Sunday, July 04, 2004

Independence Day 

When you think of the American Revolution, you think of the birth of a new nation, the USA, splitting from the British Empire. In fact, that aspect of the American Revolution is very overplayed. In addition to the United States, the American Revolution signifies the birth of two other concepts; Representative Rule, and Nationalism.

The American Revolution began when the Declaration of Independence was signed, not when America began to revolt against the English. The Declaration justified itself with Classic Liberal doctrine, the idea that everyone on Earth was entitled to control their own Life, Liberty, and Property. These rights superceded the supposed Divine Rights of kings to rule. The idea behind the succession from Britain was simple: Since taxation without representation unduly violated Rights to Property, the colonies had a right to break free.

To the surprise of even the Founding Fathers, representative rule took hold in the US, and continues to grow even today. What once was just a handful of landowners holding power has grown to everyone over the age of 18, regardless of race, sex, gender, or economic class.

This notion of citizenship, where everyone has a right to vote, led to a feeling of national unity. While back in the Middle Ages, people were united by being enslaved by the same king, in America they were united in a shared responsibility for the destiny of their newly formed country. Nationalism has proven so strong that it manages to survive even in areas where representative rule is in remission.

I would say there are two types of Nationalism in the world: Patriotism, and Jingoism. Patriotism is a justified feeling of pride in one's country based on accompishments, often found in Democracies. Jingoism is a belligerent hatred of all other countries, and a unjustified feeling of superiority. Patriots tend to lead to successful democracies. Jinogists lead to fascist movements. America is more Patriotic. Arab nations are more Jingoistic. I am afraid to guess where most European nations would fall in this theory.

The American Revolution continues to this day. Countries worldwide seek to establish rule based on a Classic Liberal tradition. The ideas of freedom are so powerful, those who would take away freedom must devise their own philosophies to justify doing so. Marxists point out that freedom allows some to succeed and some to fail, allowing a supposed unfair inequality between the classes. Hitler and Mussolini twisted the ideas of Nationalism in their respective countries to justify their warmongering and bigotry. Radical Greens use the environment as an excuse to allow the government to overtax, steal private property, and justify a more authoritarian government.

So far, Freedom has overcome almost every despot that has tried to eliminate it. Hitler and Mussolini overextended their armies trying to extinguish liberty. The Soviets crumbled from within by trying to keep up their egalitarian image. Saddam Hussein found very few supporters willing to defend him as their leader once America took action in removing him.

The American Revolution lives on, and I believe not even Nuclear War would stop it.

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