How I Became A Voluntaryist:
A Farewell to Tax-Financed Murder
By Jeff Knaebel
with Carl Watner
Jeff's posthumous manuscript titled Message From a Moral Sovereign: The Life and Death Story of an American's Journey
from Warpath to Gandhi Path was published in India in Fall 2011. A 320 page paperback, it is now available from The
Voluntaryist for 20.00 federal reserve notes
() postpaid to US addresses
( 25.00 federal reserve notes
() elsewhere), sent to
P.O. Box 275-D
Gramling, South Carolina 29348
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In December 2006, I received an order for books from Pune, India.
The purchaser was Jeff Knaebel. In April 2007, Jeff sent me his book,
Experiments In Moral Sovereignty: Notes of An
American Exile, which he had published in October 2006. I discovered
that Jeff was a tax expatriate, as well as a person who believes that
"a man needs a country but would be better off without a government."
I read Jeff's book and asked him to write the story of his life, explaining
how he became a voluntaryist. The following article was pieced together
from Jeff's writings and his correspondence with me during May-June
2007. He has read, edited, and approved the publication of this final
version. His book, Experiments In Moral Sovereignty, is available
from The Voluntaryist, $ 20 postpaid. I highly recommend it. His personal
website is www.Stateless-Freedom.org.]
was surprised and pleased to receive Carl's request to write this essay.
It provides an opportunity to do my homework. My job is to send a voice--to
speak truth to power. My mission is to reclaim the human birthright
to self-ownership, together with the right to respect the lives of others.
Life is liberty. Authority is violence. Blind obedience is insanity.
I am refusing to be a tax-paying accomplice to State murder.
I seek mostly to write in terms of timeless, impersonal principles as
they relate to individual action, I agreed to write this personal story
in hope to help "spread the word" that we must elevate our
consciousness or risk premature extinction as a species. The battle
is for the mind of man, and it can be engaged only one by one. Perhaps
these notes of my small efforts might be of use to others in the struggle.
Ultimately the power of ideas must translate into individual action
on the ground.
most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the
Biko, quoted in Endgame, by Derrick Jensen
Your Mind," says The Voluntaryist.
State Property, if I may add.
of The Voluntaryist has been influential and helpful. I support
all the goals of "voluntaryism" as known to me at this point.
As a philosophy of life and social harmony, I believe it is the way
we must go. However, I am instinctively wary of personal labels. They
seem intrinsically dangerous because they tend to put us into ideological
boxes from which heart-to-heart communication is distorted or muted.
We are actually being-becomings whose language is older than words.
When we place ourselves into mental boxes, we tend to bump into each
other, rather than flowing in the constantly changing flux of energy
in which we have our being.
would label myself an "absolute freedom-seeker," acting in
accord with the laws of equal liberty and nonviolence, guided by an
unspoken charter of free inquiry. We must tear apart the boxes around
our minds, board by board, so that we may relate to each other as equal
beings in an energy field of loving kindness. As said by Kurt Vonnegut,
"We are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever
has asked for a biographical sketch of my life. So here it is.
* * *
along in the wake of my father's career as mining engineer kept me on
the move during the first twelve years of my life. Born 1939 in San
Francisco, within two weeks I was in Canada, thence upstate New York,
on to New Mexico, Utah, New York, Brazil, and British Guiana, followed
by a return to boarding school in New Hampshire at age 11.
lived in mining exploration camps of thatched-roof huts in South America,
swept away tarantulas before showering with rain water collected in
a converted 55 gallon drum, and ate game procured from the jungle by
native hunters using bows and arrows. Experiences during a brief stint
in a Brazilian school had included my younger brother (age 5) having
his left arm tied and his palms struck repeatedly with a ruler in order
to force him into right-handed penmanship--to suit the authorities of
an education system grounded in structural violence.
mindless violence of American adults "sport fishing" the Essequibo
River with dynamite, along with airborne "sport" hunting of
crocodiles, etched a deep negative impression into my young mind. In
a land of brown people, we were clearly invaders.
since early childhood with multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual
peoples is perhaps the origin of my conviction that all people are "my
relations" and that no person is less than me.
12 found me in New Mexico, during the break-up of my parental family.
I was shuffled among relatives and boarding school in California and
New Mexico. The U.S. government public school system exposed me to a
lot of violence. Corporal punishment was routine. Schoolyard fights
were sometimes instigated by teachers and staff. My short term in the
Boy Scouts was led by a Scoutmaster just returned from the Korean War.
He seemed to think his mission was to train the coming generation of
infantrymen, which he did by putting us through live-fire exercises
in remote areas.
point here is to provide a glimpse into the effects of World War--State
Terrorism--on human consciousness. Structural, systemic violence is
deeply embedded in the dominant culture. Well before completion of high
school, I had been subjected to the continuous cognitive dissonance
of verbalized ethical norms versus observed facts of physical and emotional
violence (including wounds to my own body) in homes, schools, and communities.
challenges one's balance of mind--even sanity--to live with continuous
hypocrisy of "leaders" who preach the ethical norms of peace
while practicing violence upon others. This double-speak ends in language
itself becoming useless--in the public arena, we no longer actually
communicate. It is all lies and pretense. As Solzhenitsyn said, "Once
violence is chosen as method, falsehood becomes principle."
schooling, compulsory learning--is a tyranny and a crime against
the human mind and spirit. … No other institution does more
lasting harm or destroys so much of curiosity, independence, trust,
dignity, self worth and sense of identity."
Holt, renowned educator and author.
was taught to compete, to succeed at every endeavor at any cost, that
"winning isn't everything, it is the only thing." Dutifully,
I collected academic honors and earned letters in football and boxing.
Blue ribbons on the outside, seething with resentment and anger on the
inside, I crossed the threshold of adult life with the certainty that
no one could be trusted. The child had been molded by the system.
I can recall that during these years I also studied the words of Founding
Fathers George Washington, Ben Franklin, Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry,
James Madison, and especially Thomas Jefferson. Entire passages were
committed to memory, and I made both written and silent vows to adhere
to their (publicly-published) ethical values. I also imbibed the "freedom
poetry" of some of the English poets of yore. How often have I
failed these vows, these brave words!
age fourteen I held my first adult male job--as a mucker in an underground
uranium mine. I earned my private pilot's license at age sixteen. My
seventeenth summer was spent in the remote bush of North Ontario, working
on drill rigs that were supported by float planes as we moved among
enrolled in the civil engineering program at Cornell University in 1957,
the next six years were spent studying there and at the Colorado School
of Mines, where I graduated with an Engineer of Mines professional degree.
My university education was financed by scholarships and jobs as underground
miner, junior geologist, surveyor, and oil rig roughneck.
with immediate conscription upon graduation, I applied and was accepted
into the U.S. Navy Officer Candidate School. Commissioned in November
1963, most of the next four years were spent rotating through "tours"
in Vietnam while serving as a Company Commander of Navy Seabees near
Da Nang and Chu Lai.
discharge as an early-selected, full Lieutenant, I took up engineering
and supervisory duties at open pit copper and molybdenum mines in Arizona
and New Mexico. However, two summers as a junior geologist in Alaska
had lodged seeds of the "Great Land" in my heart. One winter
night of 1969, looking out over the rolling moonlit sea from a Coos
Bay pier, the pull of the North could no longer be dismissed. Feet were
compelled to obey mind. Mind was compelled to obey heart. Destiny beckoned
mailed dozens of resumes and finally landed a job as Assistant Chief
Mining Engineer for the State of Alaska Division of Mines and Geology.
first assignment was to map 1,500 sq. mi. of the Wrangell-St Elias wilderness
area. I worked mostly alone with a string of six pack horses, provisioned
by air drops about twice per month across a span of six months. I learned
about myself and about nature--of risk and solitude and the brave promise
of untrammeled horizons. Unlike city man, raw nature does not condemn.
the great big, broad land way up yonder,
It's the forests where silence
It's the beauty that fills me
It's the stillness that fills
me with peace."
their restless, independent spirit, an unbreakable bond grew between
me and my horses. It was communicated through rub-downs, nuzzles and
nudges, clucks and whinnies. Many a black night Little Joe or Bay or
Bimbo would bring me back to camp across swollen glacial torrents, reins
draped loose over the neck, useless in a dark so thick I could hardly
see the ground. These were embodied experiences of mutual inter-dependence
and cross-species loyalty. These things are not intellectual. The intellect
is not much more than a calculator.
shy of one year into my job, the Chief Engineer sent me to Yukon Territory
to report on the burgeoning mineral industry there. By this time, I'd
had a bellyful of government employment. Upon seeing what young, independent
Canadian geologists were doing, I determined to imitate them. I would
start an exploration company.
four other Directors--whose credit worthiness was required for a bank
line of credit--Resource Associates of Alaska, Ltd. was capitalized
on two hundred dollars. One of these men left his secure job to join
me as full-time member, and during a lean year our little outfit was
supported on my savings account. Luckily, our first contract produced
a copper prospect that launched the company.
grew, eventually opening offices in five cities the U.S. and Canada.
We were first on the ground with mining claim posts at what is now the
big Red Dog zinc mine of Cominco. Our discovery of the Donlin Creek
mineralization for Calista is now shaping up to be a world-class gold
deposit. Our scope of operations expanded through subsidiaries to include
civil engineering, architecture, and city planning.
this time, our firm was engaged as resource consultant-advocate for
an Alaska Native Corporation involved in litigation with the United
States pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. For this
I became a registered lobbyist and spent considerable time in Congress
and negotiating with members of the President's Cabinet. I was constantly
accompanied by a cadre of high-powered lawyers.
was an intense time, living out of hotel rooms in Washington. One of
my firm's other partners took turns with me in a watch-standing rotation.
A piece of legislation affecting my client required conformation between
the House and Senate versions of the Bill. This had been done in a joint
legislative conference committee in which our lawyers had participated.
was late at night and there was a rush to have the Bill typed in time
to meet the printing deadline for the next day's Congressional Record.
The draft Bill was handed to one of our lawyers for conveyance to the
stenography section in the basement of Congress. He arranged to have
the final typed version changed in favor of our client. Land demarcations
and acreage figures were altered in the draft that went to the typists.
This became law as published in the Congressional Record. Oil
and mineral-bearing lands of tremendous value moved from the public
domain into the hands of a private corporation.
event had taken place on my partner's watch. He reported to me his eyewitness
account. This experience--together with the lies of Congress swirling
all around me and delivered right into my face--resulted in complete
disillusionment with the government that had sent me overseas to a foreign
war against a people who posed no threat.
had been so naive, so gullible. The 'patriotism' conditioning had penetrated
deep within my psyche. I had come to identify myself as an American,
yet I was facing a process of disillusionment with the United States
government. America was supposed to be the "land of the free and
the home of the brave," but I could begin to see that this was
not true. It was a charade and an appearance, not the truth. I remember
walking through the Capitol Rotunda and fighting back tears at the sight
of sculptures of the Founding Fathers. Feelings of deep bitterness overwhelmed
me. They, as well as I, were being betrayed by the politicians with
whom I was negotiating. This goes to show my then naivete, for subsequent
study has taught me that none of these men were pure either. See, for
example, the Politically Incorrect Guide series of Regnery Publishing.
amazes me how long men remember eloquent words while so quickly forgetting
the bloody deeds they conceal. Who can doubt the absolute evil of power,
no matter in whose hands?
deeply disturbing experience remains with me. In the mid-nineties, I
made a visit with my children to the Los Alamos Museum--the shrine of
the Mother of All Laboratories of the Science of Total Annihilation.
I recall feelings of repugnance at the message of "national pride,"
the arrogance, the hubris expressed in write-ups accompanying the displays.
Perhaps even more repelling were the momentos sold there and at Sandia
Labs in Albuquerque, such as pocket-size trinkets of the Hiroshima bombs,
that we may remember with satisfaction how we delivered agonizing death
to hundreds of thousands of human beings, and thus feel "national
the Los Alamos visit, I began thinking that surely the American feats
of atom smashing and nuclear weaponry have carried us across a threshold
of world-ending destructive power. When we split the atom, we rent asunder
the basic building block of material life. Can there be any more powerful
statement of utter contempt for life? Can there be any more clearly
stated suicidal intention? Is it other than madness?
thought of the hard words of Native American elders repeated to my face
in about the same terms as Chiksika (1779), "The whites seek to
conquer Nature, to bend it to their will and to use wastefully until
it is all gone, and then simply move on, leaving behind the waste and
looking for new places to take." This mentality of exploitation
has now metastasized as the globally infectious disease of wantonly
wasteful mass consumerism and endless war-for-profit.
to return to my story.
Alaska Native Claims Settlement battle involved years of working as
resource consultant-advocate on behalf of Alaska Native tribes (later
formed into corporations mandated by law, and thus deliberately destroyed).
I read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (Dee Brown) and Black
Elk Speaks (Neihardt and Black Elk). I participated in tribal council
meetings, funerals, potlatches, talking circles, community fish cleaning
and Board meetings. We worked with "Power Lawyers," lobbied
the Congress, negotiated with Cabinet Secretaries and Governors and
State Legislatures and the Military and environmental groups by the
experience opened my eyes and began a process of life change. The Native
cause became so much a part of me that one day George Miller, Chief
of the Kenaitze, introduced me to a tribal gathering as "a better
Indian than most of you Indians."
became more and more disenchanted, disgusted with industrial "civilization"
and my role in it. I loved the land and the wilderness in which I spent
long periods alone with only tent and backpack. Yet, paradoxically,
I was running a rapidly-growing mining exploration firm among whose
clients were world-class mining and oil majors with whom we promoted
joint ventures on Native as well as public lands.
the one hand my work enabled me to earn a livelihood in the wilderness,
flying the length and breadth of Alaska and Yukon Territory in choppers,
seeing places that looked as if no man had ever trod. On the other hand,
my work and the ensuing mineral discoveries would lead inevitably to
further destruction of the wilderness. The stress of cognitive dissonance
and inner conflict continued to build. Contempt for the insufficient-negative-adjectives-in-my-vocabulary-to-describe
the U.S. government continued to grow. Federal bureaucrats--parasites
and freeloaders--were taking over the "Last Frontier" of Alaska.
came a major "wake-up call" (unrecognized as such at the time)
in the form of a personal blow which initiated a mini-scale Shakespearean
tragedy. An internal dispute-betrayal, unskillfully managed by me, led
to my ouster from the firm I had founded. Like a fool, I litigated,
eventually losing after seven bitter years. Most of my savings had gone
into the pockets of lawyers.
learned that a justice system devised by constitutions and lawmakers
and administered through courts, judges, and attorneys is as far from
justice as peace is from war. The U.S. justice system IS war, and to
the moneyed go the spoils. It is a game played by liars, thieves, and
bloodsuckers. A government-enforced "rule of law" cannot deliver
justice, but it can transfer wealth from those who work and earn to
those who have power.
first crisis precipitated others, including divorce and separation from
my two children, as well as breaks with other business associates. I
started over economically as a small-scale placer gold miner and bush
pilot, and I began the spiritual quest for the meaning of life. The
long, slow, tedious, painful process of de-conditioning the mind had
begun in earnest.
had now embarked upon what Comanche medicine man Edgar Monatatche told
me was the longest journey for the white man--the journey from the head
to the heart. It became more and more clear that modern "civilization"
is a structure maintained by systemic violence of man against man, and
of mankind against nature.
like a wounded animal, I set out on a search for a community of love
and reason that revered goodness, beauty, and truth. This led me into
the literature of Eastern Masters such as Paramahansa Yogananda, Ramakrishna,
Ramana Maharshi, Neem Karoli Baba, Sri Yukteshwar, Vivekananda, Sri
Aurobindo, Satya Sai Baba, Sayagi U Ba Khin, Ajahn Chah, the Bhagavad
Gita, and more current writers such as Henepola Gunaratana.
the ground it led to Elders and Grandmothers of the Athabascan, Yupik,
Lakota, Ojibway, Zuni, Cherokee, Hopi, Acoma, Apache, Nambe, Taos, Huichol,
Tarahumara, Gwich'in, Tlingit, and Comanche peoples. I lived briefly
on the Pine Ridge Reservation, and was adopted as a family member by
Zuni elders Bessie and Paxton Boone, in whose Zuni Pueblo home I lived
for more than a year.
I learned the Zuni prayer in the frontispiece of my book.
add my breath to your breath
days may be long on the earth
the days of our people may be long
may be one person
Mother bless you with life
finish our roads together."
learned of tribal council decisions that take into account the welfare
of the seventh generation hence, as they must live as provided by fruits
of the earth. Here I learned of "people's courts" where telling
a lie is unknown, where punishment is aimed at restoration and not retribution,
where the most feared punishment is to be banished from the community.
I learned of a culture of forgiveness that emerges from depths of the
heart rather than intellectualized sermons. Here I learned of Pueblo
holy men who have been offering prayers for the welfare of all beings
on continuous rotating 24x7 watches since time beyond memory.
began to fly as a volunteer pilot for Lighthawk--The Wings of Conservation.
My work in Alaska was to support the Gwich'in people against Big Oil
invading the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. I learned more about respect
for life from Sarah James and Trimble Gilbert of Arctic Village than
had been taught me by my own family or culture.
was then Chief of the Arctic Village band of Gwich'in, and Sarah was
Chair of the tribe's environmental defense organization. The Gwich'in
had been on to global warming long before it was discussed in public
science journals. Living organically on the good earth, they knew the
land, used their powers of observation, tried to warn, but few listened.
Gwich'in have inspired me by their long-standing adversarial position
versus the United States government, by their unbroken struggle for
self-ruled independence, and by their refusal to relinquish their land
in exchange for the Federal gravy train of the Alaska Native Claims
the Gwich'in prevail. The right to life itself is on their side. The
Settlement Act was intended "legally" to extinguish all aboriginal
rights to the land which had sustained them since time immemorial. This
is tantamount to extinguishing the right to live. What happens to an
"American" man when his right to the land which sustains his
existence has been removed--extinguished--and replaced with a Federal
money welfare program administered by corrupt bureaucrats from a capitol
so far away as to be a foreign country?
happens to a man of India when his tribal forest or generational farm
lands are condemned in favor of a "Special Economic Zone"
(in which multi-national corporations are given tax breaks), and he
is rendered landless and homeless? Dependent upon the pittance of a
compensation package that will be siphoned into the pockets of politicians
before ever reaching him, his right to life has in effect been "legally"
extinguished. Who has the power to do this? "Lawmakers," who
suck the life out of the rural poor on behalf of the corporatocracy.
remote areas of Mexico's Sierra Occidental on behalf of the Tarahumara--working
off dirt strips in the Copper Canyon country with aircraft doors removed
for photojournalists--coalesced into another "Aha!" experience:
Corn growing in dry sandy river banks seemingly by the power of prayer
only; families living in clefts of sandstone cliffs, men catching tiny
fish in traps laid across desert rivulets; villagers hounded by the
logging mafia and drug runners servicing the insatiable Americans; women
and children of the Tarahumara living in burrows dug into the Chihuahua
City sanitary landfill, while bureaucrats and corporate executives debated
their fate and exchanged bribes in air conditioned hallways of the University
experience at a World Bank conference sponsored by the University of
Chihuahua crystallized it all. A Tarahumara elder faced the staff of
the World Bank and American multi-national corporations. Holding aloft
a pulp magazine transmission of mental filth, he said, "You are
cutting the last of our trees to make them into this. These trees are
the life of my people. When you have finished the trees, we will die,
and you will read this."
