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This article participates on the following special index pages:

  • 2008 harmonised elections - Index of articles


  • Don't just vote - Get active
    June 2008

    When you broach the question of politics, of having a say in the way things are, voting is just about the only strategy anyone can think of.

    But is anonymously checking a box every now and again enough to feel included in the political process, let alone play a role in it? But what is there besides voting?

    In fact voting for people to represent your interests is the least effective and efficient means of applying political power. The alternative, broadly speaking, is acting directly to represent your interests yourself.

    This can be called direct action. It is any action or strategy that cuts out the middle man (or woman) and solves problems directly, without appealing to elected representatives, corporate interests, or other powers.

    For example, when people start their own organization to share food with hungry people, instead of just voting for a candidate who promises to solve "the hunger problem" with bureaucracy and tax dollars, that's direct action. When people in a suburb come together to form neighbourhood watch groups to monitor and stop crime in their area, that's direct action.

    In a lot of ways, direct action is a more effective means for people to have a say in society than voting is. With direct action you can be sure that your work will offer some kind of result.

    Voting consolidates the power of a whole society in the hands of a few politicians, and everyone else is kept in a position of dependence. Through direct action, you become familiar with your own resources and capabilities and initiative, discovering what these are and how much you can accomplish.

    Voting is only possible when election time comes around. Direct action can be applied whenever one sees fit.

    Ultimately there's no reason the strategies of voting and direct action can't be both applied together. One does not cancel the other out. The problem is that so many people think of voting as their primary way of exerting political and social power that a disproportionate amount of everyone's energy is spent deliberating and debating about it while other opportunities to make change go to waste.

    What we need is a campaign to emphasise the possibilities more direct means of action and community involvement have to offer. These need not be seen as in contradiction with voting. We can spend an hour voting once a year, and much of the other time acting directly!

    A campaign for direct action puts power back where it belongs, in the hands of the people from whom it originates.

    With thanks to CrimethInc. Ex Workers' Collective

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