STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Why Taxation is Slavery: Words From Frederick Douglass
By Joe Jarvis - April 26, 2017

What do you call it when someone takes 100% of your labor by force? Slavery.

Slavery is being forced to work against your will for the benefit of your master, your owner. The only reason they own the products of your labor is because they own you. If you had exclusive control over what is done to and with your body, the most basic right of self-ownership, you would not owe anybody your labor.

So then a lesser percentage of forced labor is also slavery, though to an obviously lesser degree.

Whether a cent or a million dollars is taken without consent, it is theft. And if someone forces you to work for them 1% of the time, or 100% of a time, that is still slavery.

Frederick Douglass was a slave, by any reckoning. So it is interesting to read his own words, on having his rightfully earned wages taken by force. In his book My Bondage and My Freedom, Douglass laments the state of his servitude, that all his hard work is confiscated from him.

Besides, I was now getting—as I have said—a dollar and fifty cents per day. I contracted for it, worked for it, earned it, collected it; it was paid to me, and it was rightfully my own; and yet, upon every returning Saturday night, this money—my own hard earnings, every cent of it—was demanded of me, and taken from me by Master Hugh. He did not earn it; he had no hand in earning it; why, then, should he have it? I owed him nothing. He had given me no schooling, and I had received from him only my food and raiment; and for these, my services were supposed to pay, from the first. The right to take my earnings, was the right of the robber. He had the power to compel me to give him the fruits of my labor, and this power was his only right in the case. I became more and more dissatisfied with this state of things…

Frederick Douglass sees correctly that the only “right” the government has to take your money, is the right of the robber. Yes, they have enough power to force you to give them money, and that is the only thing that makes it “legitimate”. Certainly no one argues that his slavery was justified by the food and shelter his master provided him.

Douglass then muses about what conditions make slave-masters able to keep men enslaved.

To make a contented slave, you must make a thoughtless one. It is necessary to darken his moral and mental vision, and, as far as possible, to annihilate his power of reason. He must be able to detect no inconsistencies in slavery. The man that takes his earnings, must be able to convince him that he has a perfect right to do so. It must not depend upon mere force; the slave must know no Higher Law than his master’s will. The whole relationship must not only demonstrate, to his mind, its necessity, but its absolute rightfulness. If there be one crevice through which a single drop can fall, it will certainly rust off the slave’s chain.

And this is the same reason people accept taxation. We revere authority and accept government as necessary, and believe we get some benefit out of our slavery.

How often do you hear people support something because “it is the law.”Is there no higher law than that which the government makes up for its own benefit, and then exerts through force? The force of government is the highest law we know.

Is there no higher law than that which the government makes up for its own benefit, and then exerts through force? The force of government is the highest law we know.

But as soon as we realize that it is never okay to be robbed, no matter how small, the injustice is a potent demonstration that we are at the mercy of a thieving gang who has convinced most people that somehow, in this case, theft and slavery are acceptable.

In case you are hung up on the percentage of stolen labor: it is interesting to note that Frederick Douglass did not always have 100% of his wages stolen from him by his masters.

I could see no reason why I should, at the end of each week, pour the reward of my toil into the purse of my master. When I carried to him my weekly wages, he would, after counting the money, look me in the face with a robber-like fierceness, and ask, “Is this all?” He was satisfied with nothing less than the last cent. He would, however, when I made him six dollars, sometimes give me six cents, to encourage me. It had the opposite effect. I regarded it as a sort of admission of my right to the whole. The fact that he gave me any part of my wages was proof, to my mind, that he believed me entitled to the whole of them. I always felt worse for having received any thing; for I feared that the giving me a few cents would ease his conscience, and make him feel himself to be a pretty honorable sort of robber.

How often do people squeal that the rich need to pay their “fair share”? It doesn’t matter how much any person earns, the government always wants to steal more. And somehow they have convinced millions of people that the thieves are the good guys, and the wage earners deserve to be enslaved and robbed.

We also shouldn’t feel excited when we get out tax refunds, we should be all the more infuriated. The government knows and admits that it is our money, that we earned, to which they have no right. Yet they still take it, and we still stand by as helpless slaves while being robbed.The worst part is, that the robber undoubtedly thinks he is honorable in our circumstances! Welfare, roads, a military to “keep us safe”: our robbers, our slave masters, want us to

The worst part is, that the robber undoubtedly thinks he is honorable! Welfare, roads, a military to “keep us safe”: our robbers, our slave masters, want us to thank them for giving back cents on the stolen dollar!

But I won’t accept it. I won’t pretend with the rest of the slaves that it is just. Yes, I will give up my wages at the point of a gun, but that is the only right the government has over me, the right of the robber.

