Elections are backward and outdated
“Every few years the oppressed are authorized to decide which members of the oppressor class will represent and crush them in parliament!”
Imperialism is in a constant state of crisis. The so-called “democracy” is democracy only for the upper, elite classes—and it is anything but democratic for the working and poor of the country. Yet in their desperation to win people’s support for their dark campaigns of global plunder, the US ruling class always seek to legitimize themselves through elections. Many progressive people are tricked into chasing after the dream of casting the right votes for the right people and finally seeing big changes—this is the perfect mindset for stripping people of real and meaningful democracy, and the elite rely on finely honed methods to keep people thinking this way. By giving you nothing meaningful to vote for and then getting you to vote anyway, the system has you trapped. The way out of this trap is to stop playing the game and make opposing their sham elections a basic political principle: Boycott the elections and demand something better. Dare to fight for revolutionary change.
As the political crisis in the ruling elite deepens, their contradictions with the people become sharper
If the elections of 2016 taught us anything, it is that whoever you vote for, an enemy wins and the people always lose. This is because the very system that legitimizes voting delegitimizes the actual voices of the masses. It is not democracy to cast a vote when the rich tell you it’s time for a changing of the guards; democracy means fighting for basic rights and a better future. We must no longer let this fight be managed by the ruling class or their stuffed shirts in office. The more dysfunctional and abusive this system gets, the more organized we must become in our resistance to it.
We must come to see elections as tools of domination
Most people already know that elections are a way to trick the people, which is why the vast majority of working-class people do not participate in the electoral farce. Voter rates go down and anger with the system goes up. Interest in Marxism is seeing an increase. Nonetheless there are those who would claim to be Marxists who insist on dragging the masses backward, by registering them to vote. They peddle corrupt or hopeless candidates and exhaust themselves going nowhere. They see elections as tools of progress—exactly how the ruling class wants them to think. We on the other hand see the election for what it is—a tool to dominate us and keep us pacified, preventing us from starting to talk about real ways we can conquer power outside of the system’s rat-maze.
We understand that all states, regardless of which flavor of bureaucrat is in office, are dictatorships of one class over another and we are fed up with living under the dictatorship of the owning class. We know our power comes from the people themselves and that in order to gain and maintain power we must topple the current ruling class and replace it with a state run by the working class.
While the rich will go to any lengths to win elections, we maintain our principle of opposing them and their treachery, regardless of whether they are butchers from the Republican Party, con-artists from the Democratic Party, or vultures just waiting for scraps representing one of the “socialist” third parties.
Boycotts develop the people’s hatred for the system!
The fact that most people do not vote, including half the people who register to vote but end up not voting, is a good thing. These are people who are just too honest for the lies peddled as democracy in this country. This is a sign that people are sick to death of the way things are and have come to hate the system for what it is.
By turning an already-existing passive boycott into an active political stand, one that you promote, you help encourage revolutionary action in place of voting. By boycotting the sham elections we offer others an honest political position that does not whore itself out to the “lesser of two evils.” We build together on the anger and distrust we are already feeling for good reason—we clearly identify our friends and our enemies and begin preparing for the long road of revolution. Dignity means not having to treat our friends as enemies (by voting for people who will harm our friends) and not having to suffer our enemies as friends (by not having to vote for scum).
Elections seek to process the people’s struggles into useless consumer goods devoid of heart and soul. The ruling class receives help luring people this trap by all those who are privileged enough to think they can sit at the same table as the oppressor without dining on so many corpses of poor people and black and brown people.
Instead of voting, act!
There are many ways to reclaim the dignity that voting has taken: attend community events, get organized into revolutionary mass organizations, and fight back every time fascists and racists gather to march. Take up the boycott by expressing your outrage in the streets and on the walls of your neighborhood. All of the above activities have more dignity than the humiliation of participating in the system that exploits us. Most importantly, speak up about why voting is not only pointless, but also backward and outdated. Educate your community! Do not let the electoral cretins portray you as apathetic or lazy—expose them as manipulative enemies of the people!
Voting gives imperialism a pass
While most progressives already recognize the open reactionary nature of the Republican Party, there are still those phony progressives who rely on the long history of the Democratic Party’s cooption of left-leaning and progressive movements to insist that it is the lesser of two evils. Every election season, local and national, these people serve as agents for the bourgeoisie. They will tell you to vote Sanders, vote “Beto,” etc., etc. Every season they use their activist credentials and social contacts to become shills for some Democrat or another.
When people rightly insist to them that Sanders, or Robert Francis O’Rourke (this is “Beto’s” actual name) are imperialists themselves who shamelessly back Israel and US military butchery around the world, the phony progressive will just keep repeating that everyone does this, because that’s just part of the way the system is rigged. They have no shame in simultaneously admitting that the system is rigged, while still preaching support for it, via voting for it!—as if supporting the genocide of the Palestinian people somehow allows someone to be the lesser of any evil. They can be concerned only with minor perceived benefits to the upper strata of workers in their own imperialist country.
