Tuesday, 5 May 2015

I don't vote - haven't voted about anything for five years. Why?

*
One of the fall-outs from my being sacked from the Medical Hypotheses editorship five years ago was a clarification of the wrongness of voting and a resolution not to vote, and to avoid (as far as I can) participation in voting.

Voting is a corrupting process - and for me the corruption is palpable. It feels like giving a sworn public endorsement to someone I know to be an evil liar.

The fact that it is futile is the least of its problems; the worst of it is the tacit agreement that voting is how things should be done, how decisions should be made - this 'should' being focused upon an arbitrary mechanical process which destroys moral responsibility.

Worse than this - voting has usurped responsibility; so that now it is abstract, impersonal voting and calculation which is seen as responsible and a person's judgement which is seen as arbitrary. The brutal, orthogonal senselessness of it is what first stuns then paralyses the will, drains the ability - even the desire - to evaluate....

To participate in the vote, to acknowledge the result, to live by the outcome... is vile. To say this is good: to say it is the best! - is to wallow in vileness.

Voting is, literally, un-loveable - and life ought to be about love.

We can only love persons, and obedience is properly due only to persons who love us.

Among mortal men this will be at best an imperfect, a defective, mixed, partial striving after the unattainable reality of leaders who love and care for us like ideal parents, like God. We should aim for that, in ideal and in practice, and not routinely violate even the possibility of love with meaning-annihilative exercises of voting.

*

28 comments:

Leo said...

I vote (usually), but with the sad realization that my vote has a tiny impact, politicians lie, and I may simply be voting for what I guess to be the lesser of two weasels.

On the other hand, in my homeowners association, the number of voters is small enough that each vote is important, I know the personalities first hand, and the changes we have made in the board over ten years have had some positive impacts. Our association is in good repair and on sound financial footing. And the board currently gets along pretty well. This has not always been the case. Repairs had been neglected. Finances were shaky, and the board was at times fractious. Being on the board has also been tremendously educational.

My wife served on a school board, and she really had a positive influence in saving the music program. Importantly, the board appointed a much better superintendent.

Both our positions were unpaid.

I have no desire for higher office, but the country does need good men and women to run for public office, and if and when we can find them, they need and deserve our votes.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Leo - I think you have missed my point, here. I am not talking about the expediency of the consequences of specific votes; but about voting as a system for making all significant decisions in modern life - and what it implies.

Leo said...

Bruce,

I believe I have indeed missed your point. But voting seems a good way to make decisions at the local level. Having a board appoint a superintendent or expert manager also can also be a good idea. I am rereading Churchill's History of the English-Speaking Peoples. This is not unlike the old King in Council, except that the council gets to appoint the king.

Democracy, in the famous phrase, is the worst form of government, except for all the others. At some point the polity gets so large that the system becomes problematic. It no longer has human scale. The answer may be to keep government small, local, and limited. The U.S. Constitution was designed to do that, but the Leviathan has gotten out of hand.

Joshua Sinistar said...

A wise man once said that if voting changed anything it would be against the law. What is infesting Washington is not a Government at all. It is a two faced lying totem like Janus the Roman two faced god of treachery and lies.
The treachery of the GOP run Congress has shown everyone that it was always just a show and a farce at that. Every election, the two shills debate phony controversies like Gay Marriage to avoid talking about the blatant fraud going on every day.
Abscam was just the tip of the iceberg. If you were a Rich Man you could go to Washington and buy Congressmen like cabbages at the grocery store. They're all corrupt now.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Leo - The aim of this post is to invite reconsideration of this extraordinary practice of voting - to recognize how utterly absurd it is!

As for democracy - a phrase is not a justification; and anyway, there is near-zero relationship between 'democracy' at different times and places (other than usage of some kind of voting) - and no reason why even an effective system of democracy in some particular time and place would not degenerate to become bad over a period of time (as has indeed happened. Although I would add that such degeneration was also inevitable and unstoppable).

