In Memoriam: Karen Brandow

Ruth recently shared on the wtr-s discussion list:

Many of you have met or heard Karen Brandow over the years. She partnered with Charlie King some years back and the two of them toured and sang together for many years. They were mainstays at the School of the Americas Watch vigil weekends. Karen died on Sunday after a valiant year of living with cancer that could not be treated. Charlie posted a note on her Caring Bridge journal page – http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/karenbrandow/journal/view/id/544d06c8af3d79a116e78e7a.

Karen was also a fluent Spanish speaker and participated in much peace work in Latin America. She also translated some of our war tax resistance literature into Spanish and was the annual translator for the WRL pie chart. She was a war tax resister. We’ll miss her.

Karen Brandow (left) and Charlie King perform at the New England Regional Gathering of War Tax Resisters, November 2011. Photo by Ed Hedemann.

I immediately thought of the song “Don’t Pay Taxes” that Charlie King and Karen Brandow had recorded together. The full song isn’t available online, but you can read the lyrics or  listen to a clip of it here (or buy the song for 99 cents). We also have part of a performance of “Don’t Pay Taxes” by First Strike Theater in our film Death and Taxes (excerpt starts at 3:35).

I never met Karen, but I know she was part of our community of resistance, and I am sending all my best wishes to Charlie and her family and friends.

Post by Erica

P.S. See their website where you can also order the new double CD: SO FAR SO GOOD:  40 Songs for 40 Years

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Spanish Tax Resisters Take Collective Action: An Interview with Enric Duran

Enric Duran (right) and Núria Güell at Occupy Catalunya Square in Barcelona / photo by Flickr user zaradat / used under CC BY-SA 3.0 license

On October 1, 2014, I had a Skype chat with Enric Duran, an extremely active organizer in the Spanish tax resistance and collective economy movements. Enric is a key organizer of Derecho de Rebelión (Right of Rebellion), a movement about which David Gross has reported to us before. Derecho de Rebelión arose in response to the Spanish government’s prioritizing of foreign debt over the provision of public services. The movement has created Offices of Economic Disobedience in cities around Spain, which  have open hours and various activities to provide advice and encouragement to people considering tax resistance. (You can read David’s article on that movement here. If you read Catalan or Spanish, check out the Manual of Economic Disobedience on the Derecho de Rebelión website, and for English readers, David has also translated some excerpts on his blog – find the links to each excerpt here.)

Enric says that the Derecho de Rebelión movement was influenced by prior anti-militarist tax resistance, but that their work is

to not only make tax resistance because of [anti-militarism], but because a lot of topics related where we [don’t] agree with the government, especially the percent of debt the government is sending to parties, to the banks, before to maintain the social services and work the people needs. We have these kinds of tax resistance from three years, 2012 and 2013 and 2014, and there are groups working on this in different cities in Spain, like Madrid, Castellón, Barcelona, Mallorca…

Like resisters in the US, tax resisters in Spain may practice complete tax resistance, not just refusing to pay the military portion. Resisters of all kinds are redirecting taxes to create self-managed cooperative alternatives to government and banks, taking their efforts out of pre-existing institutions altogether:

[The Catalan Integral Cooperative] is working on a tax resistance… with the IVA — that is an indirect [value-added] tax that comes with every bill. And we are using this to make internal distribution [of money] between all the projects and all the priorities that exist inside the cooperative.

The Spanish movement is not without its issues. One problem is that many folks in Catalonia, for example, are already outside the tax system:

One problem at this level is that in Catalonia, a lot of people are already out of the system and not work inside the system, so they don’t can be tax resisters… Mallorca may have more success in this action, because they are more inside the system, but we are more out of the system, so we don’t have people that pay this tax.

He also identifies the importance of group action and support to a successful tax resistance movement:

The importance to be together and to make collective movement and not so individual. People need to feel that we are a group and have support to do it… It’s a difficult topic because in general, a lot of left movements are forced to where we are with the paying of taxes, to have more taxes for the public budget. We are taking another way to make self-managed these taxes, and sometimes it’s difficult to get more support at this level.

What’s next for the collective movements in Spain? Enric responds:

Well, in fact, what we are trying to do, is attain more independence and more free[dom] from the banking system, so for us the disobedience is a part of the building of the alternative economic system. We are working to retain more out of the system with different tools at the economical level that we can use for cash in, for cash out, for payment, to have less necessity of the banking system.

The new website, Fair.coop, is part of those efforts, featuring the Faircoin cryptocurrency (like Bitcoin, but focused on meeting collective needs), Faircredit, Fairsaving, and Fairfunding programs. It is truly an enormous effort and they continue to seek involvement from groups around the world. Presently very few people from North America are involved. Anyone who signs up with Faircoin can deposit money in the system. As the system becomes more robust, funds will be available for loan to cooperative initiatives, in addition to the savings and funding schemes that allow people to keep their money away from traditional banks. Read Enric’s introductory statement about Fair Coop here.

Tax resistance and cooperative movements in Spain are working hard to develop a revolutionary, nonviolent, independent economic system. I look forward to seeing what the Derecho de Rebelión and Fair Coop movements are able to accomplish.

P.S. You can read another very interesting interview with Enric Duran on the Catalan Integral Cooperative website.

Post by Erica

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Supporting Each Other

Guest post by Peg Morton, Eugene, Oregon

It is a joy to discover that someone I have admired for a long time is a war tax resister. This came to my attention through a mailing from the War Tax Resisters Penalty Fund, which is also supported by the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee. Through the Fund, we can learn from, be inspired by, as well as hopefully be helpful to resisters who are caught in the tangled web of IRS debt. I am offering a vignette about one of these resisters and hope that other vignettes will be forthcoming.

John Lindsay-Poland at war tax resistance meeting, May 2011. Photo by Ed Hedemann.

John Lindsay-Poland at war tax resistance meeting, May 2011. Photo by Ed Hedemann.

John Lindsay-Poland experienced an IRS levy with penalties and interest of over $4,000. He applied to the Penalty Fund, which has been helping to return to him the amount equal to the penalties and interest he incurred.

John has recently stepped down after working for long years with the Fellowship of Reconciliation as Co-Director of the Task Force on Latin America and the Caribbean. The Task Force has been dissolved, as FOR moves on to other focuses. A few examples of the work of the Task Force included its effective support of the people of Puerto Rico as they struggled nonviolently to get the U.S. Navy out of the island of Vieques. It also supported a small, isolated farm settlement, La Union, that is part of the Peace Community San Jose de Apartado in Columbia, by providing nonviolent accompaniers to live there. The peace communities in Colombia reject allegiance with any of the armed groups that surround them, and they have been subjected to massacres and assassinations by guerrillas, paramilitaries, and the Colombian army. The accompaniers are now an ongoing protective presence.

In the course of his work, John has become an expert concerning the United States militarization of Latin America and has been effective in working to educate and to act in the broader arena.

For my part, and I believe that of many others, I profited over the years by the informative newsletters that the Task Force sent out to donors and supporters. In addition, in 2006, I was able to travel with a wonderful FOR delegation to Colombia, and specifically to La Union at the time of commemoration of a massacre.

It has been a joy for me to have known John and to have been able to support the work of the Task Force through donations. Now I support John and others through the WTR Penalty Fund.

Feeling Light Within by Peg MortonPeg Morton is active with Taxes for Peace Not War! in Eugene, and is the author of an autobiography Feeling Light Within, I Walk: Tales, Adventures and Reflections of a Quaker Activist, which is available from FGC Quaker Books, among other vendors.

 

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