A Question for Joseph Stack

Apparently, Joseph Stack flew his plane into an IRS building, out of concern that the Treasury Department was stealing from the middle class.

If Mr. Stack thought the right bomb, in the right place, at the right time could change the policies of the Treasury Department, why didn’t he fly that bomb into Mr. Geithner’s office?

Perhaps he hoped enough paperwork would be destroyed by attacking the bureaucracy that others would be sympathetic to future attacks on the Treasury Department?

Certainly a small-scale attack on the IRS bureaucracy will not lead to any change in policies in the way a successful attack against the Treasury Secretary would. However, it would be interesting if CNN or other news outlets follows up on this in one year, and reports the number of businesses that were not audited because of this act of terror.

25 thoughts on “A Question for Joseph Stack”

  1. He had lots of “enemies”:


    That Austin plane crasher was mad at everyone. In his suicide screed, he heaps scorn on:

    – GM executives (“commit unthinkable atrocities”)

    – The American medical system (“murdering tens of thousands of people a year”)

    – Politicians (“thieves, liars, and self-serving scumbags”)

    – The Catholic Church (“vulgar, corrupt”)

    – Organized religion (“monsters”)

    – The American public (“incredible stupidity”)

    – Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (“sleazy”)

    – The airlines (“rich, incompetent cronies”)

    – Austin, TX (“a highly inflated sense of self-importance”)

    – The Justice Department (“on the take”)

    – The FAA (“a tombstone agency”)

    – George W. Bush (“presidential puppet”)

    – The IRS (“Big Brother”)

    – Communism (“From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”)

    – Capitalism (“From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed.”)

    This was one angry man!

    He seemd ok with Communism though!

  2. It seems like Stack was using a “Propaganda of the Deed” strategy. The very choice of weapon suggests his goal was maximum media exposure rather than assassination of a particular person or the destruction of particular project.

  3. Jeffrey…everything on his list was said in a negative way except for communism. As for communism, he just quoted Marx, followed by a play on the quote to criticize capitalism.

  4. Everything but communism had a snark after it.

    I think it was pretty clear in this case that he defined communism in non-negative way only so he could give a negative definition of Capitalism.

    If he wanted to criticize communism he could have said things like:

    – Communism (some pigs are more equal then others)
    – Communism (94 million dead and counting!)
    – Communism (it works for ants)

    He didn’t though.

  5. Generally, very good comments on this thread.

    Soon after this even, Half Sigma noted that liberals would be confused by these events, as it is hard for them to imagine anyone hating big companies more than they do.

    I think Jeffrey’s comments demonstrate this confusion quite well.

  6. Jeffrey: Are you suggesting I have mis-characterized the statement? If so, please clarify it for me.

    I guess since you are writing stuff like “Fine, however you want to rationalize it”, this is about ideology or blame for you. I am just interested in the facts.

    Adam: How about some of the lefty SDS/Weather Underground stuff? The weirdness (unusual political POV X Crazy) of his list also has a uniqueness to it like the Unabomber.

  7. TDAXP: I read halfsigma’s stuff over the weekend and I want to read it again.

    I think it will lead me off a big tangent.

    Also I really don’t want to be doing a neo-marxist class analysis thing.

    Throw in marxist alienation effect and a Maslow needs things though,and halfsigma seems to be onto something.

  8. PS,

    I’m pretty sure that H.S. is a Left Nazi (that is, a Strasserist [1]) in all but label, so the Neo-Marxist categorization is accurate, if somewhat incomplete.


    The political limitation of terrorism is that if any terrorist organization is able to achieve sufficient scale to effect political policy, it occupies a much risker space than a non-terrorist political organization that also is capable of achieving change. The People’s Will, a pre-1917 anti-Czarist terrorist organization, collapsed in part as a result of this realization. [2] Lenin’s argument against the “right bomb in the right place at the right time” is similarly dismissive of lone wolf terrorism.

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strasserism
    [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narodnaya_Volya_(organization)

  9. “I think Jeffrey’s comments demonstrate this confusion quite well.”

    How so?

    “I guess since you are writing stuff like ;Fine, however you want to rationalize it’, this is about ideology or blame for you. I am just interested in the facts.”

    I was under the impression that the “list” above was a direct list from Stack himself, and not parts pieced together from his manifesto by someone else, so I now understand where you are coming from.

    However, people quote that line from Marx out of “snark” all the time in order to criticize the idea that people are only deserving of the bare minimum of required resources to survive, so please forgive me if I think his intention with said quote is unclear at this time.

  10. I knew some day all of those Soviet Union history/politics/foreign policy courses I took would payoff! I just didn’t expect the USSR to fold while I was finishing them up.

  11. “I know I’m hardly the first one to decide I have had all I can stand. It has always been a myth that people have stopped dying for their freedom in this country, and it isn’t limited to the blacks, and poor immigrants. I know there have been countless before me and there are sure to be as many after. But I also know that by not adding my body to the count, I insure nothing will change. I choose to not keep looking over my shoulder at “big brother” while he strips my carcass, I choose not to ignore what is going on all around me, I choose not to pretend that business as usual won’t continue; I have just had enough.

    I can only hope that the numbers quickly get too big to be white washed and ignored that the American zombies wake up and revolt; it will take nothing less. I would only hope that by striking a nerve that stimulates the inevitable double standard, knee-jerk government reaction that results in more stupid draconian restrictions people wake up and begin to see the pompous political thugs and their mindless minions for what they are.”

    — from the actual e-manifesto. [1]

    I think, given his several references to “Big Brother”, and so much else about his letter, his rhetorical parallelism at the very end of the letter using communism and capitalism (the two quotes above are verbatim), are used to equate the badness of communism and the badness of capitalism. The primary similarity would be that communism and capitalism, in operation, function much the same — someone takes away from one person to give to another — although the parties who lose and receive might be different. In communism, a government does the taking and giving; in capitalism, the greedy powerful decide who are the gullible and thus take from the gullible and give to themselves.

    As for his motivation, the section quoted above seems to be rather clear and blunt. There is a 4GW/5GW whiff of something in it, insofar as 4GWers egg on their opponents hoping their opponents overreact and thus lose moral credibility and 5GWers might use jujitsu to cause an opponent to slice off his own feet.

    [1] http://bit.ly/aFiDEI

  12. –and so, Dan, in answer to your question re: “the number of businesses that were not audited because of this act of terror” — it would seem that JS was rather hoping for a more robust, draconian reaction to his terrorist act instead of a tail-between-the-legs reaction from the gov/IRS.

    Of course, his wish and what really happens over the next year or so might not align.

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