Monday, November 24, 2014

The Only Way to Stop the Empire

[In italiano]

Dear friends,

The final days of US empire are fast approaching. Perhaps its end will pass slowly and gradually, or perhaps the event will unfold rapidly and catastrophically. Maybe chaos will break loose, or maybe its demise will be organized well and proceed smoothly. This nobody knows, but the end of empire is coming as surely as day follows night and sun follows rain. Overexpansion, overreach and over-indebtedness will take their toll—as all past empires have discovered. Empires are like bacteria in a Petrie dish; unthinking, unseeing, unfeeling, they expand until they run out of food or contaminate their environment with their waste, and then they die. They are automatons, and they just can’t help it: they are programmed to expand or die, expand or die, and, in the end, expand and die.

What does the empire feed on? It feeds on money and fear; your money and your fear, both obtained with your cooperation. It is bigger now than when it faced an actual adversary in the Soviet Union. Russia is no adversary; all it wants is to be a normal country, at peace with the world. But the empire won’t let it, will it? It must create enemies. Who are our enemies? According to the authors of endless war they are North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Islamic terrorists. Are any of them actually capable of threatening the US? Well, yes, but they are all quite easy to deter. But the plan of the authors of endless war is not to deter them; it is to back them into a corner with political instability and sanctions, while whipping up the population on both sides into fear-filled frenzy.

We all know that the US military-industrial complex has become a self-perpetuating and uncontrollable organism, just like Dwight D. Eisenhower warned us in 1961. Everyone knows the phrase and Eisenhower's warning—it is part of our collective memory. At a trillion dollars a year and growing, with over 1000 bases ringing the planet, it has expanded far beyond what Eisenhower could have imagined in his worst nightmare. We can’t say we didn’t know: he warned us. After the National-Socialist episode in Germany, many good Germans voiced regrets at not speaking up, claiming that they didn’t know what was being done in their name. But we do not have that excuse: we all knew all along.

Nor was it the first time we were warned. General Smedley Butler told us before, in 1933, and his words are still with us, posted online. Why is it that everyone, generals included, suddenly gain wisdom immediately upon reaching retirement? Butler offered an explanation: his “mind was in suspended animation while serving as a soldier and following orders.” In 1933 Butler told us that he “was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.” He said:
“I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912…I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.”
This empire is nothing new, and we knew what it is and what it does all along. We can’t say we didn’t know. We have watched throughout our lives as the US put down every popular uprising against local autocrats and oligarchs, placed countries under US control, then helped organize and train the death squads that killed off the opposition. Think of Indonesia, Argentina, or Honduras. We watched as the empire crushed every democratic government that threatened US business interests under the false pretext of “anti-communism,” starting with Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, and proceeding to Congo, Haiti (numerous times), and most notably and infamously Chile in 1973 (assassinating president Salvador Allende on September 11, 1973), Nicaragua in the 1980’s, and many, many others. (For details see William Blum’s Killing Hope.) And of course, many of us lived through the epic lies and genocide of millions in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia during the so-called “Vietnam War.” We knew, we watched, and we paid taxes that paid for the bullets and the bombs.

More recently we’ve seen the barefaced lies of empire laid out for all to see in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Georgia, Pakistan, Yemen, Ukraine... they never end! But the trouble we stir up in other places never seems to come home and ring our doorbell, does it? Maybe that’s why it keeps on going. We think that we can just ignore it and go on with our lives—that it won’t affect us. Or does it?

Let’s leave aside the destruction of democracy that always accompanies a militarized, fascist police state that the US has gradually turned into. And let’s ignore the violence that pervades US society, or the vast gulag of incarceration that disposes of our useless eaters. Consider that the only military attack on US soil that actually scored a palpable hit since Pearl Harbor was 9/11. Pearl Harbor was on the periphery, way out in the Pacific, “A Day that will live in Infamy,” the more so since FDR knew it was coming and did all he could to provoke it by cutting Japan off from oil supplies, directly provoking it into launching the attack. But Hawaii is the periphery while 9/11 struck at the heart of the empire, the financial center in New York that drives the imperial wealth pump, and the Pentagon, which is charged with the mission of US world domination.

