3 Things To Remember On Independence Day

Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute,

It's difficult to say what most Americans commemorate or celebrate on Independence Day nowadays. Many appear to focus on some vague notion of "America." Others even take to jingoism equating the United States government with the very notion of "freedom." 

Lost in all of this is the fact that the Declaration of Independence - the document we're supposed to remember today - is a document that promotes secession, rebellion, and what the British at the time regarded as treason. 

On the other hand, those who do recall the radical nature of the Declaration often tend to romanticize the American Revolution in a way that is neither instructive nor helpful today. 

So, what should we remember about Independence Day, and what can it teach us? For starters, here are three things about the history and context of this holiday that should continue to inform us today and into the future. 

One: If You Can't Secede, You're Not Really Free

The very first sentence of the Declaration of Independence lays it out. Sometimes, "it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another..." 

The document then goes on to list in detail why 1776's specific act of secession was justified and necessary for preserving the rights of the colonists. 

By the 19th century, this philosophy of self-determination would become a foundational element of the ideology now known internationally as liberalism — or "classical liberalism" in the United States. 

Not surprisingly, we find this idea in the later writings of liberals such as Ludwig von Mises who, writing in Vienna in 1927, concluded:

It must always be possible to shift the boundaries of the state if the will of the inhabitants of an area to attach themselves to a state other than the one to which they presently belong has made itself clearly known...


[W]henever the inhabitants of a particular territory ... make it known ... that they no longer wish to remain united to the state to which they belong at the time ... their wishes are to be respected and complied with.

Mises, like Jefferson, understood that without this right of self-determination, there is no freedom.

Nevertheless, modern opponents of self-determination and secession will claim that secession cannot be tolerated because it is not "legal."

This is scarcely relevant. After all, the colonial uprising against the King was not "legal," and it hardly matters whether political victors consider any breakaway secession movements legal. Times and societies change, and nothing is forever or written in stone. 

For Mises, secession must be tolerated for pragmatic reasons. It is "the only feasible and effective way of preventing revolutions and civil and international wars." But For Jefferson, as for his fellow secessionists, it was a moral imperative, whether "treasonous" or not. 

Two: Independence Day Is Not a Military Holiday 

For obvious reasons, government institutions have little motivation to emphasize the Declaration of Independence or the philosophy it represents. This would amount to the government undermining itself. Consequently, many have attempted to turn the Fourth of July into a holiday that embraces vague notions of celebrating "America." 

These ahistorical interpretations notwithstanding, Independence Day recalls resistance and a withdrawal of fealty to a hostile political power. We should not twist it into a celebration of our current rulers in Washington, the federal government, or the troops that work for and represent the federal government. 

It should be a celebration against government and a reminder that Americans can once again walk away from tyranny, even if force of arms is required. 

This does not defame or insult the American troops, but rather reminds us that we are a civilian nation and the government (and its troops) is supposed to be our servant rather than our master. Slavish displays of patriotism and loyalty to the state are inimical to the real meaning of the holiday.

Three: Armed Revolt Is a Serious and Rare Event 

Among those who do wish to commemorate the true resistance offered by the revolutionaries, there is a different error: thinking that armed resistance is always right around the corner. 

In some corners of America, it's become almost commonplace to hear claims that surely the Second American Revolution will come with just a few more outrages committed against life, liberty, or property. All it will take is a few more no-knock raids committed against peaceful families sleeping in their beds. Or perhaps the government need only seize a few more guns before the American people "wake up." Or perhaps once someone reveals the extent to which the US government spies on us all — as Edward Snowden has already done — then Americans will simply refuse to tolerate it any more.

In truth, armed resistance tends to only materialize in the midst of poverty or foreign invasion. Not surprisingly, over the past century, despite decades of immense growth in government power, rising taxes, and stifling government regulations, virtually no Americans have been taking up arms against the American state.

Some of this may stem from admirable prudence. After all, the American Revolution was an exceptionally bloody conflict, and such conflicts should not be started lightly. As noted by the Library of Congress, "[t]he Revolution ... was, after the Civil War, the costliest conflict in American history in terms of the proportion of the population killed in service. It was three times more lethal than World War II." The poverty, property destruction, and loss of life was immense given the tiny size of the American population at the time. 

Most Americans are unaware of these specifics, but most people instinctively know that armed conflict can bring with it a very high price. 

