Saturday, July 09, 2022

The Fourth of July and What It Means Now

The Fourth of July. America's 246th birthday. It marks our break from a despotic and out of touch king and his government. It began over the issue of taxes and not having a say in the laws imposed on us. Our Founding Fathers valued individual freedom, free speech and assembly, freedom of press, a fair trial, self determination, freedom of (and from) religion, and the right to bear arms to preserve those and other rights.  Many valued those freedoms more than life. Some 25,000 patriots would agree. 

About 6,000 patriots died in battle. Some died as prisoners of war (mainly in British prison ships which were rife with diseases and malnutrition). Another 18,000 died from disease, not to mention hundreds of women and children who died, often from starvation and disease as much as from the war itself.

Since the conclusion of the war in 1783, America has been engaged in 104 wars, "conflicts" and interventions (of which nine are considered "losses" and 13 are categorized as "inconclusive/draws"). The majority were part of a series of prolonged engagements against Native Americans, in what amounted to a semi-official policy of genocide over the control of land and resources.

In what is unofficially called the "Indigenous Holocaust", an estimated 1,500 attacks by settlers against Native American tribes have occurred since 1776.  Although no one will ever know for certain how many died from direct conflict, disease, enslavement, starvation, forced marches (such as the Trail of Tears) or ill prepared encampments (or reservations), an estimated 100 million Native Americans have perished since 1492, with most of it coming after the founding of Jamestown in 1607.  

Our bloodiest war was the one fought between each other, the Civil War, which surpassed all our wars before or since. An estimated 750,000 men (or about 3% of the population) died between 1861 and 1865.  By comparison, we lost 116,516 in World War I, 305,399 in World War II, and 58,209 in Vietnam. 25,000 died during the Revolutionary War. 15,000 in the War of 1812.  Hundreds of thousands more died following the war's end in 1865 from diseases, famine, or injuries.

From 1946 through 2000, the United States has been involved in approximately 81 overt and covert interventions in foreign elections, not to mention 64 attempts to overthrown existing governments including seven coups. Since 2001, there has been 28 coup attempts just in Latin America! Apparently "self determination" applies only to governments the Washington ruling elite approves of.

 We value free speech so much that it's listed first in our Bill of Rights. We believe that the free and open exchange of ideas is essential for creating and maintaining a vibrant nation. An informed citizen is a powerful citizen. But that's all changed.

The media spins the stories it selects to correspond with its political perspective. It tries to manipulate our votes with their "endorsements" and editorials. Various internet platforms routinely block us, censor us, delete us, and penalize us for not following their "standards". Is it any wonder we no longer trust the media?

According to a 2021 Pew Report, just 35% of Americans trust the media, which is the second lowest percentage recorded (the lowest was 32% in 2016). 34% said they have no trust at all in the media while 29% said they had little faith in the media.

The poll also reflects our growing divide as a nation. 31% of Independents (the nation's largest political bloc) trusts the media while the majority of Democrats---68%---still do. Compare that to a mere 11% of Republicans.  How can a democracy survive when the majority of the population doesn't believe in what it's being told?

Well, it can't. At least not for long. The control of information and even entertainment has been a hallmark of every dictatorship. "Bread and circuses" was the byword of Imperial Rome, which willing sacrificed its freedom for security.  Keep the citizens fed and entertained (and their attention sufficiently diverted) and you will have a compliant population. Some things never change.

In America, just six corporations control 90%+ of all media and entertainment outlets. That includes video games, radio and TV shows, movies, internet content, books, magazines, newspapers, theme parks, and so on.  Control the message and you control what people think. Today, in addition to controlling the message, they attempt to control the language.

Political correctness (or "PC") first came to the forefront in the early 1980's. Originally  intended to make language less "offensive" and more inclusive for certain groups, it evolved to remove specific terms and phrases from common usage.  Most saw it as censorship; an attempt to force specific behavior on the public in order to create a indoctrinated population governed by peer pressure.

Those who resist this new politically correct "wokeness" find themselves subjected to a form of control known a "cancel culture", which is an attempt to impose acceptable language and behavior and punish that which it finds unacceptable. Can you imagine what the Founding Fathers (sorry--- I mean the slave exploiting wealthy white male chauvinist oppressors) would have thought of this?

America was not founded as a democracy per se, but as a Constitutional Republic. Rather than a direct form of government (the definition of a democracy), the voting citizens (which was then restricted to white land owning males) elected individuals to represent the community's interests (a republican style government) based a governing document. In this case, a constitution.

As an aside, it should be noted that the Founders opposed political parties, which they thought would be divisive and divert power away from the people and towards special interest cliques. They also opposed a professional political class, fearing it would be as corrupted as Parliament was in London.

These citizen representatives were expected to volunteer their time and to serve a set amount of time in office before returning home to resume  their private lives.  They would naturally be reimbursed for any expenses incurred in the execution of their duties while in office, but weren't paid a regular salary.

Today we have not just professional politicians, we have a professional political class which is divided along partisan lines and are answerable solely to their corporate masters. Money has replaced voters as the single most important factor in modern politics. Campaigns are so intentionally expensive that ordinary citizens can't participate. Thus, Congress has become the sole domain of millionaires. They spend the bulk of their time raising money for party chieftains and self promoting "leadership committees" while corporate lobbyists write the legislation which becomes law.

