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Anarchism versus 100% Voting

category national | elections / politics | opinion/analysis author Thursday February 17, 2011 18:40author by ordinary citizen Report this post to the editors

Voting versus revolution

How practical in the short term is idea of an anarchist state?
Does not voting not actually keep the right wing parties in power

Anarchism / 100% voting

“If voting changed anything it would be made illegal” - Emma Goldman

I have read this quote repeatedly from this sources and know that it comes from a very intelligent Anarchist lady living in the US in the first part of the twentieth century. I feel that it is derived from a system of first past the post elections as they have in the UK and the US, with only two or three options where someone like Maggie Thatcher could have a majority in ‘83 with just 32% of the vote or Al Gore could get more overall votes in 2000 than Bush and still lose. Ask the Egyptians, the Chinese or the Iranians about having free elections and they would jump at the chance but our cool Anarchists would rather be out of the system.

The example often used by Anarchists is that of 1930s Spain when an Anarchist state was in place in the North for some time with for example the number of buses in Barcelona increasing from 6,000 to 7,000 in a year, when the workers took over the company. I have visited rural Catalonia and have seen the extension of this in the form of the agricultural Co-ops which pay a fair price to the growers and keep the money in circulation locally and firmly believe that this is the middle ground between top heavy Capitalism and Communism systems.

All that said we live in different times to those of 1930s Spain, in an age of Nuclear Power and Climate Change. Topics that need intergovernmental co operation. Back then most people still grew their own food but nowadays we are mostly trained to be good at one subject and thus require capital to buy food, energy and other basics.

The idea that appears to be put forward by Anarchists of destroying the system seems to me to be coming from a primarily middle to upper class background. For though the system does not help as much as it should the disadvantaged, it is far better than no system. How will a single mother with three children living in the Ballymun flats survive in such a revolution? Seriously has this been thought through properly? I feel that those who are pushing for this would be the first to realise what a bad move it was. There are some really dodgy people out there and if there was not a primarily fair police force protecting us from them there could be hell to pay.

We are all interconnected more and more and totally dependent on huge array of organisations working efficiently for our society to function. To change this to the system they propose will take a long time during which we will still need to elect people to make the decisions for the masses, people who will primarily be following this agenda. In the short term a form of decision making through referenda, as is in place in California, would give even more power to the people. My choice for first vote would be a cap of one billion on any citizens wealth with the rest going back to those most in need, I feel we could get more than 50% on this issue no matter how much the media would fight against it..

A form of anarchism is on the way but will probably not be caused by people with red fists on their flags but more to do with increasing oil prices and the gradual realisation how completely dependent we are on it for all our basics. This is going to be a rocky road and if we allow idiots to vote for idiots; Fine Gael and FF, we are sure to be in for a bumpy ride. This is especially true for poor people, for as oil and thus everything else goes up in price it will be the rich who will still be able to afford a certain standard of living while the poor will see theirs decrease rapidly. Our ancestors fought to give us this power of voting and though it may not be perfect and a list system would be preferable, it is far better than the first past the post one in place in other countries, where you just put an X beside a name whereas we at least can express a preference. Even in these systems there have been examples of governments that have worked for the common good. The Labour government of 1946 set out to give free medical coverage to all, the NHS which even Maggie thatcher would not touch, and the plan to house all its citizens. Measures that 60 years on Obama is finding difficult to implement in a so called advanced nation. If you look at the speech given by Roosevelt at the end of Michael Moore’s “Capitalism a Love Story”, his ideas would be called hard line Communist by modern Tea Party people. His measures to control big corporations were only really dismantled in 1999 thus leading to the mess we are in now.

Ireland has had a few decent Labour ministers in our past who have passed some insightful laws for their time. If they had not been part of a government that made economic decisions that have effectively bankrupt our country the two outgoing Green ministers would have been credited with implementing some policies that will help to ease the upcoming energy and resource crisis that is closer than many may want to believe.

A postman friend was out delivering election literature recently when an old lady started to give out about getting more rubbish in her letter box but when he informed her it was FF she brightened up saying something about liking them. It is the old who are keeping us locked in Civil War politics. They will vote for the side who their parents fought for until the day they die. Old people vote, this is why we are paying doctors four times more to deal with old people with medical cards than the rest of us.

Politicians for FF and FG are base people it is not very difficult to see what is going on in their little brains; get elected. They will please those people who they think will give them their votes. This is why a minor issue in a wealthy area will be dealt with far quicker than lifts being broken for months on end in the Ballymun flats. Up to 90% of the unemployed don’t vote. I say make them, make it compulsory to vote. Who apart from Anarchists would be most against this idea? Right wing politicians that’s who because I feel that if the young and poor did get out and vote that they would not be voting for FF or FG.