TV images of the U.S. bombing of Baghdad during the Gulf War of Bush
the Elder stirred emotions of anger, grief, shame, and disgust. My stomach
churned at the depraved senselessness of it all. Denial was no longer
a psychological option for me. Everywhere I turned--from the tribal
women of Mexico to the bloodstained streets of Iraq--my tax money was
being employed in the name of death-for-profit.
was then that I made the final decision to leave my native land forever.
I would become a man without a country. I would owe allegiance to all
of humanity and to no State. I would no longer be the indentured servant
of a gang of murderers sitting in a legislative body. By saying no to
the taxes of the State, I would finally make a farewell to arms. Without
the State, no man is my enemy.
earlier, I had begun to ponder deeply what I was doing with my life.
Does one work, profit, consume and assuage his conscience with mercy
missions among the exploited--or, finally seeing the imminent destruction
of the entire planetary commons, does he abandon his profligate lifestyle
altogether? See John Perkins' Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.
Every corporate employee is a mini-economic hit man. We are cannibalizing
the earth and ourselves. I think Perkins' book is one of the most important
of our time.
as a co-founding Trustee of Spiritual Unity of the Tribes generated
more catalysts. I discovered deep inner connections to Black Elk and
Chief Joseph. I felt more comfort and happiness among Native Elders
than with any group of so-called "advanced educated" people.
The Elders spoke of love and acceptance, the "civilized" spoke
of money and of war. Unable to maintain a livelihood within Native culture,
disgusted with my own, I became more and more alienated.
together with personal interaction with East Indian teachers of consciousness,
convinced me of my ignorance of even the physical-matter universe, let
alone the nature of consciousness and the laws which govern it. My studies
drew me to India. One teacher had said "Go and live among the poor,"
and I determined to do that. I dwelt in stone huts with earthen floors
and fetched water. The Native American reverence for the circle and
the Buddhist cosmology of endless cycles of birth and destruction seemed
to coalesce in my personality. It became clear that Truth can be seen
only through the eyes of simplicity. One must become like a child.
brought the dilemma into clear focus. I was faced with unacceptable
choices. One seemed to be cutting corners and lying on my tax return
in order to prevent my work and sweat from becoming State-financed murder.
The other was to acquiesce to the system, file an honest return, and
become a fully paid up accomplice to the war mongers. I had pondered
long about fighting the system, and in the end it seemed clear that
this would be a life-consuming waste of energy. Imagination, linked
to conscience, found the way out. As a human being, I am a citizen of
Earth, not any particular arbitrary "Nation." I would divorce
myself from my government.
decided to arrange my affairs so that I could leave the United States
and cease paying tribute to the Internal Revenue Service. Since the
ouster from my firm and my near-bankruptcy, I had formed several public
and private corporations and limited partnerships based on my mineral
exploration and discoveries. Three placer mines and one small hardrock
mine had been brought to production, and I had recovered to some extent
from my financial losses.
the early 1990s, I worked out the mechanics of how to sever all personal
connections with the U.S. economy, and to arrange my financial affairs
so that I would never again have taxable income as defined by the IRS.
The purpose of my life--and the fruits of its labor--is not to murder,
but to learn to love. I was not born upon this earth to be slave to
a gang of murdering thieves, no matter by what high title they may be
I began my tax avoidance program, I was able to use operating loss carry-forwards
to offset current income. By liquidating enterprises at "going
out of business" sale prices, my "adjusted taxable income"
was reduced to below the reporting threshold, but the problem remained
of how to deal with income reported to the IRS on Form 1099B. Without
a full tax return from me, the 1099 forms filed with the IRS would seem
to indicate that I had taxable income. I felt that preparing tax returns
was a waste of life, but the IRS took the position that "not filing"
(even if ultimately there is no "taxable" income) is against
the law. The burden of proof was on me: they wanted me to prove that
I owed them no tax. I resented this intrusion into my life. Why should
I have to prove to them that I owed no tax? Let them shoulder the burden
and prove that I did!
have now been a non-filer for about eleven years. For the first seven
years, the IRS hounded me with letters forwarded through the American
Embassy. I never responded, and apparently they eventually gave up on
me. I felt comfortable not filing a return since I knew that no tax
was due or would ever be due. Currently, I have no taxable income, either
in India or the United States. My daily expenses in India are minimal.
