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Re: Banks  edag-@verizon.net
 Nov 01, 2010 15:24 PST 

Whew, reading these posts & thinking where I stand in relation to the
different views on what WTR-R-R is gives me a headache. I think I'm
somewhere else entirely. This isn't surprising; I think if 100
resisters-refusers-redirectors got together & beyond our standard slogans,
there'd be 100 different reasons.

I do know I'm not as attached to independence as Dana; but on the other
hand I can't quite see Larry's putting up with seizure as civil disobedience.

If we cannot point out a palpable relationship between making the
collection of taxes difficult and a turn away from war, where is the
salience of the disobedience? Is it even civil if it's an individual or a
small-group action with no hope of provoking change? We cannot show the
salience theoretically, and worse, our experience over our years of refusal
don't show it empirically. It's not at all obvious that even were there a
mass refusal of "war taxes" (which would mean at the very most half of the
population, as it *has* been shown over & over that at least half of our
fellow citizens love the government's wars) that the government would be
less inclined or less able to wage war. The draft resistance movement in
the 1960s and '80s were successful enough to worry the military-industrial
complex; so now they buy their soldiers, and as we see there are plenty who
will take them up on it. This is just to say that consumer capitalism's
genius is its ability to absorb and commodify almost any dissent,
particularly when that dissent expresses itself as dissatisfaction.

I'm not saying that either Dana's or Larry's different conceptualizations
of citizens and subjects are not worth following to their deedful
conclusions, but only that perhaps neither of these are resistance. It's
been interesting and very useful for me to note and remember that their
different actions both result in a very good thing: conversation with
neighbors, co-workers, officials... There, perhaps is the nub of what we're
doing. It's the most we can expect out of WTR, and it's not a small thing
in these timid times.

Long ago I took a job *precisely* so that my WTR could be as "effective" as
possible in that the substantial risk of seizure at least would give the
resistance a voice, and for years I enjoyed sticking it to the IRS with
many an antic scheme. (I particularly enjoyed taking as business losses the
time I spent in antiwar work.) In the end, though, the thing that I cam
away with wasn't the accounting of who was ahead, or the best way to
protect my money. (Though I have to agree with Dana: without a very good
reason to let the IRS get much more than I refused, I could get really
bummed out.) Rather I finally came to see that this was indeed a species of
tilting at windmills since except insofar as I wrote to various presidents
& secretaries of state - and even then with no apparent effect - the IRS
was if not a windmill, at least a coffee mill into which my resistance was
soon ground up. The occasional agent who looked with sympathy on my stance
- really, I could've gotten more mileage for my ideas with less work by way
of a letter to the editor.

I don't know how I'd feel about all this were I still in the labor market,
though I like to believe I'd still be happily reckless. But this feeling
that WTR is less than cogent has had one good effect. It's led me to
thinking over the years about why, exactly, civilization is so screwed up.
This in turn (and I have to admit, helped along by a good social-security
situation) has led me to a preference for a frugal life.

Yet... Maybe a disadvantage of a frugal life is that it turns not to
include tax liability. Though the relationship isn't as "functional" as we
like to believe, "war" taxes *are* associated with state violence; so I do
miss (or think I miss) the occasion to refuse them. For that reason I find
myself inordinately attached to refusing the phone tax, the only one to
which I'm liable and to which with a certain amount of mental gymnastics I
can associate with war. Why do I bother, after these long-winded arguments
for ineffectiveness? The only reason that makes sense to me is that I enjoy
the ritual. Like voting, which ritual I also enjoy even though in the large
it apparently doesn't accomplish anything meaningful either. - ed
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