Let’s talk about something that I’ve found many anarchists are reluctant to engage. Compromise. In the pie-in-the-sky circles of political anarchism, compromise strikes many as a bowing down, resignation. Destruction of the state is non-negotiable. Laws of any kind are non-negotiable. Authority is non-negotiable. This is a fault. To proclaim a moral prohibition of negotiation is to ignore the complexity of morality all together. I argue that negotiation and compromise are the only way to reach consensus on modern morality. Compromise is the fruit of empathy. Compromise is the path to the truth.
I am a pragmatic idealist in that I know that compromise is the road to agreement. I have more faith in anarchism as a personal philosophy than most Christians or Jews or Muslims do in their respective ideologies. I know that in the future, the clear-headed practicality of individuals will win over the dogmatism of religion, capitalism, and statism. But this is not the future. We do not yet live in an age when deep critical thinking is the foundation of individual points-of-view. Cultural and historical biases cloud certain truths. For instance, as I’ve said before, I firmly believe that society has virtually no need for municipal armies but I recognize others' opinion that we do. I would compromise with a model of smaller, highly paid, highly trained, demilitarized police forces. I am not so ignorant of other peoples’ fears and concerns that I forbid police presence on our streets. As with any compromise, it would be a step toward the ultimate goal of removing them all together.
Consider the human obsession with government authority. A contemporary compromise for an allowance—and even participation in it—is similar to my growing stance on free will. No, we do not possess free will. Science is gradually proving our lack of such intuitive states of decision and agency. Yet, it is nearly impossible—and likely dangerous—to act as if we do not possess some free agency. It is a phantom that we must engage if only temporarily. State authority lives on the same scale.
Which brings me to our current republican democracy and the individual vote. We’ve all either invoked or heard the famous Emma Goldman quote, “If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal.” A powerful and useful condemnation of a system filled with corruption, misinformation, and dishonesty. The phrase is arguably every anarchist’s response to the electoral cycles. Yet, is it productive in a discussion of contemporary times? Sure, when a pre-presidential Obama tells the world that no lobbyist will be allowed into his Oval Office only to swing the doors wide once his victory is complete, Goldman’s mantra rings true. The examples are ubiquitous in any democracy.
Today’s presidential cycle teems with the atmosphere of a freakshow. All of America’s past missteps and hypocrisy have finally come home in anthropomorphic brilliance, each candidate (except one) a personification of greed, fear, racism, ignorance, denial, and elitism. Except one. Bernie Sanders is a socialist. The first true socialist to run for the American presidency since FDR. A miracle of political steadfastness, Bernie Sanders is almost devoid of contradiction. At near ad nauseam, Sanders has championed the tenants of state run socialism for his lengthy career as an independent, equally removed from the modern versions of both right and left. Even if one doesn’t agree with Sanders, all can agree that what he says—the actually words coming from his mouth—is exactly what he means. Honesty is rare in this modern world and non-existent in modern politics.
Now for the compromise. Vote. Especially if you have never voted. Vote. Even if your deepest instinct is to rail against participation in the broken process. VOTE. Now is the time for compromise of Emma Goldman’s response to American democracy. Vote. Now is the time to put this system to the ultimate test. VOTE FOR BERNIE SANDERS. Even if your core values include the denial of rulers or authority of any kind. VOTE FOR BERNIE SANDERS.
Here is Sanders’ case from his own mouth. Listen to the last honest man in America.
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