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Shifting Polarity in Politics, Culture?

By Mr. Excitement in Op-Ed
Mon Jan 08, 2001 at 12:11:11 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

With both the Democratic and Republican parties fielding moderate candidates and coming to a near-tie in the recent US elections, is the defining conflict of 20th century American politics as dead as the 20th century itself?


As droves of people seek to vote not for the candidate of their choice, but against the greater of two evils, and even mainstream media seems more willing than ever to discuss third-party candidates, it looks like the axis of American politics is entering a period of sharp transition.

Will the voting public forever doom us to elect one of two equally bland, increasingly identical candidates, or will the political landscape re-polarize at a different angle?

If the latter, what is the emerging point of conflict for the coming years? Is it a traditional conflict like "establishment vs. reformers"? Is it an old conflict in a new guise, like "socialism vs. capitalism" evolving into Greens and Libertarians? Something entirely new, or a recombination of old issues?

Is the axis, or focus of political thought entering a transition in other countries? A global phenomenon, perhaps?

What core issues and political philosophies will we debate and divide ourselves over in the coming century?

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Poll
Tomorrow's main conflict is:
o "Us" vs. "Them" 12%
o Dangerous 3%
o The Same as Before 16%
o Even Worse Than That 8%
o The Final Showdown Between Good and Evil 10%
o "The Eternal Struggle Between Good and Neutral" 11%
o 12% More Interesting Than The Last One 12%
o Futile 24%

Votes: 166
Results | Other Polls

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o Also by Mr. Excitement


Display: Sort:
Shifting Polarity in Politics, Culture? | 44 comments (26 topical, 18 editorial, 1 hidden)
Centrists not fueling third parties... (4.13 / 15) (#6)
by Miniluv on Sat Dec 30, 2000 at 03:07:48 AM EST

The thing about this issue is that the fact that the two dominant parties fielded centrists is that they aren't stupid about who to run. The Republican machine picked George W Bush because he's a good Christian centrist who's non-offensive to the mass public when he sticks his foot in his mouth. He is everything they've been trying to be since Dan Quayle tarnished their image in his father's White House. They've moved away from trying to hold the superior intellectual ground because emotional politics worked for the Democrats. Meanwhile, the Democrats moved more towards the intellectual, non-warm and fuzzy candidates because they saw that they'd worn out their welcome with Bill Clinton's image in that respect. They moved towards a common middle that seems to represent the majority, if not the plurality, of American voters.

America is not a sharply divided country in terms of goals, because Gore and Bush are driving at the same end result. Polls showed that the country as a whole tended to like the direction it was headed in, they just weren't sure who they wanted to keep that direction alive. This is a common thing when a country is doing so well domestically, and that division that you spoke of came from the recessions and foreign threats that parties had to play off of.

Third parties, at the moment, are still not a force in American politics because they tend to be about change, and this is a country that doesn't want change. They want the status quo preserved, and perhaps sweetened a bit. They're not sure how to get there, but they definitely do see the light at the end of the tunnel. While I do not feel that one candidate was the same as the other, I think that their presidency's would be rather similar.

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'

I suppose (3.00 / 4) (#7)
by Mr. Excitement on Sat Dec 30, 2000 at 05:53:26 AM EST

This might actually be a step forward from the way the two major parties were polarized before.

If anything, with roughly 50% of the voting public for each major party, the slightest misstep could hand the reins of power over to the other party. So, both parties make their platforms as appealing to as large a plurality as possible, and once in office, neither can afford to renege on its promises, lest the public be faced with the choice of their party or "the guys just like them, only without any recently broken promises" at the next election.

What this might produce is two parties that avoid making promises they can't keep, keep their word to the public, and are more responsive to the people's will, being forced to look for innovative ways to differentiate their "product" from the competition, without alienating their current "customers".

With any luck, this will also increase the awareness and scrutiny of the general public when it comes to matters political.

