Podcast These Interviews with War Tax Resisters

I can’t claim to know much about the issues involved, but I’ve noticed that some of the global tension concerning high food and fuel prices has taken the form of organized tax protests:

The edition of The Advocate of Peace, which was put out by the American Peace Society, addressed Quaker war tax resistance, suggesting that it either went too far or not far enough:

[W]hile unable to agree with the Friends on every point, we cannot withhold our admiration of their transparent sincerity, and unfaltering fidelity to principle. Nor do we deem it at all inconsistent with this respect to submit a few queries for their consideration:—

1. Does consistency require peace men, believers in the incompatibility of war with the gospel, to decline the payment of money in lieu of military service? They can pay, as merchants often do duties deemed excessive, under protest against the service as wrong; and the simple fact of their refusal for such a reason would bear their testimony against war as unmistakably as if they should go to the stake. Is not this degree of scrupulosity quite superfluous? In many other ways they are constantly testifying against war, and thus leave no doubt anywhere about their views on the subject. The payment under protest of a fine or a commutation fee would answer precisely the same moral ends as a pertinacious refusal to accept what is meant by government as a kind concession to their scruples. Would it not be better thus to requite its indulgence? Would not God, as well as man, regard this as perfectly satisfactory?

2. If this be not so, we may well doubt whether we can consistently recognize civil government, as Quakers themselves do, by voting, and paying general taxes. The right to use at will the force necessary for the execution of its laws, lies at the bottom of all government as indispensable to its existence and effective power; and this right we as truly recognize by voting, or by paying ordinary taxes, as we should by the payment of military fines. Do not nine-tenths of our taxes confessedly go to pay war-expenses? Is not our national debt all for this end? Everybody knows it is; but shall peace men refuse on this ground to pay their taxes? It seems to us just as right or just as wrong to do so, as it is to avoid military service by paying a military fine.

This work can also be found in the book American Quaker War Tax Resistance.