Conscience and History: NWTRCC News in 1986

Recently, former NWTRCC coordinator Ruth Benn, as part of her ongoing effort to finally clear the NWTRCC archives out of her house, sent me a stack of old issues of Conscience. This was the newsletter of the Conscience and Military Tax Campaign (CMTC), which promoted what was then called the World Peace Tax Fund and ran an escrow account for resisted war taxes. (More news to come about the closing of CMTC this year – its funds are being transferred to two other alternative funds.) Conscience began in 1980, before NWTRCC was founded in 1982, and lasted in one form or another through 2007. I have most of the issues between #22 and #52 in my possession, spanning 1986 through 2001. […]

Resisting Nukes: Then, Now and How Much Longer?

I am among the many war tax resisters who got into this form of resistance after becoming aware of the horror of nuclear weapons, the damage done by every step of the process to build them, and the incredible waste of trillions of dollars over seven decades. Surely the world would look very different if there was such a dedication to feed the hungry, house the homeless, and develop alternative energies (the non-nuclear ones). Thus with August 6-9 — Hiroshima and Nagasaki days — approaching I wanted to post a reminder to get out to a vigil or action during that time. Humans created weapons of mass destruction and we are responsible for getting rid of them. NWTRCC  has a […]

Taxing Wars and BDS against the US

A new book by professor and former Air Force officer Sarah E. Kreps, Taxing Wars: The American Way of War Finance and the Decline of Democracy, argues that the decline of the war tax has a lot to do with why the U.S. modern wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are seemingly neverending. What do you think? From the summary: “Sarah Kreps chronicles the entire history of how America has paid for its wars-and how its methods have changed. Early on, the United States imposed war taxes that both demanded sacrifices from all Americans and served as reminders of their participation. Indeed, thinkers from Immanuel Kant to Adam Smith argued that these reminders were exactly the reason why democracies tended to […]

Let’s Honor Peacemakers on This Memorial Day

rows and rows of crosses and the Santa Monica beach in the distance - the Arlington West memorial to veteran and civilian deaths in war. Photo by Ruth Benn, May 6, 2018.

by Susan Miller When we’ve inquired about remodeling our apartment in Manhattan, contractors ask, “Is it pre-war?” That’s hard to answer. Pre- which war? For the past century, the U.S. has been complicitly or directly at war with countries around the world, with perhaps only a few years during President Jimmy Carter’s administration in which the world was spared from U.S. aggression and so much military aid to influence political and economic decisions. What has the world gained from the unconscionable numbers of civilians and soldiers killed in war, the money U.S. taxpayers lose to the preparation, payment, and resulting debt to our budget, the destruction of our planet, the crises of homelessness, suicide, gun violence at home, and reduction […]

Migration and Militarism

I’ve been tangentially following the Pueblo Sin Fronteras caravan of Central American migrants, and have been reading more closely about their experiences since they arrived at the San Ysidro port of entry on April 29, 2018. Migrants and supporters also gathered at the beach in Tijuana and San Diego that day. Although, several days later, some asylum seekers have been admitted to the US, dozens, if not hundreds, of others are still waiting at the border for processing. The majority of people in this caravan come from Honduras, a country profoundly affected by US foreign policy, including support for the government installed after the coup in 2009. Others are fleeing violence in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua.   The demonization […]

Doing the Right Thing is Never Futile

Last month, war tax resister Randy Kehler was interviewed on Local Bias, a public access TV show in Massachusetts, by guest host Marian Kelner.  Some highlights: “In 1969, I was giving a talk at an international conference of war resisters from around the world. And I had turned in my draft card, I had refused to cooperate with the Vietnam draft, and I knew I’d be heading to prison soon, and I said that in the talk. And unbeknownst to me, this guy named Daniel Ellsberg [was there], who was a combat marine officer who’d been in Vietnam, and he’d been fighting in the trenches in Vietnam and worked for the Pentagon and the Rand Corporation and high up […]

Lifting Up Dellinger and Antiwar Activists

Are you watching the big Ken Burns/Lynn Novick series The Vietnam War on PBS? My friends are talking about it, some are watching it, others, like me, not. I still find the horror of that war too painful to see the footage again. The waste on all levels remains painful and has carried through my life of working against war. In addition, the documentary apparently gives short shrift to the antiwar movement. I was skeptical when the New York Times review said, “The film’s center of moral gravity is ordinary soldiers, whose sacrifice and loyalty to one another are repeatedly contrasted with the political machinations of the powerful, on both sides.” Not the thousands in the streets who saw from […]

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 […]