1 141900 Mr. Excitement-Bar-Hum-Mal-Cha died in The Gnomish Mines on level 10 [max 12]. Killed by a bolt of lightning - [129]
[ Parent ]

50% of voting population (4.00 / 5) (#10)
by espo812 on Sat Dec 30, 2000 at 11:04:44 AM EST

It's important to note that only 50% of the eligable voting population voted. That means 25% of the eligable voters in this country voted for Bush, 25% voted for Gore. Actually it's less than that, because about 49% voted and the 3rd parties did get one or two votes.

espo
--
Censorship is un-American.
[ Parent ]
Will of the Electorate (4.00 / 3) (#16)
by Miniluv on Sat Dec 30, 2000 at 03:49:36 PM EST

When considering those statistics, bear in mind that nobody forced those who didn't vote to forgo the polls. I'm a firm believer in the fact that if you don't vote, you also don't whine about who got elected.

The vote totals reflect percentages of the population who give a shit enough to take 10 minutes and vote, and honestly that's good enough for me. I'm a firm believer in representative government, and definitely believe we need to examine the electoral process for ways to improve it, but I don't think we need to waste a moment of thought or a single breath on those people who decided not to show up and vote and what they might think.

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]

then again... (3.00 / 1) (#24)
by wib on Sun Dec 31, 2000 at 11:31:30 AM EST

It may mean that when action that is required that is unpopular then there is the likelyhood that it will not succeed. Why risk alienating your "customers" to risk a quieter life. A quote in one, of the many, magazines that came with the London Times today - ' the government has no business running an amusement park '. I would like to take that further and say that government is not a business and should not be run like one, amusement or otherwise.

wib
-- McDonalds? if i want some anti-biotics i'll go see my doctor.
[ Parent ]
John McCain (3.85 / 7) (#12)
by espo812 on Sat Dec 30, 2000 at 11:23:13 AM EST

The Republicans made a huge mistake when they locked McCain out of the running. He was the perfect candidate: a former POW (as opposed to Bush who was in the National Guard, and Gore who was a journalist with senate guards with him), very centrist, ready to work for the people. But they went full in with Bush so early that when McCain showed up they had to beat him off with a stick. IMHO if the Republicans put McCain in he would have grabbed a huge swing vote, stolen votes from the Democrats, and kept the Republican votes.

"That's just my opinion, I could be wrong." -Dennis Miller

espo
--
Censorship is un-American.
[ Parent ]
3d parties (4.20 / 5) (#13)
by winthrop on Sat Dec 30, 2000 at 11:24:29 AM EST

Disclaimer: I am heavily involved in the green party.

Third parties, at the moment, are still not a force in American politics because they tend to be about change, and this is a country that doesn't want change.

I recently had the pleasure of having lunch with an Irish Green Party Member of European Parliament. One of the things I learned was that overall support for greens in Europe was larger than support in North America, but not by all that much. Nuala (the MEP), had been elected with 22% of the vote. In Amherst, Massachusetts, 25% of the voters voted for Ralph Nader for president, and in Cambridge, MA 14%, yet the greens still have 0 representatives in any office in all of the state.

It is very difficult to overestimate the damage done to alternative parties and even alternative voices within one party by having elections based on single-member, plurality-winner districts.

I'm not saying that if we had Proportional Representation there would suddenly be a majority green party congress (there isn't in Europe) and I'm not saying it's necessarily false that Americans don't want change. But before we start attributing very vague (and unverifiable) feelings to an entire country to explain the relative weakness of third parties in the US, I think it's important to look at the more obvious structural reasons first.

[ Parent ]

Structure and representation (4.00 / 2) (#15)
by Miniluv on Sat Dec 30, 2000 at 03:46:25 PM EST

The question you have to ask though is who is forcing parties like the libertarians or the Greens to run a single candidate on their ticket. Sure, they have to run one person for President, but it's a lot easier to make change on a smaller scale. There are several independent representatives in the House of Reps in the US, but I have been unable to find out their potential third party affiliations.

If you look closely at the way the US Gov't is structured it is in fact a representative Government, because laws are passed by locally elected representatives to two houses of the US parliament. I consider it to be a fatal strategic flaw that third party candidates only seem to run for President with any regularity, instead of running for Senate and House seats where they have a greater chance of being elected.

One almost has to wonder if the top ranks of these parties want their candidates elected. Surely these canny political operators understand how the system works, and know where their best chances are of getting elected. Running a presidential candidate alongside candidates for the House and the Senate would make a lot of sense, in that they could use the big name association to get other people noticed and heard.

