Against the Elections, Counter-Info Gathering

<table><tr><td>From <a href="http://prisonbooks.info">Prisonbooks.info</a>

On Saturday October 13th a couple dozen people gathered at in front of the Post Office on Franklin St. with banners, signs, and literature to counter election year rhetoric. Several banners were tied up around the square, free literature and food tables set up, and hundreds of anti-elections anarchist pamphlets handed out.

On the coming anniversaries of Occupy Chapel Hill and later the Yates Building occupation, as well as leading up to the upcoming anarchist bookfair, we wanted to present a simple but visible and uncompromising critique of democracy and its role in capitalist society.

The text handed out to passersby is printed below. Enjoy.</td><td><img title="Enabler?" src="http://anarchistnews.org/files/pictures/2010/votenobody.jpg"></td></tr><...
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DEMOCRACY: FOUR WOLVES AND THREE SHEEP DECIDING WHAT'S FOR DINNER

Why does half of the US voting-age population stay home on election day, year after year? Why is the battle for the presidency always waged between men whose greatest promise is that everything will stay the same -- even when everyone knows that something must change? And in the face of these obvious facts, why are we incessantly told that voting is the most urgent, most powerful, most sacred and important political act we can take? Who profits from these contradictions?

Republicans and Democrats agree on almost everything. Every vote is a vote for war and sweatshops overseas, for surveillance and suppression here, for environmental degradation and corporate imperialism everywhere. It's easy to see why, when every word spoken in Washington is backed by quantities of cash most of us can't even imagine -- from the fast-talking lobbyists to the media giants who manufacture public opinion.

Why do we keep playing our part in the joke, when we know the joke's on us? When Bush left, the Obama generation imagined that a new personality in the White House could fix the problems the last politician caused, just as disillusioned people on the right now imagine that ousting the current president will fix today's malaise. It's natural to want someone to blame when we can't afford the things we need, when opportunities we've learned to expect are unavailable to us, when the world around us seems increasingly unjust and alien. Politicians are a reasonable group to blame. But why would we believe other politicians when they promise they can make it better if we just put our faith in them? Obama's hope and change never materialized, and neither will the promises of his opponents. Most of us know, even if we don't want to admit it: the problem isn't personal, it's systemic.

The truth is, the society we live in is in the midst of a crisis no politician can fix. The middle class that every would-be president courts is disappearing, and it's not coming back. The great peace-treaties that kept capitalism stable in the last century are broken; even capitalists lack the resources to mend them. Of course a new stabilization may be found to quell the uncertainty and upheaval of recent years; if so, it won't be based on compromise, but on force. That's what the politicians really mean when they promise a return to normalcy: not prosperity, but repression. If we want a different kind of future on the other side of the crisis, we have to accept that it won't be a capitalist one. And we'll have to make it for ourselves.

If the electoral promises all boil down to the same thing, what's the real purpose of the election? Elections are a civic ritual to confirm the legitimacy and might of the government. Like all rituals, they draw their power from illusion -- not just passive illusion, but participatory illusion. If enough people participate, the main purpose is achieved, whoever wins; political legitimacy remains the monopoly of politicians and bureaucrats, and whoever doesn't vote is defined as apolitical.

The Occupy movement, for all its flaws, showed this illusion crumbling at its edges; across the country, people came together both physically and politically in a way that explicitly rejected electoral politics. One year later, when politicians are again on center stage, it is more important than ever to express the possibility of a political power that is truly our own, to remember that our disillusionment can be a rallying point for collective strength instead of isolated apathy. Our dreams are too big to fit in their ballot boxes. Instead of letting them define those dreams out of existence, we choose not to play their game.

