NOTE: This discussion was originally classified as "hosted" but has now been moved to the "member initiated" category.  In the view of the OC Stewards, what is taking place here is a debate rather than dialogue.  In a "hosted" discussion here at OC.org, we request that balanced participation be encouraged and that regular summaries occur recognizing all the views being presented.  

While we have no objections to people using the OC forum to engage in debates, as long as they don't cross the line into personal attacks, such discussion is not what we are seeking in the "hosted" category.  

Ben Roberts
12/31/11

We are delighted to have Occupy Cafe member Mark E. Smith offer this hosted discussion on the provocative idea of an "election boycott."  

As "host," Mark will strive to keep the conversation orderly, offer regular summaries of the perspectives being presented and encourage balanced participation among all those who are engaged.  Here's Mark's initial summary:

An election boycott is the only known way to nonviolently delegitimize a government. It doesn't overthrow the government, it simply denies it the consent of the governed so that the government can no longer claim to have the people's consent. Among the many forms of noncompliance, such as removing money from big banks, boycotting corporate brands, withdrawing from the system and creating alternative systems, learning to live on less so as not to have to pay taxes, etc., refusing to vote can be one of the most crucial and effective tactics.

Thank you, Mark, for volunteering your services as "host!"

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That's a sweet thought, Mark. How about instead of kdd, it's wtf?

Along these depressing lines, I offer a few words of encouragement from Chris Hedges:

"The capacity to exercise moral autonomy, the capacity to refuse to cooperate, offers us the only route left to personal freedom and a life with meaning. Rebellion is its own justification. Those of us who come out of the religious left have no quarrel with Camus. Camus is right about the absurdity of existence, right about finding worth in the act of rebellion rather than some bizarre dream of an afterlife or Sunday School fantasy that God rewards the just and the good. “Oh my soul,” the ancient Greek poet Pindar wrote, “do not aspire to immortal life, but exhaust the limits of the possible.” We differ with Camus only in that we have faith that rebellion is not ultimately meaningless. Rebellion allows us to be free and independent human beings, but rebellion also chips away, however imperceptibly, at the edifice of the oppressor and sustains the dim flames of hope and love. And in moments of profound human despair these flames are never insignificant. They keep alive the capacity to be human. We must become, as Camus said, so absolutely free that “existence is an act of rebellion.” Those who do not rebel in our age of totalitarian capitalism and who convince themselves that there is no alternative to collaboration are complicit in their own enslavement. They commit spiritual and moral suicide."

Thnak you Mr. Blue..I needed that in this moment...

I just don't understand. All my life I have thought that US Americans were fiercely protective of their freedoms and their rights. I thought that was why the right to bear arms was so important. A few terrorists hijack some planes and use them as bombs, a decade ago, and that was all it did to terrify Americans into accepting a police state? I really don't get it. Also, what does this mean for people outside of the US?

Victoria, Gisele, Mark, David, Mr. Blue...

Did you see the latest?

 

The London Police have decelared "Occupy" terrorist.

 

Watching the army that came out against the Occupy Brookfiled( see my blog here); the ramy that came out against the kids in california who were pepper sprayed at close range for protesting high tuition rates, word of dronesbeing used in ordinry police work, todays news of Obama supporting the detain indefinitely with no charges provisions of the National Defense Act bill..

Am I paranoid or just sensible to connect the dots and imagine that all of us, each of us is deemed a terrorist and ossibly on a list of "suspects"?  That drones will be used to control the next Occupy flash mob? 

When I was a youngster a friend subscribed to the "Peking Review" for me.  I had to go to the post office in person to collect each issue and swear allegiance to the united states with an oath they made me take. 

KDD

 

I don't even lock my doors.

 

Hope they'll feed the cat and change her litter

 

Regularly.

 

 

Sure, Victoria. wtf will do just fine. Probably the instinctive reaction anyway.

Thank you Mr. Blue. That is very inspiring so I copied it. Who are Camus and Chris Hedges please?

I am against capital punishment; we don’t have it in Canada. We have a “dangerous offenders” designation which means the person never gets out. I think that at times the pacifist option is best, such as when the cop was spraying the students who were sitting peacefully. But I also agree that there are times when violence is the moral choice. Not only to defend others either. I believe in the right to self-defence. I agree with the philosophy of trying to reach consensus with others and avoiding aggression. That choice isn’t always available.   

I really want to believe in God. I have tried and tried but it is just no use. I don’t believe that most Christians really believe in God. If they truly believed that God sees them and will punish them for their sins they wouldn’t commit so many. If I believed in God I would be a saint knowing that I had eternal life to enjoy later. I think many use church as a means of belonging to community and teaching a moral code.

Far fewer Canadians use political affiliation as a means of defining themselves or others. Even if someone voted Liberal all their lives they still wouldn’t say “I’m a Liberal”. If someone said “I’m a Liberal” I would interpret it as meaning they are an active voting member of the party and do election work.  Our politics are less polarized but it is becoming worse under Prime Minister Harper. We have three primary parties and the two on the left have been splitting the vote for several elections. That allows Mr. Harper to have a majority government even though he only has about 40% of the popular vote. He is doing terrible things with his power but he can’t go as far as your Presidents have done because Canadians won’t stand for it. We are socially liberal but otherwise we value stability over change. We aren’t risk-takers.

I share your concern over the movement being taken over by divisive partisan politics. I also agree that the ruling-class deliberately developed a strategy to use the right against the left. In an earlier post Victoria suggested something to the effect that Occupy is now seen as left anyway. I agree, but it is a shame. If left and right united long enough we would win against the ruling-class. I don’t share your dedication to avoiding politics outside of the movement. I just don’t think it should be part of it.

