What’s so frightening about Sovereign Citizens?
No less a body than the FBI is posting dire warnings about people it calls ‘Sovereign Citizens’ and how they are becoming a ‘Terrorist threat’. Now I realise this is more Ranty’s territory than mine, but I’d like to write down what thoughts I have on the matter.
Now the FBI say that this movement poses a ‘threat’, forming an extreme ‘right wing’ grouping. In their press releases they attempt to link the Sovereign Citizen movement directly to the actions of the Oklahoma Bomber Timothy McVeigh, with a sly nod of the head towards the loose but highly influential American anti-tax alliance, the Tea Party.
Of course it’s all propaganda. Assailed upon all sides by the tactics of tax and revenue denial, the powers that be will want all those who don’t like having their pocketbooks raped for last red cent classed as ‘terrorists’. Even if the individuals concerned are nothing of the sort.
Based on the few cases held up as exemplars of these extremists, I’d say someone is over egging their particular propaganda pudding. Besides, there’s nothing remotely Libertarian about being extreme right wing, nor extreme left wing for that matter. Both sides of that particular authoritarian coin are as vile and racist as each other, and equally outdated. Similarly, the semi-official authoritarian version of the ideal of individual sovereignty differs hugely from the version put forward by commentators on the movement themselves. On the face of it there seems little to be afraid of. At least not for the average person in the street.
The Sovereign Citizens appear to see themselves as harking back to the principles enshrined in the original US Constitution and Common Law, while the opposing faction are (mostly) steaming over possible loss of tax revenue. As an observation; the first American revolutionary war was started by people opposed to excessive taxation. A further observation; wouldn’t it be a good idea not to make the current spending crisis worse?
Whilst I’m thinking about it, I have a number of American friends who were less than enchanted at having to fill in a US Tax form for the first time last year. Even when they’d been working north of the 49th Parallel for years and dutifully paying their share to the Canadian exchequer. No matter where they were, even if they had dual citizenship and already paid; Uncle Sam wanted his cut. Now. Or else.
Ever more intrusive and grasping fiscal measures are what lend strength and leverage to (at least originally) libertarian movements like the Sovereign Citizens. Joe / Joanne Q Taxpayer see their tax money given away to the financial cronies of politicians in massive bailouts and quietly grind their teeth. They write to their Representatives and get no redress. They challenge visiting speakers at local town hall meetings, embarrassing speakers with well researched questions, even getting excluded or thrown out for their trouble. Eventually they lose faith in the political process, and begin to view all their elected officials as the enemy, not the public servants they are supposed to be. Some attempt to ‘fight the system’ using tactics mandated by people like Ranty. Some will demonstrate, only to be ridiculed by those in the pockets of the authoritarians. Others will be driven into the arms of political extremists. Some will cave in, hoping for better days, but their resentment will fester.
What the Authoritarian faction don’t seem to understand is that treating people like tax cows, especially when said people are used to paying their own way, is counter productive. Almost as counter productive as labeling a person who had previously taken great pride in being a citizen of ‘the land of the free’ a ‘terrorist’. What a bright idea that never was.
Sounds like one of those self fulfilling prophesies to me. Oh well, can’t say I didn’t tell you so.
Just as an aside; I’ve been reading about the period that led to the Revolutions in Greece, France, Italy and the 13 Colonies of America (as it was then). Fascinating stuff about The End of the Old regime in Europe 1768-1776 by Franco Venturi. A seminal work on the collapse of despotism with much to absorb and consider.