This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3| Volume 4 | Volume 5 | Volume 6

Alternatives to the vote

At this point someone is bound to be asking, “Okay, if you don’t want us to vote you need to tell us what we should be doing instead.” The answer to that, of course, is “No, I don’t.”

If smoking is bad for you, which it clearly is, and I tell you so, it does not follow that I then have to tell you what you should be doing instead of smoking. That’s entirely up to you, and if you can’t think of anything, then I really can’t help you. All I can say is that smoking will kill you, and that voting is a waste of time and energy. If that is true, then the rest is up to you.

I will, however, suggest that you not worry too much about it. Like the smoking analogy, just ceasing the destructive behavior is, in itself, a step in the right direction.

Voting is the discharge of potentially productive energies in an unproductive way. If you cease to engage in voting, then these energies will spontaneously express themselves in other ways, and I have a hard time envisioning a scenario where they express themselves in a worse way than they are at present. In short, we’ve got nothing to lose. Maybe the energies express themselves in the form of new community organizations, or maybe fathers and husbands can be at peace with their families in the evenings instead of in a white hot, fearful rage; or maybe those same men will just stop being such pricks to one another. I don’t know what’ll happen, but I’m also not real worried about it.

“But,” you retort, “if we abstain from voting we will surrender the choice of leaders, and we might wind up with an incompetent or offensive buffoon in office!” You mean, for example, a billionaire libertine celebrity, or a man so old he hardly knows what he’s doing from day to day? Yes, I suppose that would be embarrassing on a national level. The difference is that I see it as a natural consequence of the process and you see it as a result of ‘not enough’ of the process.

Admittedly, we do need to talk about solutions. Simply choosing not to vote is no solution at all. It is a negative policy, not a positive approach to social life and community obligations. That is why it must be seen as just the beginning. I urge you not to vote, not so that you’ll do nothing, but so that you’ll do something else instead.

The problems we’ve identified so far with voting were many: it alters little, rarely serves the interests of the voter, and cannot be done with any real knowledge of the issues, much less the candidates. Yet there is a final issue which is perhaps worse than all these.

Healthy people desire to make a positive impact on the world around them. We wish for potency in our actions. If what we’ve said so far is true, then what voting offers is an empty promise of potency and positive impact. It takes our healthy desires and our constructive energies and short-circuits them. We walk away from the booth with the impression that we have done good, when in reality we have done little or nothing. We’ve been robbed.

Our alternative must overcome all of these problems. It must be action that is truly effective in a concrete way; it must hinge on real knowledge; and it must be capable of meeting real needs: those of our community, our family, our faith, etc. This requires a new approach to political activity.

It is time to admit that congress, parties, and distant politicians have become largely irrelevant. It means, therefore, you must worry about changing yourself more than about changing the president. It means turning off the TV and giving up your career as “armchair politician.” It means action.

Are you pro-life? Have a child. Have two. Take an unwed mother into your home and show that you are willing to prevent abortions with more than just your vote.

Do you complain about how the government shouldn’t adopt “one-size-fits all” policies that ignore the differences of person, place, and specific need? Then why send your child every day to the most rigid one-size-fits-all institution ever conceived—the public school? Teach your children at home and at their own pace and according to their own aptitudes.

Take up a healthy, productive activity. Trade your lawn for a garden. Lawns are an obsession of the affluent, a hobby of people disconnected from a lifestyle of real needs. You’ll learn that vegetables covered with blemishes but grown at home taste far better than the immaculate yet bland specimens you find at the store.

Educate yourself. Study logic and propaganda. Instead of passively absorbing your political opinions from the radio and the television, take an active part in formulating them yourself through history and literature.

Do you speak of family values?—be at home as much as possible. Live at home. If you can, work at home. Give birth at home. Die at home.

Do just about anything, but leave the ballot alone. The power of this first step, this vital first step, is that it is very realistic. Unlike most revolutions, it requires neither organization, nor violence, nor funding. It doesn’t even require a leader, which is to say, no one can sell it out. It takes place in the conscience of the citizen, and in that sense I can adopt Robert Frost’s words as my own:

You see the beauty of my proposal is

it needn’t wait on general revolution.

I bid you to the one-man revolution —

The only revolution that is coming.[1]

[1] Robert Frost, Build Soil.

Share This