Independence Day 2017 finds Americans celebrating freedoms they no longer have.
Maybe it was the proposal at work you knew was wrong, but didn’t fight. Maybe it was the argument on principle you knew you had to have, but avoided to keep an unsatisfactory peace. Maybe it was the jerk who berated and humiliated a store clerk who wasn’t at fault, and you didn’t challenge him. Battles that were never fought—surrender and capitulation without resistance. A handful, the scrupulously honest with themselves, identify the ensuing inner darkness, that collapsing sensation, as self-betrayal, breeching personal standards of right and wrong.
Independence Day is a historical commemorative, nothing more. You don’t celebrate the day a seed is planted; you celebrate the harvest. Independence has been surrendered without resistance. The nation’s founders planted a seed, but seeds must be tended, nurtured, and protected. Having failed to do so, America has reaped a bitter harvest.
Independence carries an obligation to act, to provide, to think for one’s self, and it requires its own defense. Americans couldn’t be burdened. Asking only what their country could do for them, they accepted the state’s promises, propaganda, provender, and protection—from mostly spurious threats—without reckoning the price. The promises were illusory, not the price. The pall dimming the fireworks is the confusion, anxiety, and antagonisms of a nation that’s badly lost its way.
Taxes, it’s been said, are the price of civilization. For a brief, shining historical moment, Americans freed themselves from the state’s exaction of their income. Tragically, they faltered, allowing themselves to be deceived, accepting the state’s forcible extraction of their labor, time, and production and never questioning how the coercion that is its bedrock could possibly be “civilized.” Sold, as the state’s depredations always are, as a limited measure, 100 years later the state recognizes no limits on its power to tax, reserving special persecution for those who question it too volubly.
At the same time, America handed control of the nation’s money (and subsequently its debt), to a bankers’ cartel. Supposedly an elasticized and discretionary “money” would prevent financial panics, bank runs, and economic contractions. The new money was worth less every year than the year before, and it wouldn’t prevent contractions more severe than the ones that preceded its introduction. Only the cranks, immediately quarantined by the force of “respectable” opinion, questioned the new money. Only “dangerous” fringe elements insisted on their right to their own production, exchangeable for honest money, its value free from bureaucratic and political whim.
Predictably, the new money inflated a bubble that popped. Faced with adversity, the so-called greatest generation opted for the crank solutions of a socialistic demagogue and his band of charlatans. They turned the ensuing downturn into the most severe contraction in the nation’s history. By acclamation the people surrendered their economy, more of their incomes, and their right to own gold—real money—to the government, accepted the future bondage of increased debt, and enshrined the “right” of the politically favored to live off the labor of the productive unfavored. Henceforth, the latter would have a duty to support the former. The megalomaniac who peddled this abnegation of America’s freedom—and consequently its greatness—was reelected three times.
By the time President Eisenhower warned of the military-industrial complex, it was too late. That he waited until his farewell address to issue his warning speaks volumes. The complex had been in control since World War II and would never willingly relinquish the commanding height on which atomic bombs and the world’s most productive economy has placed it.
Confederated and unchallenged global empire was the seductive goal; “leader of the free world” was how it was sold to the American people. They bought it, never questioning the complex’s machinations and skullduggery in Iran, Guatemala, Vietnam, and other remote backwaters. Alliances with corrupt and repressive regimes, propaganda, rigged elections, US-sponsored rebellions and coups, war, terrorism, and assassinations were necessary countermeasures to Soviet evil. Whatever the US did, the USSR—since it’s acquisition of nuclear weapons an existential threat—was worse, always worse.
Vindicating the few who said command economies couldn’t work, the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Existential threats always make it easier to amass power and money, and curtail liberty. One was conjured—Islamic extremism. How a rough band of guerrillas in Afghanistan’s caves posed the same threat as one of the largest empires in history, with the world’s second largest nuclear arsenal, was a question most Americans would not ask. Just keep us safe, they bleated.
Wars based on concocted intelligence, the Patriot Act and other eviscerations of the Bill of Rights, a huge and intrusive new cabinet department—Homeland Security—the militarization of local police, and the vast expansions of the military and intelligence agencies’ power and funding went through with nary a bleat. There were few bleats a decade later when whistleblowers revealed an America under a degree of surveillance that would make Big Brother green. Deflated footballs stirred more controversy.
Independence Day 2017 finds Americans celebrating freedoms they no longer have, freedoms they and those greatest generations that preceded them surrendered on a golden platter. The Philippine’s House of Representatives recently passed a bill: singing the national anthem at public gatherings “shall be mandatory and must be done with fervour.” What an insight into the minds of those who would rule us, Filipino, American, or whatever. You’re not just to submit; you’re to worship your submission and those to whom you submit. It conjoins Orwell, Islam (which means submission), and all those pain-is-pleasure perversions.
They’re not just claiming your life and your freedom, they’re claiming your soul. That’s what they were after all along. The Faust legend is wrong. Surrendering one’s soul, for both individuals and a nation, is a long series of capitulations, not some shadowy one-time bargain. Which prompts the question: can souls that have all too willingly been surrendered ever be redeemed?
DECLARE YOUR INDEPENDENCE!