William Lloyd Garrisons Liberator was the premier abolitionist journal of the antebellum u.s. Ive just posted three pieces from The Liberator: an anti-voting piece by Garrison, an anti-slavery piece by Lysander Spooner, and a report on an 1858 reform convention.
10 Responses to Three from The Liberator
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August 26, 2012
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August 26, 2012
[…] **Roderick Long, Three from The Liberator.*** From Roderick Long: William Lloyd Garrison’s Liberator was the premier abolitionist journal of the antebellum u.s. I’ve just posted three pieces from The Liberator: an anti-voting piece by Garrison, an anti-slavery piece by Lysander Spooner, and a report on an 1858 reform convention. […]
Open question to those libertarians who take a strong anti-voting stance (which I know Roderick does not): Does justice allow for the use of force to prevent people from voting? If voting is a rights violation, then clearly this is acceptable, but a conclusion I suspect even George H. Smith would reject. If not, is voting simply an unwise act that will likely lead to rights violations?
I don’t even see why you’d come to that conclusion. It’s not as if the voters are responsible for the wars their leaders engage in. And it’s irrelevant to the anti-voting argument anyway which is that voting is ineffective.
The anti-voting argument? There are several different arguments. Some argue that it is simply ineffective, but several arguments claim it is immoral for whatever reasons and some in fact do claim it is in itself an act of violence.
Right, and Garrison’s argument is clearly that it is immoral, not that it is ineffective. (Since Garrison was a pacifist, he didn’t have to worry about Chris’s question, however.)
No, I think not, as voting is an advocacy for violence, not the actual violence itself. It is immoral, abhorant, and vicious, rather than criminal. In addition even if it were criminal any given vote is responsible for a trivial portion of the violence that may be done against you and there is no sure way of knowing who voted for what exactly.
That’s one version of the anti-voting argument, which I am mainly in agreement with; but I was speaking of a stronger, more principled argument.
The first half of this article by Roderick Long criticizes the claim in greater detail.
Voting is immoral though its immorality belongs to “ethics of morality” rather than to “ethics of justice”. Putting it simpler, it is a vice or sin but not a crime.
If nobody has the right to govern others without their consent directly, they have no rights to do it by a proxy, i.e. the government.
And I don’t buy the idea of voting as a kind of self-defence. ( Yes, I know, L. Spooner and Roderick himself like this idea). Because not all means of self-defence are equally just. If one shoots a kid for stealing plums from his backyard it is self-defence but of very peculiar kind. The same is true about voting.
But again, voting is not a crime, because “electorate” ( what a stupid word!) is not a rioting mob and doesn’t harm anybody directly.
Agreed, but then we need to know why voting is unjust. Now I take it that this is the answer:
Agreed, but then we need an argument to show that voting — regardless of what one votes for — counts as governing others by proxy. I think this argument against voting makes the same mistake that most pro-voting arguments make: it exaggerates the significance of voting.