The Case Against Voting

William Gillis argues that voting—technically, in most cases—doesn’t matter but what does matter is the kind of inaction that voting fosters.

Today, as the republican party lurches to the furthest white nationalist extremes, the “eh the parties are the same” rhetoric no longer cuts it for many.

However. Just because the results of an election matter, doesn’t remotely mean that your individual vote matters.

In other words, a single New Yorker’s vote for Hillary in 2016 didn’t really matter in a material way. She still won New York by a wide margin and she still lost the election.

Your act of voting doesn’t matter, but the fact that so many leftists think it does reveals deep collectivist irrationalities that DO matter and affect other actually relevant forms of activism and strategy.

Unfortunately the delusional thinking behind voting crops up in leftist inclinations in general. They want to build giant organizations, giant armies, with individuals all acting in low return-on-investment ways, in hopes of aggregate impact.

Democratic thinking seeks to build numbers first and foremost. It considers “having” more people to be the very definition of success. When this lens gets applied to organizing it detaches activism from a direct evaluation of consequences.

participation becomes the end in and of itself.

The size of membership becomes the sole metric of success. The feeling of “community” sustained by these rituals becomes our real payoff.

The party is to be built up until one big breaking moment where the investment suddenly pans out. Of course, until that moment, one more person joining doesn’t really accomplish anything.

I see this as the crux of the argument, if your party has 100,000 members or 100,001 doesn’t make much of a difference. In the same way that 4,556,124 or 4,556,125 votes for Hillary made little difference in New York.

Our [anarchist] projects are generally geared to slope upwards in impact rather than being all or nothings, so that every additional bit of energy or time people invest directly accomplishes something real, like feeding the homeless or arming trans women.

When people are active, when they are performing a task, each additional person makes a difference.

In this process our strategies and projects cultivate active engagement every step of the way, rather than perpetuating a culture of passivity and complicity in larger institutions and habits beyond reproach.

In our democracy a ballot measure isn’t passed the moment enough names sign a form, even if a measure is put on a ballot years later a whole new election with new acts of voting are required.

In Colorado, an anti-fracking ballot measure which took years and hundreds if not thousands of hours to get on the ballot was handily defeated. Would those hours and organizing efforts have been better used to engage in direct action?

in our rejection of the democratic psychology, anarchists open ourselves to being on the lookout for opportunities of individual action. When agency is correctly grounded back in the individual minds that constitute the only true agents in the world, anarchism restores a personal responsibility often occluded or avoided by democratic thinking.





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