John Spritzler: “NO, VOTING WON’T WORK”

2003-05-05

Richard Moore

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Date: Mon, 05 May 2003 09:30:16 -0400
To: (Recipient list suppressed)
From: Aaron Koleszar <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Voting won't work!
---<fwd>---
Date: Sun, 04 May 2003 21:24:14 -0400
From: Bob Olsen <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Voting won't work!

    "By making people place their hopes on some elected officials
    rather than on themselves, an electoral strategy eliminates
    any realistic basis for radical goals, and forces movements
    to trim and adapt their vision and message to what they
    believe is possible within the limitations of the established
    structures of power."

    "An electoral strategy keeps a movement passive, focused
    on what its candidates might do if elected, when it should
    be focused on what ordinary people themselves can do where
    they work and live. This is why the elite have historically
    used elections to contain anti-corporate movements."

    John Spritzler

NO, VOTING WON'T WORK
NO, VOTING WON'T WORK
NO, VOTING WON'T WORK

by John Spritzler

http://newdemocracyworld.org/voting.htm

Millions of Americans welcomed the Ralph Nader 2000
electoral campaign as a breath of fresh air in the
stale atmosphere of corporate-controlled parties and
politicians. The more Nader lambasted the corporations
and their "Republicratic" party, the more popular he
became, attracting larger crowds than Gore and Bush.
Many people who didn't vote for Nader would have if
they thought he could have won. The Nader campaign
demonstrated, to those of us who blame corporate power
for the problems in our society, that we are not alone.

But before deciding that an electoral strategy is a
solution, we need to identify what exactly is the
problem.

People increasingly realize that our seemingly
unconnected problems—the stress and difficulty that
working people face in trying to support a family, the
insecurity of people with serious health care needs,
the destructive education reforms faced by students and
teachers, the pollution of our water and air—are all
symptoms of the same problem. The majority of people,
who want a more equal and cooperative and democratic
world, are under attack by corporate and government
leaders who dominate our society. The problem is that
real democracy, in the sense of ordinary people shaping
society by their values, doesn't exist—not on the job,
not in our government, not in our major institutions.

Real democracy must mean that ordinary people exercise
effective power at every level of society to shape it
with their shared values and shared vision. It can’t be
reduced to pulling a lever every four years. Winning
real democracy therefore can only be done by ordinary
people, in every place of work and neighborhood, acting
directly and collectively to take possession of the
world from the elite who claim to own it. It means
creating a new kind of society from the ground up, one
based on equality and commitment to each other. It
means people joining together to defeat all the efforts
of the elite to impose capitalist relations of
competition and inequality.

For people to gain the confidence to take matters into
their own hands requires building a mass movement with
exactly this goal—a revolutionary movement. Such a
movement can succeed only by becoming a vast democratic
force consciously determined to create a new society in
its image. The movement must grow so large and popular
that it can deprive the corporate rulers of the armed
might of the state, by convincingly presenting itself,
not the corporate-controlled government, as the
legitimate authority. This is the solution to the
problem of corporate power.

An electoral strategy actually undercuts this real
solution. Urging people to vote is the opposite of
urging them to join a revolutionary movement. The idea
of voting is to elect other people to make changes for
us. But the kind of changes we need can only be made by
us. An electoral strategy keeps a movement passive,
focused on what its candidates might do if elected,
when it should be focused on what ordinary people
themselves can do where they work and live. This is why
the elite have historically used elections to contain
anti-corporate movements.

An electoral strategy also prevents a movement from
expressing the radical goals that most people want.
Radical goals cannot be taken seriously in the absence
of widespread confidence that there is a realistic way
of achieving them. Only a mass revolutionary movement,
in which ordinary people are the active force, can make
radical changes in society. By making people place
their hopes on some elected officials rather than on
themselves, an electoral strategy eliminates any
realistic basis for radical goals, and forces movements
to trim and adapt their vision and message to what they
believe is possible within the limitations of the
established structures of power.

Nader's goal, for example, has never been to do away
with corporate power but to regulate it so that it can
operate in a more sustainable fashion. As he said in a
recent Harper's interview, "a free democracy is a
precondition for a free market." Nader is not opposed
to capitalism but only to its excesses.

We believe that most Americans want not just a
reduction in corporate power but a profoundly different
kind of society based on different values. The top
priority for the anti-corporate movement should be to
make people see that they are not alone in this
aspiration, so that they will have the confidence to
take over control of society from the ground up,
without waiting for politicians to do for them what
politicians cannot and will not do.
---

Originally published in New Democracy Newsletter,
November-December 2000.
http://newdemocracyworld.org/voting.htm


  .............................................
  Bob Olsen,  Toronto,  •••@••.•••

   The contest for ages has been to rescue
   liberty from the grasp of executive power.
                   Daniel Webster (1782-1852)
  ............................................. 

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