Two-thousand years after the Prince of Peace showed us how to end violence and establish peace, violence persists. Now, with weapons of mass destruction, it threatens to exterminate mankind. Do we lack what it takes to embrace nonviolence and achieve peace on earth?
Jesus’ way: Love God and your neighbor as yourself, including your enemies. Do not respond to violence with force, turn the other cheek. Do to others as you would have them do to you. Give of your own resources to those in need. Be righteous, God will show you how to obtain your daily needs without violence. It’s that simple.
No one can survive alone. Everyone needs goods or services from others. Most people obtain from others peacefully, as gifts, through exchange, or by borrowing. Some take what they want by fraud or force, which includes government “benefits.” Governments acquire resources by taxing. Tax laws are enforced. People are forced to pay. Jesus asked, parabolically and rhetorically, “Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money?” (Matthew 20:15)
No person has authority to forcibly control or take from others. The “authority” governments assert to initiate force to collect taxes and enforce its laws cannot have been delegated by the people. It is impossible for people to delegate an authority they don’t themselves have. The state’s claim of authority is illegitimate.
Voluntaryism is the philosophy that all forms of human association should be voluntary, all human intercourse peaceful. It is the nonviolent, nonpolitical way to a free society. It rejects electoral politics in theory and practice as incompatible with the principles of freedom. Governments must cloak their violent actions with an aura of moral legitimacy to sustain their power. Voluntaryists seek to delegitimize the state and its violence through education. They advocate peaceful withdrawal of cooperation and consent, upon which the state and institutionalized violence depend. Their principles harmonize with those of Jesus.
Government force is the crux of the violence problem. It sets a precedent and serves as an example for individuals to follow. Taxes supply government its vitality, but they are also its Achilles’ heel. Without taxes, the state would wither, violence throughout the world would abate.
Wars depend on taxes. Weapons of mass destruction are developed with taxes. Warriors are compensated for killing with tax dollars. Genocide is funded by taxes. Taxes pay executioners’ salaries. They enable foreign intrigues. Taxes pay for surveillance and control of people. Gun-toting NSA, CIA, IRS, FBI, DHS, DOJ, ATF, BOP agents, soldiers, drone pilots and marines are all tax paid. Taxes and violence are synonymous and ubiquitous.
On April 22, 1787, three-fourths of the world’s people were enslaved. Then, twelve ordinary men — nine Quakers, three Anglicans — met in London for the express purpose of abolishing slavery throughout the British Empire. Human laws had enabled slavery almost everywhere from time immemorial. Eighteenth-century England prospered from slave-dependent crops grown in its West-Indies colonies, and from its shipping, which carried captured black Africans to the Americas to be sold. No one but these 12 men could have imagined slavery would be illegal throughout the Empire in a mere 50 years. Twenty-eight years thereafter America followed suit. The committee evolved into the “Abolition Movement,” the most successful civil-rights campaign ever.
In imitation of those 12 men, it is my humble privilege to announce the formation of the Society for the Abolition of Taxation and Violence. The inaugural meeting to plan tactics and plot a course will be held during the fourth quarter of this year, probably in Chattanooga. The Society’s website, www.sfatv.org, with pertinent information will soon be up on the Internet. Meanwhile, anyone interested can contact the writer at 423-208-1896.
Ned Netterville is an activist, writer, retired pedicab driver, former cider-mill operator, and former member of the New York Stock Exchange. He lives in Lone Oak with my wife and dogs.