In a country founded upon the principals of “Civil Disobedience” and fighting for “Indivisible Rights”, the light that was our guiding principal has seemingly been extinguished. Throughout the history of our nation, breaking away from an antiquated system of governing was indeed, our calling card. The Pilgrims left Religious Persecution, amongst other things, in Europe to make the “New World” their home. The Colonists, years later, would take on the mantle of extinguishing the light of relevance of which England held over us, as our captors and rulers. This “American Revolution” was to be the the domino, in many ways, for the rest of the world. England, a seemingly indomitable nation, lost one of its most prized colonies, in part to their lack of desire to continue to send resources to quell the indigenous population of “Americans”. Within the next 200 years the Empire of which “The Sun never set” upon would shrivel to its island in the Northern Atlantic, holding only influence internationally, by economic means. A far cry from 1770 to say the least. The entire western hemisphere would revolt from their European captors over the next 150 years. Some, with American intervention, and some independently from us. What needs to be said however is that the seed that was planted in our country, that spread to so many other countries within our hemisphere and abroad, slowly corrupted and soured from its original bearings. Revolutions, while still romanticized in popular culture and certain annals of history books, have taken on a different tone within the general populace. This has to do, in part, to an expansive media element which serves no bipartisan purpose, with a corporate and political agenda which often times muddles the truth in favor of a narrative which speaks to fears within a particular group, their own target audiences. This, alongside American Exceptionalism, has given rise to an environment in which old timey stories of revolutions are seen more as “Stories” than “Historical” precedents and where, at least in our own country, an intellectual and progressive stagnancy has gripped our nation in ways we are previously unused to seeing.
Mexico, Guatemala, many of the Caribbean Islands, as well as other South American countries preceded or succeeded shortly before and after our own American Revolution. A clear indication of what laid ahead of the traditional European Superpowers in the coming centuries. Seeing European influence removed from the western hemisphere seemed the number one prerogative for America, the regions burgeoning “mover and shaker” during that time. And so it happened, little by little, countries, seeing the lack of substantial and stable regime control in said colonies, used indigenous uprisings against their mother countries colonial governments to bring an end of Western Hemispherical Imperialism from those European nations. This is when things become convoluted historically, and culturally.
The American Civil War saw the moral and economical application of Slavery at center stage. Federal, State and personal freedoms all lay at the crux of this rebellion of sorts. The shear death and human suffering that was left in its wake would have been unfathomable. If not for the pictures, which, for the first time, documented the conditions of war, creating awareness, not honorable fairy tales. It spoke of harsh and gripping gore, death and decay. A nation and its people lay tattered, it’s president assassinated, its moral fibers torn asunder by state against state, town against town, and neighbor against neighbor quarreling. Revolution would not be looked at domestically the same ever again, unity by any means should blanket the nation so as to avoid the embarrassment and grief that such a conflict would inflict upon its denizens. This was a time in which America was still an introvert in many aspects, however, its incubation time into an international force would not be much longer.
By 1914, the world had entered into the most international and total war it had ever known. A literal world war, carnage more great than any other previous, tools more reviled and menacing than could have been imagined, and tactics which were to be the bridge between ancient war and modern war. With Americas involvement in 1917, we were able to tilt the scales towards our allies favor, while suffering no true devastation the likes of mainland Europe, Russia and The British Isles. Although men died in that war for America, coming home with disfigurements and maladies resulting from exposure to chemical, biological and explosive new toys that these governments put into play, it was to a lesser degree than the main players of that war. It was a war that, for America, had significant financial importance. If the Central Powers had proved too much for the Allies, loans of which the Americans had given to it’s allies would have gone delinquent and would have most certainly put American businesses and banks in a precarious position moving forward. Better we swoop in and clean the mess up, so as to collect the estimated 16 billion dollars in profit that Corporations gained from WW1, winning it for the Allies merely meant the gravy train could continue for financial institutions. The banks, which had profited in the billions as well, (not accounted in that previous 16 billion number) could now send loans anew to a browbeaten Germany and its Central Allies, as well as the Americas own allies, whose countries had been annihilated by artillery, trenches and bloodshed.