Comments

Enabler? Huh?

paraf-javal - absurdity of politics (anti-voting pamphlet from back in the day)
http://anticoncept.phpnet.us/absurdity.html

^ spam bot ^

^ friendless troll that wants to fuck me so bad ^

And this from a spam bot in desperate need of recognition! It is to laugh. BWAAHAAHAAHAAHAA!

troll vs spam bot - the saga continues

questions:
1) why are you so convinced, troll, that i do this for recognition? i'm not selling a magazine or speaking to crowds.
2) how is it "spam" when i'm not advertising anything? there is nothing for sale here, just my years of effort all for free.
3) if i were a bot, how could i put in links to articles relevant to the issues discussed? bots don't care.
4) BWAAHAAHAAHAAHAA?
5) when was the last time you had sex? you seem like you need some.

conclusions:
1) you act like you think "recognition" is pointless and laughable because you feel bad that you don't get any.
2) you think we should all be isolated.
3) you have no friends.
4) you are a hilarious, pathetic public masturbator that should probably get a special community of his own to do that in.

Oh, so now we're harboring assumptions that public masturbation is pathetic? whoa!! judgment bot's more like it..

i do this stuff for my own entertainment and because i'm interested in it, not because i want to impress anyone or get recognition. and by the way, since it's bad form to use words whose definitions you don't understand, "recognition" means "identification of a person from previous encounters or knowledge," and remember it was after all you that gave me the recognition that i apparently had such "desperate need" for.
love n kisses, troll.

Wow, cool. Two lengthy responses to a single short remark of mine. You are so easy to wind up!

yeah because cops like you piss me off

Better watch out! We're hiding under your bed! We're hiding in your closet! BWAAHAAHAAHAAHAA.

TOTALLY DOING BEING DON'T NOT JUST DO NOT VOTE OR SOMETHING

yes! you should CLEARLY move in CH...ill find a room for you.

ANNIHILATE THE VOID
RELEASE THE GEIST
IMMANENTIZE THE ESCHATON

GET STONED
START A CULT
SHOUTING DOESN'T MAKE IT LOOK LESS STUPID

Yeah, stop shouting and start a cult like the democratic party! EVERYTHING CULTURAL IS A CULT YOU MORON!!

#BRKFRMTHLFT
#DSTRYVWLS
#KCSW

I keep hearing news about the election, and it makes me want to vote on the stuff to repeal three-strikes and the death penalty in CA, since repealing those things would have a direct benefit for us, but then I force myself to remember that voting doesn't actually mean those things will happen. I really wish this election season would be over already.

you could just vote anyway? idk. i don't like most of the same things most of the people here don't like, but i am going to vote. there are ballot questions in my state that would legalize medical cannabis and euthanasia, and frankly i am going to vote for the democrat for senate too because i think more dems in the congress means better chance of more money for welfare for me. i don't believe in voting to be a mechanism of radical change - duh - but if it could make a few things a little better i don't consider myself bound not to do it.

This is the same logic that just about everyone uses when they vote. You're basically a democrat.

Most hardcore activists vote on things that they can directly control. Your attitude is basically lazy American.

-voting
-direct control

Pick one.

In California there's an initiative on the ballot about using deadly pestisides. There's not pick one. There's Anarchism and then there's doing things that might aid in the whole not killing you thing. If you could vote to decide where your taxes go, towards drone assasinations or health care for children with pre existing conditions (SICK KIDS) would you take ten minutes out of your life to do a desent thing? Its like not giving your money to charity because someone gets all of 7 percent of it. If you don't vote that's your perogative. People who vote for president usually illicit scorn, especially two party, but this...I don't want my children to die of the same nerve toxins found in agent orange and I live in California...I B votin. Its not political, its practical.

Oh for fuck's sake, how are you not getting this? YOUR. VOTE. DOES. NOT. MATTER. By definition, voting *is not direct control*. That's not even an exaggeration, part of the idea of voting is not having direct control, especially in an electoral process. It doesn't matter how much the thing on the paper would help you or anyone else out, your vote is not making a fucking difference, and it is not in any way shape or form direct action.

I think all Anarchists can agree that the person advocating voting in certain circumstances is not anti-state and definitely not Anarchist....If you're an Anarchist, so is Ralph Nader, Dennis Kucinich, Noam Chomsky, Jill Stein, Amy Goodman, etc.

I guess nobody remembers the Don't (JUST) Vote-get active experiment.

