Saturday, December 17, 2011

not-voting, as an act of citizenship

i often suggest (demand/plea) that people stop voting for politicians, and i occasionally get the reply that this would result in only the wrong people voting- those who oppose democracy. quite true. if there were not more to it.

nonetheless, you must stop voting, if you are to stop america from sliding into tyranny*. further into tyranny, actually. you were half-way there when the constitution was established. the american people never assented to the imposition of the constitution. it was imposed by the various state governments. only rhode island put the question directly to the people, and the people rejected it. the united states of america, from its first day, was the counter-revolution of the rich against the revolution of 1776.

since then, finding themselves within its confines and yearning to improve their lives by whatever means are at hand, the electorate began voting for the lesser of two evils. this process of voting has a significance much greater than you may imagine: it transfers power from your hand to the winner of the election. by that act you transform yourself from an equal and active member of political society into a passive watcher, from 'citizen' to 'civilian.' office-holders have no right to power from birth, and not yet from direction of military power. their right to power is only in your assent expressed in voting. but by voting, you consent to your own subjugation. the system is unfair from the beginning, even when it works as it imports to. but it doesn't actually work that well:

the winner of the election becomes the wielder of the power of many, and is thereby corrupted: people shower him with bribes in search of favors, and he dispenses favors in search of more votes, and bribes.

what, then, to do? voting cements in place the corruption of society, not-voting allows the 'wrong' people to dominate society.

well, no, it doesn't: not-voting comes in two forms. the common form is the act of the private person, the manifestation of 'hell with politics, it's fixed.' it is common, because voting is nearly useless- it is not connected to getting any particular result beyond putting a particular face in a seat of power. any reasonable person might well shrug the shoulders and say "hell with it!"

but there is another kind of 'not-voting.' public and organized not-voting by a group of people who are united in pursuit of a common goal is much more effective in getting a result than voting for a face. it is voting for a citizen initiative in a society that does not have citizen initiative.

a focused not-voting campaign is vastly more productive than shaking a fist in a street demo. 100,000 people shaking their fist on the street feels good, and looks good on the 6 o'clock news, but if you are not committed to the violent over-throw of the government, then they will wait you out, and turn you into a tourist attraction while you're there. if you want to modify a politician's behavior without shooting, nothing approaches being regularly and frequently presented with a list of 100,000 voters saying in concert: "no mas!" notice, by the way, that initial 'public and organized.' that is the distinguishing mark of political not-voting, and both parts are necessary. (see my post 'democracy, and revolution' for more on this.)

that is the hard part: americans have little experience with any kind of political action beyond assenting to a face to rule over them. it's very easy to raise a demo, brief, emotionally fulfilling, but telling them to send a form email on the first of the month and keep on doing it, in the face of silence, requires a certain amount of character.

but remember gandhi's observation: "first, they ignore you,,,, and then you win." better yet, sending simultaneous emails on the first of the month to interested parties is easy and free: even fast-food, immediate gratification americans may be able to do it.

my estimation is, that a citizen is not a citizen without citizen initiative, anymore than a carpenter is a carpenter without a hammer. that should be the first goal of anyone hoping to reform a society.

*i use tyranny here in its modern sense.

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