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My Country ‘Tis of Thee

All school children are taught that—while it might not be perfect—this country is the best thing under the sun right now, based upon cherished principals of freedom and liberty for all. We are taught that the U$ stands squarely as the champion of human rights throughout the world. But is this true? Are we morally superior to the rest of the world, and do we have the right to challenge anyone else on humanitarian grounds? To answer this question, we can do no better than to look at our own actions throughout the history of this country.

First, let us attend to the founding fathers, who—through their great magnanimity and perspicuity—established the system we live under. Who were these men of legend? From the “father of our country,” George Washington (the richest man in the country in his day) to the father of the constitution, James Madison, the founding fathers were all members of the privileged class, who had built their fortunes through slavery and indentured servitude.  They had wanted to simply shift the reins from King George to some new royalty in this country. Unfortunately for them, with all the talk of democracy circulating around, they could not establish a new monarchy outright, but had to dress it in the trappings of representative democracy. They were very fearful of the laboring class and the slave population, fearing that the people could not be trusted with real democracy. And so, through the U$ constitution, they established a system which would protect and insulate them from the masses while allowing them to retain the real power. So much for our founding fathers.

What of the land, itself? Was it a free land, open to settlement and colonization? No, this country was stolen from its former inhabitants. At the time when white men first landed here, there were approximately six to seven million native Americans in the territory which would someday constitute the United $tates. The settlement of this country is the story of the extermination of these original inhabitants. This country was purchased not with wampum, but through a most bloody genocide. And then the remnants of these once free and proud people were herded onto reservations where we starved them, poisoned them with alcohol, and attempted to beat their culture out of them. That they have survived at all is a testimony not to our humanitarianism, but to their powers of endurance.

To work this stolen, bloody land and generate a profit from it, we had to forcefully enslave the natives of another continent and drag them to this country under the most dire and despicable circumstances. The wealth of this country was generated by slave labor. And that slavery was not ended until that wealth was ensured and the means of generating yet more wealth had been revolutionized by technology. And, as with the natives of this land, every attempt was made to eradicate the African culture of these slaves. Likewise, once they were declared free, they had to endure over one century of beatings, hangings, shootings, burnings, drownings and all manner of torture. Their oppression continues even to this day.

So we have a country built by slaves on land paid for with the blood of the original inhabitants. What of the common people? Weren’t they, at least, destined to live in a land of freedom and equality? Returning to George Washington and the founding fathers, we could say that the U$ constitution was christened with the blood of common farmers and revolutionary veterans. As the aristocracy prepared to draw up the U$ constitution, the common people of this country rose up against them in a number of localized rebellions, the largest of which was to be known as Shay’s Rebellion. Seven thousand farmers and veterans marched toward Boston, only to be met by Washington and twelve thousand Hussein mercenaries. The rebellion was routed, the leaders were hung without trial on the field of battle, and democracy was made safe from the Amerikan people. The resulting constitution was ratified in state after state over the protests—and in some cases the blood—of the people.

The U$ has shown over time, that while it honors its soldiers when they are fighting for its interests, once they return home, they must be ignored or even put down. Thus, when veterans of World War One marched on Washington to demand the benefits they had been promised, they were met by hardened troops and most sorely oppressed. And thus the denial of responsibility and treatment to veterans of the Gulf War suffering from Gulf War Syndrome. Isn’t it amazing that thirty percent of the homeless in this country today are veterans?

And let us quickly mention the bloodbath known as the Amerikan Civil War, which was viewed with great horror by the rest of the civilized world. Though the most humanitarian result of the war was the end of slavery, this was but a side issue to the war, which was really about centralizing control of the union. The true winners of the civil war were the privileged classes, who were given untold power over the system.

The remainder of the century is the story of robber barons and the struggle of working people to fight against inhumane conditions. Every right that working people have in this country was fought for and paid for with working class blood. And in every struggle, the government weighed in with their military might on the side of the privileged class. This is the way of things from the early labor struggles, through the Great Upheaval of 1877 and on to the present day. When the privileged classes are truly threatened, the U$ government rises against the public.

