Laying Bets: W Will Win

Joe R. Golowka joegolowka at
Thu Aug 17 19:24:04 PDT 2000

From: "Chuck Grimes" <cgrimes at>
> Throwing rocks at the same person you vote for is idiotic. No matter
> who you vote for a corporate lackey is going to win. Elections
> actually help the ruling class because it generates the illusion that
> we have control over the system. The less people that participate in
> it the weaker that illusion gets. The majority of the Proletariat do
> not vote; I encourage everyone that considers themselves a supporter
> of the working class to stand in solidarity and do the same.
> Joe R. Golowka
> -----------
> Well, if you haven't tried it, try it. You might like it. There is
> nothing hypocritical about fighting against the rulers you vote for,

Except for that fact that voting for them implies you suppor them.

> however I admit it appears inconsistent. The argument I made was the
> primary use of the vote was to symbolically select your opponent and
> the ground of battle.

I really don't see how selecting either Bush or Gore will help. Both have roughly the same positions.

> I agree that voting and campaigning perpetrates an illusion, but we
> disagree on the particulars. The main particular of the illusion isn't
> that we have some measure of control and the vote represents control
> over the system. That is an illusion, but it isn't the main one. Of
> course we do not exercise control over the system through voting. What
> sufficient votes accomplish is a mass selection of A rather than B
> along with whatever differences there are in their respective
> policies.

The choice is not between A and B. The choice is between C and C. I don't see how we exercise much influence over this soviet-style system. Even if we did, the benefits of people not voting (and not buying into the illusion, etc.) more then outweighs whatever benefit we may get by choosing Pepsi instead of Coke.

> So, the rational is voting accomplishes this selection, and further
> that the selection represents support. In other words, voting is
> supposed to represent the consent of the governed. But under this
> idea is the concept of people's identification with the state, that
> the state is the embodiment of people, or represents the collective
> will.
> We both know this is false. We both know the state if it represents
> anything, it is the interests of the ruling class. You choose to
> abstain from voting, and thereby relinquish the one tiny piece of
> formal power you are offered as a token. I choose to accept the token
> and use it the only meaningful way I can, which is to help select my
> next opponent.
> At first glance this appears to be a disagreement over tactics. You
> say abstain, and I say, well at least select.
> Consider this possibility. Consider that there may come a time, when
> there is someone running for office who actually seems to represent
> your interests, and has already prove themselves to support policies
> you approve and that you have struggled in some small way to get into
> law. You would vote.

No I wouldn't. The policies I would like to see implemented cannot be implemented by the state. Even if someone got into office who honestly wanted these things done s/he would soon become corrupted by power (or made ineffective by others in power). The only time I would vote for a canidate is if one of the canidates was an out and out fascists and I was confident the other wouldn't become one.

> So would I. But we would be voting for different
> reasons and from different understandings of our respective relations
> to the state.
> I voted for Johnson in '64, exactly because he represented what I
> wanted to see done. At that particular moment in time, he had
> completed a legislative program in civil rights and anti-poverty that
> was by far and away the most progressive agenda ever attempted and
> much of it was accomplished prior to the election. We all know what
> happened after that.
> I have asked myself many times, what was wrong, what didn't I see or
> understand? At first of course I though he was a deceitful son of
> bitch. But I have changed my mind. Johnson was cagey and a liar and
> more, but that wasn't the real problem.
> The problem was I didn't understand the nature of my relationship to
> state. I thought then and for a long time after, that if only we could
> find the right people and get them into office, then all would be
> well. I had assumed that the state could in principle represent my
> interests, that it could in principle be an embodiment of my (the
> people's) will, and that I could in good conscience consent to its
> governance.
> This is the core illusion. The entire concept of consent of governed
> is the mistake. And there is nothing like a draft notice in the middle
> of a war that you do not consent to, to bring that message home. It
> was an appointment notice for my own execution. But I still didn't get
> it.
> The proper relationship between the people and the state is as
> absolute antagonists. We might acquiesce to or loose this or that
> particular, but never consent. In this regard you and I might
> agree.
> However, I also don't believe that state represents the upper class
> either--exactly. I am assuming you intended the meaning of the ruling
> class to be synonymous with the upper class.

Not completely. Usually I mean the power elite in sociology models.

> And, I think the more
> astute members of the wealthy, understand perfectly that they are not
> represented by the state much of the time and that in fact they are
> antagonists. I think this is the purpose of weighted funding for both
> parties and then following the election, pursuing the winner into
> court, into the media, and into Congress, lobbying and funding their
> opposition, depending on what is at issue. I think this is the upper
> class equivalent to throwing rocks at the same idiot you voted into
> office.
> Not voting, and not participating, and generally abstaining does
> weaken the illusion that there is a consent of the governed. However,
> the tangible result of that position I suspect leads to an ever
> deeping grip of tyranny, and not liberation or collapse.

Perhaps in the short run. In the long run it creates greater resentment towards the system and thus makes insurrections more likely.

> However, the
> more noisy, the more voting, the more active presence the people
> demonstrate, and certainly the more open hostility they present also
> weakens the illusion of consent, but with much less ambiguity.

Certainly, the more active the people are the better the movement will be. However, electioneering will only waste time and rescources and possibly corrupt many of the movements leaders. Whenever a left-wing party gets into power via elections it either gets destroyed or it eventually moves to the right. Politics is inherently corrupting.

Joe R. Golowka JoeG at

"Candidates say "vote for me, and I will do so-and-so for you." Few believe them, but more important, a different process is unthinkable: that in their unions, political clubs, and other popular organizations people should formulate their own plans and projects and put forth candidates to represent them. Even more unthinkable is that the general public should have a voice in decisions about investment, production, the character of work, and other basic aspects of life. The minimal conditions for functioning democracy have been removed far beyond thought, a remarkable victory of the doctrinal system." -- Noam Chomsky

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