The Golden Rule Tax Disobedience: effective democracy now!
Today sees the launch of a major tax rebellion civil disobedience across the UK, by the grass roots organisation “Compassionate Revolution”. The group is calling for at least 5,000 people to join them in pledging to withhold a small amount of tax as a mass collective act of civil disobedience. A video has been released calling on the citizens of the UK to rise up!
The tax disobedience has been designed to be inclusive, so that anyone can take part, by involving the non-payment of VAT in a café. Those who are able to do so may also withhold £50 from a tax return bill. The purpose is to enable ordinary people to move beyond the limitations of protest and petition signing, to embrace proactive dissent and disobedience.
The latest scandal concerning global-scale tax evasion has brought what is a widely recognised erosion of our democratic system into ever sharper focus. Citizens are increasingly sensing an effective capture of the State by neoliberal ideology and corporate and financial interests, which has remained almost completely unaddressed, with successive governments seen as shamefully complicit in this betrayal of the ordinary citizen – “the 99 per cent”.
The rebellion is based on the conviction that both the collection and spending of tax is currently grossly unjust. Tax dodging by the rich and corporations (believed to cost up to £123bn annually in the UK) is increasingly making the public angry in the face of austerity and cuts that are erroneously justified by claiming there to be “a lack of money”.
A scarcely believable £93bn of corporate welfare is given annually to businesses operating in our allegedly “free” market – compared with £85bn spent on welfare. The banking system has up to £1.2trn in actual and implied subsidy. The UK Government spends £26bn subsidising harmful fossil fuels, yet a mere £3.5bn subsidising renewable technologies.
Issues like inequality, climate change and economic instability are clear examples of the failure of so-called “free”-market fundamentalism for the vast majority of citizens, and this principled action aims to collectively call “time!” on this shameless state of affairs.
Principled tax activism has a long and distinguished history in circumstances where the state has shown itself incapable of defending the public interest. This includes the Peasants’ Revolt, the Boston Tea Party, Gandhi’s Salt Marches, the Suffragettes and, more recently, the Poll Tax protests. History shows that significant change has come when people unite in an act of defiance.
The brainchild of activist, mother and ”compassionate revolutionary” Dr Gail Bradbook, this initiative is being launched with an open letter in the Guardian newspaper (19th April), with a number of eminent public figures who have joined together in shared outrage and protest at a system that is systematically rigged to favour the powerful and the wealthy.
Disabled People Against Cuts stated, “Given the misery the tax-evading Cameron and others have imposed on disabled people- its time to strike back!”
Organiser Dr. Gail Bradbrook said: “As an ordinary person I’ve been asking myself for some years now – why are we in such a mess, and why is nothing being done about it? It became clear to me that our democracy has been captured, and that the rules of our economy are rigged in favour of the rich –and if we don’t take matters into our own hands, the legacy we will leave our children will be one almighty mess. I hope other people will feel moved to join me; we need to reclaim our spirit of disobedience!”
Key quotations from the Guardian open press letter: (And any of these points can be ascribed as quotes to fellow organiser George Barda)
- “Britain suffers under an enormous democratic deficit due to state capture by “free”-market neoliberal fundamentalism and its associated corporate and financial interests…., [yet] despite copious corroborative research and endless petitioning and protesting, all we’ve seen is disingenuous hand-wringing and political evasion.
- “We, the citizenry, are therefore taking matters into our own hands – with a “Golden Rule Tax Disobedience” whose intention is grass-roots mobilisation against systemic injustice, favouring far greater equality, shared and stable prosperity, enhanced quality of life and, most importantly, an environmentally sustainable future.”
- “Our Golden Rule Tax Disobedience initiative asks citizens to withhold a small amount of tax (through VAT or their tax return – everyone can join in)1, and then donating it to conducive campaigning groups. This principled modelling of a redistributive ethos intends to shame our politicians into taking effective action…. We ask you to join with us in taking back power in order to create a fairer and more sustainable society.”