anything. Legalizing is accepting state authority. Is decriminalization a different matter? Is abolishing a law morally the same as passing one? What is the implication of voting to say a once prohibited activity is no longer prohibited? Do you live by law? Is law your guide to action, your moral code? Do you look to society or government for your moral code? I don’t. So what is the alternative? I boycott law where practical. Voting is participating in democracy, i.e., majority rule. Forget for a moment that it always results in elite rule. To participate in a process that assumes the right to control others by initiation of force strengthens the process.

      • KenNo Gravatar says:

        As I’ve understood the use of “decriminalization” as it’s usually used in reference to the Drug War, it refers to removing criminal penalty from a law. It’s a way for politicians to back down without saying that drugs are okay to use.

        Decriminalization doesn’t actually mean rescinding laws that prohibit drug use; it means rescinding the penalties for such “crimes.”

        Legalization, on the other hand, can mean either (a) enacting new, positive laws to license and regulate drug use, or (b) rescinding the negative laws which criminalize drug use.

        I’m no scholar, and certainly not deeply studied in drug laws, so my understanding is likely flawed on some levels, but I don’t think decriminalization is really what we want (unless you’re an incrementalist).

        • Ken: My understanding of decriminalization is the same as yours, which doesn’t mean definitions may vary, especially on subtle points. Years ago I spent a lot of hours explaining the difference between decriminalization and legalization with reference to the issue of sex work. The main American sex work organization COYOTE (under the libertarian Norma Jean Almodovar) was adamantly decriminalization because it believed (correctly, IMO) that consensual adult sex should never be addressed by law. They did not aim for repeal so much as for the non-enforcement of penalties. A de facto decriminalization without having to go through the angst and time-sink of a legislative process.

  10. BromNo Gravatar says:

    I can’t argue against Voluntaryism as a philosophy, and I haven’t read a convincing argument against it, either. It is the way that most people, with obvious exceptions, live their own personal lives, even statists.

    Outside of the USSA fascist empire, however, and I mean REALLY outside, not Western Europe, a national election is ALWAYS a referendum on a proposition I bet every USSA Civilian Subject — especially Voluntaryists — would like an opportunity to vote on and get involved in on other levels, too: “USSA stooge-state YES or USSA stooge-state NO?” That choice determines EVERYTHING else that happens in the country. If the vote is “USSA stooge-state YES,” Hobomber or whoever is your ruler, and the local party which likes this state of affairs are what I called them, “stooges.”

    So, my credo, living outside the USSA fascist empire, is “Voluntaryism for show. Agorism for dough. And Torrijista minarchism because their governments have been better on non-coercion and personal freedom than Ron Paul’s fantasies, AND free of client-state status. And until that grand evolution of consciousness, which is inevitable, I still have to get up in the morning and deal with my stuff.”

    • Good morning Brom: I can’t argue with most of your post because it is an expression of your personal view of life. But I do disagree that most voluntaryists would want to get in on a referendum vote re: the US or otherwise participate in politics. Voluntaryist was founded specifically as an alternative to electoral politics; as one of the 3 founders of modern voluntaryism, I’m in a position to know. :-) Voting is to voluntaryism as war is to pacifism.

      • ShawnNo Gravatar says:

        “Voluntaryist was founded specifically as an alternative to electoral politics; as one of the 3 founders of modern voluntaryism, I’m in a position to know.”

        You, Carl Watner, and…?

      • BromNo Gravatar says:

        Writing that about Voluntaryists voting was an error on my part. I know that you can’t vote the state of existence, and I don’t have a lay-down response to Voluntaryism’s principles or Larken Rose’s remark that if the USSA were clever they’d have elected Ron Paul because of all the SLAVEMASTERS he’d be the greatest one to have and might never beat him at all!

        Ron Paul and Justin Amash are well-known and very well-liked outside the USSA fascist empire and I’ve heard local minarchists and Paul and Amash’s minarchism referred to as the “Center-Left,” because while there are anarchist parties they get very little money and have very little electoral power — which stands to reason. I guess there’s more precision in Ecuador and Brazil because of Mises Institutes there, but even they are sensibly scared enough of Gutierrez and Salazar, respectively, that they’ll settle for Correa and Rousseff and call it good, thanks for doing business, we’ll catch ya on the flipside and all that.

        The rest stands though. And what’s sad is that while the majority of self-identified Voluntaryists are in North America, that is the LAST place the stateless society will obtain. It is the LEVIATHAN. As bad as Europe is and even Israel is they are junior partners in this fascist empire. But even THEY are better slave-masters (to some of their Civilian Subjects) than Hobomber is (Harpooner and La Nieta are actually slightly better slave-masters still).

        It’s not terribly likely even in the stooge-states that anybody’s going to be thrown in a cage for tax arrears, for example. It’s usually a long, boring, drawn-out negotiation, and bureaucratic battle of attrition. The reason is — and this is where Larken may be in error — that when people have tasted real freedom, they always want more and demand more, which inevitably leads to the Voluntaryism they lead their own lives by.

  11. Hey Shawn: The third person is George H. Smith.

  12. ShawnNo Gravatar says:

    Thanks, Wendy. I’m not familiar with Mr. Smith, so I just pulled up his wiki. Now I have new material to read. :)

  13. Good. Be sure that you do not research George F. Smith by mistake, however, as the broad libertarian movement contains *both*. Frankly, I recommend George F. Smith’s work as well.

  14. VanmindNo Gravatar says:

    It’s quite simple: voting is an act of aggression against your neighbor, and as such is a violation of the NAP. It is an attempt at a pre-emptive strike, an unleashing of the desire to avoid any possible clear & present danger in the future by way of pre-crime pretense. It is literally “jumping in” to membership with a criminal gang that promises to terrorize anyone caught wearing the wrong colors.

    There is no way that any vote can ever be an act of benevolence or even self-defense. Claims that voting is just “trying to get rid of the current bunch of criminals” belies the fact that the crime came first, a long time ago, and that the criminals are assembling accomplices with each modern election cycle, saying in effect: “Cover for us here and we’ll cut you in on the next big haul.” The criminals arrived first, tricked people into mass psychoses known variously as “divine right” or “social contract,” then embarked on generations of pomp-and-circumstance mind control efforts to keep alive such a widespread belief in the imaginary.

    It is sorcery, one of the ancient mysteries. Get your stonecutter friends to erect an ostentatious building, then tell all the rubes that “…Great Men dwell therein doing magical things with words, all on your behalf — but there’s the thing, see, about a small debt incurred during the original construction of this important building here, and maybe a small stream of revenue for those inside is necessary to pay back that debt and to cover current expenses, so you see this thing we’re calling a “tax” really is for your own good, but hey, we’re gonna let you choose which magicians have access to the awe-inspiring power of the building’s sigilia and incantations…”

    So who else feels like a caveperson drooling as they stare at the shaman-dance?

  15. Jay Stephan SteinmetzNo Gravatar says:

    I apologize in advance for the long post, but I was going to pose a “voting as consent” question today myself.

    The argumentation in this piece necessarily invalidates the actions of Oskar Schindler. He was a slaveholder who bought people in order to save their lives, and he saved many of them from the gas chambers. Does he get a pass for the immoral action of buying people? I say he does. The net harm reduction achieved by his actions makes his purchases of people amoral rather than immoral actions.

    The opposition to voting presented here only deals with the immorality of voting in the abstract, and it’s a blanket proscription against taking actions that occur under different sets of circumstances at different places and times each time they’re executed. Block’s assertion is praxeological. I don’t like dealing in “what-ifs,” but for this I will make an exception. For example, in a hypothetical scenario where a Ron Paul or some other consistently minarchist politician have a real chance of winning the presidency, many presume that his/her actions as president will reduce the direct harm to individuals by state actors, in sum a net reduction in state harm. The question as to a decision to vote or not vote in such an instance must be examined solely upon the individual circumstances of said individual action. If the likelihood of Paul winning in the scenario is greater than him losing, and the odds are that his presidency will result in a net reduction of harm at the hands of state actors, then casting a vote for him is amoral so long as the results of such a person winning do in fact result in net harm reduction in reality. The harm reduction is a greater moral good than the harm caused by casting the vote.

    I too oppose voting in 9.9 out of 10 sets of circumstances, but a blanket proscription of voting under all circumstances is dogmatic. It fails because it does not consider the application of NAP to the individual circumstances of the single action taken in casting one single vote by an individual against the totality of the possible result of said action. It denies unequivocally that the moral outcome of the vote cannot exceed the basic immorality of casting the ballot.

    As to the idea that voting constitutes consent to the system, I also find this argument lacking. Voting or not voting doesn’t alter the status of one’s slavery. In Block’s example, the slaveholder still has the option of ignoring the vote and inflicting the more sadist task master upon the slave. If one is a slave, then consent is already irrelevant. A slave cannot consent to anything as the slave is a priori coerced by virtue of the fact that we’re calling this person a slave. If the slave isn’t coerced, then the slave isn’t a slave. Where coercion exists, consent is already absent. A slave no more consents to their slavery by voting than by not fighting against rape at the hands of his/her owner. The rape is probably going to happen, one way or the other. The only choice left the slave is reducing the pain to which they’re subjected or severe pain and harm or perhaps even death due to resistance. Some might choose resistance and death, and some might choose to endure the assault in a manner that harms them least in order to facilitate a future escape to freedom. The choice belongs to the slave, and it’s the only freedom available to them.

    I’m not a fan of Chomsky, but a broken clock is right twice a day. This is an excellent quote, and the last sentence is apropos here.

    “Anarchism, in my view, is an expression of the idea that the burden of proof is always on those who argue that authority and domination are necessary. They have to demonstrate, with powerful argument, that that conclusion is correct. If they cannot, then the institutions they defend should be considered illegitimate. How one should react to illegitimate authority depends on circumstances and conditions: there are no formulas.” -Noam Chomsky

    My argument here is neither that voting is moral nor that is amoral in all circumstances, but merely that given a specific set of circumstances, the act can be amoral as opposed to the dogmatic construct of “voting is immoral under all circumstances.”

