In a post from his November web log, Joshua Corey, who is both a very talented poet and an insightful and committed thinker about poetry, refers to two posts on Joshua Clover’s web log attacking the foolishness and blindness of those who are naïve or ideologically deluded enough to vote. Corey has a very smart and eloquent response, but I wanted to add my own.
I am sick to death of these more-correct-than-thou types who claim to hold themselves utterly aloof from a world they see themselves as completely above, particularly those who assert that voting doesn't matter because all candidates and all parties are the same, or even that voting is a manifestation of false consciousness because it constitutes buying into the system. How anyone can believe that after over six years of George W and his accomplices despoiling pretty much the entire world is beyond me, except that their smugness and self-righteousness makes it impossible or unnecessary to actually see the world, since they always already know all about it anyway, unlike us poor benighted souls who are, as Joshua Corey so aptly points out, both to be pitied and to be held in contempt. It's interesting how much such types despise the very people for whose liberation they claim to hope, though apparently not to work.
I certainly don't know what these people, so many of whom seem to spend most of their time casting a jaundiced and superior eye down on the rest of us, are doing to bring the soi disant revolution any closer. Perhaps they believe that salvation is not by works but by faith alone. The intellectual and political Puritanism, and self-righteousness, of pseudo-purist leftists does bear striking resemblances to Calvinism at its ugliest.
On the question of what is to be done, and of what is being done, one major problem with the Manichean ultra-leftist worldview (besides its all too common hypocrisy) is that if there is on the one hand only total purity and on the other hand only total corruption, then nothing can be done, because any action will inevitably sully the purity of the intention. Between the intention and the act falls the shadow, as T.S. Eliot wrote some time ago. Thus the quietism and passivity of such types, who sit back and criticize others' actions (for what action is perfect?) while doing nothing themselves. Clean hands are idle hands. They are also never as clean as their bearers think they are.
So many Americans who consider themselves leftists or progressives would prefer nothing to something if the something isn't utopia. Or, like the several varieties of worsists, they would actually like to see disaster befall our society, or they think that they would, no matter how many people suffer, because that would trigger the revolution. Such types like to consider themselves totally outside of that which they claim to critique. Perhaps this is why is never occurs to them that they too will suffer in their implicitly-hoped-for worst case scenarios. But not voting is still participating in the system. By not voting, you are simply giving more weight to the votes of those who do bother to vote, however deluded or brainwashed they may be. In practical terms, you are voting for whoever happens to win.
Those who question or even deny the value of voting tend to be from those groups, social, economic, and racial, that have been able to take voting for granted. But people died so that I could have the right and the opportunity to vote. I don't intend to throw that opportunity away.