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Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth
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A Breach In The Dam

Sat, 11/17/2018 - 04:58

via Medium

by Daniel Sieradski

The same liberal Jewish boomers who gave in to efforts by the Jewish Right to divide the Black and Jewish communities in the ’70s are back again to divide Jews from their would-be allies with reactionary tribal impulses, and this time they’re dead set on being the breach in the dam that lets the Nazis through. Not two weeks after the worst massacre of Jews by a white supremacist in American history, the Jewish boomers and their junior aspirants have found someone to blame for the attack, and it’s none other than Palestinian American activist Linda Sarsour.

Here’s why I’m fuming:

Any day now the President of the United States can sign an executive order, as he has threatened to do, that will strip citizenship from those who were born in America to parents that were here illegally. This would render my septuagenarian mother, who was born to two Holocaust survivors who sneaked into the country by overstaying their tourist visas, a stateless refugee. (And what will that make me?)

While this possibility simmers in the background, undocumented and documented immigrants alike are being rounded up, thrown in cages, having their kids taken from them and sent halfway across the country, and are then deported without their children who, when they are are lucky enough to be reunited, suffer from severe emotional and psychological trauma from which they may never recover.

Likewise, transgender men and women are being stripped of their civil rights and publicly humiliated at airports by a federal agency that has been ordered to reject their passports.

Add to this the attacks on women’s right to choose, the rights of workers to organize in their workplaces, the right of Black people to vote, and so on, and it becomes clear that everything this administration stands for will result in the destruction of all that we as Jewish people of conscience purport to care about.

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Veterans for Peace March to Reclaim Armistice Day in Washington, D.C.

Wed, 11/14/2018 - 16:04

“All we are saying is give peace a chance.”—Peace marchers on Sunday at March to Reclaim Armistice Day in Washington, D.C.

This past Sunday, peace advocates, including Veterans for Peace protested in Washington, DC.

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Strikes and Picket Lines, Explained

Mon, 11/12/2018 - 19:30

via Teen Vogue

by Kim Kelly

The past month has seen multiple sports teams run afoul with one of the most important current labor actions in America: a massive nationwide hotel work stoppage happening right now, with more than 7,700 members of a hospitality workers’ union on strike.

On October 4, 2018, when the New York Yankees baseball team was spotted crossing a hotel workers’ picket line in front of Boston’s Ritz-Carlton, they were lambasted online for their lack of solidarity with the workers there. A week later, the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team crossed that same picket line to stay at the hotel, whose striking workers are predominantly women, people of color, and immigrants. The Edmonton Oilers ice hockey team crossed the border from Canada as well as the picket line to do the same thing on October 9, and now, this past week, the Philadelphia Flyers ice hockey team committed the exact same offense.

Why is it such a big deal that they and their unionized cohorts crossed the Marriott picket line? Why does the concept “never cross a picket line” matter? What does it mean to “go out on strike” or to be a “scab”? Let’s break it down using these recent examples.

A strike is a planned work stoppage that occurs when the members of a union collectively agree to refuse to work until their demands are met. This usually happens after contract negotiations have broken down and a majority of members have voted to authorize the strike, which is what the Marriott workers have done.

All four teams mentioned above have incredibly strong unions backing them and enjoy the benefits of said unions’ lucrative collective bargaining agreements. Thanks to the players’ union, the Yankees and the 29 other teams covered are among the highest-paid athletes in the world, with players’ paychecks running well into the millions.

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The Bike-Based, Anarchist Public Health Project That’s Keeping People Alive On Olympia’s Streets

Mon, 11/12/2018 - 19:23

via KNKX

By Bethany Denton & Gabriel Spitzer

It’s been going for about two decades on the streets of downtown Olympia. As a practical matter, on one early autumn night, that translated into two young women on rickety mountain bikes, towing large black bins lashed together with more or less whatever is available.

“It’s just this random jumble of like, what can we bungee to this thing today? Did the bungee break? Do we have bike inner tube? Do we have rope? Do we have anything?” Cassie says.

But the contents of those bins are carefully thought out: free clothes (especially socks), tarps and sleeping bags in colder weather, donated food and drinks, and, crucially, clean supplies for injection drug users.

Krista Kohler, who has been riding with Cassie for seven years, assembles the drug supplies into kits for people who use.

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Abolish the Military

Mon, 11/12/2018 - 19:06

via Jacobin

By Greg Shupak

Lisa Simpson had the right idea. In a 2002 episode of The Simpsons, the elementary school student tries to impress two college kids by putting a sticker on her bike that says “US Out of Everywhere.”

