Sunday, January 30, 2011

On refusing to vote

"[Refusing to vote] reflects a new recognition of the nature of power. In reality we all have “a say in our future”, every day, with everything we do and everything we don’t. Privileging government as the only means of social change is a concept the gospels call into question. The assumption is that power is concentrated at the top, and the only way to change anything is to change the government or its way of operating.

"This, it seems to me, stands in stark contrast to the way of Jesus. One of his early temptations, in fact, captured in the wilderness narrative, is precisely to this kind of topdown political power. Significantly, it is the devil who offers it to him. Jesus refuses."

- Simon Moyle, Why I don't vote.

Most elections do not change things. The idea that political responsibility means voting once every few years is a bit like thinking that a healthy lifestyle consists in being checked by the GP every few years. Voting is not to be sneezed at (and in the end, I disagree with Simon Moyle, though respect his position, which also represents the considered position of some good friends of mine), but it is not the main game in politics, far less the main game in changing the world.

2 comments:

Dan Anderson said...

Jose Saramago (Nobel for Literature 1998) actually wrote a novel calling Seeing, which explores exactly this scenario. An entire city suddenly and inexplicably decides not to vote. It's a fascinating (and disturbing story). There is a Guardian review of the book here.

byron smith said...

Thanks Dan - I'd already decided a few years ago to add Blindness to my list of books to read, now it seems I also have to read it to get to this sequel, which sounds equally fascinating.