The vote is often upheld as the purest expression of democracy, but what does electing wealthy elites into oppressive governments have to do with democracy anyway? Generations of anarchists have answered, “not much.”
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Often misunderstood as chaos and bomb-throwing, anarchism is an anti-capitalist and abolitionist political philosophy that argues ordinary people can, have, and should govern ourselves directly and democratically, without nation-states or ruling elites.
Since the middle of the nineteenth century, anarchists have maintained a sharp criticism of representative government and have advocated voter abstention. Anarchists have also been among the earliest fighters for labor organization, reproductive freedom, queer liberation, and anti-fascism.
This collection of classic anarchist writings highlights and explains anarchists’ enduring critique of electoralism, collecting short essays by Michael Bakunin, Peter Kropotkin, Lucy Parsons, Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, Kotoku Shusui, Élisée Reclus, Errico Malatesta, and a poem by Voltairine De Cleyre. With an afterword by Cindy Milstein.
Nani Ferreira-Mathews is a musician, author, and coffee roaster (with the amazing Thread Coffee cooperative!) based in Baltimore.
Andrew Zonneveld is an independent historian, writer, social ecologist, publisher, and freelance editor. They are the co-founder of On Our Own Authority!, a radical publishing house based in Atlanta.
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