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When Is It Right to Ignore the Government?
Is there ever a time when it is okay to say "no" to the state?
When is it permissible to ignore the laws passed by our government?
This is a question I have been pondering for quite awhile. In one of our Liberty Spaces on Twitter, my partner Doni Anthony and I discussed whether people have the right to ignore the government when we find that it is employing measures that violate our natural rights. It was a very interesting — and revealing — conversation.
To Americans in 2023, the very idea that people would reject the dictates of the state would be unheard of. The very notion idea seems to be anathema to everything we have been brainwashed to believe since the moment we came out of our mothers’ wombs.
In his book, “Anatomy of the State,” author and libertarian economist Murray Rothbard expertly laid out the peculiar relationship people have with the state when he noted that for any government to survive, it “must have the support of the majority of its subjects.”
He continued: “This support, it must be noted, need not be active enthusiasm; it may well be passive resignation as if to an inevitable law of nature.”
As a result, Rothbard explains, “the chief task of the rulers is always to secure the active or resigned acceptance of the majority of the citizens.”
To put it simply, when a populace is either eagerly supportive of the state, or at least resigned to the idea that the existence of the state is unavoidable, the government has what it needs to thrive.
Most Americans have embraced one of these two attitudes toward government: Eagerly supportive or jaded resignation.
But both attitudes preclude the populace from even considering the possibility that we can disobey the government without being immoral. Indeed, isn’t it only criminals who defy the laws instituted by the state? Does anyone wish to be labeled as a dirty lawbreaker?
Of course not. This is how the state has managed to lull us into attitudes of blind adoration or cynical acceptance of the government’s existence. But even more so, it is how the intelligentsia has so thoroughly indoctrinated us through the public education system and other forms of incessant propagandizing to never even consider the idea that we should dare to say “no” to the state.
Last week, I wrote a piece in which I considered what might happen if enough of us just stopped complying. The question is still on my mind. I understand that ignoring the government could carry a set of risks most of us would not be willing to take. Indeed, in many cases, it wouldn’t be the “smart” move.
But what would happen if there were enough people ignoring the excesses of the government to reach a point of critical mass that the state could not control? For instance, what if 40% to 50% of the entire U.S. adult population suddenly decided to stop paying taxes? Yes, I know it sounds crazy. But what if it happened, dear reader?
Even with 87,000 new agents, there is no way the Internal Revenue Service could successfully round up all — or even a significant percentage — of those who made that choice. In essence, they would be unable to do anything about it. There simply aren’t enough men with guns and badges to enforce the laws on that big of a segment of the population.
Of course, this is a pie-in-the-sky idea — at least in 2023. But I do think it is worthy of consideration — especially because so many are finally beginning to understand how wicked our state has become. What makes our government officials so special that they should be empowered to rule over us — even when most of them don’t follow the laws they foist upon we the plebes? Perhaps we would be wise to refrain from dismissing the idea outright. After all, the Founding Fathers clearly understood what we have forgotten: When a government is violating our natural rights, we have the moral obligation to reject said government.
Maybe now is the time for Americans to start reconsidering the way they view the state. The question is: Are we ready?
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