Not A Party headquarters was in tatters this Sunday morning. With its candidates reeling in shock, red-eyed and gormless in the wake of this unexpected monumental failure.
All along the night, as election results had trickled down, it became slowly apparent that calculating the non-voter turnout was going to be really hard. And a suspicion was lurking that the chances of success were not on the cards and that Not A Party’s underwhelming electoral effort was nothing short of bloody disgraceful. And by strewth it was.
Not A Party are deeply in mourning over where their dreams of a record high non-voter turnout have ended up. To have survived the build-up to the election on a diet of optimism, avoidance, and pretty average fish n chips, only to have their hopes strangled and bashed on the rocks at the bottom of the democracy cliff so dolefully. It’s dismal and unpropitious. These brave builders of hope for humanity are left sober, gutted and distraught over the poor choices made by more people than last time.
Nonetheless, Not A Party did manage to clutch at some short straws. The three NAP electorate candidates all came resoundingly last in their respective electorates, with Wellington Central candidate Bob Wessex the lowest polling in the country! Clearly, the party’s DON’T VOTE 2017 campaign message was gotten out there.
When the whole unruly drama has settled down a bit, Not A Party might schedule an emergency meeting to determine the future of its existence.
Wendy McElroy is a Canadian individualist anarchist and individualist feminist. She was a co-founder along with Carl Watner and George H. Smith of The Voluntaryist magazine in 1982.
Act Responsibly: Don’t Vote! That’s not a bumper sticker you’re likely to see in coming weeks. Instead the ballot will be revered like a religious object and voting will be declared a duty. But what if the ballot is just one more government form to fill out? What if the most politically powerful act is to say “no” by tearing the form in half?
This November, most people won’t “do it” in the voting booth despite attempts to shame them. They will spend the time on activities that enrich their lives: buying groceries, playing with children, catching up on work. Even the recent primary, which was supposed to reflect a galvanized and outraged Democratic Party, drew only about 11.4 percent of those eligible to vote. The Republican primary fared worse with a record low turnout of about 6.6 percent.
If war itself can’t motivate people to put a checkmark in a box, it is time to consider non-voting from a radically different perspective. Maybe non-voters are right. After all, if most people refuse to buy a product with which they’re acquainted, do you blame them or the product? Politicians have only themselves to blame if people are not buying what they sell.
The knee-jerk response is to accuse non-buyers of apathy. In many cases, this may be true but it isn’t the non-voter’s fault if he thinks a ballot is irrelevant to his life. Gerrymandered voting districts that almost ensure results, preppy and prepped candidates, a two-party system that restricts access to alternate voices, candidates in debt to corporate sponsors and lobbyists, campaign promises that dissolve, corrupt procedures which make many believe Al Gore is the rightfully-elected President. The notoriously corrupt New York politician Boss Tweed once said, “You may elect whatever candidates you please to office, if you will allow me to select the candidates.” In short, by the time names are on the ballot, the fix is in. And apathy becomes a reasonable response.
Non-voting is a gauge of how deeply alienated the average person is from the political establishment. Sometimes political disgust converts non-voting from an act of indifference to one of protest through which people express a word that all politicians fear: “no.” Not just “no” to them but to the entire process.
Everyone who chuckles at the old joke, “Don’t vote, it only encourages them,” connects on some level with the idea of making a statement through consciously not voting. But, for most non-voters, such protest if it exists at all is on an emotional level. That is, a sense of disgust or disillusionment with the system makes them shy away from participating in it.
Those for whom non-voting is conscious statement of protest generally argue as follows:
The check mark or the punched chad on a ballot means “yes” it is the consent you give to the electoral process by virtue of participating. No wonder all candidates agree on one point: you should vote. They are like religious leaders who urge you to worship at the church of your choice. First and foremost, politicians want you to sanction the process by which they acquire power and money because, without that sanction, they have no legitimacy.
It is commonly said, “If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain about the outcome.” The opposite is true. By playing the game, voters agree to the rules. Only those who don’t play and withhold their consent have a right to complain about the outcome, especially since the winner will have his hand in the non-voter’s pocket.
Voting is not an act of political freedom. It is an act of political conformity. Those who refuse to vote are not expressing silence. They are screaming in the politician’s ear: “You do not represent me. This is not a process in which my voice matters. I do not believe you.”
Non-voting has a rich and long history through which the dissenting electorate has expressed everything from religious convictions to political cynicism. That history has been conspicuously ignored. If people truly believe voting is important, they should use their mouths to do more than insult non-voters and utter election slogans. They should discuss and debate the issue with those who disagree.
44 years ago, two Swedish bank robbers took four hostages during a failed robbery attempt at the Kreditbanken in Norrmalmstorg, Stockholm. Although the robbers kept the hostages for six days and forced them to endure psychological torture, the hostages declined to testify against the robbers when freed and even went as far as raising money for their defence. This phenomenon gave rise to the term “Stockholm Syndrome“.
The psychological literature defines Stockholm Syndrome as “strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other.” It appears to have similarities to battered wife syndrome and to learned helplessness, and is otherwise known as “capture bonding”.
This phenomenon appears strange to neutral onlookers because the expected emotional consequence of subjecting someone to the trauma of being taken hostage is hatred. Because one loses one’s ability to move and talk freely on pain of being shot dead, it could reasonably be expected that a hostage would feel, at first, fear and anger, and then hatred.
Stockholm Syndrome doesn’t only occur in cases of botched robberies. The specific phenomenon is probably related to behaviour that naturally occurs in dominance hierarchies – in other words, Stockholm Syndrome is a manifestation of a specific submissive strategy that probably had frequent application in the brutal biological past of the human species.
For the vast majority of the history of the human species there have been no laws, and nothing even approaching a justice system. The first ever code of laws is thought to have been introduced by the Babylonian King Hammurabi almost 4,000 years ago, which means that for 96%+ of our existence the only thing that passed for justice was what you were physically capable of beating out of other people with your fists.
Because humans are a social species, this environment of easy violence meant that a large range of behaviours relating to how to show aggression and how to show submission evolved over time. Of course, many of these behaviours would have evolved long before humans ever became a separate species, and many of them are so old that their expression is more subconscious and instinctual than a deliberate attempt to manipulate.
Stockholm Syndrome is similar to the phenomenon of learned helplessness, in which a creature that has been brutalised without hope of escape for long enough comes to “learn” that no escape is possible, and can consequently fail to take an opportunity to escape when one does arise. In this sense it could also be considered similar to clinical depression.
What most people don’t realise is that we, the people of modern Western societies, have also been brutalised into submission by our own ruling classes, and so badly that our relations to them are akin to a hostage with Stockholm Syndrome towards their captor. In the middle of an election campaign – as we can see all around us – it’s possible to observe the abject state of emotional submission to which the populace has been reduced.
This is partially achieved by the kind of sadism that is common in primary school students. Like Winston Smith in 1984, who had a form of Stockholm Syndrome deliberately inculcated in him by the sadistic O’Brien, we have been meticulously brutalised by a control system that has had 5,000 years to perfect its tactics for manipulating the peasantry.
From childhood we are forced to get up early in the morning so that we can be most efficiently conditioned into a life of factory work. Anyone who has not received enough sleep by this time, for whatever reason, is severely punished. Absolute submission to authority is rewarded, on a daily basis, for over a decade, and all instances of failure to submit are punished mercilessly.
After a decade, it’s generally assumed that the brains of the victims have been tenderised enough for the teachers to hand us over to the employers, with whom we remain until it’s time to throw us on the scrapheap.
If at any time during this period of servitude we get the idea that we would like to smoke a medicinal flower to take some pain away, or to take some magic mushrooms in order to bring us closer to God, then members of a group of enforcers specially chosen for their willingness to follow orders will come and put us in a cage with rapists and murderers.
It will not be possible to reason with this enforcer class. One cannot argue, for example, that this enforcer class has no right to put you in a cage for simply trying to heal yourself physically, emotionally or spiritually. If you resist you will be attacked, and if you continue to resist you will be killed.
Neither can one count on the support of your fellows to resist such laws. The vast majority of the people has been conditioned to bow their heads and shrug their shoulders when they hear stories about the crimes that the enforcer class have committed against them. Ideologies of freedom, like anarcho-homicidalism, are mocked and rejected.
Such arbitrary laws, against medicines and sacraments that have been used by humans since before the Code of Hammurabi, can only have the effect of demoralising the people who fall under their whip.
Most of the people who don’t find the current state of affairs appalling are suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, where they are the hostages and the ruling class are the captors. Essentially they are those who have been brutalised so hard that they have lost all will to resist and can be directed by the ruling class as easily as sheep can be led to slaughter.