    I too “prefer non-violent resistance and the construction of parallel institutions that provide free-market alternatives to government ‘services’,” but the idea that casting a vote against Adolf Hitler in Germany’s 1934 referendum on his combining the offices of Chancellor and President into the office of Führer and de facto Head of State of Germany fails logic. Voting against him was an amoral action that harms none. Likewise, had Hitler lost the referendum (a referendum largely considered a “free and fair election” by statist measures), the immoral choice voters made about choosing the rulers for third parties is also outweighed by the net reduction in harm. It is also not immoral, but amoral

    Lastly, the voting as consent argument reminds me of Rousseau.

    “I know that [civilized men] do nothing but boast incessantly of the peace and repose they enjoy in their chains…. But when I see [barbarous man] sacrifice pleasures, repose, wealth, power, and life itself for the preservation of this sole good which is so disdained by those who have lost it; when I see animals born free and despising captivity break their heads against the bars of their prison; when I see multitudes of entirely naked savages scorn European voluptuousness and endure hunger, fire, the sword, and death to preserve only their independence, I feel it does not behoove slaves to reason about freedom.” -Rousseau

    “I feel it does not behoove slaves to reason about freedom,” bears repeating.

    If we admit we’re slaves, then this parsing of what constitutes consent is preposterous as we already don’t consent because we’re slaves and slaves can’t consent to anything.

    • Jay: Thank you for reposting your response at the Daily Anarchist. And please do not apologize for the length of your comments because the entire purpose of my article was to spark real discussion on the issue of electoral voting and libertarianism/voluntaryism. I chose the “slavery analogy” because I think productive discussion has been blocked by that particular argument, which I view more as an intellectual sleight-of-hand than as a serious objection. That is, the analogy shifts the entire ground of discussion in a manner that is not obvious.

      You write: ***The argumentation in this piece necessarily invalidates the actions of Oskar Schindler. He was a slaveholder who bought people in order to save their lives, and he saved many of them from the gas chambers.***

      Whatever might be said of Schindler, I don’t see the parallel here. My objection to electoral voting is that it facilitates the placing of a politician in a position of unjust power over other unconsenting people. Schindler certainly was in a position of unjust power over those laborers he purchased but that is outright slavery — and awful on its own terms — which is quite different than the dynamic I’m discussing. There are the individual laborers/slvaes and there is Schindler. What other party, what 3rd party is directly oppressed by the transaction?

      You wrote: ****The opposition to voting presented here only deals with the immorality of voting in the abstract, and it’s a blanket proscription against taking actions that occur under different sets of circumstances at different places and times each time they’re executed.****

      What I am doing is identifying a common theme to all electoral voting. Namely, that the vote is part of placing some politician or other into a position of unjust power over people who have not consented to his authority. If you disagree that political office *is* a position of unjust power, then the validity of voting might well depend upon the circumstances of the election itself. But as long as you consider political office — either inherently or inevitably given the current situation — to be unjust authority, then all I am doing is identifying a fundamental common denominator. And, yes, this makes the circumstances irrelevant to my main points.

      If the likelihood of Paul winning in the scenario is greater than him losing, and the odds are that his presidency will result in a net reduction of harm at the hands of state actors, then casting a vote for him is amoral so long as the results of such a person winning do in fact result in net harm reduction in reality. The harm reduction is a greater moral good than the harm caused by casting the vote.

      You wrote: ****I too oppose voting in 9.9 out of 10 sets of circumstances, but a blanket proscription of voting under all circumstances is dogmatic.****

      It is no more dogmatic that “the initiation of force is never justified” or various other principles upon which libertarianism/voluntaryist is built. There is a sharp difference between dogma and strongly held principle. Dogma is a belief held without evidence or even in the present of counter evidence. Solid principles are based on evidence.

      You wrote: As to the idea that voting constitutes consent to the system, I also find this argument lacking. Voting or not voting doesn’t alter the status of one’s slavery.

      But you are not a slave. You will not be whipped if you do not vote and chose, instead, an entirely different way to confront state oppression or otherwise seek personal freedom. Unless you claim that someone is literally holding a gun to your head, the slavery example is rhetorical and hyperbolic in order to justify or excuse the act of casting a ballot.

      Elsewhere I *do* argue that voting is an integral part of what legitimizes the state and constitutes your consent to be part of the system but the article in the Daily Anarchist focuses on the personal morality of voting rather than upon the legitimacy question. As a point of personal ethics, I cannot act in a manner that facilitates the placing of a politician in a role in which he or she harms innocent people. I will not help to load a gun I know will be fired into a crowd of people.

      You wrote: ****A slave no more consents to their slavery by voting than by not fighting against rape at the hands of his/her owner. The rape is probably going to happen, one way or the other. The only choice left the slave is reducing the pain to which they’re subjected or severe pain and harm or perhaps even death due to resistance.****

      Again, I do not agree that voters are slaves. I think the analogy trivializes what it means to be a slave — that is, to have your free will negated and “owned” by another party. Without accepting to the slavery analogy, however, I want to focus on another part of what you are arguing. Namely, that there is no other alternative but to vote. The argument of “no alternatives,” of course, acts to justify the vote because nothing else is possible except to slink passively away into the night. A vast range of other options *are* available and one of my main criticisms of voting is that it acts as a strategic obstacle to the other effective ways of achieving social change. Have you ever wondered why politicians all want you to vote while at the same time they do everything they can to limit the ability of people to protest? It is because voting *assists* then in ruling while the myriad of non-violent resistance and civil disobedience tactics harms their authority.

