Read the Declaration of Independence (I republish it here every year).
The founders were not always patriots. They began as traitors, risking everything to sever their ties with the government that was supposed to keep them safe but that broke that promise and stole their freedom.
America didn't become independent in the first week of July of 1776. The founders didn't, with a stroke of the pen, create a free nation; rather, they formalized a revolution, and pledged to that revolution their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. It took seven more years for the states to become independent.
Thomas Jefferson knew that the course of governments is toward greater authority and tyranny. That governments become destructive to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness was a fact acknowledged in the Declaration without fanfare. Whenever—not "if" or even "when"—it happens,
it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, 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.
Government's advance toward tyranny can be slowed by resistance—that's our day job—but it can only be reversed by revolution.
Is it time now for another revolution? As Norm Pattis notes, "We now have our own lords, and they are no longer distant." We have standing armies (police forces, with more firepower than an 18th-century army) among us; the right to trial by jury is under fire. Meanwhile, corporate overlords effectively—through their power to spend—choose and control our representatives so that they can have the keys the public till. We battle the combined forces of government and corporation for the minds of our children, whom they would turn into complacent compliant consumers.
Religions monopolize thought, corporations monopolize wealth, and governments monopolize force. When any two of them combine, the threat to freedom increases exponentially. James Madison could never have imagined the concentration of wealth and power that the modern corporation represents; if he had, the Bill of Rights could have insulated government from corporate control.
So is it time now for another revolution? Revolution requires critical mass: the instigators of the revolution of 1776 were the elite, but they were backed by the masses. Most Americans today are complacent compliant consumers; they haven't the foggiest idea what freedom means. If they had some clue, the politician who, in a televised debate, said . . .
We have to fight for our freedoms, also, economic and our national security freedoms.
. . . would have been laughed off the stage and forced to retire in humiliation from public life. As long as the American people are cornfed, fat, and happy with their economic and national security freedoms, the government-corporate complex will be safe from revolution.
And yet . . .
God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. … What country before ever existed a century and half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.
The time may not be right for revolution now; that does not mean that it never will be. And until the day arrives when we must refresh the tree of liberty, it's our job to keep the spirit of 1776—the spirit not of independence but of revolution—alive.
Preserve the spirit of resistance. Celebrate independence in September; celebrate revolution today.