Kathy Kelly on Right Livelihood

Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence writes about Right Livelihood:

If we can’t control our own government, can we at least stop actively helping it? For most of us who have entered into adulthood, the U.S. government doesn’t want our bodies fighting in the war; they don’t even care very much about our consent. They do want our labor, and our money. What right do we have to keep giving it to them?

Often, if I’m invited to speak with a group in the U.S., either my host or I will mention that I haven’t paid federal income taxes .

Generally, audiences applaud. Almost always, a questioner will ask: “How do you avoid paying taxes?”

I advise people to visit the National War Tax Refusal [sic] Coordinating Committee website, www.nwtrcc.org, and to order the fifteen dollar manual called “A Guide to War Tax Refusal.” I urge them to study the manual and then download four pamphlets that offer a practical guide to war tax refusal.

I insist they must get in touch with the nearest war tax refusal counselor before embarking on what is, admittedly, a difficult route.

But I also hold that if we oppose the U.S. government by refusing to fund U.S. war making, the risks are not that high. For several years now, the U.S. has stood on the precipice of all out devastation-of itself and of the world. Throughout modern history people faced far more dire personal circumstances to resist injustices and calamities like those we are tacitly helping our leaders foment. They faced dreadful risks to resist oppression in Nazi Germany, in apartheid South Africa, and in the Jim Crow South of the U.S. (and its horribly segregated Northern counterpart). The risks we face for nonviolent resistance are comparatively trivial. If we refuse to pay our taxes for imperial war, we won’t be disappeared by a death squad. We won’t be lynched or shot. Our families won’t be massacred. People ruthlessly crushed by U.S. foreign policies, beyond our borders, faces such risks. For us, the risk of continued collaboration with the reckless group of warmongers currently leading the U.S. is, however, extremely high.


A couple of years back, I noted that the war tax resistance movement had finally gotten its own funk anthem. Now we’ve got a folk song, too: Don’t Be Afraid of the Neo-Cons.

Don’t send your money to Washington
To fight a war that’s never done
Don’t play their games don’t be their pawns
And don’t be afraid of the neo-cons

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