Independence Day Propaganda
by Anthony Gregory
Libertarians often insist Independence Day is really our holiday, which statists have no right to celebrate with a straight face. But perhaps this whole approach is misguided. Maybe the lovers of freedom should be the ones loath to bring out the fireworks.
Surely, conservatives who cherish the Fourth of July while cheering today’s wars have a high tolerance for cognitive dissonance. The American Revolution was, at best, a revolt against empire. The taxes at issue were being used to finance Britain’s national security state. The colonial rebels didn’t “support the troops” – they resented them. And they resented Britain’s status as the hypocritical world power, which closely resembled the modern United States – an empire claiming the mantle of liberty while smashing its colonial subjects. Today’s conservatives would have likely been partisans of King George. In our own time, true independence would mean Washington, DC, releasing control of its satellites and colonies worldwide.
We could also find it hilarious that Obama Democrats celebrate Independence Day, as though liberty of the old American sort has anything to do with their agenda. They have an implacable thirst for an expansive federal government whose depredations dwarf those of eighteenth-century England.
Indeed, the American Revolution had a distinctive libertarian flavor. The liberal values of anti-imperialism and anti-taxation were central. The grand ideals of legal equality for women, anti-slavery, and religious toleration began to flourish, thanks to the revolutionary spirit in the air. The colonial Americans inspired a philosophical revolution of global significance whose wonderful effects continue to this day. Although no nation has a monopoly over the universal principles of liberty, there are elements in American independence that should give hope to all who hold freedom dear.