Anarchist Alternatives to Voting   Leave a comment

You, my readers, get the benefit of my research as I try to decide what I believe. Right now, I’m focused on anarchy. I see value in their beliefs, even as I don’t think I will wholly embrace those beliefs.

What are the anarchist alternatives to voting? I’m not blowing up stuff as a political statement. That’s off the table before we even sit down. So, I asked a couple of Fairbanks anarchists who hang out at the same coffee shop to explain it to me. Coming off a local election in which sheer lunacy reigned supreme, they had me with “notice we don’t care how the election turned out”. That doesn’t mean I drank the koolaid, only that I recognize it might have a nice flavor. This is the result of my interview, possibly colored a bit by the three 4-shot mocha breves they plied me with.

Elections guarantee that various political parties and their members will be out seeking your vote and support or at least a few minutes of your attention. Elections are a popularity contest that are touted as THE time when the average American citizen gets to have a say in how the country is run. My anarchist friends say “Don’t vote! Organize instead.” And then they started talking about “direct democracy.”

For the record, they need another term. “Direct democracy” has a connotation that scares the hell out of me and doesn’t actually match their definition of it.

Anarchists view voting and political representation as a bankrupt way of meeting the needs and wants of society. Politics, political parties and representative democracy sees politicians elected by popular vote to represent the people and our interests. In exchange, we the people give them the power to make decisions on our behalf – in effect, to govern (or rule) us.

The power to make laws, regulate and control society are in the hands of those in power (politicians) and are binding on the people. A few at the top of the pyramid dictate to the rest of us at various levels of the lower pyramid. Information and power are concentrated with the few representatives, who make decisions under the people’s authority. If the representatives don’t do a good job, we are allowed the right to replace them periodically by voting for another bunch of rulers, but we’re stuck with them and their decisions in the interim and the laws they pass often hold sway long after we’ve fired the set of rulers we didn’t like. Moreover, when the new set of rulers get comfortable with their jobs, they begin to tyrannize us just as much and usually in similar liberty-destroying way.

Anarchists see this hierarchy and imbalance of power as the source of most of the problems in the today’s world because a tiny group of people (be they politicians or corporations) have more power, say and control than others.  This loss of control at the bottom leads to greed, exploitation and poverty because those without power are coerced by those with power.

Anarchists propose “direct democracy” as a less coercive alternative to “representative democracy.” Anarchists don’t want to see the pyramid flipped upside down (as socialists advocate). They want to do away with the pyramid altogether, replacing it with what they call “federalism”.

Instead of electing representatives with authority to act on the people’s behalf, we would select delegates for temporary task-oriented assignments for the purpose of carrying out that task and with no authority to make binding decisions or to deviate from the assignment. My friends point out that we use this arrangement all the time in our personal lives and many family businesses are arranged this way.

The key aspects of direct democracy are:

  • the fluid and temporary nature of delegation;
  • delegates are directly involved in the decision making
  • delegates are directly from and for the group;
  • everyone involved has a direct say in the issue at hand

Equal balance of power in making decisions assures the non-existence of an exploitative hierarchy, allowing direct democracy and self-management to flourish —meaning you can have the maximum input in what directly affects you. Such voluntary association groups can connect with other groups doing hte same thing (neighborhoods, towns and states, even countries) and form a federalist system of groups following the same structures and the same principles.

It sounds good and extremely inefficient, which I’d be okay with if we lived in the 1830s, but I suspect this system would leave us unable to respond very quickly to something that requires a quick and decisive response — such as a foreign invasion by a force using 21st century technology.

And, how are we selecting these delegates without voting????

Posted October 13, 2013 by aurorawatcherak in Anarchy, Common sense

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