Crimethinc.com baby

Thank you for bringing that up. Green Anarchy magazine criticized that idea.

YOUR vote does not count. Mine does, if only to me, and you don't get to define what's relevant to me.

Call yourself "anti-government," and then you want to stand around trying to dictate. Heh.

Definitely a Democrat....but then again, most "anarchists" I know vote democrat and green party. They're usually anarcho-syndicalist or Red anarchist in some form.

Now, the Individualist and Green and/or Primitivist Anarchist types, they seem to be against voting/the state and the usual authoritarian stuff.

What Anarchist votes democrat? You just made that up. I don't even think you can identify yourself as an Anarchist and vote democrat. I hate that mentality.but I think it pretty well abides here.

Yeah, this person's making shit up.

No, I know self-identified "Anarchists" who vote Democrat and Green Party !

I'm not saying that they are Anarchists, they're not. People use the term "Anarchist" as interchangeable with "radical", "ultra-progressive", "libertarian marxist", etc. etc.

Anarchists, by definition, are opposed to the state (e.g. voting), among other authoritarian problems.

Green pary's a bit of a grey area, if only for the extent that calitalism shuts them out.

Green Party is Capitalism

if you want to be an anarchist and vote, go ahead. i don't need to hear about your voting just like i don't need to hear about your bowel movement this morning- unless something has gone array. it is juvenile to say that voting doesn't change anything- voting on a municipal and county level frequently does change some things- it is silly to pretend that the repression doesn't shift under different regimes because it does. vote if you want, but don't make it the totality of your political "expression". yuck.

Quit making shit up hippie.

Did you miss the part about it not mattering? Here, let's do a thought experiment.
Universe A: You vote for legalizing cannabis. The measure passes.
Universe B: You don't vote for legalizing cannabis. The measure passes.
Notice anything? You could just as easily replace "passes" with "fails," but the point is the same. Your voting serves literally no purpose other than to reinforce the illusion that voting is an exercise of power, which, as infinitesimal as it is, is a far greater impact on the universe than the vote you actually cast.

infinitesimals aren't real. so i take 5 minutes out of one day and do something that makes a tiny impact. so what? this doesn't create any illusions for me about it. besides, it could be applied to almost anything. what kind of illusions do you have about all the tiny actions you do, whether it's printing zines, going to protests, shoplifting, breaking the occasional window, or whatever? do you really think those don't have a really tiny impact as well in the grand scheme of things? do you think that if they did, they wouldn't be worth doing?

The difference is the rest of those things are direct. Breaking a window creates rupture, no matter how small; it's still existent. Let's take a look at our thought experiment again:
Universe A: A window is broken.
Universe B: A window is not broken.
You've already made a larger impact than voting (i.e. *any* impact). Voting means nothing, since by definition it's a winner-take-all system. I'll say that again: it's not just a "tiny impact" in the direction you seek, it is NO impact in the direction you seek.
If it didn't give you any illusions about it, then why are you doing it? You clearly place some position of power to the system, else you wouldn't do it at all. That you actually believe it does *something* is the only real impact it has. Every person who doesn't vote helps to break the illusion that voting means anything, every person who votes casts their ballot not for what is on the paper, but for the spectacle.

Now, storming a polling location and burning the ballots, THAT gets your point across.

so a million people are in jail for weed only because i'm planning to vote against that in november? whoa, and people tell me i'm a crazy stoned nihilist tiqqunist.

oh wait, yeah 99% of anarchists in the u.s. don't have any idea they live on the actual planet earth that the rest of us live on, i almost forgot

What in the fuck are you talking about? The point is that those people are in jail regardless of your vote, and that your voting only reinforces the illusion of power in your hands. I seriously don't know how to dumb this down for you any more other than repeating it again until you fucking read it: Your vote doesn't matter. You have yet to say anything that comes even remotely close to changing that.

Sure as hell are a lot of power-tripping "anarchists" on this site. You say my vote doesn't matter, and I say your broken window doesn't matter (or at least not the way you think it matters in self-important land).

Oh, and since you're not the fucking Grand Poobah, I win.

