God Bless (And Forgive) America
My feelings on national holidays are somewhat complicated. Personally I don’t much care for displays of fist-pumping, flag-waving, chest-thumping patriotism. I find them obnoxious and somewhat silly. However, much like Voltaire and religion, despite my personal distaste for such crass displays I do see the value in them. I understand that the masses like such simplistic shows of solidarity and unity, and even need them in a way. The Fourth of July is much like Valentine’s Day, I don’t see why one day should be reserved for showing your love for either your country or partner when you should do so every day, but in both cases it’s harmless and seems to make people happy. I certainly am not going to be the grump that chides people for it.
My feelings on the Fourth of July specifically are equally split. I make no bones about the fact that I consider the American Revolution to be an act of base treachery. The thirteen colonies belonged to the British Empire, and I feel without a shadow of a doubt that America would be far better off today had it remained a loyal child of the Empire under the rightful rule of their God chosen King. Among other things, both World War One and World War Two would likely have ended sooner (with America having been involved from the start on each occasion rather than being dragged in somewhat reluctantly half way through). There would have been no French Revolution either in all probability. Indeed the entire spirit of revolution that has plagued the planet in the preceding two and a half centuries might never have come to be, with “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” being supplanted by “Peace, Order and Good Governance”. Slavery would have ended much sooner, quite possibly without the devastating effects of the Civil War whose repercussions still plague it today.
Indeed, putting my historian’s hat on for an instant, America’s independence was very much something that was accidentally stumbled into. In The Royalist Revolution: Monarchy and the American Founding (which I highly recommend) scholar Eric Nelson argues that the revolution was never really against King George at all (despite the rather unfortunate smearing he has received by history books since) but rather the British Parliament. America’s Founding Fathers, being the wealthy, educated aristocrats that they were, were certainly smart enough to recognize that the laws and decrees they found so irksome were not originating from any royal proclamation but rather came from the democratically reached resolutions of the House of Commons. The motivations of many of them, at least initially, were to restrain what they as an overzealous legislature. This was very much in the mould of most revolutions prior to this point, where noblemen rose up out of loyalty to their liege lord who, they argued, was being led astray by wicked advisors at court. This might be hard to conceive of for the modern mind, but you must remember that in 1775 Britain had been a constitutional monarchy for a little under a century, and the idea of a king who would rule and not just reign was far from an alien concept unlike today. Look no further than the fact that anywhere from a third to a half of America’s population supported the Loyalist side of the Revolution, and many of them chose voluntary exile after the war rather than forsaking loyalty to their King.
Yet Independence was achieved, and America now must live with those consequences. It is saddled with gridlocked political system that excels at doing nothing, a Constitution that has allowed its unelected justices to stifle the democratic will of voters, and a cult of the individual that engineered a messiah complex enabling the rise of megalomaniacs such Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Bernie Sanders based solely on their skill at telling people precisely what they want to hear and little else. I also find tremendous satisfaction in pointing out the irony that the two frontrunners for the Presidency at this point are Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton. So much for the idea that governorship should be based on merit and not what last name one happens to have.
Yet for all my dislike of the America Revolution, I cannot truly say that I dislike America. The United States may be an illegitimate entity, led by an illegitimate government, but the same can be said for most of the nations that make up the world today, and America stands head and shoulders above the lot of them. Unlike most republics, America has proven to be remarkably enduring and stable. Say what one will of Barack Obama or George Bush, no one of any true intellect can compare them to the Vladimir Putins or Kim Jung-uns of this world, or even the Robert Mugabes. The regrettable examples of slavery and the Native Americans aside, you will find no horrors against humanity in America’s past.
And more importantly, America has been an undeniable force for good in this world. It was America that checked the aggressions of both Nazi Germany and international communism. It is America that leads the fight against Islamism today. America has been a champion of stability in the world, much like Tsar Nicholas I’s Russia once served as the gendarmerie of Europe centuries ago, and I very much fear that with its decline in power we will face a new century of blood or perhaps just a New Dark Ages. Civilization is built upon order, take away the order and civilized men quickly revert to their more barbaric selves.
So as we await either our Augustus or our Alaric, I will say to my American friends “Happy Treason Day you ungrateful rebel bastards!” and then follow it with a hearty “God Bless America”.