Some Thoughts On Civil Disobedience: My Duties and Responsibilities

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GENERAL PRECEPTS OF MAN AS SOCIAL BEING

All life is one. The world is one home. All are members of one family. All creation is one organic whole. No person is independent of that whole. The earth is a sacred gift to be cherished, nurtured, and shared by all.

All human beings are endowed by the Law of Nature (God if you prefer, hereinafter “Truth”) with a moral conscience. The highest law of my being is the Law of Truth. The Law of Truth is of a higher order than man made law. It can also be said that Truth is Love, in the sense that God is Love. Every person is ultimately accountable only to this Higher Law, the working force of which is Ahimsa, nonviolence, love.

Man is a social being. It is his duty to live in harmony with the entirety of humanity in accordance with Laws of Truth, without any distinction whatsoever for race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, religion, creed, caste, class, or age. All false appearances belie the actual intrinsic unity of mankind. Our universal language is the language of the heart.

Conflicts must be overcome by great loyalty to humanity. This loyalty supersedes all other subordinate loyalties, racial or national. It is the law of Love that rules mankind. Had violence and hatred ruled us, we would long ago have become extinct. Love is what men live by.

The daily prayer of Mahatma Gandhi — “Lead me from untruth to truth, from darkness to light, from death to immortality” — declares an evolutionary journey which is the birthright of every human being. Ultimate Truth is the goal of life. Its unimpeded and efficient realization is the natural right of every person. No State possesses moral authority to impede this basic human right of Self-Realization.

The five basic minimum moral precepts of my faith and conscience are (1) to abstain from killing any visible living being, (2) to abstain from lying, (3) to abstain from stealing, (4) to abstain from sexual misconduct, and (5) to abstain from intoxicants.

It is my duty to adhere to these precepts in my personal actions. It is also my moral duty not to support or approve violation of them by others or the State. These responsibilities are intrinsic to my duty to live in harmony with all other human beings.

Freedom of religion means I cannot be required by coercion, force, or threat of force to violate any precepts of my faith, or to support violation of them by the State.

My moral responsibility comprises a universal responsibility for welfare of all beings. My every action affects directly or indirectly the welfare of my fellowmen. The first morality and the first service to others are the same: do no harm. It is my duty to renounce violence in my heart and to employ the power of Ahimsa (nonviolence) generated by this renunciation.

Because nonviolence is my most fundamental moral responsibility, it is also my most fundamental human right. This means that I cannot be required to support or approve of the State in breaching the precept of Ahimsa.

The scope of nonviolence herein includes abstaining from all activities (to the extent humanly possible), which take the life of any visible living being. Economic, ecological and natural resource exploitation of the weak and poor by the strong and rich is considered herein an act of violence from which it is my duty to abstain.

It is my duty to support actions which promote peace, harmony, and real happiness of human beings everywhere, and to abstain from actions and support of actions by the State inimical to these ends. Greed, hatred, and delusion are the three “great poisons” which deprive humanity of peace, harmony and happiness. Therefore it is my duty to abstain from support of actions by the State which generate or promote these great poisons among human beings.

The end of any action is defined, predicted and included in the means. Means may be likened to seed, the end to tree. They are inseparably linked. A good end cannot arise from immoral means. Man can control the means, but not the ends. Purity of means is based upon recognition of moral law. The precept of nonviolence states that it is quality of means — the intention to suffer for good ends while not inflicting suffering upon others — which provides justification of the ends. The means is the end.

All people are endowed with inalienable rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness as necessary prerequisites to enable their achievement of Self-Realization. Other basic human rights are enumerated in the Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution, the Charter of the United Nations, and in UN Resolutions regarding human rights. The full scope of human rights is not limited by these enumerations. In order to promote the full scope of human rights, it is my duty to resist by nonviolent means the forces of coercion and violence.

I cannot deny the truth of my perceptions, my conscience and my common sense. To do so would be to deny myself, my capacity to know, my instruments of knowledge which enable me to learn Truth. I confess that Truth recedes as I approach it, like all highest values. It is like approaching infinity. As a human being, it is extremely difficult to be perfect in truth. Just as the truth of geometry is not denied by inability to draw a straight line, so my shortfall from Truth does not deny its actuality. If I understand a fact as it is, and act on that fact as guided by my conscience, then I have acted according to truth.

My own conscience provides the best understanding for me of Truth in any situation. No other person is endowed by Nature with the capability or right to interpret the guidance of my personal conscience. Certainly no State possesses this power.

Ahimsa and love are one. Ahimsa means the largest love, the greatest charity. Ahimsa, the active force of love, requires me to dissociate myself from evil-doers who employ violence. Ahimsa is not merely the absence of violence. It is an active engagement in compassion.

Nonviolence is the supreme value, the one cognizable standard by which truth in action can be determined. Suffering deprivation, loss or even injury to one’s own person as a substitute for violence to others is the essence of nonviolence.

Self-Realization as a goal and as a duty herein means complete salvation, total release from cyclic existence of birth-death-rebirth. It is achieved from a foundation of Ahimsa. Since Self-Realization as the ultimate goal of man can only be accomplished individually, personal autonomy takes precedence over the State. Self-government is autonomy of the moral self, the moral rule of each man over himself. Duty to one’s own conscience and loyalty to Truth are above one’s loyalty to State. In matters of individual conscience the rule of majority has no place. Blind submission to social will is not a righteous act. No act which is not voluntary can be said to be moral.

Orders from the State notwithstanding, an act performed against the dictates of one’s conscience is not a moral act. If a person feels those orders do not conform to reason and moral sensibility, it is his duty to disobey and take upon himself the consequences. It is right to support the actions of State only so long as they are nonviolent. When actions of State harm living beings, it is one’s duty to withdraw support.

It is blindly ignorant and unrighteous to believe that an act of a majority binds a minority. There are many examples of acts of majorities found to have been wrong and those of minorities to have been right. Many reforms have been initiated by minorities in opposition to majorities. While the blind belief exists that men should obey unjust laws, so long will their slavery persist. Is a pious man to accept an order to kill his fellowman, tantamount to his own family, on the basis of majority rule? It is contrary to humanity to obey laws repugnant to conscience. Such teaching is opposed to religion and means slavery. Even the government does not expect such a thing from us. It does not say “you must do such and such.” It says: “If you do not do it, we will punish you.”

