TOTW: On democracy, electoral politics, and voting

  • Posted on: 24 October 2016
  • By: thecollective

Like so many anarchists, perhaps your brain has begun to hurt and your to stomach churn when you hear yet another conversation about the USA presidential election, or talk of any election or democracy for that matter. With the election a little more than two weeks away perhaps now is a good time to pause and reflect on our anarchist analysis of democracy, electoral politics, and our actions leading up to and beyond this election cycle.

The anarchist critique of democracy has been quite popular over the years including numerous discussions, debates, and essays. Anarchists have made and continue to make solid critiques of democracy, electoral politics, and statecraft. Most recently CrimethInc. created an online and offline discussion group(s) to further examine the ideas behind anarchism and democracy. While the discussion has been somewhat slow (online) recently, we’d like to dissect some of the questions and post some others here.

How can we use the word “democracy” to inform our conversations around our use of language? What examples from your local experience illustrate the difference between anarchistic and democratic models for decision-making and action? In what ways are your personal relationships democratic? In what ways are they anarchistic? How do we make our anarchistic values more comprehensible and convincing than democratic principals? What are your favorite (or least favorite) anarchist critiques of democracy?

What happens after the election? What will the future of anarchist ideas and actions look like under Trump or Clinton? Does it matter for anarchists who wins?

And finally, this may seem absurd to many who read this site, but are you voting? If so, why and for who?



outside of the USA, in Mexico - the Zapatistas recently proposed running an indigenous woman for the 2018 presidential election there. their proposal received a good deal of criticism and they responded here to such critique (in English). here is a general news article covering the stir up. don't mean to hijack the thread from the previous questions, but what do anarchists think of this move by the zapatistas?

anarchists think about this zapatista move what they think about the zapatistas in general: "they're not anarchists"

so insightful

while the zapatistas may not necessarily be anarchists - anarchists have supported and continue to support their struggle via solidarity actions. although, as the zapatistas have said real solidarity with a rebellion abroad is creating rebellion at home. many anarchists, especially those of the radical ecology sort have taken cues from indigenous resistance. the crossed wrench and stone axe symbol hold the very essence of the moment; a fighting unity between primal people and those deep in industrial society who want to wrench their way out.

the anarchism of indigenous peoples puts spontaneous in-the-now intuition in precedence over fixed rational calculation; ... it puts in-the-now situational influence before fixed intention as the actualizer of actions, and it employs no list of 'allowed' and 'prohibited' practices. indigenous anarchists orient to 'in-the-now journey' while non-indigenous anarchists commonly orient to a 'future destination'.

for this reason, it is difficult to use the term 'anarchism' in pan-cultural reference to non-hierarchical ways of organizing in Eastern and indigenous peoples collectives and also in Western culture conditioned peoples collectives.

Western anarchism is a kind of 'reformed political practice'; i.e. an organizing approach which, while it rejects authoritarian political practice, has not let go of binary moral judgement based retributive justice; e.g. it differs from the anarchism in Taoism, which is cited as one of the earlier forms of anarchism, in that the beyond-good-and-evil orientation to the reduction of suffering in Taoism is replaced in Western moralist anarchism, by ideological specification of good/allowed practices and bad/prohibited practices. Taoist anarchism explicitly rejects the use of moral principles to "bring everyone in line".

"the more you pile up ethical principles
and duties and obligations
To bring everyone in line,
The more you gather loot
For a thief like Khang.
By ethical argument
and moral principle
The greatest crimes are eventually shown
To have been necessary, and, in fact,
A signal benefit to mankind.
--The way of Chuang Tzu, transl. Thomas Merton.

