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If the state creates a law, and everybody refuses to follow it, what happens?

Civil Disobediance in America, Riots in France
- 1 (3.3%)
The state eventually backs off
- 5 (16.7%)
The state cracks down
- 8 (26.7%)
all of the above
- 16 (53.3%)

Total Members Voted: 12


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Author Topic: If the state creates a law, and everybody refuses to follow it, what happens?  (Read 8044 times)

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Sam Gunn (since nobody got Admiral Naismith)

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After listening to these FTL guys talk about civil disobediance as the only solution to paying taxes, I decided craft a paper that illustrates this issue especially focusing on George Washington and the Whiskey Exise Tax.

1776, The Beginning of A Hypocritical Republic?
 By Joel Goldberg

   The authors of the Declaration of Independence envisioned a utopia of freedom in the New World; they sought to prove to the world that a state could exist without perpetration of any of the illegitimate and intolerable acts performed by the King of England.  Many of the Founding Fathers realized man’s natural rights to personal property of all kinds including one’s own body and land, and of man’s natural authority over his own property.  They pursued the construction of a federal government that would perform effectively without the infringement of any of these inherent rights.  This important issue was later protected by the Bill of Rights in the drafting of the 1787 Constitution. 

   1765 was the year of the enactment of the British Stamp Tax, 240 years ago.  The Stamps Tax was probably one of the most hated taxes imposed on the colonies by the British and it has been speculated by some scholars that if it had not been repealed the American Revolution might have happened an entire decade earlier and would have carried even greater support worldwide and domestically.  The colonists inherited a revulsion of this kind of taxation from the Cider excise taxes in Britain that provoked riots in which protesters upheld the slogan “Liberty, Property, and no Excise!”  So now that the colonists had left England in disgust, their liberties were again facing oppression by the Crown.  This motive was not forgotten by the populace after the final success of the revolution, much of the citizenry probably felt something along the lines of the famous 9/11 slogan “We will never forget.”  The right to decide what a man would do with his own property had been firmly implanted in the citizens of what would soon become the United States of America.

29 years later, in 1794, the Constitution had finished being drafted and the first couple of elections had been held, the United States was now a real, legitimate country with its own highly structured federal government based on the principles of Liberty and Republican Democracy.  1794 was a year of domestic rebellion by four counties of western Pennsylvania.  In 1791, Alexander Hamilton levied many excise taxes in a plan for federal assumption of states’ public debts during the war in the preceding years, this rebellion was specifically related the enactment of a whisky excise tax.  You see, the citizens were enraged with their new “free republic” that was allegedly formed specifically to protect its populace against undue seizure of personal property (which is protected under the 4th Amendment of the Constitution in the Bill of Rights).  It seemed to them that they were lied to and abused, so these four counties refused to pay this whisky excise tax.  American citizens generally understand that the US is not a military dictatorship, and that our government does not impose marshal law as something that is considered very appropriate.  However, that is exactly what happened, 13,000 soldiers were sent by Washington to Pennsylvania to repress these rebellious citizens who refused to surrender their personal property to seizure by anybody, including the federal government.  Now that the Redcoats were gone and were barred from oppressing, occupying and looting these early United States citizens, it seems that the United States government itself had taken it upon itself to fill the vacuum.  Perhaps the phrase “vacuum of power” applies here, or maybe it was just that the Constitution was simply ineffective at securing the inherent property rights to the populace. 

Maybe the whisky manufacturers simply felt that they were being treated unfairly or unequally or on different grounds than other American citizens to whom they were previously legally equal. Despite some of my misgivings with him, I think Aristotle says it best: “Equality consists in the same treatment of similar persons, and no government can stand which is not founded upon justice.”  If it was only the whisky or at least only whisky manufacturers being taxed, were they not being treated on different grounds, unequally and unfairly from the rest of America’s citizens? 