This doesn't mean armed resistance is impossible, of course. It's simply worth recognizing that so long as Americans enjoy some of the world's highest standards of living few will be motivated to take up arms.

Ideas Always Matter 

It is also helpful to remember that armed conflict can be especially disastrous when motivated by the wrong ideas and the wrong ideologies. Who can say with confidence that if the US government were wiped away today, that it would not be replaced with something even worse? Under such circumstances, we must never abandon the important work of laying the foundations first for a revolution in ideas. Without a true respect for the freedoms outlined in the Declaration of Independence, political resistance is of little value. Moreover, in a society where true freedom is valued — and where a majority embraces liberal ideals — violence will prove to be totally unnecessary. And this would be the best outcome of all. 



Thoresen Jul 4, 2017 4:00 PM Permalink

So which country is better off? The US where every four years someone like Trump gets a turn at playing a powerful King, or the UK where someone like Queen Liz is the real monarch for life but with no powers?
Oh, did I forget about vested interests.........

hutnela Jul 4, 2017 2:56 PM Permalink

Four: The Bill of Rights doesn't GIVE citizens rightsIt merely acknowledges that because you are a human there are certain rights in life you are entitled to. Therefore, if it doesn't give you these rights, they can not be limited, suspended, or legislated away by greedy, corrupt, self serving, political leeches.  It does not give men in costumes the right to check your ID anywhere you go and take your freedom of movement, or pull a gun on you if you dont show it. It doesn't allow a central bank to steal your hard earned income, or for the stolen profits to be used to buy ammo that someday might take your life. It was not intended to guarantee special rights for small groups of citizens, while depriving others. But hey, we aren't in prison camps yet... So happy Independence Day everyone!

bshirley1968 Jul 4, 2017 2:44 PM Permalink

The South was right.  If they had of won, there would be no fed reserve, no NSA, no CIA, no FBI, no EPA, no IRS, no BLM, no DHS, no TSA, .......need I go on?  Anyone that wants to come back with a line about all the benefits of centralized,  federal government just needs to tell me if the price was worth it.  Remember,  we won our freedom and kicked England's ass without a federal government. Freedom was lost for all in 1865.  It took the invention of the internet, fractional reserve banking, internal combustion engine, the machine gun, and public pension funds for us to realize we have all been made into slaves now

37 Again. Jul 4, 2017 1:47 PM Permalink

We Americans have everything, and still we complain.

God Bless America!!!

Earned it. Try and keep up, Earth.

Imperfect and uneven is Uncle Sam's confident steam stride strength since we're all in this together and there is no single path to happiness.

Never doubt the unity when the neighbor's house catches fire; Americans put it out first, bitch questions later!



Centerist DonGenaro Jul 4, 2017 4:04 PM Permalink

So you call a couple of twits who decided to play games with our collective security heroes?  What benefit did we derive from Manning's release of cables that created issues with our international relationships?  What benefit did we derive from Snowden's release of documents that had absolutely nothing to do with domestic surveillance?They aren't heroes.  They are a couple of self-important pricks who made decisions that were harmful to us, and they were in no position to make those decisions.You can scoff about the military and the government all you want, but whether you like it or not, what we all enjoy in life is based on not having to worry about a foreign invasion, and our military strength is a major part of that.  Dumping classified information damages our strength.If you disagree with this idea, then you must believe that no military is necessary.  But a military is unnecessary only if every other country in the world gives up theirs, too, and that ain't gonna happen.And if you say one thing about "US wars of aggression", then you are throwing out a red herring.  Whether or not you believe in US foreign policy, the argument at hand is whether or not a military and security of our national sovereignty are necessary; and whether or not it is okay to threaten those.  Please stay on topic if you wish to reply.

In reply to by DonGenaro

Ben A Drill Jul 4, 2017 1:26 PM Permalink

I don't think our founding fathers would be happy with our preconceived notion of being free today.

