The absolute sanctity of the individual is one of the central characteristics of the hive-mindset cultivated in late stage capitalism. This mindset causes us to celebrate success as a purely individual achievement, and to explain failure as a purely individual responsibility. It has made us to view as normal the insane wealth of some individuals existing right next to the abject poverty of countless others. And it causes the most fervent adapters of this mindset on the political right flank, to not want to pay taxes for the benefit of those countless others.
Image by 401(K) 2012 - source: Flickr
If political neoliberalism has a grandfather and a grandmother, they surely are Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Reagan is famous for stating that "Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem." Likewise, Thatcher is famous for stating that "There is no such thing as society." Anything even approaching community, collectivism, shared goals, anything that transcends the individual has actively been resisted since their time in office. In the below linked video, you can listen to a snippet of one of The Iron Lady's speeches, starting with:
"One of the great debates of our time is about how much of your money should be spent by the state, and how much you should keep to spend on your family. Let us never forget this fundamental truth: the state has no source of money, other than the money people earn themselves. If the state wishes to spend more, it can do so only by borrowing your savings or by taxing you more. And it's no good thinking that someone else will pay; that someone else is you. There is no such thing as public money, there is only taxpayer's money."
Thatcher: There is no such thing as public money
Let me just say that the whole ideological divide between socialist ideologies and capitalist ideologies as being defined by a strict distinction between collectivism and individualism is not quite right; in fact this black and white perspective fails to capture the real distinction between the two. In fact, there's good and wholesome collectivism as well as good and wholesome individualism, and their opposites exist as well. I think that no one will deny that, generally speaking, it's good to work together, to cooperate in order to reach widely agreed upon general goals. This "good" collectivism becomes bad however when the participating individuals have to be forced into cooperation, when it infringes on their freedom to at least partly do as they like. No one will deny that the creativity, ingenuity and artistry that can spring only from an individual mind is good, for the individual as well as the society that individual is part of. But individuality becomes bad when society accepts greed as the norm; and that's where we are now. We think it's normal that some individuals have more money than they could spend in a thousand lifetimes, while millions starve to death. What does that say about our morality? There's a great article on the Current Affairs website on this collectivism versus individualism divide titled Capitalism Is Collectivist; I highly recommend it, but if you want a quick and easy summary, just watch the video at the end of this post.
Now, taxation (progressive taxation in particular) is the much needed counterbalance in a capitalist system in which individuals own the means of production. When left unchecked, which has increasingly been the case since the aforementioned grandparents of neoliberalism, this system allows for wealth and power to be concentrated in the hands of just a few natural and legal persons. Especially the legal persons, businesses and corporations, are a blight on the society of real humans, as they have all the rights and almost none of the responsibilities of real people; when I, as a real person, slip some deadly poison in your drink, I am a murderer, but when Coca Cola poisons a river which causes the death of many people... Well, you know where I'm going with that. As a natural person I can't possibly compete with a corporate legal person in court; Coca Cola will always have more and better lawyers than me. And the legal game is rigged to begin with because Coca Cola (the drink itself is a poison by the way), because that legal person has the power to influence legislation to its benefit through lobbying and campaign donations. Some, especially the libertarians and anarcho-capitalists among you, will now protest and say that all this is "crony capitalism", but it is not, it's just plain capitalism; it's all a logical consequence of an overarching system with individuals owning the means of production and individuals accumulating personal wealth by applying themselves to the profit motive.
The title of this post is "No Taxes!", and there is a solution if you are indeed opposed to paying taxes, and opposed to paying more taxes when you earn more money. Instead of continuing this capitalist system of production with individuals owning all the means of production, why not have those means of production be owned by the ones who actually produce the goods and services? The private ownership of the means of production lays at the root of the divide that grants true freedom to the few, while condemning the rest, the "essential workers" as we've come to know them, to a life of servitude. Friedrich Hayek had it completely backwards when he wrote The Road to Serfdom, and it's no coincidence that this book has become one of the Bibles of neoliberalism, right next to that other collection of capitalist lies in Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged; her version of the great man theory is the epitome of rampant individualism. True freedom for ALL individuals, and the liberation from having to counterbalance exaggerated systemic inequities through taxation, can only be achieved with a system that respects ALL individuals. And if you want to call that "collectivism" and be scared away by it, be my guest; I call that justice and long for it.
Actually, Capitalism Is Collectivist
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