Monday, 30 January 2012

Further food for thought

I am indebted to Richard North, EU Referendum, for pointing me to this site, "The Politics of Non-Violent Action" (1973). From that:
"In political terms nonviolent action is based on a very simple postulate: people do not always do what they are told to do, and sometimes they do things which have been forbidden to them....Political power disintegrates when the people withdraw their obedience and support. Yet the ruler's military equipment may remain intact, his soldiers uninjured, the cities unscathed, the factories and transport systems in full operational capacity, and the government buildings undamaged. But everything is changed. The human assistance which created and supported the regime's political power has been withdrawn. Therefore, its power has disintegrated. When people refuse their cooperation, withhold their help, and persist in their disobedience and defiance, they are denying their opponent the basic human assistance and cooperation which any government or hierarchical system requires. If they do this in sufficient numbers for long enough, that government or hierarchical system will no longer have power."
"Politicians love power-over. They crave the capacity to control the lives of large numbers of people. It is the politician's job to make us believe that he/she is committed to helping people, or making the world a better place, or carrying out the will of his/her constituency. In fact, a true politician has but one goal: acquisition of more power. Power for power's sake. Power for the thrill of it. Love of power to a politician is an end unto itself, like the love of art or music. Most politicians are corrupted with the lust for power-over, and deserve our utmost contempt."
The source of political power is not votes, it is money - money that is extracted from us by law in the form of taxation - be that income tax, VAT or Council Tax - laws they have imposed. Cut off part of that source and government's power is drastically weakened. In order to survive those in power must create a consciousness, or a system of beliefs. Any act that challenges the false premises that government's power is constructed upon is a threat to the hold they exercise through their power. Gene Sharp maintains that governments in power crave order - chaos is their enemy. Any act, no matter how innocuous it may seem on the surface, that disturbs the smooth-running social engine is a threat to their power. It is obvious that any act by an individual would probably have no effect on their power - however, suppose it was not an individual but thousands of individuals?

Let us play a game of 'just suppose'. Just suppose every self-employed person withheld their income tax, paying it into an 'escrow' account, until such time , for example, our politicians had extricated this country from the European Union, or until such time as the politicians agreed to instigate a recall system of MPs that was not subject to parliamentary approval? Just suppose that a thousand or two of us decided to visit the continent and return with cars laden with tobacco and alcohol, selling them off to local shops and small businesses while providing them with invoices. Just suppose those two actions were carried out simultaneously, what punishment could the authorities inflict? Imprison everyone? How, with our jails virtually at bursting point? Were the authorities to take action, in the time the due process of law took, the government of the day would have a bit of a problem with their balance of payments. Just suppose a thousand or two, within every local authority, withheld payment of their Council Tax. There are approximately 160+ local authorities in the UK - you do the maths. Just suppose a few thousand more, having seen the actions of some brave people, then decided to 'join the bandwagon'?

As a nation we do not 'take to the streets', it is not in our psyche - it is not the 'British way'. What is in the 'British way' is being downright bloody awkward - and I think we are pretty good at it.

There's more than one way to kill/skin a cat..........

Just dreaming.................


Richard said...

"As a nation we do not 'take to the streets', it is not in our psyche - it is not the 'British way'. What is in the 'British way' is being downright bloody awkward - and I think we are pretty good at it".


WitteringsfromWitney said...

Richard: Thank you!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

" ... what punishment could the authorities inflict? Imprison everyone? How, with our jails virtually at bursting point?"

They would release the criminals to make space for the dissidents. Do you think they wouldn't?

PeterCharles said...

Civil disobedience has been an effective way to gain a bloodless revolution, but it has to be widespread and deep. It is also something I have no doubt the government is prepared for.

