Saturday, May 16, 2009

BC Election - the Decline in Voting

One of the most important outcomes of the election was the fact that only a minority – 48% - of the population voted. This represents an all-time low and is a good representation of a general malaise effecting both the province and the country as a whole. Two questions immediately come to mind; what caused this malaise? and what will come of it?

Anyone with any familiarity with BC politics and recent history ought to be able to list some of the political causes. Beginning in 1983 with the betrayal of the almost general strike, working people have endured a series of defeats. Living standards have declined and government services privatized. NDP governments, once a fount of hope have stabbed their supporters in the back, as we saw with the arrests at Clayoquot Sound and the violent attacks on First Nations people at Gustaferson Lake. Remember also, it was the NDP government that first suggested the Olympics boondoggle.

All three major political parties have – at least in their public pronouncements - come to resemble each other. The right-wing Liberals have re-created themselves as environmentalists. The Green Party has become so moderate that many people see them as to the right of the NDP.

The other aspect of the decline in voting is more sinister. This is the general atomization, inward-turning, "personal privatization" that has been going on. Due to suburbanization and the domination of consumer culture, people have lost connection with each other and a sense of the overall picture. Community has been rapidly dying and with it participation in the public sphere.

Political alienation - "None of the parties represent me" - can be positive and lead to a new radical politics. (This is what we anarchists dream of in our often naive belief that abstention is a positive sign.) Social alienation is another kettle of fish. Social alienation directs people away from any kind of action, especially the communal and mutualist kind favored by anarchists, and toward self-destructive behaviour.

The only hope is that conditions will force the population to act. While conditions have declined for working people, in truth, "We ain't seen nothin' yet." The triple crisis – Economic, environmental and energy, has barely made its mark. When it does, people will have to act collectively just to survive. Once in motion, much of the social alienation will shake off and a new politics will arise.

Tomorrow - "Anarchists, Social Democrats And Greens"


Anonymous CBryan said...

I'm writing a story for my newspaper about voter turnout and am seeking people from Burnaby or New Westminster who don't vote, and have some views on why they don't. If you fit this description and are interested in talking about this, please contact me. Cheers!
Chris Bryan ( or 604-438-6392 ext 112.

2:52 PM  

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