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  • The Voluntaryist

We Violate Our Own Principles ~ Without Even Realizing It!

By Dr. Mary J. Ruwart, 1992, “Healing Our World” ~ The Voluntaryist Newspaper

If we decided we wanted a new neighborhood park, how would we go about getting one? We could call together other individuals who want the same thing and could raise enough money to own and operate the park through donations, by selling stock in a corporation set up for that purpose, or through other voluntary means. If those who did not participate in the fundraising effort decide later to use the park, we might require them to pay an entry fee. Obviously, we would be relating voluntarily and non-aggressively with our neighbors. If George didn’t want to be involved either as a contributor or a park visitor, we would honor his choice.

Of course, another way we could proceed would be to vote for a tax to purchase and maintain the park. If a large enough gang of our neighbors voted for it, George’s hard-earned dollars would be used for a park he didn’t want and wouldn’t use. If he refused to pay what the gang dictated, law enforcement agents, acting on behalf of the winning voters, would extract the tax, at gunpoint, if necessary. If he resisted too vehemently, George might even be killed in the struggle. Wouldn’t we be using a gang called “government” to steal from George? Wouldn’t we be the first ones to turn guns on a neighbor who hadn’t defrauded or stolen from us? Wouldn’t George eventually retaliate by getting government to turn its guns on us for projects that he prefers but we want nothing to do with? Wouldn’t we alternate as victims and aggressors, as minorities and majorities? Wouldn’t we just be taking turns directing the law enforcement agents toward each other?

Through taxation, pacifists are forced at gunpoint to pay for killing machines; vegetarians are forced at gunpoint to subsidize grazing land for cattle; non-smokers are forced at gunpoint to support both the production of tobacco and the research to counter its impact on health. These minorities are the victims, not the initiators of aggression. Their only crime is not agreeing with the priorities of the majority. Taxation appears to be more than theft; it is intolerance for the preferences and even the moral viewpoints of our neighbors. Through taxation we forcibly impose our will on others in an attempt to control their choices. As individuals, we may not support taxation and other forms of aggression-through-government. However, the composite of our separate views, as reflected in our laws, indicates that as a nation, as a society, as a collective consciousness, we believe that aggression serves us. Aggression creates poverty and strife in our city, state, and nation just as surely as it does in our neighborhood. How could it be otherwise? Aggression could hardly produce peace and plenty, simply because we use it as a gang instead of as individuals. Using the same means brings us the same ends. It’s plain as the nose on our face - and just as difficult to see! Only by looking at what is reflected back to us can we observe it. Indeed, taxation and other forms of aggression through government are so taken for granted in our culture that one of our most popular sayings is that “nothing is certain except death and taxes.” Yet slavery was once as universal. Taxation is thought to be indispensable to civilization today, just as slavery once was.

Advocates of taxation claim that since most people pay assigned taxes before the guns show up, they have implicitly agreed to it as the price of living in “society.” Most slaves obeyed their masters before he got out the whip, yet we would hardly argue that this constituted agreement to their servitude. Today, we have an enlightened perspective on slavery, just as one day we will have an enlightened perspective on taxes and other forms of aggression we now think of as “the only way.” Just as our ancestors rationalized slavery, we’ve created the illusion that taxation is legitimate. Like the volunteers who continued to shock the victim at the insistence of the scientist (Stanley Milgram experiments), we feel our actions are justified, perhaps even noble. We believe that we can create a world of peace and plenty, if we are given a free hand to force those selfish others to do things our way. We feel taxation is indispensable for certain necessities (e.g., defense, clean air and water, helping the poor, etc.). Instead... aggression in any form only hurts others - and ourselves. We reap as we have sown.

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