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(en) US, Washington, Don't Just Vote, Get Active campaign - Nationwide Call to Action

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Wed, 25 Feb 2004 19:51:43 +0100 (CET)

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From: Chuck0 <chuck-A-mutualaid.org> http://www.dontjustvote.com
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 itís 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,

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, itís both global and local. We donít
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 theyíve 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

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! Donít 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. Join in also via the "Just Don't Vote, Get
Active" Web site at http://www.dontjustvote.com

*[Ed. Note: This call was put together by a group of
American anarchists who met after the NCOR conference
in Washington, DC in Janaury.]

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