Revolution, Independence, and the 4th of July
Posted by PintofStout on July 3, 2006
Back in December, I wrote an entry that defined the word revolution. I included in the entry several links to articles and a book about revolution. In fact, the only reason for the post was to provide a medium for linking the mentioned texts. A short time later, I revisited the post to talk about the broader definition of revolution and why the term was inadequate for a shrugging of a government yolk in favor of anarchy. As George Orwell believed so strongly, language and words are very, very powerful; they shape the way we think beyond just speech, but also alter our perceptions. Orwell believed that by limiting language, one is limited in thought also. So it is with the naming of a holiday.
While we picnic and celebrate the holiday, let’s be reminded of just what happened, and perhaps that will give a name to this holiday. Should we call it Independence Day or the 4th of July? I guess it depends on your outlook. It may seem petty to gripe about the name 4th of July as being understated, after all it is the 4th day of July; the same day that a group of wealthy white men representing other land-owning white men of various wealth decided it would be better to have their say over the affairs of their land (and most everyone else’s around them) without the interference of wealthy white men across the ocean. This all took place in the midst of a revolution (aimed at revolving the old masters out and the new ones in). So is calling it the 4th of July any more or less accurate than calling it Independence Day?
It is only fitting that this holiday is a government holiday, because it was the governments of the various states that achieved independence, or proclaimed it anyway. So in celebrating July 4th, perhaps it is only appropriate for people in the mechanisms of government and those who would control their neighbors through the immoral force of government that should celebrate Independence Day; for everyone else, we celebrate a day off from work (sometimes), which happens to fall of July 4th.
There is one bright outlook that comes from celebrating today. July 4th was the day that group of men decided to declare themselves free of someone else’s rule, and the rhetoric and writing surrounding it (all much brighter in outlook and intent and more principled than the result) made it seem like everyone would be free. So we are celebrating the declaration, not the actual winning of independence. This should give hope to all that a declaration is all you need to be free (though the winning is the hard part). Unfortunately, the chains weren’t long off of our backs before a new master would have his say. The revolution was won and one government was replaced with another. So I will call the day a day off and celebrate the articulated thoughts and spirit of true independence, but not Independence Day. But be hopeful, ye slaves, for tomorrow (or today) you can declare your independence and begin the long hard fight of rebellion until your independence is won.
Here’s a poem I got from the link above by Antony Solomon:
THE ENEMY WITHIN
Why do you fear his “parliament,”
This all oppressive “government,”
When darker things lurk deep inside
Your mind; crawling, scuttling, they hide.
Words by far than “police-state law,”
More corrupt than any “legislature,”
Taxing far above the progressive rate;
A self-made ghost does, your soul subjugate.
For the “rulers of men” are nought but dust
They rise, dictate, but fall they must.
Though out of sight, not out of mind, see?
The ‘ghost in the machine’ saying — you’re not free.
Oh deeply wounding psychoplasm,
Why hauntest thou in the mind’s chasm?
Why crippleth thee what gives thee home,
Why soil thy nest like a common gnome?
Out, out damn spook, begone I say!
For I have resolved, myself, this day,
That I stand free in body and soul,
Not hindered by chains nor ghoul.