Common Error No. 73


58. "If people don't like the policies of their trade union, student union or local council, they have only their own apathy to blame. They should become more active and change things."

Why should they?  Why should people be punished for the pursuit of their lawful interests?  Why should they have a system inflicted on them which takes away their rights unless they become active in organizations which do not interest them?

Most people eligible to participate in trade unions or student unions, and most local residents, probably have spare time activities. There are innumerable hobbies and pursuits to engage an active mind or an energetic body. Students, for example, are often interested in sports, in entertainment, in socializing, and even, occasionally, in studying. These are normal pursuits. Those who feel impelled to engage in full-time politicking are the unusual ones. The rest of the group should not be penalized for being normal, and should not have things done in their name that they object to.

The same applies to trade union members or local government electors. They should not be required to engage in unpleasant and time-consuming pursuits in order to prevent things being done to them or in their name which they do not support. It is not apathy which keeps them away from this type or activity, it is normality, and they should neither be blamed for it, nor made to suffer because of it. Those who have tried to operate "within the system" know how tiresome, time-consuming and corrupt it can be, with political extremists relying on late-night meetings and turgid procedural points to drive away normal people.

There should be freedom of association, and no compulsory membership of organizations claiming representative powers, no forcing people into trade or student unions. Those who wish to join and participate can do so, and the others should not lose rights by declining to participate. Non-participation should not be blamed as 'apathy,' but respected as a free decision.