Sunday, 4 November 2012

What does it mean to say I am 'against voting' as a system?


My recent post on voting

produced a lot of interesting comments - but I spent an inordinate time trying to re-explain what I was saying - and something similar happened on a thread at Orthosphere.

But the problem was typical of much of my commentary and critique over the past couple of decades, and the reason seems to be that I think in a different way from many people.


I tend to think in terms of abstract principles or systems; and often I want to discuss these, but in fact it seems hardly anybody else wants to discuss principles or systems, or can stop at principles and refrain from jumping back to motivations or jump ahead ahead to implications.

The trouble is that going from principles to motivations make it subjective, while jumping to implications entails a further step, which may or may not be clear - at any rate the move from principles to practice is seldom clear and uncontroversial.


When I spoke about not voting, many commenters assumed (often, it seems automatically) that what I really meant was that I personally disapproved of those who voted; and they rushed to defend the motives (or results) those who vote.

I find this again and again in the response to my writings; that most people look at what is being said, and then jump behind it to make assumptions about the motivations of the person who said it.

Everything is assumed to be about motivations, and what people actually say is assumed to be a 'rhetorical' tool for influencing the behaviour of others.


So that for me to criticize the system of voting as a way of making decisions, is assumed really to be merely a product of my motivation; an expression of negative emotion (disdain, dislike etc) towards the people who vote.

Then people line-up and either support the fact that I attack (supposedly) voters because they too dislike voters; or attack me for having (supposedly) attacked them. 


I experienced this at an international media scale a few years ago when I wrote about the effect of social class difference of intelligence on college admissions - specifically the mathematical certainty that the more selective is a college, the bigger the social class difference in admissions.

But this factual observation was - on the Left , and up to the level of the British government, either regarded as me personally claiming that there were social class differences in intelligence (which is an un-refuted finding  more than 100 years old, as well as being common experience); or else an expression of hatred for the working class and the poor.

This misinterpretation went up to very high levels, and I got it even from world famous academics in qunatitative science.

I think we are dealing with human nature here - near enough.


Human nature cannot discuss principles and systems (except perhaps in very exceptional situations, and probably the focus is tenuous even then).

So when principles and systems are on the agenda, as they must be from time to time - for example when a club or a country needs to decide the procedure by which a leader is chosen - the actual discussion will not be about them.


So, with the stuff about voting, my major point was that the idea of getting a group together and having a vote is an utterly bizarre notion of how to make a decision, and it is hard to understand why anyone might ever imagine that it would be a good way to proceed.

On top of this, there is the problem that a vote destroys individual responsibility for decisions, which makes the decision non-moral, which means it is in fact a-moral (wicked, evil).

So the principle of voting, as a way of making decisions, seems to be utterly without any basis either in expediency or in pragmatism or in metaphysics, or in anything.

It is just what we have


Of course, once voting had already-become established as the default method of decision making and had also become regarded as the only basis for a just and equitable decision and so on, then this generates its own expedience and even a kind of rationality.

If people are used to voting and have been inculcated with the idea that it is good; then they will usually accept the results of a vote. 

But there was no coherent basis for privileging voting in the first place. 


Having noticed this fact (it seems like a fact) I find that I draw the conclusion that I personally shouldn't participate in votes - but that inferential jump form system analysis to personal behaviour is not logically entailed.

It is, however, made easier for me by my religious belief that ethical behaviour has beneficial effects even when the causality is non-obvious - even when such behavior seems invisible and powerless.

So that, although a worldly and expedient and linear-causal analysis may suggest that not voting is just to abandon responsibility, to disappear-oneself from decision-making, or to allow evil to happen, or to fail to take simple steps to prevent harm; I have an imprecise but confident belief that (if my decision is real and properly motivated) then not voting will have a good effect, in some way, but by means which I (almost certainly) will never know about (at least, not in this life, in this world).


To put it another way, for a Christian it is hard to imagine any act which does not have some (permanent) effect towards either good or evil - Surely that is what life is.

Nothing is trivial (or rather, we can never know that any particular thing is trivial) - hence we must treat everything as important; even when we had hardly even imagine how it could become important.

No man is an island, and all humans are in it together ('it' being life in relation to salvation).

So I am not much swayed by arguments based on expediency, when I am pretty sure that what is being asked of me is participation in a system which I understand is irrational and necessarily immoral.


Does participation in a system of which we disapprove make any difference? Well, yes, it must (or we must assume that it may).

How might this work? 

Thinking about such matters using a 'morphic resonance' analysis - it would seem that participating in a process strengthens it, while refusing participation does not strengthen it; and perhaps by participating in something other than the voting process tends to strengthen some other rival process.

On this basis, whenever we go along with something we believe is bad, when we ourselves comply with a bad process; then we actually fuel that process (by invisible patterning mechanisms): we make that process more powerful and increase its range and scope.

That would fit in with the fact that evil always wants compliance; in fact evil is usually satisfied with compliance (and does not require assent).

In some way (morphic resonance is only one way of conceptualizing the process), simply going-along with evil, just going-through-the-motions prescribed by evil, actually strengthens evil.

But that makes another assumption to go with my first one.


The first assumption (to recap) was that it is valid to discuss the abstract process of voting in terms of its rationale (or rather, lack of rationale).

We live by processes, even if the processes are - in practice - conflated with assumed-motivations or presumed-outcomes of processes: in fact we often do not know enough to assume or infer these things. The processes and systems should be able to stand on their own two feet...


By which I mean, processes should be valid when understood from a traditional Christian metaphysic - they should make sense in exactly the way that voting does not.

Many people seemingly can't or won't do this; or maybe I am not actually doing it, although I think I am? - at any rate this topic doesn't seem to get very far with most people.

However, it seems that, in practice, most public discourse, and probably all effective public discourse is very simple and prescriptive, and conflates principles with practice, effectiveness with morality and many other things - it coalesces around basic dichotomies - and all attempts to make it anything else are apparently doomed to fail.


Which is why evil works by processes.

Once evil has imposed a process - like voting - then that process becomes de facto ineradicable qua process.

If voting is indeed evil, then we are apparently stuck with it until it is swept away by some other change; because the subject matter of voting-as-a-process is one which cannot ever occupy a public agenda.

As things stand, the only way to get rid of voting would be to vote on it...