Fifth International Conference on War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns - Hondarribia, Spain 1994

Workshop 12: WTR: A Privilege for Industrialized Nations?

The preparatory document

So far all International Conferences of War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns have been conducted in Europe, the majority of participants coming from Western Europe and the United States. While in countries of the former Soviet Block no personal taxes had to be paid - thus, the problem did not exist -, the income of most people in the so-called Underdeveloped Countries is so low that it is believed that only a small percentage of the people there have to pay taxes.

The workshop will explore this matter in more detail, thus people from East Europe and the Third World are especially invited to attend.

Another important subject of the workshop will be the evaluation of lowering our own income and consumption (less income tax, less sales tax, less value added tax!) as a means of lowering our contribution to the military and to wars.

It is known that other cultures exercise other means of resistance to unacceptable government regulations - for example HARTAL (closing of shops) in lndia, or Christian Grassroots Communities in South America. Is there any way that we - as members of lndustrialized Nations - may be able to learn from these other cultures?

Practical implications of the workshop may be the creation of a special travel fund for potential participants of International Conferences (e.g. from East Europe or from the Third World) who could not pay for themselves, - and the recommendation to the Conference that the next Conference should be conducted in a Third World country if at all possible.

The report

Written by Cynthia Johnson.

Attendees: Joy Newall (Canada), Klaus Hecker (Germany), Rafael Garde, Yolanda Juarros, Lina Warbett (Spain), Steve Gulick, Susan Quinlan, Gerry Michalska and Cynthia Jonshon (USA), and possibly others.

We had a good core group of people and lively exchange of information. We spoke of inherent racism and the sale of arms to the third world. Klaus said 95% of arms go from industrialized nations to the so-called developing world.

Issues discussed for action:

  1. SALES TAXES. US reps Susan Quinlan and Steve Gulick pointed out that state and local taxes pay for domestic war and the growth industry of 21st Century: prisons and jails (see two first attachments). Joy contributed that there was a comprehensive sales taxes in Canada that many people resisted (shopkeepers) but for anti-military reasons.
  2. 50 YEARS IS ENOUGH CAMPAIGN. Big seven GD countries dominate. The point of aid in general is to make money off the developing countries (see attachment 3, statement of Support for Madrid Alternative meeting).
  3. Discussion of development and how North/Industrial nations dominate. Goal of 0'7% of GNP of rich nations aid to poorer never met. Instead the structural development policies of financial institutions use resources and labour of poorer and developing countries to make money for the elite of the rich countries and the transnational corporations. Taxes are different in the South. The Governments make money off development.


  1. To support the anti-military point of view at Madrid Alternative Conference to be held soon. Anti militarist point of view is very important for the Bretton Woods Alternative. The financial institutions of World Bank, IMF Bretton Woods have created more death and suffering trough imposed austerity plans than overt war. Developmental aid must be sustainable and participatory rather than for benefit of rich countries and those who give aid.
  2. In four years the international War Tax Resistance Conference to be held in a non-industrialized or so-calling developing world, Asia, Africa, South America, preferably one with a WTR movement or chapter. We specifically discussed the invitation from Beit Sahour, Palestine, and India with appreciation and we are open and welcome all invitations. Of course the decision will be made in two years at the next Conference (in London).
  3. To collect information regarding sales taxes and other taxes and how they work, e.g., in US how state and local taxes go to support the growth of prison industry. To create a Clearing House of Information.
  4. To invite representatives of non-industrialized countries to conference and held with travels funds whenever possible. Further we attempt to relate to communities and countries on their agenda and appropriate to their priorities. German members are committed to invite representatives from Eastern Europe, Russia and CIS. Canadian members will make the Asian and pacific rim countries a priority. We recommend that early-on we structure the time to hear their concerns. There is a risk we have many representatives without an adequate time for other members to listen and learn. We must start with being open and recognize that our liberation is tied together.
  5. To support the voice of the people on Disarmament at the Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty at the UN April 17-23 Citizens Assembly and Rally. (Attachment 4) statement:

Attachment 1: War on Crime Proposal?


In January, an earthquake shook Los Angeles, causing inestimable human suffering and costing approximately $13 billion in damage. This month, California is being shaken once again, this time by a series of Three Strikes and You're Out laws which probably amount to even greater suffering and which will, by Department of Corrections estimates, cost over $20 billion in new prison construction alone (never mind the cost of incarcerating and additional 250,000+ Californians)

In the months following the tragic murder of Polly Klaas -a well publicized event which touched millions of people and raised concerns about the safety of children- over 900 anti-crime bills were introduced by the California legislature. Politicians jumped on what they perceived to be a ground swell of public pressure to get tough on crime, and scrambled to out-do each other in an election year frenzy of ill-advised and repressive legislative proposals.

War tax resisters, and most of the broader progressive movement have been caught off guard by the speed and momentum of California's war on crime. While we at Northern California War Tax Resistance have been working our way through a cautions and democratic process of developing a sound organizational stance on the Three Strikes movement, California legislators have rushed to pass some of the worst legislation under consideration.

Unfortunately, the same thing seems also to be happening on a federal level. With Clinton's blessing, the Senate has already passed a $23 billion Violent Crime and Law Enforcement bill which build ten new federal prisons, add scores of capital offenses and put 100,000 new cops on the streets. How quickly, and in what form the bill will come out of the House remains to be seen, but it is clear that much of the country is eager to join the war on crime.

