11A069 Revolting Peasants by Jim Davies, 3/11/2011    

Wat Tyler farmed a small lot of land in the South East of England, and when the government increased his taxes he and thousands like him could no longer make ends meet. So they marched on London in protest.

Power in the realm was wielded mostly by the King's uncle, since Richard II was only 14, but His young Majesty met with the protesters and made promises. Wat himself was executed for insolence on the spot by one of his aides, but the crowd dispersed after accepting the promises. Big mistake. 1,500 of them were later hunted down and killed. This 1381 Peasants' Revolt was therefore far from successful, but it was the first of its kind, after the Norman dynasty had captured control the country three centuries earlier, and so this tax revolt earned an honored place in history.

Fast-forward six centuries and zip North West to Merseyside, opposite the Beatles' home, where this week the latest English tax revolt took a surprising turn; it seems that "Council" or property taxes in the city of Birkenhead have increased beyond what's tolerable, and a crowd led by one Roger Hayes invaded a court room, questioned the presiding judge and then set out to arrest him. Tyler's crowd had not bothered with due process; when they found senior members of the Establishment, they just removed their heads - but Hayes said "We, the British People have a right to govern ourselves. That right has been subjugated as a consequence of acts of treason having been committed by the collective political establishment, aided and abetted by corrupt segments of the judiciary, the police, the Church and the civil service" and then attempted to submit M'Lord to a citizens' arrest.

That diagnosis - treason, corruption of the police, judiciary, religion and bureaucracy - resonates loudly on this side of the Atlantic. It is a theme long heard among "Patriot" groups eager to re-establish Consitutional rule. However I know of no case when Patriots invaded a courtroom and attempted to make off with the judge. If anyone here tried that, I fear they'd leave the room in a bag, riddled with bullets.

Unfortunately Hayes - and Tyler, for that matter - got it wrong. Instead of saying in effect "Master, we demand lower taxes" they needed to say "You are not our master, we each own ourselves, get lost" - and Hayes' group came awfully close to that, as one T-shirt indicates. But, no cigar. This group made no assertion of individual self-ownership, of the irrelevancy of Constitution or any other form of law, or the unacceptability of any degree of taxation.

Government with its arrogance,its laws and its taxes will vanish, but only on the day nobody will work for it any longer - no sooner. The way to cause a universal revolt of that kind is already under way, and many readers here are taking part. If you're not one, now would be a good day to begin.

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