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(en) die plattform: Go voting! - or let it stay: About abstaining from voting (ca, de, it, fr, pt)[machine translation]

Date Sun, 12 Sep 2021 07:43:22 +0300

The day of the Bundestag election is approaching. The colorful posters of the parties hang all over the country, which are intended to motivate us to go to the ballot box with unimaginative slogans. From dull nationalism and racism as in the AfD, to empty talk about freedom in the FDP, applause for the highly armed security apparatus in the CDU, to green climate hypocrisy or the condemnation of social partnership with the SPD and Left Party - it seems the parties have once again for everyone something from us. ---- The fact that the propaganda of bourgeois democracy has caught on in the last few decades with fewer and fewer people who prefer to stay at home on election night than tick "their" tick has been a concern of the republic's democracy research for a long time. But even aside from the raised moral index finger that looks down on the evil non-voters: all kinds of people have something to say about voting and non-voting. Of course, there are the "left-wing radicals" who seek their salvation in parliamentarism and look down on us from their lampposts, just like the advocates of bourgeois democracy. And there is also the other parliamentary group that is actively calling for an election boycott because the bigwig cannot be given a vote in the system.

We anarchists, of course, traditionally have some sympathy for the latter position. Just think of Emma Goldman's famous saying "If elections changed anything, they would be forbidden!" Because of course, these elections will not change anything because real change can only come from below through the social struggles. But precisely because so many anarchists around the world have described in detail why voting is not a solution, this is not a text that calls for another boycott of the elections. Instead, it is just the introduction to a text by Cameron, which is part of the US Black Rose Anarchist Federation. In his article, Cameron takes a critical look at the usual agitation against voting - not to encourage people to vote, but to show that it doesn't really matter whether we stay at home on election night or go to the ballot box, but that it depends what we do on the remaining 365 days of the year matters; Ideally, namely, work as an anarchist in the social movements: work internally and build countervailing power. With this in mind, we hope you enjoy reading and discussing this translation!

Go to vote - or let it stay: About abstaining from voting
It's no secret that anarchists loathe elections, but most of those who subscribe to revolutionary socialism (of which anarchism is a stream) tend to have a simplified understanding of how they relate to it To position the spectacle of these events. This article argues that the anarchist focus on abstention as a campaign response strategy is not only inappropriate, but also follows the same moralizing logic used by our opponents to maintain bourgeois democracy.

The revolutionary left and elections

How socialists should relate to the election of representatives in bourgeois democracy has been a source of controversial debate for more than 150 years. Indeed, the disagreement on this point (insofar as it relates to the question of the pursuit of state power) was in large part responsible for the split in the First International.

Elections are undoubtedly spectacular events. With unprecedented spending on money, never-ending coverage from Jornalist: inside and on Twitter always ready to deliver you the next hot take, elections are just as social as cultural and political.

The same debate rages on today, with each section of the socialist movement coming up with its own recipe. The largest socialist organization in the US (Translator's note: This refers to the "Democratic Socialists of America") largely bases its strategy on building a base within the Democratic Party and supporting its members in election to office.

Revolutionary socialists (including anarchists), on the other hand, pursue a different tactic. Some groups in this category have taken to constructing elaborate bogus campaigns for their own candidates who obviously have no prospect of electoral success, and instead use them to cynically gain attention or resources for their organization. Others, especially anarchists, have made it a habit to call for complete absence from the electoral process as a matter of principle.

This article is about the latter category.

The moralism of voting, the moralism of abstention

Why are anarchists (and other revolutionary socialists) calling for abstention? As a rule, it boils down to the assertion that casting a vote in a bourgeois election means actively legitimizing the state and therefore represents a compromise on our basic ideological principles.

This, ironically, is the same logic used by those (usually liberal advocates of democracy) who claim that voting is necessary to avoid being responsible for the damage done by the opposition party. This is a familiar chorus that has resonated on the minds of a wide variety of U.S. leftists since 2016.

Both positions are profoundly flawed, however, as they reduce questions rooted in the material reality of political power, the conditions and the functioning of the state to an individual moral calculus. That might be expected of liberals, but why have anarchists adopted much of the same frame of reference?

Let's examine this further.

In this context, both revolutionary socialists and liberals derive their opposing conclusions from the same moral scheme, at the center of which is a central question: How can I best reduce my complicity in legitimizing the actions of the state?

Although the revolutionary socialist - unlike the liberal - has enough clarity to recognize that the state itself is an instrument of the capitalist: internal class, we often seem unable to break away from the fundamental logic that asserts that the individual The individual and his actions are fundamentally constitutive for the legitimacy of the state. This is the so-called approval of the governed, on which all representative democracies are supposedly based and which anarchists have historically rejected.

Instead, anarchists have developed a theory of the state that claims that the processes of state formation, reproduction, and legitimation are based on a combination of coercive violence (military, police, prisons) and ideological conditioning (via civil society institutions such as schools, the media, etc. .) take place.

Put simply, the state doesn't need your permission to exist, much less to carry out its most egregious activities.

It is strange, therefore, that most anarchists would advocate abstention, as it follows the logic of the consent of the governed. Instead of adopting the anarchist theory of the state and devising serious strategies for developing counterpower, we resort to the convenient moralistic language of boycott and withdrawal of consent.

Go beyond abstentions

As shown above, abstention is based on an assumption of liberal political theory that is inconsistent with the anarchist theory of the state. Accordingly, we need to go beyond our reliance on abstention and develop a real strategic orientation around elections and state power.

It should be clear enough that this article does not suggest active, enthusiastic, or really any kind of engagement with the electoral system as a solution. Rather, the view taken here is that the question of voter participation should be completely removed from our consideration. Neither abstaining nor voting is an active strategy. To ponder this question for more than a moment, or worse, to moralize about it, is for any: n serious: n revolutionary: into a profound waste of time.

Our most immediate task is to organize ourselves as a class capable of getting its way towards both the state and capital. That means building or strengthening independent permanent social movement organizations that enable us to build and exercise collective power in our daily lives. Workplace unions, tenants: home unions, students: home unions, and public gatherings in our neighborhoods. In short, our goal must be to create power from below.

Anarchists, especially those who adopt the especifismo strategy as their own, recognize that it is our task to get involved in these organizations and to work to develop their (basic) democratic, militant and revolutionary character.

At present the balance of power in this country is still clearly shifted in favor of capital and the state. Although the mass protests (translator's note: referring to the anti-racist mass protests of the summer of 2020 in the USA) were promising, there is little evidence that the protesters: inside go beyond street-oriented actions and a sustainable movement via the above-mentioned materially embedded organizations build up. We need to be aware that our ability to reach concessions depends on how effectively we can exert pressure in areas that we have identified as vulnerable and valuable to capital and government. We can win, but we need to have the right tools.

Of course, these struggles don't take place in a vacuum. The world continues to turn, and events of national or international importance will change the conditions in which we engage. Whether in the midst of an election, an economic crisis, a pandemic (or all three), we are only effective if we understand the situation we are in and can act accordingly.

Choose or leave it, but give priority to building countervailing power.

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