The cider tax, the Stamp Act, and the whisky excise tax all had one thing in common: a 3rd party had put its guns in the faces of a certain group of people and faced them with the query “Your money or your life.”  The very distillers who had fought the Revolutionary War for their own liberty and independence from invasive government demands and mercantilist style corvée were now being treated exactly as they had believed they had fought to be liberated from.  The government that was not even involved in the regulation or the production of whisky at all in the first place was now demanding a portion of these distillers’ productive energy at gunpoint. In the early free market society that existed during this time in America, distillers often bartered for goods they needed and used distilled whisky as money.  They since they had little cash, what bit they had they were careful to conserve to purchase goods that could not be bartered for.   Larger distilleries seemed to actually support this excise as they figured it would cripple their small-time backcountry competitors giving them a stronger hold on the market, perhaps even delivering them with a nice secure oligopoly.  Soon after the enacting of these excises, these primarily backcountry distillers were presented with wealthy tax collectors with their hands out at their doors; one arm with its palm out and open demanding the money, the other armed with a gun analogically speaking. 

It seems that the very reason Hamilton and Washington decided to focus so closely on Pennsylvania is specifically because of these wealthy tax collectors.  They had not sent 13,000 soldiers to Kentucky, the frontiers of Maryland, Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia because there were few people there who were even willing in the first place to be tax collectors whose physical and fiscal security was the goal the soldiers were given to protect.  According to recent research, not a single person in these areas even paid the whisky tax at all.  Pennsylvania had an army of wealthy tax collectors whose homes were being looted, as insurrectionists seized back their property from the perceived government backed thieves.  Luckily, for these rebellious re-revolutionists, their wishes were granted during the “Jeffersonian Revolution” which began after his 1800 election in which Jefferson and the Democratic-Republican Party eliminated the entirety of the Federalist excise tax program.  What is interesting to learn is that the entire American backcountry upheld a non-violent refusal to pay the whisky excise tax, no local juries could be found to bring any tax delinquents to trial, and this widespread popularly supported “rebellion” was successful with the eventual repeal of the entire excise tax program.  This lasted (with exception to the brief excise taxes during the War of 1812) until the Civil War when the North altered the Constitution by centralizing the government and enacting a permanent “sin” tax on liquor and tobacco.

   To say nothing of the issues of slavery and oppressive and questionable Indian land deals, the United States effectively turned its back upon its roots almost as soon as it became an entity of domestic strength.  It seems that greedy government agents only wanted more cash to line their unproductive pockets and were prepared to slay thousands of their nation’s own citizens in order to get it.  Luckily, the yearn for freedom lasted long enough to reverse some questionable federal policies, although it seems that today their effort has been forgotten, reversed, and betrayed.  So long to Jefferson’s and his electorate’s dreams of economic liberty.
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mikehz

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What actually happens most of the time isn't on the list. It is: nothing. The law stays on the books, forgotten and ignored. The law codes are filled with such nonsense. http://www.dumblaws.com/

Most of us are criminals, one way or the other. Do you really throw out unused prescription drugs? This works out to the advantage of the state, since it can crack down on most people anytime it so desires.
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useless_mike

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as above - accept they can come back to haunt you later on.

If it is a waste of time to enforce, then it isn't basically.
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eukreign

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Slightly different perspective:


Original: http://www.lewrockwell.com/gregory/gregory96.html

The Dead Ends of Technicalitarianism

by Anthony Gregory

There is a prominent subspecies of libertarian that places much emphasis on the technicalities in Constitutional and statutory law, often at the cost of understanding the true nature of the state and its mechanisms of power.

The most pervasive technicalitarian arguments concern the income tax. We learn that the 16th amendment was never properly ratified, or that the tax is only supposed to apply to foreigners or citizens who make money in foreign exchange, or that the tax is really a corporate tax, or that the web of IRS regulations serves to obscure the fact that no statute actually mandates that you pay a tax. Refusing to file for income tax, or writing your name in all capital letters, or refraining from using Zip Codes in your outgoing mail, or referring to yourself as a "Citizen" as opposed to a "citizen" is supposed to keep the tax hounds away. They cannot touch you if you know the law.

Libertarians certainly have good reasons to know the law, especially the parts of it that will help shield liberty against the government. Furthermore, it is important to understand the real story behind various frauds, hoaxes and coups in American history. When we know that a certain Constitutional amendment, or, indeed, the entire Constitution, was conjured up in a smoky room filled with special interests and unscrupulous politicians, we better recognize that the state does not really have the sacred legitimacy often spoken of it in the popular mythology. We come to realize that constitutions are mere pieces of paper and governments mere groups of people empowered in ways the rest of us are not. We see that, even by its own terms, the state is illegitimate. Knowing the workings of the state has many uses in the intellectual battle for freedom.

Drawing on the technicalities of law as the chief tactic of fighting the state has its severe limitations and drawbacks, however. Instead of helping to expose the naked emperor or the man behind the curtain, it can lead us to grant undeserved legitimacy to the state. To obsess over the income tax as a supposed violation of statutory law is to give far too much credence to statutory law. The reason income tax is wrong is that it’s theft, not because some legislator back in 1913 failed to dot his i's and cross his t’s. Moreover, if enough Americans began calling the IRS’s alleged bluff, and stopped filing, the state would simply make the income tax "official" and "properly ratified" in any ways it had presumably failed to do so.

When we stop for a minute to think about it, nearly every single thing the federal government does is unconstitutional, blatantly, clearly, and unabashedly. Article I, Section 8 makes no mention of a federal department of education, energy, agriculture, or transportation; a CIA, an FBI, or an alcohol, tobacco and firearms bureau; a national war on drugs, crusade on guns or struggle against illiteracy; a central bank, a retirement plan, or even a standing army. The number of constitutional – that is to say, legal – practices of the federal government would likely correspond to less than one percent of its current activity. So we already know that almost everything the feds do violates the so-called Supreme Law of the Land. It is useful to reflect on this to understand how far removed the government is from the document that supposedly gives it its authority. It is helpful to consider this in understanding the way the state operates in the real world. But we should also recognize that a government that is constantly and nakedly at odds with its Constitution is not going to let itself be deprived of one of its major sources of revenue upon being shown that the IRS is not following its own regulations to the letter. Liberty is not a mere technicality away.

The state is not about laws on pieces of paper. It is about looting and violence. Its principal methods of funding are theft and counterfeiting, its regular modus operandi is extortion and its most conspicuous projects are assault and murder. Ultimately, finding a technicality that saves Americans from income taxation will prove as effective as finding one that saves foreigners from incoming U.S. missiles. (Can you imagine an Iraqi screaming at the bombing of Baghdad that since the war had not been declared properly, the explosions cannot legally hurt him?) A loophole might save you money in the short term, but it will likely do you no good if the IRS has it in for you, and it will certainly do little in the long term to help in the eternal clash with the state.

Instead of searching for the magic loophole that will swallow up the state and all its oppression, we should devote our time to learning about how the state actually works, its historical and modern relationships with the private and semi-private sectors, and the effects of its domestic and foreign interventions. We should not fool ourselves. The state does not steal our incomes because we have overlooked a confusing regulation or fail to know our case law. The reason we have an income tax is because the politicians in power want an income tax, and have bamboozled the public into believing that taxation is acceptable in the first place. The tax code is confusing and contradictory for all sorts of historical and operational reasons, but it certainly does not contain the final key to our freedom from taxation.

The state is an organization of coercion, a monopoly on aggression, falsely legitimized by its own fiat and sanctified in idolatrous mythology and through lying propaganda. There is no technicality that can curb its inherent conflict with the natural law and individual liberty. It draws actual blood, bankrupts actual companies, bombs actual cities and taxes actual wealth. Its soldiers shoot to kill, its taxmen are equally ruthless. In principle, it is no more bound by a subsection of its tax code than a mobster is bound by his vague promise to protect you. It is for all these reasons that the state must be understood and eventually dismantled wherever and whenever possible. Don’t get too distracted by the fine print and neglect the big picture.
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eukreign

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So, to answer your question: Anything can happen depending on the mood of the politicians and how much they hate their slaves, i mean citizens.

The law and what actually happens are not related in practice.
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fourthgeek

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If a tree falls in a forest and nobody is around to hear it...
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rabidfurby

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Slightly different perspective:

Original: http://www.lewrockwell.com/gregory/gregory96.html

The Dead Ends of Technicalitarianism

by Anthony Gregory

Ian needs to read this next time one of those ZIP-code-eschewing crackpots calls in.
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bushwacker

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If a tree falls in a forest and nobody is around to hear it...

....It still falls. Also, the sound of one hand clapping is the sound you get when I smack you upside the head for asking such stupid questions! :P

But seriously... Most of us agree that government=violence, and that as an organizational body, it does not understand anything but the force it dishes out. Thus.... Why don't we fight back? Why not give 'em a taste of their own medicine? Perhaps it would kill them or at least tranquilize for a while :D
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eukreign

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If a tree falls in a forest and nobody is around to hear it...