We can see them being led to the voting booths right now in order to show their consent to the whole ghastly procedure. Here we can see that the emotionally mutilated citizenry will not only cast a vote in favour of the Establishment that mutilated them, they will also cast a vote to give that Establishment permission to emotionally mutilate their children too.
That a random person suffers from Stockholm Syndrome is not the exception but the iron-fast rule in our modern societies.
There’s a psychological heuristic about the effectiveness of logical arguments compared to emotional ones. In essence, rational arguments weigh more heavily in the long term, often producing permanent changes, but emotional arguments weigh more heavily in the short term, often producing immediate action. This simple rule explains why the quality of political discourse has degraded so sharply in recent weeks, and why it will degrade further in the next two.
This human tendency was demonstrated with a study that examined tooth brushing habits. Two groups listened to two different lectures from dental health professionals. The first lecture used calm, reasonable, logical arguments to explain why people should brush their teeth, the second used fire and brimstone and tried to scare the listeners into doing so.
Although people who heard the first lecture only made a small increase in how regularly they brushed their teeth, the change in behaviour lasted for a long time. This was in stark contrast to the emotional lecture. People who heard this one made a sharp increase in tooth-brushing behaviour immediately after the lecture but, over the long term, this then fell away to much lower levels than the people who had heard the logical arguments in the first lecture.
Our political class and their advisers, highly sophisticated in the art of psychological persuasion, know all of this and are using this knowledge against the plebs right now. The rule they are operating by is: the closer we get to the day of the election, the less effective logical arguments become, and the more effective emotional arguments become.
One year out from an election, there’s no real reason to get emotional. The voters themselves have not yet been whipped into hysteria by the mainstream media, and so any politician that noticeably becomes emotional will look unstable and lose support.
That far out, it’s much better to focus on calm, logical arguments that a potential voter can ruminate over at their leisure before making a solid commitment to a party on the basis of reason. This is because, as with the toothbrush study, this influence will be minor but permanent.
The day before an election, by contrast, is not the time for calm and logical arguments. It doesn’t make psychological sense to aim for a moderate but long-term gain when the election is the next day and the preferences of voters in one year’s time doesn’t count for shit. At this point, it only makes sense to appeal to the heart (and almost always to fear), in the hope that this wave of raw emotion will not have subsided by the next day.
Right now, two weeks out from Election Day, fewer logical arguments are being made. “Let’s Do This!” is not a logical argument, and that is why we have seen expressions of it much more often over the past week. Neither is whipping up fears about being taxed into the poorhouse.
Here the political discourse can already be seen to have degraded, but things will only get worse over the next two weeks as the miserable calculus of persuasion shifts the balance ever-further towards whipping up hysteria and fear.
In two weeks’ time, the discourse will have degraded so far that National supporters will simply be yelling “COMMUNISM!!!”, Labour supporters will be screaming “SOLD DOWN THE RIVER!!!”, New Zealand First supporters will be bellowing “NEOLIBERALISM!!!” and Greens supporters will be shrieking “POO IN THE WATER!!!”
And it will take us three years to get over the shame of how low we all stooped before we can do it again.
I first suspected I might be a politician when I tried to solve a problem with a bunch of other people’s money. And subsequently wasn’t very good at it. In fact, my need for control at other people’s expense was actually making things worse. Of course I denied it at first. And no matter how much money I would force people to pay, the problems still largely remained. There were just enough moderate changes being made made to create the illusion of something being done.
I have now come to realise that doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the epitome of insanity. But when you’re making a fairly decent living from the problems you’re not addressing it’s very easy to keep deluding yourself that you’re doing the right thing. Especially when approximately 70% of the eligible population is validating your existence every three years. And you’re telling yourself and everybody else the other 30% is just lazy and irresponsible. So after many years of being given far too many chances, only to let everyone down again and again, I finally understood that the first step towards recovery was going to be admitting I was the problem.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. The courage to change the things I can. And the wisdom to know that the unquestioning belief in (and exaltation of) a glorious parliamentary battle arena where voters are apparently represented by shameful displays of name calling and pompous witty retorts we call “the democratic process” is a thinly veiled unjustifiable rationalisation for the oppression of others by wielding trumped up questionable opinions about how they should definitely be living their lives, exacted in the most impersonal way possible. And it doesn’t even work good.
