Thursday, September 9, 2010

Politics Is Seductive

This post will conclude my thoughts about Issue 3.


In this Voluntaryist editorial “Climbing Off The Bandwagon,” Wendy McElroy explains why there has been somewhat of a focus on the Libertarian Party so far. She tells us that until political anarchists understand that engaging in the political process is counter-productive, there is little use in discussing alternative strategies. Once they have said all they can say to make the case for political anarchists, then they will begin to write more about alternatives.

She tells us that
Politics is seductive. It offers the illusion of quick, easy victory within a respectable vehicle…In contrast, many Voluntaryist strategies, such as education and non-violent resistance, are long-term and demand courage and patience without always offering an objective measure of short-term success [such as vote totals].”
Later in the editorial she adds,
“I do not enjoy tearing people or institutions apart. It is because I understand the necessity of breaking the anarchist fascination with politics that The Voluntaryist editorials will repeat so often the same theme – government cannot bring freedom.”
SIDEBAR: Paul Jacob

In this issue, there is a boxed insert soliciting funds for the Paul Jacob fund. At the time, Mr. Jacob was refusing to register for the draft. He ended up spending 5 ½ months in prison for violating the Selective Services Act. Since then, he’s been very active in the political realm, even serving as the Libertarian Party National Director in 1987-88. Lately, he’s been involved in controversy surrounding ballot initiatives. I guess he decided not to move away from politics.

Carl Watner writes another book review in this issue, part 2 of 3 on Gene Sharp’s books. This review is on the Gene Sharp book titled Gandhi As A Political Strategist: With Esssays on Ethics and Politics.

According to Carl, this book goes into detail about Gandhi’s political strategies. This is even more intriguing since Gandhi never held political office. Gandhi understood that it is the cooperation of the people that makes it possible for governments to have power. If the people withdraw cooperation, the entire system collapses.

He also makes the point that for Gandhi, it’s not about seizing power; it’s about denying power through non-violent non-cooperation. This is apparently where the voluntaryists get the idea that “if one takes care of the means, the end will take care of itself.”

Whenever I read or hear about Gandhi, in my mind, I have images of the movie that Ben Kingsley starred in. As far as I know, this movie was a decent history of his life (as far as any movie can be), so if you like to watch movies over reading, this movie might be a good way to learn a bit more about the man and his life.


Finally, I noticed at the end of this issue that the Voluntaryists co-sponsored a one-day conference that featured Gene Sharp, Carl Watner and several other speakers on the topic of non-violence.

The conference included all of these speakers, reading material and even lunch for a mere $10! You can’t even get a large Papa John’s pizza these days for that price without a special coupon. Which reminds me, what do you think about cutting off a slice of Papa John’s slogan and turning it into a Voluntaryist slogan focusing on the importance of the means to the end:

Voluntaryism: Better ingredients, better societal change


Anonymous said...

Go Debbie, go!

Ned Netterville said...

Debbie, Sorry I haven't been able to comment more often. I've been traveling in Ireland, where the recession seems worse than in the USA and the government's ongoing bailout of Anglo-Irish Bank (AIG) is now threatening to bring the nation's Treasury into the same state of insolvency, and England, which seems to be a little better off than the US recession wise. I am trying to read all of your blog and the pertinent issue of The V. I like your slogan. My favorite is one I saw on a bumper sticker for sale at the first LP convention I attended in the early 80's: THERE'S NO GOVERNMENT LIKE NO GOVERNMENT. Last I knew it was still available for your bumper at Keep up the good work. Ned

Debbie H. said...

Ned, I can't believe I haven't run into that 'no government' phrase before now! It was probably around but I just didn't notice it I guess.

I really like it and I may have finally found something to put on my car to replace that old vote libertarian license plate frame I got rid of.