Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Time for Another Revolution

There was a time when the world was so huge that everyone in Europe thought it was flat. It was also so scary that no one felt safe except under the protection of a strongman, so they allied as city states. Because the economy was agriculturally based it was necessary for most people to live on the land, but pledging allegiance to a lord in a fortress gave them a place to run to when attacked and a body of troops to fend off the attackers. And attackers were pretty common then If it wasn’t a neighboring city-state raiding to take crops, it was a glorified rowboat loaded with Vikings come to rape and pillage. Under those conditions city-states made sense, and each neighborhood had its own fortress and army.

As inter-state trade grew it became more sensible for city-states to join forces and form nation-states to expand their ability to engage in profitable trade. The world was shrunk to more manageable size by the sailing ships that plied the seas carrying trade goods to and from distant lands. As the distances shrank due to more and more efficient means of travel and communication, more trade ensued and nations worked out treaties and alliances designed to convert warring enemies into trade partners. Alliances were necessary, too, in order to join forces against the occasional rogue states who rose up in an attempt to conquer and take over other states ala the Roman and the Ottoman Empires and ultimately Hitler’s Germany and Tojo’s Japan.

On July 4 in 1776, the American colonists rose up through the Declaration of Independence declaring to the England and it’s king that they would no longer bear the yoke of colonial rule. Those wise and brave souls thus marked the beginning of the end of the colonial era, and formed their own nation-state to be called the United States of America.

Ultimately, they formed that union under the auspices of Articles of Confederation. Later, against the strong advice of one of the principle leaders of the revolution, Patrick Henry, they abandoned the Articles in favor of the Constitution that still serves as our principal law today. Patrick Henry’s objection to the constitution was that it would take power out of the hands of the people and put it, unacceptably, in the hands of a centralized government that would ultimately usurp all power and abuse the people. Once again, as so often in his support for revolution, Patrick Henry was right. What we see in Washington, D.C. today is the embodiment of his understanding of the abuse enabled by our constitution.

I have long argued that if the constitution were followed in its original spirit, Henry’s opinion would not be vindicated, but I have arrived at a perspective from which I can no longer celebrate the colonist’s liberation with the same fervor. I have been transported by the Bush administration and the last several Congresses from my belief in the myth that America is a morally motivated land to the understanding of the gross abuses of our long practiced imposition of our will on weaker lands for economic gain through the military.

I no longer believe that a rising tide floats all boats. I no longer believe that capitalism and freedom are the same thing. I no longer believe that any nation-state has any right to exclude itself from any aspect of international law. In fact, I no longer believe that the nation-state has any more legitimate right to existence than city-states do. The nation-state is the same kind of dinosaur as the city-state by virtue of a shrunken world and shrunken resources to serve the needs of that world.

The time has come for the world to abandon the nation-state concept; for America to recognize that God doesn’t bless it any more than it blesses anyone else; and especially to recognize that our continued use of the limited resources of the world in such a gluttonous manner is anything but moral world leadership.

It is time for us to furl our national flag and quit waving it in the world’s face as though we were something special in God’s eyes. It is time for us to have another revolution; this time a revolution based on a different realization about our role on the world stage. Not the role of dominating nation, but the role of cooperative, convivial arbitrator. National pride must give way to world pride. National gluttony must give way to international cooperation before we have passed the point of no return in terms of energy, water and food resources.

This Fourth of July my American flag, trimmed in black for the past seven years in mourning for its many losses in that period, stays in the closet. In its place, my front porch displays a multi-colored Wiphala – symbol of unity of all races and nations as flown by the indigenous peoples of South America. I don’t expect it in my lifetime, but I believe that unless the United States acts in some way as the world’s leader in cooperative international action, this country is, at best, doomed to destruction whether self-inflicted or inflicted by the rest of the world in defense of their right to the resources we horde. At worst the entire planet will succumb to the pollution most nations create daily through our abuse of it whether through conventional warfare, nuclear warfare, or just plain pollutant overload.

So it is indeed time for another revolution, but it will have to start with the American people standing up and declaring that they have had enough of this tyranny just the same as they did in 1776. I wish I could say I can see it brewing, but so far all I see is more of the same in Washington, D.C. and a majority of American people willing to wave the stars & stripes and shout God bless America. Those of us who don’t believe it are still a tiny minority with no power to achieve the needed changes.

I look forward to the day when I see Wiphalas flying from lots of porches.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

No comments: