July 4th – We Need Our Own Independence Day

On the Fourth of July, the politicians and the corporate media celebrated their version of the past. It was marked by calls for patriotism, to support the troops by supporting their wars, and of course, as with all holidays, calls to go shopping. They used this holiday to justify their policies, to glorify their power and make some money. From that standpoint, we had little to celebrate, other than a day off of work – if we were lucky enough to get it.
What is this Independence Day? At the time of the American Revolution, in 1776, there were two different fights taking place. One was by the wealthy merchants, bankers, and slave owners. They wanted to kick the British rulers out of the colonies and establish an independent nation so they could be the new ruling class.
There was a second group fighting for independence, with different goals. The farmers, workers, freed slaves, and small businessmen had other ideas. They wanted to get rid of a dictatorship, to have a real representative government. They wanted a government where ordinary people, not the British King, would make the decisions. They wanted an end to taxation without representation and an end to military conscription, which forced them to fight against their interests.
These ordinary people were the foot soldiers that won the American Revolution and defeated the British. And when they realized that another group of rich and powerful men were trying to take over the country and run it in the interests of the rich, many continued their fight for independence. The capitol of the newly founded United States had to be moved away from the population, to Washington D.C. The new Congress could not meet in Philadelphia because of the threat from the armed presence of farmers and workers.
So what has changed since then? We still have little or no representation of our interests. The U.S. government is still run in the interests of the rich – bankers and industrialists. We certainly continue to suffer from taxation without representation, as hundreds of billions of our tax dollars go to pay for wars and handouts to corporations.
Today people are not drafted into the military against their will. But poor and working class people face an economic draft instead. The lack of jobs and educational opportunities, and the threat of a future with little hope, pushes young workers into the armed services. They are sent to places like Iraq and Afghanistan where they are forced to give their lives for oil or other U.S. corporate interests.
Today, as in 1776, the government does not represent poor and working people. Today, as in 1776, working people have no interest in fighting for a ruling class that exploits and oppresses us. Today, working people have the same interests as we had in 1776 – to establish a real democracy, where those who do the work make the decisions that affect our lives.
In 1776, there was a class war hidden behind the war for independence. Today, there is a class war that is much more visible. Look at the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan. Look at the cuts to health care, social services and education. Look at the millions of workers laid off as corporations make billions. Look at the bailouts and handouts to these corporations. Look at the high gas prices as oil companies bring in record profits. Look at the cost of food as wages are cut. Look at the millions who lost their homes as banks and mortgage companies made billions of dollars. These are the problems created by this system, and its rulers are not looking for solutions to problems their system creates.
Today working and poor people in the U.S. and all over the world have every reason to fight for the same rights and freedoms that working people and farmers fought for in 1776. Our fight is only beginning. Just last week workers in Greece and Britain undertook the biggest strikes in decades to try and stop the cuts and attacks of their own bosses. We need to do the same here. But we need to go further than this. This time the fight must be to get rid of this system that puts the wealthy at the top and the rest of us on the bottom. This time we need to reorganize the power and the wealth of society so that it is in the hands of the majority. This will be the American Revolution of the future.