Are Political Parties Healthy For Society?

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"The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but only to have the law of nature for his rule."

--Samuel Adams, 1772
"The Rights of the Colonists"

In the United States, there are two political parties: Republicans and Democrats. For the past one hundred years, our government has held a rigid two-party system. Minority parties on the left include green activists and socialists. And minority parties on the right include nationalists and conservatives.

The alternatives to the Republicans and Democrats have always polled miserably low. Together, they have won every presidential election since 1852, and they have held control of congress since 1856. And counting the parties that the Democrats and Republicans came from, they've had majority power since 1792. All decisions on making and enforcing law, on economy and taxation, on war and peace, have been held exclusively in their hands.

"The distinct orders of men, nobles and people, soldiers and merchants, have all a distinct interest; but the more powerful oppresses the weaker with impunity, and without resistance; which begets a seeming tranquillity in such governments."

--David Hume, ~1700's
"On Parties in General"

Anyone who is interested in changing their social environment will find an interest in politics. But they'll be very discouraged at finding the dominance of the two-party system. To change society, you have option A and option B. That's it.

If you choose option C, your platform and proposed bills won't become law. In very few cases, a third party has triumphed in an election -- but the offices they hold are very few. At best, they'll hold 1% to 2% of the offices compared to either the Democrats or the Republicans.

"At present the governors, induced by the motives which I have named, treat their subjects badly; while they and their adherents, especially the young men of the governing class, are habituated to lead a life of luxury and idleness both of body and mind; they do nothing, and are incapable of resisting either pleasure or pain."

--Plato, 360 BC
"The Republic," Book 8

In order to get some of the power to change society, people have to make compromises. They have to set their values aside, join one of the two options, and then support their party. As a Republican, you are one out of fifty million voices. As a Democrat, you are one out of seventy million voices. With so many paddles in one direction, your oar will frantically wave about in helplessness. There is no redirecting the ship.

To make it up the party ladder, you'll have to go along with things. You'll have to listen to speeches, you'll have to distribute flyers, you'll have to canvass neighborhoods. If you complain about their agenda, everyday, you'll never reach the point where you can directly influence the politicians.

"Certainly then that people must needs be mad, or strangely infatuated, that build the chief hope of their common happiness or safety on a single person; who, if he happen to be good, can do no more than another man; if to be bad, hath in his hands to do more evil without check, than millions of other men."

--John Milton, 1660
"The Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth"

And the effect of the constant propaganda will be there. You joined the political party, so that you could change society, in a way that you felt was necessary. But in the end, you become disenchanted, because it was you who has become changed by the political party.

Politics is a dead end. It pacifies people by letting them think they have an option to change their world. This is the great benefit that political parties provide to politicians.

"Since there will be political power there will necessarily be subjects, got up in Republican fashion, as citizens, it is true, but who will none the less be subjects, and who as such will be forced to obey--because without obedience, there is no power possible. It will be said in answer to this that they will obey not men but laws which they will have made themselves. To that I shall reply that everybody knows how much, in the countries which are freest and most democratic, but politically governed, the people make the laws, and what their obedience to these laws signifies. Whoever is not deliberately desirous of taking fictions for realities must recognise quite well that, even in such countries, the people really obey not laws which they make themselves, but laws which are made in their name, and that to obey these laws means nothing else to them than to submit to the arbitrary will of some guarding and governing minority or, what amounts to the same thing, to be freely slaves."

--Mikhail Bakunin, ~1800's
"Marxism, Freedom, and the State," Chapter 5


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Punkerslut (or Andy Carloff) has traveled all across the United States and has experienced American life in the urban centers, as a homeless squatter and as a blue-collar, working-class laborer. Since high school and early development, he has composed a variety of ideas on education, politics, and economy. His positions are ultra-leftist: politically an Anarchist, economically a Socialist, and culturally a Syndicalist. His writings are available through his website:

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