So I urge you this election for everybody’s sake. DON’T VOTE 2017.
Hi. I’m Roberta Wessex and seriously, I’m not voting for me.
You see, there are really only two kinds of voters, those who vote Labour and those who vote National, right? But, no, not so much. It’s more those who vote mainstream and those who split the vote, hey? Actually I think it’s much simpler. The two kinds are those that vote and those that don’t vote.
Today I’d like to single out the voters who don’t vote, and talk to you. Firstly. Good on yas. You may think that no one has heard, but the world is watching. New Zealand is a magnificent country. A world leader in economic and political freedom, one of the least corrupt nations in the world, 4th on the Global Peace list. Plus we’ve got Pavlova. We are a leading adventure tourism destination. Godzone.
And how? Coz of you. You the ingenious kiwi. You the indomitable Maori. The good bastard. An extraordinary group of people involved in an amazing social experiment on a tiny group of islands at the end of the earth. You make this land what it is. And so we arrive at the crisis that is the New Zealand general election 2017.
This year less people than ever before will trudge like willing donkeys to the sanctuary of ballot hall to relinquish their authority to the control freaks baying for power.
Luckily, you, the non-voters have realised that politicians are literally the floor. You have understood that we cannot fix a system that is rigged by both sides. The government, apparently, always wins. You the non-voters have understood that no one is going to do it for us. Nix. Nada. Not one. It is up to us, the people, who have built our communities with our own sweat and tears, often in spite of politicians. There is only us.
Many of you are tired and discouraged. Worn down by the constant blame and ridicule from those sillies who think that not voting is actually voting for the other guys. (Actually you’ve been right all these years. Not voting is in fact voting to not buy in to the farce.)
Now, more than ever, your country needs you. On September the 23rd, you, the faithful, resilient and loyal non-voters, who have stood your ground bravely insisting on your right to self-determination all these years, will finally be able to rally together and boycott the injustices that pervade modern party politics. You are the backbone of a new post democratic, post hierarchical, voluntaryist community.
This is New Zealand. The place where people reject the corruption and degradation that pervades so many—so really really many—other countries of the world. We are better than that.
The pressure to vote has never been greater. Alt-right memes mock challenge entertain. Pussy’s up for grabs everywhere. Corporate media bias creates a playground for bullies. Not voting is allegedly a serious crime, almost as bad a pissing in the fountain. Trivia numbs and demotivates.
So. September 23rd. General Election day. The time is now. It’s up to you.
Do something better.
As we refrain en masse from voting, let us do some research instead. Read up on education models that offer your children real education. Watch a doco on voluntaryism. Use the time that you have reclaimed for yourself by disengaging from a system hijacked by a group of megalomaniacs, to make a sandwich for a homeless guy. Volunteer at the library. Visit the fella down the street whose wife is in hospital.
Do something that makes a difference to your community.
Not A Party (NAP) is pleased to announce it is fielding three (3) brave freedom fighters as entrants in the mainstream media’s personality popularity contest and expensive policies playoff to see who’ll win the 2017 general election. We have no policies, so no broken electoral promises from us. Our personalities aren’t popular either.
Bob Wessex is NAP’s candidate for the key Wellington Central electorate.
Simon Smythe is NAP’s candidate for the neighbouring Rongotai electorate.
Richard Goode is NAP’s candidate for the Mana electorate further up the line.
Voter turnout in New Zealand has been steadily declining as more and more Kiwis wake up to the fact that the electoral process serves the status quo and not the people. Not A Party exists to smooth the pillow of a dying democratic system, and hopes to hasten its inevitable end. Accordingly, we kindly urge you to not vote in the impending ballot. Instead, perhaps consider how you’d help to run your own local community if you weren’t being taxed at every turn and told what to do by career politicians and corporate lobbyists in Wellington. There’s 101 things to do instead of voting.
This time around we hope to bring voter turnout down below 2011’s record low. As voters boycott the polling places in growing numbers, sooner or later the politicians might wake up to the fact that they have to do better or face redundancy. Not A Party hopes it is the latter, because by that time New Zealand will have peacefully transitioned to a society based on voluntary cooperation. NAP will field candidates no more, but will put out to pasture all the politicians, now altogether past their best-buy dates.
Join us! Be the change you want to see. DON’T VOTE 2017.