I Had A Dream -- by Mark E. Smith

I dreamed that the November 2014 elections were different from any elections I'd experienced in my 73 years as a US citizen. It wasn't a Presidential race, so people weren't voting for a woman in the White House (who would promptly and obediently do a 360-degree turn and outlaw abortions by executive decree as soon as she was elected), and no horde of demons from Hell, replete with horns and tails had suddenly materialized and snagged every Republican nomination in the country so that people would vote for whatever Democrats were running as lesser evils. This wasn't even an issue election, where people came out determined to vote for or against God, gays, guns, grass, or GMOs. No, this was something else--something I'd never thought to see!

There was a new third party, the Occu-Party, but this one was attracting tens of millions of voters from every other party. It was better funded than either the Democrats or the Republicans, and it purchased billions of dollars of major media space and air time, which it filled with the most incredible election campaign ads, written by the best authors in the world, and featuring music and special effects from the greatest artists and the best studios. The candidates were also beyond my wildest previous dreams. Mumia Abu Jamal had received a full pardon and was running for Governor of Pennsylvania. Ed Snowden had also received a full and total blanket pardon, and was running for Governor of New York. Lynne Stewart had miraculously recovered completely from cancer and was running for Governor of Georgia. Julian Assange had gotten all charges against him dropped, gained US citizenship, and was running for Governor of California. Sibel Edmonds was running for Governor of Washington state. And every true radical and revolutionary in the US had gotten an Occu-Party nomination for Governor, Senator, or Congressperson in one state or another.

The Occu-Party's platform was simple and straightforward:

1. Abolish the Fed.

2. End wars.

3. Tax the rich.

4. Restore and enhance social programs.

5. Abolish prisons.

6. Remove corporate money from politics and remove personhood from corporations.

7. Crowd-source a new Constitution from scratch that everyone would be allowed to vote upon.

I saw some of the candidate ads and began to wonder if I had been wrong to take my name off the voting rolls and withdraw my consent. I even saw an episode of Democracy Now(TM) where Amy Goodman was asked how this was possible, and she said, 'I'm not sure, but I suspect that it might be due to the genius and generosity of OTPUR and George Soros.' That's when I woke up, apparently because even my subconscious knew that she'd never be allowed to say anything like that. And that's when I realized that it wasn't a dream at all, but a nightmare. Because I knew how it would have ended:

Except for some City Council seats and a couple of Congressional representatives from small states, all the Occu-Party candidates lost. The central tabulator programs had been refined so that they lost by only one or two percentage points, giving voters hope that if they just tried a little harder in the next election, they might be able to bring about change by working within the system, or as Audre Lorde put it, they could "...use the master's tools to dismantle the master's house." In the meantime, as voters were delirious with their new hope for change, they had unwittingly consented to four more years of war and corporate tyranny, which they gladly submitted to because they had proven that the system worked and only needed a little more effort on their part.

As soon as the election was over, as the Democrats and Republicans gloated over the biggest turnout in a non-presidential race in decades, and Obama expanded his kill list, most of the pardons were revoked, the radicals re-arrested and imprisoned or assassinated, and the Occu-Party busied itself with trying to nominate a presidential candidate for 2016 from the few who remained, even as its funding dried up and vanished as unexpectedly as it had first appeared.

Oh, there were a few anarchists and other election boycott advocates who had held themselves back and even warned that perhaps things were not quite as they seemed, but it was, of course, impossible to staunch the enthusiasm of a people blinded by what once again appeared to be the promise of real hope and change.

And in 2016, the Occu-Party, having accomplished the biggest get-out-the-vote drive in US election history, but no longer able to find great candidates and spend billions on campaign ads, sadly held its nose and threw its support to whichever candidates of the Democrats, Republicans, Greens, Libertarians, and other parties appeared to be the least evil.

It had been 3-D and psychedelic, but in the end it was nothing more than another "color revolution." Nothing had changed for the better, things had only gotten worse, but voters were swollen with hope and thought of themselves as true revolutionaries. And denial was still more than just a river in Egypt.

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Excellent examples.

Medea has been a good vote-getter for several candidates. She's definitely a reformist--as that response indicates; she doesn't believe that the system is beyond redemption, at least not yet. That's the whole point of the "boiling frog" strategy--it is never fascism yet, not even when it has met seventeen of the fourteen points of fascism, or whatever it is.  ;)

And Hightower is also a reformist, still believing that throwing a few good apples into a barrel of rotten apples will make the whole barrel good.

I'm sure they both know better.

I had a similar experience with Robert Jensen. He had written something positive about not voting, then turned around and campaigned for his friend Norman Solomon. When I questioned the contradiction, his response was to tell me what a great guy Solomon is, which I don't question for a moment. What I questioned was the effectiveness of running for office or voting, and the abandonment of principles, not his friend's worthiness or his loyalty to his friend.

Medea Benjamin and Jim Hightower both have large followings who might be offended if they didn't participate in electoral politics, and Robert Jensen rhetorically opposes the system he works within, but admits that his credibility is based on remaining within that system--a system that he regularly exposes as less than credible.

Definitely Lanova Messiah all over again. ;)

 

Is there such a thing?

What is an anti-establishment celebrity? Someone who opposes the establishment they are prominent in?