While participating in the electing of an authoritarian government would be like 'sinning' to Western moralist anarchists, as is evident from many of the comments in this forum on the earlier topic of anarchists voting, ... for Zapatista with Mayan influence, their 'reduction of suffering' orientation would have them look at the utility of this in a 'beyond good and evil' context (e.g. "Gukumatz, the Mayan cultural hero, represents the forces of good and evil, similar to the yin/yang paradigm of Oriental religions")

Thus, as it says in the linked article reproducing Marcos' (now 'Galeano's) explanation, the Zapatista's consideration of running a candidate was clearly not a 'destination-oriented' action;

"When the decision to consider running a candidate was first announced by the Zapatistas, they specified that it was not being done as a means of securing power [but to expose contradictions].
"You who are reading this: would you be bothered by watching and listening to a debate between the Calderona (Zavala) from above, with her 'traditional' luxury brand clothing, and a woman below, of Indigenous blood, culture, language, and history? Would you be more interested in hearing what the Calderona promises or what the Indigenous woman proposes? Wouldn’t you want to see this clash of two worlds?” asked Galeano."
“We confirm that our struggle is not for power, we do not seek it,” read the joint statement from the National Indigenous Congress and the Zapatistas.
Galeano's [Marcos'] letter appeared to reaffirm that their goal in presenting a candidate would be to expose the contradictions of the Mexican political system."

since some of us associate far more closely with Mayan-Zapatista and Taoist beyond-good-and-evil suffering-reducing anarchism than with Western moralist anarchism, rather than accepting Western moralist anarchists in these forum threads declaring that Zapatistas are not anarchists, we could clarify things by acknowledging both 'beyond-good-and-evil anarchists' (indigenous anarchists, Taoists, Nietzsche-ists) and moralist-anarchists so as to make anarchism more inclusive rather than less.

The " anarchism of indigenous peoples [which]puts spontaneous in-the-now intuition in precedence over fixed rational calculation;" is the non-historical perception of time neither rectilinear nor circular, but in the 'now'. History creates the point called 'event', whether in the Christian millenarianist linear historical narrative or the Ancient recycling fictions and miracles, all re-enactments of former experiences, but never actually living the experience in the 'now', only ritualizing it, as a fact, as a law, how to vote, how to think, and how to live. Thus everyone in the linear paradigm is concerned with mortgage payments. Sad!

editorial comment:
we're going back to trying to re-post emile's epic-length posts in the forums. the plan is to post links and this explanation every time we do it. some of us find the sheer magnitude of words to be a problem for conversations.

it strikes me that there is a trend to lengthier comments where there is a need, and i and perhaps some others enjoy the opportunity to read the more elaborated comments so as to be able to use context to tighten up the author's intended meaning.

and of course where the subject is not of interest, one can scroll over it, a trade-off for leaving elaborated comments in, which i am glad to pay for, to get the elaborations of others, ... but we have been through this before and being that there are some/many who feel otherwise, if it must be so, thanks for leaving a stub in the thread that preserves the threading context and lets whoever might be interested, read the comment by clicking on it while those who aren't interested, get to avoid the longer scroll.

meanwhile, i am hoping that there will be a more or less equivalent 'cut and relocate' threshold length for everyone, rather than discriminatory treatment.

Hello this is the Anarchist Spokesperson in person, who speaks for every single anarchist in at least NA...

The Radiozapatista collection of texts is a confusing, hardly-intelligible mess, and the article talks about a strange move by the Zapatista that could prove to be some subversion of the Mexican political spectacle... or not, being a thinly-veiled attempt at a serious entryism into State politics. Dunno what to make of it.

I actually don't mind the idea of throwing someone into the civilized arena to make anarchic insulated interests be known. It's part of how surviving subsisting indigenous groups operate. The key is that the insulated don't go into that arena. It has to be someone that has attachments to both the insulated world and the bablyonian world outside.

Your obsession with rhetorical originality is making you barely readable.

...not that my neighbors care, for all that matters.

make (land) into an island.
"the village was insulated by every flood of the river"

That's how I'm using the term, insular is fine to.

Yeah, so it's a 360 degrees back to the same meaning. Only that you desperately needed to sound intelligent, where it actually makes you unintelligible. "Communication" look it up!

There was another post on this exact same subject just recently:

Damn, the news wire is starting to get repetitious!

Personally, I think that Donald Trump wants to become an outright dictator, whereas Hillary Clinton is just your run of the mill corrupt career politician. I would rather have the kind of B.S. that we are used to over a dictator. And the best way for us to stop a Donald Trump regime from coming about right now is for us to vote for Hillary Clinton.

