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

Does voting prevent tyranny?

Here is another one you’ve no doubt heard a few times: “You must vote because voting is what stands in the way of tyranny.”

In its many forms, this argument basically asserts that voting is the “key ingredient” for a free society, and claims that we should vote for no other reason than to keep the freedom that we have. Without it, we could slip into tyranny, like all those other countries…

To answer this, I’ll mention another saying that you’ve probably heard: “If voting did any good, they’d make it illegal.”

That’s a joke, but it’s also true. After all, if voting was really the buttress of freedom, and if voting was what kept tyranny at bay, then why did the former Soviet Union encourage as many voters as possible to participate in its elections? A similar thing happened in Zaire, where the system consisted of a single party and only one man was allowed to run in elections, but suffrage was universal and compulsory.

Can we take these examples into account and still claim that voting is what keeps tyranny at bay? Obviously not. These oppressive governments needed their citizens to vote, because voters give legitimacy to the regime. As Boris Yeltsin said, “You can build a throne with bayonets, but it’s difficult to sit on.” Ballots are much more comfortable.

As we have said already and will say again elsewhere, one of the main functions of voting is bestowing consent on whatever government is facilitating the election. Participation in itself, regardless of how one votes, is enough to confer this legitimacy. The rulers of a voting nation are, by definition, popular. Whatever they do, they can say that they did it with the consent of the governed. Voting does not scare tyrants. Tyrants love voting. The more people the tyrant can get to vote, the happier he is. It is therefore the non-voter who threatens him, because only the non-voter withholds consent.

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