In Issue 17, a short piece titled “Living Slavery and All That,” written by Alan P. Koontz discusses Murray Rothbard’s “slavery analogy” and whether or not this analogy is useful to determine the morality of voting.
Here is an excerpt from Rothbard’s book The Ethics of Liberty, Chapter 24, (The Moral Status of Relations to the State) which helps explain Rothbard’s view:
“Many anarchist libertarians claim it immoral to vote or to engage in political action–the argument being that by participating in this way in State activity, the libertarian places his moral imprimatur upon the State apparatus itself. But a moral decision must be a free decision, and the State has placed individuals in society in an unfree environment, in a general matrix of coercion. The State—unfortunately—exists, and people must necessarily begin with this matrix to try to remedy their condition. As Lysander Spooner pointed out, in an environment of State coercion, voting does not imply voluntary consent.3 Indeed, if the State allows us a periodic choice of rulers, limited though that choice may be, it surely cannot be considered immoral to make use of that limited choice to try to reduce or get rid of State power.4”
Koontz disagrees with Rothbard and gives several compelling reasons why this analogy is insufficient. One I find particularly interesting is the idea that voting does not just affect the individual voter, voting also affects others.
However, I’m not too concerned about convincing people of the morality of voting or not voting based on the idea of whether or not it is affecting (and thereby possibly harming) others, I’m more about non-voting as an individual act of defiance.
Not voting is the easiest way to start withdrawing your consent and removing yourself from state control. Oh sure, your individual refusal to vote will not do anything to change how the state treats you. They won’t suddenly leave you alone because you do not consent by voting.
But there is one major positive result when not voting is done as a conscious, principled act of defiance against the state: you begin to free your mind.
This is where all change begins. A free mind thinks more creatively. A free mind is open to investigating and critically examining ideas which can lead to fresh alternatives. A free mind is more at peace and naturally compassionate towards others.
So why continue to do what the master wants you to do? Free your mind. Don’t vote, and do it as a conscious, principled act of defiance to the state.