Be Brave. Don't Vote. Revolt


2nd July 2024

On the 4th of July I’ll go the polling station and I’ll gleefully spoil my ballot.

I’m not “abstaining” because I think all politicians are the same nor out of apathy, ignorance or futile rebellion. I’m purposefully marking my disgust at the entire circus. I reject their system because of the cold hard material reality that there is no possibility of radical social change within the auspices of parliaments, senates and diets. It’s worse, these bodies, no matter how many ersatz egalitarians warm their seats, sow little more the obedience, capitulation and acceptance of the carceral reality around us. If you live in the UK, you do not live a democracy. The same is true most of the world over, but I’m here in the UK and this is what I’m speaking too.

The state mechanism around us presents us with the illusion of shared power, that the people of the UK, if they so wished could enact any change they want, that the power is theirs and the state serves them. This artifice is built upon the premise that via winning elections they have a legitimate and just causes to enact their will. However every stage of this is a lie.

Your local MP candidate was almost invariably chosen by the party, often parachuted in to fill a gap or collect some B-roll for future campaigns. You didn’t chose them and the rarely spring force from local movements. Once on the the register each and every MP is beholden to the party, not you, in the same way that a supermarket worker does what his boss says and nods with polite sincerity as some random bloke moans about the lack of low-fat lasagne.

Once the MP is elected, they are given the Whip and told to do what they are told or bang going the Party support, a kushy gig and all the social respect they are just delighted with. The party in power usually sits with about a third of the people actually having voted for them and with supreme authority they’ll do what ever the fuck they like. If you think you have any influence over your standing MP, other than make some suggestions for a petty cause for them to champion, gotta get a name for yourself.

Each and every MP in fact serves the capital machine that has embedded itself within each and every aspect of our society. A rot so near absolute and terminal that it is near impossible to think of any solution without capitulating to it’s will. Sure, capital can be steered this was and that, for a few years the workers might get a few extra quid but down the line it’ll be austerity and deathbed Fit To Work notices. Red or Blue.

Your government does not stand against the violent abuses of capitalist oligarchs or even your more local boss who drinks up the very last drops of the trickle down economy. While you might find a smattering of decent socialist along the way, find me one who stood against capitalism, You might find a strong Asian voice, a Welsh nationalist, a queer rights advocate or the king of tofu welders OBE but which of these spoke against the hegemony of capitalism and the brutal industrial realities of the class war?

Even the very best of them merely offer a softer whip, a longer chain, and a boss with your accent, and in your desperation to survive capitalism and a succession of reckless authoritarian despots, we’ve convinced ourselves that this is democracy. In your we’re so beaten and pacified we’ve allow yourself to trust them as the cry out, The people have the power, and we’re the voice of the people.

This is a lie.
You do not live in a democracy.

Democracy cannot be found through a thousand pacifying reforms, it can only be found through revolutionary action, direct confrontation with the centralised authority and building autonomy and liberty at the grass root level. Every very moment spent thinking about advocating for a political party, from a social media post to active campaigning, would be better spent taking up a mutual aid activity and investing in your local community.

Liberals, mutualists and social democrats alike argue that we should combine direct action with lobbying, we must make sure that the right wing don’t get in!!! Only for the leftist candidate to continue on with the illegal wars, capitals state, selling off the health services and deporting the “surplus humanity”. They’ll just stick a pride flag on it or make sure the branding of the new open cast mine mentions net zero enough. Our representative promises to try to make the people choking us to death, ease up slightly. Honest.

Ignoring the fact that this is displacing your own capacity, social obligation and responsibility, it simply isn’t true. This lie is instilled in us early. If you sign the petition, the MP will listen and the trees will be saved. While you might see a bus route changed or a 50p wage increase, a petition will never bring around social change on any meaningful scale. “Lobbying” without financial incentive is merely appealing to the conscience of the state.

Isn’t lobbying just another weapon? This appeal and seemingly reasonable position is little but hoping the sheer injustice of children dying on the borders off Fortress Europe won’t lead you to act beyond ticking a box on some paper. The world is dying, every drop of rain is acidic, The world has lost 60% of its wildlife in the past 50 years. The working class are economic prisoners, around the world there atrocities happening right now and your MP is party to it. Your softer whip is a noose.

You can argue that elsewhere in the world, the vote has brought the artifice of liberty, the end to Juntas, dictatorships and civil wars, purple thumbs bring hope, perhaps. Here in Liberal capitalism we have a smokescreen. The liberal agents for change fight a lift for the mildest victory, most never even achieve this. Pax Capitalisma reigns supreme and all will be consumed by it.

Further to this, the lobbyist will always inevitably turn against the actionionist when they can taste a slight victory. During every general election, at some point Labour party support start telling anarchists that they are racists if they don’t vote, and specifically if they don’t vote Labour, as a weapon against the Tory state. Time and time against across the past hundred years, liberal, lobbyists have appeal for calm during industrial actions and sporadic movements a like.