You are more worthy of the Occupy Movement than I am. I’m very uneducated. I have never read a political book and probably never will. I don’t know very much about history. I have only been to Maine once and a few places in Canada. I can’t fathom what it would be like to go somewhere far away. I see it on TV but it must be so amazing to be in such different places. You are like an encyclopedia of social justice. You know all about political systems, theories and world history. I have to look everything up then try to understand it within the context that it is being used. I could not have real-time discussions about politics. You can. You are used to interacting with other activists so you think it’s normal to know about all that stuff. It’s not. None of you are normal, but I mean that in the nicest way.

Gisele, you are much more valuable to Occupy than I am. I have ideas and I don't always express them well, but you have the people skills that are essential to a democratic society. Going places and reading books can be useful, but seeing inside people's hearts is something no book can teach. You are living proof that ordinary citizens, without any special education, experience, or credentials, are capable of self-governance and are often more competent than the most exalted political leaders.

Truth be told, you've done more to facilitate this discussion than I have.

I hope you're correct about the Canadian people and the Canadian government. I'm not questioning your observations or your judgment, but the way things usually work is that fascist police states develop by degrees, slowly, one step at a time as those Democrats said, so that no individual outrage is sufficient to rouse the citizenry against the government, and by the time that many such outrages have accumulated, the government has turned the country into a full-fledged police state and it is too late.

That may not be Harper's intentions, but if he is obedient to the global 1%, that will be the result because it is definitely their intention. I guess the USA is good for something--it sets a bad example that Canada might be able to look to and avoid. ;)

 

Hi, Giselle.

I apologize for not answering you about Camus and Hedges until now, but I couldn't figure out how to reply in the right place.

Camus is a French author and philosopher. His most famous novels are probably The Stranger and The Plague. Chris Hedges is a journalist. He was a foreign correspondent for many years and now writes for Truthdig.com.

Mr. Blue

Is this a fair summary?

Mark

-Elections are rigged therefore there is no point in voting

-Rigging can't be fixed because the people who corrupt the system control the process

-the American system of government is unfixable

-Voting means you accept the system of government you are under

-Voting is granting your consent for everything your government does therefore you are granting consent for atrocities

-Not voting will delegitimize the government and people will rise up and create a direct democracy

-People will live a more sustainable harmonious life

-People will bring the military home ending America’s wars of aggression

-America is about to implode anyway

 

Victoria

-Not voting accomplishes nothing because Americans do not want to overthrow the government

-we can push for change within the system over issues like getting money out of politics and ending corporate personhood. We can change incrementally, fix the weak points of system we have.

-Americans have spent years investigating vote-rigging.

-The more people who vote the more difficult it is to rig elections  

-The only way to restore legitimacy to the electoral process is to vote and to object if the process appears rigged

-The Occupy movement will help because they will lead protests where potential fraud is suspected which will pressure authorities to respond.

-If vote-rigging still worsens instead of getting better that might prompt Americans to rise-up against the government

-It is important to elect as many trustworthy candidates as possible regardless of political affiliation 

-A complete system replacement would result in a period of dangerous chaos 

-People don’t want a direct democracy. It’s too cumbersome and time-consuming

-Electronic voting is untrustworthy, paper ballots are better

 

Lindsay

-The voting system can be fixed

-electronic voting can allow and encourage greater citizen participation

-People don’t want a direct democracy. It’s too cumbersome and time-consuming, it isn't feasible

-The current system can be adjusted through instituting the ability to recall representatives

-Other mechanisms can be put in place to trigger referendums on controversial decisions

-A balance can be found between elements of representative and direct systems of democracy

-Representatives need to be more closely monitored

- The manner in which people engage in politics can be addressed as a separate issue from the system. (consensus versus confrontational)

-Common wisdom can emerge through a facilitated process

I don't think it's an entirely fair summary of what I'm saying, Gisele.

I'm not saying, "Elections are rigged therefore there is no point in voting." I'm saying that the Supreme court ruled that the votes of US citizens don't have to be counted. I'm saying that if the votes don't have to be counted, there's no point in voting.

I'm not saying, "Rigging can't be fixed because the people who corrupt the system control the process." I'm saying that as long as elections are rigged, they can't be fixed by voting in rigged elections. Example: Somebody hacks your computer so that every time you press the "e" key, the letter "x" appears instead. You can't fix that by continuing to press the "e" key.

Yes, this one is a fair summary: "the American system of government is unfixable" The US system of government is a plutocracy. I believe in democracy and you can't fix a plutocracy so that it becomes a democracy. You have to change the entire system from a plutocracy to a democracy. That is if you happen to want democracy. Many people don't.

Yes, this one is also a fair summary, "Voting means you accept the system of government you are under" If you didn't like it, you wouldn't vote for it.

This one is not a fair summary, "Voting is granting your consent for everything your government does therefore you are granting consent for atrocities" What I'm saying is that voting in our system is the way you delegate your power to elected representatives. You are granting your consent to authorize them to make important decisions on your behalf, knowing that those decisions have usually included atrocities and probably will continue to include atrocities.

This one isn't a fair summary either, "Not voting will delegitimize the government and people will rise up and create a direct democracy" What I'm saying is that since governments derive their just powers, their legitimacy, from the consent of the governed as demonstrated by holding elections, not voting delegitimizes a government since it can no longer demonstrate the consent of the governed. I've not said that people will rise up and create a direct democracy, but I do think that if people ever reached the level of social consciousness where they stopped voting for oligarchs and oligarchy, they'd probably have attained the necessary level of social consciousness to establish a direct democracy. I never said anything about rising up.

Fair summary, "People will live a more sustainable harmonious life"

Fair summary: "People will bring the military home ending America’s wars of aggression"

Fair summary: "America is about to implode anyway"

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