Some Reasons To Not Necessarily Care About Election Cycles

Some Reasons To Not Necessarily Care About Election Cycles

The 2020 election cycle is in full swing and as usual I'm completely beleaguered by the endless debate on and coverage of the topic. This is because, knowing how the modern world system operates, I have very little reason to even care in the first place. This is not to say that nobody should analyze election cycles. Rigorous analysis of all political happenings will help embolden and develop our understanding of the modern world and what to do as those subject to it. However, personally, even this is a chore, given that, no matter who wins, nothing will be fundamentally impacted.

The political discourse generated by the modern world system makes a big fuss about election cycles because the narrow realm of electoral politics is where the public is suppose to believe they can have a say. We are suppose to believe this because this ideology hides the absolute dearth of any meaningful public say in the operation of the modern world system, at least from the vantage point of it's existing institutions. This is hard for even the modern world system's staunchest critics to accept, because the ideology of "old style politics" (democracy through the capitalist state; specifically excluding democratic control in wider social and economic mechanisms) is so deeply ingrained. So here's a clickbait blog post about detailing the relative lack of import to election cycles and justifying those of you who, like me, have an almost complete apathy towards them.

The stakes aren't as high as you think. Many will argue that we need to take part in the electoral circus to get in politicians who promise to implement needed social programs and keep out politicians who threaten the very existence of oppressed peoples. This is just a misunderstanding of the political mechanisms of the modern world system, also called "capitalism". The capitalist world economy dominates politics. It's geopolitical and national political institutions can't break it's power, even to make things marginally better, or much worse. Even if we have a Fascist movement vying for power in the electoral arena, the movement gets it's power, not from electoral politics, but from the constellation of social forces in which those forces seeking radical change and those seeking radical preservation of the status quo meet to do battle. For instance the power of xenophobia and anti-immigrant ideology is reflective of the capitalist world economy's fluctuating fortunes for national and ethnic groups and the manner in which these fluctuations can be manipulated in the class struggle by the forces of the world system. Even mild concessions from the economic and political forces of the modern world system to the health and well being of those they control are only wrested from said forces through antisystemic social struggle. The welfare state itself was a project designed to enfranchise some of the oppressed in order to stave off the possibility of revolt; embodied in the revolutions of the 19th century.

There is a dearth of democracy. We are suppose to believe that elections are where we can have input in the organization and development of modern political systems. As stated above, this idea serves to mask reality. As Wallerstein points out; no state in the world is truly democratic from the standpoint of public participation.1 The old style politics of capitalist democracy specifically excludes public input in the wider mechanisms of the world system. The market (modern oligopolies), property, and capital, are left to dominate our lives while we elect politicians within a confined socio-political space. Effectively, there is no democracy, only an illusion of it.
Capitalism's nature as a historical social system makes purely political change improbable and essentially impossible. Capitalism is often asserted to have been historically progressive, but this was never the case. The benefits have really never flowed from the top to the bottom in any sense. There is essentially complete continuity between the fortunes of those at the bottom and top at the system's genesis and those which currently exist. In fact, things are getting worse. The returns are diminishing for both those at the bottom and the top. The massive inequality of recent years is proof of this. In another article I argued that Labour's reliance in the British election cycle on promising social programs was dead in the water because of this phenomena. Brits simply didn't have faith the package would be delivered. This polarization is the result of the modern world system's development, those at the top, elected, or not, Democrat, Republican, Torie, Corbynite, or Chavista, are powerless to stop it.

The power is in our hands. The "popular classes", those exploited by capital and subject to states, are those who make change. We are the only ones with any interest in doing so. As capitalism declines and eventually falls off the map those at the top will simply vie for a new form of exploitation, possibly one worse than capitalism. The only way to ensure that the next world system will be one of democracy and equality is to build antisystemic movements and fight. As Wallerstein said in one of his last interviews, try, try, try, we must always keep trying.

1. World Systems Analysis: An Introduction, Wallerstein

Reference: Historical Capitalism, Wallerstein

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Mar 4 2020 05:10



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Mar 8 2020 12:00

Personally, as an anarchist, I'm always more in favour of mingling in in the public debate. There's a general "Lets have a conversation on politics" atmosphere in society and I think its time we as anarchists start taking ourselves serious and present ourselves as a true alternative. Therefore we need to get concrete about our perception of the world and our answers to the troubles (that we are confronted with by the capitalist system).

So, not to argue to talk about their politics, nor to promote one or the other 'lesser' evil, but to promote our own as a serious alternative, say, the only real alternative smile

Mar 5 2020 02:58


Like I said in the post, it's totally legit to analyze election cycles for the purpose of a better understanding of modern political developments. Also like I said, I often struggle with taking any interest in the topic, even then.

Mar 8 2020 12:01

I understand, that is similar for me. Still its somehow also important to know what kind of bullshit people get fed so that we can also better mingle ourselves in the fray of the public debate on our future.

Mar 9 2020 16:23

I agree.