It is not a man’s duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even to most enormous, wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support. ~ Henry David Thoreau
I hardly want to be seen as a “divider,” a person who seeks to reject people from the movement for no understandable reason. I want to include as many people as possible. To ostracize each other merely serves to slow down our movement.
However, what is one to make of this new wave of pro-voting “Anarchists”? Now that a rich, white, male, ruling class politician (Ron Paul) presents himself nicely, and is able to utter some true statements, our so-called friends trip over each other to support him the most, and profess to get ready to vote for him!
If Anarchy is to mean anything at all, it must be a wholesale rejection of political coercion. So what are we to make of people who call themselves Anarchists, but who at the same time support the coercive process of democracy, who support social warfare? What do we call someone who professes one thing, and then willfully and consistently acts against it? We call him a hypocrite.
These so-called “Anarchists” are as dogs, who first raise their right paw and pretend to be one of us, saying “democracy is immoral” and “disengagement is the way,” and then, when the ruling class waves a shiny new bone at them, run after the bone, barking the slogans of their temporary masters, fighting against everything we hold dear. They no doubt expect that, the elections over and their ruling class politician having lost, they will reintegrate our movement, proud of “having done something,” when all they did was legitimize democracy!
I want to make some things clear. I am definitely not against people who co-opt the elections, and Ron Paul’s campaign, to propagate ideals of freedom. Those people are doing good work. We should definitely co-opt the rare good elements within the political process whenever possible.
Also, if voting was a legal obligation, and not voting incurred heavy penalties, then I would be the first to say that voting or not voting should be left to one’s conscience, until the movement has grown enough to be able to disengage from the State. But this is not the case! On the contrary, not voting costs you absolutely nothing. To vote, in these circumstances, means that one cannot be trusted for any revolutionary action.
Suppose that we are 30 or 40 years in the future, and our growing Market Anarchist community disengages from State institutions, starting its own police and courts. How can we trust these turncoats to reject the State? The second a court case turns against them, they will quickly take refuge under a State judge’s skirt. They will denounce us; they will betray us at the first occasion they get, because the ruling class threw them another shiny bone.
We must send a clear message to all that Anarchists are above this den of violence and corruption called politics, and that we will have nothing of it. These voters can be called our sympathizers, sure; but do not let them call themselves Anarchists any longer. Ruling class sycophants are not our friends!
For those of you who argue that Rothbard himself was engaged in the political process, that may be so, but did he not say:
[I]f the bulk of the public were really convinced of the illegitimacy of the State, if it were convinced that the State is nothing more nor less than a bandit gang writ large, then the State would soon collapse to take on no more status or breadth of existence than another Mafia gang.
Do people convinced of the illegitimacy of the State participate in its processes? Do people oppressed by a Mafia gang vote for its rulers?
The attempt to use governmental or political processes to reform or abolish the evils of coercion is not a voluntaryist means because it rests on coercion. The distinguishing marks of voluntaryism — that it is at once both nonviolent and non-electoral in its efforts to convince people to voluntarily abandon the State — set it apart from all other methods of social change. The voluntaryist insight into the nature of political power does not permit people to violently overthrow their government or even use the electoral process to change it, but rather points out that if they shall withdraw their cooperation from the system, it will no longer be able to function or enforce its will. ~ Carl Watner