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(en) The Bring the Ruckus website* - What's Left? Anti-Electoralism and Moving Beyond the Political Spectacle by Roy San Filippo (Do not just not vote)

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Sat, 30 Oct 2004 11:22:13 +0200 (CEST)


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Elections are a political spectacle. They have a symbolic power but are of
little value to the population in affecting or directing public policy. The
mass political ritual of individuals anonymously pulling levers in an
election booth reinforces the collective myth of democracy and cloaks the
class and social antagonisms of society. Anarchists and other
revolutionary tendencies know that political power does not come from
voting booths, but by having real input into the decisions that affect their
lives. This requires re-imagining and reorganizing the fundamental social
relationship and political and economic structures of capitalism, in short,
a revolutionary transformation of society.

Every four years, in response to the American electoral cycle, liberal and
radical activists begin to push coalitions and activists into electoral work
for the Democratic Party and anarchists often counter-organize against
the charade of electoral “democracy.” Given that voter turnout for
major elections in the United States is often less than 50%, this is one
campaign that anarchists can actually claim as a victory. In principle,
there is nothing wrong with the anarchist “Fuck the Vote”
campaign, but it is not largely about organizing for revolutionary change.
Rather, the “Fuck the Vote” campaign serves a broader purpose
(much like the Liberal elections anarchists organize against); it is a ritual
of dissent that functions to reinforce the collective identity of anarchists
and cloaks anarchy’s own deep political divisions. In this moment we
abandon our anarcho-prefixes; there is no more post-Leftist anarchist vs.
Leftist anarchist vs. primitivist anarchist. We are anarchists and we are
Fucking the Vote.

As Marx noted, “The formulation of a question is its solution.” In
other words, the way you ask a question determines the possible answers
to it. We need to formulate a new question regarding elections. The
question in 2004 is neither the electoralism of the liberals nor the
anti-electoralism of the anarchists, but how, as revolutionaries, we can
help to build movements that directly confront state power and prefigure
the type of society we want to live in. Anti-electoralism, like electoralism,
is an exercise in political impotence and an expression of our
powerlessness. Electoral politics is about legitimating capitalism and the
state. It is not about real power to the people. Rather than attacking the
state from our strengths, a strategy of anti-electoralism takes as its
beginning our weakest point—our political, institutional, and strategic
disadvantage in electoral politics. Such a campaign reinforces our
weakness by embracing our lack of a political voice and political power in
electoral politics, and by trying to utilize that very weakness as the basis
for organizing. Both electoral politics and anti-electoralism are bad
strategies if your goal is to radically transform society.
Beyond the Spectacle


“In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life
presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that
was directly lived has moved away into a representation.”

-Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle

The anti-voting campaign suffers from same political problem as the
“anti-globalization” movement as practiced in the global North:
long on theatrics, symbolic acts, and spectacle, and short on posing any
threat to those who rule the world. The Left has become a pale shadow of
itself. The “New Left” is now over forty years old. That another
Left has failed to emerge during this time is telling. The Left lacks the
working-class base of the “old” Lefts of the late 19th and early
20th century and the intellectual base of the “New Left” of the
1960s. In addition, much of the white Left has long since abandoned the
Black and Brown liberation struggles. Rather than being the organized
expression of a movement “of the class, by the class, and for the
class,” the Left has become a series of political and symbolic
spectacles that are mere representations and mediations of resistance. We
now fill movie theaters with films such as Fahrenheit 9/11 and The
Corporation, making the Left’s greatest contribution at the moment is
in the cultural production and consumption of resistance. Our
puppet-making skills are significantly better than our ability to challenge
state power. That isn’t a problem if our goal is make good street
theater, but our goal is to remake society. Certainly there is a place for
puppets and street theater and other symbolic acts. But these tactics are
largely disconnected from strategies for building concrete resistance to
the state and capitalism. What’s more, the state has adapted to these
tactics more quickly than the Left can counter. It didn’t take long
before the state began raiding convergence centers days and weeks before
our gatherings. The state doesn’t raid our convergence centers
because they respect our power; they raid our convergence centers
because they don’t. While the empire is busy in its attempt to remake
the Middle East, the Left continues to lose political and ideological
ground to neo-cons, neoliberals, and fundamentalists of every stripe. Can
we stop this slide and reestablish a viable, socialist, humanist, and radical
Left political pole? Or will we continue to prioritize pageantry over power
and relegate the Left to producers of political spectacle and consumers of
our own outrage?
====================================
* Ed.: The "Bring the Ruckus" is: (say http://www.agitatorindex.org)
a relatively new antiauyhoritarian abticapitalist revolutionary
organization that rejects the loose network model of the common anarchists
and the vanguardist model of the Leninists.


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