....It still falls. Also, the sound of one hand clapping is the sound you get when I smack you upside the head for asking such stupid questions! :P

But seriously... Most of us agree that government=violence, and that as an organizational body, it does not understand anything but the force it dishes out. Thus.... Why don't we fight back? Why not give 'em a taste of their own medicine? Perhaps it would kill them or at least tranquilize for a while :D

Because government is fully prepared to deal with violence. It is much easier for them to suppress violence then civil disobedience. When people are being violent they can just send in cops/riot police/military and not worry about lots of people getting killed or injured and thus being portraied as tyrannical... at least that's how the media would see it and unfortunately they affect America a great deal. With civil disobedience on the other hand it is not as easy to kill and injure a whole bunch of people without some kind of media or other problems for the government. Also a civil disobedience is more likely to attract media attention and possibly even positive media attention.

In summary, I believe if the government ever had to choose between someone having a violent protest or a peaceful one they would pick violent without thinking twice because that's what they know best.
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RichDPhoto

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Protesting peacefully will get you just as teargassed and shot as protesting violently, in part because those in control of government interpret it as a threat to their authority which must be removed at all costs.

Protesting peacefully didn't stop Ghandi and his follwers from taking severe beatings, nor did it work for Martin Luther King and his followers, nor did it work for the Chinese students at Tienenmen Square or the farmers in the south of China a few weeks ago.  In all of those cases, the government's lackeys initiated violence against peaceful protesters (who in some cases returned the violence, and in others did not).

Violence and the threat of violence are the only tools government has.  When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

If protesters are not prepared to meet the government's force with their own force, they will lose. 

Never start a fight, but always finish it.  Si vis pacem, para bellum.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2005, 05:19:09 PM by RichDPhoto »
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BKO

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An ewok dies...

bushwacker

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RichDPhoto, I like the text of the last line of your above post. As I see it, we're going to get it in the ass either way. Now, what if we took the best of BOTH strategies and broke it down into three distinct courses of action:

1. Paramilitary- If done right (and this something that *has* to be done right to work at all), you would utilize trained units to disable or destroy technical and strategic targets. The key is to avoid killing people as much as possible (especially those considered 'civilians' as per the current regime's "WOT/lets-do-martial-law" definitions), but rather to hit the regime's "counter-insurgency" capabilities where they hurt the most.

2. Civil disobediance- Break the law. After all, all or nearly all you do on a regular basis is considered illegal in some way/shape/form in one jurisdiction or another. Remember, just because some governmental body says something is 'illegal', it isn't inherently 'bad'. In fact, one could effectively argue that the exact opposite is true no doubt!

In conjunction with this, let us follow the example of the guys in NH who sometimes have 'open-carry' protests. I think that being able to both "take a hit for the sake of pulled heart-strings" (aka for emo stimulus of general public) is good, but should also be coupled with matching force. After all, we want to keep the movement alive and growing by keeping as many people alive and healthy as possible. If too many demonstrators get the crap blown out of them and/or get arrested, then we would not only loose our existing supporters, but would increasinly find it difficult to recruit new participants.

Also, resistance (armed in this case or any kind really that is effective) is an emotional draw as well. If people see that we (whoever 'we' is it doesnt matter) are succeeding, they will be more prone to sign onto it. There are 2 groups of people this would effect:
   A. Fence sitters- Those who are somewhat smypathetic, but aren't sure yet, either as a result of lack of information, or through some intimidation or fear that we wouldn't succeed.
   B. Silent Sympathizers- Similar to above, but these are people that could and would show overt support, had there not been the fear of government reprisal. A successful campaign would make it 'popular' for people to join, thus making it seem less scary to support the Liberty cause they always felt was correct but were just too scared to/ didn't know how to support.

Comments or thoughts on this?
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Cortaigne

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If a tree falls in a forest and nobody is around to hear it...

Ah, but what is "sound"?
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bushwacker

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Sound is vibrations through some form of matter that goes into your ear...
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Cortaigne

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Sound is vibrations through some form of matter that goes into your ear...

So a tape recorder does not detect sound?
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