It is a slogan that should be ubiquitous on the Left. With the string of disastrous military interventions across the world in recent years, it’s even more apparent that US crimes aren’t isolated — there’s an underlying structure that produces them.

Tackling that underlying structure, though daunting, also fosters opportunities for unity. Because of the sheer destructiveness of US militarism, and its vital role in maintaining global capitalism, a reinvigorated antiwar movement could bring together leftists with a broad range of concerns.

So on Veterans Day, here’s how US militarism stands in the way of a just world — and why the Left should come together to bring it to its knees.

1. US imperialism breeds racism.

For starters, the main victims of the US military have been people of color. Just since World War II, there are the millions slaughtered in Korea and Indochina, the over one million killed in Iraq, and the tens of thousands in Afghanistan — all of which have then been affixed with dehumanizing labels to rationalize the murdering sprees.

The bigotry doesn’t stay overseas. Using racist language to legitimize attacking Arabs or Southeast Asians contributes to the dissemination of racism against minorities in the United States.

There’s also the long-running presence of Klansmen and Neo-Nazis in the American forces and the tacit acceptance of their presence by officials. As Reuters’ Daniel Trotta reported in 2012, white supremacist groups encourage their followers who join the Army and Marine Corps to acquire the skills to overthrow the “Zionist Occupation Government” that they think is running America and to prepare for the race war that they see as imminent.

Former service members such as Wade Page and James Burmeister have carried out racist murders on US soil, and a 2008 report commissioned by the Justice Department found that half of all right-wing extremists in the United States had military experience.

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Take Your Pick: Law or Freedom

Mon, 11/12/2018 - 18:55

via CrimethInc

How “Nobody Is above the Law” Abets the Rise of Tyranny

We saw you last night among thousands of other anti-Trump demonstrators around the US. Their signs proclaimed, “No one is above the law.” You were the one with the sign reading “I love laws.” We need to talk.

Really, this is what gets you into the streets? Trump’s goons have been kidnapping your neighbors, preparing to block your access to abortion, openly promoting “nationalism,” calling the targets for lone wolf assassins who send mail bombs and shoot up synagogues—and your chief concern is whether what they’re doing is legal?

And if Trump and his cronies were to change the laws—what then?

If you’re trying to establish the foundation for a powerful social movement against Trump’s government, “no one is above the law” is a self-defeating narrative. What happens when a legislature chosen by gerrymander passes new laws? What happens when the courts stacked with the judges Trump appointed rule in his favor? What will you do when the FBI cracks down on protests?

If everything that put Trump in a position to implement his agenda were legal, would you be at peace with it, then? When some nice centrist politician takes office after him, but the police keep enforcing the policies he introduced and the judges he appointed keep judging, will you withdraw from the streets? Come to think of it, where were you under Obama when people were being imprisoned and deported by the million? Perhaps you have no problem with millions of people being imprisoned and deported as long as no one colludes with Russia or talks over a journalist?

We saw other protesters with signs entreating us to “Save Democracy.” Didn’t democracy inflict Trump on us in the first place? Isn’t it democracy that just brought Bolsonaro to power in Brazil—a racist, sexist, and homophobic advocate of the Brazilian military dictatorship and extrajudicial killings? If democracy enables outright fascists to legitimize their authority rather than having to seize power by force, what’s so great about it, exactly?

If “no one is above the law,” that means the law is above all of us. It means that the law—any law, whatever law happens to be on the books—is more valuable than our dearest desires, more righteous than our most honorable aspirations, more important than our most deep-seated sense of right and wrong. This way of thinking prizes group conformity over personal responsibility. It is the kiss of death for any movement that aims to bring about change.

Social change has always involved illegal activity—from the American Revolution to John Brown’s raid at Harper’s Ferry, from the sit-in movement to the uprising in Ferguson. If not for the courageous deeds of people who were willing to break the law, we’d still be living under the king of England. Many of us would still be enslaved.

That is what makes your cheerleading for the FBI so chilling. You’re familiar with COINTELPRO, presumably, and many of the other ways that the FBI has set out to crush movements for social change? Imagine that your best-case scenario plays out and the FBI helps to orchestrate Donald Trump’s removal from power. What do you think that the FBI would do with all the legitimacy that would give them in the eyes of liberals and centrists? It would have carte blanche to intensify its attacks on poor people, people of color, and protesters, destroying the next wave of social movements before they can get off the ground. Nothing could be more naïve than to imagine that the FBI will focus on policing the ruling class.

