• NOS4A2
    6.3k


    Good point. Maybe the problem is more with representative democracy than voting itself. In America, at least, some constituencies are massive. The conceit that one person can represent the will of that many voters is pure humbug.
  • javi2541997
    2.4k
    Maybe the problem is more with representative democracy than voting itself.NOS4A2

    Exactly. Representative democracy is no longer effective because they do not "represent" us. It is a filthy lie to get a seat in the congress and start plotting to rule the state.
    The problem here is how to get rid of all of those politicians who do not represent us. It looks like impossible because they approve laws to reinforce their seats.
    Conclusion: it is a trap the act of voting itself. So, as you well proposed, I also think that not voting is the only defence we still have against them
  • Cuthbert
    1k
    ........refusing to vote seems a viable position in this regard. But there is little philosophy on the subject and very little writing I can find comfort in.NOS4A2

    But haven't you overlooked the philosophy of Anarchism? States are - in themselves and regardless of form - unjust and oppressive. Voting colludes with injustice.

    If there is a State, there must be domination of one class by another and, as a result, slavery; the State without slavery is unthinkable—and this is why we are the enemies of the State. — Bakunin

    The slogan of the 1970's - 1980's was 'If voting changed anything, it would be illegal.' For all I know, it's still current but I don't tend to meet anarchists now so I can't say.

    The Anarchist Library has plenty of papers with titles such as 'Anarchists Do Not Vote, They Fight' and 'The Case Against Voting', 'Angry, Not Apathetic' etc. https://theanarchistlibrary.org/category/topic/anti-voting.

    The Stanford entry on Anarchism is sound but unsympathetic.
  • Cuthbert
    1k
    Maybe I've remembered wrong but didn't you post somewhere about the Council of Aragon? You know this stuff?

    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/comment/690369
  • NOS4A2
    6.3k


    That’s what I was looking for. Thanks. I don’t follow too much anarchist literature. There’s often too much collectivism in it for my tastes.
  • Cuthbert
    1k
    Then perhaps individualist anarchism is what you want. Stirner, Proudhon.

    The Ego and Its Own had a destructive impact on Stirner’s left-Hegelian contemporaries, and played a related and significant role in the evolution of the thought of Karl Marx. Concerning its longer term historical influence, Stirner’s best-known work has become a founding text in the political tradition of individualist anarchism. — Stanford on Max Stirner

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/max-stirner/

    I will hazard a guess why collectivist anarchism prevails, which is that people see what some individuals get up to outside state control and wonder how the interests of the weaker can be protected. But collectivism, if prescribed, re-invents the state. It's a problem, for which rejection of anarchy itself may be the only solution.
  • Agent Smith
    8k
    Those whose answer to the OP's query is no! are under the (false?) impression that abstaining (from voting) implies/is tantamount to undermining/rejecting the democratic process. There's a grain of truth in there for refusal to participate in a system, any system, sometimes means that the system has failed to deliver if you catch my drift.
  • javi2541997
    2.4k
    individualist anarchism is what you want.Cuthbert

    It seems to be a worthy cause against the classical system of representatives...
  • Cuthbert
    1k
    But that brand of anarchism may be either identical with - or easily mistaken for - or too liable to degenerate into - the kind of unaccountable individualism that we see in the global above-all-states economy. 'Anarchy' in the sense of wild-west lawlessness. We get crypto-currency outside the exploitative state-controlled banking systems. And behold, it is a gift to international crime and exploitation of other kinds.
  • Bylaw
    301
    Voting totals justify those who are in or come into office. If less and less people vote, the system is less and less justified. So, not voting can be seen as not consenting the process (on your part and to the extent you let others know, as you have done here) and also, if to a tiny extent, the voting totals. I think that can justify not voting.

    A sort of side note: you ask if it is a valid political position. I think this can easily be conflated with: do you think it is ok/good/right that I do this? Which are very, very different categories. I think it indisputable that it can be a valid political position. Doesn't mean it is right. But given that we are dealing with values and incredibly complex phenomena, I think a rational case can be made for it.

    Probably for most people to strengthen the position you do not merely avoid voting but also take some kind of public stand.

    It reminds me a little of the way third party candidates are treated and their potential voters. This is the US I am thinking of. The moment someone announces a third party candidate, pundits and large numbers of the citizens who would vote for the candidate who will likely lose votes to the third party candidate scream that it is sabotage, wasted votes, problematically romantic and unrealistic spoiling of the election.

    Which 1) makes it even less likely the third candidate could win. If they all just shut up, who knows where it would lead. In other words it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy; 2) assumes that what is just around the bend is the only issue. What if third party candidates slowly got more and more votes? What if the two parties had to deal with a broader range of issues and lost their hegemony over time?

