There is an
ominous historic parallel between the way taxation is viewed today
by our three major political groupings — Democrats, Republicans
and Libertarians — and the way those same groups looked upon chattel
slavery on the eve of the nation’s most disastrous civil conflict
— the War for Southern Independence.
In 1861, America
faced a crossroads. The issue was slavery — the forcible confiscation
and ownership of other human beings and the fruits of their labor.
The Democrats believed slavery essential to the economy, that you
could not run the economy without it. Slavery was in the nature
a minor party of diverse, disaffected elements, thought there was
something wrong with slavery, but they did not want to take any
drastic action. They did not want to abolish anything.
They just wanted to slow the further extension of slavery into
the territories. Republicans then, as today, were composed of craven
corporatists, belligerent nationalists, "Know Nothing"
nativists, fanatical moral reformers, and a few wayward, courageous
souls dedicated to the constitutional vision of a decentralized
republic of the framers.
called for a decrease in the increase of slavery — much as
modern Republican presidents since Ronald Reagan, never really wanted
to cut taxes, but only decrease the increasing amount
that is taken out of your paycheck each week. Reagan sponsored
the largest tax increase in American history in a move which pleased
the pro-tax bipartisan majority in Congress.
embryonic "tea partiers" within the GOP are comparable
to this "free-soil"
element within the party of yesteryear. They know something
is not right about confiscatory taxes and run-away spending but
have not quite worked out a comprehensive frontal attack strategy
and systematic analysis of the problem.
Now if Mississippi,
Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and all the rest of the South wanted
slavery — fine. Lincoln
and the Republicans supported a constitutional amendment to permanently
guarantee slavery in the South. In fact, this amendment
passed the Congress, and was ratified by three states before the
war began at Fort Sumter.
Today it is
impossible for us to imagine that a majority of our fellow Americans
held these opinions on this barbaric institution, that slavery virtually
went unquestioned for thousands of years.
of that day — the abolitionists — were vilified and attacked by
the press as impractical idealists or worse. As the conscience
of America, they
believed that slavery was an affront to Almighty God and a
gross violation of the essential individual human rights and dignity
that were the glories of America’s heritage. The abolitionists
demanded that slavery be immediately and unconditionally ended.
In 1861, America
was at a crossroads. Today we are again at a crossroads.
The paramount issue we face is a parasitic system of taxation draining
the economic lifeblood of our ability to feed, care for and clothe
have long led us to believe that individual freedom and self-reliance
can only bring chaos, while taxation and centralized government
planning are essential to impose order. In truth it is liberty
and the competitive free market that gives us a productive and harmonious
economic order; it is government and confiscatory taxation that
bring chaos, corruption, and arbitrary power.
published accounts, millions of Americans are engaged in active
tax resistance, refusing to participate in their further enslavement
by a government out of control; millions more are engaged in passive
tax resistance in the “underground economy” — much as their predecessors
used the “underground railroad” to escape slave masters and their
(On a personal
note, genealogical research of my ancestral roots shows that my
great-great-great-great-great grandfather John
C. Burris was a soldier in the French and Indian War, later
in the American Revolution, who became a Quaker and married a Cheraw
Indian woman Ester.
Their son, my great-great-great-great grandfather, Daniel
H. Burris, was also a Quaker and an abolitionist who fiercely
opposed slavery and who helped runaway enslaved persons escape on
the Underground Railway. Daniel and his wife Mary had sixteen children.
of their grandsons served in the Union Army during the Civil
War, including my great-great grandfather, Eden
Henry Burris, who fought with Company A, 57th Indiana
Infantry regiment. He and his wife Rebecca had thirteen kids.)
today is quite clear. It is between peace, freedom and prosperity
on the one hand, taxation, tyranny and impoverishment on the other.
Faced with this fundamental choice, we should see clearly that what
we desperately need to do is not limit or reform the tax system,
but to abolish it — and breathe the fresh, clean air of freedom.
must be made to go the way of immoral slavery.
We must eagerly
study and learn from its grand
strategic and tactical history, as well as that of its sister
movements of nullification
in formulating our concentrated assault on the systematic destruction
of our rights and liberties, whether TSA tyranny, the
war-making of our imperial narco-state empire, and the erosion
of economic freedom and private property.
A. Burris [send him mail]
is a history instructor in an American high school.