The greatest peril we face is that Trump’s government will be replaced by a centrist government that will continue most of the current administration’s policies without violating any rules or norms. The more Trump’s regime is described as exceptional, the easier it will be for the next administration to get away with the same activities. In the long run, the system is at its most dangerous when it does not outrage people.

Mobilizing to support an FBI Director in response to the firing of one of the most racist Attorney Generals in living memory—this is the same “lesser of two evils” argument some have made for voting taken to its logical extreme; this approach guarantees that we will be reduced to advocating for the second worst of all possible evils. Firing Jeff Sessions helps Trump evade Mueller’s investigation, yes, but let’s be clear—men like Sessions, Trump, and Mueller do the most harm in the course of carrying out their official duties in strict observation of the law.

What Gives the Law Legitimacy in the First Place?

In the feudal era, when kingly authority was thought to be bequeathed by God and laws were decreed by kings, it was at least internally consistent to hold that everyone had a sacred duty to obey them. Today, this assumption lingers as a sort of holdover—yet without any rational basis. Certainly, the law decrees that no one is above it, but that’s just circular reasoning. What obliges us to regard laws as more valid then our own personal ethics?

Partisans of democracy like to imagine that laws arise because of their general utility to the population as a whole. On the contrary, for most of the history of the state, laws were decreed by monarchs and dictatorships—and only existed on account of their utility to rulers. Sovereignty itself is a fundamentally monarchist metaphor. If we no longer believe in the divine right of kings, that undermines any inherent claim that laws could have on our obedience. Rather than blindly complying, we have a responsibility to decide for ourselves how we should act. To cite Hannah Arendt, “No one has the right to obey.”

The law masquerades as a sort of social contract existing for everyone’s benefit. But if it’s really in everyone’s best interest, why is it so hard to get people to abide by it? The truth is, neither the powerful nor the oppressed have ever had good cause to obey laws—the former because the same privileges that enable them to write the laws release them from the necessity of observing them, the latter because the laws were not established for their benefit in the first place. It shouldn’t be surprising that a billionaire like Trump does not obey the laws. What’s surprising is that you still think that the rest of us ought to.

What’s the difference between the illegal activity of a Donald Trump and the illegal activity of a person who engages in civil disobedience? If “no one is above the law,” then they’re both equally in the wrong. No, the real distinction between them is that one is acting for selfish gain while the other is attempting to create a more egalitarian society. This is the important question—whether our actions serve to reproduce hierarchies or undermine them. We should focus on this question, not on whether any given action is legal.

What we are seeing today is the fracturing of our society. The peace treaties that stabilized capitalism through the second half of the 20th century are collapsing, and members of the ruling class are adopting rival strategies to weather the crises ahead. On one side, nationalists like Trump are betting on chauvinism and brute force, preparing to make the best of it as society splinters into warring groups. On the other side, centrist technocrats want to present themselves as the only imaginable alternative, using the specter of Trump and his kind to justify their own quest for authority. When they get back into office, you can bet that they won’t turn down any additional power that Trump has vested in the state. Your advocacy for “the rule of law” is music to their ears. And, of course, whatever additional power and legitimacy they concentrate in the state will be passed on to the next Trump, the next Bolsonaro.

Each side aims to instrumentalize the discourse of law and order in order to outflank the other in the battle for power. This isn’t new; it’s as old as the state itself. Immediately after the confirmation of Kavanaugh, you’re a sucker to imagine that the law represents some sort of social consensus rather than the edicts of whoever happens to control the institutions. To fetishize obedience to the law is to accept that might makes right.

To march under the banner “no one is above the law” is to spit in the faces of all those for whom the daily functioning of the law is an experience of oppression and injustice. It is to reject solidarity with the sectors of society that could give a social movement against Trump leverage in the streets. It is to assert the political center as a discrete entity that holds itself apart—that views both Trump and the social movements that oppose him as rivals to its own power. Finally, it is to legitimize the very instrument of oppression—the law—that Trump will eventually use to suppress your movement. Remember “Lock her up”?

You have to ask yourself some important questions now. Do you love laws—or justice? Do you love rights—or freedom?

If it’s laws you believe in, you’re on the right track. Just don’t have any illusions about what it means to value the law above everything else. If it’s justice you want, on the other hand, you need to be prepared to break the law. In that case, you need a totally different narrative to explain what you’re doing.

