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, 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

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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Maybe people are are calling their desire for protection "civic duty". Protection strategies belong to the survival domain of cognition, and may not integrate well with language, which belongs to the individualism domain. (The survival, social, and individalism domains of cognition each operate within the separate structures of the triune brain)

Why did you rule out the social domain, which seems less of a stretch of the imagination?

And why would people seeking protection from the economic and social predations of government, call the civic duty of voting for the predator a desire for protection from that predator? Support for that from which one is seeking protection can't stem from the survival domain, or else our ancestors would all have been eaten by the lions and tigers they were supporting and we wouldn't be here.

When individualism gives words the exact opposite definition of what they actually mean, it is more contrariness than individualism and negates any possibility of mutual social interactions.

It IS difficult to understand, isn't it?  People don't make sound decisions when their fears guide their actions. 

But let's not polarize predator versus prey, vote versus boycott. Perhaps the fear-driven citizenry prefers to be preyed upon by a sneaky weasel instead of a charging rhinoceros?  Maybe that explains why infighting is so prevalent in ALL groups: Somehow, we think It's safer to engage with our comrades than with our adversaries.

The difficulty in understanding is mine and yours, not theirs.  So let's stay connected to curiosity, not self-righteousness.  People can tell the difference in our energy - in fact, they (we) are hypervigilant (fear-driven) about the judgments of others, and frightened people often mistake even sincere curiosity for aggression. 

Speaking of fear guiding people's actions, I'm thinking of Occupy Oakland's "non-negotiating" resolution that was overwhelmingly passed in the wake of urban warfare.  I'm thinking of the severe allergy of this movement to hierarchy, even emergent hierarchy, which I believe is due to a history of oppression with hierarchical structures in the past and has nothing to do with hierarchy itself.  For example, I couldn't memorize a grocery list without hierarchical memory! 

I'm thinking of the tendency of all of us to polarize our world when we are afraid. Only when we are grounded in our truth and our power can we find the courage to find truth in each of the diverse perspectives.  The Obama '08 campaigners are a case in point.  When I said I couldn't give Obama my vote because I had signed a Peace Pledge and he had already promised a "surge" in Afghanistan, they were aghast!  "Not voting for Obama is the same as voting for McCain!"  In other words, "Our world is polarized, and we know the difference between good and evil."  Fear-mongering - we're so immersed in it that we do it unconsciously. 

Have you noticed that we, too, do things just because we know we can, regardless of whether or not it accomplishes our goals?  For example, asserting the "right" to free speech in the form of an activist energy-sink of an encampment with a HUGE ecological footprint was successful only if the goal was to alienate the powers that be as well as the environmentalists.  In fact, we are heard LESS when we put things (encampments) before the people in the larger community who were profoundly affected BUT NOT HEARD by our actions and decisions.  "So come to the GA!" is no different, IMO, from, "So write to your Congressman!"  Is it fear?  Fear of leaving our own safe nest, venturing away from our turf and onto the turf of the other?

The side benefit of the encampments that had nothing to do with free speech is that they catalyzed community-building.  And now, some Occupations are acting like addicts who are being deprived of their fix, like they don't have a clue what to do to build community OR how to assert the "right" to free speech without a tent city.

It's fear that makes us see a provocateur whenever people's actions don't align with our idea of what they "should" do.  What if instead we were courageous enough to care about the person regardless of where their allegiance lay?  What if instead we were courageous enough to see an opportunity to engage, to attempt to connect and bridge the gap based on mutual humanity instead of alienating and isolating based on differences in ideology?  

It's hard to trust deeply in our own grounding to find the courage to be willing to be moved by a person with whom we disagree so completely.  It's much safer to preach to the choir.  There is fear, fear, fear that understanding somehow implies agreement, or that when we stand in another's (very uncomfortable!) shoes, we'll lose track of our own. 

Susan, in order to agree with somebody, you have to be able to communicate with them in some way. We can't do that online by smiling, we have to use words. So when somebody refuses to agree to the meaning of words, for example, insisting that "delegitimize government" doesn't mean to remove or revoke power and authority from government, but instead means asking government to use its power and authority to recognize your status or accede to your demands, it is as impossible to communicate as when somebody insists that the word "communicate" means "silvery glitter."

The hierarchy of memory has very little in common with hierarchical social structures or pecking orders. It can help you remember which people you can address by their first names, which you must address more formally, and which ones you must kneel before and kiss their robes, but it is an internal tool over which you have some control, whereas a strict hierarchical social system, such as exists in the military or in prisons, may not be.