Things that they would fight to change if they were alive today:

1. Gun laws. I think they would say a big FU to that.
2. Politicians that make it their career. Term limits baby.
3. Public union pensions. What a joke.
4. EBT cards. They would have said go to church to get handouts.
5. The police. They act as if they were the red coats.
6. Military bases all over the world. They would have said "it's none of our business".
7. Taxes! This is what we are fighting for, more taxes? A big FU to that as well.

montresor (not verified) Jul 4, 2017 1:24 PM Permalink

Send your thoughts on this day to the guys from State of Jefferson up in Northern California & Southern Oregon.. Those guys have been trying to break away from Salem and Sacramento for a long time..  Just recently, the traitor Jerry Brown made the rural people of California pay for road repair in LA and the Bay Area via a new gas tax.. Guys who drive their truck over 100 miles a day for work are feeling that one.. Just like he says, these are people who don't want to be part of either state anymore..  State of Jefferson, although quite "poor" today, would be an agricultural powerhouse; wine, timber, legal marijuana, industrial grade hops, jade mining, etc..    What they need is your support.. Nowhere in the country is the 4th of July more poignant..

opport.knocks Jul 4, 2017 1:08 PM Permalink

Unfortunately the founding fathers decided to open the Declaration of Independence with an easily exposed lie: "... that all men are created equal." when surely they knew what modern genetics tells us for certain, that no two people (twins excepted) are created equal.Equally unfortunate is the fact that every US government since has felt compelled to manufacture their own lies.

Fake Trump Jul 4, 2017 12:39 PM Permalink

Independence Day is just another holiday. Fireworks are illegal. No problems Trump will create fireworks for all American. Wall Street will let go fireworks. Kim has just launched a firework. More fireworks are coming. Blow job is the best firework and it is legal when you do it in  your own home or someone's home but not in the Oval Office. 

FreeEarCandy Jul 4, 2017 12:30 PM Permalink

3 things to remember on independence day...1- keep your ball and chains untangled and rust free. 2- Learn negro spiritual songs to pass the time. 3- When master yells jump don't forget to ask how high. 

fbazzrea Jul 4, 2017 12:28 PM Permalink

the United States of America approaches a hard fork. patriots do not have time for generations of children to be indoctrinated with the ideals of liberty to ascend into leadership roles and turn around our nation's descent into one of the globalists-controlled fascist states suppressing mankind into a technologically empowered dystopian existence. the globalist banksters have been preparing for this moment in history for generations already and have now snared their most prized game--the U.S.A., the former beacon unto the world. in fact, our nation has been publicly reduced to exercising blatant hypocrisy for all the world to see, dimming humanity's aspiration for equal opportunities at peace and prosperity.the fight is upon us. either we escape like a trapped cougar or wolf--with our lives but at the loss of a limb--or face the fate of captives unwilling to stand united against the tyranny to which we have silently succumbed. now is not the time to be lulled into further submission, to allow the NWO traitors to slip on another noose, this time around our neck where we will be strangled into unwilling submission at an even greater price to our personal liberties, both economic and religious.President Trump has begun a good fight. he cannot face down the tyrants alone. he requires the American people to stand with him. he is our leader, not our savior. support your principled elected representatives and cast out the scoundrels in 2018. we must actively participate in the democratic process and strive to re-align our voice in Congress to change from within. in the event of electoral failure, liberty lovers across America must be prepared to stand their ground at the inevitable hard fork ahead.  If You Can't Secede, You're Not Really Freewill two nations there be where united stands one? big govt, big biz, and big money are destroyers of unguarded liberty. Federalists might garner national support for decentralization and reduced federal govt, which would surely be more desirable, but could this be allowed by the globalists seeking to "close the deal" for which they have prepared multi-generationally?no one knows our nation's destiny but i feel comfortable in saying humanity will prevail. don't forget Mama Gaea is on our side.

Dilluminati Jul 4, 2017 12:10 PM Permalink

I'm remembering to put my flag out, drink rolling rock, eat devil'd eggs, grill burgers fully.Have a happy 4th and remember it is our armed forces and the sacrifices of their families that makes that possible so we aren't fucking venezuela.

Xredsx We Are The Priests Jul 4, 2017 1:55 PM Permalink

You make it sound as if the government hasn't spent all these years creating thousands and thousands of laws which dictate how you live your life. Fuck me,  even parents have lost almost most of their children's sovereignty and responsibility to the state. People can't see troops enforcing this tyranny because they are wearing a different color instead of the usually green.

In reply to by We Are The Priests

Consuelo Jul 4, 2017 12:02 PM Permalink

  City government-posted placards seen on intersections posted across town: "All Fireworks are Illegal" Huge lighted signs erected on freeways within city boundaries, whose default signage throughout the day/night reads:  "Report drunk drivers, call 911"    Of course, you do that right after you (snitch) on a car which (you think) matches the description for an 'Amber Alert' message... Forget about 'freedom' - that's long gone.    You are now in the realm of thinking about Survival and how to stay below the radar - or outwit, the burgeoning Snitch Society... 

