Zippy Catholic on voting

There are many arguments why voting is wrong. Let’s focus on one. Zippy Catholic emphasized that your intention to help a particular less-evil candidate is always less significant than the ritual affirmation of liberalism you thereby perform.

Voting in mass market democratic elections is not rational if it is viewed as a procedure by which we rank public preferences for candidates and choose candidates according to that ranking.

And it is not rational as a means to oppose evil in politics through a willingness to compromise, either as an individual or as part of a group effort.

But voting is perfectly rational from the point of view of our ruling class and their ruling ideology of liberalism. Because voting is a public liturgy in which a large portion of the populace personally endorses the legitimacy of our ruling class and their ruling ideology of liberalism.

Voting is perfectly rational as ritual act of doffing your hat to the king.


Participation in mass market elections in a modern liberal democracy involves asserting your own personal influence in pursuit of some specific outcome, given the options on a preselected ballot.

Your individual influence is negligible: you can only assert meaningful influence as part of a group effort. The more influence you hope to have on an election outcome, the more you must first ignore, and then embrace and affirm, liberalism.  The objective potency of your affirmation of liberalism always vastly outweighs your objective potency in terms of determining the outcome.

So here is the iron law:

Your personal influence over modern election outcomes is proportional to, and always infinitesimal in comparison to, your personal affirmation of liberalism.

22 thoughts on “Zippy Catholic on voting

  1. I may be wrong, but here goes.

    Here’s the problem, it’s not a sin to doff your hat to the king.

    If it’s not wrong in essence, I don’t think it’s wrong. It’s not “compromise” if the government is legitimate.

    I think it takes the same kind of abstruse reasoning that would eliminate all kinds of stuff, to the point where it might be scrupulous. Pay taxes? Compromising with liberalism. Do business with a company that pays taxes? Same thing, after all your taxes support a liberal regime. Serve in the military or the police? Supporting a liberal regime. So you can’t earn money, spend money, defend your country, enforce laws. If it’s not the same why isn’t it? It seems this line of reasoning is more restrictive than monasteries are. Like you needs must go out of the world.

    The real question is how we can know a government is legitimate and apart from direct revelation it’s not an easy question to answer. Paul used his status as a Roman citizen. David, Daniel, Joseph, all served pagan kings at some point and not casual pagans either. This just smells like a purity flex, a nice heavy burden that shows how trad you are. That being said I might be wrong. Not just saying that, I really might be and honestly the old philosophy muscles aren’t as strong as they used to be. For real, follow your own conscience.

    • The argument is not that voting is intrinsically immoral, but that when weighing the goods and evils of remote material cooperation in the case of mass market elections in a liberal democracy, the outcome dependent good effects are negligible and in most cases the personal bad effects are much larger, in that our vote conforms us to liberalism.
      Zippy often reminded that a prudential judgement does not mean that there is no objective fact regarding if a not intrinsically immoral act was good or bad, it just means that our intentions and the consequences of the act must be judged as well to determine so.
      I think the analogy to other civic acts is misplaced. In paying taxes, serving in the military, etc. it is still the case that we have to make a prudential judgement of whether the remote material cooperation with evil is licit. In the case of taxes, the penalties to ourselves for not paying them are obvious and will certainly outweigh any good from not paying them. No one is penalized by law for not voting in the U.S. (or currently for serving in the military.)
      Zippy’s argument really does not depend on if a particular government is legitimate. Rather, liberalism is an incoherent political theory and liberal commitments are not a good thing for us to have for that reason.

      • A rational case could be made that the cause of political conservativism has been permanently damaged by Donald J. Trump, because most political conservatives in America have recently worshipped not God and conservative limited-government libertarian political principles, but have sold their very own souls down the river for the cause of worshipping obeying and supporting in everything he thinks, believes, says and does, for the conservative cause of Donald J. Trump. Therefore because only few good conservatives like George W. Bush and others refused to worship Trump, and also Tom Ridge refused to support the Republicans in this, we see that political liberalism is now the majority political belief in America, with a large minority of liberals being pro life and against Obergefell SCOTUS decision, as a principled Liberal Democrat who refuses in good conscience to tow the party line on abortion and homosexuality. Socialism is the answer. Social Security Administration. No Marxism: Capitalist private property free market democratic liberal socialism. As in Scandinavia. Not Venezuela.

      • Please provide some examples of an Orthosphere author “worshipping obeying and supporting [Trump] in everything he thinks, believes, says and does.” The search function works quite well. Type in “Trump” and get back to us when you find a panegyric or eulogy.

        The difference between Scandinavian and Venezuelan socialism is Scandinavians and Venezuelans. So what does that tell us about socialism here? In any case, the USA is socialist, just dishonestly so.

