Monday, October 1, 2012
I approach the subject of voting this way; it is not an effective use of my energy or time to affect for myself the value of autonomy/satisfaction I would desire for myself. I appreciate that there is some desire to "put an end to the voting debate" and I would share the desire to "put an end to" institutions of domination, yet I feel that to concentrate energies on moral arguments for why voting might be considered to be immoral, would be less root-striking as the pursuit of other avenues for discussion. I would like to draw attention to the idea, that I do not think an adequate argument can be made to say that voting is *malum in se* or bad-in-itself, as many voluntary/consensual associations may use voting as an agreed upon strategy for arriving at a conclusion as to how to take action as a group; for instance a golf-club may decide by a vote where to hold their next tournament. I reason therefore that if voting is not malum in se, then it is not that voting, in and of itself, is immoral, but that particular qualities/features of the political institutions that use voting as a method at arriving at particular conclusions as to how to make decisions, that is really at issue. I further reason that the difference between political institutions and private/voluntary associations, is the ability to extricate (opt-out) one's self the group's decision that is the critical quality/feature that is at issue; if one could extricate one's self from a political institution's decisions/actions then this would remedy the moral/ethical problem; if one could say, "I elect to extricate myself from this political institution because I do not consent to be governed by those rules" and if that decision to extricate was respected by others (particularly the enforcers) then I would conclude that the moral/ethical problem of political domination would be remedied. However, since this is not the case that an individual's choice to extricate from the rules of the political institution (unless one was to physically remove one's self from the territories claimed to be controlled/owned by the political institution) then there is no such complete remedy to the domination of political institutions.
Therefore, I conclude that voting, in and of itself, is not immoral and unethical but rather it is the standing threat of force/violence/aggression to compel obedience to political decisions regardless of an individual's lack-of/withdrawal-of consent which is the more pertinent issue.
If the NAP is considered to be satisfactory guide to ethical behavior, then I believe we may immediate dispense with the possibility that voting consists of either direct initiation of force or theft; therefore only the possibility that voting consists of coercion remains. Coercion implies the reasonable threat of force; the question then may be framed as, "does the voter, through the action of voting, imply a reasonable threat of force?". I question the validity of the interpretation of voting as coercion; if a criminal syndicate, such as the mafia or yakuza were to permit their victims of extortion and coercion, the opportunity to "vote" for one of two mafia/yakuza bosses, is it the victim that participates in this election the person who has initiated coercion/a-reasonable-threat-of-violence against her fellows or is it the bosses/enforcers of the criminal syndicate? Perhaps the issue can be made more clear by the question, if one has the right to defend one's self from the initiations of force, coercion or theft, then does the voluntaryist have the right to stand at the polls and employ "self-defense" to prevent others from voting? If not, why not?
Some have argued that the act of voting is an act that implies that an individual willingly consents to be governed by the processes instituting the election. However, there is no evidence that would necessitate this conclusion by the act of voting alone; certainly a particular individual may support and advocate for the current political system and this person may choose to vote, while it is also certainly possible for a person, who in every way detests the institution of domination on principle, might choose to invest a small amount of time and energy on the infinitesimally small chance, that her individual participation in the electoral process may mitigate the possible damage that may occur to her in the future. Take for example, the instance of a street robbery; one man, wielding a knife, demands another man's wallet and makes threatening gestures. It would not be uncommon for the man being threatened may take his wallet and surrender it to the knife-wielding robber. Has the man necessarily consented to the robbery by his surrendering of the wallet? Certainly it is possible, that the man, feeling compassion for the robber, might willingly be gifting his wallet but more likely the act was an act of capitulation in order to mitigate possible damages. The State stands as a constant and active threat of the initiation of violence if its edicts and dictates are not obeyed; this situation of constant threat of violence creates an quagmire of ethical analysis. The man confronted by the knife-wielding robber may well be within his rights to stand on principle, and choose to ostracize the robber and refuse to surrender his wallet or have any other dealings with that robber, yet I believe it reasonable to conclude that under the conditions of coercion, it would be ethically acceptable for the man to surrender his wallet to the robber in order to mitigate damages. Some might argue that voting is different than surrendering the wallet as the act of voting has the possibility of entangling others (in much the same way as using a bomb in self-defense, in such a way that it would endanger innocent bystanders would be ethically prohibitive). However, the money in the wallet surrendered may also be used to buy a weapon more threatening than the knife and could therefore could similarly entangle others; I would argue that the indirect nature of surrendering the wallet and voting have more in common than the direct nature of using a bomb in self-defense.
Some have argued that since voting is the election of an agent who will by necessity of an institution of domination, initiate aggression against non-consenting parties, then therefore voting is itself an act of aggression. However, I reason that this argument fallaciously assumes agency when no such agency is in evidence; the politician can in no way be said to be the agent of those who elected her, as the politician may act against her constituants interests; an agent that works against the interest of her principals is a fraud; an agent who can be foisted upon her principals without their consent is not an agent at all. In as much as the individual who votes, does not herself determine for herself which person shall act as alleged-agent (the determination is decided by the vote, not by the individual herself), and the individual who votes cannot dismiss her alleged-agent, and that alleged-agent may in fact work against her interests, there is in fact no agency in evidence and therefore the voter does not elect an agent, neither for herself, nor for any others.
Some have also argued that the act of voting legitimates the system. I would assume that most persons reading this, already deny the that the current political system has any legitimacy; so therefore, how could the act of voting grant legitimacy to an illegitimate institution of domination? How can a individual that has no right to initiate aggression on others, ever grant that right to an institution of domination? How can an individual grant something that the individual does not possess? I take the position that the individual can not grant rights or powers that they themselves do not possess and therefore, the act of voting could in no way grant the system any additional legitimate rights or powers.
I conclude that voting does not imply individual consent, voting does not employ actual agency, voting does not, in-itself (voting-qua-voting) directly entangle innocent bystanders, and voting cannot grant any legitimacy, rights or powers to the institution of domination.
Voting is merely a political pageant or charade. It is the means by which the State alleges legitimacy but this allegation is merely marketing or public-relations. It gives serfs the illusion of empowerment; it sets the serfs up to blame themselves if the institution of domination oppresses them; it sets up conditions for political factions to waste their time and energy fighting amongst themselves while the institution of domination itself is relieved of scrutiny.
Voting may be a farce but I am not convinced that taking part in farces is in and of itself, unethical.