British war resisters — organized as
“Count Me Out” — are boycotting the
census. In tax resistance campaigns of yore, census resistance has usually
come because the census was seen as a prelude to a tax. In this case, the
boycott has a different cause: the resisters are protesting against the
government’s awarding of the contract to run the census to the arms
“When I was 18 I refused to fire a rifle on military service,” John Marjoram
told a reporter.
“I couldn’t live with myself if I collaborated with a military company.”
The government is responding to the boycott with criminal prosecutions, and
has thusfar won over 100 convictions.
One resister, Derek Shields, said at his sentencing:
“I’ve only got one thing to say and that is I’m a Christian and I wouldn’t get into bed with an arms dealer.”
He was fined by the court, and quickly responded that he would not pay: “I’m
not going to pay. If I pay that’s admitting I’ve done something wrong and I
don’t believe I have done anything wrong.”
Obama’s state of the union speech opened and closed with paeans to America’s
soldiers, and hopes that the rest of America could be more like them. This is
a symptom of what Pete Kofod calls
“The Rise of the
The ranks of the uniformed enforcers — in military, law-enforcement, and
imprisonment — have grown, and the resources they command and the political
influence they wield have grown as well. As Kofod puts it: “The Praetorian
Class is formed and grown to defend the Political Class and in time becomes
the dragon that rules its master.”
For instance, in my state (California), the prison guards’ union more or less
owns the legislature. Nobody has the courage to cross them, and so they always
get their way. This is self-reinforcing political feedback, since much of what
the union demands is more power, legal impunity, influence, and resources.
New increases to road tolls across Greece
were recently announced. The money is going to international finance companies
who purchased the rights to the tolls — along with contractually-mandated
toll increases — from the Greek government about five years ago. The current
government is quick to say that the increases aren’t their fault.
“The increase in tolls was not a political decision, but is required by the
contract with the grantees,” said Infrastructure Minister Makis Voridis.
“There is no ‘won’t pay’ option: the question is who will pay, the drivers or
The troublesome Greek “Won’t Pay” movement may have other ideas.