    Basically they are damning us to lesser evil elections of the very rich and people that the incredibly rich approve of. We survived the two devils (which is a devil depends on your politics) Obama and Trump - that should cover most people's idea of the Devil, if not the Bushes and Clinton also). This short game thinking might just be a problem.

    So it can be with not voting.
  • javi2541997
    2.4k
    I see that "anarchism" is often related to individualism and it is true because politics tend to be inspired for the group.
    I understand your point that we cannot live outside law. We need an order and control to our actions and responsibilities.
    Nevertheless, I think it should be important to do something against this insufficient establishment of representative. For now, the act of not voting in the right path to follow.
  • Cuthbert
    1k
    By not voting - and also not standing for election - and also not doing anything to protest against or to change the constitutional system - then I am consenting to any result. It is the democratic equivalent of a shrug. It means 'whatever', 'I don't care'. Let whoever wins, win. But the shrug does not quite shrug off all responsibility. The point remains that I could have done something to sway the result and I chose not to. So abstaining is, after all, equivalent to a vote. Whoever wins, I voted for them by failing to have added my vote to the numbers voting against them. It's a moral risk.
  • javi2541997
    2.4k
    Obama and Trump - that should cover most people's idea of the Devil, if not the Bushes and Clinton also).Bylaw

    Most PM are puppets of a few wich really holds the power. It could be interesting to see how effective would be not voting at all. What would happen to those puppets.
    Everything is a lie and they made up a system to get seats and earn money without responsibilities. What a shame.
  • javi2541997
    2.4k
    Let whoever wins, win.Cuthbert

    The problem is this. Everybody wins inside politics. The government and the opposition. Pur votes give them power to always win in whatever issues.
  • Isaac
    9k
    By not voting - and also not standing for election - and also not doing anything to protest against or to change the constitutional system - then I am consenting to any result.Cuthbert

    But that's not the same as consenting to the policies of those who get in. Simply consenting that whomever got in is the legal holder of the that office. I don't see anything in that which mitigates the political message of not voting.
  • Philosophim
    1.3k
    Of course not voting is a viable position. Your refusal to participate in who gets to make laws about you is fine. Just don't complain when people pass laws that you don't want. If you want to go with the flow of the river because fighting against the current is too hard, distasteful, or seems impossible, go for it. The current will always be happy to have one less thing it has to fight against.
  • Cuthbert
    1k
    Some people don't vote as a protest and some are merely indifferent. When it is not possible to distinguish protest from apathy then 'protest' is no longer an applicable description. To qualify as a protester I must at least explain my reasons to the people with power. I must at least write a letter, stand on a street corner with a placard, join a club. Sitting at home does not in itself entitle me to the label.
  • Isaac
    9k
    Just don't complain when people pass laws that you don't want.Philosophim

    When it is not possible to distinguish protest from apathy then 'protest' is no longer an applicable description.Cuthbert

    How do either of these positions differ in the case of voting? It is also impossible to tell the difference between enthusiastic support and reluctant consent just from a vote.

    If I vote Labour am I supporting all of their policies, some of them (which ones), none of them (but want the Tories out)? You can't tell. So it seems irrelevant.

    And I don't understand why voting then provides the right to complain. If anything, it's the opposite, you actually provided your written consent for the person to run the country for you.
  • Philosophim
    1.3k
    How do either of these positions differ in the case of voting? It is also impossible to tell the difference between enthusiastic support and reluctant consent from a vote.Isaac

    Your emotional opinion has nothing to do with the outcome of voting. Voting is electing that a group of people that you are involved in should do something, or not do something. Your refusal to participate in the process simply means you don't get any say on what goes on around you. Its like being a child.

    And I don't understand why voting then provides the right to complain. If anything, it's the opposite, you actually provided your written consent for the person to run the country for you.Isaac

    Voting does not provide written consent that the country gets to run you. That's consented the day you enter the countries borders. Its consented on every day you decide to continue to live there. Voting is the ability to have a say in how they get to run you, and others around you.

    Imagine a person who complains they can't lose weight, but doesn't exercise and eats junk food all day. If they complain, they will simply be viewed as lazy by people around them. The person who is exercising daily and working on their diet gets to complain and will likely receive some respect from the people around them.
  • Isaac
    9k
    Voting is electing that a group of people that you are involved in should do something, or not do something. Your refusal to participate in the process simply means you don't get any say on what goes on around you. Its like being a child.Philosophim

    That's just repeating the assertion, not explaining why.

