Winning through Non-Participation
When Americans haven’t been happy with a new law or decision, they’ve chosen various methods of protest to bring about changes to them. However, the old ways of bring forth the winds of change are no longer working. We have marches on Washington larger than anything M.L.K., Jr. ever accomplished, and for equally common sense causes, but we are ignored. Some people have been foolish enough to try to use violence and threats to further their causes, but this has only bred hate for those causes among the masses. Americans have questioned the logic of their government’s decisions for hundreds of years. But if the powers that be refuse to listen to the people who grant them the power, perhaps it’s time to question their authority in a different light. Non-participationism is a concept which does just that.
Non-participationism, simply put, is the refusal to acknowledge and / or become involved with authority and the system in which it binds us. To use a simple analogy, if one conforms to traffic laws one hundred percent of the time, then the highway patrolman we all hate to see behind us simply doesn’t exist as a cause for concern any longer. He no longer holds any real power over the driver in front of him because the man is no longer participating in the realm of the officer’s authority. Granted, one could say that this is actually just following rules, but if we simply refuse to participate in the authority systems by not letting them dominate our lives, such as the ones that enforce speeding laws, we stand a much better chance of eventually removing them.
Two “levels” of non-participationism are worth examining. The first, and smaller, of these is personal non-participation. Personal non-participation is made up of small observances such as the highway patrolman we talked about earlier. The wonderful thing about the personal level of non-participation is that as more people within a region begin following this paradigm, the more effective it becomes at removing the restriction entirely. The police department, for example, survives mainly on two sources of income — tax dollars from the people’s income / sales, and fines from various crimes, mostly traffic offenses. An entire region simply staying within the traffic regulations for one year would cut half of the police department’s funds out from under them, and they would no longer be able to send a number of patrolmen out in the first place, at which point the department would revert to only doing what we created it to do in the first place — to catch criminals, not harass the public for accidentally sliding through stop signs with no other cars there.
We can apply non-participation to many other systems, to include the federal income tax. If one becomes entirely self sufficient, grows and raises his own food, builds his own home, produces his own water and utilities, and so on, then he no longer requires big sums of money to get by. If a man doesn’t require money, then he can operate his life mostly on a barter system and doesn’t have to have too much capital income. With little income, he no longer forks over the huge volume of income taxes that so many Americans complain about. This principle can be applied to nearly any program in the world, be it government, or private, liberal, or conservative. Opposed to the welfare system and it’s draw on taxpayers? Do not partake in it. Don’t like the oil industry? Don’t use any machines with a gas or diesel engine in it; buy electric or hydrogen. Against logging? Stop buying wood and paper products. Nearly nothing is entirely impervious to non-participation, especially once the community becomes involved in large scale, thus beginning the shift to political scale non-participationism.
The political scale of non-participation is a similar concept but on a much larger and more official scale. This means that in addition to individuals refusing to participate, entire government organizations begin to do so, including police departments, sheriffs’ offices, city councils, state congresses, and governors’ offices. Non-participation on the political level occurs only when these groups begin to ignore the corrupt authority above them.
In the United States, the federal government doesn’t usually enforce the laws they themselves create. For instance, if a man doesn’t pay his taxes, the IRS doesn’t show up at his door. It’s the state and local police forces that come to physically enforce the laws, be they moral or not. If an entire local community refuses to participate in enforcing a certain law, then it falls to the state officials to do so. If an entire state refuses to participate in the enforcement of that law, then it falls to the limited forces of the Feds, which means for the most part, laws aren’t going to be enforced at all in that region. The only reason the U.S. Federal Government’s power still exists is because lower-level law enforcement chooses to participate in the enforcement of their laws. If all the states take on this refusal to participate in the enforcement of corrupt or retrograde laws, then those laws will no longer exist in any real form other than on a piece of paper in a Washington office. They will hold no power.
Various county officials across America have begun to set political non-participation in motion by refusing to enforce some recently passed gun control laws. They have also stated that they won’t turn over information on gun owners to higher officials should they come to try and enforce these laws themselves. The world has been changed by the ideas of non-participation in the past as well though those involved may not have truly understood what they were doing at the time. During World War I, Russian forces under General Brusilov were inserted into the town of Galicia. When these troops encountered German forces, they simply refused to fight. They instead dropped their weapons where they stood and turned and walked off the battlefield. As a result, the Germans advanced into Galicia and occupied the town. From there, they expanded their control over a large region. Once the Germans gained enough territory from Russia, they declared that the territory was now to be acknowledged as the new and independent nation of Ukraine. An entire nation was thereby formed due to the simple refusal of some disheartened soldiers to participate in the war that their government, and their superiors, had imposed upon them. For better or worse, non-participation shaped the fate of two nations.
While there are often no major consequences when individuals don’t personally participate in programs and other activities, there are certain risks in a community moving for political scale non-participationism. If the movement is not fast, strong, large, and aggressive enough, then it can either lose hope due to the lack of results and commitment, or even be torn apart by higher level law enforcement or military. If the movement is successful, however, no matter what that particular bout of non-participation is in protest of, it could go so far as to cause the nation to reboot and adopt a new system of government with a new Constitution. Conversely, it could push us all the way back to something similar to the political state the nation was in when it was first founded. This method, if pursued with enough luck and conviction, can change the world for the better.