by Darren Wolfe
One hopes that this sign could be the beginning of pacifists understanding that taxes and war go hand in hand. It was displayed at the Brandywine Peace Community’s Good Friday Stations of Justice, Peace, and Nonviolent Resistance at Lockheed Martin, King of Prussia, PA (Mainstream media coverage can be read here.)
Knowledge that war depends on taxation is nothing new. During World War II Disney helped with propaganda to encourage submission to the legal plunder that is often referred to as taxation:
Thomas Paine covered the subject of war and taxes well in “The Rights of Man”:
…the portion of liberty enjoyed in England is just enough to enslave a country more productively than by despotism, and that as the real object of all despotism is revenue, a government so formed obtains more than it could do either by direct despotism, or in a full state of freedom, and is, therefore on the ground of interest, opposed to both. They account also for the readiness which always appears in such governments for engaging in wars by remarking on the different motives which produced them. In despotic governments wars are the effect of pride; but in those governments in which they become the means of taxation, they acquire thereby a more permanent promptitude.War is the common harvest of all those who participate in the division and expenditure of public money, in all countries. It is the art of conquering at home; the object of it is an increase of revenue; and as revenue cannot be increased without taxes, a pretense must be made for expenditure. In reviewing the history of the English Government, its wars and its taxes, a bystander, not blinded by prejudice nor warped by interest, would declare that taxes were not raised to carry on wars, but that wars were raised to carry on taxesEvery war terminates with an addition of taxes, and consequently with an addition of revenue; and in any event of war, in the manner they are now commenced and concluded, the power and interest of Governments are increased. War, therefore, from its productiveness, as it easily furnishes the pretense of necessity for taxes and appointments to places and offices, becomes a principal part of the system of old Governments
When the left decries the government’s diversion of its resources from human needs to the military it is on to something. War does impoverish us. What the left needs to understand is that a government with the resources to build schools also has the resources to build drones, a government with the resources to build roads also has the resources to build jet fighters, and a government with the power to tax and create money has the resources to pay for the weapons mentioned above and to wage war.
And wage war it will, for as Randolph Bourne wrote “War Is the Health of the State“. Giving the state resources only feeds the war machine. Welfare at home and warfare abroad are also just flip sides of the same coin. If the left really wants to see Dr. King’s dream of peace come true they must face the reality that they can not give the government the tools it needs to wage war and expect it not to do so. It’s not enough to advocate that they not buy weapons. We must take away the tools they use to acquire them. This means that we must end the Federal Reserve System, the income tax, the federal government’s social spending, its regulatory role, and its police powers. Peace will only come when the government is powerless to commit evil acts both at home and abroad.
It comes as no surprise to libertarians that when governments use aggression at home to finance their operations they use much of that loot to aggress abroad. To really advocate peace pacifists need to apply their principles consistently. The use of force is either consonant with pacifist principles or it isn’t. There is no magic of the collective that excuses the government using force in a way that is immoral for individuals to do so. I have no doubt that none of the members of the Brandywine Peace Community would themselves ever use force, or the threat thereof, to separate anyone from their money. Why then do they advocate that the government do so? Taxation isn’t consonant with pacifist principles. It can’t be enforced without using force, a violation of everything pacifists claim to stand for. Until they resolve this conflict pacifists may say they want peace but are really the enablers of war and other aggressions. We won’t get rid of the scourge of war until we rid ourselves of the scourge of taxation.