This is the fourth time that this blog has celebrated Independence Day. As you all must know by now, I don’t dig on holidays. They disrupt my life. And Independence Day is particularly bad for a few reasons. First, and probably most important, is the fact that I have a neighbor who sets off loud fireworks. I don’t like explosions. Call me a killjoy, but I’m anxious enough. Second, this is a day when the worst simulacra of patriotism ooze from every pore of society. I find myself in conflict on the whole notion of patriotism. I have a great love for much of this country. I like that Americans do tend to be more positive than many other peoples; I like our naivete. I like our geography; we grabbed some of the best latitudes. I like many of our ideals; I like the vision that Thomas Paine had for this country. But I don’t like our increasing authoritarianism. People claim that we are the police men of the world, but that’s just a nice way of saying we the world’s bullies. And I don’t like that we are less and less a democracy.
I would say, nonetheless, that I am a patriot. But do you know who are not patriots? The rich. I don’t mean every single rich person, of course. But I mean the “greed is good” crowd. During the Gilded Age, the rich were awful. But they understood that they owed something back to society. They weren’t John Galt assholes who couldn’t see just how lucky they were to be born in a time and a place that compensated their skills so remarkably. Yet we have two political parties (the only parties that really matter) who kneel down to these people as though they were demigods. That is how screwed up our country is today: those who only ask what the government can do for them are worshiped. It wouldn’t be so bad if the nation as a whole recognized what was going on. This country is far on the road to the New Feudalism. When I think of the word “serf” I do not think of the pastime of Gen-X slackers. I think of the noun: slaves to our corporate (feudal) lords.
The first year of this blog, I didn’t even write about Independence Day. I wrote a comparison of the two Truman Capote biopics. And it wasn’t because I wasn’t interested in politics. The posts right before and after that one were about economics. I don’t know what was going on. Maybe I had not yet started thinking in terms of writing for holidays. Regardless, I wasn’t writing that much at the time. There were only 8 posts that whole month.
The second year, I wrote about the lack of democracy in this country:
And then I embedded an acoustic version of one of my favorite songs, “I Felt Like a Gringo” by the Minutemen. Here is a live electric version. Man, can these guys play!
The third year, I basically just embedded this great Howard Zimm essay read by Viggo Mortensen:
My feelings about my country are those of a father whose son is a great disappointment. I love this country, but I expect far more from it. And I am not going to stop expecting more from it.