To: "Bevis, Arch (MP)" [Address removed]
From: Dave Keenan [Address removed]
Subject: Re: Your proposal for a conscientious Tax Register
In-Reply-To: [Address removed]
Thankyou for checking the Hansard regarding the Peace Trust Fund Bill. If it is not too much trouble, would you mail a photocopy of the relevant pages to me at 116 Bowman Parade, Bardon 4065 (I'm assuming you don't have it in computer readable form, which would be preferred)? I have the text of the Bill itself so you needn't bother with that.
I have little understanding of parliamentary procedure. Can you suggest why no further debate or vote occurred?
Regarding your formulation of my proposition, I'd prefer to say that conscientious objection to paying taxes for some matters should be allowed - those where the money is used to facilitate the deliberate killing of people without their permission (what would be called murder outside of war).
I greatly appreciate your taking the time to discuss this with me. It helps me to hone the expression of my arguments. I hope you have no objection to my making our exchanges available for others to read on my web site.
I don't follow your examples. Surely people who refuse blood transfusions on religious grounds don't think that people who receive transfusions will be killed by them, except accidentally and infrequently.
And surely opponents of birth control, while they may find it morally repugnant, do not maintain that it involves killing people. Surely no rational person could maintain that a pair of isolated sperm and ova constitute a "person".
Actually my proposition, as stated above, disallows CO for abortion since it *is* outside of war and it is *not* considered murder, presumably because the law does not consider the embryo to be a person.
Euthanasia may be relevant to this discussion in future, although it's hard to see why government funding would be required for euthanasia.
So the proposition might be restated:
Conscientious objection to paying taxes for some matters should be allowed - those where the money is used to facilitate some act which, the objector conscientiously believes, involves deliberate killing of people without their consent.
Do you agree that this excludes blood transfusion and birth control objectors? Can you think of any examples that fit this criterion apart from military defence, and abortion? To my knowledge these are the only such issues which people have felt strongly enough about to actually disobey the law as it stands.
The abortion issue is academic for me, while the military defence issue is very real. During the AIDEX '91 weapons exhibition I was kicked in the ribs and thrown bodily back into a crowd of protestors by police when I lay on the road with other disciplined nonviolent activists attempting to prevent cars entering the exhibition. I later shook hands with police to say no hard feelings. It took me 6 weeks to recover from my injury.
And so I can state my case more simply:
The law recognises (in the Defence Act 1903 sections 61xx) that I should not be forced, against my conscience, into a situation where I may be required to kill people. Why does it require me to fund others to do that killing?
Is it not inconsistent of the law, to allow me to avoid comitting what is to me the greatest crime, while forcing my complicity in that same (to me) crime when comitted by others.
One might argue that if I am to partake in the benefits that the state provides I should be willing to defend it. But I *am* willing - through having my money diverted to civilian-based defence measures, (or at this stage, at least further research into them).
Does this answer your concerns?
Thankyou for your promised letter to the Treasurer. It should have more impact than a letter from me (I have still had no reply). I am curious as to what reasons you will give the Treasurer as to why he should stop the legal action. Please note that it is rather urgent, since the 21 days of the bankruptcy notice expire on the 16th of July. Please send me a copy of the letter.
Regarding your good friend and relative who studied non violent conflict resolution - you might tell me their name I may know them.
Again I must stress that nonviolent or civilian-based defence is very different from mere conflict resolution. It has even been called a "post-military weapons system". Professor Gene Sharp of Harvard is its best known proponent, he has published several books on the subject and even had the ear of the odd national government.
I did not intend to dismiss von Clausewitz, merely the dictum attributed to him, which is often misquoted (as I did) and misunderstood.
Doctor Robert Burrowes 1996 book "The strategy of nonviolent defence: A Gandhian approach" is actually based on von Clausewitz' strategic theory and claims to synthesise von Clausewitz and Ghandi!
He tells an interesting story about how he gave an 80 minute guest-lecture on nonviolent defence at the Command and Staff College at Fort Queenscliff, Victoria. The attendees were all Majors, in the last weeks of a 12 months Strategic Studies course. He designed a lecture which would build on their knowledge of von Clausewitz' theory. He soon discovered that they knew almost nothing about it. You can read Robert's story yourself athttp://dkeenan.com/NvT/37/7.txt [URL updated]
Doctor Robert Burrowes (PhD in Peace Studies from the University of Queensland) is the reason I can state that I have no legal recourse in this matter. He already tried them all. He is now bankrupt (probably for the rest of his life) and has a criminal record for contempt of court. I follow in his footsteps.
Again, I encourage you to browse my web site.
-- Dave Keenan