[Updated version of “Why Voting Out of Self Interest is a Contradiction in Terms”; with many edits]
Staying with the theme of voting, and my devil’s advocate approach (again because I do not consider myself an anarchist), here is another article criticizing the efficacy and rationality of voting. In this article, I take a much more denunciatory approach, questioning not merely the relevancy of voting–specifically for public officials in a representative democracy–but the morality of it. I l attempt to effectively argue why voting is a fundamental denial of one’s own self, and a capitulation to rule that must inevitably lead to one’s own categorical destruction.
Perhaps this is hyperbole. Judge for yourself. And feel free to disagree and comment. I am very interested in your perspectives on this controversial topic.
Voting, I submit, is a contradiction to self, and a rank opponent of self-interest, and therefore an opponent of self-existence. And this is because, I aver, voting always implies an authority/submission dynamic–henceforth referred to as a “politic”. That is, to vote for someone to occupy a specific office implies that that office is one in which appealing to authority–which means appealing to force–is the fundamental means of discharging the duties of that office. This in turn nullifies the nominal purpose of voting (the affirmation of the self via representation) and therefore demands that all representative democracies inevitably morph into tyrannies sooner or later. Usually sooner.
But before we can discuss the conclusion, naturally we must examine the rationale that I submit takes us there.
When it comes to claims that voting is not in the self-interest of the voter, the most obvious and perhaps most stark evidentiary argument can be found with those who voted for the loser of an election: the minority vote. Indeed, it seems almost a poor use of time explicating the reasons why voting is not in the interest of those voters on the losing side of the election. Nevertheless, the self-evidentiary nature of such reasons may not be so…well, self-evident, given the common assumptions with respect to the presumed benevolence of a representative democracy. So let’s go ahead and examine the reasons.
The voting process whereby the majority elects the one who will act (ostensibly) as a representative of the “people” means that the self-interest of the minority–those who did not cast votes for the representative elected–is not served by the vote. Keeping in mind that “self-interest” is defined by the individual, not the representative nor the collective which he or she ostensibly serves. For only the individual has the absolute context of “self” whereby self can be sufficiently known in order to ultimately determine what it truly needs and desires.
By definition, then, and ironically, the representative, or official, who has been elected to represent the minority has neither been elected by them, nor can he or she represent them, since such an official, during his or her running for office, must have openly declared that what they support and affirm with respect to the purpose and plans of that office is contrary to what the minority voters desired. In which case the official must necessarily officiate his or her responsibilities in a manner contrary to the will of certain people–people who are nevertheless obligated to submit to the authority given to the official by other voters who are not their political allies, and who may even promote ideas which are diametrically opposite.
Now, one might be tempted to make the argument that, given certain constitutional dictates, or the freedom to move out of the given geopolitical area, the minority voter is not necessarily bound to an elected official’s authority. But I submit that this reveals a lack of true understanding of the root philosophical premises and implications which underwrite the idea of voting…premises and implications one necessarily concedes by engaging in the voting process in the first place.. These premises (which we will discuss momentarily) and implications have consequences which must inevitably reach across all geopolitical boundaries and eventually affect the whole of humanity, and define its condition.
But at the very least, to argue that one who finds himself or herself under the authority of an official they did not consign to office is not necessarily obligated to submit to that official’s authority, is to render their vote, as well as the voting process irrelevant entirely, thus supporting my case that voting cannot in fact serve their self-interest.
My point here is that there is no reason to vote for someone who shall have no power over the voter to affect outcomes; who shall possess no philosophical mandate to exert some manner of control–of force. And even more concisely: to vote is to implicitly condone rank authority over one’s life via the power granted by the vote to he or she who has been elected–as a function of their office. Period. In other words, voting does not imply freedom from coercive force by authority, but affirms it. If authority is not granted by the vote, then I submit what one is doing is not voting, and that voting is moot.
But some may argue that voting is voluntary. Thus, voting is not a binding of oneself inexorably to authority, but rather an exercise of free will.
I would counter this claim by saying that authority and free will are mutually exclusive. That if we accept that the vote implies the authority of the elected official to act, then free will is non-applicable to the process. Indeed, this is almost my entire point of this article: that free will in the case of democratic voting is in fact an illusion. Perhaps a convincing illusion due to the deft nature of the sophist arguments in support of voting, but an illusion nonetheless.
In other words, I submit that it is a contradiction, and thus impossible, to bind oneself willingly to authority, since authority is the power to compel behavior by force (if there is no implicit force there is no explicit authority). Once force…once threats of punishment or death enter the equation, free will is irrelevant. For choosing to obey or to be shot/imprisoned (or otherwise punished) is NOT a legitimate choice.
But to willingly and freely accept the requests of another in one’s own self-interest is to fundamentally grant allegiance first and foremost to one’s own self-interest. And one never to votes for one’s own interest. It is what one does by nature. Thus, such a relationship is not and cannot be dependent on a vote, but on volunteerism. And volunteerism is obviously not efficacious by authority, but by cooperation. That is, it is not a relationship based upon an authority/submission politic, but on the voluntary mutual exchange of value.
Where there is no authority there is no force. And where there is no force there is no sacrifice of ANY individuals. And where there is no sacrifice of any individuals (like the minority voter) there is no efficacy not purpose of voting. For if those elected to office NEVER have the power to compel behavior by force, then it does not matter who is elected to office, or if anyone is. People are free to cooperate with those they like, and to eschew cooperation with those they do not. Since officials have no authority over any person, any person’s vote for them is irrelevant. Any person can choose to interact with them in whatever capacity they want, or not. And thus if voting doesn’t imply a right to rule–to compel–then what exactly is the point of voting?
Or said another way, of what use is voting for someone with whom you will only ever engage cooperatively–that is, of your own will and according to your own interest?
