Blogs > Liberty and Power > Anniversary of "The One Man Revolution"

Jul 24, 2005 4:00 pm

Anniversary of "The One Man Revolution"

If Ammon Hennacy were alive today, he’d probably be a blogger and a darn good one too. Blogging would have seemed an ideal way to promote his “One Man Revolution.” Like starting a blog, the strategy he advocated was open to everyone. For him, it required nothing more than a homemade sign, some stationary, a stamp, and a pen.

Hennacy spent decades promoting his own special brand brand of Christian anarchism, tax resistance, and pacifism. He was born on July 24, 1893 on a farm near Negley, Ohio. His ancestors were abolitionists and a picture of John Brown was on the parlor wall. As a young adult, he became a socialist and refused to register for the draft during World War I. While there, one of his cellmates, the famous Alexander Berkman, converted him to anarchism.

During World War II, Hennacy did not flinch in his pacifist views. He not only refused to register for the draft but announced that he would not pay his income taxes. He also avoided tax liability through a life of voluntary poverty, reliance on barter, and advocacy of a decentralized economy based on mutual aid (shades of Karl Hess). During this period, he declared: “As a Christian Anarchist, I refuse to support any government, for, first, as a Christian, all government denies the Sermon on the Mount by a return of evil for evil in legislatures, courts, prisons, and war. As an anarchist I agree with Jefferson that ’that government is best which governs least.’”

During the Cold War, the one man revolution kicked into high gear. In 1950, for example, he led a one-man picket against nuclear tests. He declared, “I am not paying my income taxes this year, and I haven’t done so for the last seven years. I don’t expect to stop World War III by my refusal to pay, but I don’t believe in paying for something I don’t believe in-do you?“ During this period, Hennacy became increasingly friendly with Dorothy Day, who published the Catholic Worker. In 1964, he wrote a combination autobiography and political treatise, The Book of Ammon. He died in 1970.

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Kenneth R Gregg - 7/26/2005

Quite agree with you, David.

If he were around today, he would be blogging away and fighting agin' this present-day foolishness. He was courageous and willing to stick to his principles.

Just a thought.
Just Ken

p.s.: a/c still not replaced (died during the recent heatwave here in Las Vegas), but the temps are down to 100 so the computer (with a little help from a tiny a/c from Target) doesn't die every 5 minutes.

Kenneth R Gregg - 7/26/2005

Agree with Robert Higgs on this point. My father was in his mid-forties at the time and, had he not volunteered to teach meteorology in the U.A. Army (a subject which he knew nothing about, but kept one chapter ahead of his students in the military) to keep out of the action.

He was an artist/art teacher and was teaching at Hillsdale College in Michigan long before Roche & Co. came to town, and like most artsy-types, was not particularly interested in fighting. He would later teach at a Quaker College, Earlham College in Richmond Indiana (where I was born in 1950) and other colleges and schools throughout western Ohio and middle Indiana.

Just a thought.
Just Ken

Robert Higgs - 7/25/2005

To answer Mark Brady's question to you, during World War II, men aged 18 to 45 were eligible to be inducted (drafted) into the armed forces of the United States. Not many older men actually were drafted--the Army preferred the youngest ones it could lay hands on--but they were legally liable to be drafted, and of course they were legally required to register with Selective Service.

David Timothy Beito - 7/25/2005

I thought about that too but in a letter in his his bio from WWII he says that he had refused to register. It is possible that he was refering to World War I but, based on the context, it did not seem that he was.

Mark Brady - 7/25/2005

Interesting post. Just one question. You write: "During World War II, Hennacy did not flinch in his pacifist views. He not only refused to register for the draft but announced that he would not pay his income taxes." Since he was born in 1893, why would he have had to register for the draft during World War II or were 48-year-old men included?