I've never felt that election boycotts had to be organized in the usual sense. Most of the successful movements I know of (Venezuela, the Zapatistas) came about without any media or celebrity support whatsoever--just ordinary people talking with other ordinary people until they reached an informal consensus and were ready to act accordingly. If you had assessed the political atmosphere in Venezuela just prior to the election of Hugo Chavez by looking at the media, you would never have guessed that he could have been elected. The media was owned and controlled by the two major parties and focused on them exclusively, while the people, who had no media outlet and therefore remained below the radar, ignored the celebrities on TV. (But don't forget that they had honest, verifiable elections and the US does not.)

Sometimes (Batista's Cuba, Apartheid South Africa) the government in power acts so abhorrently that it totally alienates voters and they just stay home without anyone encouraging them to do so.

I used to think that a big celebrity could popularize an election boycott, but I realize now that even if they could sway their fans and followers, it would just be a segment of the population and not large enough to accomplish a successful boycott.

We can certainly help individuals gain the courage of their convictions, as most honest people have long since acknowledged that our government is corrupt. We can help people understand that putting good people (or lesser evil people) into a rotten system is a waste of good people. But the full impetus has to come from the system itself--as when Haiti removed the most popular political party in the country from the ballot and thereby ensured a miniscule (somewhere between 3% and 7%, I believe) voter turnout.

Successful governments understand this and try to take the "boiling frog" approach, so that there is never a single act which will incite rebellion, just a series of smaller acts that are generally opposed but still endurable.

But we're no longer dealing with the United States government. The US is just one part of a globalized capitalist imperialism, albeit the biggest and most militarized part. Still, policy does not originate with the US, but with the biggest capitalist empires, which consist of interlocking multi-national corporations with economies larger than any individual country and to which the US is just one of many debtors.

Even if nobody voted, the US government would not step down. It cannot. It would be like expecting the Board of Directors of a large multi-national corporation to step down just because nobody at their offices and factories showed up to work. They are beholden to their shareholders and that means that they are owned. Their assets aren't the means of production, but global economic control their owners can exert. In the case of a big corporation, the directors would be directed (yeah!) to vote to move their factories and offices to other countries where they can use slave labor or prison labor instead of having to rely on wage slaves. In the case of the US government, it could simply bomb the country into submission, they way it does when it wishes to bring about regime change in a place like Afghanistan, Iraq, or Libya. The world is overpopulated, so human resources are the least valuable resources they have. With about a thousand military bases in over a hundred different countries, the so-called US government could move its seat of operations out of the US without missing a beat. Who's going to complain, the UN?

It is capitalism and patriarchy that have to fall, and consciousness of the political tools that make them desireable, or at least palatable, is only a beginning.

I'm certain that if nobody voted this November, the election results would show the usual voter turnout and nobody would be able to disprove it, due to the shift to mail-in ballots with no chain-of-custody and central tabulators that cannot be verified. There is no longer any way to know how many ballots were mailed in and how many were just "manufactured" by elections officials or computer programs. That realization alone should deter intelligent people from voting.

Here's one of the first hits I got when I googled "a state is a corporation:"

Full text of "A catechism of the Constitution of the United States of ...

archive.org/stream/.../catechismofconst00over_djvu.txt

The preamble may be dismissed with the observation, that a State is a corporation, a constitution its charter, and the people the corporators. '*

------------------------------------------------

Unfortunately, although the US Constitution's preamble begins with, "We the people," the people of the United States were never consulted and had no part in the incorporation of this government. Nor do we have a vote that the charter requires must be counted, or that cannot be overridden by higher levels of the corporate (governmental) bureaucracy, such as political party super-delegates, corrupt elections officials, the corporations that own and program the central tabulators, the Electoral College, Congress, and the Supreme Court.

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I can't answer the man's question. I guess people won't see what they don't want to see. ;)

But you're right, Ann. It is sociological, not political.

 

 

 

examples

(This is a reply to "Is there such a thing?", though for some reason it appears before that comment.)

 

Medea Benjamin was one. After Dubya was re-selected I pitched the elections boycott/general strike strategy to her. Her reply was something just totally pedestrian, like, oh, at some point it may come to that. Huh? I guess she's fulfilled leading her troop of Code Pink groupies and throwing pies in corporate CEO's faces.

Celebrity "populist" jim Hightower is another. When he appended a pitch for some candidate to a rant against the abject corruption of the status quo, I pointed out the contradiction and, again, pitched the elections boycott idea. He couldn't be bothered.

Guess it was just foolish to try to talk to these folks. But hell, I just couldn't not say something. Too sensitive to cognitive dissonance.

a true nightmare

Lanova Messiah! I believe! I believe!

Not.

It is the challenge of a lifetime to elevate electoral rhetoric from the political level (of participants, with tacit consent) to the sociological level (of non-participants, with conscious dissent). It takes considerable explaining to define and elucidate the truths and reality of power; of legitimacy; of consent. And it's not exciting like the horse-races of political battles. It's a mundane sociology lecture. And even among those who already understand, trying to motivate and organize an electoral boycott based explicitly on this understanding... It's way worse than the proverbial pulling of teeth. I've had email conversations with several prominent "celebrity" anti-establishment folks, and they all agree in principle, but refuse to have anything to do with an organized boycott.

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