By the turn of the century, the U$ had begun advancing with depredations of a nation bent on a global empire for resources and power. From the Philippines onward, we comported ourselves with a savagery unequaled before us. The world wars were about world dominion, and when they were over, the U$ set up dominion over the world, organizing sectors of the world around sub-powers: Japan in the East, Germany and Britain in Europe, and shortly after Israel in the Middle East.

This was a nation run by money, and as such it obeyed certain laws of greed. Money of itself does nothing. It must invest in resources and generate profit through the work of labor. In this, the interests of capital and labor are opposed. You cannot have democracy without equality, and everything else is a power disparity. In the twentieth century dominion over the Earth fell overwhelmingly to the U$, as the champion of capitalism.

From the mid-forties on, the U$ combined its own savagery with the techniques of domination and torture picked up directly or taken as spoils from Germany and Japan. Interventions became the rule of the day. China, France, the Marshall Islands, Italy, Greece, The Philippines, Korea, Albania, Eastern Europe, Germany, Iran, Guatemala, Costa Rica, the Middle East, Indonesia, Haiti, British Guiana, Iraq, The Soviet Union, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Ecuador, The Congo/Zaire, Algeria, Brazil, Peru, The Dominican Republic, Cuba, Ghana, Uruguay, Chile, South Africa, Bolivia, Australia, Portugal, East Timor, Angola, Jamaica, Honduras, Nicaragua, Seychelles, South Yemen, South Korea, Chad, Grenada, Suriname, Libya, Fiji, Panama, Afghanistan, El Salvador, Haiti, Bulgaria, Albania, Somalia, Peru, Mexico, Colombia, Yugoslavia, all have suffered oppression from the U$. And this is only a partial list, I am sure. Some of these interventions were coups, some were long standing wars of “counterinsurgency” against popular—generally democratic—movements of the people, and many were targeted several times over the years. As the Greek officer told a suspect they were preparing to interrogate, “We are all Americans here.”

And then there is the Earth itself, which we are pressing to the limits. Global Warming is happening. From the melting of ice sheets and ice fields to the increase in hurricane frequency and unstable weather everywhere, the evidence is mounting. Man sure likes to upset the equilibrium. The biosphere is hit with one of the greatest extinction periods in its history, all at the hand of man. And it is further threatened to its genetic basis. And consumer capitalism gobbles up the Earth’s resources.

Careful analysis of the world’s oil reserves in light of increasing demands indicates that we are approaching the halfway point in oil reserves, from which point the remaining oil will be increasingly expensive to extract. Not long after, we will reach a point when we must expend more energy extracting the fuel than is contained in the fuel itself. The days of conspicuous consumption are numbered. So we have released enough carbon from its sinks in the Earth wreck havoc with the atmosphere.

It is time for our limited remaining energy wealth to be controlled democratically by all of the people. Too many interventions have been undertaken on behalf of Standard, Shell, and Occidental Petroleum; it is time to give us that for which we have fought. It is time to fulfill a promise of democracy and freedom for all people everywhere.
Democracy cannot exist without equality, political, social, and economic.

Anything besides locally based consensus acting through federation is a power disparity. And by its nature, a power disparity is unstable. It leads to exploitation by those with more power. Power must be distributed throughout society before the disparities can be mitigated, if not dispersed entirely. Labor should own the profits of industry, and communities should own the right to say how their land and resources should be used.

We must recognize and worship the ties that bind everything together, and us to everything. We should work together to build a sustainable, equitable future while we still have the opportunity. Anything less is insanity. We must resist, and we must fight and struggle to take back control of our own lives. For our own sake and for the good of everything else, we must end the exploitation.

We live in a system based on exploitation, a system predisposed to abuse, and therefore a system rife with dysfunction. The only way to heal the planet, to heal society, and to heal our selves, is to come out of denial. We must admit our guilt and admit our shame. Only that way can we hope to have a future based on freedom, equality and justice. Only then can we give our children the world they deserve.