Article by David D’Amato.
BBC News reports that Riots have followed elections in Nigeria, with all of the usual allegations of ballot-rigging accompanying the reelection of President Goodluck Jonathan. Mainstream commentators have been quick to point out “the huge division between the Muslim north and Christian south,” but we might wonder about the impact of other divisions, namely those of class.
In Nigeria, though natural resources such as oil sit within its borders, “high levels of poverty” afflict the working classes, the state allowing a small elite to capture the wealth of those resources. So when the President insists “that what is happening is not ethnic, religious or regional,” he assurances are, in important ways, much more accurate than he would likely admit.
Having realized that elections and the spurious democratic counter-information of the state are a losing game, discouraged Nigerian youths have resorted to violent protests. Scattered violence against the state, though, will only bolster its acclamations of security and authority. In the place of both futile elections and arbitrary violence, market anarchism points to another road to a free society, a nonviolent path based on individuals routing around the coercive impediments of statism.
Where it functions within the larger framework of aggression and exploitation created by the state, democracy, at least at anything more than parade of trite “civil spiritedness,” is reduced to a nullity. Only a fragmentary semblance of choice occupies the electoral spectacles of the ruling class, who remain comfortably enshrined in positions of power and privilege irrespective of each waxing and waning of the “democratic process.”
As the popular maxim teaches, if voting could change anything, it would be illegal, and — sure enough — the state renders democracy itself illegal in practice. Democracy is but an impotent invocation if it doesn’t translate into a substantive or meaningful influence within the institutions one has membership within. And especially where that membership isn’t itself predicated on a real choice, democracy ends up looking, at last, like a vacant formality.
The real democracy of market anarchism, functioning on societal institutions without exception, would open to real choice — to “social power” — all of those areas of human interaction that are now yoked to the coercive practices of the state. Market anarchism, as an ethical system, maintains that free individuals should not be indentured to the institutions that dominate their lives, but that those institutions ought to serve their members; it is the “extremist” position that sovereignty and authority begin equally in each person, and thus that organizations cannot claim any prerogatives that a lone individual couldn’t, in some instance, claim.
The democracy of the state, on the contrary, is premised on the idea that some people ought to rule, to make the important decisions about our lives, and that we ought to be satisfied with a periodically-presented false choice. “Apparently,” mused Gore Vidal, “a democracy is a place where numerous elections are held at great cost without issues and with interchangeable candidates.”