If man will realize it is unrighteous to obey unjust laws, no tyranny will enslave him. This is crucial to self-rule. Throughout history, men have recognized their birthright to disobey and to resist government when its tyranny or its inefficiency became great and unendurable.

Individual freedom alone can motivate a person to surrender to the service of society. If freedom is wrested from him, he becomes automation and society is ruined. No society can be built on denial of individual liberty. The moral person is marked by a readiness to suffer and make sacrifice for the highest good. The sacrifices must be made and the suffering borne in a spirit of nonviolence with malice towards none.

The State does not possess moral sovereignty over the individual and does not inherently possess rights to be granted to individuals. Individuals are endowed with inalienable natural rights and the State derives its authority from consent of the people. The State cannot grant inalienable rights, it can only impede them up to the limit which people are willing to tolerate.

A righteous person is duty bound to disobey laws repugnant to conscience, taking upon oneself the consequences and penalties of civil disobedience, provided, however, that he must never take the law into his own hands. The conscience of the people is the ultimate sanction of laws aimed at higher levels of justice and public welfare. It is the righteous person’s duty to work towards elevating the social conscience. Rights are not ultimately protected by law. Protection stems from the moral conscience of society.

The individual is the supreme consideration. The individual must be a social being who identifies himself with all other living beings. A rational individual recognizes that it is in his own long term interest not to exploit others or ecology. The good of all beings is the real good of each individual. The good of the individual is included in the good of all. Men, women, and children must be treated as ends in themselves. They cannot be used as agency for others. To achieve Self-Realization — which is a natural right equal to the right to life itself — is something only free agents can accomplish. It cannot be done by coercion and cannot be derived from power or wealth. All individuals are moral ends in themselves. As they wish to be treated as moral agents, so must they treat others as moral agents.

An act to be moral must transcend all selfishness and egoism. It must be motivated by goodwill for all, since good of individual is contained in the good of the whole. No man can act without affecting welfare of his fellowmen. The moral test of an action is whether or not it is conducive to welfare of all. The great truth is unity of all life. It commands the love and service of all life. Therefore Truth can be realized only through moral, nonviolent means.

An organized society presupposes safety, cooperation and mutual help. These are impossible without nonviolence. The logical consequence of violent methods or messages is the increasing brutality of man. No success is worthy of human effort if it does not ennoble man.

Nonviolent civil disobedience is itself a birthright. There is no volition to overpower the wrong doer. The aim of the nonviolent resister’s suffering is to awaken human sympathy in the heart of wrong doers and convert them from violence to love. Nonviolence invokes forgiveness, not vengeance. One must altogether reject even indirect support for a military state. Emigration is an acceptable nonviolent action. The main cause of war is greed which leads to exploitation of weaker nations, races, social groups. It is impossible to achieve peace by means of war.

The right to initiate civil disobedience requires prior habitual and sincere obedience to just law. It is a duty to render voluntary obedience to law except when that law fosters untruth. Then disobedience becomes duty. Civil disobedience is, in respect of Higher Law, the natural recourse of people when they have no effective voice in their own government.

Power is the central concept of politics. Coercion is embedded in the power of the State. The State represents violence in concentrated and organized form. There can be no nonviolent State, because State means force. The coercive nature of State power goes against the moral value of individual action. Politics divides and separates, in opposition to the unity of all life. George Washington said: “Government, like fire, is a useful servant but a dangerous master. It is not eloquence, it is not justice, it is pure force.”

The instruments of State are designed by men to serve their convenience. They have no intrinsic natural existence. Just as a righteous man dissociates himself from evil acts of other men and does not support or approve them, so must he dissociate himself from or resist evil acts of State. Actions of State are merely the actions of a group of men proceeding according to their perceived self-interest. These actions have no intrinsic moral superiority to the actions of an individual. To the contrary, it is the common human experience that politicians are far away from being a reliable repository of the highest moral and human values.

The chance occurrence of my birth in a certain State does not compel me to surrender my moral sovereignty to the political morality of that State. The State holds me in thrall by force alone. It is only raw power projected by the State that forces people into acts of mass destruction. No sane individual does these things. My first loyalty is to humanity as one, to the wholeness of the human species, not to a particular State. No laws of nature created national boundaries that divide people from one another. Human divisiveness brings death. Unity is life.

A civil society is harmonious. Harmony means brotherhood. Brotherhood must be supported by just law. Law which places corporate property rights above human rights and which creates a judicial framework for exploitation of the poor by the rich is not moral law. A person must disregard it. A framework of law which encourages and promotes destruction of our planetary ecosystem — on which all life depends — must be resisted by people of conscience.

Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Happiness: Americans declared independence to enjoy these inalienable rights. Certainly my freedom not to kill, and my joy in nonviolence, are abrogated by coercive taxation to finance constant preparation for war, marketing of war and implements of war, and the research-development-construction of ever more efficient means to kill more and more people in less and less time. I do not labor for the purpose of blowing to bits the bodies of women and children.

Government behind closed doors and concealed in classified documents: how can this be said to be with the consent of the governed? Not only war, but also all forms of secrecy, lies and compulsion inherent in the powers of State are a violation of humanity.

The highest law is the Law of God, the Law of Truth. Love is God. Love does not kill. The high commandment of Christianity is “Thou shall not kill.” The first morality taught by the Buddha is to abstain from killing. The first precept of the Hindu and the Jain is Ahimsa, nonviolence. Nonviolence is the highest morality of man. This morality is of a higher order than any State's authority. No State has the right to interfere with a person’s sincere efforts to pursue the goal of Self-Realization through Ahimsa.

I will not voluntarily abide by any law of man which violates my understanding of Law of Truth. Nor will I take the law of man into my own hands. I will disobey such laws as are repugnant to my conscience, taking full personal responsibility for acts of civil disobedience. I willingly suffer the full consequences and penalties thereunto appertaining. I declare that obedience to any such repugnant law imposed upon me by force makes of me a slave, and thereby violates my basic human right to life and liberty. No man, no constituted authority, and no State have the right to make me a slave.

