‘Independence Day’ by Howard Zinn

‘A Fourth of July Commentary’, July 4, 2000 by, Howard Zinn, howardzinn.org

‘Writing a column to appear in the July 4, 1975, issue of the Boston Globe, I wanted to break away from the traditional celebrations of Independence Day, in which the spirit of that document, with its call for rebellion and revolution, was most often missing. The column appeared with the title “The Brooklyn Bridge and the Spirit of the Fourth.”

“In this year 2000, I cannot comment more meaningfully on the Fourth of July than Frederick Douglass did when he was invited in 1852 to give an Independence Day address. He could not help thinking about the irony of the promise of the Declaration of Independence, of equality, life, liberty made by slaveowners, and how slavery was made legitimate in the writing of the Constitution after a victory for “freedom” over England. And his invitation to speak came just two years after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act, committing the national government to return fugitives to slavery with all the force of the law.

So it is fitting, at a time when police are exonerated in the killing of unarmed black men, when the electric chair and the gas chamber are used most often against people of color, that we refrain from celebration and instead listen to Douglass’ sobering words:

“Fellow citizens: Pardon me, and allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here today? What have I or those I represent to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? And am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits, and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

“What to the American slave is your Fourth of July? I answer, a day that reveals to him more than all other days of the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him your celebration s a sham; your boasted liberty an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation of the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour.

“Go and search wherever you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, American reigns without a rival….”

‘The Brooklyn Bridge and the Spirit of the Fourth’, hz.org

‘In New York, a small army of policemen, laid off and angry, have been blocking the Brooklyn Bridge, and garbage workers are letting the refuse pile up in the streets. In Boston, some young people on Mission Hill are illegally occupying an abandoned house to protest the demolition of a neighborhood. And elderly people, on the edge of survival, are fighting Boston Edison’s attempt to raise the price of electricity.

So it looks like a good Fourth of July, with the spirit of rebellion proper to the Declaration of Independence.

The Declaration, adopted 199 years ago today, says (although those in high office don’t like to be reminded) that government is not sacred, that it is set up to give people an equal right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and that if it fails to do this, we have the right to “alter or abolish it.”

The Declaration of Independence became an embarrassment to the Founding Fathers almost immediately. Some of George Washington’s soldiers resented the rich in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia, profiting from the war. When the Continental Congress in 1781 voted half pay for life to officers of the Revolution and nothing for enlisted men, there was mutiny in the New Jersey and Pennsylvania lines. Washington ordered two young mutineers shot “as an example.” The shovelfuls of earth covering their bodies also smudged the words of the Declaration, fives years old and already ignored, that “all men are created equal.”

Enslaved blacks in Boston took those words seriously, too, and, during the Revolution, petitioned the Massachusetts General Court for their freedom. But the Revolution was not fought for them.

It did not seem to be fought for the poor white farmers either, who, after serving in the war, now faced high taxes, and seizure of homes and livestock for nonpayment. In western Massachusetts, they organized, blocking the doors of courthouses to prevent foreclosures. This was Shay’s Rebellion. The militia finally routed them, and the Founding Fathers hurried to Philadelphia to write the Constitution, to set up a government where such rebellions could be controlled.

Arguing for the Constitution, James Madison said it would hold back “a rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any other improper or wicked project…” The Constitution took the stirring phrase of the Declaration, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” and changed it to “life, liberty and property.” The Declaration was only a historic document. The Constitution became the law of the land.

Both documents were written by whites. Many of these were slaveholders. All were men. Women gathered in 1848 in Seneca Falls, New York, and adopted their own Declaration: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal…”

The Constitution was written by the rich, who set up a government to protect their property. Gerald Ford is still doing it. They say he is a “good guy.” He certainly has been good to big business. He has arranged for gasoline prices and heating bills to go up while the oil companies make enormous profits. He vetoed a bill to allow an interest rate for homeowners of 6 percent while the nation’s ten biggest banks made $2 billion in profits last year.

Unemployment, food, and rent are all rising; but $7 billion in tax breaks went to 160,000 very wealthy people last year, according to a congressional report.

No wonder the spirit of rebellion is growing. No wonder that even police, paid to be keepers of law and order and laid-off when they have served their purpose, are catching a bit of that spirit.

It is fitting for this Fourth of July, this anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.”

From Chapter 6, “Means and Ends,” in The Zinn Reader: Writing on Disobedience and Democracy.

From 1970: “Transcript of my opening statement in the debate at Johns Hopkins. It was included in a book published by Johns Hopkins Press in 1972, entitled Violence:

The Crisis of American Confidence. – Howard Zinn, via Zcomm.org, ‘The Problem is Civil Obedience’; three passages from a lengthy treatise:

“And our topic is topsy-turvy: civil disobedience. As soon as you say the topic is civil disobedience, you are saying our problem is civil disobedience. That is not our problem…. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is the numbers of people all over the world who have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience. And our problem is that scene in All Quiet on the Western Front where the schoolboys march off dutifully in a line to war. Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world, in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem. We recognize this for Nazi Germany. We know that the problem there was obedience, that the people obeyed Hitler. People obeyed; that was wrong. They should have challenged, and they should have resisted; and if we were only there, we would have showed them. Even in Stalin’s Russia we can understand that; people are obedient, all these herdlike people.