Why should war tax resisters be concerned with all this? Because the war on crime, like all other wars, is based on violence and hatred. Waving the flags of punishment and retribution, the anti-crime warriors are focusing public attention on the destruction of an enemy -in this case criminals- rather than on resolving the concrete cultural, social and economic conditions which lead to violent crime. Even if it weren't misdirected, the war on crime is destined to fail, because, as a war, it is bound to increase the levels of violence in our society.

Secondly, there is ample evidence that the growing anti-crime hysteria is taking a serious toll on the civil liberties of inmates and non-inmates alike. The racial impact alone is staggering in California,for example, where African-American men are incarcerated at a rate over than ten times that of European-American men. And finally, the costs of incarcerating growing number of offenders for longer and longer terms will come directly out of the social programs which are the only real governmental hope for actually diminishing crime.

In the current anti-crime frenzy is allowed to proceed, it will irrevocably damage both the moral fibre and the financial capacity of our society. As war tax resisters with a history of opposing the violence of the militaristic mentality and of protesting misdirected government spending priorities, it is imperative that we speak out against this reactionary movement.

Northern California War Tax Resistance hopes that NWTRCC and its affiliates can learn from California's misfortune, by beginning to formulate a stance on the war on crime issue before it reaches crucial proportions in other parts of the country where such measures have not already been passed

Attachment 2: War on Crime survey questions.

  1. What does the War on Crime mean to you?
  2. Do we, as individual war tax resisters, challenge the War on Crime?
  3. Should we, as war tax resistance movement, collectively challenge the War on Crime?
  4. What are possible ways of resisting this war as individuals?, as a movement?
  5. What is your current position regarding payment of state income taxes?
  6. If you are a state income tax resister, what are your reasons for resisting?
  7. What alternatives to governmental War on Crime measures can we advocate?

(For information on the results of this survey in the USA, or to discuss this issue, please contact Susan Quinlan)

Attachment 3: Support of the Conference Other Voices of the Planet

The 5th International Conference on War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns which has convened men and women from 14 countries in Hondarribia, Basque Country, Spain, from the 16th to the 18th September 1994 proclaims its support of the Conference Other Voices of the Planet which is asking for the dissolution or transformation of the Bretton Woods Institutions (World Bank, IMF and GATT) as they now exist.

We accuse these institutions of being responsible for much of the poverty and wars in the developing countries during the last 50 years. These institutions have supported governments and dictatorships that have promoted the interests of the industrialized countries and have invested a great part of their economic loans in buying armaments from the military-industrial complex of the developed countries. Instead of developing the potential of the people and promoting human, social and economic progress, these governments have used armaments to repress their own people.

We are very glad that The Other Voices of the Planet will be convening in Madrid. It is very important that your voices, specially those from the developing countries, be heard. As long as the great majority of our sisters and brothers continue to be have-nots while such inhuman institutions as the multinational military industrial complex thrive we must stand with you in this struggle to meet the basic needs of all humankind. It is a most fundamental and immoral injustice that tens of thousands die daily around the world either directly or indirectly (trough egregiously misspent money) through the surfeit of armaments.

As people who support the struggle for peace we find a common bond in that we believe governments should care for the people rather than spending money on militarism and arms. We, therefore, hope that your conference will be instrumental in changing the direction of the last 50 years towards a much more just planet.

Attachment 4: Statement to Non-Governmental Organizations working for participation in the Non-Proliferation Treaty Extension Conference in New York, April 1995. 4th PREPCOM January 1995 in NYC.

A full debate on the proliferation of nuclear weapons and clear steps toward general and complete disarmament (Article VI) must take place at the review conference. The Treaty has the primary objective of preventing nuclear proliferation, yet it legitimizes nuclear weapons possessed by the nuclear powers. These states can expand and develop their nuclear weapons arsenal and are not subject to the international safeguards-civilian or military-that are applied to the non-nuclear weapons states. The only obligations for the nuclear weapons states is to negotiate at an early date effective measures to stop the arms race and move toward disarmament. This has not happened in the 25 years of the treaty. Horizontal proliferation has been rightly banned and now is the time for all nuclear weapon powers to commit to a disarmament regime in the shortest possible time. We support proposals put forward by Mexico and 6 other nonaligned states at the 3rd PREPCOM in Geneva September 12-16 demanding concrete steps by the nuclear powers to fulfill their commitment under Article VI and eliminate nuclear weapons.

The parties to the NPT will be making an historic choice on behalf of the world community. If they go along with an indefinite extension as the nuclear weapons states desire, they will assure the continued reliance on nuclear weapons as instruments of foreign policy and warfare. The states actively promoting an indefinite extension are the same one who have proliferated nuclear weapons and technology over the past 25 years. Britain has never restrained its nuclear weapons programs and French leaders talk of maintaining its nuclear deterrent credibility. If a simple majority of the non-nuclear weapons states vote for a limited extension linked to a time-table and clear steps to a nuclear disarmament treaty,a new concept of national and global security is possible for the 21st Century.

We urge all citizens and NGOs to use the opportunity of the Extension Conference to increase their anti-nuclear activities for a CTBT and begin negotiations to abolish nuclear weapons and existing stockpiles in 1995.

(Fax to Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (805) 568-0466 if groups want to get sign NGO sign-on letter)

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