If you recall Richard North's posts on Council Tax Bradford alone, for example, was issuing around 20,000 liability notices every year. That is 20,000 non-payers being chased with bailiffs and fixed charges. I suspect that if you arranged ten thousand small businesses to withhold their tax a similar thing would happen, after all, according to statistics, around one and a half million tax self assessors are chased, fined, etc. every year. That after all is one of the reasons we have so many bureaucrats. No doubt if it got serious enough the government would ensure that they had direct access to peoples' bank accounts so they could just take the money. It is not coincidental that income tax and NI are collected through PAYE, nor that VAT is collected from retailers.

No, having developed a bureaucracy that can effectively neuter any kind of withholding activity they have really only left the old fashioned methods, national strikes if they are lucky or piano wire and lampposts if they are not. The latter would be most satisfying.

Richard said...

To an extent, we have to "organise" the civil disobedience. If we had 20,000 people who did not pay their Council Tax until they got summonsed, and then refused to pay the fees on the basis that they were excessive and therefore illegal, would cause havoc.

We have to be creative in our disobedience, employing the tenets of guerilla warfare. We do not confront openly - we harass and wear down the enemy.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, Peter Charles - I believe Detlev Schlichter has a new post with views on similar lines:

WitteringsfromWitney said...

E: Nope, that would not work - the public outcry would be too great!

PC: Aha, who did not read that which I wrote? I specifically mentioned the self-employed who pay tax and NI direct to the authorities. Where does PAYE enter that equation? There must be I would guess a million self-employed in this country?

RN's post on Bradford related to arrears - if memory serves me correct. It was not for total non payment specified at the outset!

With direct access to bank accounts - that would take time to go thru parliament and in the meantime everyone withdraws their money?

Richard: Quite agree - recall you post about the illegality of some of those 'charges'

WitteringsfromWitney said...

Anon: You too are guilty as is PC - you did not read that which I wrote, specifically mentioning the self-employed!

Naughty-step, please both of you!

William Gruff said...

Christ All fucking Mighty! Nothing can be achieved on the interwebby thing apart from feeding those willing to knock on doors and stand on soap boxes.

Knock on doors, as I have, many, many, many times, and try to persuade those who resent your interruption that you have something to offer them, something that does not require their involvement. They'll happily fork out their great great grandchildren's legacy for their great great grandchildren but they won't get off their e number larded arses to save themselves from slavery in their old age.

Nothing can be accomplished on the web. Get out and knock on doors! Bore people at work! Talk to people in supermarket queues, or at bus stops! You'll find that people everywhere agree with you.

The coming struggle cannot be won virtually.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

WG: First, may I remind you of the conditions I ask when posting? Language?

Secondly, I run this blog - your job is to go knocking on doors....... :)

Seriously, I do what you suggest, talk to people etc and yes they agree with me.

As I posted yesterday, when everyone is safely corralled with no freedoms whatsoever the loudest bleating will come from them - at which point I told them to go look in a mirror and ask themselves who is responsible for their situation.....

William Gruff said...

My apologies for my transgression: I tend to assume, in my passion and my cups, that my own manners obtain at other men's tables.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

WG: That's ok, friend - what is one sin amongst those of like mind.......

Let he who is without sin cast etc etc......

I'm all for cups - providing they are of DD.......

William Gruff said...

As for those cups: I'm a small breast aficionado.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

WG: Each to his own - so end of topic?

Dave Peters said...

I agree with Edgar, they would empty the prisons of real criminals.