 But there is another part of the law that doesn’t get ballyhooed- the legislation that has gone through month after month, year after year, from the beginning of the Republic, which allocates the resources of the country in such a way as to leave some people very rich and other people very poor, and still others scrambling like mad for what little is left. That is the law. If you go to law school you will see this.” [snip]

Well, that is our topic, that is our problem: civil obedience. Law is very important. We are talking about obedience to law-law, this marvelous invention of modern times, which we attribute to Western civilization, and which we talk about proudly. The rule of law, oh, how wonderful, all these courses in Western civilization all over the land. Remember those bad old days when people were exploited by feudalism? Everything was terrible in the Middle Ages-but now we have Western civilization, the rule of law. The rule of law has regularized and maximized the injustice that existed before the rule of law, that is what the rule of law has done. Let us start looking at the rule of law realistically, not with that metaphysical complacency with which we always examined it before.”  [snip]  the finale:

“What we are trying to do, I assume, is really to get back to the principles and aims and spirit of the Declaration of Independence. This spirit is resistance to illegitimate authority and to forces that deprive people of their life and liberty and right to pursue happiness, and therefore under these conditions, it urges the right to alter or abolish their current form of government-and the stress had been on abolish. But to establish the principles of the Declaration of Independence, we are going to need to go outside the law, to stop obeying the laws that demand killing or that allocate wealth the way it has been done, or that put people in jail for petty technical offenses and keep other people out of jail for enormous crimes. My hope is that this kind of spirit will take place not just in this country but in other countries because they all need it. People in all countries need the spirit of disobedience to the state, which is not a metaphysical thing but a thing of force and wealth. And we need a kind of declaration of interdependence among people in all countries of the world who are striving for the same thing.”

In his ‘A Fourth of July Like You’ve Never Seen It Before’, by Mike Ferner at Counterpunch, the author features Zinn’s final speech in Wellfleet, Massachusetts before his death.

“…by examining what he called America’s “Three Holy Wars,” specifically the Revolution, the Civil War and World War Two, “Three wars in American history that are untouchable, uncriticizable…” as he characterized them.

If something’s unquestioned, it means we’re not thinking about it, Zinn said.  But the historian was quick to add that his reason for doing so is not to learn what ‘really happened’ in the past.  “The past is past,” he exclaimed.  “The important thing is what does it tell us about today…and about what we might do in the world?  There’s a present and a future reason for going into the past.”

He advised doing something never done in history textbooks: put each of these wars on its own balance sheet – costs on one side, benefits on the other – and then make a judgment.

Without that examination, he said, we and our grandchildren will be prone to accept wars as possibly good.  “Because once you have a history of ‘good wars’ fought for good causes to point to, you have a model…it’s possible to have good wars.  And maybe this is one of them”

Questioning the good wars undermines the possibility of having a good war.

The acknowledged “bad wars” like Vietnam and Iraq are justified by pointing to the “good war.”  Words like “We mustn’t appease Saddam Hussein.  Munich.  Chamberlain.  Ho Chi Minh is another Hitler,” are repeated each new generation, suggesting maybe we need another “good war.”

He’d mentioned a scrutiny of ‘the balance sheets’, i.e. the number of dead, who profited (blacks? First Americans?), who was betrayed by it (Shays Rebellion), who was paid, who not, and possible alternatives to a full-on armed revolution with growing local push-backs to British occupation.  (again, the rest is here.)

Bonus: ‘Commemorating Emma Goldman: ‘Living My Life’, howardzinn.org

“The following is an excerpt from Chapter 10 of Howard Zinn Speaks, “Emma Goldman, Anarchism, and War Resistance,” in which Zinn recounts the Haymarket Affair, commemorated as May Day, an event that led to Goldman’s life long commitment to activism.  Zinn had written a play about her titled Emma.

““I wrote a play about Emma Goldman, and I had to make a decision. Her life was so long and full, and there’s always in any work of art a problem of what do you leave in and what do you leave out. And there’s so much to her life, so I started with her as an immigrant girl, a teenager living in Rochester, New York, and working in the factory. Her political awareness taking a leap in 1886 at the time of the Haymarket Affair.”

Here’s da Wiki on ‘Indpendence Day’, reading in part:

“Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies, in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States. Independence Day is the National Day of the United States”

Among the various images (the rockets red glare/s, fife and drum parades, etc.) these were my absolute favorites: ‘lookit those li’l darkies and indun chirren with the Spirit of 1776!’

American children of many ethnic backgrounds celebrate noisily in 1902 Puck cartoon

(Puck had the veddy dubious distinction of being purchased by Wm. Randolph Hurst in 1916; who can guess what they were satirizing there; the truth?

Zo….while millions upon millions of amerikans are havin’ tailgate parties for fireworks watchin’, slammin’ down 40s and big gulps to wash down their li’l smokies and red, white, and blue frosted cupcakes, salute Old Glory…

…and yellin’ “USA!  Independence Day!  We showed them British, didn’t we?”…lets  imagine…

(à la shoot that arrow), that instead…millions will be marching on every Capitol in every capital in the nation, shouting ‘No more war!  On strike!  Shut it down!”

Yeah, j; we’ll put our lights on!

53 responses to “‘Independence Day’ by Howard Zinn

  1. Insteada Zinn’s immediately-following VietNam war loss’ admonition (above); US got Poppy BushWhacked inta (CIA) Company NW0 imperial ambition epitomized in its present PNAC Attacks !

    • a hippy/happy/hoppy independence day to you, bruce! can’t remember what time order zinn had given, but yes, saigon fell in april 1976, pappy was inducted as cia chief in jan. 1976.

