Happy independence day to us all.
On Friday, July 2, Fox News commentator Peter J. Johnson, Jr. offered some thoughts on The Real Meaning of Independence Day. His comments were inclusive and dedicated to values that many people here consider core to the US experience: free speech, pride without prejudice. Mr. Johnson’s comments touched on what he views as the strengths of our nation, and he views the flag as representing those strengths. Of the flag, he writes:
And as it whips in the wind, it whispers to us that the American Revolution was only a beginning and not an end. And whether it flies in a lonely military outpost in Afghanistan or from the highest point of the Capitol, it announces the blessings of freedom. Not because we blindly claim freedom, but because we fearlessly practice it.
I welcome Mr. Johnson’s statement that the American Revolution was only a beginning; a promise as yet unfulfilled. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are good goals. The vast unemployment, huge pooling of money in the top .01% of the population, ongoing attacks on public/democratic infrastructure like public schools, libraries, and universities is just a small demonstration of the distance yet to be traversed to meet the promise put forth by our nation’s founding fathers.
What are the “blessings of freedom” when separated from concrete instances? Are we free to live without fear of being fired? Should we live free of that fear? Are we free to develop ourselves fully as human beings when the struggle to meet our fundamental human needs (food, shelter, education, culture, health care, etc.) consumes us, and we are pushed to work ever more hours, or languish unemployed?
What is “freedom”? According to the Oxford Desk Dictionary and Thesaurus, freedom is the “power of self-determination; quality of not being controlled by fate or necessity.” In what sense, then, can we say we are free in the United States?
I would say that we are free to continue to work to win fundamental change on behalf of meeting the needs of the majority of people in the nation, whether immigrant or born here, whether documented or undocumented, whether disabled or not, whether skilled or not. We are free to subject our society to critical review, looking at our historical development, and to determine how we, the people living here, together should use the wealth of this nation to build a society without exploitation, a society of mutual support and caring, a society where we are indeed free of the stress of struggling to make the mortgage or put food on the table.
Mr. Johnson said:
First and tenth generation Americans alike march as one people with one shared understanding: We the people who understand that the blessings we enjoy are earned through the burdens we necessarily endure. The same people who live the words of Thomas Paine, “Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must undergo the fatigue of supporting it.”
One of the unifying themes in the united states is that we are all one people. That emphasis on unity covers up and diminishes everyday struggles by working people to protect our rights and to defend our victories in the face of continual and ongoing pressure from management designed to push down labour costs, push working people always toward penury and despair. The promise of the Revolutionary War will not be fulfilled until today’s monarchs of capital have the burden of their wealth lifted from their shoulders, and the wealth of the people comes under the democratic control of working folks controlling the resources and priorities of the society to meet our needs.
On Independence Day I dream of a world without school loan debt, without mortgages, without health insurance cards, without starvation, without homelessness, without fear, without wars of occupation and seizure of natural resources, without the rich and without the poor.
I dream of a nation united by mutual caring and support.
On Independence Day, I dream of socialism.