Ahimsa is not merely the absence of violence. It is an active engagement in compassion. Whenever we consume more than we need, we are engaging in violence. We are taking from others. Using resources beyond one’s actual needs depletes what is available to meet the needs of others, including other species upon whose survival our own ultimately depends. Ahimsa means not to encroach upon the economic and ecological rights of others. Their right to life is not ours to take.

PERCEIVED ERRORS OF PREVAILING ASSUMPTIONS OF GOVERNANCE

Actions of the modern nation state are based upon false or questionable moral premises, some of which are perceived as follows.

  • That man lives by greed rather than by love.
  • That nature can be freely exploited. That we can destroy billions of years of biological evolution — along with interdependent human cultures — without consequence.
  • That State institutions can violate higher moral law.
  • That peace and security can be achieved through war.
  • That material progress is man’s greatest good, even at the expense of cultural morality.
  • Denial of interdependence and inter-connectedness of all life.
  • Denial of man’s universal responsibility to the whole of life.
  • That future material progress can be gained by mortgaging the web of biological life itself to present exploitation.
  • That human welfare can be achieved by promoting artificial needs and consumerism.
  • That the State possesses moral authority over the individual.
  • That politics can be divorced from ethics.
  • That the State can keep the peace and maintain security.
  • That the State knows better than the people themselves what is in their best interest.
  • That the people are incapable of taking care of themselves without State supervision.
  • That the State can legislate and maintain public morality among individuals.
  • That the State can provide any economic good that is not better provided by voluntary effort and exchange among free people acting in absence of coercion.
  • That somehow those persons in government possess more goodness than ordinary persons, that they are capable of rising above self-interest, that power does not corrupt, that power is not addictive.
  • That exploitation of the weak by the strong is sustainable.
  • That owners of corporations should be absolved of personal responsibility for actions of the corporation.
  • That corporations should be granted the rights of persons, including political rights, and that they are bona fide participants in the political process.
  • That the end justifies the means.
  • That the moral code necessary for harmony among individuals does not apply to the State.
  • That the lie of the State is morally valid.
  • That the State has the right to coerce individuals to support its wrong-doings, even to a level of violence which may exterminate millions of human beings and threaten survival of all life on earth.
  • That to protect its citizens the State should violate the Laws of Truth.
  • That it is morally acceptable for one State to exploit the people and ecology of another. Thus, that exploitation is an acceptable aim of politics.
  • That economic interests of corporations are senior to welfare of individuals.
  • That an industrial economy is unequivocally a good thing for all humanity.
  • That corporations are the best vehicle for human economic action.
  • That ever-increasing consumption to support an ever-growing economy is a good thing.
  • That corporate property rights and investor rights are senior to individual human rights.
  • That the individual is an economic entity and not a moral agency.
  • That propaganda rather than truth is an acceptable means of informing the public.
  • That public funds should be employed to subsidize corporations.
  • That the precept of "just war" is valid in human affairs.
  • That State Terrorism is a justifiable response to criminally violent acts of individuals.
  • That lies, deceit, secrecy and obfuscation are acceptable methods of "Statecraft."
  • That the State has a valid claim upon the labor product of its citizens, a form of slavery.
  • That a valid contract exists between the State and its citizens.
  • That men can be bound by a "constitution" of which they had no authorship, that was drafted by persons unknown to them, with whom they made no contract, and who are now dead.
  • That, in effect, the State owns its citizens as property.
  • That the private lives, speech, thoughts and beliefs of citizens should be open to State surveillance and control.
  • That "society" is a concrete entity rather than a churning coalescence of individuals acting according to their own self-interest. That "society" is more than a mere abstract term, and that it can thus be "managed" without respect for individual rights.
  • That "Group Think" does not ultimately lead to the lowest common moral denominator among individuals comprising the group, in that those with the most power are likely to be the least moral.
  • That those attracted to positions of authority within the State are not likely to be psychologically imbalanced, motivated by a lust for power and domination, prone to psychopathic behavior when given free rein.
  • That the State, although conceived in violence, maintained by violence, subsisting on violence, is a morally valid institution among men.
  • That the State is somehow a beneficent entity, comprised of Nice Government Men who always hold the interests of others above their own. That politics does not lead to theft. That politics does not nurture the growth of power. That politics does not beget competition for power. That politics does not foster centralization of power. That power does not absolutely corrupt. That power will not express as murder.
  • That the "public debt" of one generation can be passed to the next, i.e., that a man is obliged to the debt of a stranger whom he never met and who is now dead. That a person is obliged to a debt in the creation of which he had neither awareness nor voice.
  • That a group of criminals acting in a Parliament or Legislature can create and bind citizens to laws which are repugnant to conscience. Laws which result in destruction and death, and which violate the wisdom teachings of all the great spiritual traditions of humanity. Laws which reduce the lives of ordinary citizens to serfdom and conscription in carrying out the murderous agenda of the Powers That Be.

MORAL HYPOTHESES AND CONCLUSIONS

A necessary prerequisite for a nonviolent society is justice in all aspects of life: food, shelter, clothing work, education, health, opportunity for self-realization. Justice requires freedom, together with open access to livelihood and trade without legal barriers operating through the State's power of monopoly.

Humanity is One and harmony must be worldwide. A proper rule of law requires that human rights of all be equally protected. When a body of law is created which tramples the rights of minorities and the weak, such as Bretton Woods agreements, IMF, GATT and WTO, such law is repugnant to the conscience and must be resisted by nonviolent means. If we do not find nonviolent methods to resist imperialism in all its different forms, including corporate imperialism, the suppressed races of the world appear to have little hope.

A prerequisite for peace is radical limitation of corporate power, a redefining of the corporation as a legal entity. We must reject lifestyles based upon creation of artificial needs, the fulfillment of which harms others. Only that economy is good which conduces to the long term good of all.

The modern science of political economy is false science because it promotes exploitation of man by man. True science is concerned with the welfare and destiny of all men. This is the science taught by the sages: Buddha, Christ, Confucius, Heraclitus, Lao Tse, Mahavir, Gandhi, Schweitzer, U Ba Khin, the Dalai Lama. That economics is untrue which ignores or disregards moral values. An economics which enables the strong to exploit the weak is dismal as well as fake. This is the economics of the Corporate Warfare State.