He exhorted me to content myself, and be obedient. He told me, if I would be happy, I must lay out no plans for the future. He said, if I behaved myself properly, he would take care of me. Indeed, he advised me to complete thoughtlessness of the future, and taught me to depend solely upon him for happiness. He seemed to see fully the pressing necessity of setting aside my intellectual nature, in order to contentment in slavery. But in spite of him, and even in spite of myself, I continued to think, and to think about the injustice of my enslavement, and the means of escape.

That passage strikes an eery tone because anyone can see the government has the exact same advice for us, as Frederick Douglass’ master had for him. Just pay your taxes, vote, pay into social security, it will all be fine! Don’t worry, you don’t need anything but a government safety net to be happy and content.

If people feel dependent on the government, they are terrified to be free! The government will take care of you, just as long as you abandon your intellect, and push away any thoughts of influencing your future. Leave your fate in the hands of the government.

Frederick Douglass had incredible insight into the true nature of slavery. He was the self-aware slave that every master fears. Frederick Douglass was at times even placed in the same type of slavery we find ourselves in today, where we have the appearance of freedom. But it is really the worst of both worlds.

I was to be allowed all my time, make all contracts with those for whom I worked, and find my own employment; and, in return for this liberty, I was to pay him three dollars at the end of each week; find myself in calking tools, and in board and clothing. My board was two dollars and a half per week. This, with the wear and tear of clothing and calking tools, made my regular expenses about six dollars per week. This amount I was compelled to make up, or relinquish the privilege of hiring my time. Rain or shine, work or no work, at the end of each week the money must be forthcoming, or I must give up my privilege. This arrangement, it will be perceived, was decidedly in my master’s favor. It relieved him of all need of looking after me. His money was sure. He received all the benefits of slaveholding without its evils; while I endured all the evils of a slave, and suffered all the care and anxiety of a freeman. 

Precisely. We are “free”! Just so long as you give the government protection money at the end of each work week. If you can’t find work, you still need to buy healthcare, you still need to pay your property taxes, you still need to pay sales tax, and so on and so forth. We have all the stress of free men, without the benefit! And the government has all the benefits of a slave-holder, without all the intricacies of owning slaves.

The criticisms that Frederick Douglass expresses of his masters are perfectly interchangeable with all the criticisms of the government. Heed his words. Douglass was 100% a slave at times, 99% a slave at other times, and even at a point 50% a slave, according to how much of his labor was confiscated.

But he was still a slave. Don’t let the masters keep you a thoughtless slave.

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  • Rosicrucian32

    To make a contented slave, you must make a thoughtless one. It is necessary to darken his moral and mental vision, and, as far as possible, to annihilate his power of reason. He must be able to detect no inconsistencies in slavery. The man that takes his earnings, must be able to convince him that he has a perfect right to do so. It must not depend upon mere force… If there be one crevice through which a single drop can fall, it will certainly rust off the slave’s chain……………………..From the teaser for the article and sounds just like it came from the Podesta / Clinton / Wasserman emails that were hacked and released. OUTSTANDING!

  • Boysie

    It is sometimes amusing to read such articles – but sometimes also (****able) – because my grandfather was a PAID SALVE – He and he and his brother and friend saved all their money and used it to build a village – My grandfather also build a church in (1848) – which remains one of the pillars of the village – My mother started the first school, current has (130 students) – my mother also campaigned for the repair of the roadways – the supply of electricity and running water – and a lo

  • georgesilver

    Articles about ‘slavery and taxation’ or ‘taxation is stealing at the point of gun’ is a repetitive old chestnut. Sorry about that but we’ve been here so many times before. Most thinking people already know this. What is needed is practical solutions for the individual to avoid such “slavery”. Any ideas?

    • John

      Modern money theory

    • Isefree

      Work for cash; barter; keep gold and silver, whatever you can afford; live simply; drive an old car; do business with honest, competent people who hate the state, who are willing to barter and work in cash.
      Mentally commit yourself to keeping as much of your life as you can from the state thieves. Prepare yourself mentally to die, if necessary, to live free. This last I say in fear and trepidation because I’m not sure under what circumstances I would let my life go. And I’m not talking about committing violence against the state, but rather how much hardship I would endure to be free of the state.

      • Col. Edward H. R. Green

        “And I’m not talking about committing violence against the state, but rather how much hardship I would endure to be free of the state.”

        The government creates the hardships that liberating oneself from government requires one to endure, if one values living as as one has the right to do so, as a free, sovereign individual, on one’s own terms.

        You’ve got the right ideas. It is up to you to examine what you fear that causes you to be concerned about the kind, amount, and duration of hardships that living free would call for. And consider the price you will pay for avoiding hardship. The trappings of enslavement have their apparent comforts, but they come at a terrible price.

        For me, I resolved long ago to endure whatever hardships may come from my determination to live as a free man, for freedom is a greater value to me than the avoidance of any hardship, including any that put my life in danger.

