On the ballot paper in my region there are no less than five extremist Right-wing parties. Six if you include the Conservatives. Apart from that there are two centrist neoliberal parties: Labour and the Liberal Democrats. I know a fair few very nice, likeable and principled Lib Dems (online and in real life), but as a national political force the party is part of a coalition with the Tories and, as such, constitutes a de facto Right-wing party. So that’s seven Right-wing parties of various shades running from crypto-fascist to poujadist to centre-Right – none of which has any serious quarrel with the neoliberal consensus – and one centrist neoliberal party, Labour… which is now so degraded and debased that it seperates itself from the Tories and Lib Dems by a few whiskers. Centrism has itself been shifted so far to the right that the modern Labour party is to the Right of the pre-Thatcher Tories on many issues.
That’s democracy for you. That’s apparently the best we can do. That’s the freedom I’m supposed to relish and celebrate. What a barren wasteland of horror. What a terrifying landscape of hatred, dishonesty, bigotry and unthinking compromise. This is politics, supposedly. This null, anhedonic, empty, contentless, vicious, small-minded, dead, echoing, dreamless nothingness of non-choice. This is what the best of all possible worlds looks like.
But, I’m going to vote. Not because I want to. Not because I like any of the ‘options’. I don’t want to. I don’t like any of the ‘options’. I consider the trip to the Polling Station to be a humiliating chore that will drain me of what self-esteem I have, that will degrade and compromise me, that will implicate me. I feel physically sick at the prospect of ticking a box on that ballot paper. I feel that I will be signing a contract with a panorama of bullies, agreeing to let them come and kick me in the balls any time they want, agreeing to thank them afterwards, agreeing to sit by and nod and share their guilt when they rob and exploit and lie and torture and kill. But it has to be done.
I cannot not vote against such an artillery of closed-minded, spiteful, minority-hating, jumped-up, Little Englander swine. I cannot not vote against the BNP and UKIP and the English Democrats, etc etc etc. I don’t expect my vote against them will change anything. Ultimately the only thing that will prevent these scum from wreaking any havoc they get a chance to wreak will be the mass mobilisation of activists against them, will be blockades and counter-demos that stop them marching, will be barricades that stop them getting into the BBC where the corporation is drooling to promote their agenda. Ultimately, they will only be stopped when their empty heads are acquainted with pavements. Roll on the day. But, meanwhile, I have to vote against them.
I also cannot not vote against the current government, which is possibly the most evil and wantonly destructive in living memory, a wrecking ball being swung through the last ruins of the social-democratic consensus, through all human decency. It is a moral obligation – I feel – to vote against the Tories and the Yellow Tories.
If there were no Green Party candidates in my wretched, squalid, parochial, bigoted little rural shitpit of a region, then I would have to hold my nose, gird my loins, keep a grip on my stomach in the hope of not puking up my soul, and vote Labour. My hand might wither and drop off. Luckily, however, there are Greens to vote for. So I’ll do that.
If I felt for a moment that abstaining from voting would achieve anything worthwhile, I would do so. But it won’t. I don’t believe that ‘the vote’ is a meaningful way to change society within the smothering death grip of the rotting zombie of capitalist democracy… but my disbelief in the power of the vote is also why I disbelieve in the power of the non-vote, the withheld vote. Piffle like that is for the likes of privileged simpletons like Russell Brand.
I’m not telling anyone else what to do. I’m just telling you what I’m going to do.