Yes, advocating for people to vote for Hillary Clinton is certainly not an "anarchist" sentiment, but preventing an outright dictatorship from coming about in the U.S. seems like an important task for anarchists to be engaged in.

You're an idiot... Believing that politicians can have any serious leverage on the US military-techno-industrial complex, where it's the other way around. The real dictators are the finance gangs in Wall Street and now the new priest class of Silicon Valley.

Trump is a fascist fuck for sure, but just a clown compared to those who run society through economics. A dictator? In his dreams... or your liberal nightmares. You need to consolidate a lot o power to be a dictator. Trump possesses no solid means or connections to consolidate any; where on the other hand anything Hilary will say is going to be repeated by the mainstream media as the new normal, and she can only wink to her generals for any new military invasion/covert war.

Whoever's gonna take power (Hilary obviously) is going to be their executor-in-chief anyways.

what anarchists don't seem to understand about democracy is that people vote to elect representatives who speak for them. the crux is that speaking through someone else is constitutionally protected in the first amendment by the very definition of free speech. anarchists are obvious proponents of free speech, like emma goldman. if anarchists want to abolish the government they should speak through someone who could effect that abolition, and the first step would be to elect someone. it's really urgent that we get that done soon, so it's time to abandon ideas about anarchist purity and rethink voting in general .the clear course of action is to vote for someone who is definitely going to win. that's why i wait until the last possible minute to vote and vote for whoever is obviously going to win. this is the only practical application of anarchist praxis in the crazy world we live in today.

Thats why i'm voting trump. I hope the reaction to him is enough to see the creation of liberated zones like in the spanish civil war against franco....

Exactly, I'm also going to vote for him, unless he loses.

Trump is DOA, but you can vote for him for the tongue-in-cheek value if you want.

Any idiot who thinks America's future is decided in the voting booths isn't only an idiot, but an authoritarian, statist idiot. I'll take the idiocy of careless punk rockers any day against this brand.

"what anarchists don't seem to understand about democracy is that people vote to elect representatives who speak for them. ... if anarchists want to abolish the government they should speak through someone who could effect that abolition, and the first step would be to elect someone"

you are pathetic. any anarchist i would have any kind of affinity with absolutely REJECTS representation. period. plus, if you believe that electing a politician to abolish government is remotely feasible, you are more delusional than pathetic.

Yeah way to take my points out of context and resort to ad hominems...whose pathetic now?

These were your exact words:

if anarchists want to abolish the government they should speak through someone who could effect that abolition

What is this idea of "speaking through" someone else if not a tacit approval of political "representation?" While the tone of the previous anon poster's comment may have been a little more hostile than necessary, there was nothing "out of context" about it.

lol @ you taking "my exact words" out of their exact context of my other words. you're not fooling anyone and we all know you must rely on such dishonest argumentative tactics because your own stance on voting is archaic and you know it.

I found nothing in your other words that would modify the context of the cited passage in such a way that does not affirm the notion of "representation." If you think I'm wrong, then please point them out to me.

My comment is clear and anarchistic and the very act of quoting from it is a decontextualizing, which is ironic since your objection to representation you lead yourself to represent me against my will, and furthermore reinforcing my argument that the anarchist position on voting is a intentional and dishonest decontextualizing of representation from neo-leftist democratic reified models. You are haunted by spooks, you pathetic leftist.

Nope, sorry. The very act of quoting from it is not decontextualizing, it's just restating what you yourself have already said. If you can't go into specifics about how you are being taken out of context, then I can only conclude that this is just a convenient way of sidestepping criticism.

how rich that this is the rhetoric you will employ to "sidestep" my initial criticism entirely. convenient, indeed. tu quo que, leftist. i bet you're even the kind of pititful who will line up to vote for the losing candidate and then blog all the way to your masters that "i don't vote because i'm an anarchist". Recuperation much?

Alright, I confess: I actually voted for Gary Johnson just this afternoon. Looks like you caught me red-handed. But don't tell anyone. I have a reputation to maintain.

We wish for Trump to build large wall around reserve to keep Anglo-Saxon Celtic peoples out of our spaces then everything is OK they can blow themselves up just stay away uhunnn?

