Blog Action Day 2012 – The Power of We

by Nic Olson

In my career as an eligible voter I have celebrated no victories. Not a single representative I have voted for has been elected, not a single party I have supported has won. On the contrary, they have usually lost quite successfully. I am well aware that my beliefs and values do not reflect those of the majority, Balls of Rice and my voting record reflect that quite well. This has all led me to a familiar cynical place where I have found myself many times before, for many different life issues. The Underdog Syndrome, where whenever I cheer for the underdog, they are doomed to fail. Sports, nerdy gentlemen in a bar, elections. The principle is the same, and my support seems to kill it.

Because of my lack of success in democracy, I have been debating whether it is worth my time to vote at all, not out of apathy or resignation, but as a form of protest. Because the voting system is off, and democracy is nothing more than choosing between egotistic businessmen who are often charismatic beings, but not exceptional people who love people—the wealthy who are already in positions of power, but want greater power to create greater wealth, and yes, I have a hard time not seeing all political leaders in that way. I still do believe that one human being should not and cannot properly represent an entire population, and that it is possible for there to be order and progress with no single person in charge. I’m still stuck on this one, but until I decide, I will continue to vote.

Then I came to understand protest. Dissent. The Occupy Movement, which many see as a futile collection of hippies, bums, and anarchists who decided to join together in several groups around the world to be able to collect welfare and charity more easily. A group of undemocratic urchins who, if they really cared about the system, would pull themselves out of the mire and contribute to society in a pragmatic, businesslike way. And this is likely why it resonated. Groups of likeminded people gathered to express their dissatisfaction with the structure of the system, the inequality and corruption. My ability to relate to such a movement likely came from my upbringing and affinity with the punk scene. Coming together in hundreds of different communities with no clear goal apart from stoking the young flames of revolt. Disapproval shown in groups of people physically gathering together. It felt right.

Despite the overly utopian seeming title of this year’s Blog Action Day, I have grown to understand the power of groups of people that come together with dissent, goals, and hope in common. The more I see the importance of participating in politics, the more I see that this means something greater than simply voting when an election is called. Although I will likely never in my lifetime see someone I voted for in a position of power, I can rest comfortably knowing that other actions can be taken. That groups of people outside of the realm of electoral politics can change policy, and are often necessary to do so. Regardless of whether or not my vote will ever be on the winning side or not, it is evident that the solidarity between groups of people is equally as important as being politically active. A group of people with a common goal may not make an obvious difference, but it always has the power to make a significant one.

When the cops and the courts refuse to confess the sins of the few, what is there left to do? The answer’s there right before your eyes: rise.

Propagandhi, Note to Self, Failed States