People like to use Lorde’s quote to explain why voting is useless.
The tools Lorde were discussing weren’t voting, books, university, or even conferences. What Lorde is discussing is a mindset. She is asking what is behind your theory or personal manifesto?
All people have arms. Lorde is not saying to cut off your arms, but to use them in a better way.
White people in the U.S. did not create or give us voting, books, or the idea of formal learning.
Voting, policy, academia are our arms.
“[H]ow do you deal with the fact that the women who clean your houses and tend your children while you attend conferences on feminist theory are, for the most part, poor women and women of Color? What is the theory behind racist feminism?” —Lorde
The same questions are being asked today, because people purposely misconstrued Lorde’s words, people with power. It would be much more convenient for many if we interpreted Lorde’s words for the colonized, minoritized, marginalized, and abbreviated as “Just don’t show up.” That is not what she said.
Oppressors often try to normalize their sadistic behaviors and their desires for you by helping to “translate” people who are trying to subvert the system.
For instance, the purposeful misinterpretation of Sartre’s existential play, “No Exit,” is that the theme is that hell is other people, but it is the “other” that should be emphasized. In “other,” he discussed a power dynamic where you are objectified as an “other” by other people. Those other people aren’t just other people. They are specific people with the power to control and create a narrative wherein, in the end, you will even judge yourself. The other is not everyone, just as the other is not god.
That is not what Sartre was saying. That interpretation that the “other” is “everyone” is Hobbes’ idea of “the war of all against all” which justifies authoritarianism.
Sartre as an existentialist, wasn’t saying that. Lorde as a person marginalized by the very same group of people misconstruing her words today did NOT say to check out of society, regardless of how many times accelerationists try to use her words to that end.
Aimé Césaire in “A Tempest” had the rebel speak this final line to his oppressor:
When a person tells their community not to vote and then mocks those in the community who are involved in the political system, then proceeds to beg the rich for money to fund their “revolutionary” projects through Patreon, VENMO, etc. I can’t help but suspect this is a person who is wildly ignorant of politics, behaviorism, psychology, history, philosophy, and how the world works genuinely or even worse —they know exactly what they are doing.
In Georgia, Republican State Representative Barry Fleming has authored an anti-voting bill, HB 531. HB 531 would limit early voting, requires people to mail in a copy of their ID with absentee ballots, ends Sunday voting, a day when in Georgia, African Americans do “Souls to the Polls” voting actions, and limit locations and times of dropbox voting.
Texas is also tightening up anti-voting laws with a focus on VOTER ID requirements. Republican State Representative Jacey Jetton told AP that he hopes to pass new regulations for verification of voters’ identity for mail-in voting to ensure “elections are accurate and that people feel it is conducted in such a way they are getting a fair, accurate election result.”
In a backlash to historic voter turnout in the 2020 general election, and grounded in a rash of baseless and racist allegations of voter fraud and election irregularities, legislators have introduced three times the number of bills to restrict voting access as compared to this time last year. Twenty-eight states have introduced, prefiled, or carried over 106 restrictive bills this year (as compared to 35 such bills in fifteen states on February 3, 2020).Brennan Center
Every single anti-government plan that eschews voting seems to involve begging for money from the exploiters and benefactors of the system the person or group claims is broken. I haven’t seen one dismantle the U.S. plan that didn’t include rich people in the U.S. (or some other imperialist country) donating money.
And I have asked, and I have watched. And I also have yet to see any wealthy person or Republican sponsor a bill to stop “revolutionaries” from begging for money. Seems like they would put an halt to that that if it worked in dismantling things.
I don’t find regularly begging for my life in quarterly intervals revolutionary.
I am very sure that this is definitely not what Lorde meant by “master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”