I know you haven't had time to read this lengthy discussion, but it is impossible to communicate with some people. For example, the late Dr. Lise Meitner, the woman who discovered nuclear fission, who held doctorates in both math and physics and was one of the mere dozen or so people who understood Einstein's theories at the time, had she not been smuggled out of Nazi Germany, would probably have been put into a concentration camp, most likely Ravensbruck where females were used as prostitutes by the SS, because the Nazis weren't going to listen to anything said by a woman of Jewish descent. If somebody doesn't believe that you are human or worth communicating with, it really is impossible to communicate with them. With love, Meitner might have been able to become the mistress of a high-ranking SS officer, as a few fortunate female Jews did, but not to be valued as a scientist. Einstein himself and many other brilliant Jewish scientists found themselves no longer able to work in Nazi Germany because their status had been changed from human to subhuman (untermenschen). People at the top of social hierarchies do not recognize those at the bottom as having any value or being worth communicating with.

You may notice that when accredited journalists and people who are just innocently passing by get arrested by the cops during an Occupy event, their pleas for recognition of their special or privileged status are usually ignored. The cops are given orders to clear an area, and anyone within that area is no longer distinguishable from anyone else in that area.

If you wish to communicate with somebody who thinks of Occupy as "them" and "their counterculture," you'd first have to separate yourself from Occupy, because otherwise your words would be seen as unacceptable by reason of emanating from "them" and "their counterculture." The only way people were accepted by the Nazis were by proving that they had no Jewish ancestry and no sympathy for Jews. Similarly, to be able to communicate with those who think of Occupy as "other," you'd first have to prove that you are not part of Occupy and that you have no sympathy for Occupiers.

The problem with hierarchies in human societies is that they place some people, by reason of ancestry, wealth, or connections, above everyone else. Even when they're not seen as aggressors or feared, they may be doing things to enrich themselves by killing millions of people they see as unworthy, and they are not open to communication from the unworthy or from those who sympathize with the unworthy.

Fear is an emotional response, not a survival response. Fear can make you freeze up, which is not to your advantage in a fight or flight situation. Understanding your own emotions is hard enough, understanding your survival traits is harder still.

As an analogy, consider yourself as being three different people: a survivalist, an emo, and a rationalist. Which of those people are actually in control depends on the situation, and each of the three can give subtle signals to the others in order to get a workable compromise. Just as an emotional attachment can make you a bit irrational, so can a survival issue.

What I'm saying is that the survival issue of immediate threats that are portrayed in the mass media triggers the reptilian brain to look for a solution. If the reptilian brain recognizes the police, military, or government as being solutions to the threats then it will influence your emotions and rationalizations in such a way as to conform with its perceived solution.

Because in the triune model the social domain is emotive, and people is western society generally don't have an emotional attachment to their government (well at least not a particularly positive one).

I'm not convinced, but I'll keep considering.

Where I come from, the emotions have much to do with our connections -- as reasons to make them and as reasons to sustain them.  Performing a civil duty simulates belonging; one gets to say "Yeah, I did that" when voting comes up in conversations with colleagues, friends and family members.  Often, that's the end of the matter.

The thing is that the emotional connections you describe are with friends and family, and only indirectly associated with the government. The protection relationship is the direct one, so it's stronger in my opinion. Rationalization is the speciality of the neocortex; emotions and survival traits are pretty much unaffected by it.

David, is it possible that this discussion may be straying off topic? I still see no evidence that NDT has even been, is now, or is willing to ever consider becoming engaged in a discussion about an election boycott. Perhaps you could start a new topic where NDT could discuss eviction proceedings, the status of free men and women who are not persons, why words don't mean what the dictionary says they mean, the triune system, and/or any other topics not relevant to this discussion?

This no longer seems to be a relevant topic anyway. I think 2012 will probably be the last election in the US, and the next President, whoever it is, will be forced by the corporations to declare themself President-for-Life and abolish Congress, so that the corporations won't have to waste any more money on elections.Now that the corporations have forced the President and Congress to break every other social contract, such as the Constitution, all international laws and treaties including the the Geneva Conventions, the Nuremberg Principles, and the Magna Carta, the rule of law is no longer even a pretense that requires consent.

Actually, it was an aha for me to write what I did about voting to belong and dodge hassles.  Who knows how many voters do not consent?

I see your point and am happy to oblige.

Thanks, David. I was amused to see among Bill Blum's predictions for 2012:

NOVEMBER 8: The turnout for the US presidential election is 9.6%. The voting ballots are all imprinted: "From one person, one vote, to one dollar, one vote." The winner is "None of the above".


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