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Saturday, July 03, 2010

What are we celebrating?

According to several leftist web sites we are celebrating the beginning of a criminal empire. Other observations include a country where women and non-whites can’t vote. This was a country where Indians are not citizens even though they were born here and the ownership to slaves was a legal institution.
From the newspaper, Revolution, the question is raised, "What to the Slave is Your Fourth of July?”
Bob Avakian reads a reply from Frederick Douglass;
"What to the Slave is Your Fourth of July?" Avakian lays bare the system that has evolved in the US, rooted in slavery, fed by brutal exploitation, and inextricably bound up with white supremacy. "White supremacy is built into the foundation of this country," Avakian says. "It is something that this system, and those who rule it, could not do without, even if they wanted to...which they don't."

OK there is a lot of truth to this. Avakian,, in a Youtube video, also mocks the usual claptrap “This is the greatest democracy in the world, This is the homeland of democracy and freedom,” and “where else can we find this much freedom?” The audience laughs because they know it is patriotic blather that we hear each year about this time.
But is there anything good about this day? Did any good come from the US? Was it always destined to be a self-serving-brutal empire?
I think it is too simple to just say yes. Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine fought against the political tendency to create a US aristocracy. Many of the US forefathers wanted that claiming, as people have argued since the early Greek democracies, that politicians are bred and not just selected by popularity.
Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist Party believed just this. It was one thing to break away from Britain, but it was another thing to break away from the idea the wealth and political power were bestowed at birth. Jefferson’s Democratic Republican Party got its name from the Republican movement in Europe in which wealth and power could be earned and a person was not just stuck where he/she was at birth. Paine also understood this movement and went to France to support the revolution in that country.
The idea of a president, rather than a king, was a major break with the past. So was the idea of the separation of church and state. Some of our forefathers, such as George Washington saw this as a Christian nation that owed itself to God. But Jefferson staunchly defended the separation of church and state.
Here is an example;

To messers Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins, & Stephen S. Nelson, a committee of the Danbury Baptist association in the state of Connecticut;

The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist association, give me the highest satisfaction. my duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, & in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.
I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection & blessing of the common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves & your religious association assurances of my high respect & esteem.

Thomas Jefferson


He proposed an anti-slavery clause in the Declaration of Independence. This idea was rejected by the rest of the US rebels.
Jefferson supported the French revolution, while his opponents sided with the European aristocrats. As to the bloodiness of the revolution Jefferson gave one of his most cherished quotes
"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
So my point is that it is a mistake to throw out all of our history and just assume none of it has any value. To Indians and slaves of 1776 there was nothing to celebrate. Jefferson and the rest were racist who could not even imagine that in these modern times blacks, American Indians and whites could live side by side peacefully.
Jefferson and Paine were revolutionaries of the 18th century. I would argue that they were progressive for the time they lived. Their ideas are behind the times of today. I’m not a proponent of Jeffersonian democracy in the 21st century. But maybe that was the best we could hope for in 1776. It’s hard to second guess history. I think it is important to remember that some good people have come from this country and some good may have come from our original revolution. Marx said that history goes from feudalism to capitalism to socialism and to communism. So Europe had to move from feudalism to capitalism and now it is time for the transfer to socialism. That goes for the US also.
So this year I will set off some fireworks, drink a beer and little else. I know this is not the freest country in the world, nor is it a beacon for others who long for freedom. It is the modern evil empire and it needs to be destroyed.
However, like firecracker, I still admire Thomas Jefferson. After all, Mao Zedong managed to find emperors from China’s past who had done some good. He changed his ideas on history over the years and began to appreciate his own country’s past. Maybe we need a revolution before we can do that. -សតិវអតុ

The right to bear fireworks!

Was he a demon or just a nice guy in the 1700s?

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