Libertarians Exit Stage Left, Advocate Tax Resistance

In Jerome Tuccille joined the libertarian exodus from Young Americans for Freedom and, along with other disaffected libertarians like Karl Hess and Murray Rothbard, tried for a time to find common ground with the radical left.

Tuccille’s exodus came complete with a manifesto: Radical Libertarianism: A Right Wing Alternative. In it, he lays out the case for radical libertarianism as being what the radicals of the day really want, if only they knew it, and for why people with “old Right” values — like small government, free enterprise, individual responsibility, and isolationist foreign policy — ought to give up on the government-loving, protectionist, imperialist conservative movement.

He also considers something that few libertarians of his time, and even fewer since, seem willing to: the role of civil disobedience and direct action in libertarian activism. As part of this, he advocates tax resistance. Some excerpts:

When the average American is compelled to work nearly two days a week for the so-called benefit of the “common good,” it is clear that not only the income tax but the entire taxing mechanism of the state is perhaps the next most serious [after military conscription] abridgment of individual freedom in our society. The time for a taxpayers’ revolt is long overdue.

Libertarians should undertake a program designed to throttle the taxing power of government on federal, state, and city levels. Picketing of revenue offices is only the first step. Harassment techniques should be employed: refusal to file income tax forms combined with putting forms in the wrong envelopes; formation of anti-real estate tax committees, anti-sales tax associations, anti-liquor, cigarette, and gasoline tax organizations to make the voice of the people heard loud and strong, not only during election years, but at all times; lending moral and physical support to those under indictment for tax evasion; passing out anti-tax literature at revenue offices; organizing anti-tax groups on all levels of society, from the lower-income minority ghettos to the affluent suburbs, and coordinating their activities for common ends, and so on. With the pay-as-you-go system now in effect, it is admittedly more difficult to resist the power of government looters. But a well-organized program can throw a king-sized monkey wrench into this totally inhuman taxing machine.

There are incidents in various sections of the country — Wisconsin, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Long Island — of successful attempts by taxpayers to keep their taxes from rising. In New Jersey and Pennsylvania landowners have banded together and are refusing to pay their real estate taxes; in Wisconsin and Long Island the voters have turned down an unprecedented number of school bond issues. This is a beginning. Hopefully, these successes are a prototype of things to come.

[T]he state cannot operate without politicians and politicians cannot function without money. For this reason, an economic boycott of the state is perhaps the most powerful weapon that people can employ in their efforts to rid their lives of the legal looting and murdering that is now being undertaken in the name of government. The concerted and organized withholding of tax revenues is the biggest and most frightening stick that the large American middle class can shake in the face of government. If such an operation can be properly organized and mobilized, the American people can succeed in breaking the back of coercive government and conclusively rid our society of state intrusion into the life of the individual.

These methods may sound drastic and extreme to many advocates of the libertarian philosophy. But if they are not put into operation — and put into operation now — the libertarian dream of a free society for each individual may well be destroyed while it is still in its gestation period. If we are to realize even a close approximation of libertarian justice within our lifetimes, we must begin now to take a more militant role in achieving it.

War tax resister Cynthia White Johnson died late . Here’s an excerpt from her obituary:

An activist her whole life, Cynthia accompanied her husband, Dick, to Quang Ngai, Vietnam, in as part of the American Friends Service Committee. There they administered a hospital and a daycare center as well as a prosthetics center for war-injured people.

Bombed out during the Tet Offensive of , they returned to their lives in the States. Increasingly disillusioned by military might and politics, they retired from their professions early, became war-tax resisters, and embraced subsistence living. This interest in sustainability brought them to Monroe, [Maine], where they started Commonterra, a community land trust, which has housed Toddy Pond School and Teltane Farms, as well as several families interested in light living on the land.