      You wrote: *****“Anarchism, in my view, is an expression of the idea that the burden of proof is always on those who argue that authority and domination are necessary. They have to demonstrate, with powerful argument, that that conclusion is correct. If they cannot, then the institutions they defend should be considered illegitimate. How one should react to illegitimate authority depends on circumstances and conditions: there are no formulas.” -Noam Chomsky****

      Well, here you and I flatly disagree. One of the formulas I use: “it is never appropriate to harm an innocent and unconsenting third party in order to achieve my goals.” If you disagree with this ‘formula’, then we practice entirely different political philosophies. In fact, don’t think you can argue for initiating force and remain a libertarian or voluntaryist.

      Jay…I am probably missing some points but I need to move on to work on an article right now. I will return and answer your other points and the comments of others when I’ve met my deadline.

      As I said, thanks for the response. I am trying to stir up interesting debate and your post certainly assisted in that goal.

  16. SamaramiNo Gravatar says:

    Walter Block is a masterful communicator. “Defending the Undefendable” was my mainstay mini-text in the early 90′s while I was being heisted away from half-assed libertarianism and into iron-clad anarchy.

    Walter, however, swings in some heavy timber. Loyola leaves him leeway, but he knows when to toe the mark. Ron Paul, and the scent of “power” (perhaps a secretary of state job, or maybe even vice-grand-wizard???) lured him off-trail last year. He even went so far as to imply that you are not really true libertarian if you refuse to register with the white man and support (vote for) Ron Paul.

    I’ll throw in with you, Wendy. Registering — let alone voting — does one thing and one thing only: it lends legitimacy to that evil abstraction called “state”.

    • Jay Stephan SteinmetzNo Gravatar says:

      Registering to vote gets one’s name added to the roll used to select jurors for jury duty. If one doesn’t register to vote and then not vote, one can never be selected for a jury. Now, the odds of avoiding prosecutorial preemption after questioning reveals a predilection toward jury nullification are very, very, very low. You’ll probably get excused, but in the single possible instance you do get through the process and end up on a jury, you have the ability to keep someone out of a state cage for committing a victimless legal infraction such as drug possession or one of the many others. This is a positive good. Register and don’t vote, but at least register. Someone like one of us needs each of us to do that to protect the movement. Registering qualifies as defense against aggression under NAP for the purposes of jury duty.

      • David KramerNo Gravatar says:

        Jay, in NYC, during the voix dire process, the prospective juror is always asked if he disagrees with any part or all of a law that has been violated, could he put his own personal views aside and still sit on a jury. If one responds “No” (as I did), then they cannot put you on the jury.

        • Jay Stephan SteinmetzNo Gravatar says:

          Agreed, but that isn’t the case in all jurisdictions. In New Hampshire for example, that question is not allowed, and a judge is required to instruct jurors of their right to nullify. I don’t know if that’s the only place the laws are such, but it’s one example. Additionally, I’ve always thought that a clever attorney could appeal a conviction based solely on such voix dire question being in direct contravention to current SCOTUS precedent. The Court has said multiple times that jury nullification is a right of every citizen, so a prosecutor preempting such jurors violates the 5th Amendment. Excluding such jurors implicitly prevents someone from being tried by a jury of their peers because some peers are excluded on superfluous grounds because they admit to ownership of a right that SCOTUS says they and the accused possess. Such questions are clearly improper.

          It’s a losing appeal since many judges were once prosecutors, but someone needs to make this argument to get it on the books.

          I do agree that you must answer truthfully as you did.

          • David KramerNo Gravatar says:

            Unfortunately, Jay, we can’t hope for something like jury nullification in Nazi York City. Anyway, I’d rather not be forced on a jury at all than have to worry about convincing other jurors that a law is wrong.

          • Don DuncanNo Gravatar says:

            Voluntary participation in ANY govt. activities is self-distuctive, e.g., you are supporting govt. even as you try to nullify a law or stop a conviction. Your very participation provides implied consent to an immoral institution. You cannot get justice (in general) by means of an immoral institution. For example, the SCOTUS has been reversed by later courts, which leads to the logical conclusion that either the first decision was wrong, or the second. Either way injustice prevails. The SCOTUS contradicts itself, changing with the political winds.

    • Thanks Samarami. I don’t think you can understand Walter’s attacks on me and on Stefan Molyneux for not backing Ron Paul without understanding that he comes from the “Rothbard” school of intra-movement squabbling. I love and loved Murray but he was a no-holds barred in-fighter…and that I didn’t love. Walter seems to be carrying on that tradition. BTW, it never bothered me enough to response to Walter. I mean…shocked he was, shocked! that an anarchist didn’t support electoral politics just because the candidate’s face had changed. Ah, well…

  17. Alvin LowiNo Gravatar says:

    I argued with Max Raskin over the morality of voting as presented by Murray Rothbard in an interview in The New Banner, 1972, about the time the Libertarian Party was organized. You are welcome to this email dialog.
    The other argument against political voting, which you do not mention, is rational. Majority rule guarantees that the so-called decision will be determined by the lowest common denominator. Majority rule is rule by the least able, which explains a lot about political government.

