October 22nd, 2004

exploding branez

because i already wrote the damn thing

i am not so serious
this passion is a plagiarism
i might join your century
but only on a rare occasion


i was just typing up an essay - my thoughts after reading a website - when i realized why it was all wrong. basically, this argument makes society a function of government. someone who stops voting because they don't want to lend governance legitimacy should also stop walking on paved roads and stop being safe from imprisoned murderers and stop being protected by police. which is not to say it is impossible to change or withdraw from this society, but you can't do it by an act of will. you do it by participating in it, either by voting or campaigning or assassinations or whatever. as long as you are still living and participating here, not voting is a vote for None of the above, and nothing more.

but nonetheless, because i already wrote the damn thing, and because some bits (like footnote 2) are still valid, here is my essay. enjoy:

why i will be voting for kerry

http://fuckthevote.org/AbstentionIsNotApathy tries to say why you shouldn't vote.
i am finding some of these arguments very convincing, i have to say. government is only as powerful as it is accepted, and by voting for hte lesser of two evils every four years for the concievable future, we are not getting anywhere but more evil, one little bit at a time. what i mean by all this is- imagine if tomorrow everyone decided to ignore bush. i don't mean ignore him like "i can't hear you", but treat him like an ordinary person. he has no more or less inherent authority than anyone else (that is, he has only his own physical power), after all; he is powerful solely because everyone else agrees to act as if he has social/legal/political[1] power. by voting, you participate in and tacitly agree to the political process - you accept that the result of all this voting will be the choice of one person who will have the presidential powers to wield over everyone else, even people who did not consent to the process.
in an essay on that site, the author talks about being asked if she would have cast the deciding vote to keep hitler from coming into power. she says no, because by voting against him, she is then helping grant legitimacy to the system which would have given him his power had he won. if people did not respect him as leader of germany and act as if he thereby had power over them, his election would have done nothing and he would have wielded no real power. at best, he would have been mugging people in a back alley somewhere. but if you vote against him and he wins anyway, then he is your leader, because you did vote for the system which grants him power.
now obviously, not voting does not make you immune to laws. but, everyone not voting would. the revolutionary war was everyone in the colonies deciding that the british government no longer had any authority over them. the civil war was the south saying the north had no power over them[2] (and failing to back it up, but that is a sidenote). and just as obviously, me not voting would not do shit except that bush would be just that little smidge more likely to win because i did not vote for kerry. but if everyone vote because not voting by yourself would be pointless, then nothing changes. if everyone says "i will stop when everyone else does" then nothing changes. if everyone does stop, just on their own, even though doing it on your own is stupid, then no one will vote. and no one will be elected, adn no one will hold power. they will probably still try to wield power despite that, and depending how well they do and how many people still think government is really there, there would probably be some sort of war to decide the matter.
having said all that, i ultimately don't agree with it. well that's not right, i do agree with it[3]. but coming back again to lesser-evilism, you cannot merely withdraw from government. by doing so you affirmatively vote for no government. and as much as i would like to (and sincerely hope some day to be proven wrong), i just don't think anarchy would work. which is why i will be voting. why i choose kerry over bush, i think, is obvious.

[1] and ultimately, this all is only physical power as well. if someone [and here[4] is where i realized why the argument was wrong and stopped writing. basically, i was gonna say that social/etc power is enforced physically]
[2] and yes, slavery. but essentially, this was the north using force on the south to make the south stop using force on the slaves. if you support either side, then you accept that coercive force is proper when it is justified, at which point it remains only to agree when it is or isn't justified. which means the use of force can't be one of your arguments. slavery is then not bad because the slaveowners forced the slaves to do what their owners wanted, it was wrong for some other reason; ie, it was or was not justified.
[3] this, by the way, is my biggest problem with philosophy. its being right or wrong changes nothing because it is not real life. say you found absolute proof that the matrix existed and we were all inside it. assuming you aren't lucky enough to have a morpheus take you out, you are still stuck in here and you still have to act as if it was all real because, well, it is. even if it isn't. but dammit, knowing it isn't just makes acting like it is that much more frustrating.
[4] i almost never write things in the proper order. thank god for word processors, i would be doomed on a typewriter.
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while i'm posting my essays, here's one on why i am possibly a racist, and you may be too

someone, i think chris, said the other day that he realized racism existed in our society when he was looking at a box of crayons. there was one crayon in there that was pinkish, and the name of that color was skin. pink was Skin Color, as opposed to brown or yellow or plaid, which are all Not Skin Colors. no one at the crayon factory was neccesarily saying "people with brown skin are inferior", or even "people with brown skin are incorrectly pigmented". probably, none of them even thought that. but they were in effect saying that all those brown-skinned people were not the default, in the same sense that diet coke and regular coke are both subsets of coke, but regular coke nonetheless IS coke. all skin colors are legitamite skin colors, but pink skin IS skin color.
but then, look at language. one of the things that really gets under my skin is people who try to whitewash language of any possible inferences. as an english major and a linguist, i am very aware of how language can develop layers of meaning, but can never mean more than it means to the society of people using that language. if i call someone a motherfucker, i am not actually saying anything about their fucking mothers, or about whether it would be right or wrong for them to do so. motherfucker basically has the meaning for me of generic insult, and i think most people interpret it that way. so if somebody were to come along and say that we should all stop using the word motherfucker because it implies that there is something Wrong and Bad about fucking mothers, i would tell them they're fulla crap, because despite what the word may look like it means and what it may historically have meant and what they interpret it to mean - which is all irrelevent to this debate - in the common usage by which it is commonly used it means only generic insult. for another example, the word whitewash, which i used at the beginning of the paragraph and which you probably gave no thought to. the word, as i understand it, means 'to change something's appearance so it is acceptable, even though it has not actually been changed in substance'. white happens to be in the word, but it could just as easily be plaidwash and have the exact same meaning. when i use that word, i am not thinking, even metaphorically, that changing any other color to white makes it more acceptable. and the people in that crayon factory were not thinking brown skin is incorrectly pigmented. if a Skin Color crayon is racist, why isn't whitewash?

update: i am gonna toss in another example now, just because i thought of it. i like apples, they are tasty. my favorite apples are usually green or yellow. nonetheless, at any such times as i should have to draw apples, i will always color them in red, because in some corner of my brain that dictates such thing, apples ARE red. and people ARE white straight upper-middle-class males. if they're not, that's fine, but initially they are.
is this bad? on the one hand, if i need to color in apples, i need to pick some color for them to be. english has no neuter pronouns, so if i'm going to talk about a person without getting really stupid about it, the person will either be a he or a she. pick one. doesn't matter which. on the other hand, i am picking one based on something obviously, and even if i am not aware of any bias other than in pronoun selection, it could be elsewhere.