In 1981, fifty-three Nobel Prize winners warned of an unprecedented holocaust, encompassing the horrors of mass exterminations and extending the frontiers of barbarism and death. In 1980, while tens of millions of people were on the verge of starvation, the global war machine engaging 60 million people was squandering nearly a million dollars per minute towards our universal extermination. Today the level of violence is even higher. It is incomprehensible.

The most fundamental of human rights is the right to life. It is morally wrong to support a group of states in their quest for the power to destroy all life. A righteous person, intent upon spiritual evolution, must resist this. Immoral means employed by the State or its corporate licensees result in doing harm and failing to achieve a good end. It is the inevitable result of the Law of Cause and Effect. Any perceived success will be only temporary, while the evil will be long lasting. The lie of the State at war cannot lead to Truth, just as war cannot lead to peace.

Immoral means predict and determine the ends. Modern science and technology have bestowed upon States power beyond limits. This power is being used in a moral vacuum. Unlimited power of the soulless state machine and its corporate licensees, fostered by large-scale mechanization, automation and massive concentration of wealth and power leads to disintegration of society. This is manifest in the erosion of human values we see all around. Such a milieu deprives man of his right to self-actualization. If the price of "progress" is corruption, how can a person be happy?

State corporate governance has failed because it lacks a moral code based on true human values. We live in a disintegrating culture. That which is best and noblest in humanity is not nourished. The corporate culture does not cultivate generosity, compassion, charity, morality, cooperation, tolerance, wisdom, self-sacrifice, service to others. It does not encourage gentleness and community, mutual support or harmony. “The capitalist technocratic state system has become a monstrous destroyer of what is loving and life affirming in the human soul.” (Miller, 1999).

In a traditional society, the family and community constituted the basis of morality. Stealing from one’s neighbor would be morally shocking. Now, in public institutions, all manner of corruption is expected. The consequences are huge, because the corruption involves doing violence to entire cultures. Millions of people are made to suffer. This radical separation of ethics from politics, foreshadowed in the long ago writings of Machiavelli, appears to be a generic feature of the corporate state structure.

A corporation has no heart, no soul, no conscience, no morals. It is not a living being. It cannot feel pain, sorrow, remorse shame, and compassion because it is intrinsically unable to do so. It cannot laugh or cry, enjoy the world, or suffer with it. Most of all, it cannot love. This is because it is a legal fiction. Its “body” is a judicial construct. It is a process, a machine designed for one purpose: to generate maximum revenue at least cost. It is not connected to earth or its creatures, to pleasures and responsibilities that derive from being human, made of earth. When it hurts people or destroys ecology, it feels nothing. It is incapable of feeling. Yet, under law, it is deemed a “natural person” with all the legal and political rights of a person except for actual voting. This is why corporations are so dangerous: they act in human affairs without feeling and with wholly selfish motives. They have become very powerful, in some cases more powerful than the host government of which they are a parasite.

Not only does the corporation have the rights of a citizen (such as free speech, right to sue for slander, libel, injury), but it has been granted special protection over property rights. Rate of return on investment has been declared a “property” immune to interference by citizens or their elected representatives. Under U.S. law they are also granted “eminent domain,” pursuant to which jury trials were eliminated for determining whether corporate practices cause harm or injury, and if so, the assessment of damages.

The fatal moral flaw which makes these corporations so dangerous to the social body upon which they feed like a cancer is an ethical design error. Their owners, the shareholders are protected by law from legal and personal liability for corporate harm to humanity or damage to ecology. This is an attempt by men to create a shield that protects them from consequences of their actions. It is an attempt to violate the Law of Cause and Effect, the law of moral causation. There is no personal accountability of the owners to society. The corporation has no social responsibility. Yet it has legal and political rights by legislative construct. It is a dangerous entity, pursuing only its “genetic” program to generate profit without concern for long term consequences to humanity. Can you imagine the outrage that would land on the heads of individuals had they committed some of the crimes of corporations which are now so commonplace in the news as to have become routine?

“The special status of corporations has placed them in a position to control vast economic power by which they may dominate not only the economy but also the very heart of our democracy, the electoral process. The liberty of democracy is not safe if people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the state it itself. That, in essence, is fascism: ownership of government by an individual, a group, or any controlling private power.” (Franklin D. Roosevelt).

President Abraham Lincoln opined: “I see a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war, corporations have been enthroned. An era of corruption in high places will follow and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working on the prejudices of the people until wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the republic is destroyed.”

The 500 largest corporations in the world now (1999) control 25% of the entire world economic output. The largest 300 corporations own 25% of the world’s productive assets. The 50 largest commercial banks and diversified financial companies control nearly 60% of all global capital.

According to Paul Hellyer, Deputy Prime Minister of Canada, “Globalization is not about trade. It is about power and control. It is reshaping the world into one without borders ruled by a dictatorship of the world’s most powerful central banks, commercial banks and multinational companies."

The prime role of government has been usurped by corporations in order to provide a secure legal environment for profitable transnational investment and competition. This usurpation provides security for capital, property, and investors but not for ordinary citizens. The erroneous premise of this role for government is that corporate property rights are senior to human rights, and that the earth and its biological life can be owned and exploited by non-human entities, rather than nurtured and shared among human beings.

The issue of taxation without representation was at the core of the American Revolution. Beginning with the Bretton Woods international agreements in 1944, followed by the Trilateral Commission of David Rockefeller and other efforts organized by elite power brokers, control of representative government has been systematically transferred from the people to corporations. As shown in the preceding paragraphs, it is not possible for corporations to have an unbiased interest in the public welfare. Documented instances of corporate abuse of the public and the environment are too numerous to list. Campaign contributions and the lobbying arms of huge businesses control elections, legislation and public policy. Powerful men hold in “revolving door” rotation high public office and directorships of MNCs which are members of the military-industrial-political complex. This is an unholy and incestuous relationship of regulator and regulated. Reality on the ground is that American “democratic government” and both of its major political parties are controlled by corporations, not citizens. It is a false moral premise that in a democracy these entities should have political rights and political voice. It is not possible for corporations to represent the will of the people. Thus we the people are de facto taxed without representation. We have no effective voice in a government controlled by corporations.

