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(en) US, Just don't vote - a Call to Action

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Mon, 10 May 2004 08:29:34 +0200 (CEST)


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We are calling for a national campaign to take advantage of this
election year to emphasize the power of direct action and to present
direct democracy as a viable alternative to representation. This
campaign will include literature distribution, postering and
stickering, demonstrations, educational events, and other forms of
community outreach, both in our own communities and around the
Democratic and Republican National Conventions. It will culminate in
a nationwide day of direct action on November 2, election day.

On this day, people across the country will come together in
groups both large and small to demonstrate the effectiveness of
direct democracy as a way to make decisions without mediation or
hierarchy, and of direct action as means to implement those
decisions and create the kind of communities we desire. Those
who wish to take an hour out of this day to cast a vote are
welcome to do so; but we urge you to spend the remainder of the
election day in creative experiments in self-determination and
cooperation. At the end of the day or in the weeks that follow,
people can reconvene and compare which approach was more
rewarding and empowering: ballot-box voting or direct engagement
without representatives.


Why This Campaign?


Elections in this country are the reddest of red herrings.
Liberals have been so fixated on them as to forget most other
means of applying power; losses in elections have demoralized
and disempowered the Left in general. Anti-authoritarians, on
the other hand, while claiming not to recognize the sovereignty
of any officials, elected or not, have nonetheless developed
their own mythology around voting, attributing to it the
mystical power to "legitimize" authority figures thus elected.
But it is not voting that gives power to politicians, just as it
is not not-voting that could take it away from them; they have
power because we place our power in their hands, because we fail
to apply it deliberately ourselves.

Quite a bit of energy is squandered by liberals and radicals
debating the old question of whether or not to vote; the answer,
of course, is that it's the wrong question. For people to be
able to focus on getting power back in their hands, the terms
themselves have to be set anew. To sidestep the entire issue of
voting, and instead focus all attention on the alternative ways
to apply power, might save everyone a lot of wasted energy, and
unlock the vast potential dormant in our communities, our
relationships, ourselves.


The Strengths of This Campaign


As a national campaign, this has strengths going for it that few
others do. First of all, it addresses a subject that is already
foremost in the public mind. By refusing to take a stand on the
false dichotomy presented by the media, or even the other false
dichotomy presented by traditional radicalism or apathy, it
evades thoughtless dismissals. A campaign that declines to take
sides but instead raises entirely new questions can be
provocative without being alienating. Second of all, it's both
global and local. We don't have to try to get all concerned
activists to come to one city to demonstrate around this issue;
on the contrary, this is a perfect time for people to act where
they live, while feeling connected to a nationwide campaign. The
election is an event of global importance that takes place in
every neighborhood, an excellent occasion for us to develop a
corresponding political practice.

Third, the broadness of the general theme-- direct action and
direct democracy--is such that participation is open to anyone,
with any preferred style of tactics, at any desired level of
engagement. This is a campaign that everyone in a community can
participate in: from a chapter of Food Not Bombs to a senior
citizens group demanding better health care, from a high school
global justice club to an animal rights action group. It is a
campaign that can include numerous types of direct action and
direct democracy: from free schools at the polls to guerrilla
gardening that remakes or rebuilds local parks, from community
monitoring of otherwise unaccountable police to civil
disobedience that shuts down military contractors. As with
direct action and direct democracy in general, and in stark
contrast to electoral politics, harmony is the only goal that
must be sought between participants; unanimity on specific
strategies or objectives is unnecessary.

Election day will be a flashpoint for many concerns and desires
this year. Afterward, we can be sure that people will retire
from civic engagement in despair or relief-unless they've had a
positive experience to remind them how much more they can do
outside electoral politics. This is our chance to emphasize the
political power everyone wields in their daily lives.

Join us, with your friends and neighbors, in whatever ways you
see fit, in emphasizing the great things we can do when we cut
out the middleman! Don't just vote -- get active!
The idea is to dream up and practice the many ways we can take power
out of the hands of the elite, be they elected or unelected, and
redistribute it to everyone through a network of free communities
and neighborhoods. We do not do this to gain control over others,
but to attain control together-over how we provide each other with
shelter, education, art, and information, over how we resolve
conflicts, over how we share resources and ideas, over how we
determine our own lives.

Like they say -- if voting could change anything, it would be illegal!
...and that goes for not voting, too.

Invitation to Participate
This is a decentralized campaign. It belongs to no one, but all are
welcome. Any individual or group that desires to participate is
encouraged to take this text, rework it so it best expresses their
views, and circulate it under their own name with their own contact
information. The more different groups participate with different
takes on the general idea, the better.
=====================================
*[Ed. Note: This call was put together by a group of
American anarchists who met after the NCOR conference
in Washington, DC in Janaury.
See also:
http://www.dontjustvote.com/
http://www.ainfos.ca/04/feb/ainfos00454.html ]


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