    Imagine a person who complains they can't lose weight, but doesn't exercise and eats junk food all day. If they complain, they will simply be viewed as lazy by people around them.Philosophim

    Probably.

    That's because it's provably true that dieting and exercise has a very high probability of causing you to lose weight. Hence if you don't do it you're not trying.

    Voting does not have a provably high probability of causing the country to be run in a way you wouldn't complain about. In fact, when it has been tested, it's shown quite the opposite.

    So what's the link between voting and complaint?

    If I said an overweight person had no right to complain about their weight if they can't even be bothered to listen to heavy metal, you'd consider that unjustified. Why? Because there's no demonstrable link between listening to heavy metal and losing weight.

    There's no demonstrable link between voting and getting the country run the way you want it. So why does doing so confer a right to complain denied to those who don't?
  • Isaac
    9k
    Say there are two parties, the car party and the anti-car party. In my village, everyone has a car which they drive whenever, clean lovingly on Sundays, read magazines about etc, and last year the anti-car party got no votes.

    In what way does my voting anti-car change that situation?

    An election is just a snapshot of how things stand with people's political persuasions. I don't change anything by making that snapshot more or less accurate.
  • Philosophim
    1.3k
    That's just repeating the assertion, not explaining why.Isaac

    My apologies then, I did not understand the question.

    That's because it's provably true that dieting and exercise has a very high probability of causing you to lose weight. Hence if you don't do it you're not trying.Isaac

    And yet many people who exercise and attempt to diet do not lose weight. It is no guarantee. Of course voting does not mean you'll get what you want. But its one of the few viable processes of expressing what you want. You're also viewing yourself as an island. People vote. That means you can convince people in your community to vote as well. You can advertise. You can run for office yourself.

    Take the opposite, that you can't vote at all. That you can't congregate with others to discuss what you're going to vote on. You have absolutely no choice to be run by a few others who have all the power. Do you want that? Is that somehow more favorable?

    The reason why you don't get everything you want when you vote, is because others vote too. Which means some voters in any vote, will win. Sometimes that can be you, but only if you vote too. Either you're at the table, and will receive some modicum of respect and consideration, or you're at the kids table while the adults make decisions about your life.

    In what way does my voting anti-car change that situation?Isaac

    To re-emphasize in my reply to your first post, voting is done by people. You could start a campaign to be anti-car. You can be the first vote. Then go explain to people why. Many people may hear your explanations and think, "Yeah, anti-car is the way to go!" Even if you don't win the vote, if you start getting a sizable amount of anti-car people, the car people have to start considering you. Maybe they'll compromise on cars a bit.

    Let me give you an example of some real life statistics. Generally people in their early 20's don't vote very much. As such, candidates don't court them. Each time you don't vote, your demographic is not considered in policies, as those who vote are. And so you sit around thinking, "Politicians won't care about my vote anyway", thus perpetuating the cycle.

    If you don't want to vote, don't vote. A lot of people worked very hard and died so you could. But it is not noble, efficient, or beating the system. It is surrender without a fight. You have that choice of course. But if you choose not to fight, don't expect people to be sympathetic when you complain about the outcome.
  • javi2541997
    2.4k
    Take the opposite, that you can't vote at all. That you can't congregate with others to discuss what you're going to vote on. You have absolutely no choice to be run by a few others who have all the power. Do you want that? Is that somehow more favorable?Philosophim

    It is literally the same issue but we don't waste our time to go a poll and vote for politicians. China is a good example to consider of. They do not "vote" there. They just elect their general secretary of Chinese Communist Party. They decide what is convenient to Chinese citizens instead of calling to emptiness elections. We all can be agree here that China is a dictatorship but you have to accept that they are the power ruling the world right now, so they are not doing the things that bad...
    Examples as China show us that we are just overrated democracy and the system of representatives. Simple.
  • javi2541997
    2.4k
    Either you're at the table, and will receive some modicum of respect and consideration, or you're at the kids table while the adults make decisions about your life.Philosophim

    How can I (as a citizen) join the adult's table? Anyone knows the formula? Because it seems to be so opaque inside politics and who are the ones making and ruling the decisions
  • Philosophim
    1.3k
    We all can be agree here that China is a dictatorship but you have to accept that they are the power ruling the world right now, so they are not doing the things that bad..javi2541997

    No, we do not. No, China has a lot of its own problems as well. We're talking about places where your vote is actually free and counted, not a fake democracy. And no, America is not a fake Democracy.

