Emma Goldman: Don’t Vote

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Writes Liz Roberts:

Recently a friend of a friend on Facebook professed his love for the “opportunity to express our greatest blessing as a free society.”  That blessing, of course, being the ability to vote.  He fervently insisted: “It is the time that “we the people” have the greatest power and influence over the direction of our country and the future for our families.”

How depressing if this were true!  The ballot: the greatest chance for individual citizens to invoke change?!  Though, as a former voter, I can relate to the delusions our friend suffers from, these days I find this blindly optimistic view of the subject more than a little unsettling.

Today I read this, much more accurate description from Emma Goldman’s Woman’s Suffrage, from Anarchism and Other Essays:

Woman’s demand for equal suffrage is based largely on the contention that woman must have the equal right in all affairs of society. No one could, possibly, refute that, if suffrage were a right. Alas, for the ignorance of the human mind, which can see a right in an imposition. Or is it not the most brutal imposition for one set of people to make laws that another set is coerced by force to obey? Yet woman clamors for that “golden opportunity” that has wrought so much misery in the world, and robbed man of his integrity and self-reliance; an imposition which has thoroughly corrupted the people, and made them absolute prey in the hands of unscrupulous politicians.

The poor, stupid, free American citizen! Free to starve, free to tramp the highways of this great country, he enjoys universal suffrage, and, by that right, he has forged chains about his limbs. The reward that he receives is stringent labor laws prohibiting the right of boycott, of picketing, in fact, of everything, except the right to be robbed of the fruits of his labor…

It goes without saying, I’m indebted to LRC and it’s myriad of talented writers for enlightening me on this and so many other subjects.  A hundred thank you’s!  Where would I be without you?

“All voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers, or backgammon, a playing with right and wrong; its obligation never exceeds that of expediency. Even voting for the right thing is doing nothing for it. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority.”  — Henry David Thoreau

1:34 pm on October 20, 2010