Black Box Blues recommended listening: Radiohead - Electioneering (from OK computer)


today i've been getting flak from all sides because i did not participate in the general election.

i thought i'd write about that.


when i tell my friend/family/other that i'm not voting, they reply with dismay; "but this is your chance to make a difference" or maybe; "your choice matters, so use it and take responsibility"

at first i found these responses both quietly amusing, then with frequency they became witheringly petty.

let me illustrate my way of thinking:

i follow a man and a woman into a room. there is a table and chair, on the table is a piece of paper. the two people leave me, closing the door behind.

on the list are four things:





These are the choices I see made available once every fours years to us citizens.

fuck that. freedom is not ticking one of four boxes. what happens if my opinions don't fit in a box? what if i want to do something new, like ditch the centrally controlled media? sadly you can't vote for anything like that. you can simply put your faith in a face, hoping that they'll realise your dreams for you...... unlikely.

snakes and ladders. chances are, even if your chosen one gets into power, and even if they did say an odd few things you agree with, those words will be shed like a second skin. they were only said to get into office, and once in the high seat a whole new set of pressures fall upon the shoulders of the empowered. promises and ideals made when electioneering fall by the wayside.

society is complex. it is shaped by more influences than can be comprehended by humans. i find it absurd to think that a simple spoken intention to do something or other could herald its flawless realisation in society. i imagine politicians have some grasp of this fact too. most of their time isn't spent worrying about the philosophical technicalities of government, but instead on self preservation.

politics is a toy. a way for those with power (nanny, mummy, daddy) to amuse and distract the population (baby, diddums, precious) while they get on with more important business. if those with influence spend lots of time giving a shit about other people, their power will usually dissipate as more ruthless individuals take advantage. power accumulates, that is its tendency, it has always happened throughout human and animal history. i think as long as humans are made in the same old way, they'll continue to do the same old things.

so remind me, what is democracy again? democracy is not getting a vote once every four years. democracy is having a voice, having your views and ideas represented, democracy is where the people direct the activity of the state. speaking personally, my views are more than ticking a sets of boxes will encompass. I'd hope most other people's views were more than this too. when i want to do my part for the greater good, i talk and share ideas, i write and draw, i play music and sing, i dance and act, and through these i teach, for thereby my ideals will be communicated. by planting seeds in other minds the wealth of understanding slowly grows and empowers us all.

how can i clearly relate my personal reaction to voting for government? surely we have all been talking to another person, in some bar or public place, when the realisation dawns on you that, despite their nods and smiles, your companion is not actually listening to what you are saying. Quickly a flush of frustration floods over you, why aren't i getting through? this is how i feel about the political system i have been born into: a bland mask that nods and smiles, repeating age old lies to hypnotize and soothe.

when i feel someone is not listening to me, i will stop talking, and either change the topic to one of mutual interest, or just leave the person alone. this too is what i am doing with the pseudo-democracy in england; once i realised my words fell on sealed ears, i walked away to find someone else to talk to. my time and energy is better spent with people who are open minded, and who can share their ideas.

I declined to participate in the general election for many reasons. the foremost is that i will find no satisfaction in adhering to this archaic tradition; for what little quaintness remains is tainted by a sinister veil. instead i use my skills to make a difference where i think it will matter, and in that way i have already voted a thousand times over:

while i see my fellow citizens strolling home from the poll, satisfied that their part has been played, my fire still burns...... as for me everything is still yet to be done.