A Dissent on Voting

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Writes an expatriate friend:

Regarding Tom’s article about voting—has someone pointed out that the prisoner argument is reasoning based on false analogy? Americans are not incarcerated; they’re not POWs; they’re not slaves on a plantation; they’re not Holocaust victims. They can leave, opt out, and say “no more” in a completely peaceful manner that’s not contradictory to anarchism or the non-aggression axiom. The process of leaving has more steps than it should, but it’s far from difficult. Thousands of people have done it, and there’s plenty of free information on the net, such as this guide and this guide, explaining how to opt out of the state’s herd.

Tom’s second point about getting 1% or 2% or 4% to vote for Ron for “the cause of a free society” is dissonant to my years of reading LRC. Wouldn’t Murray say there is no such thing as free societies, only free individuals? Doesn’t all political action, even the kind Tom approves of, enhance state power and legitimacy? Isn’t the point not to get a majority to vote your way, but rather to make voting irrelevant to your life?

Tom follows up in his LRC blog post with a lifeboat case argument. He says that casting the swing vote to not murder somebody is justifiable, and therefore so is U.S. presidential voting. Yet applying this reasoning would instruct people to not vote for Ron. Last election, stopping the wars—stopping the murder of innocents—was the #1 call a “voting anarchist” could use to rationalize his political action. Since Obama solemnly pledged that he would bring the troops home, any anarchist that wanted to prevent more murder, using the reasoning Tom employs, would have been obligated to vote for Obama. It might have felt better to vote for Ron, but Obama had exponentially higher odds of winning. If an anarchist believed that his vote had the power to save lives, it would have been disingenuous to vote for Ron. (If I recall correctly, Walter told me he voted for Obama for this very reason.)

The letter Jack Pugsley wrote to Harry Browne rings as true today as it did back then.

3:07 pm on June 16, 2011
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