On the Fourth of July, American statists will be praising the troops, glorifying their exploits in foreign countries, thanking them for defending our rights and freedoms, and expressing thanks to federal officials for taking care of them with Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education grants, farm subsidies, drug laws, and the myriad other programs that come with America’s welfare-warfare state.
That’s what the Fourth of July means to American statists. That is the “freedom” and “independence” they celebrating on the Fourth.
Moreover, statists will be celebrating people who, in their minds, were fighting a foreign army, one that was supposedly trying to conquer the United States and take away the rights and freedoms of the American people.
There’s just one big problem with the celebrations that statists conduct on the Fourth. Their mindsets do not conform to history. In actuality, it is only American libertarians who will be celebrating the Fourth in a manner consistent with what actually happened on July 4, 1776, as well as what happened afterward.
First, let’s get one thing clear: contrary to popular opinion, the men who signed the Declaration of Independence were not great and courageous Americans. That’s an important fact to keep in mind. The reason? They weren’t Americans. They were British citizens, no different from British citizens today. The only difference was that they were living abroad, much as many American citizens live abroad today.
Thus, the people who were fighting in the Revolutionary War were not supporting the troops. They weren’t thanking and glorifying them for defending their rights and freedoms. Instead, they were shooting at them and killing them. They had taken up arms against their very own government.
That is a discomforting notion for American statists. They’d rather not think about that.
Take my word for it: Their own government — the British government — did not consider the men who signed the Declaration to be heroes or patriots. They considered them to be criminals and terrorists, no different, say, than how the U.S.-supported Egyptian government today looks on Egyptian citizens resisting its regime or, for that matter, how the U.S.-supported Pinochet regime considered Chilean citizens resisting its regime.
Of course, that’s not to say that every British citizen living in this part of the world opposed his own government. It’s been estimated that 1/3 of the British citizens living over here supported the troops, 1/3 remained neutral, and 1/3 opposed the troops.
Why were some British citizens opposing their own government? Because they had concluded that their government was engaged in grave wrongdoing. And their conception of patriotism was totally different from the concept of patriotism held by today’s statists. The Founding Fathers believed that when one’s own government engages in wrongdoing, it is the moral and political duty of the citizenry to take a stand against, not blindly support it.
Obviously that is not the concept of patriotism held by statists, who believe that a citizen should never question whether his government is engaged in wrongdoing and instead should loyally support whatever the government is doing. In the statist mind, that’s what courage is really all about it — blindly deferring to government officials and submitting to whatever they decide, especially when it comes to “national security.”
Indeed, that’s one reason why statists dislike libertarians so much — they know that we hold a different concept of patriotism than they do. Like the Founding Fathers, we’re not afraid to make a critical examination of government actions and, when improper, to take a stand against them, especially when opposition to government wrongdoing is entirely peaceful.
So, tomorrow American statists will be celebrating people whose mindset on patriotism is opposite from their own. If today’s statist had been living in the British colonies on July 4, 1776, there is no doubt that, given his mindset, he would have sided with the one-third who supported the government and the troops or the one-third who stayed neutral. There is no way he would have been on the side of those opposing and taking up arms against their own government.
There is another important anomaly to consider about the Fourth of July. Tomorrow, American statists will be celebrating people who had a totally different belief about the proper role of government in people’s lives than American statists have today.
How do we know that? Simple. By examining the type of governmental system that our ancestors brought into existence, both under the Articles of Confederation and the U.S. Constitution.
Consider the fact that our ancestors brought into existence a society in which there was no income taxation, IRS, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, farm subsidies, education grants, drug laws, welfare, minimum wage, price controls, fiat (i.e., paper) money, Federal Reserve System, immigration controls, standing army, Pentagon, CIA, NSA, torture, assassinations, kidnapping, indefinite detention, rendition, partnerships with criminal organizations and dictatorial regimes, medical experiments on unsuspecting people, hundreds of military bases in foreign countries, military empire, and other aspects of what we today call the welfare state and the warfare state.
(Standard disclaimer: I’m not claiming that the 19th century was a libertarian paradise — there was, for example, slavery, tariffs, land grants to the railroads, the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, and corporatism. What I am doing is focusing on the unbelievably radical society that they brought into existence notwithstanding the exceptions, a type of society that today’s American statist opposes with every fiber of his being.)
So, imagine the spectacle: tomorrow American statists will be celebrating people who would have found revolting the welfare-state, warfare-state apparatuses that statists have grafted onto America’s founding governmental system.
Of course, they’re not the only ones. Libertarians today also find the welfare-warfare state apparatuses to be revolting (just as we do the exceptions to freedom that were embraced by our ancestors).
Indeed, it’s only libertarians who support the notion of fundamental rights, as expressed in the Declaration, such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, which Jefferson observed adhere to all people, not just American citizens. That’s why, for example, we libertarians oppose immigration controls — because everyone, not just Americans, has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I’ll bet lots of American statists would be shocked to learn that one of the reasons those British citizens took up arms against their own government was because their own government had prevented “the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither.”
So, tomorrow let us libertarians raise a glass to those who began pointing a light through the darkness of statism that has pervaded mankind for eons. And let’s just smile when we see American statists doing the same thing.