Whether you believe that 19 Arabs armed with box cutters who couldn’t fly propeller planes took down 3 World Trade buildings that plummeted straight down at the speed of freefall in what looked like controlled demolition (yes there were 3, look up “Building 7”), and destroyed a section of the Pentagon, or whether you believe it was an inside job, doesn’t matter. The point is, in that act of destruction, the wars of the empire finally came home.

What was the result? Did these events cause us to reconsider what we are doing? Of course not! Instead, we went all-in for war. Remember, the empire is an automaton, a self-perpetuating organism, living on money and fear. What better way to whip up fear than to stage, or to allow, or to simply fail to prevent, an attack on the “homeland”—which is, by the way, a Nazi propaganda term. The purpose of war is simply to cause more war, since it is so profitable for the badly misnamed “defense industry.” Butler told us in 1933 that “war is a racket,” and documented massive war profiteering during WWI. Do you know how much money Lockheed, Northrop-Grumman, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon et al. are making from the “War on Terror”? The sums are astronomical.

As you read these words, the empire is busy doing its work in Ukraine. Here is how that works. First, it overthrows the elected government in a US-backed coup. Next, it directs its local puppet regime to unleash a military attack and organize death squads to deal with the population in the east that won't go along with the US-backed coup, in this case using actual Nazi-branded death squads, complete with Nazi SS Insignias. (Anyone can verify these facts with the most cursory internet search.) And for the final, consummate imperialist touch, it votes in the UN (together with Canada) against a resolution condemning the Ukrainian Nazis and other racist murderers, while the Europeans shamefacedly abstain. This sort of plan used to work really well, and so the empire keeps repeating it over and over again, even though the results are worse every time.

Vast numbers of Americans support the empire’s wars of conquest because they help maintain their lavish lifestyles. They bother some of us more than others. Many of us are adamantly against them, but only a few find it emotionally unbearable to countenance the destruction of millions of lives in our names and with our money. What makes them different? Who knows, you would have to ask a psychologist.

The question for those who oppose endless war is, What have we done about it? A mass movement in the 1960’s that added up to an uprising by a vast segment of society perhaps had something to do with ending the conflict in Vietnam. In spite of these protests, the empire was able to extend the war by an extra five years all the way to 1973, when it agreed to end it on the same terms that had been offered in 1968 to Nobel “peace laureate” Henry Kissinger. There has been no significant anti-war protest since then, and certainly none that succeeded in preventing or ending war. Why?

First, the draft was ended. This put an end to the involvement of average US families in the wars of empire, and therefore ending the requirement for consent of the governed. The strategists realized that the draft was a disaster for the empire. The new, much better and cheaper way to procure cannon fodder for the endless war is to enlist the children of the underclass, by using economic oppression in order to deprive them of any other means of advancement except military service.

Second, the military has been outsourced and privatized, requiring even less involvement by US families in the military, and less need for their consent. “You’re all volunteers, so shut up” is the attitude.

Third, the vastly increased scope of domestic spying by the NSA and other government agencies has helped keep everyone under control and stifle dissent.

Fourth is the tight government/corporate control of the US media, which has become consummately successful in brainwashing and propagandizing the population.

Finally, there is the war on whistleblowers and journalists who expose the truth, from Tom Drake to William Binney, Sibel Simons, Jesselyn Radack, Bradley Manning and Julian Assange. If necessary, the police, who are vastly more militarized than in the past, together with national guard troops, can squash any dissent like a bug. All these measures ensure that efforts at reform pursued through legal, nonviolent means such as voting, protest, civil disobedience, civil resistance, etc. will have absolutely no effect. The only action that can possibly stop the empire in its tracks is cutting off its food supply—the tax money on which it lives. We have to starve the beast through divestment, capital expatriation, tax resistance, tax refusal and tax revolt. Former Secretary of State Alexander Haig told us this flat out in the 1980’s when, being confronted with huge protests over US Central American policy, he said: “Let them protest all they want as long as they pay their taxes.” Truer words were never uttered by a US official. Is there any evidence to contradict his statement? Has any other measure had any impact on the war machine? The honest answer is no. Millions of people around the world protested before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. These protests were ignored. No amount of protest or other efforts can stop it, because it doesn’t cut off the empire’s food supply of money and fear. Only by cutting off its funds by not paying taxes can we stop the empire.