I own no dwelling, nor vehicle, telephone, credit card, TV, insurance,
driving license, social security pension, or securities. I live on after-tax
savings, which are set up in non-interest-bearing accounts. I don't
worry about paying income tax on interest "earnings," nor
about the principal being loaned to companies that make instruments
of war (or being invested in U.S. Treasury Notes which support the Corporate-State
the time that I moved to India, I held the fantasy of eventual dual
citizenship. Later, serious consideration of Indian citizenship dropped
out of the picture because of red tape and regulations. However, being
a foreigner without income, at least I pay no taxes except the excise,
sales, value-added, and other taxes in the chain of production and distribution
that are built into my ordinary daily consumables. Nonetheless, because
of these taxes, my bread labor of the past still finances a big war
fact of unavoidable, built-in taxes is one of the reasons for not being
a "legal citizen" of any country. People support the structural
violence of the State simply by maintaining their citizenship status.
When one becomes a non-citizen, as I would like to be, then one's position
becomes that of someone who has been robbed. One is thus not responsible
for what the thief does with the stolen money he takes from his victim.
both the United States and India, governments have made it nearly impossible
to live a decent and honest productive life. The State makes it impossible
to live a decent (meaning non-destructive) and productive life--because
its tax-levies upon our labor are employed to finance murder. The State
has also made it impossible to live an honest life. In India, quite
literally the sustenance of life depends upon bribes and kickbacks--because
of government controls over the absolute basics (food, fuel, shelter).
You can neither construct nor sell a house without government permission.
Propane cooking gas requires a government license to purchase. Telephone
connection requires government paper including photo ID. Food in government
shops--sometimes the only available--requires a "ration card."
Admission to government hospitals--the only ones affordable to the poor--requires
"grease." All these and many other things require bribes:
telephone line maintenance, electrical connection and line maintenance;
reliable postal service; a seat in a good school; water connection;
clearance of property title transfer; obtaining a bank account in government
bank (often the only available); obtaining a passport and driving license.
The list is endless. The pit of corruption is bottomless.
1995, I have made my full-time domicile in India. I became Trustee and
co-manager of meditation centers, helping to design and construct two
centers. Working with Indian colleagues, I served as a small-time village
social worker. I have assisted in small-scale school and library construction,
village water works, and farming technology projects, book distribution,
and an adult literacy program. I support education of Tibetan refugee
children and have assisted Buddhist monks, a Gandhi Ashram, and a free
school for children of widows. These are small-scale individual efforts.
I am a member of Friends of Gandhi Museum Pune, and gandhisalt.org.
activities of my Indian wife include work for Indo-Pakistan people-to-people
peace conferences, adult literacy for slum-dweller women, night shelter
for the homeless, a municipal waste management composting project, saving
old-growth trees of Pune city, peace education manuals (adopted by the
central government), peace library and book distribution, and an international
peace website. She is a member of National Society for Clean Cities,
World Foundation on Reverence for All Life, and co-founder of Friends
of Gandhi Museum Pune.
philosophical grounds, I would like to implement my decision to terminate
my United States citizenship, and to become a citizen of no Nation-State.
I have published my personal Declaration of Severance and Independence
from the United States at page 227 of my book. Its Preamble is a long
list of the chain of abuses of my human rights by the United States.
