Recently, I was asked why I don’t vote. On the spot, I found it relatively difficult to communicate my particular outlook on voting without my mind running wildly this way and that. When the haphazard conversation had adjourned I thought about the question quite a bit. I haven’t voted since I was 18; although, I’m sometimes tempted to vote. I wanted to make certain that my principles still reflect the feelings I once held toward voting, feelings which went beyond justification of my political absense, but even persuaded me to actively speak out about the evils of political goings on in general. The following is my best shot at quickly summing up the slice of my philosophy which shapes my position regarding voting:
Circles are not squares. They are never squares. Among other reasons, this is because a square has four corners, and a circle has no corners. This single discrepancy explains the existence of the principle, “Circles are not squares”.
As a principle, the statement “circles are not squares” holds true throughout the ages, amongst all realms, and in light of new information. Principles do just that; they hold true regardless of variable circumstances. This is important. Understanding the basic concept of a principle allows people to create ethics and morals. Without understanding the concept of principles, ethics and morals are not only subject to change, but are even excepted from entire facets of life altogether.
Here is an exercise in the extension of the principle described above:
Are circles square in California? Are they square in Mumbai? Are they square when your friend’s dad comes around? Are circles square when a donkey steps over a four-leaf clover on the second Tuesday in March during a leap-year? No; circles are never square, regardless of circumstances.
Let’s try this with another principle – the Non-Aggression Principle (NAP). Simply put, the NAP suggests that it is immoral to initiate force against another person. This means it is “wrong” to initiate an interaction with another person or people in which you remove their ability to make a fair decision whether through violence, the threat of violence or any form of coercion. Before I get into why this is immoral, let’s try to think of an instance in which initiating force against a person is moral, or even neutral.
Would it be moral, or neutral, if a man were to walk down to the nearest donut shop and start strangling the person in line? Or, what if a woman decides she wants a raise at work, so she puts a knife to her boss’ throat and forces him to sign a new contract? Perhaps force is acceptable if a child wants to acquire his playmate’s toy, so he bonks the other kid on the head and snatches it away. Would any these instances be considered tolerable?
Keep in mind that all of the situations I’m putting forth are examples of the initiation of force. Now I’ll apply the NAP to what should be a familiar institution.
Is it moral, or neutral, if a small group of people think that they can spend money very wisely, and much better than the average layperson, so they hire costumed thugs to pillage the countryside holding people at gunpoint and robbing them of a portion of their wealth? What if all the while the robbers explain that they are stealing the money in the interest of public good? Obviously, this is absurd behavior.
Afterwards, what if the small assembly of frugal folks were to put forth several options regarding how the stolen earnings might be spent once they’ve paid themselves a handsome salary? And, what if they were to give the laypeople an option to vote on the matters? I would argue that this is still an absurd situation to comprehend and a model of hideously immoral behavior.
What if the small group intends to use a large portion of the stolen funds to hold the laypeople at gunpoint, regulating their behaviors, and controlling the people’s options regarding how to earn their livings, and with whom they become romantically involved? Ludicrous, I know. Only the most sociopathic brutes would demonstrate these sorts of unscrupulous attitudes and wiles?
What if the small group of people pitted the large body of laypeople against one another by forcing rhetoric down their throats from the age of 5 to 18 in indoctrination camps wherein children are brainwashed into thinking that voting is not only a fair way to affect change, but that it’s a civic duty? What if those children grew up to think that they had the right to tell other people what to do as long as people they agree with hold fire-power over the entire population? It’s hard to believe I may have to explain the reasons why these situations are immoral, but for the sake of conversation I’ll briefly attempt to do so.
Property is anything belonging to a person. Property begins with a person’s mind and body and extends outward to all things created by a person with their mind and body. I own my brain, I own my mouth, I own the words I speak, and I own the results of those words. I own my actions and the results of those actions. And, as this defines property, it is immoral to initiate force against people, because it violates their right to property. Force robs a person of their ability to fairly make a decision regarding their property. Whether a child bonks his playmate on the head and takes her toy, or a very bright adult steals someone’s living wages in order to provide wonderful benefits for the many, property rights are being violated, and that is absolutely immoral. Respecting property rights is a principle; therefore it extends to all areas of the universe regardless of contexts and conditions.
Any person, people, or institution whose foundation embodies a violation of property rights is inherently immoral. Also, the initiation of force is the most egregious crime committable; it is a violent crime even when the gun isn’t “in the room”- so to speak. Even when the gun is disguised as justice, and all the laypeople have been fooled into pointing the gun at each other through the “power” of voting, each person begging their masters to point the guns at someone else via policy, regulation, and legislation, it is violent and immoral. This is a truly monstrous system, because it forces people, it lies and manipulates people to act out against each other. It is an atrocious system, because it is immoral from the ground up. And, the majority of people are indoctrinated throughout childhood, in schools they cannot avoid attending, to love their country’s governments – the very governments which will steal their earnings and threaten to punish them throughout their entire lives. They’re taught that government is good, and just, and necessary. This sort of relationship, in which victims must love masters whom they inevitably fear, is the definition of sadomasochism.
The institution of government is a system in which I choose not to participate. I was born under the thumb of government, and I understand this culture; therefore, I continue to live here under the rule of government. However, I reject the state in all its terror. I pay off the costumed thugs, so I will not be kidnapped and abandoned in a rape-room. I follow the rules, so that I will not be robbed of my wages. But, I do not legitimize my involuntary masters by begging them to use their force to impose my will and my preferences on my neighbors. Thus, I do not vote. As so often seems appropriate, I’ll close with a quote by R. W. Emerson: “Insist on yourself, never imitate.”