      PNAC shaped the nwo, as did darth cheney’s secret energy task force. so many evil-doers; will we ever get to see them imprisoned for war crimes? my apologies for not getting the gist of the video, though. explain to thick-wit, please? ‘the matadors’ are the military branches?

      the mancos volunteer fire dept. does the local fireworks. traditionally, they shoot off a cannon at 6 a.m. oopsie, today they were ten minutes early. could it be a sign? ;-)

  2. Frederick Douglass is a genuine hero; and Zinn follows very closely behind.
    I hold very few as heroes; it’s too high an honor to cast widely about.
    The 4th of July is my (dead) parents marriage anniversary, and the day I met my wife of 13 years.
    Past that, it’s meaningless to this one…

    • g’ morning, v arnold. i tend to stay away from heroes, as so many end up w/ some amount of clay on their feet. but both zinn and douglass are/were awesome as far as both their moral compasses at true north, and their ability to describe the truth; that’s good enough for me.

      fancy that this date figured so prominently in your life. for me, the date means a hella lot, but as they say: not in a good way. but the Spectacle is all, isn’t it? i saw an ad on pbs for ‘a capitol fourth’ (wonder how many hours’ worth?) , and my reaction showed me once again that i’m a stranger in this strange land.

  3. …and my reaction showed me once again that i’m a stranger in this strange land.

    Indeed; I was a stranger in that strange land as well; and feel less a stranger in my new found land.
    None of the trappings of western cultural identification here.
    Insulated, but not isolated…

    • your adopted land is so very exotic to me, from the little i’ve virtually seen, v arnold. i’m glad you feel less strange there.

      (dunno how many minutes later…) our daughter-in-law just called to wish us (well, me, as mr. wd has work today) a happy 4th. i did a moderately good job of dissembling, but she’d also wanted to give us news of our son, who’s bouncing back and forth from the UAE (yes, ‘our partners in peace and torture), kuwait, and iraq. i suppose it was a bit of a blessing that her cell phone kept cutting out as she drove to…k-mart.

      still haven’t managed to wipe all the weird images from my dreams last night, though i’d be hard-pressed to describe the newest capitalist US scandal on the homeless. well, never mind, another day in the imperium, i guess.

      • Exotic, yes and far different than the unfortunate stereotypes.
        RC just loves paint Thailand as s filthy sex crazed country.
        What he doesn’t know, or refuses to acknowledge, is that Pattaya is a creation of the U.S., during the Vietnam war crime. It was the R & R center for U.S. troops.
        I despise Pattaya and call it the anus of Thailand. I had to live there (for a job) for 6 weeks. I couldn’t bear it and left to return to where I now live.
        My wife and I have traveled all over including rural areas where I was the first westerner some of the people had ever seen. I, as a westerner have always been greeted with smiles and great warmth; Thai’s are Na Rak (lovely).
        An exquisitely beautiful country…

        • Addendum; the fact I can speak some Thai just lights them up…

        • morning, v. my guess is that we’d all love to know more about thailand, but especially your local neighborhood. when i have time, i’ll email a similar offer to the one i’d given earlier that you may not have seen, which was to write some of it up for us, and i’ll post it. but it’s only a request, and it may not work w/ your schedule. as far as RC, it’s hard to know what has turned him so venomous, but yeah, i wish he could lay down his White Man’s Burden; he’d benefit, and so would a few others of us, eh?

          but how funny; somehow i was under the impression that you and your na rak wife lived in rural thailand.

          • but how funny; somehow i was under the impression that you and your na rak wife lived in rural thailand.
            But we do; why do you think otherwise?
            Our village is quite small; we know almost everybody here; and those we don’t know of us…

            • this, i reckon: “My wife and I have traveled all over including rural areas…”

              • Ah, I see. I should have said we live in a semi-rural area.
                The rural areas we traveled to are remote, far from cities; mostly on the Burmese (Myanmar) border; the very few places with no cell phone service; but that may have changed by now.
                Yes, words do matter…

                • I had never even thought about the stereotype of the ‘whirlwind sex tour of thailand’ as a goddam stereotype derived from the US military. corruption arising from *&^$^# militarism.

                  • Few people realize the full extent of the fallout from the U.S.’s rampant militarism.
                    Women and girls from Isaarn (Thailands poorest Province; in the N.E.) went to Pattaya to work in the brothels where they made far more money than they could at home. Much of their earnings were sent to their families back home. Some were even able to start businesses back home as well.
                    But, not all ended well due to the nature of the business and the Thai mafia. Pattaya, to this day, is a disgusting place and the westerners there are low life scum for the most part, IMO.

                • some time ago, you’d mentioned a few landmarks near you, and i’d looked them up, maybe even tracked down a few photos. temples? parks? i’ve forgotten, of course. anyway, it’s all so enchanting to this poorly-traveled westerner.

                  • photos in comments need a stand-alone url, and the need to be small enough to fit. this un’s 333 x 500, grand palace bangkok (wat fra kaew?). i tried to figure out what you’d been after, but i couldn’t find any images of ‘buddha head at rest’.

                  • Yeh, I did the url on the first attempt; but maybe too big.
                    It was a picture of the restored 700 yo reclinning Buddha.
                    From what I’ve researched; the reclinning Buddha is on his death bed.
                    Our Province is one of the few to feature that image of the Buddha.
                    Bangkok has the most famous of the reclinning Buddhas; and it’s impressive indeed.
                    Anyhoo, my appologies to the rest of the posters for this expansive ot tangent.

                  • Yes WD, delete them, it’s as I suspected; too big…
                    Maybe I’ll e-mail you and you can reduce or whatever; they were for you…

  4. paul street’sOn American Revolution’ includes some historical narrative i hadn’t known.

    “One of the grievances the signers of the DOI raised against the British king was that “he has excited domestic insurrections amongst us.” Another purported sin of King George was that he “endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.” This vicious charge against the Native Americans was a total inversion of reality. It was the Euro-American invaders and settlers, not the Indigenous inhabitants, who practiced genocide.” (the ‘and the purported’ stated sin of king george.) and this:

    “The British had antagonized the North American settlers by setting some limits on the colonists’ territorial expansion. With Independence, the violent white North American predators were released to push First Nations’ people considerably further out from the eastern seaboard than before. It’s not for nothing that the Iroquois gave America’s revered “revolutionary war” genera; and first president the title “Town Destroyer.” Westward Ho!

    his: “This was consistent with New Deal champion Franklin Roosevelt’s boast that he had “saved the profits system” from radical change.” my understanding was that the new deal social safety net was a ‘gift’ to the wobblies, et.al., for suspending their strikes during WWII. his ending is just right:

    “Good. Let’s work with that and build our forces for a first American Revolution.” (hint: he’s not talking about the bern’s revolution.)

