The Dream Café

Steven Brust: “A masterful storyteller of contagious glee and self-deprecating badassery” —Skyler White

Independence Day

| 11 Comments

It is Independence Day and the yabuts are out in force. The reactionaries like to set off fireworks and avoid realizing that the system they believe is the be-all and end-all of human achievement arrived by revolution, by mass action of a people fighting against those who thought their system was the be-all and end-all of human achievement. Meanwhile, the pseudo-lefts dominate the discussion where I am listening: Let anyone dare quote “All men are created equal” and out they charge: “Yeah, but what about the native peoples?” “Yeah, but the founding fathers owned slaves and permitted slavery.” “Yeah, but what about women?” they cry.

To me, the statement “All men are created equal” is a promise, a rallying cry, and an inspiration, and what the yabuts prefer not to look at, is that this promise and inspiration did what it was supposed to: it inspired the Abolition movement, the women’s suffrage movement, the labor movement, the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s. Over and over, leaders from Frederick Douglass to Lincoln to Eugene Debbs to Elizabeth Stanton and Lucretia Mott to Martin Luther King, Jr have referred to this document as an inspiration, as an “unfulfilled promise,” using it as a banner and a sword to further the cause of human equality.

The Declaration of Independence was revolutionary and inspirational at the time it was written, and it is revolutionary and inspirational today. Whatever the yabuts say, the fight for equality is not hindered by an appreciation of those who, earlier, took what steps were available to them, and handed us a torch with which to burn the hands of those who try to lay hold of our revolutionary traditions for the purpose of stopping them.

There is so much more to do in the fight for equality, which now focuses more and more on the inequality between those who must toil in order to live, and those who live on the fruits of others’ toil. To look on the past as if one had achieved such moral perfection as to permit condemnation of the battles others fought does nothing to advance this cause.

skzb

Author: skzb

I play the drum.

11 Comments

  1. Beautiful stuff. Let’s keep fighting to make this a better world.

  2. There’s a big difference between using patriotism (or religion) to say My Team is Best, and using their principles to make things better for all.

  3. Something like 50% of all independence day celebrations are to commemorate countries becoming independent of Britain.
    You’re welcome colonials 😉

  4. I thought this: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/36696-we-don-t-need-trump-or-brexit-to-reject-the-credo-of-neoliberal-market-inevitability article was a nice summation of where we stand with hyper/theological Capitalism and its many flaws.

    It is interesting to reflect that the early revolutionaries were indeed revolutionary in many of their approaches and contrast that to our supposedly modern attitudes where any political/economic change outside of two parties and the worship of capitalism is feared.

  5. A change from capitalism is feared by the powers that be, and they use the levers of power like the corporate-owned media and the two-party stranglehold on national politics to control information hostile toward their interests. However, the ability to sway the younger generation has grown less and less. I give some of the credit for that wonderful development to the internet. They are trying pretty hard to corrall that, too, through variable speed service to ‘prefered’ (corporate owned) sites.

  6. Any change that threatens those in power is fought against. Sometimes it is called treason, sometimes it’s called heresy – and sometimes it’s called communism. At any rate, the powers are quite willing to send victims to fight those who threaten the status quo.

  7. Amen to the promise and ideals of the Declaration of Independence, especially equality, and Happy Independence Day to all!

    I hope it does not seem rude to suggest that “Yabut” is a good descriptor for your response, Steve, to the anti-Trump petition in May (http://dreamcafe.com/2016/05/30/an-open-letter-in-response-to-the-anti-trump-petition/) … NOT to imply that that petition is anywhere close to as tremendous as the Declaration of Independence! But the response of “yup, great ideals, but how can you be blind to these various associated contradictions??” does strike me as analogous.

    @Steve Halter, thanks for the link to that article!

  8. skzb

    The difference, Argentum, is that the Declaration was used for progressive purposes. The petition will be used for reactionary purposes.

  9. reactionary: a person who holds political views that favor a return to the status quo ante, the previous political state of society; a person opposing political or social liberalization or reform

    Hillary Clinton, whatever her faults, is not a reactionary. Donald Trump is.

    The American revolution was a logical extension of Renaissance and ‘The Age of Reason.’ What often gets overlooked, though, is that the ideals encapsulated in the Declaration of Independence were insufficient to run a government. The Articles of Confederation that followed shortly after Declaration led to a weak, feeble country that within a decade was ready to disintegrate. The inalienable, natural, individual rights of man were not compatible with running a country.

    Only with the adoption of the Constitution and the social contract it implied was the United States able to begin to cohere into a world force. Individualism, a social contract, and republicanism are often opposing forces. This is the tension that has been forever at the heart of the American experiment.

    So, while the Declaration was an idealistic and necessary step forward, it would have led nowhere without the Constitution.

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