Your link is interesting, though heavily biased, in it's perspective on the US System of representation. One of the things to look at is the geographical reason for a territory based representation scheme, rather than one of parties. The US is one of the largest physically contigous countries on Earth, and as such we must have a political system which accurately reflects that. Without a major amendmant to the Constitution we're stuck with the system we have, but I honestly don't think it's particularly broken when it comes to how House and Senate seats are decided. I also think that the idea of voting for a party and letting them select who to send is a highly flawed idea, in that part of the US election process is finding a person who is the flesh and blood incarnation of a party's ideas. The good thing about this is that it's a person you can get to know, and learn to trust, or not trust, based on their history. Both parties in the US have broken a lot of promises, but individual members of those parties have distinguished themselves as people of honor and merit.

I think perhaps the more important steps for election reform might be considering something like Instant Runoff Voting, which would allow third party candidates a better chance of election. IRV would also obviate people like myself of voting purely strategically, instead of voting what is 100% of my conscience.

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]

Prop Rep, 3d party strategy (4.00 / 1) (#25)
by winthrop on Sun Dec 31, 2000 at 12:22:23 PM EST

canny political operators Oooh...I don't know what a canny political operator is, but I know it couldn't be good. :)

First, I'd like to point out that while your entire post related to it, nothing directly addressed my point: that the structure of elections in this country is one of the main reasons for the weakness of third parties, especially in relation to other countries around the world.

One of the things to look at is the geographical reason for a territory based representation scheme, rather than one of parties.

The House (but not the senate) does do a reasonably good job of representing the geography of the US. But I don't think geography is the only, or most important, aspect of the electorate to be represented. You could just as easily ask whether the House accurately reflects the religious views of the electorate (it doesn't) or, more importantly, whether it accurately reflects the political views of the country (it doesn't). Here in Massachusetts, all 12 of our representatives to Congress are Democrats; Democrats make up about 35% of registered voters and about 70% of voters lean democratic. So where's the representation for the 30% who disagree?

Party list proportional representation isn't the only (or best) kind of proportional representation. If you follow the link again (I know that sounds rude, but I don't mean it to) you'll find somewhere in there a description of choice voting. Choice voting is the more abstract case of Instant Runoff Voting. In instant runoff voting, as soon as one candidate, reaches the quota of votes (half plus one), they are elected. In choice voting with a multiple-member district, as soon as a candidate reaches their quota of votes (one divided by (the number of members from that district plus one) plus one), they are elected, and any further votes for them go to the next candidate on that ballot, until as many members as the district represents are elected.

Around the world, there are many systems that represent more than just geography. Some use party lists, some don't. Some are hybrids that use geography, some don't.

Now, about strategy. I can tell you exactly what the rationale for running Ralph Nader was, here in Massachusetts and probably around the country. In order to run any candidate for office in the state, you need to either have a whole lot of signatures, or already have a ballot line. In order to get (and retain) a ballot line, you must either have 1% of the registered voters in all of the state registered in your party as of the last election or have received 3% in a statewide race.

So now that we (the Green Party) received 3% in the race for the Massachusetts electors for the President of the United States, we have a ballot line and it becomes much easier to run candidates for local office. But in the next election, we will still have to run a (kamikaze) candidate for statewide office in order to maintain our ballot line, while we would really prefer to concentrate all our attention on our candidates for local office.

It will be a very uphill battle to get people to vote for the abstract concept of maintaining our ballot line to make it easier for us to receive a plurality in a few districts. (Which in itself is hard to achieve, because people fear their vote won't count.)

If any of these things weren't true:

  • single-member districts
  • plurality winners
  • ballot access laws that discourage candidates
it would be much easier for third parties (and the people whose views they represent) to be represented in government. Note that I'm not arguing (here) that that would be a good thing, just that it's true.

[ Parent ]
Good points... (none / 0) (#27)
by Miniluv on Sun Dec 31, 2000 at 07:46:45 PM EST

My mention of the geography of the US was to illustrate that as a national government we are still in a rather unique situation, and thus we cannot blindly embrace solutions that work for much smaller regions with more homogenous populations. You mentioned the House representing religious affiliations of the electorate, and I will say that this cannot legally be an issue. Religion has been separated from government in the Constitution, and thus cannot be used as a potential separating factor when deciding how to elect representatives.