“It has been estimated by statisticians and economists and researchers that the war cost your Uncle Sam $52,000,000,000. Of this sum, $39,000,000,000 was expended in the actual war itself. This expenditure yielded $16,000,000,000 in profits. That is how the 21,000 billionaires and millionaires got that way. This $16,000,000,000 profits is not to be sneezed at. It is quite a tidy sum. And it went to a very few.” -Smedley D. Butler
America had escaped the bloodiest of conflicts with minor bruises and a soaring infrastructure, the roaring twenties awaited us. Communism did as well. A fear that would grip us in much the same way as the slavery debate had merely 60 years previously. The difference this time being that America had steadfastly agreed to stay united against a threat to the sanctity of its union. Everyone and everything was anti-communist, its economic policies, political policies, social policies, business policies, religious policies, everything against an “Ism”. A communist was blackballed from unions, functions, dinner parties, knitting classes, what have you. Leftist (and Fascist) revolutions were born during this time of the 20th century out of corrupt monarchs, despotisms and government ineptitudes for helping its people maintain and progress. America, which had fought to release slaves from a fate of servitude, which had fought to release itself from the shackles of serfdom to a repressive monarch, which had supported the release of its fellow countries from Imperialism, now lay at a crossroads. No longer did we support freedom, although the guise remained for many of the revolutions that were to occur, a revolution was only to be praised and celebrated if it cooperated with foreign policy, economic policy and our own political acumen. Democratically elected governments in Guatemala and Iran are torn down, albeit secretly, by a government agency which works for a government which allegedly supports freedom. So long as the new puppets do not interfere with Fruit and Oil in these respective cases. In this gap between WW1 and the 50’s, we see America creating a foothold internationally in ways we had never seen, economically. Importing and exporting, using shrewd mixes of business and political maneuvers to assure not only good deals domestically, but a power grip on their partners in the international theatre. Many more revolutions were handled in this same way for similar reasons throughout the 20th century, for more on this, you can look at my article entitled, “The Great Shadow and “Ism” War”. With these facts being dually noted, as well as the patriotic jolt that a catalyzing event such as Pearl Harbor and WW2 would provide, the second half of the 20th century was emblazoned in the hearts of Americans as “Americas Century”. Woodrow Wilson had stated just this vision during his time in office, and so it certainly rang true in many aspects years later. Especially in the hearts of many who had become blinded by our seemingly miraculous actions, leaving our inaction unseen and unaccounted for.
With Slaves freed from their physical bonds at the end of the Civil War, little attention was paid to their continuing struggle for assimilation and acceptance into the entirety of American society. The South did all it could to restrain the growth of these individuals, while simultaneously doing much of the same to its own poorer brethren. Acts, laws, sedition and the like would build until unrest became too overwhelming and the proverbial pot boiled over. “Separate but Equal”, a turn of the century Supreme Court ruling which set a precedent for Southern States to look to while creating racist laws would be overturned by “Brown V. The Board of Education” which said that separate could not be equal. This blow in 1954 set in motion a breath of air of which civil liberties would take and wage a war for freedom ever since. Civil Rights was a motif throughout the 1960’s, of which radical changes in much of the nations perceptions were born in. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X are possibly the best known leaders of this time but are not by any means the only ones. Kings use of nonviolence is very well known, Malcolm Littles fluctuations between nonviolence and “any means necessary” is also well documented. The Black Panther Party, Weather Underground and other Pro-Freedom groups which existed continued to fight for civil rights and liberties in a mixture of both of these concepts. All of these individuals and groups have something in common however. They were all labeled as divisive and negative elements of a nation, by the government of their own nation. Violence by a number of these elements would work against them by media spinning of these acts as unwarranted, with little concentration as to the crux which caused such negativity in the first place. Rampant growth in the Military Industrial Complex, corporations with government ties through contracts and mutual hegemony, as well as diminishing civil freedoms would prove to be the cause, an overlooked aspect to this very days social unrest. It should not be forgotten that peaceful protestors at the time of MLK were sprayed with firehoses, attacked by officers and police dogs, as well as beaten, bruised and battered. This lays in our own history books, should we care to open them once in a blue moon. To think, that people with a counter position to the validity of any form of riot or protest would over look the fact that Martin Luther King Jr. himself was arrested THIRTY times for nonviolence is incomprehensible. It would leave the impression upon those with logic, that believing that a regime dedicated to suppression of a people would somehow respect a more easily containable uprising seems foolish and naive. These very same principals and moral quandaries exist today and with the civil uprisings at injustice found in cities like Baltimore, Ferguson, New York City and those cities in support for real change. Real change, which can only come from the top if not from the people, that is conspicuous only in its absence.
The Federal government staunchly sits upon the fence while these conflicts play out in state settings. A far cry from a Johnson Administration which came to aid those disenfranchised 50 years ago. Too many in power have too much to lose, while bipartisan politics is a thing of yesteryear. With lobbying in every walk and aspect of political life, a politician is not free to support social and political reforms even if it was his desire. There is too much money to be lost if those ideas hurt the interests that back him. The medias ties with political ideology only aids and abets these politicians from NOT having to stand for something real and progressive, as they dumb the populace down for the watered down politician to then disillusion said populace. With rhetorical rallies of “Change” and “Moving forward” and “Creating a better tomorrow” whilst only truly benefiting the Oligarchy which reigns supreme, it seems ludicrous to believe that any change is plausible under the current political system which ties so strongly to private interests.
The evolution is understood, the timeline from 400 years ago is a clear tale of the disenfranchised obtaining independence, power and a nation, only to slowly take away its founding principals and ideals in order to protect their own well beings and positions. They have done it by planting an idea of perfection within their citizens which has only led to inaction in the face of real negative social issues. Where will it end? Where will you make it end? That is for all of us to decide together, once these stigmas are annihilated and the truth is open for true discussion.