An open space for global conversation
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.
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!"
Thank you, Mr. Democratic, I will indeed enjoy having the last word.
Since you didn't respond to the substance of my arguments, that votes which don't even have to be counted, cannot change anything, it doesn't make sense for you to criticize me for not responding to your arguments--and your arguments don't even have any substance.
The "frothing at the mouth" is precisely the type of ad hominem that political party operatives usually make, and I'm not at all surprised that you couldn't refrain from such typical behavior.
The quickest way to get corporate money out of politics is not to vote. The corporations spent about $5 billion on the 2010 midterm election, and with the Citizens United decision, are likely to spend three or four times as much on the presidential election of 2012. If people don't vote, they won't get the return on their investment that they expect, and their boards won't allow them to do it again. Much quicker than seeking Constitutional amendments, effortless, and guaranteed to work.
I have been researching and writing about the "truth" of the political situation in Egypt..the huge gap between what brought the protestors to Tahir square and the complete sham of the transtion government and lections that were set up.
What you have laid out is what I found as well.
I am very happy that the sqaure is full again and speaking directly to that sham. I hope the wolrd is listening and understanding. And. of course, I hope the people will prevail and create a true people's government which will adress itself to the intolerable economic conditions that brought them to the square.
Voting is not not noble, achieves nothing noble, in a sham election
I agree that things are pretty bad here..and have been for some time. I agree that our system is not producing smatr committed people who are capable of changing things and committed to doing that. I think that if we filled every single seat in both houses with the brightest and best we could find they would find it very very difficult to disentagle the terrible web that has been woven by three decades of complete surrender to private interests.
Under the very best of of circumstances..if we could totally clean house, dump everyone out and start over what is in place and what rules is outside of that and it will take a very long time to undo all that.
Our greater power with immediate effect, I believe, is making a personal commitment to stop playing the consumer game, stop incurring personal debt, paying off exsting debt, making wise choices about how and what we consume..in every choice..without exception. If we refuse to feed the tape worm of an ever expanding economy ( instead of a steady state balanced economy where all can be better off) and every one of us did that it would have a huge effect. We can start with a universal boycott of bottled water, for example.
If we began in our own cities, towns and villages as the people of tiny little Shapleigh Maine did totlaly bllocking the huge MNC Nestle ( Poland Spring Water) from their town we can take our lives back. We have more local power that we have uitlized.
We can create new systems..and do every time we chnage our own habits..are all those apple computers a morally responsible choice..all those ipods and apps? Were they produced with fair working conditions with good stewradship for the enviornment?, Are we willing to align every choice we make in life with what we say our values are? We can start that right now.
That's the parallel system we can put inplace even as we begin a radical restructuring of what has been for decades.
Mark, thanks for starting this conversation on voting. I'm personally aligned with the overall gist of your thinking.
A related and equally (if not more) important way of ending that consent is practicing war tax resistance. I was a war tax resister for a number of years and would love to return to this. As a practice, it could definitely use more visiblity.
The thing for me, though, is that as we withhold consent to the old to create the new (be producers, as David Eggleton suggests). i find and realize more and more how deeply plugged (sucked into???) the Matrix i am (and most of us? are). Just in all the food and other goods i purchase...
Awareness is the prerequisite to freedom, Raffi. We can't begin unplugging if we don't recognize that we're plugged into a system that isn't healthy. The fact that we're online here means that we're plugged into the system in unhealthy ways, ways that kill people in the DRCongo so that corporations can get the coltan for our computers. But just as the awareness that our taxes are paying for wars had led you and many others to find ways to resist, the awareness that we're not food independent is leading many to find ways to become more self-sufficient.
The system is collapsing and I hope that enough people will understand that, and, since it is going to collapse on us whether we want it to or not, choose a "controlled demolition" over a reactionary Armageddon. It doesn't seem like much of a choice, but it's the only one we have.
Here's a clip of Egyptian actor Khalid Abdalla speaking to Al Jazeera about the sham election that the US is trying to impose on Egypt:
The US State Department which arms, trains, and pays the Egyptian military junta $1.3 billion a year to protect Israel, and supplies all the weapons being used against Egyptians in Tahrir Square, insists that the fake election is the only way forward for Egypt, http://www.almasryalyoum.com/en/node/517566 when of course the election would be a huge step backward, legitimizing the military junta and allowing it to remain in power behind the facade of a civilian government which the military junta would dominate and control.
As part of the US/Israeli plot to force the sham "election" on Egyptians, the US State Department and other US organizations tricked Occupy Wall Street New York into sending untrained election observers to Egypt: http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2011/levich221111.html Among the organizers of this scam was a supposedly reformed Zionist Arab-hater, Kobi Skolnik: http://crdcgmu.wordpress.com/staff/kobi-skolnick/
Right now the main Egyptian group supporting the sham election is the ultra right wing Muslim Brotherhood, but even many of them have broken ranks and joined the protesters in Tahrir Square.
Speaking of the consent of the governed-
I just received an email from a friend suggesting I sign a petition to support a constitutional amendment to reverse Ci.... It's supported by a number of liberal Democratic senators. The website does not offer a text of the proposed amendment.
To me it looks like a way to harness #occupy anger for their own benefit. And it also seems like a way of offering some minuscule consolation to progressives. I'm not signing this!