As far as the representation of the minority goes, as I stated it's not going to happen without a significant rewrite of the Constitution. I'm not saying that our current system is necessarily "better", but the link you cite is horribly vague when it comes to ideas. I'm going to try and find more information regarding "choice voting" and the ideas presented in that link you gave, and would ask that if you have any examples handy please provide because it's a concept that has merit in the abstract, but I'd like to find places using it and see how it's really implemented and how effective is before throwing support behind the idea.

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]

PR in action (none / 0) (#34)
by winthrop on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 10:15:49 PM EST

Sorry this took so long...

One of the reasons I'm so interested in PR is it's the way we elect my city council, here in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. For more information on how it works, see Cambridge's page on the subject.

[W]e cannot blindly embrace solutions that work for much smaller regions with more homogenous populations.

I totally agree. I would personally like to see this implemented on the state (house) level first, and then if it works well, each state could adopt PR if they wanted to. So, if Massachusetts wanted to elect it's 10 members of Congress using PR, it could split itself up into 2 5-member districts (or 3-3-4 or 2-2-2-2-2, etc.).

it's not going to happen without a significant rewrite of the Constitution.

Surprisingly, this isn't true. The constitution doesn't really specify how the states should choose their congressman. However, federal law does. Every two years or so, this bill is introduced into Congress to allow states to redistrict using single-member or multi-member districts.

[ Parent ]

Dumb and Dumber (3.75 / 8) (#8)
by ToneHog on Sat Dec 30, 2000 at 06:35:37 AM EST

For some reason I was expecting "the battle between the dumb and the dumber" to be one of my choices for the poll. It seems like every conflict that comes up could have been easily resolved if less politics and more common sense were observed. Why is it that so many people can make a compromise, yet those few leaders continue to act as stubborn as toddlers?

Wow, it's so late, it's early. Ick.

Breeze,
TH
True (3.00 / 3) (#9)
by Mr. Excitement on Sat Dec 30, 2000 at 06:43:19 AM EST

Unfortunately, politics isn't always the promotion of one's ideals. Usually it's jockeying for power.

That's why leaders and governments of countries often make the entire nation seem warlike and "evil" when the overwhelming majority of the populace just wants peace and prosperity.

Just another reason I'm not a terribly big fan of government.

1 141900 Mr. Excitement-Bar-Hum-Mal-Cha died in The Gnomish Mines on level 10 [max 12]. Killed by a bolt of lightning - [129]
[ Parent ]

Third Parties (4.25 / 8) (#11)
by espo812 on Sat Dec 30, 2000 at 11:17:01 AM EST

Yes the media discussed some third parties in this election. But what third parties did they discuss? Pretty much the only people I heard them talking about were Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan. There are several other third parties. Including my favorite party.

It is important to realize that there is more than just one election in this country. Yes, the Presidential race is fairly important. But there are three levels of government here. Today I don't believe third parties can make a viable run for the presidency. But how about Mayor, or State Representative, or School Board Chariman? These are the positions that third parties can make a good run for and where they can make a big difference.

espo
--
Censorship is un-American.
Also good points (3.50 / 2) (#23)
by Mr. Excitement on Sun Dec 31, 2000 at 03:03:57 AM EST

I was referring to the close races for both the presidency and the legislature, but I certainly didn't want to disparage the local elections. However, the outcome of federal elections has a big effect on the degree of autonomy of local communities, as well.

I mentioned the media was more willing to discuss third parties than before (with the possible exception of Ross Perot's paid advertisements, but that doesn't really count). The LP also happens to be my favorite party, and I realize we got royally boned regarding media attention.

1 141900 Mr. Excitement-Bar-Hum-Mal-Cha died in The Gnomish Mines on level 10 [max 12]. Killed by a bolt of lightning - [129]
[ Parent ]

time out (3.75 / 8) (#14)
by radar bunny on Sat Dec 30, 2000 at 02:16:27 PM EST

Will the voting public forever doom us to elect one of two equally bland, increasingly identical candidates, or will the political landscape re-polarize at a different angle?

