As an anarchist, I have extremely mixed feelings about participation in bourgeoisie elections. Reading the excellent A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn, one gets a deep sense that real political change almost always occurs through direct action taken by the people rather than through participating in elections and appealing to politicians in hopes that they will listen to the people instead of their backers in big business.
That is why historically many if not most anarchists have been opposed to voting. The argument is that participating in the election rat race with sacrifices of time, energy, and money in the hopes of getting a candidate elected who will then bring about change once in office is usually a doomed effort that ultimately results in little more than draining people of energy and enthusiasm that they could have instead devoted to organizing and direct action. I can understand this position, and I have felt some of the effects that it predicts first hand.
Despite these experiences and despite the risks of losing sight of the true battlefield within our hearts and out in the streets and halls of society, we cannot completely shun elections, for they can sometimes (though not often) prove beneficial to the cause of human freedom and progress. Continue reading →