If it’s rights you’re after, you’ll need a government to grant them, protect them, and—inevitably—take them away when it sees fit. Whenever you use the discourse of rights, you set the stage for this to occur. There are no rights without a sovereign to bestow them. On the other hand, if you love freedom, rather than vesting legitimacy in the government, you’d better make common cause with everyone else who has a stake in collectively defending themselves against invasive efforts to impose authority, whether from Trump or his Democratic rivals.

From the anarchist perspective, all of us are above the law. Our lives are more precious than any legal document, any court decision, any duty decreed by the state. No social contract drawn up in the halls of power could provide a basis for mutually fulfilling egalitarian relations; we can only establish those on our own terms, working together outside any framework of imposed responsibilities. The law is not our salvation; it is the first and greatest crime.

Further Reading

The Centrists: An analysis from January 2018 that has proved prescient.

From Democracy to Freedom: The difference between government and self-determination.

The Centrist Paradox: According to this study, of all political persuasions, “centrists” are the ones who have the least interest in democratic models for governance.

Don’t celebrate the exception; abolish the rule.

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Apocalyptic Climate Reporting Completely Misses the Point

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 02:18

via The Nation

By Daniel Aldana Cohen

re we doomed? It’s the most common thing people ask me when they learn that I study climate politics. Fair enough. The science is grim, as the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has just reminded us with a report on how hard it will be to keep average global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. But it’s the wrong question. Yes, the path we’re on is ruinous. It’s just as true that other, plausible pathways are not. That’s the real, widely ignored, and surprisingly detailed message of the IPCC report. We’re only doomed if we change nothing. The IPCC report makes it clear that if we make the political choice of bankrupting the fossil-fuel industry and sharing the burden of transition fairly, most humans can live in a world better than the one we have now.

And yet doom is what’s being amplified by seemingly every major newspaper and magazine, and the mainstream media more broadly. A standout example was David Wallace-Wells’s hot take on the IPCC report for New York magazine, charmingly titled, “UN Says Climate Genocide Is Coming. It’s Actually Worse Than That.” There’s a lot to say about the emotional texture of this kind of reporting. But the deeper problem is how this coverage fails to capture climate breakdown’s core cause-and-effect dynamic, thus missing how much scope for action there still is

Reporting on the IPCC, and climate change more broadly, is unbalanced. It’s fixated on the predictions of climate science and the opinions of climate scientists, with cursory gestures to the social, economic, and political causes of the problem. Yet analysis of these causes is as important to climate scholarship as modeling ice-sheet dynamics and sea-level rise. Reductionist climate reporting misses this. Many references to policy are framed in terms of carbon pricing. This endorses the prevailing contempt in establishment circles for people’s capacity to govern themselves beyond the restrictions of market rule. Meanwhile, the IPCC report is overflowing with analyses showing that we can avoid runaway climate change, improve most people’s lives, and prioritize equality through a broad set of interventions.

It remains physically possible to keep global warming at a relatively safe 1.5 degrees Celsius, and certainly a less safe—but not apocalyptic—2 degrees. This would require dramatic changes in economic policy and doubling down on the powers of public planning. Taxing carbon is essential, but is just one of many complementary tools. Using “command and control” regulatory methods, the Clean Air Act cleaned up much of the United States years before “market mechanisms” became famous. Indeed, “command and control” is the centerpiece of the best climate policies in the United States. Take California: There, the state’s regulatory mandates forcing utilities to source more renewable energy are the main reason emissions have gone down. In contrast, the market-mechanism piece of California’s climate policy, a “cap and trade” program, has failed to slash emissions; it may even have facilitated a moderate increase in carbon pollution in the state’s poorest neighborhoods.

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Noam Chomsky Calls Trump and Republican Allies “Criminally Insane”

Wed, 11/07/2018 - 02:09

via Scientific American

By John Horgan

I don’t really have heroes, but if I did, Noam Chomsky would be at the top of my list. Who else has achieved such lofty scientific and moral standing? Linus Pauling, perhaps, and Einstein. Chomsky’s arguments about the roots of language, which he first set forth in the late 1950s, triggered a revolution in our modern understanding of the mind. Since the 1960s, when he protested the Vietnam War, Chomsky has also been a ferocious political critic, denouncing abuses of power wherever he sees them. Chomsky, who turns 90 on December 7, remains busy. He spent last month in Brazil speaking out against far-right politician Jair Bolsonaro, and he recently discussed the migrant caravan on the radio show “Democracy Now.” Chomsky, whom I first interviewed in 1990 (see my profile here), has had an enormous influence on my scientific and political views. His statement that we may always “learn more about human life and human personality from novels than from scientific psychology” could serve as an epigraph for my new book Mind-Body Problems (available for free here)Below he responds to my emailed questions with characteristic clarity and force. — John Horgan

Do you ever chill out?

