An Interview With Russell Kanning

Picket Line — How long have you been a tax resister, and how do you resist?

Russell Kanning — I stopped paying Federal Income taxes at . I have paid some SS taxes since then, but do not now. I started by not taking any Federal/CA State taxes from my paycheck. (I was in charge of the company payroll.) Since then I have either paid a little SS/Medicare tax or made money in ways that kept me clear of government encumbrances.

 — Have you seen any indications that IRS employees are reconsidering their jobs as a result of your protests & leafletting?

RK — No IRS employees have considered quitting yet in Keene. We have had more effect on the Homeland Security agents (ICE), the Federal court in Concord, the County Jail (Fed lockup) in Dover, and the local cops. They have been mostly annoyed by our signs and flyers and locals honking in support.

 — What message are you trying to get across with the straw hat, overalls, and pitchfork?

RK — We were looking for a way to be more recognizable by local residents, so we thought of going with some sort of outfit. A year or so ago, a member of the New Hampshire Underground forum (nhfree.com) from Hampton Beach thought that pitchforks would be a nice touch when we go up against the government. He got the idea from Pat Buchanan’s successful presidential primary here in NH in or that used the “peasants with pitchforks” theme. The outfit does seem to work. The straw hat and overalls help relax cops sometimes. Pitchforks ramp up situations, which comes in handy other times. It helps us not look like annoying intellectuals and puts normal people at ease. Some of our guys have noticed that chicks like the outfit also.

 — You’ve done a number of other civil disobedience actions, including burning your social security card and refusing to submit to a TSA screening when trying to board a domestic flight. Is there a unifying theme around your actions?

RK — Every act of civil disobedience my friends and I perform is meant to free us all. I don’t think I or other people should be numbered and tracked by the government, so some of us have burned our SS cards or protested RealID by dressing as Communist or Nazi guards. I hate the way people are treated at airports nowadays, so I tried to push the government back a little in that area by getting arrested for not letting them pat me down or show them any government ID. We burn UN flags often, since that group wants to tax the entire planet, take away all people’s guns, and tell us all how to live our lives.

 — What can ordinary people do to reduce the power and viciousness of the state, or to help get the nonviolent revolution up and running? (And what about those people who aren’t ready to risk arrest?)

RK — The first step is to not commit evil acts on behalf of the state, which includes working for them since they steal money or harm people. The second step is to stop funding these kinds of activities. The third step is to show others what you are doing. The last step is to speed up the whole process by provoking the evil government by sacrificing yourself by doing civil disobedience. All of these steps include the ever greater risk of arrest. I don’t know any ways to not cooperate with evil and yet assure yourself of no hassles.

 — You’re often associated with the Free State Project, and you certainly travel in FSP circles. But I’ve always thought of the FSP as a ballot-box-oriented thing — what’s the appeal to a Christian anarchist like you who doesn’t even vote?

RK — I am a member of the Free State Project and moved to NH a year after we voted on which state we wanted to concentrate our efforts. Many of us in the FSP have no interest in politics. Others not only vote, but even run for government office. Still others actually work for the government. I am most interested in recruiting other nonviolent revolutionaries to move to NH and work towards total freedom.

 — The NH-Underground scene has been very supportive of your action. Usually when I hear about war tax resistance activity, it comes from within the left/liberal activist community or from the traditional peace churches. The NH-Underground is more libertarian-oriented. Is this just an exception that proves the rule, or do you think there is an emerging respect for WTR in libertarian circles?

RK — The federal government gets worse and worse all the time. Maybe that causes some libertarians to gather the courage to stand up to them by not funding war.

 — Do you feel that you’ve received useful help or support from the traditional WTR community (NWTRCC, War Resisters League, the peace churches, etc.)? Are there ways it could be more helpful?

RK — We have been doing our own thing, so we have not needed the support of big organizations. We have worked with and our friends with some traditional WTR groups and look forward to more connections being made. The main things I want to communicate to people is that individuals can stand up to organized crime and aggression and that normal people can be successful. You don’t have to be Gandhi or MLK or be part of a huge organization to do what is right.

For more about Russell Kanning’s tax resistance actions, see also: