I recently asked Kevin through BAGR about voting, and I wanted to post his response and maybe get some conversation going. He said it was cool to throw it up here. Below is my original question to him, followed by his response.
Recently I got into an argument with other anti-civilizationists regarding the recent elections. As an anarchist, I do not vote for candidates in elections. First and foremost, I do not believe positions of coercive power should exist, and voting legitimizes political power. It also grants permission for a person to be in a position of power over others, and I do not believe I have the right to grant that. I feel that anyone who votes for a candidate to hold a position of power, even if they claim it’s for self-defense, is legitimizing power. And since power is so wrapped up in civilization, I don't believe you can be a true anti-civilizationist ally if you engage in electoral politics.
This is apparently a hardline stance, as I was surprised at the angst this position caused among other anti-civilizationists I communicated with, though they admittedly were not anarchists. I always figured green anarchy and anti-civilizationism are one in the same, differing only in name or qualifier. But that’s apparently not true. I was accused of selfishness, and blamed for Trump’s victory. In fact, they blamed everyone who either didn’t vote out of protest, or voted for a third party candidate, for Trump’s victory, and said we were to blame for everything he does while in power since we didn’t vote for Hillary. When I put forth the usual arguments against voting, I was challenged with the usual arguments of being childish and selfish, and putting my beliefs and principles above action and what’s right; that although power has no moral legitimacy, it exists, and therefore to abstain from elections out of protest is actually allowing it to flourish. I was told the argument that says I’m legitimizing power by voting is stupid as well, since any act of engagement with civ is legitimizing it: working, paying bills with money, buying food at the grocery store and sponsoring industrial agriculture, etc. I retorted that this is a displacement of blame given that I have to survive, and given the lack of choices civilization provides and the circumstances I was born into. I have to buy food and work, but I don’t have to do things like vote, or invest in the stock market, or anything else that perpetuates civ unnecessarily for no other reason than to profit or put someone in power. I also raised the usual arguments against Hillary and her record of imperialism and her quest for power. And how as anti-civlizationists, we should not be sucked into the leftist thinking of finding salvation in Democrats and pining for democracy (given the anger over her winning the popular vote but losing the electoral college). Didn’t matter, as Trump is considered more evil, and voting for the lesser of the two evils is considered the best strategy. Not voting is considered pointless, as at best it can accomplish nothing.
These people generally recognize the futility and facade of voting, and don't pine for a particular party. They're not usually advocating for Democrats or any other party. They simply believed Trump is so threatening, that THIS election required voting, even by anti-civilizationists, in order to keep him out of power. Someone IS going to hold the office, so they figured they'd at least vote against him.
I asked Kevin if he felt that self-defense voting, especially in an election as potentially devastating as the last one, is acceptable, or appropriate for a green anarchist. Or is this typical leftist thinking? I was thrown the quote by these non-anarchistic anti-civs by Lierre Kieth that states “Understand: the task of an activist is not to negotiate systems of power with as much integrity as possible – it’s to dismantle those systems.” I was blamed for putting personal integrity above right action. While I agree with her statement as far as it goes, I felt giving in was more than just about sacrificing a principle for the greater good; it was about legitimizing power and therefore perpetuating civ, and would therefore be in direct contrast to my duty as an anti-civ activist, not to mention anarchist. It would also be granting permission for Hillary, had I voted for her, to be in a position of power over others, which is antithetical to anti-civ philosophy, IMHO. Not to mention that I wouldn’t want her in power, even if I did agree with the position of power.
As always, he took the time to respond thoughtfully to my email, despite all his other projects and most likely a busy family life as well. I thought others could benefit from it too. Below is his response.
There's a number of ways that you can break all this stuff down, but I don't think there's a single valid argument for voting, even in a case like this where Trump is clearly the more unhinged of two sociopaths. People are being defensive of their beliefs, but all those beliefs are just validations of everything that we've been told. Doesn't make them true, nor does it magically make the system work. If people wanted Clinton to win, then they should have voted for her. And then the should remind themselves that she won the popular vote and it didn't matter anyways. Then they can go ahead and keep blaming other people when they don't want to accept that the electoral college is the determining factor and not your or my lack of a vote.
I see it as principle: voting validates their system. You have to accept the results of the game if you chose to play it. I think anyone with a brain should have been able to see that both Clinton and Trump are lunatics. Even just as a litmus test, Trump is being called out about having stock in Energy Transfer Partners and thus having absolute investment in pushing through the Standing Rock camp to complete the pipeline. But even as that fire was drawn on him over the issue, Clinton wouldn't even take a stand on the issue. Even on something that did get wider support, she wasn't any better. Sanders and Stein both rallied in defense of Standing Rock, which isn't a claim for them, but, again, kind of a litmus test for the whole situation. If anyone could honestly say that they wanted Clinton or Trump to be their president, then congratulations, they're dumb enough to get the result they deserve.
Don't get me wrong, I ended up watching the whole train wreck as well. The whole fucking charade is insane and maddening, but that shows the insanity of the system and its level of collapse. Not exactly reasons to get in line at the voting booth.
In the end, the result of an election isn't the fault of the people who opted against taking part in it, it's the drive of the people who believe in it enough to have gotten in line in the first place. And that's just ludicrous. Here in the middle of nowhere Missouri, we're dead center for Trump territory and there are people with homemade Trump signs on houses that have boarded up or no windows. I think of Situationists in that scenario more than I even think of age old anarchist propaganda: this is the power of the Spectacle, making people feel invested in a made for TV reality game show and as though two of the 90s Arch Nemesis battling out everything could have a significantly positive impact on their lives. It's more sad than anything.
But to anyone who has tried to personally guilt trip me (good luck) on not voting, I've been considered a "terrorist" and faced persecution by both Democrats and Republicans. The FBI under both Bush, Obama and Clinton have all come at me and, in the end, the results look exactly the same. Fuck them all. And, everything else aside, no fucking way in hell that I would ever cast a vote to validate the very government that has come after me.
Interesting times, that is true. But it's their party and they just haven't noticed that it's over.
All thoughts and opinions from anyone on my question or his response are welcome, and would be greatly appreciated.