      • I know it’s not your main point, Mr. Harrington, but I can’t resist pointing out that a conservative with limited-government libertarian political principles has already lost, if not his soul, at least his conservatism.

    • Voting is distinct from acts of obedience to a legitimate authority in that it is an actual endorsement. I also approve of symbols of respect and homage to a personal sovereign (follow the link to understand “doffing the hat”; it was a reference to a particularly obnoxious bit of republicanism being criticized by Zippy), but voting doesn’t only approve a person (which would be bad enough, since they all embrace intrinsically immoral acts and a false political philosophy) but also a system and its evil ideology.

  2. Some wit once said that if voting really mattered, they wouldn’t let us do it. On the other hand, we’re constantly being told that this particular election is the most important in history, because the other guy is so evil that if he gets in, we’re done.
    That should give us a clue about what we’re really doing when we vote, and that a system where nothing changes based on our individual vote and where matters of life and death of national importance are (theoretically) decided by the uninformed man on the street may not be such a great idea.
    If Hitler’s on the ballot, and has a serious chance of getting elected, then we have bigger problems that require better solutions than a vote.

  3. I’m still not convinced (or don’t want to be convinced). I read the words of Zippy Catholic, Bonald, Charlton, and David’s comments, and I nod along and agree up to the point where the solution is not voting, or as it has been termed “voting with your feet”. The rationale seems too self and inward directed, and the results beyond the self are illusory, but perhaps it is the right solution in the long-term. Which is why I’m curious about the various expectations of voting with your feet. Charlton seems to hope for it reaching a significant level that the ruling government is seen as illegitimate. What would that level of non-participation in voting need to be? Others seem to indicate that there are no expectations of mass acts of non-voting or any changes beyond the self. Is that accurate? Is this purely a matter of one’s spiritual well-being? And does it run the danger of being, as Hoyos termed it, a purity flex?

    • Vote or don’t vote, it literally makes no difference to the outcome of an election, let alone to the consequences of what whoever is elected does. That is simple reality we have to contend with.
      Even convincing the people we could realistically convince to vote one way or not vote, probably a hundred to a thousand people at best, will make no difference in a mass market election.
      And more, there is simply nothing much we, personally, can do to effect things on this scale, at least for good. “Not voting” is not a solution, but it is a start, as we have to destroy our own liberal commitments and help others, our family and friends first of all, to do the same.
      I think most anything could happen, given that Providence guides history and not mere material conditions, and if there is an awakening and repentance, then opportunities will be able to be found.
      Curtis Yarvin, formerly Mencius Moldbug, has a new article on his substack, about automated voting. This is what I expect will happen, and I think his solution will be the next step in the Hegelian Mambo: voting as total internecine liberalism gang warfare rather than a genteel intramural liberalism debating society.
      This article from Zippy is relevant:

      • I was with you up until “but it is a start”. A start of what? If not voting is as inconsequential as voting, if not voting is merely spitting in the face of King Liberalism rather than doffing one’s hat at King Liberalism, and in either case recognizing that we are individually meaningless and only as a group effort, whether in voting or not voting, can we have meaningful influence and thereby are merely affirming Liberalism, what is not voting and convincing others to not vote a start of? I feel like I’ve started reading a book towards the end and skipped a lot of earlier foundational writing I need to go back and read.

      • I could have made this clearer. The argument is that voting in mass market elections is, in almost all cases, not prudentially justified, therefore it is wrong. Stopping doing evil is always good, and repenting of doing evil is always justified.
        I say it is a start, mostly because I have never had much of a desire to vote myself, as not voting is even easier than voting and has the same effect on the outcome of an election.
        I do not know what is going to happen, but as individuals and as groups, we should stop endorsing a bad system and we should try to see clearly what is wrong in the system and in our own thinking.

      • Mr. Walker,

        This is an interesting question. I don’t have to answer it, since helping people realize that they have been endorsing evil and accomplishing nothing in the process is a worthwhile service.

        However, if we could inspire a group of people to not only abstain from voting but to publicly refuse to do it and to have some sense of connection to others so refusing, then this might be the beginning of something. If there were a penalty for abstaining from voting–not enough to be crippling, but enough that by accepting it we can prove our seriousness–that would actually help.

        Think how beautiful it would be if the bishops, instead of abasing themselves to “dialogue” and “cooperate” with any liberal regime no matter how noxious and anti-Catholic, were to forbid Catholics to vote or hold elected office, as in the early days after the accursed Risorgimento. For one thing, it would spare us some awkward discussions about how anti-Catholic a politician can be and still receive communion. More importantly, Catholics would learn to stop imputing the liberal state with moral credibility (it has none), stop imagining it is amenable to our entreaties or is a potential instrument of our agency (it isn’t), and stop believing that this freemasonic form of government is ordained by God (an idea any Catholic with the slightest loyalty to his ancestors should abhor).

