Disengagement Gears

[A couple of folks started talking with me about the subject of my recent post. I feel bad posting my response without including theirs, but I didn't want to post without their direct permission (it's from another forum). That's why I didn't include their real names (except for those privy to that particular forum) so that they could be considered more flatly, from my point of view (it is my blog, after all). The gist is, both of them, while agreeing with certain elements of my argument, disagree, saying that there is still political power and capital found in supporting candidates' campaigns for other political ends, such as the environmental and labor movements. Which, I concede, is true. Political power works in strange ways. But, that doesn't include the actual voting, which my original argument was against. Here and how, however, I am responding to the assertion by [wellslin] that I have a " general attitude of disengagement from the political process".]

it begins...

[wellslin] My disengagement is from the federal executive branch election. While both you and [glynnsea] have made good arguments for there being political aspects to certain parts of the circus surrounding this sort of election, I don't think either of you would actually call the election political, or a political process. It sounds like you both are focused on strategies regarding "power", which, if I understand correctly, are not the same thing as "being" president.

It's sort of a pet peeve of mine that the reaction from a lot of people to my voicing my views is that I am "disengaged, disenchanted, or otherwise just sullen and upset." Not that you said all that, but... well, it's been typical. Nor that I'm not, in some degree. However, I feel as if, as a response, it shuffles my opinion off into a margin of "angry, do-nothing, and therefore, superlative." Maybe if somebody actually appealed to the "disengaged" demographic with something other than useless ideology and boring busy-work, we would be able to re-engage.

I don't want to bitch and moan about how real life isn't exciting or correct enough for me, and that I'm too good for it. That's not true. Actually, I am fully engaged in my own life, which contains various political aspects and various processes; some of them are close to blossoming into fruition, and others are much more long-term, and others no doubt will be abandoned as time and place sees fit. There are some parts of my life with which I'm disappointed, other parts for which I'm quite excited. Not everyone will agree that my life is political, but hey, everyone is fully able to have his/her own opinion on what politics are (I certainly do).

But this is the problem. Everyone knows that a problem with the American Left (whatever) is that when somebody disagrees with the Left, the disagreeing party is "wrong", and unprogressive. So, because I disagree with the Left's strategy of supporting presidential candidates, I must be wrong, unprogressive, and as [wellslin] said, "disengaged from the political process". No, I'm not disengaged from the political process, I'm disengaged from your political process (the particular facet of which includes supporting presidential candidates). I have my own political process, thank you very much, which certainly does NOT include voting for nor supporting any candidate, in any way. This doesn't mean that you shouldn't be doing what you're doing or anyone else shouldn't be doing what they are doing, but it means that I have decided that I am doing what I am doing, and this is not an apolitical, unpolitical, or illpolitical decision, but a political one. It is part of the political process of boycott. Whatever political effect it has, that is a separate discussion. But please don't marginalize my choice because you disagree with it (which, interestingly enough, is a primary tactic of those campaigning and supporting political candidates).

Let's not switch "power" for "politics", either. Politics wouldn't be political without the power. If the consolidation and implementation of power is what you are looking for, there are certainly many ways to do so. One way, literally, is to get the power company to supply power to your campaign office. You do this by paying a bill. This electricity enables you to do many things. This is why it is called power. I'm being facetious because these days many people like to argue about what politics "is all about". Politics is all about oil, or its all about ideology, or its all about money, or its all about water, etc. All of these things can be invested with a certain amount of power, and turn the switch on other power else where, and around and around and around. So you want "power". For good ends, obviously, I don't doubt it (not facetious this time). But if you really wanted to get a lot of power, you could just get a lot of money, which would act like a lot of power. Or, you can build a mass movement, and use the power of a lot of angry people. Or you could try and get the largest number of people who hold positions that give them a certain amount of power behind you, like "workers". Or, you could threaten to blow up all the power plants, which would give you a certain amount of power through fear. Whatever you are doing, you are implementing different strategies of getting power.

The differences between these strategies are what is typically called "politics". The difference between capitalism and populism and communism and terrorism is what sort of rules are agreed upon for the consolidation and use of power. They all share some similarities, and all have some differences. So, to say your politics is about power is kind of simple. There is more do it than that, and it is what you think is "ok to do in the pursuit of power". (There is necessarily more to an adequate definition of politics, namely something to do with the "people" in some way, but I'm going to avoid this for now, because it seems that both [wellslin] and [glynnsea] agree that they are after power.)

Clearly, both [wellslin] and [glynnsea] think that supporting presidential candidates, as part of a strategy for consolidating power, is a good idea. I don't. I am all about power, folks. I totally believe it exists, I think some people have too much of it and use it wrongly, and I think a lot of people need more of it and need to use it better. But I don't think that supporting presidential candidates is a good use of power, or that in doing so will result in any positive changes in the way that power is distributed or used. In fact, I worry about the opposite.

This is highly political decision on my part, and I resent any suggestion to the contrary. It is part of a highly-evolved and seriously considered strategy for changing the way power is distributed and used. It isn't synonymous with your strategy, but I don't expect it to be, as it is my own.

I'm not going to go into the details of my own strategies and tactics. (Part of it is super secret!) But part of it involves trying to draw general attention to the illogical and demeaning arguments that support certain elements of the current power structure. These include voting, the support for presidential candidates, and certain "political" factions' arguments that would subjugate and marginalize alternative political orientations to their own, namely, those political orientations that would decry the factions' own actions, including support for political candidates.

In other words, it is clear that by supporting a presidential candidate, you are forced to call my position wrong, apolitical, and disengaged. If my rejection of voting was to be a political opinion, it would draw attention to the bankruptcy of elements of your own political opinion. This is why non-voters never get to sit at debates. And I don't mean undecideds, I mean non-voters.

So, long story short, I don't hold it against you for marginalizing my position by saying that I'm "disengaged", because I think we all now might know what you really mean. But let it be known that I am far from disengaged.

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