    How can I (as a citizen) join the adult's table? Anyone knows the formula?javi2541997

    Did you read the rest of what I wrote? You are not an island. Join a group. Make one. Also consider where your vote matters more. Local politics often times only take a few individuals to make major changes. Start there.
  • NOS4A2
    6.3k


    I’ve read Stirner and Proudhon and reject both egoism and socialism. I gravitate more towards people like Herbert Spencer, Albert Jay Nock, HD Thoreau, HL Mencken, who are probably more literary than philosophical.

    That’s an interesting point about eventually rejecting anarchism, though. I myself haven’t taken the plunge because I’m not quite sure man can govern himself just yet.
  • javi2541997
    2.4k
    And no, America is not a fake Democracy.Philosophim

    ... what?

    Also consider where your vote matters more. Local politics often times only take a few individuals to make major changes. Start there.Philosophim

    The problem we are discussing in this thread is that our votes do not matter or count at all. It doesn't matter if we speak about local or national politics. Everything ends up with same issue: ineffectiveness. Whenever they catch their seat they forget why we voted them. It is a system where only a few wins. There are not changes. The issue only changes when those in the power start seeing the problems so close. They do not care about us and I do not want pay them with my taxes
  • Cuthbert
    1k
    It is also impossible to tell the difference between enthusiastic support and reluctant consent just from a vote.Isaac

    That's right. If someone describes themselves as an 'enthusiastic supporter' on the strength of voting, they are over-stating the case. If someone describes themselves as a 'protester' on the strength of not voting, it's another overstatement.
  • Isaac
    9k
    many people who exercise and attempt to diet do not lose weight. It is no guarantee.Philosophim

    No. I said it was highly probable. Getting what you want by voting isn't. It's quite literally only going to achieve that if yours happens to be the casting vote. In all other situations the world will carry on exactly the same regardless.

    its one of the few viable processes of expressing what you want.Philosophim

    I don't see how. As I said, if I vote for Labour that could mean I agree with anything from all of their policies to none of them. It barely reveals anything about what I want and a well conducted survey would reveal far more.

    People vote. That means you can convince people in your community to vote as well. You can advertise. You can run for office yourself.Philosophim

    I can. None of which are voting. In fact, if I successfully managed to convince 60% of the population of my ideas, I still wouldn't need to vote.

    Take the opposite, that you can't vote at all. That you can't congregate with others to discuss what you're going to vote on. You have absolutely no choice to be run by a few others who have all the power.Philosophim

    Why? You're assuming voting is the only response to power.

    Which means some voters in any vote, will win. Sometimes that can be you, but only if you vote too.Philosophim

    Nonsense. I don't need to vote to find out if others have similar principles to me. I only need look out of the window. If I were to vote I might vote Green, or Communist Party. I don't need to eagerly await the election to discover neither of those candidates are going to win. So my vote did what, exactly?

    Either you're at the table, and will receive some modicum of respect and consideration, or you're at the kids table while the adults make decisions about your life.Philosophim

    This is just patronising bullshit. Voting is not a 'table' in any sense whatsoever. There's no discussion, no interaction. We're presented with choices and we decide which one we least hate. that's it.

    ou could start a campaign to be anti-car. You can be the first vote. Then go explain to people why. Many people may hear your explanations and think, "Yeah, anti-car is the way to go!"Philosophim

    All of which can be done without voting too. My actual vote is irrelevant.

    Even if you don't win the vote, if you start getting a sizable amount of anti-car people, the car people have to start considering you. Maybe they'll compromise on cars a bit.Philosophim

    Why? If 60% love cars and 40% hate them, you go with pro-car policies and win. You don't water them down. Why would you?

    Let me give you an example of some real life statistics. Generally people in their early 20's don't vote very much. As such, candidates don't court them. Each time you don't vote, your demographic is not considered in policies, as those who vote are. And so you sit around thinking, "Politicians won't care about my vote anyway", thus perpetuating the cycle.Philosophim

    Which would only make any difference at all if my demographic wanted the same things as me. Otherwise why would I care if my demographic gets considered. My demographic tend to be heavily conservative so I'd prefer they were considered less.

    It is surrender without a fight.Philosophim

    Voting is not a fight. Not even in the slightest bit. It's an exercise in statistical bureaucracy to find out who people want to hold that office. There's not even the tiniest element of 'fight' in it. It's like filling in a census.
  • Isaac
    9k
    If someone describes themselves as a 'protester' on the strength of not voting, it's another overstatement.Cuthbert

    Maybe, but the question was about it's being a political position, not a protest. IF voting Labour is a political position (despite the fact that it might be only strategic, or habit, or defeatist), then so is not voting (despite the fact that it might be apathy, laziness or stupidity).
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