The funniest thing with this campaign is that now if you wanna vote for world peace you have no choice but to vote for a fascist, xenophobic insane clown who's supported by the worst from the Deep South.

Hands down... There's simply no argument standing against this claim. The Democrats have been war-mongering against Russia in a way that's become increasingly dangerous and there's no reason to believe this is going to get any better with Hillary in charge. While Trump has stood for a buddying with Russia and a downsizing of the US military machine... calling exactly for what the US establishment doesn't wanna see. I dunno who Chomsky isn't endorsing him at that point, given how he's been so hardcore into "free speech" to the point of standing up for past Holocaust deniers and White supremacists. Fear of losing his face?

Where Obama was accepting some level of dealings with Putin, the neocon faction of the Democrats may be unleashed even more under Clinton. That's just my guess of how politics are in this crowd tho. It may just all be smoke and mirrors.

Can we have a discussion about the degree to which shameless Russian propaganda has infiltrated anti-establishment discourses? If we're gonna talk about resistance being recuperated by false dichotomies between reprehensible state actors...

"Can we have a discussion about the degree to which shameless Russian propaganda has infiltrated anti-establishment discourses?"

Dunno... Democrat propaganda has been doing that already, no? To them, Julian Assange and Wikileaks are Putin assets.

Speaking of online Russian propaganda, it is present and active without a doubt, but is quite weak compared to the vast NATO propaganda apparatus. Here's the latest evidence of this, that was quite a cool action in its own...

Put that in comparison with a bullet shot at NSA's HQ from an expressway nearby not long ago, that may or may not have been premeditated, this one shows how comparatively huge the security is within the Western police state.

I dunno if anyone's actually alleging Assange/Wikileaks are actually *agents* of the Kremlin, but they've certainly drank the kool-aid. It's pretty damn obvious at this point that they're trying to swing the election in Trump's favour with help from Russian hackers. Whether they're doing that because Assange is getting a cheque or just because he's losing his mind is anyone's guess, but either way it's getting harder and harder to take him/them seriously every day.

I guess I'm just wondering why so many comrades (even here apparently) fall for the whole infowars/counterpunch Putin fanboy bit.

Is to force people who have executive power to be more transparent or make their life harder and expose what they have to hide. The reason he is going after Hillary is because she has a long history of executive power which includes a separation of public and private position. I don't see him as intentionally wanting to help Tronald Dump. If you understand his agenda then there is a reason why Hillary is the focal point of exposure.

Still doesn't explain the timing of the leaks. Or all the posturing about dropping an "October surprise" in advance. Or the lack of anything critical of either Trump or the Republicans. Or that creepy anti-semitic tweet last week...

Dude is melting down, and he's always been a bit of a megalomaniac. There never really was an agenda outside his massive ego.

If they really wanted to fuck the bitch the would have released this stuff earlier. They get them when they get them and they do the necessary vetting so as to not tarnish their 10 year record. Trump has not accumulated executive power on the same level as Hillary. The targeting is understandable in that context. Also, remember what they did to Bush jr. I'm not sure what anti-semetic tweet you are referring to. Remember, Assange lost his internet access so it might have been someone else.

He may have an ego to some degree, but I think you have to when you are talking about being this infamous. It's never all altruism.

Yes. Assange spent all that time threatening to release an "October Surprise" that would scuttle her campaign at the last minute but he's really just been releasing leaks "when they get them". Grow up.

It was more media that framed it that way then him. Also, again, this stuff would have been more damaging during her battle with Sanders. Also, the overall effect he is trying to accomplish is making her inevitable future administration more transparent and less secretive.

Probably because Assange knows how today's US politics work... especially in how just getting more votes for Trump won't get him the POWER he needs to push his agenda in any serious way, or being even close to a political threat. Hillary, on the other hand, is a key actor entangled in a vast network of devastating State-corporate power. One that can and has equally instilled and brutally repressed uprisings in the ME, Haiti, South America and the African continent. Look at Google's and Facebook's paradoxical roles in Egypt and Turkey, as well as ISIS, for instance.