  18. David KramerNo Gravatar says:

    First of all, Wendy, I am in COMPLETE AGREEMENT with you. As far as Walter’s slave analogy, I guess these slaves didn’t get his memo:

    Slave Resistance

    http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/tserve/freedom/1609-1865/essa ys/slaveresist.htm

  19. BaneNo Gravatar says:

    Here is my problem with voting. I am not a slave. Why then should I vote for a master, as I have no need for one? I do not vote, and even if it did effect the outcome of the election that would not change my position. If others wish to get excited in the quasi-voting process (I hold that it is the decision of the elite in who is elected, not the voting of the people, and I have never seen evidence to the contrary, despite the claims made by the government) that is up to them, I will not engage in an activity designed to give the illusion of freedom when in fact it is just a distraction designed to make those who vote feel as though they have some sort of choice.

  20. gdpNo Gravatar says:

    Excellent article as always, Wendy! You absolutely nailed it that Block is presenting a classic example of a False Dichotomy Fallacy: The hypothetical slaves are presented with no choices except the false choice between “Horrible vs. Lousy,” with no third alternative such as “Tear up the Ballot and walk away,” “Spoil the Ballot,” or even “Cast a Blank.”

    Such an “election” under threat of force has no more moral legitimacy that the forced “elections” under the old Soviet Union, where voting was mandatory, each ballot was inspected by the local Communist Party “Political Officer” before being deposited in the “Ballot Box,” and one’s choices were limited to either “approving” the Politiburo-selected local Communist Party stooge or being carried off by the KGB for “anti-Communist Activity”…

  21. GreatScottNo Gravatar says:

    I’m not sure registering in order to get on a jury is relevant any more. The procedures used to winnow the jury pool in the first place, and methods prosecutors use to vet potentials for peremptory challenge are far from transparent, but you should assume that if your name is on the internet next to a political opinion, you won’t get on the jury no matter what you say.

    But just in case, juror oaths should not be a stumbling block to getting on a jury to bring justice to a defendant. Duty of truth is a moral default, but reversible by circumstance. You may consider whether your duty of truth to a judge supersedes your duty to bring justice, or whether you have a duty of truth to a judge in the first place. Also, most oaths are easily subject to literal analysis which permits wide evasion. “Can you”, “Could you accept . . .” Of course you CAN, (but will you?) If there is tighter language binding you to the opinion of the judge on matters of law, you can assume the judge will obey HIS/HER oath to uphold the law and the constitution. Incorrectly instructing jurors on their duty and power to judge the law and the validity of the prosecution can be seen as freeing you from the constraints of your own oath. Don’t ask for clarification of the oath out of a surfeit of honesty, or argue, or you are cooked, just assume the most benign set of circumstances and should reality disappoint, realize that your duty to bring justice supersedes slavish adherence to the opinion of a lying oath breaker in black robes. No juror oath is required by law in any jurisdiction; they are a matter of judicial procedure, not even common law. They are designed to strengthen the judge’s hand and prevent mistrials. On the other hand, a jury of peers is a Constitutional right. Honoring an oath to derelict a portion of your duty as juror (finder of law) is not an act of honesty.

  22. Paul BonneauNo Gravatar says:

    Wendy, I mostly agree with your points here, as far as they go. Concocting unrealistic, pedantic analogies does not appeal to me.

    However I am not so hard on defensive voting. First, voting against a tax hike seems pretty innocent. But even voting for a human being can be defended. Let’s not forget who the victim is here: the voter. It’s a bit much to get on their case for trying to reduce their injuries, even if we can reasonbly question the utility of voting to accomplish that.

    I find it difficult to think of the voter as the aggressor. For one thing, it doesn’t matter if he votes for A or for B or for nobody; A or B is going to get into power regardless (so it’s not a question of supplying bullets for a robber’s gun, another faulty analogy). Kinda hard to say the voter is responsible for what A or B does.

    All voting legitimizes the state, even defensive voting, which I think is the main argument against it.

    Finally, if we look at the best case future for the spread of anarchy, that is panarchy. In that case voting simply won’t matter. Voting will have no more relevance to anarchists, than the cardinal selection of popes has relevance to lutherans.

  23. not youNo Gravatar says:

    Lysander Spooner covered the whole voting thing pretty well in “No Treason”

  24. A good discussion here and many points have been raised that I agree with. However, focusing on whether an abstracted act of voting is morally permissible for an anarchist who lacks any reasonable alternative to living under the power of a state that holds elections is as pointless and divisive as elections are for statists who naively believe in “majority rule,” “representative government” or the “rule of law.”