  5. I’m not a fan of fireworks, but back in more innocent days I did tread with respect the worn wooden steps of my college library that had also been trod by Francis Scott Key. It’s hard to shake that sensation even though I know the black ladies (there’s that word again, wendye!) who made our beds were descended from slaves and the President who graced our campus for a picnic whilst secret service agents manned the rooftops had commanded US armies in the worldwide conflagration into which I had been born.

    I was just reading at a Russian site of a Muslim woman (!) who, in my search for women iconographers, had herself become one after experiencing uncreated light as – so Dionysius the Aereopagite (think I have the spelling of that wrong) wrote – darkness. Light as darkness.

    So it is on this Independence Day I offer the following quote from said President Ike (courtesy of the epigraph to ‘The Russia House’ by John LeCarré, my current read):

    “Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of their way and let them have it.” Dwight D. Eisenhower

    • nice ike quote, juliania, and then his admonition: ‘beware the military-industrial complex’. by now it’s ‘beware the military.industrial/congressional/newsOtainment complex, eh?

      but doggone it, ww! i just had to go looking for your dionysius aeropopagite references, and found too much of interest for now, including of course, further down ‘Palamism – Hesychast controversy’. da wiki on portions of ‘mystical theology’.

      but man, that star-spangled banner is one nasty song, isn’t it? but then, ‘america the beautiful’ just doesn’t have the necessary military boom about it, does it? (i hadn’t known he’d written it post-war-of-1812.)

      • Because at my college evening seminars begin with an opening question, my joke was that he got that from us – but actually it was a military school back in the day, so not really.

        My little township felt for the first time last evening that we should experience at least the sounds of war. I can’t think why anyone finds that enjoyable but it seems hardly fair to complain when so many others get the real thing.

        • oh god Juliana. i’m w/you. I made myself stand outside & listen.

          everybody crank up neil young’s arc????? I kept waiting for sirens w/all the explosions. this chest thumping…we engage in rituals nationally that express & condition who we, the nation, are.

          we need a less militaristic national anthem. how does Canada’s go? (sorry. another simpsons joke.)

      • And on the hesychasts – a friend sent me a book titled ‘When Angels Fall’ that is a comeuppance, at least in the opening chapter, for Mount Athos where it all began. I will look up some quotes for you – she felt rather put out not to be allowed into the monastery grounds even.

  6. mess w/the bull, and you’ll get the horns. (? more to bruce’s video than that? maybe, but what? not to belittle that seemingly simple message. n korea apparently can now nuke…some of us. well, shit, china, Russia, etc., etc. already could. so why doesn’t the matador, the murderer, stop?)

    I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

    I got up this a.m. and the local trash trucks are still running. a sign of holiday is doing more of the same shit we do every day: making garbage, killing even more animals, celebrating Amerika by blowing up small pieces of it (thanks Homer S. an m-80 is just boring now, ain’t it? the bigger the kaboom, the more the excitement.) the neighbor has 3 big trash bins out: prosperity.

    fear death by water Amerika. oh fear it. it’s coming. groaning nature is just adding more water, liquid, to the world. b/c the trees. as I was pondering this wreck, the garbage everywhere but in happy “little” bins, a little woodpecker was at it, at home w/its tree.

    the trumpenator is trying to increase acceptable methane emissions at well sites. and now all the restrictions the obamanation put on hydrofracking will pay off. how quickly nature will green over the burnished brass medals & monuments to that fucktard’s eco-legacy.
    from a master alchemist: the tough guy finds himself, on The Way

    • your guess is better than mine as to the matador, j. but mayhaps bruce will explain.

      now that velvet underground song is one answer to your quest for best love songs ever, isn’t it? it moved me beyond all expectations, ohhh, nico. and it fit so well w/ juliania’s mystical theology, darkness and light. thank you.

      but surely the nation paused for breath today, and went on strike against war, oppression, and…too much garbage at all the Capitols in the nation? well, even the greek sanitation workers gave up their strike once the refuse was piled too.darned.high.and.it.began.to.rot.in.the.sun.

      explain adding more water ‘b/c the trees’? i dunno, when i read (including paul street) all of the polemics against herr tweet-trumpet-tweet backing out of the paris accords, it’s hard to get exercised. it just seem all so…baked in now. the gate-keepeers seem to have made sure of that, esp. the D sort, funded by the rockefeller foundation and other compromised NGOs.

      oh well, yes, right; how ‘aspirational’.; “The United Nations warns humanity has just three years left to dramatically lower greenhouse gas emissions or risk facing a world that’s uninhabitable to many of its residents. The warning by six climate experts was published in the journal Nature. It finds that without immediate action by 2020, the Earth’s average temperature will rise by more than the 2-degree Celsius upper limit set by the Paris climate accord.”

      give it back to the cockroaches and dolphins, see if the next evolutionary beings can appreciate this once beautiful big blue-green ball of planet. yeah, sorry; i’m in a bit of a mood just now.

      i had to read the wiki on la strada to see that anthony quinn had found himself, and i’ll take a wild guess and suppose that his tears meant he’d found his…humanity? odd to read that fellini had said it was autobiographical; what a tormented soul he must have been! oh, shoot; (so to speak), not many hours until dark and the big kabooms in the park.

      a headline at RT had announced that NK’s launch of that big, bad missile was a 4th of july gift to the US. sounds about right, doesn’t it?

