FILMS FOR ACTION
FILMS FOR ACTION NEEDS YOUR HELP
We don't run on ads. We run on donations. Please help us by committing $5 a month.

To Vote or Not to Vote: For Anarchists, Is There Only One True Way?

By Tim Hjersted / filmsforaction.org
May 31, 2015
4
To Vote or Not to Vote: For Anarchists, Is There Only One True Way?
People can say with conviction and confidence that voting will never make a difference - but it's still a belief, and possibly one that may be too ideological for our own good, as it can skew our perception of reality.
 
I can think of many examples where voting has made a difference, especially when you look to other countries beyond the US. Voting never led to the pure anarchist dream revolution, but holding out for something pure like that in the current political climate may be as much a fantasy as believing wholeheartedly in voting.
 
I certainly don't put much faith in voting. But saying it never will or never has made a difference is pure belief. A more accurate belief in my opinion is that voting is currently the least effective tool in the activist toolbox, but it can still have its uses.
 
My commitment remains centered on putting 99% of my time and efforts into activist organizing, amplifying indy media and other non-electoral solutions.
 
I think it's fine that we can all do different things. Some can vote, some can not vote. Some can do a 90/10 split between activism and election politics. Some can do 99/1 (like myself), some can do (100/0) and some can do 70/30, 40/60 or any other combination if they really want to.
 
All of these are better than 0/0, which is a far greater problem than whether people put energy into voting or not. Honestly if more people upped their participation on the activism side, it would make this whole debate about whether to vote irrelevant. If both the vote and non-vote sides can agree that we should put most of our efforts into activism, then the whole debate about that last 1% of our time becomes a moot point.
 
I think that it's interesting that anarchists have gained a reputation for trying so hard to convince everyone to act the same as they do (100/0 as has become the popular norm). 
 
Whatever happened to a diversity of tactics and a plurality of complimentary perspectives? There's some serious irony here because it's as if the pure 'never vote' anarchists want everyone to be like them, and if you don't agree, then you're a 'fake anarchist' or a 'filthy liberal'. This sounds like ideology and dogma to me, using shame to get people to conform. 
 
The idea that all 'true anarchists' don't support voting is also false. Notably, Noam Chomsky, one of the most prominent modern 
anarchists, supports voting. And Crimethinc, a well-known collective in anarchist circles, promoted the "don't just vote" position in a 2004 political campaign (PDF), encouraging direct action as a more effective activist strategy, while avoiding getting mired in the 'vote/don't vote' debate entirely by stating that it is simply the least effective strategy to have a say in society. 
 
There are certainly dozens of good arguments to not participate in electoral politics, but there are also anarchists who are aware of the limitations of voting but choose to also put a few minutes into voting for practical purposes. I don't think either choice is 'the one right way.' But the arguments for anarchists participating more in elections, and not less, are pretty compelling. They're worth considering, at least, before deciding to stick with the don't-vote stance.
 
By all means, if you don't want to vote, please carry on and don't change.

I just think that encouraging people to do what they want and doing what you want yourself seems more anarchist to me than telling everyone we've all gotta think and act the same.
Trending Videos
Free Movies to Watch This Winter
Documentary Series
Indigenous Stories and Perspectives
Featured Documentaries

Films For Action is a library for people who want to change the world.

Founded in 2006, our mission is to provide citizens with the knowledge and perspectives essential to creating a more beautiful, just, sustainable, and democratic society.

  • To dive in, click the Explore button above. You can filter by subject and category at the same time, and sort by newest, most viewed and top-rated.
  • Help us keep the quality of the site high by rating content 1-5 stars.
  • Add videos to our library! Half of our best content was added by members.
  • Have a question or suggestion? Feel free to get in touch.
  • Want to support us and watch some great films in the process? Our $5/mo Patrons get access to 15 of our favorite documentaries.

 

Why join Films For Action?

Goal: To rapidly transition to a just, ecologically sustainable, holistic way of living as fast as possible.

We believe the first step to achieve this goal should be an information delivery network that can amplify the impacts of all our efforts 1000 fold. 

Although Films For Action is centered around film - its true objective is the transformation of the world. This means moving away from the unsustainable paradigm we have now to a regenerative paradigm, as fast as humanly possible.  

Film is the medium of delivery -- the catalyst, the metabolizing agent to speed up, amplify and multiply the effects of every transition movement on the planet. And of course, "transition" contains it all - social justice, ecological regeneration, true democracy, egalitarian economics, universal empathy, less cultural insanity and more happiness and well-being.

All of these movements need a media ecosystem that supports this transition, rather than the media we have today which marginalizes it, ignores it, sanitizes it, suppresses it, or actively fights it. There is certainly good coverage across many different news outlets, and the quality and depth varies, but in terms of volume, the good stuff is easily lost in the deluge of superficial concerns.

Watch any network TV channel for 24 hours or read the newspaper for a week, and you will see what we mean. The dominant narratives which drive the national debate and become "common knowledge" is more often superficial, focused on symptoms rather than root causes, and reinforces the conventional "two sides" within the status quo. The lies and spin promoted by figures in power become well known, while voices that challenge and expand the range of debate rarely get heard. But most importantly, the level of repetition and volume of coverage is what counts. What gets covered day after day, and what gets covered once and is forgotten, or not covered at all? That's why we need a media movement that's dedicated to elevating the voices that aren't getting heard. We need media alternatives that make social change its primary focus. That's why Films For Action exists.

Ultimately, we're just one star in this growing constellation of new media, but we aim to do our part by cultivating the best video library dedicated to transition online, and we hope you'll join us