This is really just a time out for the voting populace. The last eight years had been one of the more partisan times in american history. When clinton was elected in 92, he paraded around as though he had some huge democratic mandate and anything the republicans wanted jsut didnt matter. Then wehn the Republicans took over the hosue and senate in 94, the walked in with an almost identical attitude. And in both sides, we saw an elevated atitude of "my party, right or wrong, my party." Americans are pretty much sick of it from both sides, and the fact is, both sides are even sick of it ---- for now.

There's also no real serious issue for either party to rally around. I mean the big debate in the election was what to do with the buget surplus --- think about it.

Fuck voting. (1.81 / 11) (#28)
by buzzbomb on Mon Jan 01, 2001 at 08:20:06 PM EST

> As droves of people seek to vote not for the candidate of their choice, but against the greater of two evils...

No shit. Fact of the matter is that all politicians are crooked, rich boys. Less of the two evils is best. Another fact is that no independent candidate (who are probably a helluva lot less crooked than the mainstream parties) will win an election of this caliber until the voting system is revamped. The electoral college was a damn good idea at the start of the 20th century when communication was a lot slower, machines to aid counting and traveling was slow. But in this day and age of the internet and high-speed computers that can reliably calculate voting totals (let's not argue about that one...ok? hehe) it's not necessary to have this electoral college shit.

Not the purpose of the EC (4.00 / 1) (#29)
by finkployd on Tue Jan 02, 2001 at 09:55:47 AM EST

The Electoral College was not designed as a response to slow voting methods, but as a compramise between those who wanted to have a popular election and those who wanted the senate to pick the President. It's a State's rights issue and a Republic vs Democratic government issue.

With the nationwide election a virtual dead heat (Gore is slightly ahead but over a million absentee votes were not counted so it's still anyone's guess who won the popularity contest), if we had dropped the EC, we would have been in the middle of a NATIONWIDE recount and all the insanity that occured in FL would have been happening everywhere :)

Finkployd
Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
Don't blame me I voted for Kang (4.00 / 4) (#35)
by turtleshadow on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 11:09:17 PM EST

Your analysis superficially touches upon the true drivers of actual and percieved polarity that govern the perception that when people vote it is for the lesser of evils.
Elections used to not be periodic or at all -- think prior French, American revolutions, pre Magna Carta. With regularity in the election process; strategies, counter strategies and now spin are fostered by the system.
Even when leaders of an alignment are chosen, "on the spot" the lesser of two evils is still there. However the individual "skill" for politicing shows through much more because of the the temporal frame about the event.
You touched on the idea,
"even mainstream media seems more willing than ever to discuss third-party candidates.... "
This is a "missed connection" since the mainstream media is only seeking to differentiate its news feed from the other media outlet. "Coverage" of other platforms doesn't equate to "discussion" in my mind.
Media broadcasted debate between priniples has significantly dropped in the U.S. and I suspect elsewhere because:
  • I t is more of a liablity than an benefit, I.E. the "W" factor, to the campaign team due to the dangers of such media exposure.
    Here is a handy useless statisic: Ratio of the average duration of an 1858 Lincoln-Douglas senatorial debate to that of a [U.S.] presidential debate this year [2000]: 4:1
  • It is volitile and (un)profitable for media which is "subscription" based and subsidized by advertising. No corporation, beholden to public stockholders, publically backs any candidate because it costs to allow equal time. It costs when customers leave, it costs to draw away customers from other media. Media must seek out or manufacture "adequate sensation" to keep customer base. Sensable debate rarely does this, rarely does sensable debate push advertising revenues up, rarely does sensable debate keep people from changing the channel.

I think there is something in that journalism is now, perhaps always was, a subset of media. Perhaps the Ivory Tower of Journalism is a romantic creation like the American Cowboy or the Nobility.

Your focus on the fact that those in democratic systems seem to offer up to themselves bland and identical candidates is also a missed connection.

I say as elections are periodic the alikeness comes from preparing and counter preparing over months. Hence manufactured "personalites" and platforms -- completly plastic, sometimes injection molded plastic [sic PAC's & softmoney...].

While elected officials carry percieved and legislated weight. It is often the advisors, cabinet, etc that on a daily influence more "homelife" than anything else, these are the groups that form and execute the campaigns. Not allowing the public to vote on the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Agriculture or Environment shows just how the American process really moves and shakes. I suppose its the same elsewhere.

