>> March 5, 2020
>> Blog Post #36
Here is a short text that I like a lot on the topic of voting. I’ve tried to translate it into English the best I could. It was written by Elisée Reclus in 1885
Letter to Jean Grave – Élisée Reclus
Clarens, Vaud, September 26, 1885.
You ask a man of good will, who is neither voter nor candidate, to outline his ideas on voting.
The timeframe you are allowing me is very short, but having strong convictions on the topic of electoral vote, what I have to say can be formulated in a few words.
To vote is to abdicate; naming one or more masters for a short or long period, renouncing one’s own sovereignty. Whether he becomes an absolute monarch, a constitutional prince or a simple agent of royalty, the candidate you are putting in power will be your superior. You appoint men that are above the law, since they are in charge of writing them and their mandate is to have you obey.
To vote it to be fooled; believing that men like you will suddenly acquire the ability to know and understand everything. Your agents having to legislate on all sorts of things, from matches to warships, weeding to the extermination of tribes, it will seem to you that their intelligence grows as their tasks grow immensely. History will teach you that the opposite is true. Power has always caused anxiety; chatter has always rendered dumb. In sovereign assemblies, mediocrity always prevails.
To vote is to conjure treason. Voters probably believe in the honesty of those to whom they give their votes – and maybe they are right, on the first day, when candidates are still bathed in the fervor of their first love. But there is always a tomorrow. As soon as the environment changes, man changes with it. Today the candidate will bow to you, maybe too low; tomorrow, he will straighten himself, maybe too high. He begged for votes, now he will order you around. Can a worker who becomes a master remain himself? Doesn’t the fiery democrat learn how to bow down when the banker deigns to invite him in his office, when the kings’ valets honor him? The atmosphere around these legislative bodies is unhealthy. You send your agents in a corrupt environment, don’t be surprised if they end up corrupted.
Do not therefore abdicate. Do not give away your destiny to incapable men and future traitors. Do not vote! Instead of trusting others with your interests, defend them yourself; instead of engaging lawyers, act! Opportunities abound for men of good will. Holding others responsible for one’s conduct is to lack bravery.
I wholeheartedly salute you brothers.