One reason the CJCLDS has not degenerated is that it is not democratic but operates on the basis of individual power/ responsibility (under divine guidance); one reason the Church of England has degenerated is that it is (and nobody who attended General Synod could delude themselves its decisions were divinely guided - least of all the Archbishop of Canterbury).

Bruce Charlton said...

@JS - Indeed, but even if it reached the right decisions and was not disgustingly corrupt, voting would still be morally wrong.

JP said...

@Leo,

It is exactly my experience with "democracy" on a small scale - my homeowner's association - that has disgusted me with it. If democracy doesn't work at the "local level" - less than a hundred homeowners who live cheek-by-jowl - then how can it work on a larger scale? There is nothing more dismaying than listening to the idiotic opinions of others and realizing that your vote counts the same as theirs. And oh by the way, they want to spend your money on projects that are only interesting and useful to them.

@Joshua,

We're not going to vote our way out of our difficulties, that's for sure. Yet that's the stock answer for any complaints about democracy - "more voters! more elections! more democracy!"

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

Perhaps you should clarify that voting as a substitute for decision-making is morally wrong. Other forms of voting need not be. Voting does exist in the CJCLDS in the form of a "sustaining vote" by members to signify their support for their (appointed, not elected) leaders. No automatic decision-making is effected by such votes.

*

You write that "To participate in the vote, to acknowledge the result, to live by the outcome... is vile." Not participating in the vote is easy enough (unless you live in Australia, where voting is compulsory), but not to acknowledge the result or live by the outcome -- what exactly does that imply? That we should refuse to be subject to democratic governments? Refuse to acknowledge the authority of democratically elected leaders or democratically enacted laws?

JP said...

"what exactly does that imply? That we should refuse to be subject to democratic governments? Refuse to acknowledge the authority of democratically elected leaders or democratically enacted laws?"

Worked for the Civil Rights movement in the South. Worked for the ANC.

Of course, the Left is not going to tolerate any "civil disobedience" from the Right because they know full well where that leads.

Thordaddy said...

Voting only signifies two things:

1. That a people cannot discern right from wrong.

2. An automatic conflict of fundamental issue.

I'm with you, Dr. Charlton. Voting is a vile "system" implying a state of infinite regress as the normal.

Bruce Charlton said...

@WmJas - "not to acknowledge the result or live by the outcome -- what exactly does that imply?"

I am talking psychology, not politics. The big problem about voting is that so many people think that it gives an answer which they ought to defer to, which they ought to regard as correct. The only way democracy can be allowed to be wrong is insofar as the voting is 'unfair' - which means, pretty much, whatever you want it to mean.

But the implication is that a fair vote would be valid, binding, Good. I have often seen people beaten down by a vote - and you can see them 'give up' and start to think - if that is what the vote said, then that must be right.

I would like people to acknowledge that voting is morally equivalent to agreeing that the proper way to make important, life or death decisions - the proper way to run your country or run your life - is by the flip of a coin or the turn of a card.

Anonymous said...

I'm sympathetic to this view, because voting is inherently a *negative* thing. The vote allows people to rid themselves of bad governments without violence.

While it's true that people disagree vehemently about what is good, there's more agreement about what's bad, since in general there are more ways to be wrong than there are to be right.

It doesn't take much thought and nor should it. Our primary vision is positive and apolitical.

The Plague Doctor said...

You might be interested in the books Beyond Democracy or the more academic Democracy: the God that Failed.

Leo said...

A lot to think about here.

Voting is what we do at our HOA in lieu of swordplay. I once, in fact, said at one HOA meeting that in the old days the conflict between the two board members quarreling would be satisfied by a duel. There was a vote to censure one of the board members. I voted against the censure. It was unfair, avoidable, and my side lost, but somehow, surprisingly, we came back together afterwards. I am looking forward to leaving my board service, but it has been an education. I am even looking forward to moving one day, but that is more for other reasons.