“If you riot, they’ll never accept improving the DWP”. What the fuck should any one care about slight changes to the methods of control? We should fight for reform and maintain the victories of the past, but we don’t do this by disassembling our autonomy and our liberty. Change doesn’t come with an election, change comes from giving the bastards hell, unfortunately historically the final act of such movements is the appeasement of the liberals and the martyrdom of the rebels but that’s a separate issue.

If you recognise the anarchism in yourself, if you are an anti-authoritarian or a fellow traveller with an adjacent philosophy, your role in this fight for the future has to be grounded in fighting capitalism, the state and each and every reincarnation and reflection of hegemonic power.

Do this as a person, do this the “political gal” in your friend group, do this over Sunday roasts and down the boozer. In your unions, factory lines, and front lines, encourage those around you to move towards their own liberate and autonomy., caste aside the puppet show and put your energy towards meaningful and just change. Not on their timeline, when it’s convenient and politically astute, now.

My understanding of anarchism has a foundational principle that individuals shouldn’t have power or authority over each other. Whilst I’m deeply opposed to absolutist application of dogma and doctrine, I can’t see how any anarchist could earnestly accept handing such authority to another. This authority shouldn’t exist anywhere let alone consolidated within the form of a state, a body which literally decides life and death for millions and whose record has been since the very first days of civilisation and empire, little more than a trail of blood, shit and tears

This is a system that divides us into a massive majority ruled by a tiny minority, and which allows for power, wealth, and privilege to be ever more concentrated into the hands of that minority. The state is not a neutral body which can be used by all classes in society to protect their interests, rather it is an instrument of class rule that exists to protect the wealth and power of the ruling class and enforce their property rights and authority.

The state will never liberate you, no matter what flag flies. We, anarchists and our wider communities need to organise and fight, on every scale and on every front. The moment our complacency ends, while start building a better world. Don’t wait for some accelerationist moment to force you into action. Start the work now. Built the federations, form the guild, skill up, share your ideas. Prefiguration is critical. Take the solutions in hand.

You don’t want your mate to be evicted? Don;t appeal for a new master that promise to only restrict the parasitic class to stealing 70% of your income instead of 80%. Organise yourself and fight back., stop handing over your responsibility on the back of vague promises of an easier time for your section of the class. Instead of begging the bosses to stop redundancies, take the fucking company. Don’t plead for your landlord to freeze the rent, for a renters union and tell him to fuck off, don’t meet their demands, force them to meet yours.

The working class need to stop acting like temporarily embarrassed millionaires, looking only to their self interest and remember how each and every benefit we have was won, not will piecemeal victories for sections of the working class but with community, solidarity, unity and radical grass roots action. Put your energy to forming social fronts and guerilla networks both. Talk to each other, share ideas, share theory and put that theory into practice.

Elections pull up a lot of antagonism across the various perspectives and tendencies and in the long established history of passionate people talking about passionate things, sometimes this gets heated and hostile. I want you to know, it’s OK to vote, we need to stop shaming each other for such tacit involvement in in the electoral state, we’re all at different points along the journey and I think we’re best considering solidarity rather than chauvinism as the response to comrades who feel the need to go and vote.

That said I’ll be spoiling my ballot and I think you should do the same, if you even register. I’m not alone. 117,101 votes cast at the 2019 General Election were rejected as invalid at the count, we can safely assume the vast majority of these were spoilt for one purpose or another. especially since it’s a 58 per cent increase on the 74,189 votes rejected at the 2017 count.

In 2019, 33% stayed at home. These arn’t idle people. It’s people who do not care about their bullshit and would be much happier with out it.

Even if in reality, this starts with spending 10% of your work time giving your labour for free, maybe you start a toolshed for your street, maybe you move to Athens and learn street combat first hand. Whatever it means for you to plant a seed and start stepping up, whether you’ve been an anarchist for fifty years or five minutes, don’t waste your energy betraying your liberty, use it building a better world.

Whether you find liberty in duel power, weaponised apathy, armed struggle, organised grass roots movement building, or organising on the street via illegal raves, food projects, squatting, info shop building, running a mutual aid collective in Elite, writing safer spaces theory, documenting the radical actions of Ecuadorian comrades or writing letters to anarchist prisoners... what ever is meaningful and helps you find liberty, come the 4th of July do that. Be brave.

I’ll spoil my ballot, and drink some beers while listening to Jon Biggar’s election podcast and watch the map populate. the next day it’ll be back to the struggle. ■

Peter Ó Máille

Further Reading:
Voting Is Not Harm Reduction - Indigenous Action
Angry not Apathetic - Anarchist Federation
Against Parliament, For Anarchism - Anarchist Federation
Electoralism or class struggle? - Phil Dickens
Why elections fail to bring about real change - Andrew Flood
Anarchist-Communism and Elections - José Antonio Gutiérrez D.
None of the Above - Wayne Price
Vote? What For? - Errico Malatesta
Anarchists Against Democracy - Various

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