Now, through the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, General Agreement on Trade & Tariffs (GATT), and the World Trade Organization (WTO) at policy level — coordinated through the unholy marriage of governments, central banks and multinational corporations at the operational level — sovereignty of politically constituted governments has been usurped by MNCs. The WTO has created an “Economic Constitution” of the world. Economic exchange is at the core of human action and affects every aspect of life: environment, education, health, labor and political rights, war and peace. The scale of corporate activity has become so large that it affects the most fundamental right: the right to life itself. Millions of the world’s poorest people are deprived of adequate livelihood and health by corporate actions which destroy their ecology and local economies. As in constitutions, trade agreements set forth rights of their constituents. But these “constitutions” have been negotiated behind closed doors with input only from corporations. Under WTO, only corporations are the beneficiaries of the rights it creates. The interests of others in society are nowhere to be found.

An international agency of corporate constituents has the power to veto parliamentary decisions made by sovereign governments wherever these decisions are ruled “trade restrictive.” At risk are environmental protection, labor and health law, consumer protection law, control of foreign exchange and the massive flows of speculative capital which can completely disrupt local economies. Witness the recent Asian economic crisis which did untold damage to the lives of millions of poor people. Proceedings of the WTO are closed: trade unions, consumer, health and environmental groups are barred. Details of rulings are not published. Membership of decision-making bodies is not disclosed to the public. Everything is anonymous and there is no public accountability.

MNCs which have substantial control over legislation as well as executive branch policy are subsidized directly and indirectly with public finance. Consider global transport and communications infrastructure, scientific research and development, corporate agriculture, all of which are subsidized by public funds generated through taxation of individuals. Yet these MNCs operate clandestinely and are not accountable to the public. This is truly abusive taxation without representation. Having gained control of political parties and the electoral process, corporations have usurped the government of the people and have created a tyranny. We the people have no effective voice, yet we subsidize these entities with our taxes.

There are other issues with respect to taxation without representation. In 1776 the American tyrant was the British King. Today it is an institutionalized structural tyranny of rule by corporations masquerading as democracy. The people vote each 2 to 4 years for, usually (if you ask them), the lesser of two evils, both of whom were put in place by corporate money. It is a sham democracy. Corporations are the real power. They form a collective dictatorship. The “nominees” that we elect are not only beholden to the corporations which finance and control the electoral outcome, but they may also be shareholders of the same corporations which will come under their regulatory and policy purview. It is incestuous.

Foreign policy is made by people who own banks and corporations which profit from preparing for war, marketing the war machine, and waging war. To find the roots of war, follow the money. War may be couched in terms of freedom, democracy, justice, religion, but if you follow the money, it leads to powerful decision makers whose constituents in banking and industry profit from war or the exploitation which leads to war. Wars are fought with money borrowed from the public, the employment of which enriches bankers and owners of the military industrial complex. Only a morally flawed structure permits these owners to influence decisions of war and peace.

The recent Afghan situation is one example of many. It is widely known that Big Oil, the US government and Pakistan coordinated early support of Taliban in order to secure access for Big Oil to the fields of Central Asia. Subsequently they destroyed their creation. Now they will rebuild Afghanistan without having lost sight of the original objective: access to oil of Central Asia. It has been reported in the press that families of high US officials own shares in, among others, Halliburton, Unocal and Carlyle (oil and defense). These companies stand to profit from operations related to the war. A political structure which permits State decision makers to benefit financially from activities of the State over which they have influence is morally wrong. The setup is such that MNCs benefit from war while it is being marketed and waged and again profit from post-war reconstruction. It is like a meat grinder with human beings the raw feed.

Killing is never justified, but certainly its lowest threshold is self-defense. There can be no justification for killing in the name of some “national interest,” invariably an economic interest determined by power brokers and not ordinary citizens. No villager is justified in murdering members of another village for their grain. How can US government be justified in murdering for oil?

The sheer size and worldwide pervasive presence of the U.S. military establishment — emplaced to protect corporate interests — is attestation to an incomprehensible level of violence. This worldwide projection of power is used to facilitate and expedite economic and ecological exploitation of weaker and poorer people. On the basis of what wisdom has the US government determined that its wasteful, destructive, death-dealing culture is superior to others?

True rationality must involve both freedom and foresight. The rationale of unbridled corporate economics is unable to foresee and calculate future costs in terms of human displacement and disenfranchisement. Class hatred and violence inevitably arise from the agony of lost culture and livelihood. What gives the US government the moral authority to impose its way of life upon others? Together with imperial arrogance to defend it at any cost — including nuclear holocaust — against the feeble efforts of hapless millions struggling for mere survival? Through economic power and leverage the US exploits wherever possible. When economic power is insufficient to the purpose, it uses armed force.

What was the moral basis for US government destruction of millions of lives in Vietnam? Under whose code of ethics did USG rain napalm bombs on noncombatant Cambodia, incinerating thatched hut villages along with women and children. This led to the destabilization that subsequently spawned the “killing fields.” Whose killing fields are they, really? The list of incomprehensible atrocities could fill a book. It turns the stomach.

The human mind has become brutalized by all pervasive violence, often gratuitous as “entertainment” viewed by small children. We seem to have become de-sensitized to the point of having lost all sense of moral outrage. We are morally passive in the face of atrocity. The moral scale of society has shrunk to the point that destructiveness and wanton waste of life are “normal.”

Tax dollars directly finance not only the military machine. Through direct and indirect subsidy the ecologically destructive operations of MNCs are financed by taxation of individuals. The huge infrastructures of transportation, electric power, communications, media, global trade, research and development for chemicals, pesticides, agriculture and biotech enjoy massive public finance. Taxes are subsidizing corporations which stand accused in the judicial system of criminal activities, child abuse, and crimes against humanity (Tobacco and Big Oil). Taxes subsidize alliances between Big Oil and brutal military regimes in Africa and Burma.

In the 1960s, the USG organized a military overthrow of Brazilian President Jose Goulart. He had instituted capital and land reforms to take back control from MNCs of Brazil’s natural resources. He had defied the IMF. An alliance of the CIA with US investors and Brazil’s landowning elite organized a coup and installed a military junta which overturned Goulart’s reforms. This is but one example of a list that could fill a library.

