The celebration of the 4th of July as if it’s a libertarian holiday is a bit much to bear. Secession from Britain was a mistake. It’s easy enough to realize that the Constitution was not some libertarian achievement as conservatives and libertarians delude themselves into thinking. The Declaration of Independence in 1776 led to all the standard evils of war and raising an army–in the words of Jeff Hummel, “unfunded government debt, paper money, skyrocketing inflation, price controls, legal tender laws, direct impressment of supplies and wide-spread conscription.” Hmm, doesn’t sound very libertarian to me. (See also below on the language of the Declaration.) Stealing, conscripting, enslaving, murdering. The glorification of democracy. The expansion of empire. The entrenching of corporatist interests with the state. The substitution of traditional order with worship of the democratic state.
Monarchy isn’t perfect, as Hoppe argues, but the move from monarchy to democracy was not “progress” as even some libertarians have mistakenly believed (as Hoppe notes, “although aware of the economic and ethical deficiencies of democracy, both Mises and Rothbard had a soft spot for democracy and tended to view the transition from monarchy to democracy as progress”). When I suggest it was a mistake to secede from Britain, libertarians–brainwashed by both Saturday morning Schoolhouse Rock propaganda (No More Kings; Fireworks; Three-Ring Government; The Preamble; Let Freedom Ring) and Randian pro-America mythology–freak out. “You want us to have a king? How terrible?!” or “But Britain is more socialist than we are!” Well, first, I don’t want us to have a king. I’d prefer we have no state: no kings or congresscritters or revenuers. But we have a king now, under another name; he can tax and murder us, just like the dreaded monarchian boogey-man; the state is overlord of all our property, as in feudalism. And rejoining socialist Britain now would be terrible–but would the European monarchies have become democratic socialist states if America had never left Britain? Our secession led to a constructivist new utopian order based on a “rational, scientific” paper document and the rejection of traditional, unwritten, limits on state power, thus setting the world on the path of democracy and democratic tyranny, and all the evils of the 20th Century–WWI, WWII, the Holocaust, the Cold War, Communism, Naziism, Fascism, Great Depressions I and II (see Goodbye 1776, 1789, Tom for links). America’s reckless utopianism corrupted its mother state, rendering it unfit to rejoin. But had we never left? One percent tax paid to a distant King over the ocean sound appealing, anyone? (See Would YOU sign the Declaration of Independence?)
If I didn’t hate states and flags so much I might just fly the ole Union Jack this Saturday!
What about the Declaration itself? How libertarian is it? Well, let’s just take a few choice parts:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,
–Well, yes, except for Africans and women, and young men who don’t want to be drafted or executed for desertion, and probably atheists and witches.
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,
This is not the reason governments form–to secure our rights. This is just a sales job for the criminal state.
deriving their just powers
This falsely implies the state can have just powers. It cannot.
from the consent of the governed, that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends,
This implies government does not necessarily become destructive–that good goverment is possible. It’s not.
it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government,
But not to have no government, right? Why does it deny us the right to get rid of the state altogether?
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.
In other words, they should be free to try one utopian experiment after another.
Update: Some friends sent me some other useful links debunking the “libertarian” aspects of the American Revolution: First, regarding US independence, see A gentle introduction to Unqualified Reservations (part 2), by Mencius Moldbug (“So: let’s put it as bluntly as possible. At present you believe that, in the American Revolution, good triumphed over evil. This is the aforementioned aggregate. We’re going to just scoop that right out with the #6 brain spoon. As we operate, we’ll replace it with the actual story of the American Rebellion – in which evil triumphed over good”). According to Moldbug everything people know about the American Revolution is BS. He recommends this wonderful piece: Strictures upon the Declaration of the Congress at Philadelphia, a devastating attack on the Declaration of Independence and American Revolution written by one of its contemporaries, Thomas Hutchinson, the former Governor of Massachusetts.
And let’s not forget Mencken’s classic The Declaration of Independence in American — an excerpt:
That any goverment that don’t give a man these rights ain’t worth a damn; also, people ought to choose the kind of goverment they want themselves, and nobody else ought to have no say in the matter. That whenever any goverment don’t do this, then the people have got a right to can it and put in one that will take care of their interests. Of course, that don’t mean having a revolution every day like them South American coons and yellow-bellies and Bolsheviki, or every time some job-holder does something he ain’t got no business to do. It is better to stand a little graft, etc., than to have revolutions all the time, like them coons and Bolsheviki, and any man that wasn’t a anarchist or one of them I. W. W.’s would say the same. But when things get so bad that a man ain’t hardly got no rights at all no more, but you might almost call him a slave, then everybody ought to get together and throw the grafters out, and put in new ones who won’t carry on so high and steal so much, and then watch them. This is the proposition the people of these Colonies is up against, and they have got tired of it, and won’t stand it no more. The administration of the present King, George III, has been rotten from the start, and when anybody kicked about it he always tried to get away with it by strong-arm work. Here is some of the rough stuff he has pulled: …
Update: Hurrah for King George!, by John Attarian.