As bad as our government can be, it could be much, much worse. See http://www.theonion.com/article/nation-plunges-into-chaos-187

One difference between an HOA or a church and a government, is that it is fairly easy to leave most associations and churches. It is more difficult, sometimes almost impossible, to leave a country.

In other words, the most important vote is voting with your feet, which is not the same thing as democracy, but it is more important. It is individual power and responsibility.

As for psychology, I can see how a group decision could benefit from the wisdom of many and how a group decision could degenerate into a cruel mob mentality.

Yes, I thought about churches and voting and how badly that can go. The ultimate authority for all law is God, but in the absence of the population knowing God (cf. Habakkuk 2:14) it can still work out if some things are left to Caesar or the HOA board, while some things cannot be.

Leo said...

"which they ought to defer to, which they ought to regard as correct."

This reminds me of the line from Fiddler on the Roof:

"Posing problems that would cross a rabbi's eyes
And it won't make one bit of difference if I answer right or wrong
When you're rich, they think you really know."

You are quite correct that a vote does not really establish what is really right or wrong, except as a legal fiction. But sometimes a legal fiction can be useful in preventing a war or a feud which might turn out to be much worse than suffering an injustice.

Bruce Charlton said...

@PD - I am not interested in devising some 'alternative' to democracy - I am interested in running government in line with Christian principles.

The the West is *anti*-Christian. Therefore all governments, of any system, will work towards net evil.

*First* we need a Christian nation, *then* we can think about possible systems of government - it cannot be the other way around.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Anon "The vote allows people to rid themselves of bad governments without violence."

Well, no. 'The government' is mostly the civil administration, and the linked bureaucracies of the legal system and the other major social systems such as education, health care, the military and the police.

And the most powerful ideologists are the mass media.

So even taking a purely conventional evaluation of voting, it is ineffectual - it cannot get rid of 'the government'.

The way it works is that we have been brainwashed into thinking voting is the best decision making system, then the voting is subjected to massive management (and adverse votes are regarded as temporary setbacks - and non-voting methods used instead - as with the redefinition of marriage).

But the mass of people are psychologically kept in check by having their attention focused repeatedly on the voting as the 'proper' place for decisions to be made.

Anonymous said...

@Bruce

>'The government' is mostly the civil administration, and the linked bureaucracies of the legal system and the other major social systems

Indeed, and most of those institutions are leftist, although I tend to refer to them as 'The State'.

>it cannot get rid of 'the government'

Get rid of *bad leaders*, then. Whereas previously the removal of a monarch or dictator usually cost many, many lives.

Civil War is the only known alternative to the vote. Though we are free, of course, to continue to imagine better alternatives.

I agree with you that only when more people aspire to something greater will the government (and media) improve.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Anon (presumably the same as the other Anon? Use a pseudonym, why not!)

Yes, voting can get rid of leaders - although there is no discernible tendency to get rid of *bad* leaders rather than good ones - indeed democracy leads to extraordinarily few good leaders - probably one every generation or two?

And they can indeed be got rid of, but only at the cost of them having very little power (or, very little power to do good).

But who exactly is getting rid of them - there is some rigmarole of voting (different in every nation and in every election) - some sums are done and a result is announced, after which there is a change or not. To say that this process reflects some kind of evaluation or will is fanciful.

To say that voting is the only alternative to civil war is nonsense! - in the first place there are innumerable examples of votes followed by civil war (indeed far more of these than of peaceful changes of power - just look at South America, Africa, the Middle East, Spain in the 1930s ... *almost* everywhere and all the time); in the second place innumerable examples of changes in leadership without votes.

With so many counter examples, voting cannot be defended in term of expediency - except insofar as that once this nonsensical system has been put in place and people brainwashed to accept it, any change is bound to be disruptive in the short term.