She's a main asset in a techno-military-industrial-financial complex that is at least as threatening for the world than Nazi Germany was in the 40's. Only somewhat rivaled by maybe Putin. Trump, compared to this, is just a very helpful killer clown.

(was a reply to Anon 10/28/2016 - 05:21)

That's a pretty optomistic, if hyperbolic assessment. It assumes that an electoral success for trump wouldn't translate to the state level, and that all the Republicans currently distancing themselves in case he loses won't jump on board if he wins. It also assumes that all of these deep state forces backing Hillary wouldn't be able to operate if trump wins and that others wouldn't be able to operate. It ignores all the potential for emboldening fascist groups at the grassroots level and possibility of them being appointed to positions of power in the state.

I could go on. The potential for disaster is off the charts. But who cares when we can make edgy contrarian statements about how much worse Hillary is? Fuck everyone who suffers as a result, amirite?

Hahaha, no. Show me what/where is Trump's power base, in all of the US corporate/financial establishment, then I'll take the time to show you most of Clinton's power base, and then we'll compare the charts, and then your lower jaw is going to fall to the groind and you'll realize there were way better issues to worry about as an anarchist than this whole clownesque spectacle.

It doesn't matter who becomes the spokesmodel for the power elite. Either candidate is just going to be a puppet following corporate orders. Neither one is 'worse' than the other. It's all a shell game to suck people into voting. The POTUS has very little autonomous power.

What's a true and demonstrated potential for disaster is the new-neocons (Hillary's gang) playing dice with the whole mankind with ultra-dangerous Cold War games that cause misery militarization and mass deaths in the buffer zones of NATO.

IMHO you're misinformed. Since Stuxnet, and considering that the US poured 50 Billion into cyber warfare during the Obama admin, the old convential nuclear war scenario has faded somewhat. In the future {I hope I don't get into a moronic discussion with a literalist again} wars will be fought via computer control units and worms, populations will be coerced because their energy food and water supply systems are not in their control. Yeeeessssss, I know, yawn, energy food and water are on land defended by armies, C'mon, say it, wars will be fought over resources, and I'll say resources are controlled by computers and you'll say computers are controlled by soldiers and I'll say soldiers are controlled by beliefs and you'll say wars ain't fought over ideologies or religions, I say Israel, you say resources, me-computer viruses you-morons firing machine guns.
One thing can be said about the 21st Century ultra-liberal culture, its reduced the, as much as I hate this euphamism, the collateral damage which peaked during the 20th Century.



Total war has become commencalized, we're probably not going to see formally declared WWs like 1&2 ever again(unless an energy induced techno catabolic contraction and collapse happens perhaps). As I've argued before, the cold war essentially was WW3. Things will only get more cold and proxy played from here. This is basically what a cyber-techno-military industrial complex entails.

Unless the "Satan II" supernuke ICBM was just bullshit scare tactics, there's no indication that the nuclear threat is a thing of the past. But its true that it's equally over-hyped just as equally as during the early '80s, since in reality the establishment of the biggest nuclear States aren't interested in blowing up the planet and reducing their lives to living in underground bases. But that may explain why they give so much importance to their big yatchs and remote private islands.

Anyways the biggest global disaster is happening under our noses on a daily basis.

There's zero indication that Assange is nice with Putin. But you should read his letter from last year (which had no relevance to the current election whatsoever) analyzing how the Deep State has become way more powerful than the democratic government, and how Google has its own fucking foreign policy agency and sits with the POTUS in the Oval Office on the ground than military top brass...

My answer to the question "are you voting?" is No.To echo Proudhon:"Universal suffrage is the counter-revolution." If you want to vote,have at it.Hopefully,after Nov.8 anarchists will stop worrying about Trumpism,even if the Donald pulls off an upset.He will learn very quickly that his job is to be the compliant manager of the Deep State.Hillary already knows this will be her role if she wins.A Trump presidency would be a gift that keeps on giving for stand up comics and late night talk show hosts.

arsn wrks bttr thn bllts

This is what farcical democratic spectacle offers, capitalist feminism to choose from---- Done-it-all Chump vs Hell-its-me Clitoris

You're a middle school student at best.

I'm guessing elementary school.

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