Resisting Nukes – Then and Now

August 6 and 9, 2017, mark the 72nd anniversaries of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. War tax resistance spans the nuclear age, and many war tax resisters have been motivated by the horror of those bombings, by the frightening possibility that nuclear weapons will be used again, and by the human and financial costs of the whole process of producing those weapons. In the dangerous moment that we find ourselves today, one of the bravest pioneers of the modern war tax resistance movement, James Otsuka (1921-1984), comes to mind. As with other war tax resisters from the 1940s, he was a conscientious objector during World War II and refused to serve the military in any capacity. For that […]

Celebrating “Civil Disobedience”

sepia-toned picture of the backs of early 20th-century soldiers with text superimposed: "I have heard some of my towns­men say, “I should like to have them or­der me out to help put down an in­sur­rec­tion of the slaves, or to march to Mex­ico, — see if I would go;” and yet these very men have each, di­rectly by their al­le­giance, and so in­di­rectly, at least, by their money, fur­nished a sub­sti­tute. Henry David Thoreau, "On the Duty of Civil Disobedience" (1849), nwtrcc.org/Thoreau200years

Henry David Thoreau was born 200 years ago on July 12, 1817. His essay, “Civil Disobedience” (1849), has influenced thousands of protesters, war tax resisters, and direct action practitioners over the years. Part of the essay recounts his night in jail as a war tax resister, while other sections call on people to act in their own ways against state violence. Today we celebrate the spirit of “Civil Disobedience,” also sometimes called “Resistance to Civil Government,” or “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience.” In the following passages, Thoreau calls us to disobey a state that commands us to kill, enslave, and subjugate – or to pay for others to do the same.   “How does it be­come a man to be­have […]

After Tax Day, the discussion continues

yard sign with Put People First printed on it; a hen in the grass behind the sign

This hasn’t been a typical year for war tax resistance by any stretch of the imagination, and that includes the atmosphere after Tax Day! Even after Tax Day this year, people are fired up about resistance, funding work for justice and peace, and building a better world. For example, Michael McCarthy wrote this week about the folly of making and selling weapons to ensure national security: This Pentecost season when we call on the Holy Spirit to renew our faith, let us resolve to take steps to stop giving Caesar our first fruits of federal income tax with which to make war, and convert these monies to God’s peacemaking purposes. For the practical measures, risks, responsibilities and spiritual benefits please […]

Thoreau’s work is still relevant

Thoreau

By David Gross I am a war tax resister because Henry David Thoreau convinced me to be one. I was looking for medicine: something to help me ease my troubled conscience and to help me sleep better at night. I turned to Thoreau and instead of medicine, he gave me marching orders. This turned out to be the cure I needed after all. People sometimes remember Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” as being an argument for why people ought to have the right to disobey the law and its officials, when the reasons for doing so are good and noble. But the essay is actually more severe and challenging than that: Thoreau insists that you have the duty to disobey the law […]

Ammon Hennacy’s “One-Man Revolution”

Ammon Hennacy: The Autobiography of a Catholic Anarchist

A man asked me: “Why does a fellow like you—with an education, and who has been all over the country—end up in this out-of-the-way place, working for very little on a farm?” I explained that people who had good jobs in factories had a withholding tax for war taken from their pay, and that people who worked on farms had no tax taken from their pay. I told him that I refused to pay taxes. He was a returned soldier, and said that he did not like war either, but what could a fellow do about it? I replied that we each did what we really wanted to. ―Ammon Hennacy, The Book of Ammon Ammon Hennacy refused to pay war taxes […]

Iraq Tribunal holds the weight of war, lifts voices for truth

Sam Koplinka-Loehr, NWTRCC Field Organizer, testified at the Iraq Tribunal on Friday, December 2nd about the costs of the war. Her testimony is below.

By Sam Koplinka-Loehr (content warning: suicide)   Wow. I am still reeling from being at the People’s Tribunal on the Iraq War last Friday, December 2nd in Washington, DC. The Tribunal focused on the lies and costs of the Iraq War. At the end of the day of testimony, I was inspired and heartbroken. My mind raced, and I had a headache. I felt both energized and tired to my core. Upon walking into the courtroom Friday morning, the love and community spirit was palpable. I was greeted with open arms by Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers with Popular Resistance, a great source for movement news. I had just joined the two of them on air a few days earlier […]

Thanksgiving, Standing Rock, and war tax resistance

A group of about 15 people standing with a paper banner reading "War Tax Resisters: We Stand with Standing Rock #NoDAPL #waterislife"

Given what’s going on at Standing Rock, last year’s blog post on resisting militarism and colonialism at Thanksgiving seems as timely as ever. I know gratitude is a feeling that keeps our movements going, as we are grateful for each other. Yet the “story of Thanksgiving” helps cover up the lack of gratitude – really, the violence – that followed. Here’s last year’s reflections on Thanksgiving, with a few updates. Post by Erica *** Thanksgiving has got me thinking about how the militarization of the U.S. extends all the way back to the pre-colonial days of Pilgrims and other white settlers arriving on the shores of this continent. In addition to the land they claimed, they decided they had a […]

The military is at Standing Rock again

A man, "Happi" American Horse, is shown standing atop the shovel of an excavator in a field. People and cars in the background.

Many of our readers have been following the water protectors’ struggle against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL, or “the Black Snake”), which is being built on Standing Rock Sioux treaty lands. Thousands of people are on the ground in several resistance camps. The local Morton County police department has brought in reinforcements from other police departments as far away as Minneapolis. The combined police forces are cracking down on water protectors through surveillance (including drones), roadblocks, violent confrontations, dismantling campsites, and hundreds of arrests. They have employed heavy weaponry and armor, including LRADs (sound cannons), MRAPs (tank-like armored vehicles), riot gear, and sniper rifles. The police get this equipment from the 1033 program, which we have written about elsewhere on […]

Ammon Hennacy and other early modern war tax resisters

NWTRCC network member David Gross has been working to release the enormous volume, The Book of Ammon, a collection of writings by the Christian anarchist Ammon Hennacy, as a free e-book. This book, currently out of print, is a fascinating look at a man famous for his draft resistance, his war tax resistance, and his involvement with the Catholic Worker movement. I’m one of the test readers of the book, looking for typos (Hennacy wasn’t much for proofreading!). A few items caught my interest, and I’d like to share some additional research. 1. Ammon Hennacy repeatedly states that he turned to farm work, after leaving his job as a social worker in 1942, because it was the only kind of […]

Unpleasant truths about preemptive strikes: War Is a Lie

After putting the book down for a few months, I recently picked back up my reading of David Swanson’s War Is a Lie, which I got from the author himself at his April 16 appearance in Portland, Oregon. Over this weekend, I think I started to understand why I had put the book down. Just in Chapter 2, “Wars are not launched in defense,” I learned unpleasant facts about how the US government and military had basically goaded Japan into attacking Pearl Harbor through arming the Chinese, using economic sanctions, and preparing for war in nearly plain sight. It’s not to say that I didn’t know that Pearl Harbor wasn’t the brazen act of aggression we are always taught in […]

Opposing nuclear weapons at Lawrence Livermore Lab

by Cathy Deppe Last August was the 70th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of Japan.  As members of the international peace group Global Network,  Alex and I were fortunate to participate in commemoration services in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  A year later we traveled a shorter distance to California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, to stand again with victims of nuclear war.    We were there to float another lantern downstream to honor the dead.   We wanted to hear direct testimony from those who survived the hibakusha.  Rev. Hanaoka, now a retired Bay Area Methodist minister, was just a baby when the bomb exploded above his town, a child when he lost his mother and sister to radiation exposure, and a […]

Mutual aid and war tax resistance

War Tax Resisters Penalty Fund brochure cover with a row of rifles turning into flowers, and the first paragraph: ""The fund provides a process of mutual support through which war tax resisters and their supporters can distribute financial assistance to war tax resisters whose taxes are collected and for whom the collection of penalties and interest is a burden..."

One of the ways war tax resisters support each other is through the War Tax Resisters Penalty Fund (WTRPF). This fund was founded in 1982 by the North Manchester, Indiana chapter of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and later became a separate organization. Its purpose is to provide mutual aid for war tax resisters who have been collected on by the IRS. WTRPF also makes war tax resistance possible for more people: [The founders] found that IRS interest and penalties kept many people from continuing their war tax resistance, and prevented many more from even considering such a witness. The founders decided to invite sympathetic people to form a broad base that would help sustain and suppport war tax resisters. They […]