These “progressives” make excuses and justifications for imperialism, sinking themselves into reactionary nationalism at the expense of the world’s majority. They do this work for free because they are still ideologically aligned with the owning class. They socially and materially benefit because of their own class position within imperialism itself. These types must be politically confronted in the interest of upholding a genuine anti-imperialist line.
According to pigs like O’Rourke, “Israel is critically important to the United States. Because it is the home of the Jewish people, because it is an exemplary democracy that shares our values, and because it is a crucial contributor to our national security objectives in the region, the U.S. should do everything we can to support the state of Israel.”
Israel, far from being an exemplary democracy, is a settler-colonial, fascist, apartheid state, which since 1967 has imprisoned approximately 40 percent of the remaining Palestinian male population. When he says they share “our values,” O’Rourke simply means they uphold the values of the US imperialist ruling class, not the values of the average working person. When he says they are a crucial contributor to “our national security objectives in the region,” the objectives he’s talking about are the geopolitical interests of the US imperialist ruling class, who desperately maintain puppet governments, wage endless wars of plunder, and prop up fascist apartheid occupations like Israel as part of their strategy in their inter-imperialist struggles with Russia.
While many of the “anti-war” types will hail the “progress” of candidates like O’Rourke, their bullshit detectors turn off when it comes to a man who cannot tell the difference between a fascist occupation and an exemplary democracy! Their only argument comes down to “We do not want Cruz to win, to hell with the Palestinians!” This attitude is what has allowed the Democrats and Republicans alike to assimilate into one another, bringing all mainstream politics further and further to the right at the expense of the whole world, including the US working class.
The only sensible thing to do when you have two candidates pushing defense for a fascist state is to remain an antifascist, never compromising on this principle, never supporting those who collaborate with Israeli fascism.
What about the social democrats?
All states, without exception, are instruments of class rule—that is to say they are dictatorships of one class over another. Without revolution and the destruction of the old state, we will remain under a dictatorship of the owning class, through finance capital, condemning the working class to servitude and plundering the world for super profits. Any promises of working-class empowerment under this system are blatant lies. They are a toxic pill sold to sections of our class so that they will hesitate to support any revolutionary program. In reality, these promises are part of a well-oiled counter-insurgency machine in which social democrats, “democratic socialists,” and whatever other silly formula they claim are all key players. As we are bombarded by the spamming and online “activism” of social democrats this fall telling us to endorse this or that capitalist politician, we would do well to remember the history of phony socialists winning elections in other countries.
Many so-called leftists won’t shut up about Salvador Allende the former Chilean president and treat him as if he was somehow not the head of a big semi-feudal state, which was in the interests of the big landlord class. He could not be anything else but a servant of the reactionary capitalists and big landlords, no matter what he said or desired to accomplish. Even those who view him through rose-tinted glasses must surely admit that the reason he was quickly overthrown was that his plan for coming to “power” lacked any actual way to defeat the old state. By virtue of him being “the lesser of two evils,” the other evil, with the backing of US imperialism, initiated a coup that led to the mass persecution of all progressives and intellectuals as well as actual revolutionary Communists. This is what happens if you try to “work within the system”: the fascist generals you appoint will bombard and overthrow you in due time—that is, if you do not capitulate as much as the right demands.
In the US, the social democrats still peddle hopeless candidates who stand little chance of winning, and when they do get elected all they do is take up a post in the old, decaying state, helping repress the people.
Elections, NO! Revolution, YES!
The cynicism and lack of faith in the masses are displayed naked in the bourgeois elections of the US—the largest and most oppressive imperialist power in the world today. As working-class people and people who face specific oppressions at the hands of US imperialism, who are caged as its “citizens,” we can no longer stomach the farce presented to us as “electoral options.” We have all taken the firm position of the boycott of the bourgeois elections, and in doing so we have taken up the task of making revolution against them.
Rebellion against the ruling class cannot be contained on a ballot. It cannot be diverted there, and it is time to fight the whole process that leads people away from revolutionary action. All the bourgeois parties and all of their supporters agree to carry out the rule of the big capitalist class; you must not agree to be ruled any longer by participating in their farce! We must remind ourselves daily to be revolutionaries, to carry out our task of revolting against bourgeois elections! To do this we of course refuse to vote, but we go further than that: we expose the very nature of these elections as a tool against the people. To make this meaningful we do not stop at exposure of the class enemy: we fight daily and organize for revolution—we admit the fundamental truth that political power grows from the barrel of the gun.
Revolution, and armed struggle, do not happen all at once, but instead build over time. By accomplishing small and modest acts of meaningful resistance, revolutionaries improve their ability to fight and enhance their levels of resistance. As more and more people see through the sham of the elections, more and more people will turn their non-participation in the elections into active resistance against the elections, and these people will come to support revolution. We must dare to think beyond the narrow confines of bourgeois “democracy,” which as stated is democratic only for the rich. We must dare to accomplish revolutionary action with increased escalation against the enemies of the people.
ELECTIONS, NO! REVOLUTION, YES!
DEFEND ARMED STRUGGLE AS THE ONLY WAY TO POWER!
BUILD THE COMMUNIST PARTY THROUGH THE ELECTION BOYCOTT!
—Red Guards Austin, September 2018