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against centering politics

against centering politics is a story

it was told by emsenn for anarchists

it is meant to be gossip

it is about 2020 United States Presidential Election, anarchy, Food Not Bombs, politics, and Sanders, Bernie

it was released on Feb 16, 2020

as the electoral campaigns for winning the seat of President of the United States become more active, I think I need to speak against our society's tendency to focus social change around politics

in my experience, politics often inhibits working toward solving social issues, but many people I talk to don't share that view

bluntly, I think this is because they don't spend much time working toward solving social issues outside of politics: unless someone spends that time, they aren't going to have a holistic perspective on how politics and other social actions intersect

I'm going to use my recent experiences as examples: it's easy to ignore that Bernie Sanders’ campaign is reducing attendance at Food Not Bombs1 events if you never attend them or organize them

(someone shouldn't tell me the local weather in July if they've only been in town for Christmas)

another example: a protest against the local coal power plant was cancelled because its organizers wanted to focus on their electoral campaigning efforts

people are choosing not to feed their neighbor or migrate toward sustainable energy, explicitly because folk would rather seek a political solution

coming from anarchists, this is ironic: the people who say “no gods, no masters” cannot resist gods2 and masters3 as a means to their end

I don't have confidence those people would resist those tools, in the end


our society intentionally and artificially centers politics, orienting any social action's legitimacy over whether it has first sought political engagement

this makes it easier to engage with politics than any other means of social action, reinforcing its place as the default

but while politics requires low engagement, it is high-risk:

it's unlikely an investment in seeking political solutions will lead to a worthwhile return

however, working directly toward solving issues, while higher-effort, is much lower risk: someone working directly to feed themselves by planting a garden is more likely to feed them than if they spend the time campaigning for a presidential candidate

and on the other hand, someone helping others to directly feed themselves can win a lot of support for their candidate, by demonstrating their solidarity with solving the issues, not just winning at politics


  1. I'm using these examples not to pick on a particular candidate, but because these are my recent experiences and I think they show that issues are not magically resolved by the people involved being “leftists” ↩︎

  2. social institutions such as federal representatives ↩︎

  3. the federal representatives themselves ↩︎