Taxpatriate Satyagrahi Jeff Knaebel vs. Government

Here are some more things that have cropped up on the web in recent days that have caught my eye:

  • The paleocon site LewRockwell.com seems an unusual home for Jeff Knaebel — a renunciate expatriate tax resister who is trying to retool Gandhi’s satyagraha for the 21st Century. But they’ve hosted a number of his essays and speech transcripts, including, most recently, “The State Versus the Living Dharma,” in which he examines the proper relationship between a subject of a State and its government in the framework of Thich Nhat Hahn’s “socially engaged Buddhism.” He concludes that because the State violates basic ethical precepts, not just incidentally but by its very nature, and because citizens who support the State take on a portion of the burden of these ethical violations, it is essential for people who want to live ethically to withdraw their practical and moral support for the State. Excerpts:

    I maintain that it is the right of any individual person to reject and renounce a government which violates his moral conscience. I maintain that it is my personal right, in this very body, here and now, to ignore the State, and to refuse participation in its actions which violate humanity and life itself. I also declare that the same is my intention insofar as refusal to pay direct tax to any nation-state. There can be no treason if one’s first loyalty is to humanity and to life itself. Human life is above Nation-State. Personal conscience and individual moral sovereignty is above State sovereignty. How can the question of treason arise when one refuses to murder helpless women and children? He who claims self ownership can never commit treason because the State cannot own him. He is not the property of the State.

  • At TCS Daily, Arnold Kling has put forward a proposal for a sort of distributed secessionism that he calls “splinter states.” It sounds something like a loosely-organized set of independent, geographically diffuse, agorist economies, competing with the State without confronting it directly. This proposal has triggered some long-overdue debate in libertarian circles about civil disobedience.
  • Lawrence Wittner tells anti-war activists that they shouldn’t be discouraged at how little progress they seem to be making, because a lot of the effects they have are behind-the-scenes and may not be widely noticed until years from now. He gives an example from , in which public outrage and revulsion against atmospheric nuclear weapons testing overwhelmed Eisenhower’s inclinations to support the Defense Department’s desire for more nuclear weapons testing and development, and eventually led to a test ban treaty.
  • Wendy McElroy has been sharing her “frugalista” philosophy on her blog. Excerpt:

    …[M]ake spending money into a conscious, deliberate process through which you take control and defend yourself, through which you demand full value. When you are skeptical of people trying to sell you something, then you stop being vulnerable to the incredible bombardment of ads and opinions that urge you to be a fool for “the newest, the shiniest, the sexiest” acme product. Remember… what you are actually trading is not a scrap of government paper but the irreplaceable time it took you to acquire that government scrap. Make sure you receive something equally valuable in return.

    Long before the incident with the swindling computer company, I’d lost the sense of “businessmen as heroic producers of wealth” which I’d absorbed (briefly) from Ayn Rand’s novels. Experience taught that businessmen were no more honest or admirable than the average Joe; indeed, whenever money changes hands, honesty seems to decrease. Moreover, as a libertarian I became acutely aware of how well-connected businessmen embrace the Corporate State and glut themselves on tax-funded contracts and state protections/privileges. (The limited liability of corporations is a perfect example of the latter.)

    Businessmen are often the biggest obstacle to the free market and the staunchest friends of government regulation. In his article What Is The Enemy, Sheldon Richman writes, “the great threat to liberty is the corporate state, otherwise known as corporatism, state capitalism, and political capitalism. (The Therapeutic State falls into this category, because the prime beneficiaries are corporate medical providers.)” And, so, one of the ideological motivations behind my frugal rebellion was/is to remove myself from the role of obedient consumer, a role that helps to legitimize and sustain a system I find morally and politically bankrupt.

  • At Vermont Commons, Gary Flomenhoft says that while we’re waiting for Vermont to seceed from the Union, we should start defunding the empire. Excerpts:

    The moral necessity of defunding the US Empire is as follows: The Empire is engaged in wars of aggression, the endless war on “terror,” violation of human rights and civil liberties, illegal rendition of terror suspects to foreign countries for torture and interrogation, denial of habeas corpus, denial of the Geneva Convention, torture, wiretapping US citizens, and use of depleted uranium weapons, an indiscriminate weapon of mass destruction. Need I go on? People said it couldn’t happen here, but now we are the “good Germans,” dutifully doing what the IRS tells us to do, while the government commits war crimes in our name with our money.

    …[T]ake the following pledge: “I withdraw my mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual energy from the corrupt US government. I will not give them any financial support, nor will I willingly accept any tax-funded benefits from the US government. I will put my financial resources to better use such as Vermont secession. I will starve the beast.”

  • Big surprise:

    Hundreds of pages of recently unsealed court records detail how kickbacks shaped the [Iraq] war’s largest troop support contract months before the first wave of U.S. soldiers plunged their boots into Iraqi sand.

    The graft continued well beyond the congressional hearings that first called attention to it. And the massive fraud endangered the health of American soldiers even as it lined contractors’ pockets, records show.


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