      • nature compensating for the loss of green (=trees) by melting the stored potential of all the ice.

        I was kind of joking about the alchemical thing. scenes on a beach (like 400 blows at the end)…but he, F.F., was into Jung. (poor dry Zampono trying to change his “humors” w/booze?) like lots of folks. no fire=no love, Gelsomina is dead. she was F.F.’s wife. Giulietta Massina. maybe his muse.

        hurray for N. Korea. maybe. is that one more or one less thing to worry about? exercising their national 2nd amendment rights. standing their ground. open carry. shot across the bow. all that crazy crap.

        happy afterbirth day Amerikka!!! so fucking racist & vile that the natives were not good enough to be worked to death growing your cash crops.

        • gotcha on carbon sinks. trouble is, the less humus in soil, the less carbon capture. wetlands, too, but aren’t they kinda gone since the last major hurricanes? but oh, no, organic gardening won’t feed the world! the guy i wrote that one diary for told me about six days later that i was pulling facts outta my…air. he claims the great plains’ soybeans are all done no-till, and the round-up is sprayed on directly. ha ha! well, i kinda tend to doubt it, but at least CA finally put glyphosate on the carcinogenic list, dunno when it takes effect, of course.

          thanks for explaining 400 blows zampano; dunno that the wiki aid all that. on edit: i’d thought that ‘his way’ presaged he’d just keep on walking into the ocean…forevermore.

          ‘international 2nd amendment rights’, but good one. yeah, they should cut it out, but for the constant provocation, even south korea now joining in the RADD (or whatever) systems party.

          happy afterbirth indeed. mr. wd was just saying that almost no amurricans would even listen to the actual story, much less internalize it. and he’s too right. but still, oooh, nico… (guess lou reed wrote it for her.)

  7. Thanks, Bruce, for bringing The Association’s Requiem for the Masses to bear on this July 4.

    It was really strange how differently different musicians responded to LBJ’s escalation in 1965 and the next year of the war in Vietnam after it. And how music carried the rising anger over the next few years until Nixon’s invented POW-MIA bullshit started taking over right before the fall of Saigon. Unfortunately the POW-MIA folks are still working their grift and have their flags everywhere, even in offices of “liberal” members of Congress.

    The organization that has raised funds to by property along a scenic river here had their 38th festival Saturday and today, with large and diverse number of local and regional performing groups. Among the clogging, bluegrass music, blues, hip-hop, and African-American dance was a parade of puppets representing the assertion of nature, led by the sun. It was an annual treehuggers ritual.

    Among the folks learning how to shake his booty in authentic African dance steps (Ghana style) was a 50-ish guy with a tee-shirt that said, “I can’t hear you for the sound of my freedom.” Sorta speaks to where dialog has gone.

    The history buff in me (as opposed to my political commitments) points out that July 4, the day of publication and announcement of the Continental Congress’s declaration of independence from Great Britain was not the revolution in class but it was a revolution of anti-colonialism and most especially of Englightenment justification of rebellion. Its ripples in taking some of the language of the British Glorious Revolution and feeding it back to King and Parliament triggered revolutions in France and Haiti regardless of the squeamishness that the American newly minted 1% had about their own words coming back at them. Thomas Paine found himself a pampleteer supporting the Americans, the French, and the failed efforts of the British before he died ignored. If Karl Marx had a benchmark for his criticism of the revolution of 1848, it was in the failure of the post-revolutionary societies to live up to Paine’s statement of human rights. If there was an analysis, it was of why that was the case. And it is the frame of that analysis of Marx and his successors that comes back to judge the American elites long after their deaths. They were reactionaries, reacting to a perceived violation of their rights as Englishmen, not revolutionaries.

    Thomas Jefferson caught himself up with his clever rationale for how a bunch of upstart planters and merchants could dare assert any governmental power. Within 30 years, his words were being used as an argument for the abolition of slavery. It really is a peculiar argument for the time; there is no assertion of romantic volk arguments about nationalism; that would come in later nationalist revolutions. It is an assertion of pure reason; some guys just happened to get together and decide for themselves what form of government would best preserve their lives, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. (And they just happened to do it in such a way as to not disturb the institution of slavery that had been built over the previous 90 years.) It clearly outlines the structure of red, white, and black in the institution of the American rolling frontier of genocide and slavery even while it talks about “all” men. The king has failed to suppress savages, for example. And the metaphor of liberty that they are seeking is contrasted with their slavery to the British government.

    My political commitments argue that this is what we celebrate: that this idea got unleashed into history regardless of what came before or after.

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

    With the understanding that the 18th century “men” be translated as “human beings” whether it was meant that way or not.

    Just that.

    • sounds like a fine festival, thanks for bring it. now why does that t-shirt ping stephen biko’s voice for me? oh, and speaking of ghana, i’d seen a hint of this on the msn homepage this a.m., and i went looking and found ‘How can we truly celebrate independence on a day that intentionally robbed our ancestors of theirs?‘: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick posts controversial message as he visits Ghana; dailymail

      great photos; his smile is like the sun. apparently he’s been blackballed from pro football?

      i understand why you’ve brought the ‘when govt. becomes destructive of these ends, ‘consent of the governed’ passages, but it’s been, and is being used again, by the alt-right to foment for bloody revolution, much like at red state, and even by a couple at a ‘progressive website’ :

      “The calling, dear friends, for all of us at this late and evil hour is to stand … and having done all … to stand. What a privilege to be counted in that glorious company to have enjoined the fray in a late version of St. Crispin’s.

