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LAND OF THE FREE THIS DAY AFTER

July 5, 2015

LAND OF THE FREE ON THIS DAY AFTER

It is time to take a macro view of where we were, are and where we are headed on this day after. Next year on this day we will look back on yesterday and note that we are exactly 12 score years from July 4, 1776, the day we chose to celebrate our Declaration of Independence from Britain and its arrogant tyrant, King George. Less than 40 years after that auspicious date we were embroiled in another war with the British, one in which they burned our White House and in which Francis Scott Key came up with his anthem-ready “land of the free and home of the brave” language, language which in part describes America today some 200 years later, i.e., we are “brave” but not “free,” as I will discuss later in this essay.

Bravery and freedom do not necessarily go together. African natives who resisted the British military incursions of the 19th century and Indians who resisted similar incursions by the Spanish military were brave, too, but hardly free in those spears vs. muskets days of European colonialism. Muskets won, and the “brave” became slaves who labored in Rhodesian diamond mines in southern Africa and in Spanish silver and gold mines in South America largely for the benefit of European royalty and their hand-picked monopolists (such as the East India Tea Company, for example).

I have concluded that the American Revolution was actually an English Revolution fought on American soil between Englishmen with the European branch playing the role of colonialists and the American branch playing the role of opportunists on a new continent brimming with natural resources which they wanted the freedom to exploit free of colonial overseers. The war, as usual, was about economics.

Thus shorn of the cover of flags, Revere’s Ride, Paine’s Common Sense etc., the Revolution was (as most wars are) one fought on economic grounds with political/patriotic emphasis as cover for underlying mercantilism. After all, few would have enlisted in the “revolution” if they had been told that they were putting their lives on the line for Yankee shipbuilders in New England and (slave-picked) cotton and tobacco magnates in Dixie. Soldiers prefer to die in the cause of abstractions such as “freedom, justice, all men are created equal” dicta. I think we would have had similar enlistment problems in this day and age of an all-volunteer military if we had told prospective recruits that they were going to Iraq to risk their lives for the shareholders and executives of Big Oil. “Fighting for your country” sells much better.

So just what are we really celebrating with our firecrackers and parades on July 4? Do we know? Do we even want to know when it is so comfortable to wallow in myth and obligatory speeches given by politicians on each such annual occasion?  My response is that it is sometimes possible to fight for freedom and vested interests at the same time and that that is what happened in our English Revolution fought on American soil, but that, unlike parts of Africa colonized by the British, we had muskets.

We have seen this show in which we participated played out in history both before and after our “revolution.” Other European states, notably Spain and Portugal, have played their colonial hands in going after the gold and silver of South America and elsewhere while the British went after the Indian tea and their Cecil Rhodes went after the diamonds of South Africa. Even Belgium had its “Belgian Congo,” Holland had its “Dutch East Indies,” and France had its “French West Africa.” Africa, Asia and South America as colonial targets were not peopled by Englishmen such as we were in our thirteen “colonies” strung out along our Atlantic coast, just chomping at the bit to head west to harvest the continent’s natural resources. They were easier targets for the colonialists and some did not throw off their yokes of European colonialism until the latter half of the twentieth century in a shameful delay fueled by national pride and profit motives of the colonialists. Of course, as a practical matter the availability of muskets in the hands of the colonized leveled the playing field and had much to do with the exit of European colonialists and their plunder of the human and natural resources of the colonized.

I have written before that we are still the home of the brave but are not the land of the free and will expand on that theme in the following. As preface, I note that King George’s tyranny is long since gone. We are an independent nation-state with our own form of government, economic system and a society with its own mores and folkways. We are the total package, and our future is or could be unlimited if we manage our excesses and limit our exposures to failures while encouraging those political and economic tenets that positively advance the interests of our country and all of the people in it.

History has taught us that governments that cater to the interests of the few are prone to failure (see the Greek city-states, Rome et al.). We ignore such lessons of history at our great peril. Thus Rome did not “fall to the barbarians;” it fell from within with its power games,   political corruption and rotten to the core governance which sealed its doom as a failed state with or without attacks from the “barbarian hordes.” Parenthetically, I have often questioned the whole idea of this Roman – barbarian story with this query: Just who were the “barbarians” in the fall of the Roman Empire? With homicidal gladiators, crucifixions and Christian-eating lions viewed as sports events, how and by what measure can Romans have been considered to be less “barbaric” than those tribes holding forth north of the Danube?

So are we free this day after, or is tyranny still with us? King George is long since gone, but has the tyranny of his age merely taken on a new face and different setting, and if so, can we identify the face of the new tyrants who are colonizing us from within? Are our domestic tyrants among those who help perpetuate the myth that we are “free” in order to divert our attention from their daily acts of tyranny that make a mockery of our “freedom” by emptying our treasury in their relentless quest for profit?

My final conclusion this day after is this: I think King George’s excesses have returned and that the new tyrants are those of the rich and corporate structure. The resemblance to Rome before its fall is startling. This class has bought our political process and a compliant judiciary has given them the tools with such decisions as that of Citizens United to expand their tyranny over the rest of us. While we have no lions eating Christians these days, we have the equivalent when the rich and corporate class via their congressional toadies deprives American citizens of health care, endorses policies that make the already poverty-stricken poorer and throw millions more from the middle class into poverty. Make no mistake; people are dying as a result of such tyranny just as certainly as those who died by the sword and wild beasts in the Roman era. The ideals of “freedom” and “democracy” have been subverted to corporate bottom lines. The “barbarians” are not “just outside the gates,” they are on TV extolling greed’s virtues.

We the people urgently need this day after to somehow ignore the self-serving statements/propaganda  of our politicians and  retake control of our politics before our internal barbarians consume us (and per Piketty – themselves) and America collapses into some sort of Roman oblivion, so let’s go!     GERALD    E

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