Many have said that the US doesn’t need tax money as it survives on endless debt. Yes, the empire lives on debt, but the ability to sell debt is based on the bond rating of US treasury bonds. Most recently in June, 2014 S&P gave the US a AA+ rating with “stable outlook.”

If there is any doubt about the US credit rating, the ability to sell debt to continue financing the empire comes into question. The ability to collect taxes is what maintains the US bond rating. Any reduction of the US bond rating, and interest rates have to go up in order to continue attracting more investment. Then the interest on the debt balloons out of control and becomes unrepayable—never mind the principal, which they have no intention of ever paying back. By the way, the Tea Party’s efforts to shut down government by refusing to raise the debt ceiling was helping this effort for a time, although for different reasons. They thought that the welfare system is bankrupting the country. This is a laughable claim, because welfare spending looks negligible when compared to military spending. Still, they did manage to lower the bond rating for a time. Shutting down the federal government is a step in the right direction, and since in recent years only the Tea Party has managed to do it, lets give them some credit

If the US became unable to reliably collect taxes, then its ability to finance the empire with debt would be diminished, and the US would have to turn to increasing taxes—another politically unpalatable choice, especially in the age of the Tea Party, when the empire’s main constituency is dead-set against more taxes. So it is absolutely clear that the only thing that could stop the empire is a tax revolt. It wouldn’t even have to be that big; the slightest question about the ability of the federal government to collect taxes could reduce the bond rating. Even a minor reduction could raise interest rates enough to make the US debt unrepayable.

Let's get down to brass tacks: How do you avoid paying taxes, when the IRS withholds our salaries, and the tables are rigged to withhold about 15% more than necessary on average, so 80% of people get a refund? Did you think that this is a coincidence? No, this is a one-year interest-free loan to the empire from taxpayers. But it’s actually quite simple not to pay taxes. Get a W-4 form, write EXEMPT in the space provided, and turn it in to your friendly HR office. Your employer is not allowed to change it unless directed by the IRS. Normally they have no reason to question it.

Here’s what happened last time it was tried on a big scale. In 2007, Code Pink joined the War Resisters League to organize a national project for war tax refusal, to “Stop Bush’s Wars.” This was not a true tax revolt, just more or less a referendum on how many people would potentially support withholding a portion of their taxes owed, even a token amount. The online petition asked people if they would be willing to commit to withhold some of their taxes, even $1, if 100,000 other people would agree to do the same. Out of the US population of 316 million, how many people do you think signed it? About 2,000. So you see, there is not much evidence that people will do the only thing that could stop the empire: a true Tea Party tax revolt.

What this implies is that the empire will continue to churn along, and debt will continue to build up, because any other approach to paying for it is not feasible, and therefore collapse is inevitable. The aftermath of collapse is unpredictable; maybe there will be a soft landing, maybe not. But unless you are willing to engage in some form of tax revolt, collapse is inevitable. You will get to live with the results: stage a tax revolt now, or face collapse later.

Are you sure you want to take your chances on collapse? The results of a personal tax revolt are predictable: retribution with penalties and interest from the IRS; living in fear of having your salary, your property, even your house seized, or worse, your door broken down by federal agents (although these extreme measures don’t happen too often, they happen often enough to instill fear). Perhaps there would be loss of income, or even your job. Losing one’s job often leads to depression, divorce, drug or alcohol abuse, etc. So you may prefer collapse after all: loss of your savings, no heat, electricity or trash removal, shops looted or closed, armed gangs roaming the streets... Your choice!

On the other hand, collapse might go well! Hope springs eternal in the optimistic American heart. We are (or used to be) the “can-do” people. Maybe we can-do collapse better than anyone else? Doubtful though if you read Dmitry Orlov’s Collapse Gap presentation.

