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Beyond Voting

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If you put all your energy into trying to reassure swing voters that
your candidate is "fully committed to fighting the War on Terror" but
that he has regretfully concluded that we should withdraw from Iraq
because "our efforts to promote democracy" there haven't been working,
you may win a few votes but you have accomplished nothing in the way of
political awareness.

In contrast, if you convince people that the war in Iraq is both evil
and stupid, they will not only tend to vote for antiwar candidates,
they are likely to start questioning other aspects of the social
system. Which may lead to them to challenge that system in more
concrete and participatory ways.

(If you want some examples, look at the rich variety of tactics used in
France last spring: http://www.bopsecrets.org/recent/france2006.htm .)

The side that takes the initiative usually wins because it defines the
terms of the struggle. If we accept the system's own terms and confine
ourselves to defensively reacting to each new mess produced by it, we
will never overcome it. We have to keep resisting particular evils, but
we also have to recognize that the system will keep generating new ones
until we put an end to it.

By all means vote if you feel like it. But don't stop there. Real
social change requires participation, not representation.

P.O. Box 1044, Berkeley CA 94701, USA

"Making petrified conditions dance by singing them their own tune."

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Ken Knabb is a writer and translator living in Berkeley, California. His translations include Guy Debord's film scripts and the "Situationist International Anthology" (texts by the notorious group that helped trigger the May 1968 revolt in France). (more...)

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