History has a funny way of reminding us of who we really are and what we are about.
While the allied armies of Europe battled those allied under Napoleon, for example, the bankers funded both sides. The political and ideological principles at war were flip sides of the same coin. The elite circles were well-aware. Not so much the soldiers who died in those battles or the peasants whose homes and crops were legally pillaged. They believed in the evil of the enemy, even if they might have chafed at their own leadership. The ordinary people thought they had no choice but to take sides, no matter the cost. Because in real-time terms, this faith was a matter of survival. Even if that survival was based on a tissue of lies. Lies that held superior rank, carried sophisticated weaponry, erected or destroyed anything that pleased them. When power backs a lie, it becomes the truth.
Out of that era, however, sprang a series of revolutions that rocked the European establishment. Revolutions that attempted to pull off what Napoleon had only given lip-service to. It began in truth in the European colonies. Soon it spread to mainland Europe itself. The revolutions were fought for freedom from oppression, freedom of expression, freedom for self-determination. Not top-down, but bottom-up, grassroots. And yet these are retold in the history texts as cheap, opportunistic grabs at power by an ignorant underclass; pale imitations of the one great revolution, the American Revolution.
The American Revolution, however, unlike these other revolutions, was conducted by a wealthy conservative class of European colonists. Many of whom were slave-plantation aristocrats, Indian-killers, bankers, and slaves-for-rum traders. Desirous only of economic sovereignty. Their revolutionary talk was fancy rhetoric, Orwellianesque doublespeak. The American Revolution was much more Napoleonic, less Toussaint Louverture.
This is supposedly the "land of the free". Yet, the US flag bears the same colours as the British flag; employs a similar system of government (replacing a permanent monarch with a temporary, more powerful president); and empowers the rich at the expense of the impoverished and imprisoned. Bear in mind...the original US government earnestly, if imperfectly, attempted to embody the rhetoric of the fledgeling republic. It was swiftly ousted and replaced by the oligarchic system we have today. And all but forgotten. The North American rebels conspired to trade one empire on the 'hope' of another.
There were actual revolutionaries at the time, like Thomas Paine. Still, most wanted their class-based system of patronage left undisturbed.
"Without the pen of the author of Common Sense, the sword of Washington would have been raised in vain," John Adams said of Paine. He also called Paine's seminal pamphlet on radical democracy a "crapulous mess." Paine's vision of democracy, which in part demanded universal voting rights - not to mention his public denunciation of Silas Deane's financial conspiracy with French monarchists - painted a target on his back. The fledgeling government, led by John Jay, defended Deane and ousted Paine from his position as Secretary to the Foreign Affairs Committee. Deane supporters even physically assaulted Paine in the street, twice. His objection to slavery made him many more enemies. Some of them had been former friends, like Henry Lee (father of Robert Lee, Confederate General of the Army of Northern Virginia). Despite events having proven him correct on every point, his views were unwelcome, his reputation trashed, or at least sidelined. Paine's faith in radical democracy made him a political pariah.
To further entrench the new US power structure and secure the foundation of the future empire, Alexander Hamilton brought central-banking to the US- modelled explicitly on the Bank of England. He also demanded a full-time standing army, despite the argument that this would disempower home-spun local militias and lead to political tyranny.
Manifest Destiny became the new rallying cry. Chattel slavery did not end because it was wrong, but rather because the Industrial Revolution made it obsolete. Factory workers, prison workers, sharecroppers, et al., embodied new forms of slavery.
None of this received any substantial challenge until the mid-twentieth century, generations after the so-called American Revolution had been won. A series of grassroots rallies for universal suffrage, social justice, and equitable taxation forced the US to begin realizing the dream on which it had been founded.
This was then countered with the systematic funding of right-wing fascist regimes in foreign nations (throughout Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Europe), McCarthyism and communist witch hunts, No-Knock & the War on Drugs, Mass Incarceration, Racial Profiling, Mass Surveillance, and the Arms Race. There was no American Revolution. There was a British Civil War between Monarchists and Oligarchs, who've since found a peaceful way to co-exist, by pressing their collective knee on the throats of powerless people. They are choking out our cries for justice and equity. They are choking us. Stop collaborating with the enemy.
If you have a voice - if you have, like me, the (White) privilege to breathe - shout: "No justice, no peace!" Stand with real revolutionaries, stand with the people. And denounce those who condone brutality against any of our brothers and sisters. Cut out of your own heart whatever privileges this system of patronage has given you that has allowed you to be blind for so long. Let go of White supremacy, renounce, and smash it. If you would be a revolutionary, do not speak for your own hurts alone: study, engage, and network with those who are fighting this good fight. Let the success and failures of long gone and ongoing revolutions instruct your voice. Raise up your brothers and sisters so crushed by the system they can hardly whisper so that they can be heard by all. Let Earth speak. That's the sound of revolution, the ringing bell of freedom.
Why? Because this revolution must move past dated principles of republics, so riddled with compromise and greed, they brought us to such a desperate, despotic state. The new revolution(s) will be waged in the name of democracy.
Happy 5th of July.