Sunday, March 4, 2012

Should Anarchists Vote?

“[…] the truth is that government is so massive and so complex that it is almost impossible for any individual to make a huge difference. It’s like being the captain of an enormous ocean liner. It is going to keep on going no matter who is at the wheel.”

-From Meet You in Hell by Les Standiford (attributed to an unknown modern president)

For any readers of this blog out there, welcome back. The holidays are a hectic time for many of us in this overly commercialized society of advertisements and consumerism, a.k.a., the United States, and my so-called ‘day job’ requires an added dose of dedication (which I do not possess but fake quite ably) which leaves me drained for some time afterwards. But Anarchy and Aphorisms has returned with regular updates once again each Sunday, until next December at least.

This first new post of this new year is focused on one simple question which is and will become increasingly relevant this year: should those of us that consider ourselves anarchists and anti-government still be involved in the election process? Like many simple questions this does not possess an equally simple answer, and inevitably the answer arrived at here will not be agreed to by some. But the relevance of it in our currently government run semi-democratic society makes it a particularly pressing and important question as it potentially affects the lives of any American citizen or those living in a country where legal, somewhat non-corrupt, elections take place.

Before we move to the ultimate answer/opinion let us take a quick look at the presidential candidates the United States is dealing with this year. At the moment the Republicans are still in the process of nomination with three hopefuls taking up most of the limelight: Romney, Gingrich and Santorum. Ron Paul is also out there making his best effort…but we all know that his chance of winning the Republican nomination is somewhere between none and none.

Whichever one of these three gentlemen actually wins the nomination is essentially irrelevant. While the Republicans can be kindred spirits in their belief in smaller federal government, this slight similarity to the anarchist doctrine is overshadowed by intention and the quagmire of uber-conservative nonsense that is spurted from these, and every Republican candidate, this year. Their preference in smaller federal government isn’t because they want American citizens to have more freedom (with the exception of Paul) but stems entirely from a desire for deregulation of the free market. The problem with free market in the American tradition is that with it government is a necessity or otherwise the enormous gap in wealth and the level of financial irresponsibility in the private sector would run rampant and probably collapse our already fragile economy. Without regulations we are facing something catastrophic. As long as there is free market in the sense we have now true anarchism cannot exist. But this is not a post intended to linger on free market concepts, that is for another time.

While Romney, Gingrich and Santorum are lost in debates about abortion, gay-marriage, contraception, their religious beliefs, integrity and mostly other unnecessary topics and Obama is stuck in a deadlock with a bickering do-nothing congress it really seems like whoever wins the eventual race this November won’t make a lick of difference one way or another. And it probably won’t.

Despite this the fact is, as the reader will be well aware of, we do not currently live in an anarchistic society. Holding fast to your political philosophies and belief in personal freedoms is important and speaking freely and openly about these beliefs to help get the word out (even if all of us anarchists don’t agree on every detail) is equally important. But as long as we live in a society where elections are vital to how the established government functions it serves no purpose to stand on the sidelines.

Just like it would be if we lived in a world where anarchism was the way of life it is essential to be involved. While there is no shame, and plenty of reason to do so, in not attending elections as a form of protest against a government that seems to do much more harm than good it is also obvious that taking a part in trying to better this fractured system is commendable. As long as this system is in place, with no sign of disappearing in the near future, taking a stand and being involved is the best the average man or woman can hope to do in changing that system. This may come only in the form of choosing the lesser of two evils since, again let’s face it, many an election has two unappealing and often worthless candidates to choose from. It may not seem like it but your vote does count under the right circumstances. If enough of the usually non-voting, likeminded people of this country would actually hit the polls it might be enough to help initiate some change, however small.

Until the day might come when our society is ready to shed the restraints of government and realize that it is nothing more than a superfluous device of oppression, anarchists should not be afraid or feel hypocritical about taking action in our political system by choosing candidates more endearing to their opinions for office. A vote will ultimately be more effective than a Molotov cocktail, a much overused a cliché symbol of anarchists which is far away from what most of us stand for. Whatever your opinion is stay true to your convictions.

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