      “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile, This day shall gentle his condition; And gentlemen in England now-a-bed Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here, And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.”

      now howard zinn said that the declaration of independence doesn’t have the force of law (opinion differ mightily), but that the constitution did in fact enshrine/codify ‘life, liberty and property’. reading which states lobbied for different versions was interesting, too, and yes, some say the MA version (iirc) did in effect outlaw slavery (accidentally?). ;-)

      thank you for causing me to wick-le the revolutions of 1848, too. 2 much 2 take in 4 now, though.

    • THD, thanks for some insight into the music and the history. i had no clue. sounds like your 4th was better than some. by lots. and lots.

      laws, rules, principles, etc. are enforced by men. I got a principle: let’s put the natives back in charge. not the casino ones, not the trump clowns.

      sounds like a great plan to me. let’s hope nothing goes awry in its implementation.

      the “marvelous city” built by Pericles in his famous speech, his great, thrilling speech, is built on the silencing of women. within the speech itself. the last sentence. and the proof of how great Athens is is all the conquering & killing they do! I can’t remember w/o looking if P. talks about all the slaves. I don’t think so. all “rule Britannia, land of hope & glory.”

      maybe it’s a good thing those enlightened democracy exporters lost. I can see a plus side. they kept their ingenious “democracy” another 70 years, electing numerous officials just by a roll of the dice (mega lol.) and the whole time all they wanted to do was regain the lost glory of empire.

      that said, sons & daughters of the revolution, let’s get off our asses. no 1789 w/o 1776.

      • wayull, i’ll join your call, as long as it’s a ‘We Are’ sort of psycho-spiritual, actually democratic, human rights-for-all, non-violent sort of (higher evolution) Revolution. well, maybe not for ‘all’; some of the evil-doers may need to be held until they can submit to ‘restorative justice, as per fania davis and comrades.

        • I can dig it, as much as I want to gouge bill gates in the eye w/my silver plated oyster spoon. castrating, hamstringing, hogtying, keelhauling, the wrack, thumbscrews & iron maiden & then crucifying w/a stake thru the heart & a head chop & silver bullets and all the rest MS & the B&MG Fdtn, that ascent from hell, this is the toil, this the labor. and then salting that field so it never sprouts again.

          behold the image of authority: a dog is obeyed in office.

          • you can’t be convicted for imaginative revenge thought crimes…oh wait: you can! but remember: he and mellie get their own tab at the guardian to show their awesome wunnerfulness. and his daddy luvs him; i just saw them on twitter holding up profeshunally made arrows pointing at each other: one said: ‘i love my dad’, t’other said ‘best son in the woild’ (or close). can’t wait till their netflx biopic comes out. will dumbsheit-burger and luke harding write it?

            • i get a visit from the thought patrol every time i click on youtube, nyt, etc., etc. “have this nice Taco Bell w/your” insert artist, news article, etc. is that not enough punishment? preemptive, to boot. why aren’t the cops at the door? they could throw my ass in debtor’s prison for a long time at that 30 cents a license plate crap.

              words words words. bill gates sits at a desk running his mouth. does he even know an African, Amerikan or not? really? which one? and bill, what’s his/her name? i bet Disney opens the vaults on “Song of the South” for him.

              dead mountain mouth w/ tons of gold to be strip mined from dentures alone. no dentist needed. he can’t spit.

              i clicked on N Kristof’s “click if you are into masochism” thunk piece on N. Korea. try as he might, he can’t hide how hurt he is the US really can’t just obliterate NK. oh bummer. lots of others would die, too. bummer man. looks bad. cf. bill gates. they are a pair of inoperable malignant polyps on the lower end of cheney’s craphole. that cheney taught to smile. in the outhouse at the end of the universe.

              • gotta tell ya, j, that mr. wd totally blames my constant dissin’ of billy for the fact that our msn email service provider crahes when we’re not even ON the thing. i needed to print some of my photo ‘greeting cards’ desperately, so i got out the ancient dell w/ XP. it’s the only whatchamacallit (OS?) that works for my card program. i figured it might have ransomware on it, remember the havoc they created by not providing patches to XP? well, i got some cards printed, but msn ‘premium’ won’t even let me online. is it a failsafe, or just a fuckup? i’ll try to figure it out tomorrow.

                but cripes, did you used to teach a ‘potty mouth dissing’ course back in the day? woot! is there an outhouse at the end of the universe?

                poor nicki kristof…

                • some people…get my goatee.

                  they are spying on us wendy! don’t bad mouth your equipment and software if you want it to “work” at all. these…glitchy non-bug features are called “feelings.” awwww…you “hurt” your printer’s “feelings.” it needs some time to itself. sniff.

                  who knows? at this point, I would not be surprised. the toaster has definitely been laughing at me.

                  • as i had explained earlier, my life is ruled by beeps and buzzers. the oven self-destructs every thirtieth time i turn it on, ‘planned obsolescence or something more sinister? is the repairman really a fibbie? but no, the ghost in the music isn’t in the printer, but msn ‘premium’ itself. and yeah, i’m embursed to admit that it’s eleventy times simpler than internet ex-snorer that we pay extra to not have the nine lines of bells and whistles that sincerely are impossible to delete! they’re coming to take me away, haaaa ha to the funny farm…breathe…breathe… never mind.

                    but may i suggest that you might offer a class in Shakespearean insults, thou unmuzzled fat-kidneyed fustilarian! there are a number of primers out there; this is only one of them. good night, sweet prince. parting is such sweaty sorrow!

                • i’ll tickle your catastrophe. is there an outhouse at the end of the universe?
                  “all the sewage of the world flows into rome.”. let’s not find out if we are in fact the cosmic crapper. who will leave an “out of order” sign?

      • There’s a Dorothy L. Sayers quote, uttered by her character Peter Whimsey, that goes:
        “The first thing a principle does is kill somebody.”