        Of course, I’m not the first conservative or Christian to point out that we are shut out of government power (at least at the federal and state levels), and that our survival depends on organizing locally and non-politically. Many people have said that, but it never seems to sink in and probably cannot as long as conservatives and Christians still vote and are thus willing to endorse the political system that will be persecuting them.

      • Yeah, imagine if 30% of the electorate vocally refused to vote because voting signals one’s assent to liberalism. Or even 10%. This would have a beneficial effect regardless of who was elected president.
        Or take something perhaps more within the realm of possibility: imagine if a sufficient number of mainstream social conservatives had refused to vote for a candidate who publicly endorsed sodomy. Sodomy might still be a controversial issue rather than a settled one. Society tends sometimes to move more leftward under Republican presidents because when the Republican candidate or Republican president adopts leftist policies, their base is willing to go along with it for the sake of winning the election or to show their support for him against his enemies once elected. Policies that they never would have tolerated in a Democratic candidate or president.
        I think Zippy used to advise using the time that you would have used to vote to pray for your country instead. Certainly a more practical action.

      • @Ian

        When you say “imagine if 30% of the electorate vocally refused to vote because voting signals one’s assent to liberalism. Or even 10%.”, what do you mean by vocally? How would you count those voting with their feet? When we are told that more than 40% of the voting population already doesn’t vote, how do you know that 10-30% of the electorate is already choosing not to vote because of a refusal to assent to liberalism? This is part of my question of when the elected government would lose its perceived legitimacy. Biden was apparently elected by ~21% of the population and ~34% of eligible voters. And these numbers are high in comparison to earlier presidential elections, yet it appears the election of Biden has a higher level of perceived illegitimacy compared to those earlier presidential elections. What does this tell us about the effect of not voting? But this is probably where Bonald’s comment that local and non-political organization is needed beyond not voting. And I’m not arguing for voting. As I’ve said, I agree with all of the reasons given for not voting, and I generally don’t vote unless there is a confirmed pro-life candidate on the ballot. That is the single issue I vote on. Perhaps I shouldn’t even be doing that.

      • Justin,

        By ‘vocally’, I mean merely that those who refused to vote for the reason of withholding assent to liberalism would make known their rationale to their friends, family, and acquaintances: if ten percent of people did this, then everyone would know someone who refused to vote for this specific reason. This would put the idea of a wholesale rejection of liberalism ‘in the air’ so to speak, even if decidedly still a minority view. Politicians would even have to consider that group when campaigning on liberal positions for fear of losing mainstream conservative constituents to the ‘no-voting’ traditionalist bloc.

        Of course if you had bishops and other leaders calling on Christians not to vote, as Bonald imagines, that would only amplify this effect.

        That said, we are nowhere close to being ten percent of the population.

        The riot at the Capitol illustrated how unserious the conservative movement in America is: I’d have had some sympathy for conservatives storming the Supreme Court after the Obergefell decision (this would have at least evinced some vestiges of health in our society), but rioting over an election result? Voting causes us to place undue importance on elections.

        [By the way, anyone know why paragraph breaks sometimes don’t show up in the published comments?]

  4. This is very true. By *not voting* in the late elections, I thereby insured that Trump won in my district by a margin of (roughly) 90/10; whereas, had I voted, I would have thereby insured that Trump (literally, Hitler, spelled differently) would win by a margin of (roughly) … 90/10. Ahem.

    The abject stupidity in some of these “arguments” sometimes amazes me even more so than their abject moral turpitude.

  5. I consider myself a friend to the idea of anti-voting, haven’t voted in mass market elections in several years, but also find myself inadequate to the task of spreading the good news of abstention. If I try to explain, I lose people somewhere around the part of the argument in which benefits from not participating in an essentially liberalism-affirming exercise dwarfs in many orders of magnitude whatever benefit your vote might have on the election.

    I gather that people have a hard time evaluating the tangible act of casting a vote vs. the abstract concept of how casting such a vote is a ritual in the liberal order. They don’t want to affirm no liberalism, they just voting.

    • It might be worth doing anyway if only because it might introduce someone to traditionalist thought. I remember in 2016 trying to explain my non-voting stance to a new acquaintance, and discussion inevitably turned to more fundamental matters: you can’t really explain the argument without explaining why you reject liberalism.

      The argument is unlikely to have much purchase on those who have not rejected liberal premises anyway, since they won’t see any problem with assenting to liberalism. In my case, once I was introduced to reactionary thought and had become convinced of it, it shortly became obvious to me that I should no longer participate in mass elections. This was before I had discovered Zippy’s arguments, although he provided welcome articulation of the position.


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.