Nobody is this fucking stupid. God damned trolls.

Please explain, in detail, how your vote changes anything.
Meanwhile, here's how a broken window changes things:
No broken window. Suddenly, broken window. Are you seeing the difference?

Voting lets the government know I've got my eye on what they're up to.

Breaking a window makes one more boring mess, unless the glass winds up slicing people, in which case you're just one more violent hypocrite.

Obvious troll is obvious.

Blah blah, anyone who doesn't bow to your self-proclaimed wisdom is a troll, blah blah.

i have been wondering why i haven't seen more on here in terms of anti-electoral activity. much so than even the last, this cycle of the democratic processing of society seems to be imbued with a sense of panic. at bottom, everyone senses that things are falling apart, the center cannot hold.

at the same time though, there are parts of this that make me think you must think you live i europe. a lot of the things you say here are obvious to most people, but the reasoning you deploy from it isn't solid. repression - there is a great deal more you could say here in terms of exposing the idea of civil war. the u.s. is not a context, however, where repression and resistance hold generally understood meaning. everything you say about capitalism and democracy is something a liberal or authoritarian leftist could say. lobbyists, sweatshops environmental destruction, all the villains of the classic laundry list appear - you even make a reverent reference to the 'middle class' for god's sake. your analysis is scattershot and unconvincing. this collection of scattered accidents does not designate any systemic problem with capitalism; you don't even give substance to the distinction made between 'personal' and 'systemic'. naturally i appreciate the idea of a textual intervention, but this one really doesn't say much.

"Our dreams are too big to fit in their ballot boxes" - why, i remember that from 12 years ago...

i think some of these are fair semantic critiques, but my reading of this text was that it was mainly just trying to contextualize the absurdity of elections, and how their main role is participatory illusion as civic ritual. Its an extremely short handout, that somewhat briefly mentions a standard laundry list of "evils", but it doesnt come across to me as centrally trying to define a specific anti capitalist or anarchist critique of a totality, or whatever. Its anticapitalist, but really its just focused on getting someone to rethink the elections in about 20 seconds of reading on a streetcorner.

I agree the references (sweatshops, corporate imperialism, etc.) are a little out of date rhetorically, but im not convinced that really matters in this case, particularly as a handout that is specifically designed to hook in a dissatisfied, center left reader in a small progressive town.

As for the "reverant" reference to the middle class...what? The specific quote is:

" The middle class that every would-be president courts is disappearing, and it's not coming back. The great peace-treaties that kept capitalism stable in the last century are broken; even capitalists lack the resources to mend them."

I cant understand how this would be read as the author "revering" the middle class. The author correctly observes that pol parties in the US court this mythical and meaningless demographic. Thats basically a fact. The author isnt revering that class as well - he or she is pointing out the inevitable decline of this situation as we all come sputtering out the other end of 60 or 70 years of social democracy, as a way to emphasize the utter hypocrisy and BS of this political courtship game. The author isnt wishing for the good old days in reverence - they re clearly attempting to persuade the reader that such nostalgia is out of date and irrelevant, that the Left of this century is a corpse so to speak, and really, good riddance. That seems pretty clear to me, anyway, as a reader. In any case "reverence" is a bizarre interpretation.

and yeah, the "dreams and ballot boxes " shit is pretty damn hokey to this aging anarchist, too. But i sort of doubt the average person handed this on the street would experience it that way, lacking 12-15 years of shared rhetorical experiences....So its fucking hokey, but who cares i guess.

it was a hyperbolic choice of words, but i think it's ridiculous to give credence to the idea that any such thing as a 'middle class' exists or ever existed in capitalism or has any tangible reality to it. again, i think this rhetoric is sort of a little just pandering to liberals - like people who think not only that the middle class exists, but that it should keep existing? that seems to me to be what that sentence implies. i just think stuff like that makes the whole thing not all that coherent. although i may just be saying that because it doesn't speak a common tongue with my uber nihilism. whatevz, neither does most of what's on this site.

