Big Head Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 477, July 20, 2008

"Taxation is the fuel of war"

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To End War, Prepare For Peace
by L. Neil Smith

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

On the other side of the economic, geopolitical, and military mess we find ourselves in right now (provided, of course, that we survive it), certain things that we have done routinely as a civilization—or that have been done to all of us—must be changed, radically and permanently.

The first is to establish widespread recognition that, in addition to being immoral because it happens to be theft, taxation is the fuel of war. If you remember nothing else from this essay, try to remember that.

Taxation is the fuel of war.

No matter how any political administration promises to use the money that it extorts from us, sooner or later, either directly or indirectly, it will be diverted and used to "break things and kill people". What it will break is civilization itself, and a great many of the people that it kills won't just be foreigners, a majority of them completely innocent of any wrongdoing, but our own sons and daughters.

Likewise, the particular form of slavery that we politely call "conscription" should be considered by everyone to be a provocation and an act of war. Whenever we hear that, oh, say Canada, has begun registering its kids for a potential draft (and this should definitely include those programs intended to coerce individuals into any kind of domestic service), they should be harshly confronted and persuaded to desist.

Exactly as they should do when we draft our children.

At the same time, we must arm the people and disarm the state. We now know from the experience of the past thirty years that "an armed society is a polite society". Violent crime is much more effectively suppressed by those who would otherwise be its victims, than by hordes of government lackeys whose first thought is for their pensions. We also know—thanks to people like the Vietnamese and the Afghans—that a civil population in possession of small arms is more than a match for any huge government equipped with high-tech, high-capital weaponry.

On that account, among many other badly-needed reforms, we must replace at least half of the publically-funded golf courses in this country with shooting ranges, and draft legislation so that any time another golf course or some other sports facility is being planned or contemplated, a shooting range of equal value must be constructed, as well. Ideally, government shouldn't do this sort of thing at all, and laws like the one I've just suggested would most likely help put an end to it.

Getting back to basics, it should be a major objective of any popular reform movement to abolish Sovereign Immunity, that ancient and highly evil custom under which "the King can do no wrong" and a supposedly democratic government has to give its permission to be sued.

Along with this reform, two others are called for. First, any law—including a portion of the Constitution—that shields politicians from crimes they commit in office must be struck down. And to those holdouts who maintain that if these things were done, the government would be buried in lawsuits and unable to "get anything done" (and this is bad because ... ?), you have but to adopt the "loser pays" rule in civil court, to diminish the number of "nuisance" suits that are filed.

There also needs to be a Penalty Clause written into the Bill of Rights.

The corporate equivalent of Sovereign Immunity is called "Limited Liability", a so-called "legal fiction" (English translation: a highly profitable lie, courtesy of the splendid legal profession) under which corporations are viewed and dealt with as individuals, the debts of their owners are limited to whatever they have invested in the corporation (this is exactly like fining a murderer only whatever he paid for the knife, skillet, monkey-wrench, or gun he used to kill somebody with), and the owners of corporations evade responsibility for the evil committed by, say, a Halliburton or a Blackwater USA. Without this change, while the politicians face war crimes trials, the directors and stockholders can sit back and watch the whole thing on TV.

Fractional reserve banking is a legalized form of counterfeiting in which the counterfeiter—a banker—doesn't even have to produce funny-money, but just pretend that he has it. This practice, which is proving disastrous to the ethical portion of the economy, must be outlawed.

Back to basics once again: there will be no war—in any form or any kind—without a formal Congressional declaration of war. Any violation of this law will be reason for immediate summary removal from office, and trial before a tribunal with the power to hang the convicted.

In the case of a legal declaration of war, officeholders who voted for it, or urged it publically or in Congress, will be the first (and only non-volunteers) to put on a uniform and head straight for the front lines, without regard to their age, health, sex, or any other consideration. This used to be a wistful joke. It's time to make it a reality.

To help prevent situations leading to war, there will be no more government secrets, and politicians convicted of keeping a secret or of lying to any member of the public for any reason whatever will be subject to capital punishment, preferably by hanging on network television.

Following war crimes tribunals for politicans and the officers of corporations that have benefitted from a war, full restitution and reparations will be paid—to overseas victims as well as American taxpayers and conscriptees—by guilty individuals as well as by the liquidation of corporate profiteers like Halliburton and Blackwater USA.

A couple of other economic, geopolitical, and military thoughts:

Starving people in the Third World are not starving because there's any lack of food. The world is buried in food; the only ones who don't understand this are idiots like U2's Bono. They're starvng because politicians and the military—those who would rule others by withholding what people need to live—stand in the way of trade and distribution.

The hideous skeletal forms you see on TV or in magazine ads are being deliberately murdered through a process no less inhumane and deliberate than those who were murdered by the Nazis in concentration camps.

Exactly the same is true of energy. The world is drowning in oil—it's the second most abundant liquid on the planet—and the only reason it's recently become obscenely expensive is that, once again, politiicians and their associates, in this case corporations, have inserted themselves into the process of production and distribution in the hope of establishing a hydraulic despotism over the lives of their victims.

This is the regime we must oppose if we are to live in the peace, freedom, progress, and prosperity that is our birthright as sapient beings.

What are you prepared to do about it?

Four-time Prometheus Award-winner L. Neil Smith has been called one of the world's foremost authorities on the ethics of self-defense. He is the author of 25 books, including The American Zone, Forge of the Elders, Pallas, The Probability Broach, Hope (with Aaron Zelman), and his collected articles and speeches, Lever Action, all of which may be purchased through his website "The Webley Page" at

Ceres, an exciting sequel to Neil's 1993 Ngu family novel Pallas was recently completed and is presently looking for a literary home.

Neil is presently working on Ares, the middle volume of the epic Ngu Family Cycle, and on Roswell, Texas, with Rex F. "Baloo" May.

The stunning 185-page full-color graphic-novelized version of The Probability Broach, which features the art of Scott Bieser and was published by BigHead Press has recently won a Special Prometheus Award. It may be had through the publisher, at, or at


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