Harm Reduction, Soapboxing, and Destructive Voting Reply

By Logan Glitterbomb, Center for a Stateless Society

As anarchists, we obviously reject representative democracy along with the state itself. As such, many anarchists advocate against voting in elections or even participating at all, seeing it as reinforcing and legitimizing the very system we’re fighting so hard to abolish.

However, not all anarchists are against participating in the electoral process in the here and now for a multitude of reasons, although I mainly want to focus on three main ones: harm reduction, soapboxing, and destructive voting.

More often than not, when an anarchist decides to vote, they do so as a means of harm reduction. The idea is to vote to keep the worst candidates out of office to keep them from making things that much more difficult to organize against. Voting against the worst candidates and in favor of ever so slightly less shitty candidates by comparison helps make the work of community organizers and activists just a tiny bit easier. This doesn’t mean it will advance the anarchist cause, but rather, it helps to curb the ability for our political opponents to advance their cause as rapidly. Harm reduction voting is literally voting for the lesser evil as a means to keep the worse evil at bay. It is not an endorsement of the lesser evil so much as a recognition that a lesser evil is easier to pressure and less likely to make things too much worse when compared to the worse evil. At the end of the day though, harm reduction voting still recognizes that evil is evil and needs to be combatted via direct action, mutual aid, dual power, and community organizing, which are the means to achieve actual meaningful changes.

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