I’m usually miserable on July the 4th.
While I always enjoy the companionship of friends and family, backyard barbecues and fireworks, I am really never in a mood to celebrate American independence. I deeply love colonial America and see the American Revolution as the tragic episode that brought it to an end.
Believe me, I know how strange this perspective sounds to my neighbors. I’m reminded of it every year. I also know how foolish it is to insult the patriotism of ordinary people. I don’t fault them for their patriotism. In fact, I wish I could share these sentiments. It would make my life so much easier not to be completely alienated and feel like a stranger on Independence Day. Even the Southern Nationalists of the 19th century were comfortable in celebrating secession from the British Empire.
I don’t object to the concept of American independence. If the American Revolution had never happened, I believe the colonies would have eventually become independent anyway like Canada, Australia and New Zealand. I don’t object to the concept of liberty either. No one wants to live under a despotism and liberty wasn’t a social problem before it was usurped by liberalism.
The problem with the American Revolution wasn’t the brave men who fought for American independence. It is the philosophy of civic nationalism that intellectuals enshrined at the heart of the American Revolution. The notion that “all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights” is destructive to the social order. The leveling spirit unleashed by the American Revolution didn’t stop with the British monarchy. It has never been contained.
The United States has been in a permanent state of social revolution for centuries. It has proven impossible to build a stable society or to maintain a healthy, organic culture on a foundation of Enlightenment ideas like natural rights, universal liberty and equality, tolerance, individualism, democracy and constitutionalism. These ideas are incompatible with authority, hierarchy, community, moral discipline and tradition. They are a solvent that has eaten away like acid at the foundations of our culture.
It is easy to see why the American system seemed to work at first. Religious dissenters in the colonies resented the established churches. Merchants resented restrictions on American commerce and international trade. Colonial legislators resented being subordinated to the authority of a distant Parliament. Frontier settlers resented the Proclamation of 1763 which confined them to the eastern seaboard. Americans were perfectly capable of governing themselves as an independent nation.
The Founding Fathers never imagined that the rhetoric of natural rights, universal liberty and equality, tolerance, individualism, democracy and constitutionalism would be taken to the extremes that they have been in our times by subsequent generations. They enjoyed all these things in moderation in the White Republic they created for themselves, but the snowball they started rolling in 1776 has never ceased growing. Their axioms have been taken to a wild excess. We live in a very late stage in the process in which these ideas have metastasized like a cancer into open borders and transgenderism.
In the long term, the cure of Tom Paine and the curse of permanent social revolution has proven to be far worse than any short term disease of King George III. I find it difficult to relate to the Revolutionary generation who revolted over a few trivial taxes on tea and stamps. It was precisely because colonial Americans were already so free that the Stamp Act and the Proclamation of 1763 felt like ‘tyranny’.
The Founding Fathers latched on to the fashionable Enlightenment philosophy of their day to justify their break with the British Empire. They took aspects of their own British culture and traditions and tragically attempted to set them on a new naturalistic, universal basis. Instead of our rights and liberties being derived from our own unique historical experience, a clear outgrowth of the English common law and the Glorious Revolution, they were said to be inherent in mankind itself.
This intellectual rubbish has had grave consequences. Yesterday, I couldn’t relax and enjoy July the 4th because I couldn’t shake my belief that this is how we have managed to arrive in a world where FOX News spends Independence Day praising women soldiers in combat, where illegal aliens from the Democratic Republic of Congo are climbing the Statue of Liberty, where MILO is crossdressing on Facebook and where I have to witness teenage interracial couples making out in a public park.
As I have studied the 18th century, I have come to see July the 4th as a Whig holiday. I have also become convinced that the Whig tradition has been one of the driving forces in the moral and cultural degeneration of the United States. In the months ahead, we will be exploring the Whig tradition in greater detail and how it precipitated our present moral breakdown.