There is no holiday more incongruous with its stated celebratory raison d’être than the 4th of July, otherwise known as Independence Day, but perhaps more appropriately Irony Day. It purports to celebrate the complementary combination of political and individual independence (aka freedom and liberty). That it takes place in a country that actively thwarts the former while ignoring, for utilitarian reasons mind you, the latter, is perhaps more sardonic than it is ironic.
Consider for a moment what the representatives of the nascent United States did in July 1776: they made a declaration of secession. That is, they formally declared their disassociation from a larger political entity. Such is the right of all individuals. But from the vantage point of the state they had committed the most unforgivable of sins: treason (the crime of betraying one’s country wherein “betray” is equivalent to “desiring to no longer be ruled by”). It is curious indeed that a universal feature of states is that no crime is considered more egregious than for one to undermine its authority by leaving it. In this regard the United States is no different than every other country; from the Civil War to various state secession movements the US has been quite consistent in operating contrary to its founding principals. This is the mantra of the hypocrite: do as I say, not as I did. The propaganda of inviolable political solidarity permeates our most holy, secular prayer to the state-as-god, the pledge of allegiance. With its appeal to profession of undying allegiance to the very idea of “one nation… indivisible” we are indoctrinated nearly from birth with childish appeals to Manifest Destiny. Consider the absurdity of that idea for a moment. If Maine joined Canada or Florida became an independent nation, do we truly believe the other 49 states somehow could no longer continue on? One is left to wonder how 200 odd countries get along without being part of our union. The fear of secession movements is predicated on one thing: money. It is no different than a mob boss acting out against a business that decides to “secede” from the mob’s extortion racket; there is little daylight between what the State and the Mob are willing to do to retain their power.
It is easier to erect a fence around sheep than to hunt down the wolf.
While the 4th of July is one part celebration of history, it is another part celebration of what we believe that historical event granted us: liberty. All people have a natural and instinctual love of liberty. No one relishes the idea of being subjugated and told what to do. So this begs the question: why do we with one hand pay lip service to notions of independence and with the other hand pull the voting lever for politicians who enact laws that restrict our independence? I call it The Cage Effect: only those at the edge are aware the cage exists. Laws affect other people (at the edge), not us (in the middle). We have allowed the political class to build this cage around us; we naively believe them when they promise to keep us safe. It is easier to erect a fence around sheep than to hunt down the wolf. But the web of laws, regulations, edicts and arbitrary enforcement serve not to protect us but to subjugate us into dependence. The entrepreneurs, free thinkers, and non-conformists who try to break free are routinely frustrated. They, and those who witness their trials, try to rouse those in the interior to fight back, but they prefer to remain blissfully ignorant or assure us it is for our own good. The mantra of the statist is that if anyone leaves the cage, all will suffer, therefore no one may ever leave.
As a state becomes more totalitarian, its cage shrinks. Eventually it becomes small enough that all are affected. On July 4, 1776 the cage was quite large. Today it is much smaller. Perhaps one day we shall break free. That day will truly be Independence Day.