One of my friends posted an excellent article on Facebook last week by Karl Hess. The article is titled The Death of Politics and, as you can guess by the title, discusses the various ills of the political process:
This is not a time of radical, revolutionary politics. Not yet. Unrest, riot, dissent and chaos notwithstanding, today’s politics is reactionary. Both left and right are reactionary and authoritarian. That is to say: Both are political. They seek only to revise current methods of acquiring and wielding political power. Radical and revolutionary movements seek not to revise but to revoke. The target of revocation should be obvious. The target is politics itself.
Radicals and revolutionaries have had their sights trained on politics for some time. As governments fail around the world, as more millions become aware that government never has and never can humanely and effectively manage men’s affairs, government’s own inadequacy will emerge, at last, as the basis for a truly radical and revolutionary movement. In the meantime, the radical-revolutionary position is a lonely one. It is feared and hated, by both right and left — although both right and left must borrow from it to survive. The radical-revolutionary position is libertarianism, and its socioeconomic form is Laissez-faire capitalism.
Libertarianism is the view that each man is the absolute owner of his life, to use and dispose of as he sees fit: that all man’s social actions should be voluntary: and that respect for every other man’s similar and equal ownership of life and, by extension, the property and fruits of that life, is the ethical basis of a humane and open society. In this view, the only — repeat, only — function of law or government is to provide the sort of self-defense against violence that an individual, if he were powerful enough, would provide for himself.
If it were not for the fact that libertarianism freely concedes the right of men voluntarily to form communities or governments on the same ethical basis, libertarianism could be called anarchy.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a libertarian or an anarcho-capitalist I believe this article has a lot of valuable points regarding the political process that is worth reading. Namely the article touches on several points I’ve discussed regarding the political process including the fact that it is the system established by our rulers and that the system has a habit of devouring the lives of those who participate in it.
Politicos often criticize individuals who don’t participate in the political process. They will accuse those who refrain from political participation of being lazy and unwilling to do the work necessary to instill change in society. I believe that political participation is an act of laziness. It is what people do in lieu of the work necessary to instill change in society. Instilling change requires changing the opinions of the masses and the most effective way of doing that is to live by example. People generally seem to gravitate towards those who live lives consistent with the principles they espouse.
Political participation is an attempt to seize the power structure for your own gains. When people win political battles they merely win at gaining control over a system that allows them to instill their will on society at the point of a gun. It doesn’t mean people in that society will believe what you believe it only means they will comply with what you believe because a great deal of force is being used to make them. Living by example, on the other hand, tends to convince people that your beliefs are good enough that you live your life by them. Even if they don’t agree with your beliefs they will often respect them and more often than not they will adopt aspects of your beliefs into their own lives.
Libertarianism is a philosophy of peace. Specifically it is a philosophy that teaches the initiation of violence is wrong. Politics is an act of initiating violence and is therefore, in my opinion, incompatible with libertarian principles. Sadly we have all grown up being taught that the political process is the method of instilling change in our society and it is very difficult for most to escape that belief. But unless we do we will find yourselves forever under the boot of rulers.