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Don't Feed the Animals. Why People Who Don't Vote Could Be the Smart Ones and the Real Rebels


(cross posted at The Montana Maven )
Or so Dimitri Orlov would like us to ponder. It's not a new idea, but it is an idea that doesn't get much play in the media and in our discussions with neighbors. We are told over and over that voting is the patriotic thing to do. People died for the right to vote. We get little flag stickers to put on our coats like the purple fingers of Iraqi voters. That the conventional wisdom. So why do so many Americans sit the elections out? And at the same time, if Americans do participate why do we hear over and over from pundits and comments on the blogs that those folks in Kansas and other reddish places just don't get it. "Why do they vote against their own self interests? " progressives ask. The wags note that these voters are like chickens voting for Colonel Sanders. But on the other hand, vast numbers of people including women and minorities vote for the blue team and get nothing substantial out of that too. So what's up? And yes, why do they even vote at all?

Orlov is a linguist and an engineer who has a blog called Club Orlov. He has also written several books, one of which, "Reinventing Collapse", I am reading for advice on how to survive such a collapse besides our two month's supply of Nalley's Chili and two generators. He emigrated to the U.S. in the mid-Seventies and made several trips back to Russia during the Soviet rule and then after the Soviet collapse. He believes that there are many lessons we in the U.S. can learn from the collapse of the other late 20th century super power. That there are more similarities than differences between the two super powers, as Orlov describes them, gave me pause. It's always interesting to look at a common question through a different set of glasses.

Both the U.S.S.R. and the U.S. derived their identities from being either capitalist or communist and the "extreme adherence to one or the other" as opposed to healthier countries that mix it up is what Orlov believes led to the doom of one and the coming doom of the other. Ideologies are all well and good, he says, if they actually work. But when it becomes clear that the average working citizen is not doing so well, the legitimacy of the rigid system begins to unravel and finally collapse. He points out that Albert Camus made the observation that the two superpowers were more alike than not back in the 1950s. Camus said that a specific failure of both systems was their inability "to provide creative, meaningful work." This Orlov says leads to mass depression.

The chief reason why the U.S. is still hanging on, he speculates, is that the ruling elite and their spokespeople keep the people thinking that the system is legitimate by hawking that old chestnut "The American Dream". He actually calls this idea of working hard and playing by the rules getting you a good chunk of the pie as "a pathological fiction" promoted by the media.

"Masquerading as hope, it gains its effectiveness from a perversion of pride, a psychological trick people use to play on themselves to obscure their powerlessness. They can sense that they are oppressed and so their last prideful stand is to pretend that their failures are of their own making, even if they have been most conveniently arranged for them by their oppressors."

And so half of them thinking it's their own damn fault anyway get sucked into the games called elections because people can further obscure their powerlessness by picking a team or picking a horse in a two horse race, wearing their team colors, plastering their cars with stickers and then cheering on their favorite. The Soviet Union, Orlov points out:

had a single, entrenched, systemically corrupt political party, which held the monopoly of power. The U.S. has two entrenched, systemically corrupt political parties, whose positions are indistinguishable and which together hold a monopoly of power. In either case, there is, or was, a single governing elite, but in the United States it organizes itself into opposing teams to make its stranglehold on power seem more sportsmanlike...The Communist Party offered one bitter pill. The two capitalist parties offer a choice of two placebos. The latest innovation is the photo finish election, where each party pre-purchases exactly 50 percent of the vote through largely symmetrical allocation of campaign resources and the result is pulled out of statistical noise, like a rabbit out of a hat. It is a tribute to the intelligence of the American people that so few of them bother to vote.

Interesting times call for interesting ideas and interesting discussions. Not same old, same old. In the small community I now live in, anybody that disagrees with the free market idea of economics or want to see a wind farm here is a "socialist" or is "Russian". Time to ask what is the difference between the Russians' grey boring slabs of concrete towns and our strip malls and industrial parks? What's the difference between their former Gulags and our prison system? How do our bureaucrats differ from their apparatchiks? Why are we now emulating the Soviets tight control over information and technology when our tinkerers in garages were the envy of the world?

There is more than one political system out there. There is more than one story of humankind out there. If you belong to the "game is rigged" gang, don't worry about being a tad depressed about that story. Orlov says that depression is a sign of unconscious rebelliousness. If you are powerless in the present American system, why legitimize it even more by participating, says Orlov.

In Soviet-era Russia, intelligent people did their best to ignore the Communists: paying attention to them, whether through criticism or praise, would only serve to give them comfort and encouragement, making them feel as if they mattered. Why should Americans act any differently with regards to Republicans and the Democrats? For love of donkeys and elephants?

So maybe we shouldn't feed those animals. Looks like Americans who still believe in a mom who bakes apple pie rather than one who packs a Luger participate in the sedative called elections. And those who acknowledge their depression by proclaiming that the hunger game is rigged are the rebels that we need when collapse comes. It will be their skills in working with alternatives to this rotten system that will be of great use.