    Refusing to vote is not inherently less aggressive than voting, on a ballot proffered by a gang of criminal thugs who will impose their order on you regardless; the morality of voting or not under such circumstances depends, perhaps among other things, on one’s reasonable beliefs about the real-world consequences of the vote AND on the subjective intent of the person having the opportunity of voting. For example, one could just as easily abstain from voting to demonstrate consent to the violent oppression of a state as to protest against it. Also, the morality of an action and whether or not it constitutes an act of aggression against another are clearly separate questions. As Lysander Spooner said, vices are not crimes. Voting a certain way, voting at all, or not voting might in different circumstances be immoral, but there are few circumstances under which any of these choices could be said to constitute initiation of force or fraud, without rendering the terms “force” or “fraud” essentially meaningless.

    It is doubtful whether anyone with the wherewithal to post comments on a blog is of sufficient moral or ideological purity to pass judgment without reserve on anyone who votes or participates in any way in electoral politics. Not that anyone here is doing that. It just seems that way sometimes.

  25. PragmatixNo Gravatar says:

    I find the argument that voting is violence to be a bit dodgy. If you were the deciding vote and had the “power” to decrease government in a way, you would be a fool not to cast that vote. The only reason I tend not to vote is because its a waste of time. For the 15 minutes I invest, I will not be able to influence anything practically speaking. Sometimes, ideology will override this and I vote to make a point, like I will in our special election, but will not in the general (except perhaps on the ballot referendum).

  26. Wendy McElroyNo Gravatar says:

    Alvin Lowi has generously shared and allowed me to post a 2007 email exchange that he had with Max Raskin on the propriety of libertarian voting. It includes excerpts from an interview with Murray Rothbard on the issue. The exchange is here: http://www.wendymcelroy.com/news.php?extend.5547

  27. Paul BonneauNo Gravatar says:

    From your Rothbard quote:
    “Will Robert LeFevre, one of the spokesmen of the non-voting approach, will he deep in his heart on election night have any kind of preference at all as the votes come in. Will he cheer slightly or groan more as whoever wins? I don’t see how anybody could fail to have a preference, because it will affect all of us.”

    I don’t see this as being that important. One may have a slight preference, but the preference differential is not enough to trigger voting, over the individual need to not sanction the state. Or one may simply also recognize that politicians lie. I had a slight preference for Obama in 2008 as he sounded more anti-war at the time. (I still didn’t vote.)

    Look at the bright side. Only libertarians and anarchists debate the utility and morality of voting, even if the situation is so murky they reasonably come to different conclusions about it. We’re doing what we are supposed to do, questioning the state religion. One thing I thing we studiously should avoid however, is whacking people who do vote – a terrible way to advance our message:
    http://strike-the-root.com/voting-is-not-irrational

  28. Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

    Wendy, as usual you have written a well thought out article. One area where we disagree is about non-violence. Frankly, I see it as your blindspot. If one practices non-violence faithfully you automatically lose to government types who have no such compunction. Ultimately they will either force you to toe their line or kill you. This is why defending what is left of the 2nd amendment is so important here in the USA. I realize that Canadian laws are more restrictive about guns which reduces further the possibility of ever having a truly free nation (perhaps an oxymoron).
    Violence is a part of the human psyche. One needs to accept this reality and use violence as necessary as a tool to obtain a free society. The alternative is continued slavery.
    I have hypothisized that many people today react negatively to violence because we no longer have to deal with harsh physical reality daily as did our ancestors not too long ago. I find that the fact that I spend most of my days doing hard physical labor or at least out in nature reminds me of the fact that in nature it is kill or be killed. It is also true in human society, we just distance ourselves from the unpleasant reality.

    We agree on virtually everything I have seen in your writings. I wish we lived in a world where violence was not necessary. But that is not something that will ever occur so long as we remain human. Keep writing Wendy. Yours is one of the few voices of freedom left.

    • Wendy McElroyNo Gravatar says:

      It is good to see you posting, Fritz.

      I don’t know if I’ve made an important distinction re: non-violence before and, if I have, then bear with me as I repeat myself. The distinction is between non-violence and self-defense; I am an advocate of both. I advocate non-violence for situations in which 1) you are aiming at social change — to change the hearts and souls of men — as in a protest march, or 2) the level of a direct attack upon you does not seriously threaten your person. If you are *not* conducting a strategy for social change and a direct attack *does* threaten bodily harm or worse, then you have every right to use violence in self protection. In other words, in advocated non-violence I do not embrace pacifism. A vigorous self-defense has its time and place. But it will not win over the hearts and souls of men; that is, it is not a good tool of strategy.

      Best, as usual,
      me

      • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

        Thank you for explaining your position. I think we share the desire for a basically non-violent existence. Unlike you, I do not believe that large scale social change has virtually any chance of occuring without violence or its threat. Heinlein once wrote something like “You can expect freedom or you can expect peace. Don’t expect both at the same time”. I do not see any road to a free society that does not have significant violence involved. So to me the question becomes which do I value more, peace or freedom? I want both, but history gives virtually zero cases of that occuring including Ghandi’s India where the huge threat of violence ran the British out. Hell, I live in the backwoods with very limited social contact and still find myself embroiled in situations of conflict which could easily lead to violence. Do you think that this is a male/female difference where elevated testosterone levels cause the difference in attitude? It does seem that men and women are both “hardwired” and programmed differently. The old evolutionary psychology thing. Always a pleasure to read your thoughts. Thanks again.