It is the usual problem, voting is destroying us long term, but things can only be improved in the long term by getting worse over the short term - which is one reason why positive change is so rare.

(Another reason is that most people want the wrong things anyway - see today's post. Even if voting did express the people's will, then it would lead us to disaster unless or until there is a religious revival.)

Leo said...

"Yes, voting can get rid of leaders - although there is no discernible tendency to get rid of *bad* leaders rather than good ones..."

I would argue that if the people are good (i.e., moral) and if they are well and truthfully informed, then they will naturally tend to get rid of bad (i.e., immoral) leaders when given the informed chance. Therein lies the problem. If the people are bad or mostly bad, they will get tend to pick or keep bad leaders. If the people are good, but are deceived, they can also pick bad leaders. So if we aren't seeing good leaders being chosen, there are a couple of explanations for that.

And the implication is that we need to work very hard first at building up a good Christian people, and second at making sure that they know things as they really are.

Thordaddy said...

All the evidence suggests that "voting" has brought "us" a "default elite" with the continuous expansion of autonomy for all anti-Christian movements at the expense of Christians confined to the zero-sum secular playing field.

Leo said...

Re today's election in the UK.

During the referendum on Scottish independence there appeared graffiti with the slogan "Free Scotland." Under it someone had written "Free England."

JP said...

I would argue that if the people are good (i.e., moral) and if they are well and truthfully informed, then they will naturally tend to get rid of bad (i.e., immoral) leaders when given the informed chance. Therein lies the problem. If the people are bad or mostly bad, they will get tend to pick or keep bad leaders. If the people are good, but are deceived, they can also pick bad leaders. So if we aren't seeing good leaders being chosen, there are a couple of explanations for that.

The morals of the people are corrupted by democracy. Politicians promise the people scope to indulge their gluttony, lust, and sloth. Politicians whip up envy, greed, pride, and anger as a way of generating votes. Thus voting makes the people bad. As more elections are held, the people will become worse, and the candidates the people elect will become worse. We have seen this process play out in the USA and UK in our lifetimes.

Once a good people experiences democracy, they become bad. Once they become bad, you cannot make them good again in a democracy - they will never vote to have their sins restrained.

Bruce Charlton said...

@JP - That's it exactly.

Thordaddy said...

I wouldn't say democracy corrupts the masses before I would say a democratic voting regime merely highlights to the individual that the masses are ALREADY corrupt in a myriad of ways.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Td - I agree with JP that democracy is an active source of corruption, like any form of bribery. Indeed, modern democracy is a finely tuned instrument of corruption, mostly working by confiscatory taxation and tax exemptions, subsidies with strings and the like.

Andrew said...

I find it a curious idea to not vote. Do you then disagree with D&C 134:3 We believe that all governments necessarily require acivil bofficers and magistrates to enforce the laws of the same; and that such as will administer the law in equity and justice should be sought for and upheld by the voice of the people if a republic, or the will of the sovereign.

What kind of civic actions and governmental structure would your contra-voting society require?

I recall letters from the First Presidency read from the pulpit encouraging members to be involved and engaged in all levels of government and civic responsibilities, including voting in elections. Do you believe them to be in error?

Bruce Charlton said...

@Andrew - Perhaps I need to clarify that I am not a member of the CJCLDS; but if I were then these matters are surely not ones of core doctrine, whereby it is a matter of advice being an 'error'.

Furthermore, you are interpreting my posting asif I were advocating a political movement based on 'not voting'. I am explaining that a reliance on voting to make decisions is bizarre, arbitrary - hence immoral.

Decisions should be made by specific human beings, who are then responsible for those decisions - that is all.

When there are groups, the groups need to make decisions which all their members acknowledge as authoritative ('sustain').

There are situations when a 'head-count' can be useful, but to manufacture an answer - pre-defined as binding - by some kind of vote (and almost all voting systems use a different system of voting, sometimes very complex systems of voting) is what is immoral.