Would rather skip personal matters.

Your ideas about language have evolved over the decades. In what ways, if any, have they remained the same? 

Some of the earliest assumptions, then tentative and only partially formed, have proven quite robust, among them that the human language capacity is a species property in a double sense: virtually uniform among humans apart from serious pathology, and unique to humans in its essential properties.  The most basic property of the language faculty is that each internal language generates an unbounded array of structured expressions, each of which yields an interpretation at the interface with other cognitive systems (basically a linguistically-articulated thought) and can be externalized in some sensorimotor system, usually speech, in ways that allow others to access our thoughts – a property of language that Galileo and his contemporaries rightly regarded with awe and wonder.  Basic ideas about the mechanisms that have these remarkable properties have also proven fairly stable, though there has been great progress in refining them and reducing them to principles simple enough to provide sound explanations for many surprising aspects of language and to suggest a plausible evolutionary scenario.  From the outset, 65 years ago, the languages investigated closely were typologically varied, and in tandem with theoretical advances inquiry has proceeded to unprecedented typological range and depth.

Your claims about the innateness of language helped inspire evolutionary psychology and behavioral genetics, which attempt to trace human thought behavior to their biological roots. And yet you’ve been critical of these fields. Why?

Not so much of the fields, which are surely legitimate and important, but of some of the practices within them.

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Why I’m Not Voting

Tue, 11/06/2018 - 16:59

by Eric Laursen

On a short visit to Austin, Texas in June, I heard that one of my favorite one-hit wonders from the long-ago British punk-pop scene, Wreckless Eric (“(I’d Go) the Whole Wide World”), was playing at a local club. I quickly bought tickets.

Wreckless gave a tremendous show. The songs from his new album were terrific, angry and political, and he interspersed them with acid, dead-on comments about the Trump administration and America’s descent into racist right-wing populism.

Then he let us have it. “You know, if you didn’t vote, you might just as well have voted for him.”

That would include me. I’ve heard a lot of this kind of thing in the months since.

On Tuesday, millions of people will vote in a midterm election that’s touted as one of the most consequential in decades. This is perfectly understandable. Depending upon the outcome, America could effectively re-endorse President Trump and his party. Or it could reject the celebritician in the Oval Office and re-embrace the party of the Obamas and the Clintons.

Millions of people, perfectly eligible to do so, will not vote, however. Once again, I’ll be one of them, and I’m happy to explain why.

Non-voters are this year’s pariah class, much as Ralph Nader and Jill Stein voters were in past elections. Whatever the outcome on Tuesday, we’ll be criticized for not doing our part, for putting principle over practicality, and for helping entrench the Republican Right in power.

But this entirely misses the point. It’s easy to shoot the messenger when you don’t like the message, and non-voters have been sending an increasingly loud and consistent message for at least 50 years now: we’ve lost our faith in electoral democracy. A Gallup poll in January found that less than half of Americans have confidence in the presidency, only 8% in Congress, only 29% in the Republican Party, and only 36% in the Democratic Party. The media, which plays an important role in legitimating our political establishment, rates only 30% approval.

This shouldn’t be news, either. According to a study by the Pew Research Center, public trust in government in the U.S. declined from around 75% in the early 1960s to 18% in 2017. Almost half (45%) of adults—more than 100 million people—didn’t vote for anyone for president in 2016. And this shift isn’t confined to America. According to a recent World Bank study, voter turnout worldwide declined from about 80% in 1945 to about 65% in 2015.

The message, in other words, isn’t about the candidates, their platforms, or the way they’re covered in the media. It’s a deep disillusionment that’s been growing for decades with an electoral democracy that becomes less democratic all the time, a sclerotic and highly institutionalized two-party system that suppresses radical voices (unless they’re from the right), and a (predominantly white, male) political and economic elite that’s expert at deflecting and neutralizing opposition to its leadership but conveniently tone-deaf when  it comes to understanding and addressing in honest and effective ways the issues that opposition raises. Millions of people, at least tacitly, have concluded that the system doesn’t need change from within, it needs to be changed.