As a stateless person, I plan to ask--by laying my life on the line--the
question whether humanity, with its political institutions, is capable
of allowing a man to live free, without the State. I plan as an act
of civil disobedience not to renew my passport and visa. This is my
claim to self-ownership, and the freedom of movement without which sustenance
of life is not possible. This is my claim to the right to life.
will claim my right to ignore the State. At www.StatelessFreedom.org,
I have created a website that will feature more details. Soon (already
there is the "deadline tension" of getting documents prepared
for my heirs), I will be outside the "law," subject to the
whims of Power. What destiny awaits an "illegal alien"? Whatever
the consequences, I've had enough of voluntary servitude to lies and
murder. Let me live out my twilight years in a manner worthy of the
Jeff Knaebel, undertake this risk as a duty to humanity and the ideals
of liberty. Guided by my conscience, I openly declare my repudiation
of U.S. income tax laws and declare my disobedience thereto. I do not
labor that my earnings should end up as bombs which shred the bodies
of women and children.
purpose on this earth is not to finance destruction and murder, but
to learn the practice of gratitude and reverence for all life. I seek
a life of love and reason.
have no loyalty to the Constitution of the United States. My loyalty
to humanity supersedes any loyalty to a State or any other "constituted
authority" founded upon and maintained by violence and coercion.
How can a rational man be loyal to a frozen-in-time document which had
been drawn in secrecy for their own self-interest by a few rich and
powerful men long since dead? What can be a man's "loyalty"
to a document which his so-called "representatives" and "leaders"
have for generations abused, distorted and bent to their own evil purposes?
Who did I appoint to commit murder in my name because of "loyalty"
to the politically shrewd and cunning words of self-proclaimed "representatives"
of people who never knew them? I disown all of this.
to this charade makes us sheep, corralled behind a fence of words, herded
by rapacious lawmakers, marched to slaughter under the delusion that
we voted for it.
do we think we are doing? How can the dead bind the living? How can
the words of dead men--now ink stains upon old parchment--render current
justice among the living? Life is lived by the living. The decisions
of justice, of war and peace, are for the living to make according to
prevailing circumstances. The metes and bounds of liberty and justice
are not to be marked out by words once employed by rich men of the past
to hold their power. How can you bind and shackle Life with words? Can
you grasp the wind? Live and let live, we the living.
make a mistake to plead and litigate with our masters using only the
tools they have provided us. We cannot prevail within a frame of the
same rules by which we are enslaved. By this pleading, we only feed
the monster with our energy and money. We must take back personal responsibility
for our independence and for our survival. One way is to exercise our
natural right to ignore the State, to renounce it, and to work at building
an independent life, accepting neither the State's "benefits"
nor its costs, to the extent we are able to avoid them.
example of Satyagraha (strong adherence to truth) with Ahimsa (non-violence)
points to the method. Gandhi wrote that "if we take care of the
means, the end will take care of itself." Thus, we must be the
change we wish to see. I submit that a simple first step is to tell
the truth in every transaction, to every person, at all times, in every
situation. When we begin to call things by their true name--for example,
"collateral damage" is murder pure and simple--we will begin
to wake up to the reality of the human condition created by The Powers
That Be, and to which we have acquiesced for far too long.
me, the great challenge of nonviolent resistance has been learning--by
quotidian inner application and with many (continuing) stumbling defeats--to
rotate anger at senseless destruction and murder into proactive work
grounded in compassion and kindness. It has been difficult to understand
that the problem is more of an evil system than evil people. The institutional
system exists. Weak people succumb to the temptations of power and learn
to murder. We must change the system-structure toward the feminine,
toward nurturance, toward love and away from war.
your premise is 'Thou shalt not kill,' you can skip a lot of boring
and distracting discussion and just get to work [improving yourself
and the world around you.]"
conclude that there is no political institution or political "ism,"
no authoritarian person, no economic policy, and no government that
can save us from the self-inflicted disaster bearing down upon us. Only
the freedom to be in love with life and to express that love without
arbitrary institutional barriers that label us as "the other"--and
thus block person to person natural expression--can save us. This is
the freedom to live in the original, unconditioned character--found
deep within each of us--of total, sweeping, deep, overflowing, unconditional
love of life, of this earth, of its creatures, of ourselves, of each
other. To express this love, we must get the State out of our way.
all the readers of The Voluntaryist live long, and live free.