        • Paul BonneauNo Gravatar says:

          Fritz, you may be interested in the blog I started about this distinction between violent and non-violent resistance:
          http://armednonviolent.blogspot.com/

          Unfortunately it fizzled, but it makes the point that each strategy has its place. I believe it is as wrong to say “violence is the only thing that solves anything” as it is to say “violence never solves anything”.

          • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

            Paul, though I would agree with you that technically there are times when both non-violent or violent approaches are appropriate, the former are so small a percentage that one can pretty safely ignore them. Since virtually everyone thinks in violent terms as a result of both our social programming and our genetic background, the concept of a non-violent approach is the new kid on the block which most people don’t actually trust. I think that most folks basically think something like “I will try non-violence and if that does not work I can always revert to violence.” Though I hate militarism, I have to admit that the militarists are correct that “he who has the power to destroy something has the final say over it”. I have spent my lifetime trying to convince people that construction is both difficult and satisfying while destruction is easy and ultimately unsatisfying. I fear that the average human will normally take the easy route even knowing it is ultimately destructive rather than the difficult route that ultimately is productive for both the individual and society. Thanks for turning me on to your blog. I plan to check it out when I have more time.

      • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

        Wendy, something you wrote has been bugging me. You wrote that violence was not a good strategy to win over the “hearts and souls” of men. Disregarding whether or not a soul exists, I think this is an inaccurate apriori assumption. Indeed, I think one MUST show the capacity for vaiolence to win over the hearts and minds of most men and probably most women as well. Men are violent by nature due to testosterone levels. Women gravitate to powerful men who usually have greater capacity for violence. Look at your romance novels and note the percentage of tough guys vs nerds.
        I have noted in the past that feminists seem to be all anti-male violence though many have little problem with females being violent to men. I worked for most of my life in concrete construction which is way over 90% male dominated largely due to the physical reality that women lack the upper body strength to do most concrete work. So I think you can see the feminist side of things far better than I while I see the ultra masculine side far better than you.

        We had a saying, “If you’ve got them by the balls their hearts and minds will follow”. This is not just a humorous, masculine asininity.It reflects reality. Look around the world both present and past at the innumerable tyrranies based upon violence. Virtually all of them had intellectual apologists coming up with rational sounding excuses for whatever the tyrant wanted to do. Most of the people living under said tyrants used Orwellian doublethink to accept the apologists line as obviously true. Hell, most would fight and die for the privilege of serving the tyrant. These people obviously were not turned off by violence. It seems that most folks love the idea of their side being the badass who can force everyone else to capitulate. Talk to a Republican about the military sometime.

  29. Alvin LowiNo Gravatar says:

    Likwe Steinmetz, I’m not a fan of Chomsky, either. But this particular sentiment of his is worthyof consideration: “Anarchism, in my view, is an expression of the idea that the burden of proof is always on those who argue that authority and domination are necessary. They have to demonstrate, with powerful argument, that that conclusion is correct. If they cannot, then the institutions they defend should be considered illegitimate. How one should react to illegitimate authority depends on circumstances and conditions: there are no formulas.” But there is a formula, and it is not necessisarily a moralistic one. Institutionalized coercion is illegititimate if there is a single dissenter among the affected. Legitimate force requires unanimity, which is possible if and only if the consequences of the proposition are dead certain. This requires certain knowledge. But the only source of knowledge in society is the scientific method, which always leaves a seed of doubt. So force can never be justified. Science is the source of legiimate authority in society.
    My argument here is neither that voting is moral nor that is amoral in all circumstances, but merely that given a specific set of circumstances, the act can be amoral as opposed to the dogmatic construct of “voting is immoral under all circumstances.”

    • Wendy McElroyNo Gravatar says:

      Good afternon Alvin:

      I don’t think voting is always wrong. In the article, I made sure to distinguish voting within voluntary organizations (e.g. the girl scouts), from which people who do not like the outcome can withdraw, from voting within involuntary organizations, in which unjust power is imposed upon the lives of those who do not agree to it but cannot escape it. I also distinguish between voting in referendums and electoral voting. That’s why I am so careful to specify repeatedly “electoral voting” in the article. And, yes, I argue that placing someone in a position of unjust authority over my peaceful actions is always wrong.

      Best,
      Wendy

      • Alvin LowiNo Gravatar says:

        Voting in political elections is always wrong because beacuse the political institutions always fail to work but never fail to coerce. So political voting is both irrational and immoral. Voting in a proprietary situation affects and effects human action within the scope of legitimate authority of the voter, e.g. a club member, stiockholder, etc.

        • Paul BonneauNo Gravatar says:

          Granting for the moment that voting is immoral, how does one get people to stop it? By calling them immoral? Or by getting to the root of things and delegitimizing the state?

          http://strike-the-root.com/voting-is-not-irrational

          More libertarians need to bone up on their Dale Carnegie I think.

          • Alvin LowiNo Gravatar says:

            Ridicule it.

          • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

            Libertarian “morality” is a joke anyway. My brother tells me that morality is a religious concept and seems to link it to the Ten Commandments. It seems that everyjone has their own sense of “morality” so refering to morality is self defeating. Pragmatic arguments are a lot better.

