This is part one in a two part series.
The other day I once again heard someone–I can’t remember who or the context–explain that some country somewhere was going to make, or had already made, voting in elections compulsory. In other words, you cast a ballot or you get punished.
You choose, or you die.
Now, not die literally (yet), but that’s the basic vibe of it all. When there is an Authority hovering over you with the power to “legally” compel your behavior by violence, then your life is in his/hers/its hands. When violence is the political primary, which it is when the State governs men in any capacity whatsoever (because the State is Authority and Authority is Force), then reason no longer matters. This means that at the end of the day, the Authority in charge of governing men (using violence or the threat of violence to compel “moral” compliance…that is, compliance to the subjective moral standard, the Law) doesn’t owe you an explanation. It owns you. And you will obey, or you will get hurt. Up to and including death. Period. Full stop.
Disagree with me if you will, but before you do be sure you are able to explain what the State is without force…that is, what is the State without the underlying “legal” right to visit violence upon those who do not obey the rules? The State is not suggestion; nor is it voluntary exchange. It is power for the purpose of obligating individuals to a collective code of conduct. And since there is no such actual (non-abstract) thing as a collective, by definition, a purely subjective moral standard must be invented which makes an appeal to “universal rights”. But again, men are not universal…they are not Group…they are individuals. And so men, the logic goes, being individuals, cannot possibly know or decide for themselves how to behave with respect to their collective identity. That task is only appropriate to the State, which serves as the “collective conscience”, again an abstraction which individuals, being individuals, cannot grasp. In other words, as far as you, the individual, are concerned, the State IS the Collective. The State, being the State, is the Collective Incarnate to you. This means that at root, it alone must define Collective, Collective Conscience, Collective Good, and then it must force the individual into obedience, because, once again, the individual, by nature and by definition, is incapable of understanding. And if he is incapable of understanding, then what’s the point in explaining anything to him? Of what use, other than manipulative (better to have one think he has choice…makes him more compliant), is discourse or reason?
The answer you already know:
“But we get to vote”, you say. “We get to choose! We have a voice!”
Come on. You know this isn’t true…I know you do. You are too smart, and there is no way you actually believe this.
You have no voice. You have a collective voice, and that voice is the voice of the State, because your only real voice is individual. But the only voice that the State hears is that of the collective, which is Itself, because the whole point of the State is to BE the “practical” incarnation of the collective. It defines and governs and represents it. And this categorically and absolutely.
Further, if your vote represents a voluntary exchange of power and value and cooperation, I wonder why so many countries are making it mandatory? Hmm…that’s a mystery. I wonder why Barack Obama, himself, suggested that, just like healthcare, people should be forced to comply? Maybe their “free” choice should be compelled by violence and threats’, he mused. And why does no one seem to see the fucking contradiction here?
The interesting fact of the matter is that there is really no ostensible need to force people to vote if obedience to the State is what is desired. I mean, it’s not like there’s any difference between forcing people to accept (obey the authority of) the outcome of the vote and forcing them to vote. Once Authority is the political primary–to compel individuals to collective morals–then the face of Authority is really beside the point. It’s all about individual submission, not cooperation, and not choice, and certainly not freedom. Freedom cannot be a function of what some Authority allows you to do. That’s not freedom…that’s just quibbling about the size of the cage.
And don’t tell me that the vote is somehow a manifestation of a legitimate contractual exchange between two equal entities or agents. Name another “contract” in which you have ever engaged besides that between the State and the Individual where the other party is also the arbiter of contractual disputes? Maybe if you’ve been the victim of mob racketeering…but then you kind of make my point for me. And name another contractual exchange you’ve made that also obligates your neighbor?
These don’t exist. Keeping a promise you’ve made to another person is not the same thing as being given a collective identity, in direct violation of self-evident metaphysical reality–that you are One…that you are Individual–and then violently obligated to a codified set of morals which proceeds directly from this illegitimate and utterly impossible metaphysical position.
So, the reason some countries, and even this one (the United States), consider mandatory voting is purely due to the optics of it all. It’s purely a way to continue to make the State appear to have a mandate…to perpetuate the fantasy that it is desired and serves a legitimate service, which makes its job much easier. I mean, it’s pretty obvious that nations are ruled by force and not actually acting upon a mandate of the people when only a quarter, or even less, of eligible voters (eligibility determined by the State, applied collectively) bother to show up at the polls.
Finally, here is the claim I shall defend in part two of this series:
If you must choose he or she or that to which you will be submitted, A or B (or C or D, etc.), or A or B (or C or D, etc.) will be chosen for you (in the event you do not vote), then submission is the political primary. Which means there is no real choice; and there is no freedom. All contracts which incorporate the use of violence, and this includes of course the threat of violence, are at root about submission to he who holds the power to do violence. As soon as force in any measure enters the exchange of value between men, then the exchange of value is no longer voluntary at all. Voluntarism depends upon men acting as men, and that means acting purely of their own volition, with no external physical power acting upon them, and this because man is a rational being. And being compelled by reason is the antipode of being compelled by force. Force and reason are mutually exclusive, and all interactions which incorporate force must inevitably dissolve into purely an Authority-Submission dynamic, which is the polar opposite of voluntarism. Violence, in other words, is the poisoned apple which spoils the whole bunch.
See you in part two.