Further information on Orlov's "Collapse Party" and its platform and practical info on how to survive collapse is in his book.

Average: 5 (2 votes)


Submitted by lambert on

Also, I added an image for the Pinboard, just to show. Since somebody gave it a rating, and ratings out to make posts on the Pinboard stickier, and I wanted to see if and how that worked.

Submitted by libbyliberal on

Wow, new titles like dept of bingo and class warfare! spot on!

Thanks for this. MM, one of your best in eloquence and message. Provocative stuff.

They say in dealing with addicts the only way to win is not to "play". Not to try to win against them because the games they play are crazymaking and heads we win/tails you lose types.

Nevertheless, to stop supporting them requires not just not voting. Supporting them still with our tax dollars, our trusting young people to provide their cannon fodder in wars, etc. where does that get us?

Supporting them by ignoring the monstrous amoral actions they perpetrate?

Now they have even reached the tipping point to avariciously destroy the planet itself. And there is no responsibility -- ability to respond -- to this horrifying reality within the "system" -- the vile matrix.

I wanted to interject my frustration and exasperation that we had a party running in this past election -- the Greens -- that I felt was committed to supporting the working class and challenged the corrupt status quo and it was given little attention. The candidate was impressive in her eloquence and sensibility and platform. Most did not take the candidate seriously, and even more didn't even hear of the candidate, because CORPORATE MEDIA (AGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!) would not on air take it seriously! Of course corporate media submarined the Green Party because it was anti-corporate. But the citizenry is so enthralled -- ENTHRALLED -- to the media (we have consumer not citizen identities) that the inside game our anti-corporates were actually in -- there near the halls of power -- couldn't get a good playing going because of the media opiate of the masses. There was no traction among so many of us in trouble now. Again, there's the rub. Of course corporate media blacked it out because corporate media is on the side of the corrupt.

I called PBS channel during the fundraiser and told them that I was withholding my modest donation this year because of their media blackout of third party candidates, particularly Jill Stein. Jill Stein was arrested even, three times was it, and couldn't even get a notice. THEY knew what they were doing. The politics of courage was kept off the air. I blame media but I also blame a do-nothing citizenry.

I was appalled that people who are aware of the rigged game as much as me also gave short shrift to the Green Party. I mean, the candidate had savvy and the platform was pro-people. People, peace and planet. Why would you withhold your vote for that?

There is a national cynicism for sure among some.

And there is a national "lesser evil" rationalization that also exists and awes me among those blue team Obamacrats.

The FISA bill cakewalked on through without much notice this past week.

My email inbox is filled with so many progressive groups soliciting my attention. Too bad we don't have an umbrella party or umbrella organization to have us pulling the oars together. I wanted the Green Party to fill that role but it is tough.

And again, there is the media and whatever the reality is it seems of pushback from us, the oppressed, they will create their own lying imaging of how it is. And the bobbleheaded majority of citizens will BUY IT.

We've got to occupy the teebee or we are lost. And we have got to keep on kicking back.

best, libby

Submitted by MontanaMaven on

Thank you, ll! Yes, with addiction or passive aggressive personality disorder they say not to be part of the drama that includes the persecutor, the victim, and the rescuer with the roles constantly changing.. Don't play. I did participate in this last election but I may not do it again. And I feel a certain bit of relief by becoming disengaged from electoral noise and instead put my focus on alternatives. A real labor movement like the I.W.W. kind rather than our American trade unionism kind might get my energy. And always any kind of alternative to the Fat Cat News will be my focus.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

One of the differences between the Soviet Union and the US is that in the Soviet Union you had to vote, refusing to vote was a very very big deal. It carried risk.

Here in the US there we have voter suppression. The Powers That Be go a long way to make it difficult to vote. Therefore merely the act of voting, especially if you are poor, is itself, an act of defiance. Just ask Fannie Lou Hammer

Submitted by MontanaMaven on

In the Soviet Union, the Communist Party selected the candidates and the voters were "compelled to either vote for them, by either depositing an unmarked ballot in an urn, or to vote against them, by depositing an unmarked ballot under the watchful eyes of election officials. Needless to say, most candidates sailed into office with astronomically high poll numbers. The American electoral system is one of optional false choice: the one uniquely meaningful choice that is perennially missing is "none of the above".

I wonder what Fannie Lou Hammer would say now? Or Alice Paul and Lucy Burns "The Iron Jawed Angels"
of the Suffragette movement? All that suffering in order to vote for a bunch of jerks in either party. I think they all might be interested in a third party or maybe the Collapse Party. If they were alive today I would hope that they were all too smart not to see that now women's votes are being used to perpetuate wars, kill the planet and steal from the poor. Montana sent the first women representative to Congress, Jeanette Rankin. She voted against WW I and WWII. How do our female reps stack up now?