            • DarrenNo Gravatar says:

              Interesting idea & one that is hotly debated. My view is the opposite, without a moral foundation pragmatic arguments are for naught. Then again it depends on your morality too. If you’re a consequentialist you’re going to lean towards the pragmatic first. If your morality is deontological
              (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deontological_ethics ) then the moral comes first. Libertarians, secular & religious, are deontological. For us principles come first. There is no conflict between the practical & the moral if your morals are right.

              • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

                If principles come first then you are at a decided disadvantage to those who think pragmatically as in survilval comes first. Only in the ivory tower do we have the luxury of ignoring the pragmatic. In the real world all decisions have consequences. If your principles get in the way the unprincipled bastards win. I advocate getting out in the real world and doing physical work. It regrounds one in the fundamentals of life and emphasizes the importance of phsyical reality which playing on computers tends to ignore. As an added benefit, I find that an hour or more of pick and shovel work first thing in the morning gets the blood flowing to the brain and really helps the thought processes as well as your other systems. It is neat to be breathing heavily and watching the sweat flowing off my old but still muscular body. I think way atoo many people have lost their basic grip on realilty by constant immersion in computers, TV, etc. The human body is made to be used!

  30. Alvin LowiNo Gravatar says:

    Repeat reply for correction:
    Like Steinmetz, I’m not a fan of Chomsky, either. But this particular sentiment of his is worthy of consideration: “Anarchism, in my view, is an expression of the idea that the burden of proof is always on those who argue that authority and domination are necessary. They have to demonstrate, with powerful argument, that that conclusion is correct. If they cannot, then the institutions they defend should be considered illegitimate. How one should react to illegitimate authority depends on circumstances and conditions: there are no formulas.”
    But there is a formula. And the application of this formula is not necessisarily, maybe never, a moralistic one.
    Institutionalized coercion is illegititimate if there is a single dissenter among the affected. Legitimate force requires unanimity, which is possible if and only if the consequences of the proposition are dead certain. Such certainty requires certain knowledge. But the only source of knowledge in society is science. But science depends on the scientific method, which always leaves a seed of doubt. So the initiation of force in societycan never be justified. Science is the source of legiimate authority in society. The exercize of legitimate authority (volitional human action) is risky because there is no certain knowledge of the outcome.

  31. Alvin LowiNo Gravatar says:

    Political participation is the main social pathology. Voting in elections is just the easiest and most painless way of participating. For participation in the state’s ritual means of succession is the process of conquest of the individual. The vote is the ticket to membership in the collective, which is consent to being “governed,” an act of conformity, allegience. Once a member, always a member. The state does not recognize resignations. That’s secession, and we all know that the state considers secession a declaration of war.

    • Fritz KneseNo Gravatar says:

      Nicely put. Many years ago we used to debate the existence of a “freedom gene” for it seems that many people just can’t comprehend why anarchists place so much value on personal liberty. I, on the other hand, can’t comprehend on a gut level why most people have a huge desire to conform to society’s edicts. It is partly a male/female difference in genetic hardwiring of the brain. Evolutionary psychology explains it by noting that women and men differ in the strategy which insures thae best chance of passing on their genes to future generations. Women gain more from socialization. Men from individual capability. I think this is part of the reason for the socialist left pushing the gay movement so strongly. Traditionally masculine men are far more of a threat to government control than female oriented men who are taught to think like women, ie socialist rather than individualist.

  32. SleepySalsaNo Gravatar says:

    While I do like Larken Rose’s slave analogy, it is a tad bit overly simplified, and in that regard, I agree wholeheartedly with McElroy. The slave analogy would be correct, however, if voting were compulsory (I mean being coerced by government, like what Curtis Ellis wants to do). Since popular electoral voting is still voluntary (and I mean in the genuine sense of the term, not the Newspeak “obey or be punished” connotation), then the slave analogy, while being partially accurate, only really applies to those individuals who still believe in legitimacy of this absolute government.

    For a complimentary (mostly) utilitarian explanation for why “Voting Does Not Work” (which does incorporate some precepts of natural law), please read [http://thelastbastille.wordpress.com/2012/06/01/voting-does-not- work/]; for those anarchists who want to become more consistent with their political philosophy, I would strongly recommend you read “Unregistering from the Voter Rolls” [http://thelastbastille.wordpress.com/2013/04/07/unregistering-fr om-the-voter-rolls/]. I was able to prove in the (Not So) “Great State” of Texas that it is possible to (as the government here calls it) “cancel your voter registration.” I’ve already uploaded “My Voter Registration Cancellation Documents” at [http://thelastbastille.wordpress.com/2013/04/13/my-voter-registr ation-cancellation-documents/] (which were partially redacted for my privacy). I can’t speak to what the statutory nonsense legal code in the other 49 highly overrated states of the Union have to say on this matter, but I would assume that it wouldn’t be much different that what was clearly spelled out in the Texas Election Code. Of course, for those of you who don’t live in Texas, you’re going to have perform your own due diligence and see what the “rules” are for getting off the voter rolls, should you be interested in doing so. If more anarchists got off the voter rolls, that by itself would greatly legitimize this current government, and I hope that y’all do.

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