In a back issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (), I found a letter-to-the-editor about tax resistance that harmonizes well with a lot of the approaches I take to the subject here (link). Excerpts:
In issue after issue of the Bulletin, we read wonderfully prescriptive articles and letters on the logic and necessity of various disarmament steps. Many exploratory steps that might be taken unilaterally by the United States with no military risk are described in detail and with passionate conviction. The writers often end with the proviso: “We must now find the political will to take this step.”
“We must,” “we can,” “we should” — who is this ubiquitous “we” the writers always place in the active role? Congress is cowardly, the press obsequious, and Ronald Reagan will agree to a test ban when, as Khrushchev put it, “shrimp learn to whistle.”
If we are truly serious about challenging the dangers described monthly in this magazine, serious about pushing back the hands of the Bulletin clock, and not just indulging in righteous chit-chat, we must be willing to consider new methods of changing national policy. What might be considered extreme today may soon be seen as “too little, too late,” given the danger we face and the desperation to which others may soon be driven in their frustration with current goals and tactics.
Our views about goals and tactics do change with time: Women could not have achieved voting rights without some suffragettes going to jail. Unions were once illegal and persecuted; they could not have gotten justice for workers without the power of the strike. Martin Luther King, Jr. could not have gotten civil rights legislation without a bus boycott and lunch counter sit-ins.
To think that saving our world from nuclear annihilation will require less of us is ostrich-like foolishness! To think that we can protest effectively while continuing to pay the government whose policies we know are so viciously destructive is a tragic and costly self-deception.
In his essay, “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience,” Henry David Thoreau mentions only one form of noncooperation with illegitimate government activity: refusal to pay taxes. I suggests that all readers refresh their acquaintance with that essay and ask themselves whether it does not exactly describe the imperative of our times.
The author of this letter was Joel Taunton from something called “Citizens’ Tax Moratorium.”