The Fourth of July: The Spirit of 1776 and the Celebrations

Celebrations will be coming up to “celebrate” the Fourth of July across the USA the fourth day of this month with bands playing, militarism glorified and implicitly the imperialism never mentioned at such parades. What’s wrong with this picture? Everything!

The Fourth of July marks the presentation and signing of the Declaration of Independence to pressing for the creation of this new country out of the 13 British colonies along the Eastern seaboard of North America with same document inveighing against the monarch on the throne in London for making “military power superior to civil power” as well as not allowing for the “consent of the governed” by abolishing legislatures and moving others thwarting the will of those in those colonies depriving them of rights that they had as British nationals through Habeas corpus of the middle of the 17th Century and that provided in Magna Carta of the 13th Century limiting the monarch’s power thus allowing more rights for the monarch’s subjects. The war for independence or war of national liberation was most assuredly a fight against militarism and imperialism of the most power of the imperialist states of the time. Thus the upcoming celebrations will celebrate the reverse of what the 13 colonies were fighting for and put more than an ironic touch on such celebrations. The fight against militarism and imperialism was the zeitgeist of the time, a spirit which should be celebrated rather than its opposite as is currently happening in an insult to those who gave their blood and lives tocreate this new country and have on other occasions been true to that spirit of 1776. Thus we could see if this were put to music it would come out something like this.

What has happened to the “democratic republic” as Martin Luther King Jr referred to it in his book, The Trumpet of Conscience? It as Dr King got itself on “The wrong side of a world revolution” as Dr King put it back in 1967.

In the War of 1812 Uncle Sam fought for “freedom of the seas” and against the militarism and imperialism of that empire based in London with its press ganging of US seaman of unarmed ships and into the British navy to fight for that empire against France in the Napoleaonic Wars. Uncle Sam stood resolutely firm against such infringement on the national sovereignty of the new country and its citizens.

Same in the First World War! The Kaiser’s German navy submarines were sinking unarmed US ships killing people without regard to age or gender from 1915 and going right up to 1917 when the USA officially entered that war in response to what would have been dozens of 9/11s by the German empire of that time.

The US Civil War was another case of those fighting for Uncle Sam fighting to keep civil power superior to military power in the form of a artillery blast from the Confederate Army of the time on Ft Sumter.

Then the Second World War was the most dramatic example of those fighting for Uncle Sam fighting against militarism and imperialism of the worst kind especially in the form of the Third Reich and thus firmly planted in Zeitgeist of 1776.

A.D. Hemming has been an activist for progressive causes since the early 1960s, a researcher, poet, journalist, and historian. Bati Ahmed (PhD in Public Health) has been active in health care work with UNICEP in the Middle East and Africa in the field for years as well as at top level with UNICEF in London for seven years. Read other articles by A.D. Hemming and Bati Ahmed.