The results of collapse later are likely to be worse then the effects of tax revolt now. Especially, since the IRS takes years to catch up to exempt W-4 forms, and it would be even harder to crack down if it were being was done en masse. But it’s perfectly understandable if you opt to do nothing now and suffer no consequences, while engaging in ineffective protest to assuage your conscience. You probably have a family to support, an expensive hobby, or some other excuse. So you decide to take your chances with collapse later. After all, collapse might turn out OK for you! This psychology is quite understandable. I truly hope that collapse will be as painless as you wish it will be, but somehow I doubt it. Good luck though! Whatever happens, you will have to live with your decision for the rest of your life—be it long or short.

Signed, expat and long-time conscientious tax refuser, Gary Flomenhoft.

23 comments :

mephistopheles lux said...

Two points Mr. Orlov:

#1. "There has been no significant anti-war protest since then, and certainly none that succeeded in preventing or ending war. Why?"

One might argue that there is actually a massive protest taking place, but it's not like the old models. History has demonstrated that walking around with signs accomplishes little. The new protest is invisible, asymmetric non-hierarchical. The powers that be cannot co-opt it, and god knows they have tried. It is an intellectual protest. It can be seen in the plummeting ratings of the old media. It can be seen in the comments on internet forums, the mocking of the mainstream propaganda, the rise of the alternative media. The intellectual protest has rapidly been gaining momentum since 9/11, but don't expect it to be televised.

#2. The empire does not rely so much on income tax as the petro dollar tax. That is it's Achilles heel, and it is well known by the anti-imperialists countries.

Chad M. Thompson said...

This can be done perfectly legally.

Itemize your deductions, give generously to charity, have a family, don’t make over 100K, get HR to adjust your deductions so they don’t take any income taxes out, and you will very likely not owe any federal income tax.

I do this with a family of four with a household income of 60K and even get a sizeable tax refund despite owing no federal income tax.

Jim R said...

Haha, maybe that tax revolt will start in the City of London.

I guess you saw the story -- the IRS is going after Mayor Boris Johnson for income tax. Apparently he is a dual citizen, or has a US passprot, or something. So the IRS claims he owes US income tax. He seems to disagree.

Diego said...

You forgot a sixth point: in most cases, you don't even need to send troops into other countries. You can simply fund NGOs or back up opposition groups that will make the war for you.

michigan native said...

Great post. The one thing that really stuck out was "Maybe chaos will break loose, or maybe its demise will be organized well and proceed smoothly."

The initial reactions to the impending collapse are not at all promising. The former outcome is already manifesting, and it is all but certain the US will go through stages 4 and 5

The racial tension that I saw as one of the bigger power kegs appears to be gaining momentum. Hardly a week goes by without some story of another homeless person or unarmed person getting beaten, strangled, shot or killed by trigger/ticket happy police officers. Not the case in Ferguson, which is the latest, but others that are being beaten shot for walking along the freeway median, selling cigarettes, seat belt violations.

Cut those austerity programs/safety nets for millions and LA style riots will be an everyday occurrence all over the US. People from all walks of life are beginning to resent the police and "forces of law and order", as their new preoccupation seems to be stealing money from anyone in anyway they can....fines, fees, penalties, taxes, tickets.I was just listening to two ER doctors curse the men in blue because they got pulled over for 5 miles over the limit and having a cracked windshield, the other for running a yellow light. So it's not just the poor, just the poor like at their actions more like genocide than revenue raising for broke local, county, and state governments. Meanwhile, gun and ammo manufacturers can't keep up with the demand for their products while the police are getting mine resistant armored vehicles and getting more militarized, like they are anticipating a war.

The response to the plight of the homeless is rather telling. The good people of Ft Lauderdale FL make it illegal to feed the homeless, arresting a 90 year old pastor. There is a video of the police in St Petersburg FL cutting up a tent city with box cutters that the homeless, many of them veterans, set up. A WWII vet that worked at a Cracker Barrel restaurant was fired for giving some food to a homeless man.

The cops on steroids, the racial tensions, and this social Darwinian, callous "fuck em" attitude towards the growing number of homeless, people living in poverty, and the mentally ill confirms that when the dollar finally fails and the orgy of cheap energy that we are so used to ceases to be, collapse in the US will be a nightmare beyond anyone's wildest imaginations.

Ave said...

