L. Neil Smith's THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 887, August 28, 2016
by Paul Bonneau
Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise
I had a completely unexpected response when I posted the previous article, “A Game of Nuclear Chicken” on an anarchist forum. Here I thought I was just making a simple request that could be discussed: 1) whether Hillary was more likely to kick off a nuclear war than Trump, and 2) whether either was very likely at all, regardless of their differences, to kick one off (clearly, even if Hillary was twice as likely as Trump to do so, for example, we needn’t worry about it much if her chance of starting one is 0.000002 compared to his 0.000001).
My bad; I should have just left it at this, which might have generated the discussion I wanted. But I included the point that if both questions are answered “yes,” then maybe even anarchists ought to think about voting for Trump. Of course the crucifixes and the garlic came out…
Here is a response that shows this in a nut shell (I’ll leave it to the individual to own up to this on her own, if she wishes):
1. I have no desire to impose my needs/wants on others. That is the total purpose of electoral politics, far as I’m concerned, so I will not participate. And that is quite beside the fact that my vote does not and cannot change anything in any case. It is a pointless act of aggression.
2. The "elected" aggressors might very well make some difference in how things are run, including the use of nukes. Refer to #1. I have no influence whatsoever on who that aggressor turns out to be. Even if I thought it was a good idea. If the aggressors decide to start a war, neither you nor I can do anything about it. Becoming an aggressor myself in the attempt does not compute.
3. Saying that all voting is fraudulent is somewhat like saying all water is wet… The fraud is in the very idea that any sort of “democracy” gives the voters even a little control of non- voluntary government. That voting often does give them an opportunity to aggress more or less against their neighbors is not a plus, but a further proof of the evil in the entire process.
Now, I will admit that I myself have said similar things multiple times in the past. But certain of these points are at least questionable:
1) Is voting always aggressive—even voting against a tax hike ballot measure? So “defensive voting” is actually aggressive?
2) If a single voter has no influence whatsoever in an election, does that mean every other voter who voted for a winning candidate also had no influence whatsoever? How can it be that people with no influence managed to get somebody elected?
3) What do these various points have to do with preventing nuclear war?
I guess the real problem is that I am not religious. Anything that looks like dogma, I can’t help myself, I have to start questioning it—even if it is aligned with my general worldview.
Here’s my opinion on voting. Voters do affect outcomes. Their individual influence certainly is very small, but it literally cannot be zero, because the sum of a million zeros is still zero. Somebody is going to get elected. Now, in most cases, we can make the assumption that the candidates are Tweedledee and Tweedledum, and that the Ministry of Propaganda carefully avoids letting anyone who is not either Tweedledee or Tweedledum into the race. But this is not “most cases.” I was not asking anyone to rank Hillary or Trump on a thousand issues, and come out with a candidate slightly less evil overall. I was asking about a specific issue for which, apparently, they are NOT Tweedledee or Tweedledum, and one that makes all other issues disappear. Even issues such as legitimizing government. There will be no government if a nuclear war kicks off.
The dogmatic position is that all voting is aggression, even voting against a tax hike. No one can prove this, you just have to take it on faith. I say fooey!
I fully admit that defensive voting is much more problematical when the vote is for human beings rather than specific and fully laid-out ballot measures; after all you are getting a package deal with human beings, and usually a pretty disreputable package at that. That’s why I’ve previously said that we should just forget about defensive voting where human beings are concerned. But by narrowing to a specific subject (nuclear war) and honestly trying to detect a difference—if any—I would suggest this can be defensive also. I can’t think of any other measure that is so clear in this respect. Lots of people question global warming, but few will tell you nuclear war can be ignored.
The dogmatic position is that your vote means nothing, but that it simultaneously legitimizes the state. Cognitive dissonance?
As to legitimizing the state, I agree. It does, a little. 70,000,001 votes after all is larger than 70,000,000 votes, so with your one vote you are helping legitimize the state. I’d get more exercised over this issue if I thought only 5% or 10% of the voting age population would turn out in presidential elections, rather than 55% or so as currently. At 5%, even if it is tough for us to drive it closer to zero, it’s hard for the winner to claim much of a mandate. But even then it’s all irrelevant with nuclear war on the table.
If someone wants to storm the Pentagon and hang the warmongers from their heels, I’m all in. But short of that, I still want to know if people think Hillary will more likely start a nuclear war, than Trump will. Does our anarchism make this a taboo question?
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