A military infrastructure is needed to keep the structure of globalization in place and to guarantee access to natural resources on which the model depends. The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist. McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas to build the Stealth Bomber. The hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies is the US Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps. Keeping the world “safe” for global corporations does not come cheap. Just ensuring the steady supply of oil is costing US taxpayers $57 billion annually (circa 1998). Including the infrastructure of military power worldwide, the costs of globalization are much higher.

Taxes subsidize increasing international trade which means ever-increasing pollution and destruction. Corporations control the political system which grants these subsidies: they are the driving force behind both the nation state and globalization. Tax dollars finance crimes against humanity. The same entities which commit the crimes have control of the political system. It is tyranny.

In summary, our planetary ecosystem is being shredded by the violence of greed to fulfill artificial needs, its species genetically engineered, poisoned and displaced, a majority of the world’s peoples (the gentlest ones) impoverished, disenfranchised, displaced. Society is devolving into violence and debauchery. Life is being destroyed by corporations on all fronts: commercial, military, political, and social. Nowhere is there silence. The air is fouled, the waters poisoned. This vast interconnected killing machine is being financed with tax dollars paid by people who have no effective voice. We have become slaves to an inhuman machine of heartless corporate components. We the people created this monster. We the people must peacefully, nonviolently reprogram it.

THE DECISION TO RESIST

Gathering of Elders, Pasquah, Canada: Indigenous spiritual leaders had come from around the world. The Cree Elder had asked my profession. Upon my response, he said: “You are like a bank robber. First your people took our animals, then they took our fish, then they took our trees. Then they began breaking even the rocks of Earth herself and taking them. You pushed us from our homelands onto the reserves. Now you are going to flood even the little bit left to us, so that your hydro power project will keep the houses of your big city people cool in summer. You people are like termites eating their own house. What will you do when there is no home left for anyone?”

Chihuahua City, Mexico, Environmental Conference: The World Bank had proposed to finance a project of logging the last of old growth forest in Sierra Occidental, where Tarahumara Indians are struggling to survive. The timber is feed for a pulp mill. Before an audience of scientists, bureaucrats, environmentalists and trade officials assembled in University of Chihuahua auditorium stands a Tarahumara Elder. His hand holds a cheap pulp magazine, a transmission of rubbish. Gazing calmly at the industrialists and bankers, the Tarahumara speaks softly: “You are cutting the last of our trees to turn them into this. The forest is the life of my people. When you have cut the trees, we will die, and you will read this.” A few miles from the auditorium, Tarahumara women and children are living in burrows dug into mounds of garbage at the city dump. At a small village in the Sierra, a Tarahumara elder had said: “I tell my young men not to fight. I tell them we must be patient, we must wait. The white man will destroy himself.”

I had piloted my personal aircraft from Alaska to Mexico to provide volunteer flight service for an environmental organization. The mission was to fly opinion makers for a direct took at logging devastation. In a kind of epiphany I realized for sure that my whole lifestyle made me part of the problem. If I sincerely wished to become part of the solution, I must change — entirely change — my way of life.

I made the decision to leave my own, my native land forever. I would become a man without a country, separated by a vast ocean from friends, family and my young adult children. No more would I smell the rain on high desert sagebrush, nor hear the wolves howling across moonlit tundra, nor watch the Northern Lights dance in Arctic sky.

I would owe allegiance to all of humanity and to no State. I would be the indentured servant of no gang of murderers sitting in any legislative body. By paying tax to no State would I finally make a farewell to arms. I would seek peace and brotherhood.

Man does not lose his freedom except through his own ignorance. The primary ignorance at play in a corporate state society is ignorance of the Law of Cause and Effect, the Law of Moral Causation, the Truth of Dependent Origination. Freedom and slavery are mental states. First say to ourselves we shall no longer accept the role of slave. Then be willing to act and suffer the consequences. There is no high destiny without self-denial.

Law of Ahimsa (non-violence): Love is the law of the human race and is infinitely greater than and superior to brute force. Ahimsa requires a living faith and commitment to Truth, which is Love (or God if you prefer). It is inconsistent with modern imperialism based on force for its defense. It protects one’s self-respect but not his property. Nonviolence can be practiced by all who have a living faith in Truth and therefore equal love for all mankind. Moral activity on behalf of others is self-realization because humanity is One.

Gandhi speaks: “In order to see face to face the universal and all penetrating Truth, we must be able to love even the least of creatures as we love ourselves. The man who attempts this cannot be indifferent to anything in life. Ahimsa overrides all other forces. It is the only true force in life. u2018Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven and all else shall be added unto you.' The Kingdom of Heaven is Ahimsa." One must renounce violence in the heart, and then consciously exercise of the power of Ahimsa generated by this renunciation.

The pre-eminence of these principles is made known to me through my personal moral conscience, life experience and reason. These Laws have been expounded by the great sages of humanity. Most notable in my personal studies are the Buddha, Christ, Lao Tse and Mahavir. In modern times they have been exemplified by Gandhi, Leo Tolstoy, John Ruskin, Albert Schweitzer and Henry David Thoreau. I have drawn on the inspiration of these and others to organize my thoughts into a plan of action.

Principal Axioms of Theory and Practice of Nonviolent Resistance: Evil is parasitic on good, inhumanity on humanity. No man is entirely devoid of humanity. Suffering, accepted in the spirit of nonviolent witness to truth, can restore to a person his lost humanity. All exploitation is based upon cooperation, willing or forced, of the exploited. Non-cooperation and fearlessness go together. The nonviolent resister fights with his power of suffering in order to arouse his opponent’s power of sympathy. This restores to the oppressor his humanity, while restoring to the oppressed his justice denied. Non-violent struggle properly conducted, even if it fails, leaves behind no trail of bitterness. Passive resistance is a method of securing rights by personal suffering. It is the reverse of resistance by arms. It involves sacrifice of the self. Sacrifice of the self is superior to sacrifice of others. Civil disobedience serves all, including the tyrant, by teaching him his error. Evil can be sustained only by violence. Therefore, withdrawal of support for evil requires complete abstention from violence. Nonviolence requires voluntary submission to the penalty of non-cooperation with evil. The government itself does not expect our full cooperation. It does not say: “You must do this.” It says: “If you do not do this, we will punish you.” Sincerity of a moral position requires willingness to accept the costs necessary to see the principles realized. When it violates his moral conscience, no person will submit to the evil of another or group of others except under coercion. The means pre-exist in, predict and determine the end. It is impossible for violent means to achieve moral ends.