        I do not seek out a confrontation with government’s armed goons. Each day, I give them as wide a berth as possible.

        However, if they initiate a confrontation with me in order to enforce their employer’s unjust laws, I will exercise my right to self-defense.

        After they have murdered me–for it will be murder they commit, not “law enforcement”, for there is no morally defensible enforcement of unjust laws–they will have my dead body, but not my wealth (it will be hidden, or I will have destroyed it), or my obedience.

        • Budda says: Life is suffering, suffering is caused by desire. If you can let go of desire, you can let go of suffering.
          Just a thought.

      • Here, here, I fully support your proposition. I too was taught by my parents to work for myself, minimise any income taxable by the state, save before spending and find happiness and contentment (peace of mind) in the small achievements in life and never stop learning. Value the love of family and friends and celebrate the privilege of being human and having all one’s faculties. But I was born in 1944 – I guess it’s different now!

        • Isefree

          Nice to meet a kindred spirit.

    • desertspeaks

      below is a link that may just provide the answers you are looking for. A successful defense against the irs for six years of what the irs claimed was owed!
      http://marcstevens.net/articles/irs-drops-attack-six-years-no-evidence-jurisdiction.html

    • People should check out this video before responding with “nothing new here” responses – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLfkdquHotY

    • Keith

      The system is so entrenched and people are such ignorant sheep, even talk of a revolution is futile at this point.

  • Cranford Ducain

    And then there are those who have now become so “entitled” they expect someone else to feed, clothe, and provide shelter for themselves and their children. They call out that someone is responsible for their situation but will not look into a mirror. These are the ones who want the benefits of “slavery” but refuse to do the work.

    • jackw97224

      Yes, the utter dishonesty and duplicity of the welfare statists, the commie/soclaists, the fraud of the Antifa et;al. is screaming but the majority are unreasoned and ignorant and deserve to be devoured by the “cancer” they have spawned.

    • notwithabang

      Quite so. The “I am breathing therefore I deserve” mentality.

  • lois

    Americans have been duped, simply put. We have been enslaved since the IRS was formed. Since the Federal Reserve was formed.

  • “In medieval times, serfs had to work one day in five for their lord and master. . . and that was considered slavery. How much taxes do you now pay?”
    Intelligent Machines Journal, Issue 2, 1979 Feb 7, p.24

  • “Is there no higher law than that which the government makes up for its own benefit, and then exerts through force?”
    YES:
    Anthony Wedgewood Benn said in 1981: “Conscience is above the law” Umm, a true socialist but an honest man.

  • ICFubar

    I wouldn’t mind paying some earnings into a totally transparent authority if I had some real input into how those monies would be spent. This could be done on a polling basis on initiatives with a write provision in for other points of interest for those paying into this fund. One person one vote as to which initiatives receive revenue and at what levels and which would not.

    The real problem with slavery of course lays in the nature of money and credit creation as debt all owed to the banking class who own this resource. This reminds me of the closing lines of a quote attributed to a former banker, now long deceased, who was a director of the Bank of England. – ” But if you wish to remain the slaves of bankers, and pay the cost of your own slavery, then let bankers continue to create money and credit [as debt].”

    • Voting is woefully inadequate for making tax extortion fair. It’s moral hazard, as economists call it. For one thing, it starts with the inititationof force.

      A benevolent Mafia boss, say, might “tax” the neighborhood a certain amount (or else!). But being benevolent, he lets everybody know what the total take is, and lets the residents vote on how to spend it. MINUS a generous portion for the Boss himself for his trouble. And for the trouble of protecting his turf from other interlopers. To protect you of course. And all the would-be other interlopers are worse than him, of course.

      Of course better to sing with that band, “Won’t be fooled again!”

      • ICFubar

        I agree with your interpretation on the current system and think the mafia metaphor is very realistic. That said the combining of money with others contributing to a mutual fund run in an open and transparent manner on projects chosen by the contributors could get schools and hospitals built and bridges maintained as a commons. Those not wishing to contribute for whatever reason would not have to but could only use the commons if they agreed to pay a fee for their use.

        For a look at taxation and the IRS Arron Russo’s documentary on the subject is a good place to start.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKeaw7HPG04

  • nck

    South African law gives the government the right to expropriate 100% of a persons earnings if circumstances so warrant. In other words, it owns everything we earn, and allows us to keep a portion of it at its discretion ( this it does by its manipulation of how much tax we pay). Our situations is no different from the situation described in the article. I remember reading once that when the Jews first had taxes imposed upon them, they described it as the yoke on the beast of burden, an apt description of a slave. We are often told that the state cannot function without taxes, but local communities can, and if all local communities are functional the country will be functional without an over bearing state apparatus. Freedom beckons.

  • Arthur Brooks

    1913 the year slavery started.

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