        The principle that got put into history with the US Declaration of Independence from Great Britain was that human beings of their own interests create governments. The appeal to the world is that people can create governments of reason apart from tradition. That was a major break and made politics more tranparent, more manipulable for everyone, and more clear that it rests ultimately on who has the force to enforce their authority long enough for the situation to calm down and for them to enjoy the legitimacy of establishing “normalcy”.

        What the right wing is saying is that their interests are so important to them, they will use force to defend them. “Freedom” is just a buzzword to appeal to the Declaration of Independence in the American context. They really seek the tradition of slavery of the confederacy: freedom of property owners alone.

        But the same principle applies to every other group out to organize government on a different basis.

        The test is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as the general purposes. Armed power fails to meet some of those tests. That is the weakness of the right’s argument.

        • well articulated, but i always get stopped by any labeling of right wing or left wing, myself. esp. as: is there a left wing? but yes, when a government and its enforcing class are seen by enough citizens as ‘illegitimate’, then…what? well, we my get to see, but the next great turning will be global, i think, and be based on natural law, not human designed, and will include rights for the planet herself.

          yes, armed power does fail to meet some of those tests. how queer it is to read ‘but for the greater good!’ arguments out and about. jeebus; as if.

          ach, my mind and stomach are stuck in the news that genocidaire paul kagame just got elected to chair the african union.

        • “governments of reason apart from tradition.” ah, fukuyama, people been saying this end of history stuff for a long time. no secret where you got your deep thoughts from, but landing a chair at Hopkins is truly a mystery of the alignment of the stars. by thinking really hard, we can achieve escape velocity. Cartesian opposition b/n the thinking thing & the material world applied to political philosophy. reason against tradition.

          one of the dialectics, the tensions, w/in the narrative of enlightenment progress is the noble/savage savage vs. enlightented reason. the “new birth” of civilization seems to require alternately the noble virgin innocence of the savage & their barbarity. the childhood of man that must be outgrown, ideally, is a Hegelian sublimation, take the best & leave the rest, but in reality is just killing the natives & calling a pile of skulls progress.

          “what was it the white man took from us?” asks the child of African slaves, whose kin even now we are ready to dump into the ocean b/c too many of them are an insurance risk, a threat. (just ask bill gates.)

          what did we take from them? what did Washington steal from the Iroquois? from his slaves? from his missus? people who were in truth only innocent in their access to guns. we romanticized them just enough to steal all their stuff before killing or enslaving.

          fucking Nazis. nothing changes. all this useless repetition. trump in Poland talking of the triumph of the wall. i mean will. same thing for men of steel. meanwhile, back on this bewildering planet earth, some of us are grateful that we are too diabetic or addicted to march thru Warsaw on the way to Leningrad. and hope that something of that native “simplicity,” the “childhood” of humanity, has some something for us to look back to.

          the shadow ahead? what can one say about it? look where “reason” is taking us & “fight the future”?

          • The Enlightenment was a creation of several generations of Western Europeans suffering PTSD from a hundred years of sectarian war that periodically brought their privileged selves in mortal danger. It interacted with several other contemporary trends, not least the use of settler colonialism to expand the tax base of the realm and claim royal wealth. And the putting together on settler colonial sugar plantations of management practices for organizing large numbers of slaves that became the day-to-day formal business practices of industrial capitalism. And in the Americas, various institutional forms of the frontier that separated indigenous from their land in order for a few settler colonials to set up large industrial capitalist slave plantations to produce commodities for export to the centers of empire. Through the magic of slave labor and overproduction, what were luxury goods became middle class necessities by the 19th century and ordinary necessities by the 20th century. Tobacco, sugar, rum, cotton cloth, pepper, salt, coffee, tea.

            The highminded distractions of the practical businessmen or their wealth-conflicted heirs or scholarly pet intellectuals.

            Meanwhile the remaining operators in the feudal system held government sinecures that provided the policy cover for local ambitious men to register their land claims, build their empires of trade with the Indians or trade in African slaves, or conduct themselves as “respectable” merchants in one port or another.

            In fact, contra Jefferson, the thought didn’t create the society the society and its agendas created the thought. And that’s how abstract “life”, “liberty”, and “pursuit of happiness” got crowded out of the picture by “just being practical”. As by 1790 the pious slavery abolitionists of the Methodist and Baptist associations in Virginia and North Carolina found out, not many slaveowners were interested in giving away property that was financial assets on their books.

            By Adam Smith, there was an Enlightenment argument that “free” labor in the 19th century Whig-Republican sense, was just as much an asset as slave labor if “managed properly”.

            The Shadow in the future is appropriately a Jungian archetype of our present. We stand in judgment.

            • Jorge Cincinnatus Washington, pater patriae. maybe they, we, were/are rebuilding Rome w/some enlightened jargon tossed in? the constitution is very roman in its efforts to ensure that the top dogs get the choicest cut. maybe their class collective unconscious outed itself in the contradictions contained in their writings? the “founders,” i mean. and the slavish imitation of Rome in the national self-monumentalizing of a place like the District of Columbia? the “renaissance” of “reason” sure looks familiar back on planet earth. and, by the standard of DC, pretty crappy. (but the architecture of the future at this moment is not the Lincoln memorial, it’s the pentagon.)