However...The main gist of the argument is sound.
For instance..the London Congestion Charge was brought in to raise funds for Livingstone's lulu ideas of a socialist utopia, It was pretended to be about traffic congestion..but we all know better. A few months prior to it's introduction various traffic lights and junctions were adjusted to make life difficult for motorists and then reset after the congestion charge was bought in to "prove" the charge was working as planned. (but I digress)
Now...if thousands and thousands of motorists all in cahoots with each other decided to stop paying the congestion charge.. what exactly could the TfL do..?
After a week, there would be hundreds of thousands of surcharge letters going out to all these motorists who would receive them and then return them unpaid. Then the following week, no one paid their congestion charge again and by then all the refusals would be delivered to Transport for London who would also be sending out the second weeks worth of surcharge letters which would be received and returned back with a refusal to pay. At about the fourth week TfL would be sending out final demands which would of course be refused payment too.
This could go on for weeks and weeks with more and more disgruntled motorists refusing to pay the congestion charge.
After a several weeks of this, perhaps a couple months or more, there could be millions of letters/demands/refusals/surcharges/more refusals/fines/summonses going through the postal system and TfL would be loosing money hand-over-fist with just the postage costs for starters.
It would be the perfect display of people power could not be quiesced or hidden from sight, the whole country would have a front seat view of a large official organisation finally getting it's just desserts.
This would set the scene for a mass tax refusal or any other protest.

I would assume that with the mass refusal some motorists would be successfully fined but I would feel sure that these martyrs would have their costs paid by a generous fundraiser.

It just needs organising...and that is where the idea will fall down because I have no idea how it could be successfully organised so that we do have a large mass of motorists who refuse and not just a handful of motorists who do their bit and end up being picked off by the authorities.

William Gruff said...

If, if, if and then again if. What if everyone could be programmed to ask if, at the same time? What might happen then? If?

What if something that has not happened in the past two hundred or so thousand years of modern human history were to happen now?

Answers on a postcard please.

LMFAO @ the verification word for this comment: Herse.

Anonymous said...

Looks like what you need is Calvin's understanding of the role of the lesser-magistrates:

Such a doctrine could and should be applied by MPs, Mayors, councils etc.

If Carswell urged his constituents to withhold their tax he would be acting justly; but until some leader urges others to act that way, it will only be individuals who take action, and they can be picked off one by one.


Tradvalues said...

Many people think that it was the Cultural & Sports Boycotts, toyi toyi protestors and the like that brought about change in South Africa, but in reality it was non-compliance, "non-white" people no longer complied with the pass laws, they moved into "white" areas let to them by non-compliant landlords.
Ultimately we all have the choice whether or not to 'comply'. However, in order for non-compliance to take effect and affect change it needs the snow-ball/avalance effect.
However, the problem lies in what happens when the current system is overturned, as once people have no respect for the law, lawlessness takes over with many unintended consequences.
I think that what most of us are asking for is a return to the systems and laws that evolved through centuries and that have mostly been overturned during the last couple of decades.

thespecialone said...

I'm afraid that we come back to the same old same old. People will huff and puff and the Daily Mail will huff and puff but little will happen. People will then wonder who has been knocked out on "Celebrity....blah blah" and be concerned with the latest from Jordan or Cheryl Cole. But they will not see what is before their eyes and see how much we, the people, are being conned. Conned by MPs in Westminster and conned by local councils.

LH said...

Aaargh! Blogger captcha going haywire.

The visibly actioned threat against a few property owning refuseniks would be enough to see the majority crumble.

You could promote a pledge "The 10,000" signing up to an agreed course of action with a declared goal but what would form either the action or the goal (apart from the self employed option above for the reasons stated here)? Unfortunately in a recession people will look to the most important unit to them - family, not the state (or nation).

I think at this time, the best option might be a 'national minimum'.

Agreement across the discontented of every stripe that they will support a movement for change that adheres to a very basic and stark wish list. Then strategically use it to try to unseat the lowest hanging fruit in local councils and constituencies and work from there.

It is clear to anyone that the prescriptions made for us by the permanent class, Europe and mass immigration among them, are not the products of wise judgement. That permanent class is exposed, but we are too divided into our special interest areas to show a united front.

Anne said...

