Gregory Sams
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12. Voting

"The majority never has right on its side. Never I say! That is one of the social lies that a free, thinking man is bound to rebel against. Who makes up the majority in any given country? Is it the wise men or the fools? I think we must agree that the fools are in a terrible overwhelming majority all the wide world over."

Henrik Ibsen, dramatist (1828-1906)


"In matters of conscience, the law of the majority has no place."

Mahatma Gandhi (c 1950)


"It is not good to have a rule of many."

Homer (c 800 B.C.)
We are supposed to have our say on how the state "manages" our society through the democratic instrument of the vote. The word "democracy" means government by the people and not rule by a small clique running an army of bureaucrats, howsoever they are selected. Much is made of the power of the vote as an instrument giving us a fair and democratic say in how our society and government are run. Revolutions are fought for the right to vote and it was the first major objective won in the fight for equal treatment for women. It is also true though, that Adolf Hitler and many of the greatest despots of modern times were the most democratically popular when they assumed power. The vote does not give us a respite from the yoke of the state - it only provides a means to occasionally change the colour of the packaging and to do some minor tinkering with how the meagre amount of money pissed back at us gets distributed. Voting is an ingenious and well-meant attempt to translate the wishes of the people into the actions of those who govern them. In practice, however, this rarely happens and the voting system has led to neither freedom nor true democracy wherever it is used in the world.
"The ballot box is a most inadequate mechanism for change"

Simone de Beauvoir, 1973
In the first place your vote does not give you, personally, any say whatsoever. It gives the majority a say and the majority may not have any idea of your own interests and situation. The premise that the majority is somehow "right" about a particular issue, or that there should even be issues that have to be decided in such a mechanical way, is essentially flawed. However, if we take it on board, we realise that the majority will often constitute less than one in five (20%) of the population. This is the sum you will end up with after deducting those not eligible to vote for reasons of age or nationality, those who choose not to vote at all, and those who voted for the losing parties. In some countries, such as Australia, the general apathy with the voting process reached such proportions that the state legislated mandatory voting - you must exercise your freedom to vote or risk going to jail. Presumably this law was passed with the sanction of the few remaining Australian voters at the time the legislation was introduced.

It matters not, since very few of the active voters actually vote FOR a person or party. They usually vote tactically AGAINST the other side, seeing their vote as supporting the lesser of two or more evils. Another motivation might be purely personal and based upon promised handouts to single mothers or more spending on the military, rather than the full range of policies being put forward.

In our real-world voting with the pocketbook, we drink Guinness because we prefer it, not to penalise the other brewers or put them out of business. And if enough of us become disenchanted with a product then the company producing it has either to diversify successfully or die. With the electoral vote we don't get to stop buying the product, nor do we get to buy a new product; we simply get to change the manufacturer of the product and do so on the basis of sweeping promises that they are under no actual liability to fulfil, and which in practice they seldom do.

Consider for a moment to what extent the body of the state remains constant: its volumes of regulation and law with its enforcers and interpreters; the military and defence establishment; total taxation (relentless in its rise); and the countless departments and offices filled with the vast armies of bureaucrats who run this sorry ship. Are we really to believe that even a major re-sculpture of the tip of the iceberg will make a difference to the passengers of this Titanic?

Some have suggested electronic voting, linked to your television or home computer, as the new way to better democracy - eliminating the MP's and politicians whom we love to hate. This view fails to recognise that the majority can be and frequently are manipulated. We could even have the majority of television watchers passing legislation making TV ownership and viewing mandatory for all citizens. Frighteningly restrictive laws could be propositioned and passed during moments of public hysteria. The concept is a severe yet ineffective tweaking of the knobs and controls of the state. Those who wish to control and direct coercive power will soon find many ways to manipulate and control the television voter.
"Vote for the man who promises least; he'll be the least disappointing."

Bernard Baruch, 1960
Voting doesn't effect positive evolutionary change any more than do armed revolutions, insurrections, invasions or fundamentalist takeovers. It is simply another mechanism for determining who holds the coercive reigns of power. Voting is freedom designed by a committee. True freedom is far simpler and a lot more free-flowing.

As the anonymous wall graffiti reads: "Don't vote - it only encourages them." What would happen if we were somehow able to vote against the state itself? You will find a suggestion on this in a later chapter.
"I wanted to vote Labour but now I'm sick of it. I turn off party political broadcasts. I want someone to tell the truth."

Clare Perkings, student vice president
A spoof London newspaper produced by Reclaim The
Streets and confiscated by the police.
Did they think people would get ideas?




Election collapses as new polls reveal massive public cynicism
- end chapter -
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From the book "Uncommon Sense - The State is Out of Date"
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