Let's try a different approach for a change.

A. A world of oligarchs

Do we really believe that the removal of a large old predator (the US) will not allow younger, smaller, predators to replace them ? Who already runs the places from which the US will withdraw, if not the equivalent of oligarchs ?

The prevalent economic model worldwide is the shantytown, where oligarchs or other forms of local lords employ gangs of thugs to keep people in line (read “World of slums” by Mike Davis). It is the cheapest possible way to run a population, especially one that is adding little value (see below).

Try and organize your tax strikes then, oligarchs have their own way to solve tax strikes (it involves removing fingers if I recall correctly) or any kind of opposition, resistance or contestation.


B. The emerging US oligarchy

I use the word oligarchs in a somewhat ex-USSR context, as people who run regions or small states as their personal fiedom. It has hence a local aspect to it.

From what I see from the United States, secessionist movements (don't ever dream you'll have any say in it), militarisation of police forces, fake grassroots (astroturf) movements such as the Tea Party and also sectarian religions (some US Christian movements for instance) are paving the way for such an oligarchic feodality.

We could see this a a controlled demolition of a country, instead of an abrupt, chaotic collapse. It would be, in fact, a transition.

C. The waning of human-produced value

Although we are witnessing dramatic technological leaps in the realm of robotics and AI, few people go beyond the evidence of induced unemployment : this changes human society altogether.

Why should you as an individual get any ressources at all if you're actually consuming more ressources than you're producing ? Without the possibility to add value, due tu substitution by non-human means, increasingly more humans are being excluded permanently from the workforce, and then possibly from the economy (i.e. life) altogether.

This is a different game than the desindustrialisation of the 70's or the mechanization of agriculture. This time, there is nothing else to do, nowhere else to go, and this even for many qualified workers. Taken to its logical limits, it is a negative-sum game : if I can lose more unproductive (ressource-destroying) people than the other countries, I win.

So I wouldn't see the evolution of the USA as a collapse as much as an economic mutation, where large chunks of the old (obsolete) system is let to rot. It happened before, with every economic mutation (Sheffield, Detroit), but this one is special in its inhuman nature. And the USA seems to lead the way.

We may not like it, but the USA is still colonizing the brains of the world's youth, more than ever before, actually. It is tempting to hope for a collapse of this inhuman monster that is sacrificing so much of humanity, but it may not be as simple as that.

Gary said...

Diego,
Good point.

MIchigan Native,
You forgot the new favorite way police make money: asset forfeiture. They just take your property with no need to prove any wrong-doing and there is no recourse. Maybe police are already in collapse mode, and are just more forward thinking and ahead of the looting mobs?

Ave,
A) Yes, Younger smaller predators may indeed replace the US, but can't do nearly the damage. They kill hundreds, the US kills millions. The IRS is a gigantic dysfunctional bureaucracy and couldn't possibly keep up if even a small fraction of the US population stopped paying taxes.

C) quite interesting. Maximum labor productivity is achieved with ZERO labor. Thus all the useless eaters in jail. This will also tend to bankrupt the empire.

I agree US propaganda is still strong so I am appealing to the people who know and still do nothing effective.

Black said...

The rich hate paying taxes, but like shopping! I thought the best way to tax the rich and be sure it goes to the people is to FORCE wealthy to spend in the U.S., a percentage of their wealth above $10 million, increasing as THEY gain wealth.

This forces the money to be released back into the economy from its imprisonment in scrooge's vault, while technically they can make a return on that purchase or at least have some more stuff.

The economy and the poor people who operate it win and the wealthy don't lose. The rich may hate the government, but they can't hate government sponsored capitalism enhancement.

forrest said...

Our gulags are not 'locking up the useless eaters'; they are locking up anybody marginal whom the authorities can 'get something on', as in 'surviving via a black-market business'.

The useless eaters -- Those munching the bulk of the loot -- are partying elsewhere.

Unknown said...

Correction needed: whistleblower Sibel Edmonds

dale said...