I often wonder who are these people who are questioned in opinion polls? Are the people who say that they are not voting just not factored in. Opinion poll after opinion poll showed FF with 42% before the last two elections but if my memory serves me correctly over 40% of people did not vote. Another positive of fining people, as they do in Australia, if they don’t vote is that you cannot sit smugly on the fence and criticise others for their decisions. In our present system we have all sorts of options unlike the UK with its three and the US with its two party system, so don’t dare claim “they are all the same” a motto used for years by FF voters to justify the underlying greed behind their decision and also maybe dissuade possible alternative party voters from bothering to use their power.

I look forward to a time when we all live in communities, where as many of the decisions that affect our lives as possible are made in a decentralised power system. I and many others see the coming energy crisis forcing us to live more localised, whereby as much of our food and energy is produced as locally as possible. I see canals coming back into use as in the future as it will not be a question of how fast it takes for goods to reach us but how much energy is required or if they will get to us at all.

A massive transition away from oil, the lifeblood of the Industrial Age, has begun and it is to be seen every day as oil prices rise and don’t come down. We have to start preparing for this and to use the terms once related to our property bubble this landing is either going to be soft or hard. We need people in positions of power that are capable of handling these changes not the salesmen who FG and FF put in cabinet, often based on Geographical positioning or friendship, loyalty to the leader.

What annoys me most about Anarchists is how intelligent they are, they see that the system is fundamentally flawed yet it appears to me that they are sustaining this fault by not participating and encouraging others to do the same while people who get all their news from tabloids blindly go out and obey whatever their media mogul tells them.

To finish the “they” mentioned in the quote up top are not as powerful as you might think, yes they are organised but not nearly as smart as people might think and with this ever more sophisticated media savvy generation the tricks and manipulations they got away with our parents will not work in an age of instant communication. By believing this crap it is you who is giving them the power and by believing in the ability of everything, including our politics, to evolve we will allow the space for real positive change now and in the near future. So VOTE because if you don’t that person who is presently reading “The Sun”, or as I call it “The Darkness” as it spreads nothing but fear and hate, may well have the deciding vote between a Left wing/Green/ Left independent candidate being elected in your area or a FF/FG candidate. Just think if those few people had not bothered to vote for Gormley in 97 we would have had McDowell as Minister for Justice for ten years instead of the excruciating five, if a few more hundred people had voted for Gore in Florida in 2000 hundreds of thousands of lives may have been saved in Iraq and the worlds attitude and actions in relation to climate change may have reached the levels necessary for dealing with this impending crisis. Fear of some mighty force did not prevent the Egyptians, Tunisians or our ancestors take on a ruling elite. We have more power than we might think and voting is one of many tools in our arsenals along with our consumer power and discernment of information including the piece you just read so make up your mind on the validity of this argument and on many issues and use your power, this is what will lay the foundations for a brighter, more sustainable, abundant future for all.

author by Joepublication date Fri Feb 18, 2011 12:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

It's not so much a matter of "destroying the system" , Citizen - more that the system , i.e, the capitalist system is threatening to destroy society. Since the 2008 financial crash , the right to work , the health service , education , the environment - all things that we had taken for granted , which you rightly say are necessary for the functioning of society - are under threat from the system .

A whole-scale assault on the living standards of the vast majority of the population for generations to come will be necessary in order to pay back the 200 billion euro debt incurred through the recent bank bail-outs . Single mothers in the Ballymun flats will have to lose all their measly benefits if that debt is to be repaid , their children and grandchildren forced to emigrate or become “seriously dodgy” themselves just to survive .

Internationally the capitalist system ,which is based on nation states competing for markets and resources , is rapidly driving the world to war. The " inter-governmental cooperation " Citizen refers to is being replaced by old trade rivalries - just as happened in the nineteen–thirties following the last major crash of the capitalist system.

Frederick Engels described the systemic boom-bust cycle of capitalism in 1880 this way:

“Commerce is at a standstill, the markets are glutted, products accumulate, as multitudinous as they are unsaleable, hard cash disappears, credit vanishes, factories are closed, the mass of the workers are in want of the means of subsistence, because they have produced too much of the means of subsistence; bankruptcy follows upon bankruptcy, execution upon execution.

The stagnation lasts for years; productive forces and products are wasted and destroyed wholesale, until the accumulated mass of commodities finally filter off, more or less depreciated in value, until production and exchange gradually begin to move again.

