Posts Tagged ‘Boots Riley’

We vote by mail in Oregon, so my ballot was submitted a while ago.  And, like many, I’m ready for this all to be over so the stupid ads and junk mail and “news” articles cluttering up my internet cease.  Even more than that, I’ll be happy to not have to engage in dialogue with true believer campaigners who are so sure electing their candidate will change everything.  Guess what?  It won’t.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m hardly one of those anarchists who claims you shouldn’t vote because it “legitimates the system” and is hypocritical, and then parrots an unsourced Emma Goldman quote.  That’s nonsense, and especially so when you live somewhere where there are ballot measures that decide policy put directly to voters.  And it does matter which candidate takes office.  That said, to me it’s important to remember how limited the impact of voting, especially for political offices, actually is.

In a recent article for Spin (“How Political Change Actually Happens”), Boots Riley of The Coup (who I’ll get to below the cut) and Occupy Oakland lays this point out as follows:

If what you want is actual change, then what has to be built is a mass movement that is militant and can use direct action to slow or stop profit. A movement that can do that can demand whatever it wants. Why? Because politicians answer the dictates of the ruling class, the 1%. [Politicians] are merely puppets. If you have a movement that stops a portion of the economic machine, the ruling class will make their puppets dance for you.

None of the changes that we see as great advances in human or civil rights have come by electing the right politician. Social Security, Medicare, Section 8, AFDC, Civil Rights legislation — that all came because there were movements that were using direct action to stop profits; movements that the ruling class was scared would turn revolutionary.

Interestingly, this reminder to question change through voting, reformist liberalism, and the existing socioeconomic system, is often most clearly expressed through music (though music is no substitute for real action, as Boots is always the first to mention).  And there are a number of artists who have recently released (or will soon release) albums with messages to this effect.  Here’s a quick rundown of a few I happen to like (skewing toward indy hip hop since that’s where I’m at right now), and I’d be happy to hear if you have other suggestions in this vein.