Most people do not really care for politics. It is not something that dominates their daily thoughts. In common discourse, ‘politics’ is merely a side-interest that has as much importance as topics such as the weather, or sports to people not fanatical about sports. This leads to what is generally referred to as ‘political apathy’ and can clearly be seen in the relatively low turnout at elections. Of course, our political masters claim to be concerned by this and make token attempts to rectify the situation. Indeed, without a high turnout, the concept of political ‘legitimacy’ and the ‘democratic system’ become precarious.
Political analysts frequently question why there is so much apathy. They think, “surely all of the people should be jumping in the air, ready to rip the ballot as it is given to them, and proudly declare their choice for leadership, given the thousands of years of despotism across the globe?” Yet this does not occur, and politics, even amongst those who do take an active interest in it, is something that contains little to no real passion, beyond the childish mockery displayed towards political opponents.
I look upon this apathy as something of a double-edged sword, relative to my own values. One the one hand, I consider political apathy to be ‘good’ in the sense that it undermines ‘legitimacy’ (according to their own definition), and is what I consider to be a sign of sanity amongst the populace (what truly self-aware person would pin the hopes of their entire life on complete strangers?). However, it also leads to a complete disconnect with the coercive reality of our time and stops most people thinking along any kind of political lines on any meaningful level.
It can certainly be said that the majority of people are not incapable of being politically informed to a certain degree. Indeed, so many people clearly have the ability to understand great swathes of information and to apply it to extremely complex analysis in other spheres. Take for example the prevalence of amateur sports pundits, who are able to conjure up the most obscure statistical facts and provide arguments that at times take a good degree of reasoning to come up with. The popularity of sports in this sense acts as an outlet for those frustrated with the lack of power in their own lives. Thus, they bury themselves into the watching and study of it, growing personally attached and passionate towards it. This passion is not found in politics because it is a staid and ‘predictable’ realm. In short, it is boring to them, and rightfully so – since heteronomous political processes cannot provide them with any form of true emancipation, being yet another form of self-delusion. There are of course aspects of politics in ‘the West’ where the fervour of sports fandom combines with politics. That mix however leads to the worst kinds of offensive violence that any sports event has been associated with and there lies the mistake of those who wish to nullify political apathy.
Outside of the political class , those who wish to lower political apathy do so because they believe that with a greater turnout, ‘better’ individuals will be elected to power. As clearly absurd as this claim may be, they still hold on to the idea of ‘good government’ through a greater turnout. I think that if people were less politically apathetic then actually, by gauging the general views of the populace in practically all countries, we would be living in an even worse situation for individual liberty and autonomy than we are now. Indeed, was it not a time of great political fervour when Adolf Hitler and many other mad men came to power?
So far from despairing from it, I cheer for political apathy. Long may it remain so that for good reason so many people remain uninterested in the political process.
Let us work towards a real emancipation whilst they worry about their precious ‘legitimacy’.