National War Tax Resistance • Strategy session
Chicago CC Meeting — May 19, 2012
Bill Glassmire introduced the session with a bit of history and a question for the future. NWTRCC came into being as a coalition/network of local WTR groups. NWTRCC was not intended to be an individual membership group, but rather to support local activists and groups, provide connections between them and technical support and advice, and help them promote WTR activism.
For Bill, Larry Rosenwald’s article (More Than a Paycheck, October/November 2011) suggests a coordinated national campaign toward a specific goal. Larry’s article advocated making war tax resistance more friction for the government than it is presently, by being public and outspoken about our WTR. Further, Larry argued that the WTR community should make a clear demand upon the government, for example demanding a large reduction in military spending.
Larry’s article raises some questions to get us thinking more strategically. Shall we/NWTRCC continue to limit our work to supporting local groups? or do we want to try to be more friction to the government in the way that Larry proposes? if we want to do that, how do we do it?
Ideas that came up during the Friday night session:
- Maybe I should be more public about my WTR?
- Making connections with non WTRs?
- How to overcome the fear of WTR?
Part 1: General Discussion and Ideas:
- Build on connection with UNAC (United National Antiwar Committee).
- Should not proceed with anything that does not reach beyond traditional circles; the only that signed the pledge were already committed to WTR (CMTC in 70s); with young people the wars are not the issue it is that their lives are being mortgaged; a small percentage of taxes go to the wars; young people will spend their working lives paying on the debt from these wars; need a message that will work.
- The image of one person standing on the railroad track with your arm out — that individual action of conscience is a powerful image. A faith community — Jehova’s witnesses — go to jail because they have the support of their community; nothing is easy — or it falls away as soon as it becomes hard; doesn’t agree we have to have a great big movement; the individual saying I cannot cooperate is powerful
- Making demands on government is not appealing — war is in the nature of the state so revolutionary nonviolence has to get rid of the state. Orient our work more to the people and individual than toward the state; doesn’t have to be illegal; “truth is a revolutionary act” — he writes letters to Univ of Chicago but has gotten barred from the campus. You can be a friction by exercising the truth; anything can be made illegal; 911 hoax and fraud — don’t pay for deception! This should go with attacking the media because they are a part of the hoax. Everything they are doing now they say it is because of 9-11
- Boycott cards are a good start. Consider using the Boycott list for more public ads or whatever. The cards are so easy to hand to someone and start a conversation. One by one is difficult but the more who do it the farther it goes. Hopes we can do more public with boycott cards and outreach.
- Education is key. Outreach. We have to be braver and do more talking to others. Do you have to be a pacifist to do this? How do we talk about that more? Talking about “the war” — not individual wars really — it’s not that. Mass actions can be good for some things but we undervalue the individual acts. Not a person of faith, so how do we reach out more broadly with our message.
- Revolution requires organization. The power of many small groups working together. Personally would not have committed to WTR if she had not come to a conference and met a larger group of people. Collapse of local affiliate groups keeps coming up. Would be difficult to mount any sort of campaign without the revitalization of local affiliate groups. Revitalize local groups — we are becoming more and more a network of individuals.
- Feels both individual and group action are important. Does agree about being public with Larry. Hold self accountable for not being public. Doesn’t have to be illegal but if at all efficacious it will probably be declared illegal. Do not have to focus on government — we “withdraw our consent from the government”. We need to be clear that the government is not ours. Agrees with Gary that the times call for something beyond “war” How the 99% can stop funding the 1% — how we capture that.
- Not only fear factor — Americans really want to be comfortable. It can be life changing — has led a very different life for sure than what it would have been if not being a WTR. People need to consider — my life will change and it will be ok.
- There’s a vibrant peace movement in Israel. CW folks visit prisons. He hands out boycott card and info about prisons and Israel etc.
- Agrees about war and state etc. We are against a lot but need to emphasize what we are for. Connections with NV peace force and these other styles of security. WWⅡ and her father thought war was a necessity. Peace teams and how we can support the things we want.
- We do have good resources — how to get them around. Goes on Facebook and sees the ads that know what he likes — should we tap into that? So many who have never heard of WTR in peace movement. How do we use that technology to get people to our resources.
- What do I want to say “YES” to. Search out ways and places where redirected $ can be invested best. Meeting CW folks and talking about mutual aid societies. Is not interested in talking about politics that much because it is so negative. Feels like he is saying “no” too much and wants to figure out the positive angle. Redirected money and investment piece is the best propaganda value — it does good stuff!
- Heard guy on radio talking about story telling and the effects, fictional stories have a greater impact on the public than nonfictional stories do. If someone is talking about gay pride people will tune it out, but a tv show with a gay person might have a bigger effect.
- The proposal about doing a comic book — that’s a possibility for more outreach. Tying into that is a good possibility.
- Basic principle of psychology — self interest is a powerful motivating force. We focus on resistance but most people focus on self preservation. We could couch our message in terms of self preservation — preservation of society. Appeal more to this angle.
- Power of one and collective action. Really turned off by the “I will act on my conscience if a million others do.” We have to know that we need to welcome into our circles people who don’t necessarily follow our process, we don’t want to close circles and exclude people. Occupy has taught that difficult people can really come in with lots to challenge us and lots to offer. Who is kindred with this and how do we rearrange how we come together to make it welcoming for the most. We do not consent — that is our common ground.
