As we gather with family and friends to celebrate the July 4th holiday we should remember that we are not celebrating the state, but rather commemorating an act of secession from an oppressive government. We are celebrating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain – a daring move by the Founders inspired by a desire for liberty.
Thomas Jefferson famously said, ‘Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.’ That does not only mean that we should be prepared to defend against foreign invaders. Perhaps more importantly it means that we must retain the lessons from the original American revolt and guard against a government that views the people as the enemy.
We are familiar with the great observation from essayist Randolph Bourne that ‘War is the health of the state.’ But Bourne further explained that, ‘if the State’s chief function is war, then the State must suck out of the nation a large part of its energy for its purely sterile purposes of defense and aggression. It devotes to waste or to actual destruction as much as it can of the vitality of the nation.’
This post was published at David Stockmans Contra Corner on July 4, 2016.