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(en) US, Minneapolis, Daybreak* #5 - Donít just (not) vote! Anarchist apathy has an identity crisis

From daybreak@tao.ca
Date Sat, 30 Oct 2004 23:02:37 +0200 (CEST)

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These days a political argument generally consists of a declaration of
oneís political affiliation followed by a hyperbolic screech of
disconnected rhetoric. Anarchists should thank liberals and conservatives
for making us seem like the most sensible people around. Not only that,
but people are even paying attention to our ideas and strategies instead of
singling Goths out of the crowd to take sound-bites from. Even though
we think this election is a waste of time, we are happy to concede that you
can do whatever the hell you want as long as you stop trying to make us
register to vote while weíre busy getting fresh veggies at the Farmers
Market! Anarchists, radicals, and all other good hearted people need to
keep the focus on ideas and practices of liberation instead of getting
bogged down in the same old debate about whether people should vote or

The typical voting arguments reek of stale rhetoric: voting legitimizes
state power, Bush is way more evil, the greens arenít going to win
anyway, etc. But this year, a group calling itself Donít Just Vote has
bypassed the usual dialogues by calling for a campaign to promote direct
democracy, direct action, and mutual aid, instead of merely boycotting
electoral politics. The premise is that people can vote if they want, but
should realize that it doesnít really make much difference and that if
they want actual power and democracy in their lives, they are going to
need to create it themselves. The campaign will include literature,
postering and stickering, demonstrations, educational events, and other
forms of community outreach.

Since the majority of Americans donít vote anyway, convincing them
not to vote is redundant (itís like doing the same thing twice). We
need to explain our ideas and create alternatives to prove that there is
something they can do and give them hope that they can stand up to this
horrendous system.

Direct action is one of our alternatives to voting. We believe true
democratic power lies in normal people. We use direct action because we
donít want to beg illegitimate authorities for crumbs of democracy.
Direct action is wildcat strikes at work, art such as graffiti and
wheat-pasting, growing vegetables in vacant lots (or the statehouse lawn),
and whatever else can create a space of freedom that promotes the power
people have as individuals to fix this broken world instead of relying on
the pity of those in authority.

Mutual aid is the idea that we need to support one another, without
regard to hierarchy and economy. If we all take care of each other,
weíll all get help when we need it. It is mutual aid when people
voluntarily help a family whose house burned down by offering a roof and
food. Mutual aid is the basis of anarchist 'economics'. Instead of stabbing
one another in the back to climb the capitalist ladder or wasting resources
to useless products, we can make what is needed and each do what we
can to help.

Direct democracy is different from capitalist or electoral democracy
because it isnít based on Ďrepresentationí by politicians. In a
direct democracy, we put faith in people, in everyone, to look after their
own situations and make decisions accordingly. We don't need specialists
to tell us how to run our places of work or our communities. Instead, each
person is involved in actively identifying problems, debating solutions,
and coming to conclusions. It settles local questions like crime and
division of work as well as giving communities a direct voice in larger or
nationwide issues. The Zapatista movement in Chiapas, Mexico is a great
example of the practicality of direct democracy. Theyíve organized
direct democracy in over 32 rebel municipalities, each one with 50 to over
100 communities with more than 500,000 people in all. For ten years they
have done this despite repression from the Mexican government.

By explaining these principles as practical applications to our lives,
instead of abstract theory, we are providing people with a reason to not
vote and a real (rather than symbolic) opposition to state power.
Anarchists need to continue building revolutionary alternatives that utilize
these values so our daily life can be the stepping stone for a more
liberated world. We refuse to wait.

Since this election year is such a big deal, it will be a great opportunity to
piss off liberals and conservatives alike with decentralized Ďdonít
(just) voteí actions all over the great land known as the Midwest.
There have been nationwide calls put out already saying that on
November 2nd, no matter who wins that people go out into the streets.
Thereís no doubt that, especially if Bush wins, things will get crazy.
We urge all radicals to be good, stay out of trouble, and be prepared.

Daybreak is an anarchist collective in the Twin Cities.
We focus mostly on doing basic outreach: a webpage, a
distro, and a newspaper, as well as activism. The
projects that we work on and create reflect our
commitment to creating a world in line with anarchist
ideals of cooperation, mutual aid, direct action,
autonomy, and of course liberty.
We hold a new world in our hearts!

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