The issues and arguments are really the same as in ancient times: Time, Resource, Exercise of Power, Resistance against Taxation, Pride, Science and Mysticism.

Modern Enlightened peoples tend to try to calculate these much to often, much to deeply.
As for the defining conflict of the 20th Century it was in 1917, everything else since then has been ripples. As for the defining conflict of the 21st Centry it will be how Nationstates interact on biological issues specifically cloning, xenotransplantation, and what economic systems will be able to extend and sustain Rights to which organisms most effectively.

Regards,
Turtleshadow


One hopes... (3.00 / 2) (#36)
by Mr. Excitement on Thu Jan 04, 2001 at 11:27:08 PM EST

... that by the end of the 21st century the Nation-state will be obsolete.

And, for the record, IIRC, it's "Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos."

1 141900 Mr. Excitement-Bar-Hum-Mal-Cha died in The Gnomish Mines on level 10 [max 12]. Killed by a bolt of lightning - [129]
[ Parent ]

KANG won the election (3.00 / 1) (#37)
by turtleshadow on Fri Jan 05, 2001 at 12:03:19 AM EST

Being on the side that won I get to carry lighter stacks of bricks. I just dont put up with complaints from those that voted for the loser and have to carry smelly buckets of slop.

Trying to reach for some irony here.
Turtleshadow

[ Parent ]
Exactly (3.00 / 1) (#38)
by Mr. Excitement on Fri Jan 05, 2001 at 12:29:26 AM EST

Right. Kang won the election, hence the quote, "Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos."

1 141900 Mr. Excitement-Bar-Hum-Mal-Cha died in The Gnomish Mines on level 10 [max 12]. Killed by a bolt of lightning - [129]
[ Parent ]
The middle (5.00 / 2) (#41)
by Ring Kichard on Mon Jan 08, 2001 at 11:21:16 PM EST

I'm going to have to apologize to the rest of the world. This post focuses on the USA. If you don't like this, give me something to respond to about *your* country.

Gore is a Democrat
Bush is a Republican.

Baring a disaster, those two chumps were going to go down in history as representing their parties.
"and in the year 2000, a Republican again took control of the White House, Gorge W Bush, the golden boy of the Bush family, a political line much like the Kennedys before them". He'll probably be a paragraph on the page commenting on the prosperity of the new millennium.

Politically, our two candidates ran at the middle as hard as they could. They found it (~300 votes in Florida) with an accuracy so unwavering that our counting methods weren't precise enough to declare a winner. It was like trying to measure a microbe with a yard stick.

When people voted, more than anything, they were voting on the grounds of publicity, and reputation. Our presidential elections are no better than elections for class president.

People talk about election reform, but before we can have that, people are going to need some opinions again. If we take away the splash of political advertising, I think most Americans will just pick the taller guy.


"The meek shall inherit the Earth -- The rest of us will go to the stars."
True revolutionary change, not third parties (4.75 / 4) (#42)
by bemann on Tue Jan 09, 2001 at 01:08:59 AM EST

There is a definite reason why third parties are a problem. This is that they increase complacency and contentedness; they make people think that something has actually been achieved.

Change will never be possible through the current political system. As long as the current system stays in place, there will be the rulers and the ruled. As long as the current order is preserved, there will always be the people fucking you over, whether they are politicians or bosses or ministers/priests.

What we need is revolution, not reform. And I don't mean a Communist or state socialist revolution. Communism and state socialism are just replacing one elite class with another elite class, while not truly helping the people one fucking bit. What we need is a revolution from below, an anarchist revolution. (note that "anarcho"-capitalism is not truly anarchist, because capitalism is inherently authoritarian) As long as authority and capitalism exist, the people will be oppressed.

An anarchist revolution is truly possible and practical. This is clearly illustrated by anarchist Catalonia during the Spanish Civil War, anarchist Ukraine during the Russian Revolution, the Paris uprisings of 1871 (the Paris Commune) and 1968, etc. Note that the Paris uprisings were not pure anarchist uprisings, but they do illustrate that true popular uprisings can occur in industrialized "western" countries, and not just in poor places like Catalonia during the 1930s and Ukraine during the Russian Revolution.

