05/19/2015 05:35 pm ET Updated May 18, 2016

Voting Will Not Change the World, and That's Not Apathetic

There is no good nationalism - Blanchot

We recently finished the General Elections in the UK. The outcome, to say the least, was a huge surprise. Nate Silver, the American political forecaster made the claim that the Tories would win most of the seats, but that the end result might be a three-party coalition. However, we now know this is not the case. The Tories (Conservatives) wiped the floor clean without the need for any form of coalition to emerge. This shocked a lot of people. In November of 2016, the US presidential elections will take place, and there will be many who vote. I, as a dual-citizen, did not vote in the UK General Elections and will not vote in the US elections. But, why? Am I apathetic?

This seems to be the argument from many corners, that if someone does not go out and vote then they must not care about their society or they should not complain about the system. But, that's exactly what is wrong with the system, it portrays itself to be God, as if it is the only right way to run a country. So, where is democracy in that? If some voices are shut out, then democracy is a lie and the freethinker is the convenient victim. Notice though who are making these claims, the non-voters are not calling themselves apathetic, it's the voters, the defenders of the almighty system. Voting has become part of the consumerist agenda: "Vote any way you like, just vote!", much like the dogma of consumerism which says the same thing: Purchase anything you like, but just purchase! This approach to voting only mobilizes the consumer within us and nothing else. Voting is not revolutionary, mainly, because it keeps the systemic inequalities right where they are. It is the religious ritual of regime propaganda. To not vote is not an apathetic act, its one of the most caring acts out there.

Okay, so let's figure out what apathy means, so we know what the accusers are talking about. Apathy comes from the Greek word apatheia, which is an absence of passion or excitement. So, are we non-voters lacking passion or excitement? Not at all. It's just that our passion is driven by something outside of a corrupt over-politicized machine that promises democracy but ends up supporting economic equality, oligarchies, media manipulation, and gender divides to name a few issues. Are we not passionate about the current system?

In a word: No. Why not? Great question. Why would I want to vote for a system that allows xenophobic, ill-informed politicians like Nigel Farage, Sarah Palin, or Jeb Bush to run on a ballot? Why would I want to rely upon a system that allows for the victimization of the homeless, or that allows the police 'martial law' jurisdiction and the scapegoating of the black community? I think gone is the age of the god-king who serves the masses, like in the days of Persia. We need to look at better alternatives. We need to begin discussing that, rather than be distracted by who is voting and who isn't voting, that's just yet another distraction by a system that knows its power is waning. Voting supports all of these inequalities, something I do not agree with.

Konstantin Sonin, from the New Economic School explains succinctly why the problem with politics comes down to the dynamic of manipulating voters,

When voters fear that politicians may have a right-wing bias or that they may be ináuenced or corrupted by the rich elite, signals of true left-wing conviction are valuable. As a consequence, even a moderate politician seeking reelection choose policies to the left of the median voter as a way of signaling that he is not from the right (while truly right-wing politicians also signal by choosing moderate or even left-of-center policies). This leftist bias of policy is greater when the value of remaining in o¢ ce is higher for the politician; when there is greater polarization between the policy preferences of the median voter and right-wing politicians; and when politicians are indeed likely to have a hidden right-wing agenda.


As people who believe society can be better and should be, does that mean we have to vote for a system that allows the popularization and media-saturated politicking that occurs when someone runs for President or Prime Minister? In this case, are we not then just giving permission to be played like puppets and concede to a system that really doesn't care about the voting or the policies [which should be the most important] but rather cares more about its own narcissistic agenda? This is what actor-turned-revolutionary Russel Brand realized recently, when in a moment of excitement encouraged voting to then be let down by the system, to then confess that he thinks the system is still broken. I agree. It has been broken from the beginning.

Voting, lobbying Congress or the President, all these political actions do are appear as if we are changing things, but in reality, these acts change nothing. It is one of the times where our acts negate the very hope for change. What do I mean? Well, firstly we have to respond to the nature of democracy and why although an idealistic concept, democracy in reality, in its fullness, can never work. The promise of democracy is representation. But, then we are compelled to ask 'who', who is being represented? Of course, in a perfect world, all of us as individuals would get our say in how a government is run, how an economy is structured, how social care is defined and so on. But we don't. Representation is part of the issue here, because it promises something it will never be able to deliver. Ultimately, the idea that all can be represented ironically hides the fact that no one, in the end, is represented. It perverts the very thing it promises.

Voting will not change the world, you and I, beyond our political differences, working together, will.