Olga Zeveleva
October 2017.

Should I vote in elections?

zizekElectionspolitical scienceSociologySocietyPolitics
1 answer

There is a novel by Jose Saramago, it's called “Vision”, in it in a country like Portugal all of a sudden people decided not to vote. The election participation is like 2-3 percent. And the powers go into an entire total panic, they see a dark plot in this and whatever, and so on and so on.

I am not elevating this into a universal rule. First, there are sometimes votes which potentially can mean something. For example, before they made the betrayal (it’s very naive what I will say now), in Greece I would have voted for Syriza before, now it’s over. In the United States, if Sanders were to be the candidate - but again, he is not even a social democrat really. The important thing for me is how to mobilise people. Sanders mobilised people with a certain project which clearly went a little bit further than the consensus. That's important for me: we should look for these miracles where you can mobilise. In Spain, I would vote for Podemos, but they are too much part of the system. You know?

What can you do with your anarchism other than building these isolated, autonomous communities? This is nice, but what I am afraid of is that if they don’t get too strong, they just help the system in the sense that you know - you get rid of potential trouble-makers. I can imagine a leading capitalist telling his workers, “you are not satisfied? Okay, spend some time in that fucking anarchist community and leave us alone here.”

The most precious thing that happened here, with all the limitations ideologically, it doesn’t matter that again, things like Syriza (although they ruined it then), and Bernie Sanders. 

My pessimism is this one, as I developed it: traditionally in the West, but also in other countries, the post-World War II system was what? It was moderate left versus moderate right. Two big parties. But then you have all those fringe parties from neo-Nazis to greens and so on. Now, another duality is emerging: the big party of capital, liberal capital, which is purely capitalist but at the same time for homosexuality, gay rights, whatever, LGBT, freedom of religion, abortion, and opposed to them are anti-immigrant populist nationalists. The danger of this is that the only one who is at least nominally referring to ordinary people and their troubles are usually right-wing populists, and if this will become the predominant form, we who still want to be leftists, we will be blackmailed all the time. Like in France, many of my friends, they shouldn’t even be my friends, nonetheless said that Macron is - okay, he is in some formal sense better than Marine Le Pen, but basically his politics opened up the space for Marine Le Pen. We should say: go there and vote for Macron to save us from fascism, but you should be aware that Macron is part of the powers which enabled Marine Le Pen, for this I was already criticised. The big danger today is not directly neofascism, it is also the blackmail of liberals who claim that today we fight fascism.

It is absolutely crucial to break out of this reality where you are forced somehow ultimately to say “okay okay, we can dream about more radical measures, but in this situation of the fascist threat…” I don’t even accept the designation that the new right-wingers are simply a fascist threat. It is true, but you can also read this from the liberal position, you know: where the actual content of this focusing on anti-fascism is that liberalism is our only choice. It’s crucial to break out of this.