04 July 2007

Independence Day

These 231 years have been full of achievements. Our nation has grown from fewer than 3,000,000 to over 300,000,000, from a string of settlements on the edge of a hardly-explored continent to the planet's sole superpower. Powerful enemies have arisen along the way: British revanchism during the Napoleonic wars, forces which sought to divide the nation in order to preserve slavery, Japanese imperialism, Nazism, Soviet Communism. All now rot in the garbage-heap of history, where today's Islamic imperialists will sooner or later join them.

It's become customary, on these kinds of occasions, to warn of some form of national decline, to lament that our people have become too decadent, self-absorbed, passive, brainwashed, ignorant, lazy, or whatever to stand up for the American project and carry it forward the way previous generations did. This is surely contradicted by the example of the American soldiers since September 11, who have achieved so much under such hideous conditions in the barbarian wastelands of Afghanistan and Iraq (despite what must be the most incompetent civilian leadership and the most hostile mass media in all the history of American warfare). And consider the events of the past month, when an engaged and enraged populace managed to stop an unjust and disastrous legislative imposition which the privileged elites, from the President to the most powerful Senators to big media and big business, were determined to force upon us. Yes, the internet was crucial, given the stunning speed with which it was able to inform the people of what was happening, to expose lies and distortions, and to provide channels via which dissent could be conveyed to the offices of the powerful. But none of this would have achieved anything if the people themselves had been inert. Many countries have democracy, the internet, and arrogant and insular political elites. Few have populations which will stand up and roar like this when they see the elite working to betray them.

Does America have problems? Of course it does. But I would rather have America's combination of problems and assets than the combination of problems and assets of any other country in the world.

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