You may or may now know that a letter to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II invoking Magna Carta Clause 61 re the with-holding of taxes was posted on 20th October 2010. Three paragraphs from the long explanatory letter.
3.The People were previously rebuffed when noble Lords invoked Clause 61 of Magna Carta on 7 February 2001, at which time they asked Your Majesty to withhold Royal Assent from the Treaty of Nice.
On behalf of the People we therefore invoke the authority of:
Magna Carta 1215/1297, Clause 61, which states, as repeated with great distinctness by Henry III (1216-72) “… it shall be lawful for every one in our realm to rise against us to use all the ways and means they can to hinder us …
until that in which we have transgressed and offenced shall have been brought again into due state …”,
11. The People can, under Clause 61 of Magna Carta, withhold all taxes from when the EU's “own resource” of higher VAT is set to commence on 4 January, 2011, until this Country is set free from the EU. The People now know without a doubt that every Government that has been in alleged power here in the UK, has willingly handed £billions to the EU. This handout to the EU (whose accounts have 90% failed to be passed for audit over 16 years) has come before the financial position of the People here in the United Kingdom. Have not the People, therefore, innocently contributed to treason?
We had a three paragraph letter from Mrs Sonia Bonici
Senior Correspondence officer. The middle paragraph made quite clear, that, "Her Majesty has taken careful note of your comments regarding the terms of the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union and your views on the role of the Constitutional Monarchy" AND
"I must tell you, however, that these are not matters on which The Queen would personally comment"
One has to assume that our letter has been read by the Queen because surely, no person in such an important position would take it upon themselves to say such, if it was not true. Particularly a person in such a position as handling Her Majesty’s letters. So We have to accept the words as printed and are right to do so.
You see when (ALL) the people are ready to act (and they are getting there-but not quite there yet)and they continue to see and watch while people in this Country are losing their jobs and their homes, having to pay more taxes on everything including VAT, England divided into EU Regions and will be expected to contribute to any EU fines etc, and in spite of all shortages and vicious CUTS our Government STILL pays out £billions of pounds to the EU and £millions to the many EU Agencies, and see a Coalition Government putting-without doubt, the EU before their sworn solemn Oath of Allegiance to the British Crown and through the Crown to all in this land of ours, the people will be ready for they will have had enough of foreign laws by then. Incidentally, three major National News-Papers were sent that letter at that time, not one printed it.

All is ready when most of the people have had enough of foreign rule-which is contrary to our constitution. Remember when Magna Carta was last used- the Crown lost much of its authority. Just pray that this present Coalition Government realises it was elected AND IS BEING PAID to Govern this Country according to its long standing Common law Constitution. Two wars have been won to keep it thus, the people cannot betray all those that gave THEIR lives for our Freedom. Just pray that our Government realises their duty and their allegiance is here-all in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Anonymous said...

Another tool to use: next election (for council, MP or whatever) stick up a poster with the picture of the candidate with the slogan - Vote for me so I can keep receiving my salary of £x.

Or, do similar posters with a local politician/diversity officer etc saying: "Please pay your taxes so I can keep my salary..."

Until people are disgusted by what our politicians are doing, there wont be much change

Anonymous said...

One more suggestion. What if someone paid their taxes directly to Elizabeth Windsor? Write a cheque and attach a note saying it is tax, but since parliament no longer represents us, there's no point having it and we might as well give the tax directly to our head of state. I'd trust her to use the money wisely far more than the current rabble who claim to represent us.

What laws would be broken and what would the penalty be? Presumably a fine for incorrect filing, would this be a standard amount, or a percentage of the total tax?

Alfred the Ordinary said...

Interesting idea but since Council Tax makes up only 11.93% of my Council's income, this is not a great threat.

Anne said...

Alfred the Ordinary said...
"Interesting idea but since Council Tax makes up only 11.93% of my Council's income, this is not a great threat".

It is if every one does the same. Or, no one does anything at all, and we ALL lose our Country forever. If everyone had done the same in the last war, Hitler would have been in charge.

BrianSJ said...

Important piece on why Norway and Sweden do so well.

WitteringsfromWitney said...

Some interesting comments so my thanks to all.

Agree it would take some organising and agreed everyone protesting through withholding of payment would need to remain resolute in their resolve.....