…and register to vote
It’s something of a myth that anarchists don’t vote. Most reject hierarchy, authority, and promote participatory democracy. Democracy is not something that happens once every five years. It’s not something we have, it is something we must do.
In 2005, civil rights activist and historian Howard Zinn was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters at a college that he had been sacked from 40 years earlier. Zinn was a tenured professor, he was dismissed in June 1963 because of his civil rights activities, in particular, he supported students in the struggle against segregation.
He delivered the commencement address titled Against Discouragement in which he said “the lesson of that [civil rights movement] history is that you must not despair, that if you are right, and you persist, things will change. The government may try to deceive the people, and the newspapers and television may do the same, but the truth has a way of coming out. The truth has a power greater than a hundred lies.”
At the height of McCarthyism in 1949, the FBI first opened a domestic security investigation on Zinn. One of the things he said that has always resonated with me is that society changed because ordinary people organised, took risks, challenged the system and would not give up. That’s when democracy comes to life. He’s so right. It’s down to us to fully participate and keep democracy alive, because as we have learned historically, authoritarianism and fascism are the political system of disinterested, disengaged, disinterested, disillusioned and disenfranchised populations.
Many anarchists are also staunch anti-fascists. Most contemporary anarchists are anti-neoliberal.
Zinn was a socialist/anarchist who who has endorsed voting for the political party that will do the least damage to citizens. Noam Chomsky has said much the same. He endorses voting for Jeremy Corbyn. (See also: Letter endorsing Jeremy Corbyn signed by key public figures and Jewish academics.)
In the UK, anthropologist David Graeber, an anarchist and leading figure in the Occupy Wall Street movement, credited with having coined the slogan, “We are the 99 percent” also endorses a vote for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party.
Anarchist Alan Moore, author of Watchmen and V for Vendetta, said that the last time he voted was more than 40 years ago, because he was “convinced that leaders are mostly of benefit to no one save themselves”. Now he is asking people to vote for the Labour party.
Moore says these are “unprecedented times” and that a victory for the Conservative party in December’s general election would leave Britain without “a culture, a society, or an environment in which we have the luxury of even imagining alternatives”.
The author, who has said that the final issue of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen will be his swansong writing comics, admitted that his vote would be “principally against the Tories rather than for Labour”. But he added that Labour’s manifesto was “the most encouraging set of proposals that I’ve ever seen from any major British party”.
Moore posted a statement on his daughter Leah Moore’s Twitter and Facebook pages, where he called on anyone to whom his work “has meant anything … over the years”, and all those for whom “the way that modern life is going makes you fear for all the things you value”, to exercise their franchise.
He says: “Please get out there on polling day and make your voice heard with a vote against this heartless trampling of everybody’s safety, dignity and dreams,” he said. “A world we love is counting on us. If we’d prefer a future that we can call home, then we must stop supporting – even passively – this ravenous, insatiable Conservative agenda before it devours us with our kids as a dessert.”
Here is Moore’s full statement:
Another anarchist/socialist believed that the most progressive, healthiest and civilised societies exhibited cooperation among individuals and groups as the norm. He said in 1902: “The animal species in which individual struggle has been reduced to its narrowest limits and the practice of mutual aid has attained the greatest development[…] are invariably the most numerous, the most prosperous, and the most open to further progress.
“The mutual protection which is obtained in this case, the possibility of attaining old age and of accumulating experience, the higher intellectual development, and the further growth of sociable habits, secure the maintenance of the species, its extension, and its further progressive evolution. The unsociable species, on the contrary, are doomed to decay.” Peter Kropotkin, Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution (1902), Conclusion.
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