Tuesday, January 28, 2014


What is the opposite of voting?
One of the reasons that some people oppose voting is the idea that the act of voting lends legitimacy to the state, independently of whether the system works or backfires. In that sense, voting is counterproductive. People who vote participate in a sacrament of the religion of the state. Like other religious rituals, it serves to reinforce the beliefs of the participants and unite them as a group. Even if I have no illusions about the practical results of voting, my participation harms others by helping to perpetuate the myth, reinforcing the dominant statist paradigm, the idea that we can solve our problems by electing good people to run a broken system.
But if the mere act of voting can reinforce the system, in spite of what the participants think as they act, then there must be some opposite action which could undermine the same beliefs, that could perform the same sort of voodoo in the opposite direction. Call it countervoting. The mere act of countervoting would undermine the belief in the legitimacy of government held by the participants, in spite of what they consciously believe. What would that look like?
If voting keeps us hypnotized, countervoting must wake us up. Where voting reinforces our belief in the  legitimacy of the system, countervoting undermines that belief. Where voting makes us confident, countervoting gives us cognitive dissonance (makes you a cognitive dissident). The sacrament of voting celebrates the pageantry and ritual of the state. Countervoting blasphemes against that religion. It tears off the fig leaves arranged by voting. Where voting bows down, countervoting squats and craps. Where voting is solemn and dull, countervoting cracks jokes or loses its temper. Voting makes us feel like good little citizens, countervoting gives us a peculiar queasy feeling about the whole thing. We laugh, perhaps self-consciously. 
You don't have to wait for election day to countervote. Have you countervoted today? 
Countervoting not only undermines your belief in the state, it builds your understanding of voluntary interaction, brings it to consciousness.
Why do we spend our lives doing things that prove we don't need the state, but don't realize it? Perhaps because we use cooperation constantly, and conflate the two? 
Nearly everything we do other an voting is a sacrament to society. How come it doesn't build up our confidence?
I am not even sure I agree with this description of voting, and if I did, that would not necessarily mean that countervoting exists or is possible. But sometimes creative thought requires you to suspend the "black hat thinking" temporarily, in favor of "blue sky thinking."
Can you think of some examples of countervoting? What activities make you particularly conscious of the beneficial social processes we depend on, or of the "square peg-round hole" aspect of the state?Please put them in the comments.

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