by Neville Kennard, preaching and practising capitalist

Wot if … they held an election and nobody voted?

Wot if … they introduced a new regulation and nobody took any notice?

Wot if … they imposed a tax and nobody paid?

Wot if … they gave a war and nobody went?

The State, in any of its many forms — monarchy, democracy, dictatorship, oligarchy — depends on the support of its citizens. If the citizens cease to co-operate then The State starts to fall apart. We have seen this in several instances after the support for Communism in its several forms just evaporated. The decline of the Soviet Union is a good example of enough of the people discontinuing their acquiescence and submission to a totalitarian authoritarian regime that clearly failed on nearly every count. The people confronted the troops and the Kremlin in a lovely demonstration of Civil Disobedience, and it was all over.

Eastern Germany (interestingly called The German Democratic Republic when it was not the least bit “Democratic” — an example of Orwellian Double-Speak?) fell over when the people submitted no longer and went over and through The Wall in Berlin to show their contempt for this monstrous edifice that divided them from their western cousins, and for the regime that impoverished and enslaved them.

One by one all the Soviet satellite countries in Eastern Europe rose up in noble civil disobedience against their oppressors and The State, at least in its Communist/Socialist form, crumbled.

Now in Egypt we can witness another example of “The People v. The State” as the people get tired of the long rule of President Mubarak. Where this one will go is anybody’s guess, as the US support wavers and the dark forces of Islamism contend with a call for “Democracy” — whatever that may mean for them.

In a “Democracy” such as Ausytalia we have the sense of choosing our government (even if the political parties for whom we are supposed to vote offer us a rather poor choice), and so a popular uprising, a peoples’ revolution, a major demonstration of civil disobedience against the government per se is unlikely. But there could be and are many examples of quiet civil disobedience every day.

But Wot if … a good number — 10%, 20%? — of those affected by some new impost or restriction or violation of their natural human rights, their sense of “Self Ownership”, chose not to acquiesce to this demand?

The first reaction to an uprising of the people in an authoritarian country is always guns and repression. But at some point the soldiers themselves choose not to shoot or repress. They won’t shoot their brothers and sisters.

In a stable democracy like Australia with a culture of non-violence, fair play, mateship and community, acts of overt civil disobedience against a particular law would be handled by the police and the courts, until the numbers overwhelmed these institutions. It happened with shopping hours regulations in some states where the flagrant disregard for silly laws became, even to the politicians, too much to oppose and police. But not before some conspicuous gaol time was spent by a Melbourne hardware store owner — for daring to serve his customers’ needs.

Victimless Crimes, and there are many of them on the statute books, are frequently ignored by those who either don’t know about them or choose to ignore them. My own experience with my neighbours in matters of local regulations and restrictions is that we see the local Council as the enemy and we work things out amicably and agreeably together, without bothering to seek the approval of the authority that would restrict us. We know between ourselves that we don’t need or want them.

When The State legislates that some activity between consenting adults be decreed a crime there are unintended consequences: the activity goes underground, and a Black Market emerges. Drug Prohibitions are a good example of this. Of course with Drug Prohibitions the Unintended Consequences go much further — police corruption, gaols full of victims of victimless crimes, a big organised illegal drugs industry and what The State likes to call Money Laundering.

So Wot if … we be good individuals and members of our community, lead moral lives of integrity and trust, help others when we can, and discreetly ignore silly laws that violate our self-ownership and personal responsibility?

Wot if … we demonstrated to our governments, local, state or federal, that we don’t really need them or want them as much as they think we do?

Wot if we each practice our own bit if civil disobedience, overt or covert, without victims, and go quietly about our lives doing what we believe is right?

Wot if we, in the words of Henry David Thoreau, “be good neighbours and bad subjects”?

(in order of appearance on
  1. Welcome from Neville Kennard
  2. Think Tanks Don't Work
  3. "Market Failure": Just what the government ordered!
  4. The Tragedy of the Tax Pool Commons
  5. Corporate Welfare
  6. Citizenship for Sale?
  7. I Don't Vote
  8. Voting: Right or Privilege?
  9. Stockholm Syndrome and our Love-Hate Relationship with Government
  10. Civil Disobedience: The Rules of Engagement
  11. Should Respect for Law Extend to Bad Laws?
  12. Jaywalking as a Demonstration of Individuality
  13. Government Likes War
  14. Collusion is Our Right
  15. Why Not the Drug Olympics?
  16. Unconventional Wisdom
  17. Tiger Farming: An Alternative to Extinction
  18. Looking Backwards: Mont Pelerin Society Conference, Sydney, 2010
  19. Tax Avoidance is a Patriotic Duty
  20. Kennard Writes to IPA Review Editor
  21. Genocide by Welfare: A Tragedy from the Aboriginal Welfare Industry
  22. Separating Sport and State
  23. Your Home is Not an Investment
  24. Dick Smith, Celebrity Philanthropist
  25. A Libertarian's New Year's Resolution
  26. Extend Politicians' Holidays to Create Prosperity
  27. Entrepreneurs are Disruptive, and Bureaucrats Hate It
  28. What is a good Australian?
  29. Governments Like Employment But Hate Employers
  30. The Market Failure Industry
  31. Neville Kennard: The Tax Avoidance Imperative
  32. Wot if ...?
  33. The Tribal Chief and the Witch Doctor
  34. The Tannehills
  35. Democracy versus Property Rights and Prosperity
  36. Government Doesn't Work, and That's the Way They Like It
  37. Minarchy vs Anarchy
  38. Euthanasia and Self-Ownership
  39. The Right Policies to Fix a Depression
  40. Is Howard Our Best PM?
  41. Tax Producers vs Tax Consumers
  42. Where There's a Queue, There's a Business Opportunity
  43. Authoritarian Freedom
  44. Why Classical Liberals Should Debate Anarchocapitalists
  45. The Tyranny of the Majority
  46. If you could choose to whom you paid your tax
  47. Business Should Exploit Boat People
  48. The Immorality of Trade Unions
  49. "America" vs "The United States"
  50. Sweet Anarchy
  51. The Illusion of "Job Creation"
  52. Gold Is Money
  53. Guilty Capitalists
  54. Bureauphobia
  55. Prosperity vs Growth
  56. Capitalism vs Democracy
  57. More people = More fun
  58. Self-Ownership - the very idea!
  59. Government will murder Neville Kennard if he doesn't back away
  60. The Australian Dollar Has Been Cowardly and Criminally Devalued, Harming the Poor Particularly
  61. Is Taxation Theft and Government a Tax Cheat?
  62. My Journey to Anarchy:
    From political and economic agnostic to anarchocapitalist
  63. Government Needs Bad Guys –
    that's why they like wars
  64. What Is Obscene?
  65. Traffic Economics
  66. Wayne Swan stands on the shoulders of other intellectual pygmies
  67. Neville Kennard Obituary
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