The Middle Class never existed? Please explain. I was always a 'the enemy is middle class' kind of gal. But you say it doesn't exist. I'm curious.

i think it's on you to say what you mean by 'middle class'. tell me, what is it? how does it fit with an anti-capitalist understanding of class and the social organization of production? sorry, does that sound too marxist? what does a middle class person do? do you define them solely in terms of the monetary value of the stuff they 'own'? how do they make their living / reproduce their existence as a middle class person? how is this differentiated from how a prole or capitalist reproduces their existence?

oh wait, you're a gal, i guess i am sexist for questioning your logic. bummer!!

this text doesnt pander to the idea that the middle class should keep existing, it explicitly argues the reality of its (inevitable) decline under current economic frameworks. I think that is really, really clear in the text, already quoted above.

You seem to be implying you dont believe the middle class exists? Im confused. I would agree that it functions as a kind of mythology, an economic category so vague as to be something that the majority of americans project their own lives onto it, regardless of inconsistencies. And i would agree that its messy at best, as something that people use equally to refer to values, "lifestyles," roles in management, car choices, etc..., that as a socioeconomic or sociological category, its not particularly useful for an anti capitalist analysis, that it usually tells us little of its supposed inhabitants in terms of their relation to production.

But none of these things mean the middle class "doesn't exist." It is a category that the vast majority of Americans, when polled, explicitly identify themselves as a part of. This may at times be utterly stupid, on their part. But just because something operates as a socially constructed grouping, doesnt mean it isnt real. If it shapes the ideas, hopes, values, and goals of millions of people, its something anarchists need to understand well so as to be able to criticize, undermine, counter, etc.

Also, in terms of actual lived experience, there are millions of americans who basically DO live stereotypically middle class lives, in the sociological sense. They re in the middle bracket of income, they have some levels of management or responsibility at their job, or a small business, or whatever else. Its vague, but that doesnt mean it isnt real. These people arent "stupid" for thinking the middle class exists; it DOES exist. Theyre wrong, to the extent they think this, to believe that this precarious existence could alone insure them from the inevitable next wave of repression, economic shrinkage, war, cancer, poverty, and decline of social programs that capitalism is now trending towards. This changing reality isnt a thing that anarchists "advocate," rather its a reality that we observe and react to, intervene with, and when interacting with people who identify or previously identified as middle class, as much of the occupy crowd whom we interacted with (even indirectly or unintentionally), highlight. Its basically something like addressing a bunch of people who still love the ship, "Look motherfuckers, the ship is sinking, regardless of whether you liked it. There is no patching it. There is no baling water. We need to get the fuck off."

You just wrote up a long, thoughtful response to a dime-store marxist analysis. WHOOSH na'mean?

yeah. i do that too much on here. i was born in the early 80s and this whole irony and ten-syllable-dismissal/critique-culture-on-the-web thing still has me thrown for a loop. Im all like, oh, an interesting counterpoint, i will discuss respectfully and develop my thoughts further and perhaps we can benefit each others' point a view, or at least further clarify our own.

but no. foolish, foolish me. im like the fish in the barrel for the trolls out there.

is an ideology the same thing as a class? this seems to be what you are implying here since you give no material facts to designate what you call the 'middle class'. how does this class reproduce its existence? what makes it a class - thinking it's a class? then we are talking about different things because i am talking about a material class that has a concrete function in the reproduction of the economy / class society per se, and you are talking about a collective hallucination that exists in people's heads and the way they think of themselves.

ok, say the middle class is a bunch of people with macs who identify with the 1%. so what? why does an anarchist address herself to such people?

to misquote Deleuze and Guattari , 'there's the classes and then there's the masses. and they can become indiscernabl'. what you identify as the 'collective hallucination' is informative of the collective reality; the problem is with your lens of critique.

"center left reader in a small progressive town."

i read: 'liberal in a college town'

ok so we've identified the aspiring 'petit bourgeois' as the audience of this text. why does an anarchist address herself to such an interlocutor?

I believe in the nihilist ubermensch method of deciding what to do. It is a strong direct representation 100% and not isolated apathy. Collective consensus defines as herd mentality!!

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