Little by little, the pace quickens. It becomes a trot. The industrial trot breaks into a canter, the canter in turn grows into the headlong gallop of a perfect steeplechase of industry, commercial credit and speculation, which finally, after breakneck leaps, ends where it began--in the ditch of a crisis. And so over and over again.”

By the way Citizen , “the dreadlocked Irish-Australian activist “, Ciaron O’Reilly has the quote about voting not making any difference coming from Phil Berrigan and not Emma Goldman . Whoever it was said it wasn't far off in my opinion .

author by HumDingerpublication date Fri Feb 18, 2011 12:51author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Quote:" How practical in the short term is idea of an anarchist state?"

It's not practical, anarchists oppose the state.

Anarchism isn't simply about not voting in general elections. It's about social relations.

author by ordinary citizenpublication date Fri Feb 18, 2011 15:58author address author phone Report this post to the editors

i agree with many of your points and the system is totally flawed and heading for a fall there is no way we can pay off the debts but would it not then be best if we went out and voted for parties that say that they wont pay instead of allowing old people to decide on our future based on a civil war that happened when mist of us were lucky to own a horse and cart
i feel that a localised system is the only way of cutting out the middle men who are reaping from everyone elses pain but it will not happen over night and help rather than indifference from those who decide how are tax money is spent would be preferable.
FG want us in NATO and the more intelligent people who dont get out and vote for a viable option in their area the more a reality this will be add the fact that people like David MCwilliams want us to go Nuclear we could have an even greater mess to deal with
how will we deal with the 5000 year old waste in a system that does not have some form of power structure?
i agree that the system as is will produce even more dangerous people as our young become increasingly disenfranchised but my point is that the kind of revolution seen in 30s Spain that appears to be pushed by some elements in the Anarchist movement is not very practical
a gradual shift will be more stable but as yet with only a small percentage of the population agreeing with the philosophy it would have to be forced onto the population
the system and the massive gaps in wealth and unsustainable use of resources will create the appetite for this change but in the mean time i would rather have people with some level of concern for the common good in positions of power than the morons we are being offered by the right wing parties

author by opus diablos - the regressive hypocrite partypublication date Fri Feb 18, 2011 16:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Anarchism vs voting is false dichotomy. Both have there place, and we should avoid dropping the improvement because we are grasping for some impossible, and potentially worse, utopia. Evolution got us this far, I'll not dump it with the accompanying revolutionary bathwater just yet.
Few revolutions have done more good than harm. But its always easier to prescribe simplistic solutions than wrestle with difficult problems in detail. If not Egypt would now be done and dusted rather than just opening a door that can still go any way. The Egyptian people built a consensual discipline, lets hope the usual subverters dont have their way. Either way they have shown us just how far we have to go before we are ready to implement a transition.

Theory is so neat and tidy. Shame about the complicated PEOPLE we have to deal with.
They seem to prove so intractible to our superior wisdom.

What did capitalism ever do for us, besides ensuring we survived to an age previous generations would consider miraculous.
Yes those benefits are criminally distributed; but pulling the creche apart in righteous anger wont solve it.

author by joepublication date Fri Feb 18, 2011 19:08author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Not one party seriously contending for government in this election is offering any sort of improvement for ordinary people in their manifesto . They are all offering voters some variety of sacrifice - Fine Gael even seems to be boasting about how hard it is going to be . A choice in order of sacrifice is all that’s on offer from any of the parties - tears ,sweat and blood instead of blood sweat and tears.

Grasping at Utopia is the very thing that people offering illusions of improvements under the present system are doing . Evolution didn’t get us this far as Opus D maintains . If it had been that easy there would have been no need for the Dublin lockout ,the Easter Rising ,the civil war , the civil rights movement . No need for the struggle against apartheid or any need to fight for human rights around the world . There would be no need for politics at all for that matter.

I take it from OC’s comments about not allowing old people to decide the future that he or she is a young ordinary citizen . But why should you let anybody ,young or old , decide your future for you , Citizen? Opus writes about revolutions doing more harm than good , but the exact opposite is the case: revolutions always do more good than harm . They happen when the masses of the people - ordinary citizens - enter into and consciously begin to make their own history . That’s real democracy ,something entirely progressive ,and very timely at this juncture in my opinion.

author by opus diablos - the regressive hypocrite partypublication date Sat Feb 19, 2011 17:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Pol Pot?Mussolini?Adolf? Stalin?Mugabe?

Even Zhou Enlai, when asked about the outcome of the French 1789 said it was too soon to tell.

But I think we are not in that big a disagreement. We could bog in semantics to no-one's benefit or enlightenment.

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