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indi wrote

Is it really necessarily true that voting legitimizes the system? I'm not ready to accept that uncritically.

If you are in a situation where there is a realistic chance that a far-right, race-baiting, anti-immigrant demagogue could take power - a situation that is depressingly common of late - it can't really be true that the right thing to do in the situation is to sit back and just watch it happen. That just doesn't compute, ethically. Even if the alternative isn't great, stopping the demagogue seems important enough - especially taking vulnerable minorities into consideration - that you should take whatever action necessary to prevent it. There's really no more impactful action you can take to stop an asshole trying to use the democratic process to attain power than to use that very process against them. So that should be an action you should be taking, no?

Put that way, a vote against a racist demagogue is not a vote in favour of the system. It's exactly what I just said it was: It's an action against the demagogue. Nothing more, nothing less. It can be done at the same time as other actions, like protesting the system itself. There's no contradiction or hypocrisy there.

You could also think of it as a form of "self-defence". I think we all realize that punching back at someone who is in the process of trying to murder you is not in any way a legitimization of violence; it's not the same thing at all as punching someone who wasn't attacking you. Same action (punching), very different meaning. Context matters. The same action - voting - could be about legitimizing the system... or it could just be an act of desperation in taking the most-likely-to-be-effective action to protect yourself against a threat.

I'll grant that it's likely that some people are going to interpret your vote as legitimizing the system, but fuck them, because the same people are probably going to interpret you not voting as the same thing (for example, by saying, "if you don't vote, you accept what you get"). If you're really that concerned about how your action will be interpreted, then be vocal about your reasons for doing it. But saying you can't take meaningful action to prevent real harm because someone might (likely wilfully) misinterpret your reasoning seems ridiculous to me.


[deleted] wrote


indi wrote

So one can simplify it with "which candidate will kill the least people" and at that point walking away from that shit makes way more sense to me.

I'm not sure the people who will be killed by the candidate will agree that this position makes more sense.

If we were living in a society much like we had even 10 short years ago, where there really wasn't all that much difference between candidates, then fine. But look around. You can't seriously say there's no real difference between, for example, Bolsonaro and Haddad. Those days are over. We are living in a period where the far right is not only ascendant, they are getting real power. And they are doing real harm.

A vote against Bolsonaro wouldn't have changed the world, sure. It wouldn't have ended capitalism; it wouldn't have ushered in a new age of voluntary association; yes, not much would have changed. Except... a lot of vulnerable people would have suffered a lot less than what they're likely to suffer in the next four years. That's not nothing. Walking away from that does not make way more sense to me.

I'm frankly appalled that people are so casually willing to put esoteric and ultimately meaningless principles over the very real suffering of vulnerable people. I am very opposed to violence - I do not believe that violence should ever be used to advance a political agenda, it should only be used in self defence... but if I happen to pass by a queer person or Jewish person or whatever being beat on by a gang of neo-Nazi thugs... yeah, I'm fucking going to get in there and help that person. I don't believe that action violates my principle of non-violence, because it was an action I took in a crisis to save someone who needed help. People are always more important than principles.