Justification for Civil Disobedience: When the injustice is great and morally repugnant. When it is of a nature that can be resolved by non-cooperation. When the offence is real to the best of one’s knowledge and belief. When administrative recourse is not reasonably available, or after thorough examination is deemed to be ineffective. The goal must accord with natural right. The resister must not hate his opponent. The goal must conduce to the good of all.

Certain Gandhian Prerequisites for Civil Disobedience: The following are required in order to earn the moral authority to make a distinction between moral and immoral law. One must have obeyed consistently the law of his country. He must have served society. Must have embarked upon the work of self-purification and be adhering to the five basic moral precepts. Must have met his family obligations and made arrangements for them to be covered in his absence. Must be prepared for self- sacrifice and significant hardship. One cannot disobey the law while continuing to live under its protection and with its comforts which are financed by the other citizens who are obeying it. One must strive for harmony of thought-word-deed. To think one thing, say another, and do a third is a lie. One must be prepared to embark upon a program of constructive service to humanity along with self-sacrifice. The resister must not hate his opponent. The goal must conduce to the good of all.

MY PERSONAL PROGRAM OF CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

I slowly progressed in self-purification and spiritual growth through meditation practice as taught by the Buddha. Unbearable became the inner moral conflict and despair arising from the knowledge that my labor — through the income tax — was supporting murder of innocent women and children at many places around the world. In order to save myself from internal disintegration, it became imperative to act.

At first I reacted out of anger and despair at the desecration which was being financed by my labor. As my meditation practice deepened, it became clear that anger was only hurting me. Anger was doing nothing to cure human ignorance, which is the root cause of evil. Gradually I desisted from putting more fuel on the fire of anger. Anger attenuated and was replaced with first forgiveness, and then compassion for those people caught in the great MNC killing machine. The call to action metamorphosed into anguished love with malice towards none.

Now, my actions are designed with such mindfulness as I can muster to rotate anger at a system gone mad with the violence of its greed into compassion for evil-doers, while dissociating myself from them and from the system. I am doing my best to walk the path pointed by Buddha and Gandhi: self-purification through meditation, renunciation of worldly pleasures and comforts, combined with a constructive program of humanitarian service.

Guided by Gandhi, I undertook a moral inventory of my deeds in relation to my government. I had served my country across a span of thirty years in a range of voluntary humanitarian and public service. My work had received awards and recognition from all levels of citizenship, including local community organizations, a State governor, a Secretary of the US Cabinet, and the President. As an entrepreneur, I had founded companies that created hundreds of jobs and financed a lot of kids through school, paid a lot of taxes. I founded nonprofit charitable organizations, co-created a new Montessori school, an adult learning center and indigenous social programs. I did significant work in the largest Native American land settlement in history. I had obeyed the laws of my country. To this extent I had earned the moral authority to make my decision.

I examined the possibilities of actual, practical, timely administrative recourse in terms of an individual obtaining permission to cease filing and paying income taxes on the basis of conscience. It is my natural right to act as an individual and not be required to be a member of an “authorized” religious organization. No organization has moral sovereignty over my conscience.

I have had long personal experience with government at all levels including the judiciary. They are not bona fide repositories of high moral wisdom. The closer the approach to inner circles of power, the more pervasive are corruption and the lie. I and my companies had been through tax audits with 100% clean marks. Some of my acquaintances were not so lucky. I am well informed of the abuse of citizens through tax audits. The invasive procedures of auditors into personal affairs of citizens are an unwarranted violation of The Bill of Rights. The power to tax is the power to destroy. The lives of many citizens have been destroyed by IRS abuses. These methods keep the public intimidated. Those who request to keep back the “war tax” portion of their payment on the basis of religion are flagged for special treatment and subjected to harassment. It is vicious.

I studied these matters for long. Based upon my observations and common sense, it is clear that a citizen acting as an individual has no chance against the government in matters of conscientious objection to the income tax. The destructive activities of the military-industrial-political complexes are so systematically embedded that withholding the “war portion” of a tax is ineffective. It would be like trying to distinguish blood corpuscles which serve the liver from those that serve the lung.

The State has framed the rules. I cannot prevail in a petition brought within the bounds of the self same rules which my conscience requires me to disobey. I can only act as guided by my conscience in response to my perception of events and my understanding of a civil human society. My choice as a moral being was to take the path of civil disobedience.

It is incomprehensible that any government has a moral right to force a person to kill, or through taxation to finance murder and even mass extermination of innocent human beings. How can I support war crimes, human rights violations, crimes against humanity? During the past fifty years the US government has built an inhuman machinery of escalating violence that threatens all life with extinction. The government, having no moral right to require my participation, must rely on brute force to coerce my payment of taxes. Certainly this meets the test of “a great and unendurable tyranny.” If I submit to this, I become a slave. I cannot obey the law without violating my conscience and my loyalty to the human race. My choice was to participate as an automaton in the organized, systematic destruction of life or to withdraw from participation in the corporate controlled society. The only safe and honorable course for me to keep my self-respect was to disobey and willingly face the penalties.

These words are not by way of defense, but simply a description so that rational people may have a basis for understanding my actions. I am a simple human being trying to live my ideals. If I run afoul of the State, let it do with me as it wishes.

Having tried hard to understand the Law of Ahimsa, to meet its prerequisites in my personal life, to prepare myself for self-purification and a life of sacrifice and to embark upon a program of constructive humanitarian service, I committed myself to a personal solo program of civil disobedience.

I hereby declare that I have deliberately disobeyed the tax regulations of my country (but not the underlying Constitution). I make distinction between regulation, law, and Constitution because I believe them to be inconsistent and because law and regulation are so complex and permeated with obfuscation as to be incomprehensible to me. The regulations as promulgated in IRS publications seem clear on one point: if a person fails to file and pay taxes due, he is subject to civil and criminal penalties. I hereby serve notice upon authorities of the US government that I have deliberately failed to file tax returns as an act of conscious civil disobedience. I also declare that no taxes are due, as will be set forth in the following.

