The idea of boycotting the state is slowly becoming more popular, as demonstrated by the recent Ontario Provincial Elections. While there was some difficulty in the past in breaking from bourgeois legality—and those who argued for an organized electoral boycott so as to make an existing implicit boycott explicit were treated as heretics by those who were enamoured by “democracy”—these elections witnessed the participation of multiple groups throughout Ontario in a single boycott campaign: Sudbury, Kitchener-Waterloo, Peterborough, Guelph, Ottawa, London, Thunder Bay, Toronto. The Sudbury branch of the campaign even succeeded in gaining recognition from the mainstream media, its members interviewed by CBC Radio.
All of the claims made in the 2011 Federal Elections Boycott Campaign were proved by this provincial election: the steady rightward drift of all parties that could not be prevented by voting, the contempt of the people demonstrated by the majority of fat-cat politicians, the emptiness of NDP ideology—this time they were to the right of the Liberals!
Even the state is aware, to some degree, of its inability to convince the masses to participate in its validation through elections. Due to an extremely low voter turn out in the previous Ontario elections, where the majority of registered voters refused to participate, there was an awareness of a “constitutional crisis.” This time, desperate to validate only the hollow shell of the electoral system, apologists for this so-called “democratic process” advocated practices that they would have seen as despicable only ten years ago.
Voters were actually encouraged to spoil their ballots if they didn’t like any of the parties because, above all else, it is necessary to participate! But participate in what? Simply in justifying a process rather than agreeing with any of the parties; it is more important to agree with the process, to get a majority of people actually “voting” even if their ballots vote for nothing. Hence, 52% of registered voters participated in this election: a marginal majority, but how many of this majority spoiled their ballots? It doesn’t matter, we are told, because at least they participated. Democracy in form but not content!
The intervention of an organized boycott that was carried out, with unified propaganda and literature, in eight different Ontario cities was thus seen as worse than the act of spoiling ballots. For such a boycott openly demands that one withdraws from the electoral process so as to participate in politics aimed at rejecting the current political order. Some politicians went so far as to label the boycott “cynical” because, in their opinion, anything that rejects the current state of affairs can only and ever by cynical. Others, unable to break from this system of “democracy,” labeled the campaign “utopian” due to its express anti-capitalist demands. But it could hardly be both “cynical” and “utopian” at the same time!
Rather, it was a movement aimed at connecting and drawing in those people who have already decided that they will not vote—who never vote—for very clear reasons. Reasons some would express during the agitational activities of the boycott campaigners: a rejection of every politician based on the fact that none of these parties has provided the masses with anything significant; a rejection of the major parties because these were “parties of the rich.”
The extension of the boycott campaign into numerous cities is an attempt to make this implicit boycott more explicit and unified. Not because of a cynical “rejectionist” attitude that argues for non-participation for the sake of non-participation, but a constructive attitude that aims at building a sustainable anti-capitalist movement that is not absorbed in maintaining the state’s legitimacy through a pitiful electoral system—that is the true cynicism. Nor is it utopian because it is not, as the actual meaning of the word suggests, nowhere: the boycott already exists, a significant portion of the masses consistently refuse to vote for very real reasons.
The various campaign activities—agitation, street canvassing, demonstrations, teach-ins, etc.—will hopefully result in an increased awareness amongst the masses that there is a larger movement that seeks to provide expression to their anger with the current system. Moreover, due to the fact that these activities have succeeded in putting us in contact with a variety of people who otherwise would not be reached, these activities can only draw more people into this movement and towards other activities that are aimed at ending capitalism. When the 2015 Federal Elections are upon us, we will hopefully emerge as a stronger cross-Canada movement declaring, though still small and growing, an alternative to the cynical system masquerading as “democracy.”