None at all.
Therefore I argue that when one votes he or she must implicitly accept the idea that submission to authority is the efficacious and rational means of effecting outcomes as a function of the relationship one has with his or her elected official. And this context, I submit, must inevitably expand to includes one’s very existence, in general. He or she who refuses to submit themselves, and their very will, to he or she who has been elected by the majority vote, acts hypocritically with respect to voting, thus nullifying the voting process altogether, and their own identity of SELF (more on this in a moment) because they have refused the necessary authority/submission politic which they must have implicitly conceded as the fundamental philosophical rationale for casting their vote in the first place; and this in order to not render the act of voting an act of hypocrisy.
One cannot have his or her cake and eat it too. If one affirms the efficacy and morality of voting, by voting, then one is ethically obligated to the outcome of that vote, whatever it is, whomever is elected. What one wants, or believes is the moral or rational means to organize society one’s own life, or whatever other issue with which they happen to concern themselves, besides the point. One alaways votes not for cooperation, but for rule. One votes for a politic which demands that cooperation is fundamentally irrelevant. To vote is to submit, and this by the very nature of voting. And this concession to one’s individual submission is the irony which makes voting moot.
One could also put it this way: If the vote necessarily nullifies the free will of the minority voters by subjecting them to the coercive power–the authority–of the official, then I submit that everyone’s free will is nullified. That is, even what those who voted for the official want is besides the point. It may appear to be cooperation at first glance, but if force can be used to compel the will of those who voted against the official, then we must assume that force is the operative means by which everyone is compelled.
If one agrees with the official, good for them, they are not ostensibly forced. But at any time should that person withdraw his or her support, he or she shall be forced to comply with the authority granted by the vote, just like any other minority voter who must endure the consequences of the vote. And this makes the person’s willful compliance irrelevant. The official doesn’t need their will. He or she doesn’t need their choice. And thus, he or she doesn’t actually need their vote. In which case, force, then, not cooperation, is the operative root behind the actions of the elected official. Which again demands that voting is not really relevant at all, but is actually a metaphysical declaration that at one’s root, will, and therefore consciousness itself, shall be rendered moot, and that one must be compelled by force alone to outcomes desired by the authority.
If social outcomes–if the social organization of human reality is a matter of who may compel the behavior of others by force, and this the premise behind voting, then voting is irrelevant. Voting for someone is irrelevant. Who rules is irrelevant. Authority–not ideas, not people, not cooperation–is the method of organizing human existence, in which case authority is the foundation of reality. The context of the individual–of self-awareness, free will and choice–is an anathema to the authority/submission politic. The life of the individual ceases to be the context. The frame of reference of the individual is not the yardstick of morality, conceptual efficacy, and truth. Rather, death, the absence of such a context, the absence of such a frame of reference, the absence of self becomes the measurement by which a moral and true society–that is, reality–is gauged. And yet it doesn’t take an Aristotle to spot the implicit contradiction and predict the inevitable disaster.
And so, even though I began this article by using the minority vote as an example of how voting itself undermines and contradicts its own meaning, relevancy, and purpose, I think I have illustrated how, because of the authority/submission politic necessarily demanded by voting and the self-denial that authority must command to be consistent with its premises, no one actually gains by conceding and instituting the vote as the means of establishing social, political, and economic structure. Further, I think that I have established that no one is ever, nor can they be, actually represented by he or she who is voted into office, because what one thinks, from the frame of reference of oneself, which is their only frame of reference, is irrelevant. And that to vote, whatever the outcome, is to concede that one–the individual–does not actually possess the metaphysical ability–that is, that natural ability–to apprehend reality and existence enough cast a vote in the first place. For to vote for someone to represent you is to concede that someone else must, and is able, to be you, for you. In which case, of what relevancy are you?
None at all.
If you can somehow exist and shall exist and manifest your own life by proxy, then there is no relevant context for you qua you. Which makes you–the root “is” that is you–of zero value. You qua you are actually a stumbling block to reality, and a hole in your own existence.
To vote is not to cooperate. Cooperation nullifies the relevancy of voting because cooperation affirms the infinite value of every individual, which then denies the authority/submission politic implicit to voting. There are no losers in cooperative exchange. There are no “minority” participants, no “lesser” contributors. No one is collectivized in this a way, or in any way. There is no sacrifice of “minority” participants to authority by election, only everyone’s fundamental self-interest.
Further, cooperation implies the freedom of individuals to not cooperate, and freedom from punitive measures as a consequence of non-cooperation, because the innate metaphysical value of the individual, even absent his or her cooperation, is still affirmed and established as the moral and rational standard.
But there is no freedom to opt out of the outcomes of a vote once one has cast it. Because at the heart of voting is, again, the idea that an individual can be represented. And the idea of representation bespeaks of a metaphysical premise which says that the individual is somehow able to exist by proxy. And to deny the outcome of the vote, to not submit, is to deny the premise. And therefore to deny he or she who was elected to represent oneself is tantamount to self–denial. And those who deny self are walking contradictions, and can expect to have no say in anything at all because they have forsaken themselves, which is: the authority of the official in power because of the vote, which they have conceded and to which they have agreed to submit by casting a vote in the first place. Those people should expect nothing but to be considered and treated as as enemies of a society and reality founded upon the authority/submission politic via the vote.
In conclusion, I submit that voting and cooperation are mutually exclusive because they imply utterly opposing metaphysical premises with respect to those individuals governed by the outcomes of elections. To vote is to assume that one may be represented by another who is absolutely outside oneself, which is an impossible contradiction. But there is no such representation in cooperation. To cooperate, everyone must represent themselves, and all of us must recognize the infinite worth of one other, as individuals.
But as always, judge for yourselves the veracity of my arguments. I am open to all ideas.