Should Libertarians Be Tax-Abolitionists?

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Charles, I admit that I sometimes call for abolition of this or that, but I am being inconsistent when I do so and I am fogging up my main panarchist message. I really mean to say that I want something abolished in its control over me and anyone else who objects to it. Those who object to taxes and don’t want to pay them shouldn’t have to pay them. That amounts to secession from the taxing government.

I think it’s wrong for libertarians to be tax-abolitionists for all other people, i.e., to advocate the destruction of someone else’s preferred government and its taxes. I quote two sentences from yesterday’s LRC article by Karen Kwiatkowski:

“The Constitution languishes and the state has surged since 9/11. Americans, by and large, still accept the strawman arguments for giving up their liberty…Administrative lockdown — torture really — is the new black in the fashion of American governance and many Americans politely applaud it.”

Karen’s observations are true. This means that many Americans want the government they have. Libertarians cannot prove to them that they should not be able to choose the government of their heart’s desire. Libertarians can try to persuade them of the moral failing of their choice or of its practical failings, but there is no way that I know of to prove to them that they have no right to disregard libertarian argument and choose the government that they prefer. If libertarians call for abolishing taxes for all and thus government for all, they are being inconsistent with the notion that people have a right to form and live under a government of their choice.

The only consistent position is to argue that everyone have the government of their choice, and that no government have the power to force non-consenting persons into its realm, either territorial or not territorial.

Let the libertarians live in America with governments of their choice, and let other groups also live in America with the governments of their choice. If the libertarian ways of life prove to be such as to produce greater happiness, greater well-being, greater prosperity, and so on, or to simply allow greater choices, or simply to allow greater scope to achieve whatever people want according to their value scales, then people will switch away from other governments that are inferior.

As long as we are being idealistic in sketching out alternatives, let us at least be consistently idealistic.

10:05 am on December 21, 2010
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