Thanks to the four partisan evils--- gerrymandering, Citizens United, unlimited terms, and control of the media, the majority of the professional political class are immune to the wishes of the citizens. They do and vote as told by their corporate bosses with near impunity. There's another aspect to our failed political system most of us have not taken into consideration---representation itself.

The fuse which sparked the American Revolution was taxes. It wasn't over whether we should or shouldn't have taxes. Obviously nothing is free. It was the matter of representation. The colonists believed they weren't properly represented in Parliament, especially over the matter of taxes,  which was being imposed on them without consultation or consent.  Not so different now is it?

Our present form of government is based on a "winner take all" political system. That is, whether you're an Independent, Democrat, Republican, or a third party doesn't matter. If your candidate loses, you aren't represented for the duration of the term. Given the four evils of partisan gerrymandering, Citizens United, unlimited terms, and control of the media, that could be damn near forever!

So what to do?  Well, you can suck it up and accept the fact that you have no say in the bills passed in your name or in the taxes you're forced to pay. You could incur the time and expense of moving somewhere gerrymandered by your party, which is great unless you're like the majority of Americans who are Independent and quite literally aren't represented by anyone (which also applies to third parties too). But since your party is corporate bought and paid for anyway, what good will it do you?

I can't help but wonder what our Founding Fathers, who literally put everything on the line, including their lives, would think. They would have rejected corporate control of the media. If you're not a Democrat or Republican, you're prohibited for participating in most political debates or have access to big dollar donations. This would be their antithesis of freedom of thought and speech.  

The notion of money being the equivalent to "free speech", the basis of Citizens United, would have been abhorrent to them since it implies that the wealthy are more important than the ordinary citizen. Had such a measure been considered in their time, they would have shown up with pitchforks, tar and feather with a serious intent on using them!  We did nothing. Bitched and moaned a little I guess.

They would be appalled by a professional political class comprised of millionaires or the government being openly controlled by "special interests" cliques in the form of corporations; of where laws affecting the People are written by the representatives of and benefit of these corporations; not by those elected to office that express purpose. Corporate welfare would have been a non-starter. No one and no business was "to big to fail".   

They would have fumed at the idea that the People were forced to pay to bail out mismanaged businesses or engaging in overseas wars and conflicts for the financial gain of a few.  They believed  everyone was entitled to an equal opportunity to pursue whatever their definition of success was, not to a guaranteed equal outcome, and certainly not at the People's expense.  

The Founders strongly opposed "foreign entanglements" which didn't have a direct impact on our national security.  How would we justify overthrowing 92 democratically elected governments because we didn't like their domestic policies or meddling in 81 elections in an attempt to elect one favorable to our corporate interests, especially when they were replaced with brutal dictatorships?

They would equally be nauseated at the thought of partisan gerrymandering or unlimited terms, which are done for the sole purpose of depriving individuals from having a say in their own representation and creating a de facto monopolistic partisan gripe on a district.

So, what is the message of this Fourth of July? Sadly, it's no longer to honor the sacrifice made by the patriots who fought and died to give us this nation or to celebrate our liberation from a despotic government. If it was, it should be as a national day of reflection and atonement, not of celebration. The Republic they bequeath to us no longer exists. It has been replaced by a neo-fascist Corporatocracy.

Their America, a democratic based Constitutional Republic celebrated the sovereignty of the individual. They envisioned a government just big enough to protect individual rights. Yes, it had flaws, but any endeavor created by Man is inherently flawed because the nature of Humanity is itself flawed.

Nevertheless, the political system they created was designed with the necessary tools to make adjustments; to rectify those flaws as we have periodically done. Yet what moved it from the realm of philosophical debate to reality was accepting that the state was no more than the sum of its citizens. The individual was its foundation. Not wealth. Not divine right or religion. Not origin, race or gender.

What they envisioned has now been corrupted into a neo-fascist Corporatocracy. A merger of impersonal corporations and government, managed by a handful of unimaginably wealthy individuals for the sole purpose of control, be it assets, resources, government, or us---their economic serfs.

They've replaced concepts like citizenry and with consumerism. Self-reliance for debt. National pride for globalism.  They built a cyber prison of surveillance around us and call it security. They manufacture wars for profit and call it spreading democracy. They censor speech , manipulate thought, restrict where we go, and control our bodies. This, they say, is freedom.  They control the government; write laws for their benefit, and have us pay for it all and tell us it's managed democracy. 

Perhaps it's time to revisit the writings of our Founders and rekindle what it means to be an American. Perhaps then we will again have reason to celebrate the Fourth of July. Then again, perhaps we will create a new day of liberation and independence.

If you want to know more, please take a look at the links below. If you enjoyed the article, please consider passing it along to others and don't forget to subscribe. It's free! Lastly please be sure to "like" us on whatever platform you use to read A/O. It helps with the algorithms and keeps our articles in circulation. Thank you!  


List of wars involving the United States

Counting the Dead: Estimating the Loss of Life in theIndigenous Holocaust, 1492 - Present


How Many Died in the American Civil War

Fourth of July weekend marred by violent shootings acrossthe U.S.

21th century U.S. coups and attempted coups in Latin America



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