Liberal Democrat is an oxymoron. Greg Palast lays it all out nicely in his new well-documented book, Vulture's Picnic. The Democrats have done more to help the global 1% wreck world economies and harm the 99% than any other administration. If Democratic Members of Congress really opposed what their party is doing, they'd leave it. Kucinich always talks about peace, but every four years he throws his support to his party's pro-war nominee. His actions belie his seductive words--he obviously cares more about the Democratic Party than he cares about peace.
The way to defeat Citizens United is to allow the corporations to spend billions of dollars getting out the vote, and then stay home and don't vote. If they don't get a return on their investment, they won't do it again.
The California Democratic Party has issued a resolution in support of the Occupy Movement. If they really supported the Occupy Movement, they'd withdraw from the national Democratic Party so as not to have to support Obama for another term.
Palast's book is a must read, Raffi. Obama is the most obedient servant the 1% ever had, and may turn out to be the worst war criminal in human history, making Bush, Cheney, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Hitler, Attila the Hun, and all the rest look like pikers. Obama appointed the Republicans who deliberately destroyed global economies. The Republicans didn't force him to do that--he could have appointed Democrats. The alibi that economic hitmen must have held a gun to Obama's head doesn't hold. Obama went to the big policy making bodies and bid for their support. He asked them for the job, they didn't have to threaten him after he got it. The foolishness of loyal Democratic voters at the constituent level is amply demonstrated by the fact that the top level Democrats have no loyalty to their party whatsoever--their loyalty is strictly to the 1% without regard to party, politics, or policy.
I'm familiar with Palast's work. His reporting on electoral integrity is really important. And the teaser excerpt of Vulture made it clear what I'd be reading. And so I decided to pass. As someone who did Soviet Studies in college, I wish he'd fact-checked the parts about the former Soviet Union. He really didn't seem to sound like he knew what he was talking about when it came to that part of the world.
I'm interested, Mark, in talking and acting about all of this in a way that gets beyond us vs. them thinking. Like it or, we have one planet...
I didn't go to Palast's book-signing here last week because when he spoke by phone to an ASD meeting some years ago, I asked him why, since his book proved that he knew how crooked our elections are, he didn't advise people not to vote. Couldn't get a straight answer out of him. And while his personal observations may be skewed, the way that he documents how the IMF, World Bank, Goldman Sachs, and particularly Obama appointees Geithner and Summers deliberately wrecked many economies, including ours, knowing full well that it would lead to riots, is a handy reference.
Thank you for trying to bring me back on focus, Raffi. Even as I typed my comment above, I felt uncomfortable talking about the Democrats and Republicans, because Occupy is not political and that's a divisive topic, as you point out. But I think it must be brought out in the open rather than just ignored.
The global 1% control the Democrats every bit as much as they control the central banks of most countries, so I've been wary of Democratic Party attempts to co-opt the Occupy movement right from the start, but my wariness increased after I overheard a group of powerful Dems at OSD saying how they intended to keep a low profile and take things step by step. They seem to have a 3-pronged approach:
1) Offer support in helping OSD deal with the establishment, to divert OSD from working toward changing the system back to working within the system.
2) Try to get OSD to make demands on the system, to legitimize the system wer're trying to change.
3) Voter registration drives. This may appear to be non-partisan, but it is done in support of the 1% and the voter registration groups are funded by the Democratic Party. The Republicans pretend to suppress voting rights, while the Democrats pretend to support voting rights. That's a bitter joke, because in a system where the votes don't even have to be counted, there are no voting rights for them to suppress or support.
As the late Walter Karp explained in his classic book, Indispensable Enemies, the job of the Republicans is to represent the political right, and the job of the Democrats is to co-opt the left so that there can't be any effective opposition to the political right. If you look at the extremely well-organized and well-funded groups who reach out to every possible group they can find on the left and offer support along with voter registration drives, you'll see what I mean. Canvas for a Cause is doing that with the Occupy movement, and various Occupy cities have tried to get them to stop registering voters but they won't. The price of their support is that the people they "help," help them register voters. The real goal of both parties (and every other political party) is to get out the vote in order to support the corporate-owned system, so that they can share power in that system and prevent change.
All political parties run candidates and register voters. If Occupy is going to stay nonpolitical, we have to resist efforts to get us to run candidates and register voters. Registering voters is political. Urging people not to vote, as I do, is nonpolitical. But I don't have funding and backing from the 1%, so all I can do is write, blog, and give teach-ins. I can't hire a national staff of paid organizers and charismatic recruiters, and I can't feed, transport, entertain, and supply people. At least, I hope, I'll be able to continue to speak out about efforts to co-opt the Occupy movement, and here at Occupy San Diego, the biggest and most successful efforts I'm seeing right now come from the Democrats.
The last time I gave a teach-in, six people came to listen, while Canvas for a Cause had about forty people they were training to go door to door with their custom-crafted appeal and their voter registration forms. They boast that the cops don't usually disturb them because they're registering voters, and that's true. Why would the cops disturb people who are acting in support of the 1%?
I want to add that registering voters is not just a sideline to their real objectives, or a way to keep the cops away, as Canvas for a Cause may claim. It is their primary, if somewhat concealed purpose, the reason they are so well funded and well organized, and they will not and cannot give it up.
I want to say that there's a lot here you're saying that I'm aligned with and then there are pieces that I disagree with or would want to hear more about where you're coming from. And I'm reluctant to go into those areas in this online space for the simple reason that i'm not sure a text-based environment really is an effective conversation where emotions might come into play!
Thanks for the additional information and references!