Voting as violence against your fellow man

It has often been pointed out that in the American two-party system that we are always being offered a choice between two evils, and people tend to vote for the lesser of these two evils. Many have pointed out that voting for the lesser of two evils is still voting for evil. Do you want to vote for evil? Of course not.

But what about voting itself? What if we had a European-style democracy, with many small parties, and there was one that did represent your political and social views? Would voting be okay then? I answer no.


Full disclosure demands I mention that I did vote for the message candidacy of Ron Paul in the Florida primary. I had to think long and hard about that, but finally decided that the message was so important that a vote for him was a blow against the state. I now recognize that this was a mistake.

I believe that voting represents a participation in violence, since elections are one of the methods used to legitimize the violent state. Although there are other methods of supporting the state, they are not all voluntary. Voting, however, is one thing that you are not yet required to do at the point of a gun, and thus an example of willingly supporting the state. Even participation in a lottery to decide the ruler would still be helping to legitimize the outcome of the lottery, and thereby voluntarily supporting the state.

The state is, at its root, an organization which maintains a monopoly of violence that is considered legitimate inside a certain geographical area. Force is the very reason for the state’s existence, and anyone with state authority is said to magically acquire some moral and legal right to initiate force. It does not matter how those authorities got their position; they are still part of the state. If you help them gain and retain that position, then you are helping legitimize the use of force that defines the state.

Consider for a moment the president of the American empire, who is said to be the most powerful person in the world. He or she may be an idiot, mentally unstable, or being blackmailed by the NSA, but is still seen as some admirable man with special moral authority. It is the office of the president that gives him or her this status. Why is this?

Government schools teach our children that the president has the legal and moral right to employ the violence apparatus of the state. He may use the military, police, CIA and so on to cause suffering and death. But whatever he does is generally not only not seen as violence, but judged to be “for the greater good.” When the Clinton administration’s sanctions on Iraq killed an estimated 500,000 children, his Secretary of State Madeleine Albright famously said on national TV that this was “worth it.” Why was this horrific crime not even seen as a crime, let alone punished? It was because of the myth of legitimacy of the president and his powers. It is this myth that you willingly help to perpetuate if you vote.

The state and its minions do not magically acquire the right to do things that would be immoral if a private citizen did them. We must extend this idea from the president down to the local cop. We must stop legitimizing the state by word or deed. We must, therefore, not vote.

  • Dean A. S. Hyatt

    Would you extend the premise to political action? Fatal flaw, if everyone stopped voting, this would all still continue with a ‘mandate’ and in fact even that won’t happen! (the few still voting, may even be extremists)

  • Gabrielė Stakaitytė

    How would you vote in a libertarian mini-government (prior to complete abolition, obviously)?

  • Patrick McEwen

    You can’t both believe that the first use of force is inherently illegitimate and that voting legitimizes the use of force by the state. If force is inherently illegitimate, then nothing anyone does can make it legitimate. Perhaps you can make it appear to be more or less legitimate in the eyes of other people, but that’s simply a question of political strategy.

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