The burden is on the people who hold the reins of government and party-political power to prove to us why we should bother voting, not on us to explain why we don’t. As Mark Twain and Emma Goldman are variously rumored to have said, “If voting made any difference, they wouldn’t let us do it.” To understand how right this still is, just consider the ongoing voter-suppression efforts in Georgia and other states, the mammoth Pentagon budgets that pass year after year with “bipartisan” support, and the budget-cutting economics that keeps the richest country in human history on track to become the most economically unequal as well, no matter which party holds power. Consider the persistence of racism and the marginalization of people of color, despite decades of alleged government wokeness.

Or consider possibly the greatest emergency in human history: the rapid warming of the planet after two centuries of energy reliance on fossil fuels. Democratic lawmakers and candidates would have us believe that unless we put them in power, the Trump administration will continue to undermine international efforts to stop global warming. But the best the governments of the world—led by electoral democracies like the U.S.—have been able to agree on is feel-good gestures like the carbon tax and business-friendly half-measures like the Paris Accords, which substitute “market-based solutions” for the fundamental changes in industrial production needed to alter our course.

Global warming represents a supreme test for electoral democracy. If it can’t address this clear and present danger, whichever politicians are in charge, then what reason do we have to stay faithful to it? Aren’t we better off looking for—experimenting with—new ways, outside the State, to organize our response to a problem that threatens to annihilate us?

Let’s turn that question around: In the face of the evidence that voting doesn’t work, when we vote, who benefits? Why do “they” want us to keep going through this exercise (as long as we’re not black or brown or immigrant)? Voting is not the popular exercise of political power, but the surrender of our power as equal members of a human community. Voting affirms the present system. It signifies our assent. It keeps us hoping against hope that the next statesperson-hero—the next FDR, the next JFK—is just around the corner if we go to the polling place, play our assigned role, and pull the lever. It maneuvers potentially revolutionary social movements into unthreatening political channels (the best decision Black Lives Matter ever made was to not endorse candidates). It nudges us to blame specific policies and politicians, rather than take a desperately needed hard look at electoral democracy itself.

There’s something more we give up when we vote: the ability to say “No.” States, governments, and socio-economic orders crave legitimacy: it’s the one thing they need from ordinary people, in some ways even more than obedience. The right to say No to the whole damn thing is the most powerful political weapon we have as members of this or any society, because it denies the State legitimacy. When we vote, we give it up—just for today, perhaps, but if we do it over and over, pretty soon it becomes forever.

There’s a plausible argument for voting I hear a lot: that, flawed as it is, electoral democracy gives us a chance to perform triage when a serious threat like right-wing nationalism looms, and buys us the time to pursue bigger changes. Perhaps—but haven’t we been through this exercise too many times already? How many more years will we decide to fix the roof when the building’s foundations are rotten?

“Form’s survival conceals the disappearance of content,” the novelist Marguerite Yourcenar wrote of the political culture of the later Roman Empire; doesn’t our participation in the increasingly empty ceremony of elections represent a desperate hope that we can still find content where it no longer exists?

All too often, progressives are presented with a false choice between our current, failing electoral democracy and the hard-right, xenophobic, exclusionary nationalism represented by figures like Trump, or perhaps some resurrected form of Soviet Communism. This is wrong both historically and as a matter of practical, day-to-day reality. Human beings have always experimented with different ways of organizing themselves to fulfill their needs and desires as a community. From self-governing urban and agricultural communes during the Middle Ages to today’s worker-owned enterprises, cooperatives, and indigenous forms of organizing like Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement, we’ve been proving for centuries that we have the capacity to formulate alternatives that could lead to a more directly democratic, more economically equal, more sustainable society: one that can squarely confront an existential problem like global warming.

And that’s the worst thing about voting: it distracts us from the need to explore, collectively, without mediation by governments or politicians, how we can manage our future. Electoral democracy is not the end of history. No political system is, or ever will be. Devising the next one won’t be easy. But rather than distracting ourselves with the increasingly tired show the Democratic and Republican parties repeatedly trot out, we urgently need to get started. If not now, when?

Eric Laursen is an independent journalist, activist, and the author most recently of The Duty to Stand Aside: Nineteen Eighty-Four and the Wartime Quarrel of George Orwell and Alex Comfort (AK Press, 2018).

More on why anarchists don’t vote can be found at our special section Anarchism and Voting.

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