I admit that I have often been unable to act according to the highest moral law, which rules thought as well as word and deed. This does not invalidate the law. It demonstrates the practical difficulties. Geometry is not less true because I may not be able to draw a straight line. I can only take one step at a time. The point of beginning is my capability for nonviolence now, to be improved one day at a time. The point of departure for moral practice is prevailing morality, which must be changed, one action at a time towards the goal.

Upon making the decision to cease filing and paying income tax, I undertook a radical reorganization of my life. I would have to emigrate, to become a “tax exile.” It would not be right to benefit from the facilities and protection of my country while not paying my share. Reorganization had to be in gradual steps bemuse of obligations to children. Only when the youngest reached majority could I make the final move. Withdrawing from my businesses, I began devoting myself to a wide range of humanitarian service without pay. I ceased generating income and lived on savings. Personal property of every description was sold to the point of a simple lifestyle. Stocks and securities were sold at substantial losses. Corporate and partnership businesses were divested at large losses. These losses generated a large "net operating loss carry forward" for tax purposes.

No income tax would be due for remainder of my life. As a tax protestor I cannot in good conscience make a claim for Social Security retirement benefits. The funds I paid to Social Security over a period of more than forty years are lost to me. It is part of the price of freedom. The needs of my simple lifestyle could be met out of savings on which taxes had already been paid.

Knowing that deposits at interest are indiscriminately loaned to government and business engaged in destruction of life, I abstained from interest-bearing instruments. I had come to see interest "earnings" as the wages of death.

When my youngest child reached majority, I moved to India. I ceased filing tax returns. Demands by mail notwithstanding, I believe that filing is not required if the taxpayer has no income. In my circumstances, the demands for information are an unwarranted violence upon my person, my privacy, my right to personal security and to be left alone to pursue my peaceful life. I will not respond. I declare myself to be a free man, no longer a slave to the great corporate government killing machine.

The path of civil disobedience marked out by Gandhi requires self-sacrifice, self-purification, and a constructive humanitarian program to run alongside the action of non-cooperation with evil. Here in an Indian village I rent two rooms of stone and mud, take two meals per day of rice, lentils and chapatti, bathe with a bucket of hand-carried cold water and use the same open field toilet as my Indian hosts. My basic cost of living is about 2000 rupees per month (less than $50). I maintain a practice of Buddhist meditation, practice eight precepts to the extent capable and fast for one day each week. I have helped build two meditation retreat centers and am working towards a third. I tutor English, do voluntary service at meditation centers, help build village schools, establish libraries, sponsor education of refugee children and a tuberculosis program, and assist in agricultural and reforestation work. I work to contribute to the pool of quietude and peace in human consciousness, to balm the brutality of Western imperialism, to save our ecosystem from destruction. I organize my life around the ultimate goal of Self-Realization, the birthright of every human being.

My decision to undertake civil disobedience through emigration and self-imposed exile has entailed some hardship and risk. The life of an aging foreigner alone and homeless in India is not easy. It is painful to be separated from family, friends, and homeland. There are problems with safe water, food, health, sanitation, and personal security. The cold of snowy winter in unheated rooms is penetrating. Support arrangements are unstable and keep on dissolving. Obstacles of language and culture are daunting. It is a two-day journey by jeep, bus, and train to the nearest bona fide medical doctor. Hospitals of which I have personal knowledge are filthy and septic. Disease is prevalent, civil disturbances are rampant, and war is an ever-present threat. Everywhere I witness poverty, misery, and suffering.

I mention the above only to serve as verifiable background against future actions of nonviolent civil disobedience that are beginning to present themselves to my mind. We do not have a lot of time remaining in which to save ourselves from self-destruction. The looming crises of water and failure of agriculture are powerful "weapons of mass destruction," leave aside the threat of nuclear holocaust. Simply withdrawing from participation in the "system" may not be of sufficient moral vigor.

THE GROUND OF BEING

High above a mountain village in the Himalaya, on the way towards a place where I hope to build a meditation hut, I stop to rest at an alpine meadow. A breath-taking visa of the Grand Himalaya Range stretches for 200 miles. An eagle soars on afternoon thermals as towering thunderheads rise into a Cerulean sky.

Against this awesome grandeur, one witnesses human wretchedness and realizes the depth of his moral responsibility. A Universal Responsibility towards all beings. My every action affects directly or indirectly the welfare of my fellowmen. The first morality and the first service to others is the same: do no harm.

May I learn from Indian mountain villagers fewness of wishes and generosity. May I learn to simplify and to use least possible in order that others may live. May I learn to nourish the life support system of our shared earth. Whatever I have accumulated during my earthly sojourn will remain here upon my demise, so let me learn to share it. Only qualities of heart and mind will accompany me to the next world, there to determine my destiny.

Answering to the war drum becomes unthinkable. The pole star of peace beckons to quiet walks in the woods, or to comforting a child, or communing with a cow (so calm, gentle and nourishing, a cow). Communing with a cow reminds me of my identity with all that lives.

May the generosity, helpfulness, patience, and forbearance of Indian mountain villagers inspire all who come here to renew their connection with others and with Nature. May these villagers and all their visitors be successful. May they all experience real happiness, real peace and real harmony.

In a world gone mad with the violence of its greed, a way must be made to the peace and compassion by which alone humanity may survive. Love alone transfigures hatred. Ahimsa, nonviolence, is the working force of love.

Einstein said: “Humanity’s problems cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them.” Tolstoy wrote: “Love is what men live by.”

May remembrance of untrammeled wilderness and a vibrant web of natural life not vanish from the mind of man. May beauty and the Mystery unlock the latent urge to inquire within Who am I? From where have I come? Where am I going? How may I understand, penetrate the cause of birth, old age, decay and death? How shall I live?

Gandhi believed: “In the midst of death, life persists. In midst of untruth, truth persists. In the midst of darkness, light persists. Hence God is life, truth, love. There is underlying all change a living power that is changeless, holds all together, creates, dissolves and re-creates. This informing power or spirit is God.”

It is to this Truth that is God, non-violence and morality that man owes his first allegiance. This loyalty, this devotion, this consecration is higher than that owed to any institution of man.

October 8, 2006