The judiciary, having previously ruled on the powers of the IRS to make such collections, accurately interpreted the law and, thus, did what it should have done.
The constabulary, in seizing the three horses, was properly performing its function. This agency, unless derelict in its duty, has to look as indifferently on seizing the horses and harnesses of a gentle, God-fearing farmer as bringing a John Dillinger to bay. They are properly called law enforcement officers. And, had Mr. Byler resisted with physical force, the constabulary would have been performing its duty had it been found necessary to put Mr. Byler out of the way—as it did Dillinger. Theirs is to carry out the law, not to reason why!
The fault here is with the law, the three above-mentioned agencies being but effectuating arms of the law. And the fault with the law rests with those who make the law and with those of us who elect lawmakers and who, presumably, have some powers to reason what the law should be.
The IRS, the judiciary, the constabulary, behave exactly the same when seizing the Amish farmer’s three horses as when collecting a fine for embezzlement. Yet, the former is an exercise of aggressive force—violence—while the latter is an exercise of defensive force. The former has no moral sanction; the latter is morally warranted. How can two police actions which ultimately manifest themselves in an identical manner actually be opposites? This is like asking how two shots from a pistol can be identical when one is used to protect life and property and the other is used to take life and property. The shots are wholly indifferent as to how they are used. The pistol shots, like the IRS, the judiciary, the constabulary, only do the bidding of someone’s mind and will. It is the bidding which determines whether they are part of a defensive or an aggressive action. The law, and the people who are responsible for it, determine whether a police action is defensive or violent, whether it keeps the peace or acts unpeaceably.
There is, however, a simple way to decide whether a governmental action is an exercise of defensive force or an exercise of aggressive or violent force: “See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.”3
Using the above as a basis for determination, it is obvious that every act of state socialism is founded on violence. There are no exceptions.
“But We Didn’t Mean This”
The fact that the IRS found it expedient to make a public explanation in the face of severe criticism throughout the country, merely lends credence to the fact that most people—even those who support socialistic legislation—do not know what they are doing nor did they mean to do what they did. Simply because most of us meekly acquiesce, that is, uncomplainingly go along with the machinery of socialism, we tend to lose sight of the fact that it is founded on strife and violence. The seizing of the Amish farmer’s horses generated widespread feelings of remorse and resentment. Had he absolutely refused to pay and been killed in the process, the American people would have protested, “But we didn’t mean this!”
Of course they didn’t mean it. Nonetheless, these projections of property-seizure and even death are nothing more nor less than the inevitable consequences of admitting the socialistic premise into American policy. We need, now and then, to check our premises.
Alexander Barmine and Victor Kravchenko, both of whom rose to top posts in the Kremlin hierarchy, escaped from Russia and came to this country because they could not stomach the purgings and shootings that logically followed the policies which they themselves had a hand in promoting.4 Let the principle of violence continue in this country—even fail to rid ourselves of what we already have—and gangsters only will come to occupy high political office. Few of the present crop of bureaucrats are heartless enough to administer socialism in its advanced stages.5 Violence is not their dish. The IRS folks demonstrate this.
That policies founded on strife and violence are growing is evident enough to anyone who will take the pains to look. Reflect on the examples of practices founded on violence cited earlier in this chapter. All but the Post Office are of relatively recent vintage, with increasing clamor for more of the same.
I can still remember when the income of farmers came from willing exchange; when people lived in houses built with the fruits of their own labor; when wage earners, for the most part, were no more compelled to join unions than businessmen are now forced into chamber of commerce membership or parents into the P.T.A. In those days, “peaceful” far better described the way of life than did strife and violence.
Man either accepts the idea that the Creator is the endower of rights, or he submits to the idea that the state is the endower of rights. I can think of no other alternative.
Those who accept the Creator concept can never subscribe to the practice of violence in any form. They have been drawn to this concept, not coerced into it. If we would emulate, as nearly as we can, that which we have learned from this relationship, we would confine ourselves to this same drawing power. As Gerald Heard so clearly puts it, “Man is free to torture himself until he sees that his methods are not those of his Maker."