- Rob as nominee wrote nominee thing about feeling so different from many WTRs who are older. Many of us came in with resources these young folks don’t have. When he moved to VT land was cheap. Can’t go back to the land now when it is very expensive. Health care costs, repaying debts, etc — Occupy — a lot of being against. What can we promote that will show the positive of resisting. How do you go about it. Living in intentional community has allowed him to do what he has done, including WTR. Anything to foster community and sharing resources to make it possible for young folks to do WTR.
- Passing out palm cards on Sunday — we can do that this weekend. Spend money to revitalize local groups. Tell how the government and foreign policy works. Self preservation — people think about the environment but not how much war pollutes the environment. Fiction has a function but does not get that over.
- Rob Stenger’s response to last question in his nomination statement — “is there anything else you want to share” — found the response to his question about WTR to be not that helpful; he had found no sense of community or creative way to address the issues for someone of his position or age in life (out of college, with debt, no family support). This section struck me: “The rise of the Occupy Movement sees the militarist/corporatist control of the economy and political system as the root issue behind the confluence of many other social inequities, and war tax redirection into the ‘re-occupation’ of our social structures and community resilience is needed now more than ever. But it needs to be more than just the self-abnegating choice of those few with the existing support networks to fall back upon in voluntary poverty or the self-less choice of those willing to sacrifice their resources and opportunities in the face of seizure… it needs to be transformed into a way for society to re-create those support networks for everyone who would rather see lives saved than destroyed, crops grown instead of bombs dropped.” We need to recreate those support networks for everyone.
- Greater society thinks of wealth in terms of money rather than wealth present in the community. Also need an invitation to the 1% — if we name enemies we are doing what we don’t want. “Resistance” grants the norm to war. Be obedient to conscience rather that disobedient to war. Fear — a healthy response in a dangerous situation, but do not feel we have to be obedient to fear. “Wounded Lives and Scarred Lands” — film that showed the damage to environment by war.
Strategy Part Ⅱ — Name some larger goals and what specific thing do we need to work toward that goal in the next 6 months?
Note: we did not really have time to do all we wanted with this, but perhaps we can continue at the next meeting or use it for further discussion.
- Some sort of internet advertising (Facebook or more general) with goal of raising awareness of WTR among young people. Set a measurable goal — getting bothered by WTR notices at least 100 times in the next 6 months? Help get people together who respond. Tracking interest by FB page, contacts through link.
6-month idea: Create a link to the Boycott page to get people to sign on. We can measure how many do that by who signs on if the ad connects to the Boycott
- In April when people organize an event get them to think of us too. In 2012 there were other events and they did not connect to the WTRs. Bug the people you know who belong to other groups to be in touch. Coalition building on the local/regional level.
6-month idea: Be effective in 2013 — at least more contacts to do events together. Groups should think of WTR — “us” and ask to work together or endorse. We need to go out to these groups. Immigrant rights groups are proud of paying taxes — so we have to debunk this. “I’m a taxpaying citizen so listen to me.” The more we pay into it the more we collapse it.
- Creation of intentional, live-in WTR communities that would allow more young people to share resources.
6-month idea: Write an article about intentional communities for newsletter or produce a brochure on the topic to hand out.
- Promotion of the DVD and tie in with 9-11.
6-month idea: Show our DVD in connection with 9-11 hoax DVDs.
- Encourage people to take small steps. Get widespread participation. Withhold $10 with statement of why they do it. Creates substantial problem for IRS.
- Revitalize local affiliate groups via a group to help support these affiliates.
6-month idea: Use $$ from the grant to help support them; have a committee to work on this.
- Look at groups who are not affiliate groups, even if not prepared to do it are they willing to support you to do it. Have to invest time to be with people and figure out where on the journey they are. Outreach is the easy part. Making connection is longer term.
6-month idea: Talk to people who disagree with you. Seeking fellow traveler orgs for affiliation and support.
- Explain global economic war machine and environmental degradation and our resistance to it.
6-month idea: Media strategy related to our 30th anniversary.
- Awareness of NV conflict resolution through creation of an archive.
6-month idea: Find someone to do a website or template for this.
- Increase awareness of WTR/redirection by announcing grants on local level — getting media etc. Encourage people to use alternative funds.
- Setting up a mutual aid system, knowing who to call wherever you are and such. Create a directory with people offering services and assets to share like caregiving, hospitality, transport, legal help, etc.
- Oral history project. Create a DVD out of it. In 6 months collect names of people to interview.
- Education campaign about militarism and the debt. Talking about debt — gives opportunity to reach out to people that we don’t always talk to. Have those conversations that are uncomfortable. If we had good thing on internet on this topic we could do it.
Resource: Film — IOUSA
- Create ethical investment opportunities for/of our common wealth. Where to redirect.
- Speakers Bureau/WTR Circuit Riders– have some money for a fund to get speakers around, like Karl Meyer’s idea for a WTR circuit rider, get funded to travel and such. More than one person to do this. Cross pollination.
Of this list, we did some ranking by each voting for two ideas. By a large margin the top 2 were #1 (internet advertising) and #6 (revitalize affiliate groups).
We started making ties between ideas on this list but ran out of time. Some linked ideas with #1 were: 4, 5, 9, 13, 8 and with #6 were: 2, 3, 10
Thanks to Robert for his helpful minutes!
Return to May 2012 Meeting Minutes
Photos from Chicago NATO protest and NWTRCC gathering