              This is not to disparage the political theorists per se whose alms box of words men like Jefferson both plundered & put some back into in. nice Sayers’ quote. the theorist is the first one to say to the politician, “that’s not what I meant. not at all.” the “map” from the past given to us is w/o dispute the only map we have. so far, no city of gold. it’s also a big map. keeps getting bigger. the map of failure, in the largest sense, but w/lots of treasures & gems along the way. e.g., militarism & its relation to wealth distribution, etc., etc. we can keep climbing those Everests, partly b/c it’s fun to, charting new paths up old glories, but…well, you see where I’m going w/this analogy i’m having trouble completing. uh, the map is not the territory?

              both Ezekiel & the stewed seer from Patmos give the “dimensions” of the city of peace, the new Jerusalem, sending people off into obscure speculations about architecture, how many meters to a royal cubit or whatever, darkening the simple, (e.g., the tree in the city’s midst) w/the complex.

              “He showed me: behold, the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand. And the Lord said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A plumb line.””

              the true measure is justice, both the wall & its standard. and I am not question-begging w/that statement. the question of the political form that the distribution of justice takes can be, and often is, nothing but a cop out to those who are hungry.

              Alex cockburn said somewhere, distrust anyone quoting Marcus Aurelius. but here we go w/another twin peaks quote, the only thing I ever knew about his writings: do not waste time debating what it means to be good. go be a good person.

              maybe the aliens are on the way?

  8. the association video still doesn’t sing ‘vietnam war protest’ to me, but what do i know? these do, among many others:

    (weird remix, but if you click thru this one for the lyrics):

    ‘There’s just one thing I got to know,
    Can you tell me please, who won…?’

    be back as i can manage it. our power went off this a.m., and it’s on again, but i lost my window of online time opportunity cuz life obligations. dayum, i wish it would rain!

    on edit: i’d forgotten to say once again: fuck you, bill gates!!! (and i do mean that in the nicest way possible.)

    Gates urges (sic) to abandon generosity, impede migrants from reaching Europe’, RT

    • i'll be your mirror you asshole

      fucking bill gates.

      bill, i’ll show you something scarier than your shadow before you, projecting all this horseshit into the future about what might happen if…
      scarier than your shadow behind you bill, you lying piece of shit, the stuff your tribe has done for a long, long time. the wailing, howling shadow behind you, chasing you. where does it end, the ceaseless wailing? MS earplug? like everything else Microsoft, the shit won’t work.

      b/n the thought & the expression lies our superhero, dollar fucking bill.

      wanna see it bill? a pile of dust animated by nothing but fear? a little Tasmanian dirt devil? look in the fucking mirror. see the scarecrow, headpiece full of bits & bytes & “development” goals, full of high sentence, a bit obtuse, a walking shadow, all sound & fury.

      all that goddam money & all he can think to is drown more people. his soul is the shipwreck of the world. how about bombing them in their harbors? he’s a product of his class in which every one around him gives him a bootlicking attaboy. well done, good & faithful servant. you’ve made it a lot farther across the infernal plane than that fat lawnmowing cracker dipship in true detective. the only funny line in that whole 1st season was when the inbred sister wife handmaid says, “he’s the evilest thing in the world.” not quite my retarded sister. not quite. though it is a matter of perspective to a victim. the mouse doesn’t ask if the cat’s name is hitler superpredator or mittens the cuddly mouser.

      • Woot! Booyah! you rawk, i’ll be yer mirror you asshole! some fucking chutzpah he has, yes?

        what a wretched example of an alleged ‘human being’ he is. ‘are there no workhouses? are there no jails? is there no more barbed wire to Keep The Rabble Out?’ is there any potential for restorative justice for the likes of you? to begin with, it would require allocution to the insane number of slow-death crimes you’ve perpetrated on people around the world, then paying a fine of your total ill-gotten booty to be dispersed among those you’ve killed either quickly, or slowly w/ your ‘philanthropic’ endeavors.

      • i'll be your mirror you asshole

        I take back the comparison b/n bill gates & that fuckhead from true detectives. at least that crazy cracker mofo had the courage of his convictions. a hands on, get ‘er done kind of guy. could a been a mongol private in another age.

  9. had a “skaters vs. haters” moment last night. while my friend is drinking too much vino & his son is blowing stuff up on the teevee, we are all talking about desert storm, Vietnam, 9/11, gulf war syndrome, drug/bio-chem/nuke experimentation on troops, etc., etc.

    where does it all come from???? so the young man puts on a video, no joke of an almost lynch mob real horror show, which i can’t find right now, of skaters vs. haters. do a youtube search on skaters vs. haters & get ready to weep. say a prayer for the youth of amerika???? what? can’t find a place to skateboard cuz society doesn’t give even the slightest get off your ass kind of fuck about its kids. except to die stealing someone’s oil.

    noah, our savior, pegged us all in about twenty seconds of video. enraged property owners vs kids. guess which side the dad was on?

    butterflies vs. caterpillars: global smackdown edition.

    Strike; down with them; cut the villains’ throats:
    ah! whoreson caterpillars! bacon-fed knaves! they
    hate us youth: down with them: fleece them.

  10. … Since I’m posting here today, I thought I’d share my 4th reading list root:

    The Mainstream and the Margins: Noam Chomsky vs. Michael Parenti, et ff.

    • … I’ve taken to listening to this every morning before work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5kkcOvPW6Y

    • what the hell? not even a cliffs note cheat sheet??? ;-)

      holy hell, how serendipitous, greyson smythe. it won’t sound credible, and i had not intended to even scan your link cuz: burned out on weekend chores, too much earlier reading, but: i’d saved a few links for a diary on er…revisionism, and several were from my fave tankie, cordeliers. i tuned into the ones on yugoslavia, since i had totally missed that war, and knew nothing save the imperium’s version. anyhoo, after i’d tried to read some of them, including ann garrison’s interview w. diana johnstone (not that illuminating, or not much ‘there…there), i deleted all of the links.

      when while scanning your link i came across one of the same parenti links i had. for now, i’ll hang on to them, but if i post anything, it’ll me talking outta my…hat? in ignorance.

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