I meant to write this up days ago but life on the road is a bit spastic, it’s like I’m always on playa time.
People seemed a little surprised that as an anarchist I enjoy Independence Day. The idea of reminding people that our leaders are corrupt, violent, and should be overthrown has great appeal to me. The Declaration of Independence went a long way to help the ideas of individual sovereignty. It certainly wasn’t a perfect document but both the Declaration and the Revolutionary War were good things in my eyes.
As a human your body, mind, and labor are your own. Those that would attempt to control any of these against your will are violent usurpers and should be resisted. Government, by definition, is violence against non-consenting adults. Independence Day is a day to remember that we are sovereign beings and reserve the right to strike back. It isn’t about the troops, Independence Day would be celebrated even if King George let the colonies go peacefully.
While I have never really enjoyed fireworks I do enjoy how Americans celebrate the 4th of July. The idea of eating unhealthy food, drinking alcohol (poison), and blowing up your own property is a great statement in who owns your body and labor. It is a celebration of the moment, an almost hedonistic enjoyment of the here and now.
This Independence Day I sat along a lake and read Thoreau’s “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience”. I realized pretty quickly that I had never read this short document all the way through. I actually don’t think most people have. There is a ton of great stuff in there but people tend to only quote out of the first couple pages. It is truly a revolutionary document that is very applicable in today’s day and age.
At its heart it seems to be calling out the hypocrites who talk about the evils of slavery or the Mexican war but continue to pay taxes to fund these atrocities. Today many conservatives speak out against abortion and many pre-Obama liberals against the wars and Guantanamo but they continue to pay for them. As if laundering their money through the IRS removes the blood from it. If someone truly believes something the government is doing is unjust or immoral they have a duty to remove their support.
This, of course, may mean going to jail. Thoreau argues that if a system is unjust than just men belong in jail. To not be an enemy of an unjust system is to be its ally. In the modern age it is pretty tough to not pay taxes. Close to 50% of people pay no income tax and those that do are unlikely to really resist. Income and sales taxes are all collected automatically, effectively castrating this form of civil disobedience. Instead of banning books that speak of ways to fight an unjust government the government has adjusted tactics to make the fight more difficult.
Intentionally starving leviathan is difficult but I think it will inevitably happen. The soviet states collapsed, the welfare states of Europe are floundering, and the same will happen here. Every state fails at some point, just as every small government grows into a large one. It is the nature of the institution, it’s just a matter of how many are killed in the process. Mankind does not need a state, and someday I hope we all realize that. As Thoreau says:
“That government is best which governs least;” and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which I also believe,—“That government is best which governs not at all;” and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.