I believe that the notion of civic responsibility is vital to the maintenance of a civil society. Here in the US of A, however, "civic responsibility" is such an anachronistic notion that to seriously propose it is to invite ridicule. The only contemporary proponents of civic responsibility who are not immediately dismissed as naive or misguided are the military.
(Paradoxically, when the millitary is all-volunteer, as in USA, there is a well documented trend towards authoritarian, anti-democratic thinking within this very bastion of civic responsibility! In fact, one might argue that the military's notion of "civic responsibility" is often the very thing that the Declaration of Independence was written to refute! But that's another story!).
It follows that Anne Marie's post is dismissed as a troll. But I'm no troll and I agree with her! How (un)ironic is that?!
I was not always true that civic responsibility was laughable. The signers of the Declaration of Independence famously mutually pledged their "lives, fortunes, and sacred honor." Millions of "citizen soldiers" have served (& died, etc) in causes such as the abolition of slavery (I know, I know, the war was about Preserving the Union, not abolition. Right.) or putting down the Nazis. Even as recently as President Kennedy the admonition "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country," was accepted at face value.
Since then, to give the Time Magazine/Cliff Notes summary, we've had Viet Nam (deception at high levels leading to pointless death, immeasurable waste), Watergate (deception at high levels reveal extent of hidden (i.e. not democratic) forces setting policy), and most destructive of all the whole Ronald Reagan schtick (career politician rides to highest office on incessant refrain that government (excepting the military) is inherently incompentent or perhaps even evil.) According to Reagan, the only responsible attitude of a citizen towards her or his government is contempt. The current crop of USians entering the age of majority grew up watching the President of the country and his vocal accolytes daily urinating on the very notion of "ask what you can do for your country." So, now we find that many people these days don't believe in voting. Surprise, surprise, surprise!
[Open parenthetical rant that will eventually close and bring us back to the notion of compulsory voting, I promise.]
Meanwhile, to get up on johnny's favorite hobbyhorse, transnational corporations, singly and in concert, have acheived hegemony over much of the world's social policy, which was once the provice of goverment. (The *ligitimate* province of democratic government, I might add.)
Moreover, since these corporations control the media and thus the language of our political discourse, they manage to set social policy while convincing most of us that they are (merely) setting economic policy. Hence we are told that things like NAFTA and the WTO are about trade and efficiency, when really they are about consolidtating power, land ownership, union-busting, and the weakening of national sovereinty, especially in the weaker, poorer nations. But also here.
Why do we allow this to happen? Why do we allow corporations to usurp our democratic rights and responsibilities? Because we have been sold on the transparently false notion that this new system, properly called transnational mercantilism (or some neologism) is actually the perfection of capitalism, which people associate with freedom and prosperity.
How have they sold us this stuff? By using propoganda techniques famously developed by Nazis, copied by OSS and CIA, and perfected by advertising agencies (many of which were founded by former OSS people)(this is true, by the way).
So on the one hand we told by people like the President of the US and the Senate majority, make that minority, leader, that government is shit, and on the other hand we are told that our wealth and freedom can only be assured if we surrender our democratic rights to the corporate boards who control the World Trade Organization. And people buy it. So why the fuck would they vote?
[End parenthetical rant].
I, however, believe that we all have an obligation to support our democratic instutions. No, strike that. We all have an obligation to BE our democratic institutions. I further believe that we are a lot closer to the meltdown of civil society than most people I know believe (maybe I read too much dystopian fiction.) (Like my own! See links below and above.)
Frinstance, I believe in compulsory Jury duty. Without juries that are representative of the population, there can be no confidence that a defendant will be tried by a jury of his or her peers. Without such confidence there can be no confidence in the judicial system. Without that society tends to break down, because people will not abide a system they think is unjust if there is anything they can do about it. Therefore, if you get called to serve on a jury, you get your ass down to the courtoom and you serve on the jury. It's your civic duty. Do it and shut up about it.
Likewise, by analogy and as better already explained by Anne Marie, for voting.
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