One of statements most iterated by the antimilitaristic movement has been that war is not an unforeseeable natural disaster, but that behind and before it there are conscious political choices, political, economic and cultural preparations which are only possible due to our conscious or unconscious collaboration –or to our silence. The thousand millions of Euro with which taxpayers feed every year the Spanish military machine by paying their contributions is just one example of that needed large-scale cooperation by the citizens. However, fortunately signs seem to appear that this iterative message is getting through some social circles. Now, some people not only are increasingly aware of the relationship between our daily decisions and the wars we watch on the other side of our TV screens, but also they have decided to turn their conscience into responsible, civil, critical action. That is the case of conscientious objectors to military spending.
HUGO ALCALDE and JORGE GÜEMES (Valencia, Spain) have been practicing conscientious objection to military spending for several years. As an example, between 2003 and 2008 Hugo subtracted from his tax returns around 1,500 Euro, which he donated to several pacifist, non-violent resistance associations and socially-aware media to protest against war and militarism, as he himself stated in his tax return forms, annexing an explanatory letter and writing his calculations in the forms. In all of his return forms, he deducted a percentage equal to that of the military and arms spending reflected in the Spanish Government Budget, and clearly stated it in the very form by handwriting a new “Conscientious objection to military spending tax allowance”.
However, it's been just a few months ago when the Renevue Service claimed the amounts diverted, adding surcharges and interests. Both Hugo and Jorge affirm the legitimacy of their action, so that they individually decided to resist the administrative decision by lodging an appeal. Of course, this does not imply they seek being favored by the RS, or acknowledged an individual right to let them avoid the payment of a part of the taxes related to the military structure, but rather to claim actively the collective right to live in a peaceful world, which implies progressive disarmament of the war machine. As yet, thanks to the support and advice of Alternativa Antimilitarista-MOC (Antimilitarist Alternative-Conscientious Objection Movement), Hugo Alcalde and Jorge Güemes have filed appeals to the Valencian Community Regional High Court of Justice (TEAR in Spanish) against the RS requests and hope to get public support. Hugo in the next months, and Jorge in a few weeks will lodge an appeal to the Valencian High Court of Justice.
Hugo and Jorge are just two among the near thousand people who every year divert a percentage of their tax returns as an active, conscientious, open and socially-aware gesture to claim for progressive suppression of the military budget and abolition of armies. This collective tax refusal to contribute to the economic preparations for war ("tax objection to military spending") has been promoted in Spain by Alternativa Antimilitarista-MOC groups and supported –and practiced—by a growing number of environmentalists, unions, neighborhood movements, political organizations and alternative media. It is a civil disobedience –and thus not legal--action, but it also represents a legitimate tool for direct democracy, since it is open, calls on collective values and seeks debate on issues which are systematically kept aside from the society: Will militarism, arms build-up and violence solve the conflicts human beings are undergoing, or else increase their severity? Do armies defend people against real threats or create new threats? Is the world a fairer, safer world for humans after the war in Afghanistan and other places where armies intervene? Are the strong investments for military purposes a defense or an attack against society? Is ethically and environmentally acceptable that one of the pillars of economy is production and sale of death and domination instruments?
The action by Hugo Alcalde, Jorge Güemes and all tax objectors is just one of the whole set of activities developed by pacifist and antimilitaristic groups in order to unmask, shed light, and discuss what is hidden by secretism, opacity and masking. Examples of these are that half the military budget is hidden in items not pertaining to the Ministry of Defense; military research is cloaked as civil research; new weapon systems are being generously subsidized; once and again the spending exceeds the budgeted amounts by using the so called 'contingency funds'; spending in this death, violence and domination structures is several times fold that for socially, environmentally constructive items; many banks and financial entities invest in arms manufacturing and trade, and thus benefit from the suffering of people living in other parts of the world; Spain is one of the top ten arms exporting countries in the world...
Today, all this makes up an even more outraging picture, since it adds to openhanded subsidies for banks, car industry and construction companies, whereas significant cuts in social rights are imposed as a result of a capitalist crisis which has harshly hit the most vulnerable sectors. It seems the time has come to update the classical proposal of antimilitaristic pacifism: let's do away with war (and crisis) by dismantling armies. Let armies pay for the crisis. To get this we need, among other things, people like the war tax resisters.
Supportive groups and organizations should send an e-mail to the address included in the page or as a comment to this article.
Alternativa Antimilitarista-MOC València
Roger de Flor 8, baix-dta.
46001 València (Spain)
retirada (at) xarxaneta (dot) org