Today I went to my local polling location and voted. I voted for Hillary Clinton and all of the other Democrats who were listed on the ticket. I did this not because I am a Democrat, but because I want to stop the rampant spread of what I see as being a kind of 21st century fascism in the U.S. The act of voting was easy, it took me only a few minutes. What I foresee as being really difficult is what is coming next.
Also, at the same time, I am an anarchist, and I have been one for quite some time now. I know many anarchists who do not vote and who consider the act of voting to be a very un-anarchist thing to do. This has stirred up in me a desire to try to publicly explain myself on this.
There is a common notion among anarchists that the act of voting is one that legitimizes the existence of the state. An individual freely choosing to vote is often viewed as an individual consenting to the existence of the state. I do not see it that way.
I see voting as being a big huge collective game that many many people choose to participate in that is an adjunct to the larger social structure of the state. All of this has meaning because people choose to give it meaning, and then they act accordingly. In other words, like many things, it is a social construct that is ascribed meaning by people, and people play along with it. One can play the game and go through the motions, together with others, while also simultaneously not holding the same meanings that other people are holding. One can "be in the world, but not of it," or to use a less grandiose phrase, people can do actions without believing in what they do. (And, in fact, one could make an argument that this is indeed how most people get through life).
I see voting as being an act that is essentially value-neutral. In my eyes, there is no obligation for anybody to participate in this ritual (or anything else, for that matter). Subsequently, there is also no obligation for an anarchist to not participate in it. I choose to participate in voting because this particular ritual is one that many people believe in and use to operate the dominant social structure of the state. This is an area where for a brief amount of time one can exercise a small amount of leverage in the current social machinery that surrounds us. So, one might as well use it while one can, or, "smoke 'em if you got 'em".
And in this particular case, in this particular country right now, I think that this guy, Donald Trump, wants to become an outright dictator, no holds barred. Whereas Hillary Clinton is just your run of the mill corrupt career politician, you have seen them all before, they are a dime a dozen in a representative democracy. And I would rather have the kind of B.S. that we are used to over an outright dictator. In other words, I see there as being more happiness and freedom, to whatever marginal degree we can find it, in a bullshit society that is structured as a "representative democracy" than in a bullshit society that is structured as a "dictatorship". And the best way for us to stop a Donald Trump fascist regime from coming about, at this point, is for us to vote for Hillary Clinton.
This stance of "being in the world, but not of it" is one that I take with many different things in my life, every day of my life. It is by no means just confined to the single act of voting. I basically do not believe in much, if not most, of what I do. I do not believe in capitalism or the state, private property or ownership. I do not believe in people working jobs, using money, paying rent, going to school, driving automobiles, and the list goes on. I could go so far as to say that I do not believe in Civilization itself, and yet here I am, thoroughly domesticated as all get-out. The notions of "purity" and "integrity" are ones that I no longer believe in or strive towards. The way I see it, we are all in a cage, through-and-through, and the world that I want to live in is completely Other. A truly anarchist world is completely outside of all of this, and it is one that I can only imagine and dream of. Yet at the same time, it is worth everything to me.
That all being said, there is also the real possibility that the world as we know it now is on it's way out. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton could very well help to start World War Three (this one with the nuclear option available from the start). The bitterness and acrimony between the Democrats and Republicans, and the Left and the Right writ large, could wind up with the U.S. entering a second Civil War. And then there is always the looming possibilities of a global economic collapse, or an ecological collapse, or a technological collapse (or a Singularity). Who knows! The point is, if any of that happens, and if the human race survives the experience, perhaps then a window of opportunity will be available for people to truly leave this bullshit society behind, with all of it's egregious ascribed meanings and performative rituals that work the gears of the spectacular machine that so many people find oh-so-fascinating. Perhaps then a door to the cage will open.
Until that point, however, I will be watching the election results on TV.
**Disclaimer: I am not saying here that I think that you should vote, or that you should vote for a particular candidate. And if you read this piece and say that I am "not really an anarchist", then my response is "fuck you too"**