Bubba Rum Das BuddhistAescetic (not verified) Jul 4, 2017 1:08 PM Permalink

I heard some talk last night at the Rodeo; about beating up some Immigrant Muslim Assholes who work down at the MUSLIM yogurt plant in the 'next town over'...In celebration of the 4th of July.It's not at all about being 'Bitter', or 'Racist'; it's all about being good citizens & not reacting to their criminal conduct in the society we 'ONCE' had here; up to the point that their behavior becomes intolerable; & the government authority's dutifully ignore the problem...By the way, the guy's I overheard expressing these desires also happened to be the 2nd & 3rd generation descendents of Mexican immigrants, who happen to be employed in the agricultural industry in our area.So this is definately NOT about 'racism.'

In reply to by BuddhistAescetic (not verified)

Giant Meteor The Gray Man Jul 4, 2017 12:39 PM Permalink

Ahhhhh, the true American grit and spirit in action!Brings a tear to the eye ;)Bring on all the fireworks and rockets red glare, the (F) bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night, that we're ALL full of hot air ...Ohhhhhhh, say can you see that, mangled banner ever wavvving,oh ..the land of the fee, and the home of the knave ..Ok, I'll stop there ..Pass the potato salad ..

In reply to by The Gray Man

BeansMcGreens Jul 4, 2017 11:59 AM Permalink

From the article:After all, the American Revolution was an exceptionally bloody conflict, and such conflicts should not be started lightly. ..... The poverty, property destruction, and loss of life was immense given the tiny size of the American population at the time.  The American Revolution was as much a civil war between inhabitates, as it was one unified group against the British.

Zhaupka Jul 4, 2017 11:58 AM Permalink

Mass Media Psychological Operations (PSYOPS) 1. The Lawyer Amended Constitution, Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence all now in the dustbin of history having successfully created these Criminal Enterprises:the Corrupt House of Representatives, the Corrupt U.S. Senate, the Corrupt U.S. Judicial, the Corrupt U.S. Military and its Corrupt 17 Intelligence Agencies, the Corrupt U.S. Media (except for the 5 Independent newspapers that did support U.S. President Trump), the Corrupt  For Sale Ivy League "there is a tailored study for sale proving. . . " Universities, the Corrupt States, the Corrupt Counties, and the Corrupt Cities, the Corrupt Republican Political Party, andthe Corrupt Democrat Political Party. U.S. Political Government "Investigations" show the Perp Walk:  Perjury after Perjured Testimony in U.S. Supreme Courts, U.S. House of Representatives, Senate Testimony.   Fraud all. Only the most frightened horrified have cognitive dissonance belief remaining in U.S. Federal Government. Overthrowing Governments is not done by those who work, commoners posting on internet websites, walking the streets with Pitchforks, Fire and Ropes, Protesting, carrying Placards, placing Posters, and Marching with Banners; those people in Life Long Debt Servitude usually come to gawk at the result. Overthrowing Governments is done by extremely wealthy for differing reasons as in the Overthrowing the Government of Britain/ England / U.K. in the New World - the Free World - during the late 1700's Early 1800's with Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson knew Representative Government eventually becomes corrupt; a New Lawyered Tyranny is formed. Representative Government Corrupts; Absolute Representative Governments Corrupts Absolutely. When Citizens are indebted to, fearful of, dependent on, lied to, [INSERT YOURS HERE], with government guns pointed at U.S. Citizens and Surveillance by their "elected" Representatives using U.S. Militarized Collusive Governments, a New Tyranny is formed (see 1 afore). U.S. Citizens are given a Legal Right and a Legal Duty. When Representative Governments do not do the will of the people (hint: U.S.). ". . . it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government."- Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence, 2nd paragraph

Consuelo Jul 4, 2017 11:53 AM Permalink

  "It's simply worth recognizing that so long as Americans enjoy some of the world's highest standards of living few will be motivated to take up arms." Interesting that perhaps the most important point of the entire piece here, was dedicated but one tiny reference...

dirty fingernails Jul 4, 2017 11:48 AM Permalink

It is facinating how the terms and views of "liberal" and "conservative" got mistly turned upside down. Rather like how the Democrats and Republicans switched historical viewpoints 50ish years ago.