These detected changes in the political climate should be directed towards truly revolutionary change, not towards reforms and temporary futile changes in the system which will not really change anything. The idea of anarchism should be spread far and wide so that when people decide that they've had enough, the people decide in favor of anarchism. One should truly learn about anarchism, and then one should organize affinity/catalyst groups in an anarchic fashion to help spread anarchism.

Anarchy isn't just total disorder and chaos. Actually, it is far from it. In reality, anarchism is based on voluntary free association and cooperation. Instead of there being politicians or bosses over you telling you what to do, you will have to learn how to rule yourself. This is probably the hardest part about implementing anarchism in places like the United States; the people have been so used to being told what to do for so long that they might not have a clue about what to do once they are truly free and there is no one above them telling them what to do. People will have to learn to be able to organize themselves instead of relying on having organization imposed on them.

To learn more about anarchy, go to infoshop.org, Anarchism FAQ, and Anarchist Archives. Remember that the revolution isn't just going to happen for you. Revolution isn't just going to happen. You have to go out and help the revolution happen by spreading anarchism and adopting anarchism as the basis of all organization.



Anarchisim-When you can't agree, agree to disagree (5.00 / 2) (#43)
by dragondm on Wed Jan 10, 2001 at 03:52:48 AM EST

I pretty much agree, tho' I do have one minor gripe,
namely, whyisit whenever anarco-socialists describe their posistion they have to thow in that anarco-capitalisim isn't "real" ararchisim? I *COULD* just as easily say that anarco-socialisim isn't "real" anarchisim, because socialisim is inheirently authoritarian.

I am quite thouroughly anarchist myself, having come to that conclusion from my own ponderings, plus having read everything from Noam Chompsky to David Friedman, and then some. And yes I tend to lean t'wards the anarco-capitalist direction (though truthfully, it's misleading to try to pigeonhole my political opinions under one label, a situation that I suspect is rather common, anarchists are a rather diverse bunch. Go figure. IMHO that's a good thing)

Anywho, I suspect that argument is a moot point anyway. Both capitalisim and socialisim are creatures of the Industrial revolution, and are becoming equally obsolete. As the economy becomes more and more service based, rather than goods based, both will become increasingly irrelevant. As the price of the proverbial "means of production" spirals towards zero, socialisim seems increasingly pointless, and all this yap about "Intelectual Property" (ain't no such animal) shows capitallisim's strain of being a thouougly round peg in an increasingly square hole. Throw in some curveball, like MNT (Molecular nanotechnology), machine intelligence, or even just the steady march of Moore's law hitting some critical price/performance point, and the whole thing'll come down.

The important thing to think about is, whatever economic system manages to evolve, do you want to serve it, or do you want it to serve you. Authoritarianisim or individualisim? Stateisim or anarchy? The details are secondary. Infact, any real, live anarchist society is likely to be so diverse, and mind bogglingly complex that it'd wind up incorporating bits of every anarchist philosophy you've ever heard of, and several you haven't.

In fact, in the end, that may be what makes anarchisim prevail. It's probably the only form of social organization that the complexity of a highly technological society wouldn't utterly overwhelm, namely because it dosen't even try to manage it.

[ Parent ]
Anarchy in the .uk (none / 0) (#44)
by Beorn on Thu Jan 11, 2001 at 04:17:37 AM EST

As long as the current order is preserved, there will always be the people fucking you over, whether they are politicians or bosses or ministers/priests.

I hear this often, but I see no evidence of it. People in western capitalist democracies are richer, safer and more free than anyone else. This is a fact. If you happen to believe that we could be even richer, even safer, even more free, I'm willing to listen to you. (I happen to agree.) But blackpainting the current system doesn't make your system better, it only shows you don't know what you're talking about.

Anarchy isn't just total disorder and chaos. Actually, it is far from it. In reality, anarchism is based on voluntary free association and cooperation.

I believe disorder and chaos will be the result of trying to implement this. Power exists. It never disappears, only changes hands. The challenge is how to balance power in order to minimalize abuse, and anarchism imho does a much worse job than democracy. The internet has proven how much damage a few evil humans can do in a basically anarchic environment such as Ultima Online.

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]
[ Parent ]

Shifting Polarity in Politics, Culture? | 44 comments (26 topical, 18 editorial, 1 hidden)
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