Poet, Activist, War Tax Resister Joffre Stewart Dies

Poet, activist, and long-time war tax resister Joffre Stewart has died.

Stewart’s war tax resistance went all the way back to the Peacemakers movement in the 1950s. He was a thorough anarcho-pacifist and an eager political debater (“anti-political” he would say, to correct me) with little patience for half-way measures.

During World War Ⅱ, he was imprisoned for being AWOL, and subsequently was jailed repeatedly for refusing to cooperate with draft registration or with racial segregation, and once for turning up at a poetry reading at a Barnes & Noble bookstore and being thrown out as an undesirable.

He is among “the best minds of my generation” immortalized in Allen Ginsberg’s poem Howl, in which Stewart is depicted as having…

…reappeared on the West Coast investigating the FBI in beards and shorts with big pacifist eyes sexy in their dark skin passing out incomprehensible leaflets…

Fifty years later he would turn up in much the same way at NWTRCC national gatherings — usually having gotten there by Greyhound bus from Chicago, however long that took — with leaflets as incomprehensible as ever.

These photocopied poems, manifestos, and newsprint collages were difficult to interpret. Their frequent, strong, and unartful denunciations of Israel, which often featured stars-of-David enclosing swastikas and epithets like “Zionazis”, seemed often to veer towards crude anti-Semitism, only to be rescued by a style that was so obscure as to make their ideology impenetrable.

Here’s a recording of Joffre reading some of his anti-political poems in Chicago.

In other news…

  • The Pacifist, a documentary about war tax resister Larry Bassett, has now been released and is viewable on Amazon’s streaming service.
  • Peter J. Reilly looks at the latest report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration and concludes that complying with the tax law has become a sucker’s game. He notes for example the hundreds of thousands of cases where gig economy workers received 1099-K forms indicating they had earned income, but filed no corresponding schedule C forms reporting that income — and how few examples of this obvious discrepancy the IRS bothered to follow up on. He sees the same pattern in cases where one ex-spouse declares an alimony deduction but the other does not declare the alimony as income. And even in the case of crazy “show me the law” tax refusers, the IRS seems to lack the resources or the willpower to pursue them.
  • At National Review, Daniel J. Pilla tries to dig past the initial hype about anti-abortion tax resister Michael Bowman’s recent court victories to discern what that really adds up to from a legal point of view and what implications this has for other conscientious objectors to tax-funded activities.
  • The worldwide epidemic of speed camera destruction continues. TheNewspaper.com has tracked down several recent examples from France, Luxemborg, England, and Italy.