In Defense of Voting

Posted: January 20th, 2012 by Militant Libertarian

by Chris Dates, ZeroGov

Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of Jackals by Jackasses.” ~ H.L. Mencken

I’ve heard many good arguments in opposition to voting. The arguments were so compelling that I adopted the non-voting stance for quite awhile. I mean, it just seemed so natural for someone who doesn’t believe in authority to gravitate towards this position; it seemed like a no-brainier to me. I completely understand that behind every pull of the lever, and in back of every check of the box, lies aggression, or the threat of it. This is problematic for me, because the non-aggression principle is foundational to my philosophy. Therefore, I abandoned the act of voting, and swore I would never vote again.

Along with coming to the conclusion that voting is aggression, I also had other reasons for swearing off voting. I see democracy as nothing more than a perpetual war of the collectives, and I wanted no part in that any longer. In a battle of collectives, the vote is the lowly grunt, and as an individualist, I am much more than that. I own me, I own my labor, I own my property, and frankly, that ain’t up for a vote. That was basically my position, and I held it for a long time, and I defended that position fiercely. However, I try to be as honest with myself as I possibly can, so this means from time to time, I send my own beliefs back through the logic mill to check them for errors. Through internal cross-examination, I believe I have discovered an error within the principled non-voting position. I stated earlier that my property is not up for a vote, and I believe that is where the error lies.

My aim with this essay is to try and lay out a logical and factual counter-argument to the non-voting position. I have found that many of the non-voting arguments appeal to emotion, specifically to pride,which I admit, can have the power to win over many people. But I am the kind of guy who constantly searches for the truth, so I specifically look for these kind of errors, and when I spot them I know I have to tread lightly. I really don’t want to focus on one specific argument, because many good arguments have come from the principled non-voting camp, and if I was to try and refute every point, I would end up writing a book. Rather, I would like to try and strike at the root of these arguments; I will attempt to collapse them at their foundations.  My goal is to focus on the principle, because I no longer consider non-voting a principled position for the anarchist. As a caveat, I will admit, I do find a difference between the statist voter, and the principled anarchist voter, as one could be considered offensive and one could be considered defensive. One is based in the destruction of property rights, one struggles to preserve property rights. I don’t need to tell you which position the statist holds.

The reason voting is even possible is because the position of property rights has been surrendered. This is a fact, and it cannot be argued against. Here are the facts:
1. You own property
2. You surrender it to the state
3. You do nothing

Whether you like it or not, the only principled position there is has already been lost. How you feel about it, or what you think may happen to you, does not matter. This is the reason I have trouble calling the the non-voting position principled, as struggle to find the principle in it. The second you fail to defend your property, is the second that the concept of property rights is sacrificed. The facts of the matter are this:

1. The property you surrendered to the state is used to fund the democratic process
2. This makes voting possible in the minds of the masses

3. This makes individual property right impossible

I’ve heard some say that they are too proud to try and regain lost liberty and property through the ballot box, and I have to wonder why.  If you let them take it in the first place, how is there any room left for pride? I would like to take a minute here to point out my blinding hypocrisy and cowardice. I understand that I do not defend my own property, but this still does not change theFACT that I surrendered it in the first place. The consequences of what would  become of me does not matter, because if you do not defend your property, who will? You have a duty to yourself to try and recover some of your freedom and property. The non-voting stance seems to me to be overwhelmingly altruistic, because an individual is “too proud” to try and recover what they claim is theirs. When we examine the facts, you already surrendered your liberty and property to the state, and now you take no steps to recover your losses, this seems very anti-individualistic to me.

Now, I don’t want anyone to think I am calling for violence or anything crazy like that, all I am stating are the facts. All I am trying to say is that as long as the idea of property rights has been surrendered to the state, voting ought to be done. As long as the only principled stance has been surrendered, no other principled stances can be taken, because that one sacrifice makes it all possible, as it always comes back to property rights.  I am simply saying that we must educate those as to why we vote; why we have to vote. It is a near worthless defensive maneuver and a very crude way to try and salvage some liberty and property, but it can have decent results locally. I am not saying it can or will reverse tyranny, I am only saying that it ought to be used while we try and educate others on the concept of property rights, and how there is no middle when it comes to this idea. It’s all or nothing; either you own your property, or you don’t; either it’s theft, or it’s not. These are the principles that need to be spread. Who cares about a principled non-voting position, time wasted here could have been spent educating others on property rights.  I do not advocate for violence, because I have an understanding of this: as long as the guns are drawn when ideas are born, property rights will never be respected, and without property rights, you are a slave. To advocate for violence other than self-defense is to advocate for the perpetual continuance of human slavery.

Some would say that this is counter productive and would only serve to make the state more efficient, and maybe that’s right. It still does not change the fact that your property is what makes the state possible in the first place. I argue for voting based on the principle of property rights, and I will use the ballot box to try to guard and recover at least some of my property, and if this makes the state more efficient, then so be it. It is not my goal to make the fiction known as the state more efficient, because I understand that there is no state. My goal is to preserve my property. I understand that this is a self-interested position, but so is every other position I hold. Again, here are the facts:

1. There is no state
2. There is only individuals
3. Some individuals claim your property is theirs
4. You surrender your property to these individuals
5. The idea of Individual property rights is lost
6. This means that, factually, your property is up for a vote

Until the idea of property rights is respected; until every individual stands up to the idea of the state and says, “no you can’t have my property.” I will continue to vote, because I understand that my property is funding evil. The non-voting position is not principled, it is a feel-good position that is adopted by feel-good anarchists, because there is no risk in it, and those are the facts. I consider myself an anarcho-abolitionist, because I understand that when all forms of slavery are abolished, the logical conclusion is anarchy. I also understand that it is not the act of voting that makes me a slave, it is the loss of my property rights that enslaves me. Here is the worst part of it, I am the one who enslaves myself, and that is a fact. Every time I hand over my property to the individuals calling themselves the state, I add one more link to the chains I have created for myself, and the chains become a little heavier with each link. I am a slave to the concepts of other individuals, and I have accepted this, for now. This means my pride is already forfeit, therefore any non-voting argument that appeals to emotion is fallacious.  To all of those who believe that the state is nothing more than a group of indivdiuals who claim the monopoly privilege on the use of force, I have a question to ask: would the state relinquish this privilege if everyone stopped voting? Logic tells me they wouldn’t.

I still wait for a logical, principled non-voting argument that is not founded in hyperbolic emotion.

Since there is no such entity as ‘the public,’ since the public is merely a number of individuals, the idea that ‘the public interest’ supersedes private interests and rights can have but one meaning: that the interests and rights of some individuals take precedence over the interests and rights of others.” ~ Ayn Rand

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