If you drop out of the industrial economy, you won't pay taxes because you will make no money. You can also purposely limit your income to the threshold of where you would pay taxes. This has the added plus of not contributing to the unsustainable industrial system, which is part and parcel of the US Empire. That is a more multi-varied and dynamic approach than this article. In some US States you can get the added benefit of having Obamacare picking up medical expenses, or at least relieving you of the upfront extortions of insurance costs. This is anathema to the vast multitudes of Americans because to make it work means not spending money. A major way not spend money is not to drive a car. Not spending money and not driving a car is about as realistic to Americans as relocating to Mars even though its been what most Human beings have done throughout Human history. I am not just postulating, I am doing it to a large degree. It entails a lot of bike miles and growing most of my own food. David Holmgren, the co-originator of Permaculture, espouses this as well as a methodology to make it happen. Theoretically, it is a total hedge of Collapse in addition to being a revolt and seems to me to be the only sensible course. I don't think it will work out as an effective revolt or a hedge tho because there just isn't a critical mass of people who have figured this out, let alone doing it.

ivar laegreid said...

The only "activist" that matter?

http://www.freeirwinschiff.org/

Gary said...

Dale,
You make a good point that we considered putting in the article, but decided not to because although highly admirable behavior, it will not bring down the empire like a tax revolt will, for reasons explained in the article, and you explained yourself.

ivar,
Irwin Schiff and others like him claim that the income tax is unconstitutional, and/or probably not ratified properly by the states, and they are probably right on both counts. Although they have different reasons for not paying income taxes, any tax revolt is helpful to starve the beast. More power to them.

I looked thoroughly into that approach and even tried it briefly, but all such claims are found to be "frivolous" by the IRS. I decided it was more honest for me to just refuse to pay on the basis of refusal to cooperate with crimes against humanity, war crimes, and militarism.

Mike Edera said...

A debt revolt would do faster damage to the financial industry and its subsidiary - the US Government, and with less effect on the resisters. Work with the anti-foreclosure movement has shown me that this movement has vast potential, although it lacks solid organizing at this point.

José DeSouza said...

According to Modern Monetary Theory (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_Monetary_Theory), taxes are required by governments just to create a demand for their fiat money, not to finance anything. What really funds the US government is its huge ability to impose a debt burden both domestically and abroad. These are well-known facts.

On the other hand, more and more people are realizing that the US dollar is really a scam. So, some countries are already taking the first steps to move away from the US dollar hegemony. It′ll probably be the equivalent of throwing a wrench into the US empire machinery.

Tom Jablonski said...

I think that there is also much more to stopping the empire than to stop paying tax, although that is probably not my excuse for paying mine. The ultimate way to stop the empire is to stop participating completely in the empire, something that is more difficult to do then changing a W2 form. On my end, I am really locked into making a living, by playing my part in the empire. Granted, I supposed I don't have to, I could try and grow my own food, hopefully our morgage will soon be paid off, and I don't need any new clothes for some time, but my house needs heat in the winter time, and I need to be able to pay for the gas to heat it. The communitee I live in charges me a property tax to live in my home. As I understand it, I am obligated by law to purchase health care insurance. All these "chains" keep me tied to empire and for the time being tied to a job the empire pays me to do. I think that Mr. Flomenhoft's suggestion on the surface is a good one, and my guess would be that he has found a way out of playing his other parts in empire. On my end what might be helpful would be to hear more about what else he has done besides not paying his taxes - as much as that part is heroic in and of itself.

Gary said...

Mike,
I like your perspective that the US govt is a subsidiary of Wall St. Please elaborate on what debt revolt entails.

Gary said...

Tom Jablonksi,
Dale brought up the same point, and I suggested to Dmitry an entire article devoted to this. Yes, it is possible to live outside the US dollar system, but it wouldn't collapse the empire, because there are so many who can't.

My point here is that if tomorrow enough people simply turned in an "EXEMPT" W-4 form, the empire would collapse in short order. That is something that takes about 10 minutes of your time at the HR office. Try it and see what happens! Probably nothing for several years. That was my experience. You can always change it back if you chicken out. You could even try 10 exemptions but EXEMPT is better. Living outside the US dollar takes much more effort. The W-4 is something anyone can do right now. Try it.

sumchancer said...

