The beginning of a protest movement against Barack Obama’s redistributive policies is underway. Though still small, every movement starts somewhere. While called the “Tea Party” after the Boston Tea Party, this movement is similar to movements throughout history where the producers of society refuse to have their property and income confiscated.
This movement can succeed if it does not stop at protest and includes changes in economic behavior. Obama’s redistributive plans require higher taxation, but higher tax plans (to be announced this week by Obama) are based on the fallacy that the “rich” will not change their economic behavior in reaction to higher tax rates.
History tells us, however, that economic redistribution plans fail because the producers of society would rather not produce, than have the fruits of their production taken away and given to others. Obama can raise the tax rates on income, but he cannot force people to generate income to be taxed. People may just say “no.” This resistance will not come from evading taxes, but from evading taxable income. In the end, as must all economic redistributors, Obama either will have to resort to repressive measures, or he will have to abandon his redistributive plans.
The best example of this phenomenon is the forced collectivization of farms in the Soviet Union. At the time of the Revolution, Russia was a largely agrarian society which allowed more productive farmers (so-called “kulaks”) to prosper. Since the kulaks represented a political threat to communism, the collectivization of farming was a focus of communist policy. From the start, the kulaks resisted, requiring Lenin to resort to repression:
Comrades! The revolt by the five kulak volost’s must be suppressed without mercy. The interest of the entire revolution demands this, because we have now before us our final decisive battle “with the kulaks.” We need to set an example.
1) You need to hang (hang without fail, so that the public sees) at least 100 notorious kulaks, the rich, and the bloodsuckers.
2) Publish their names.
3) Take away all of their grain.
4) Execute the hostages – in accordance with yesterday’s telegram.
This needs to be accomplished in such a way, that people for hundreds of miles around will see, tremble, know and scream out: let’s choke and strangle those blood-sucking kulaks.
Telegraph us acknowledging receipt and execution of this.
P.S. Use your toughest people for this.
From 1928-1932, Stalin pressed forward with collectivization. In some circumstances, peasants lost the private ownership of land to the collective, in other instances land owners where forced to give most or all of their production to the state or collective. The forced collectivization was more violent at some times than others, but the consistent theme was the use of government power to force the Kulaks to subsidize less successful farmers and the state (sound familiar?).
“Stalin wanted to transform individual farms into large collective farms because he saw that the government was losing money to private traders. This required that the majority of farmers would have to work and live together on large state-run farms. Through these farms Stalin hoped to increase agricultural productivity, create grain reserves for Russia, and free many peasants for industrial work in the cities. In some cases the collectivization took the form of collective farming, in others forced reallocation of crop production.” (Cite)
But the peasants, particularly the kulaks, refused to submit willingly, despite the promise that the contribution of their property would increase the collective good. “How did peasants initially respond to the idea of collectivization? Party agitators sent to the villages to persuade peasants of the benefits of collectivization often met with skepticism and mockery. Peasants who resisted the pressure of regional party officials to enroll in collective farms were labeled as kulaks; those who feared confiscation sold off their property as quickly as they could, in effect self-dekulakizing.” (Cite)
In response to resistance, Stalin turned to terror. Yet resistance continued. Most significantly, peasants preferred to burn their crops and destroy their property rather than have it taken over by the government.
“But the peasants objected violently to abandoning their private farms. In many cases, before joining the kolkhozy they slaughtered their livestock and destroyed their equipment, The losses, as well as the animosity toward the Soviet regime, became so great that Stalin decided to slow down the collectivization process.” (Cite)
The results of collectivization were food shortages and famine. Peasants preferred starvation and death to property confiscation.
“Peasant resistance to collectivization took many forms: wanton slaughter of livestock, women’s riots (bab’i bunty), theft and destruction of collective farm property, and, perhaps most widely spread, an intentionally slow pace in carrying out directives of the kolkhoz administration. The tremendous loss of livestock through slaughter, inadequate fodder, and simple neglect made it virtually impossible for kolkhozes to fulfill their procurement quotas for meat and dairy products.” (Cite)
Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress, who are so anxious to raise income taxes on the “rich,” will be in for a rude surprise. There is nothing Obama can do about people who would rather not work than have the fruits of their labors confiscated, or who structure their lives to avoid taxation.
In addition to protest, supporters of the Tea Party would do well to change their economic behavior to deprive Obama of what he wants most, your tax dollars. Invest in municipal bonds, carefully manage your investments to minimize taxable income, do everything possible and legal to insulate yourself from creating taxable income. In so doing, you will doom Obama’s plans because the inability to raise tax revenues will cause Obama to move to more confiscatory tactics, and then the political revolt really will begin, as it has throughout history. Can you say 1994?
UPDATE: The Soviet-era poster above says “Come, Comrades! With us to the Kolkhoz!”; other posters from the forced collectivization campaign are available here.