Great article, ive been saying for awhile when people speak of 'humanitarian intervention' that kindness doesn't move armies, armies are moved by the same two forces that move markets... fear and greed. The same forces that move markets and armies also move empires? Yep, makes sense. They are all three expression of the same basic forces, fear and greed.

forrest said...

Tax revolts... As someone here already said, if something like that began to have a serious impact, the government would soon enough be breaking fingers... and legs... and would still be funding anything that mattered to our rulers by a mix of crimes & monopoly-money.

If we reached a point of collective estrangement where such a revolt could significantly impede governmental misbehavior...

That in itself would imply such a powerful state of public dissatisfaction that just about any protest tactic -- that wasn't so dumb-evil as to trigger an authoritarian backlash -- would bring the system down.

reneegate said...

yes we can ... continue

Bukko Boomeranger said...

Gary F: a quibble here, but you contradict yourself within a couple paragraphs when you write "There has been no significant anti-war protest since then" and then mention the millions around the world (including me) who protested before Iraq Attack II (to no avail.) Plenty of anti-war people are out there, but they're marginalised in the mainstream propagandamedia and ignored by the people with power. I suppose you could argue that that makes them insignificant. If a lot of trees howl in the forest but the mighty oaks on the mountain have their fingers in their ears, do they really make a sound? Or something like that.

Re: the ending of the American military conscription and its replacement with the "poverty draft" of the "all-volunteer" armed forces -- did you ever consider the similarity of that with the end of slavery in the U.S. and the growth of the sharecropper system? In both cases, mandatory servitude was officially off the books, but it was replaced by economic servitude. Which was even better for the masters, whether they be plantation owners or generals, because the workers/soldiers were more disposable. Because they were no longer valuable property that had to be paid for and maintained like an investment, black field hands could be left to die in squalor once they could no longer work. Just as wounded/mind-warped soldiers can be left to rot and go insane in crappy Veterans Administration hospitals and alcohol-ridden meth-streets, once they're not good fodder for the killing legions. People are no longer citizens in the eyes of the sociopaths who run the game. They're machines who can shudder themselves into unlubricated oblivion once their production value goes below the cost of upkeep.

Lastly, a brag here, but my way of rebelling against taxes was to get the hell out of the U.S. when it became clear that protesting and voting meant nothing. I am fortunate that I have a licence to wipe people's bottoms, which is a portable career, and my sense of moral revulsion about paying for death was strong enough to overcome my inertia to stay in a comfortable culture. I also got all my money out of the Imperial dollar and regularly convert surplus savings into stuff that I can "drop on my foot," if you know what I mean. That effectively extinguishes money, further starving the economic system a little.

I fled to an obscure corner of the Anglo-Amerikan Empire, but at least it merely joins their colonial wars, doesn't start them. I don't object to paying taxes per se, as long as the money mostly goes for good causes such as health care and services from a predominantly benign government. Like commenter Dale, I deliberately don't own a car, and I chose the city I live in because of its good tram/train/bicycle-friendly layout. If more people would resist in whatever ways they can, it would not take a majority to reach the critical mass that jams the machine. That way, we could get the Collapse we want, not the inevitable one that will result from entropic chaos.

Gary said...

Bukko,
Comments appreciated. Your zen koan caught my drift on Iraq protest. It might be possible to say that public protest against attacking Syria prevented it, but I really think that had nothing to do with it. It was mostly the British Parliament not going along.

I hadn't considered the similarity of poverty draft with sharecropping, I guess if it works don't fix it. It's not like the psychopaths hide what they're doing. Kissinger publicly called soldiers, "dumb stupid animals for the conduct of foreign policy."

My highest admiration for your sense of moral revulsion. I mean this with all sincerity.

This is the missing characteristic in Americans, or is it humans? Perhaps it's just geographical discounting? Those things we do are just too far away? Well it's coming home now, so those folks will get to see it first hand. Roman soldiers apparently pillaged their own cities to get paid. Police are already doing it with asset forfeiture.

As Dmitry stated in follow up article. "what more do they have to do to convince you? Kill you?" Apparently so, as people protest killing dozens of unarmed American black people, but have no problem killing millions of colored foreign people.

Thanks for doing your part.