What is America?

By Iconoclast


Having had the opportunity of living in not a few places in my life, I have become an ardent anti-nationalist. Living amongst different peoples I have learned that there is nothing so artificial as a country or a flag. As a student of history I have learned that nationalism is a bane on humanity, often used by the unscrupulous to whip up jingoistic frenzies and to justify the ultimate calamity of mankind – war.

A few years of school under the aegis of a fascist dictatorship virtually erased the concept of patriotism from my mind. Learning the “organic laws” of the realm under the watchful gaze of “Jesus and the two thieves” (each classroom had an effigy of Christ and photos of Franco and Primo de Rivera) and singing the fascist hymn (“Cara al Sol”), mixed poorly with previous experiences of reciting the “Pledge of Allegiance” or watching boozed hoodlums fight opposing soccer fans for queen and country.

Nonetheless, I cling to my allegiance to the United States. I do not do this out of loyalty to the polity nor due to the fact that the US was my birthplace – what can be more accidental than one’s place of birth? I continue to consider myself an American because of what the United States represents.

The founding fathers were children of the Enlightenment, and enlightened they were. For the first time since the Ancients, a polity was born on the basis of secular and humanistic rights, based on equality and participation.

For a student of history, the reading of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the compendium of revolutionary writings of the remarkable generation of men, is an epiphany. It seems that the accumulated experience of history, which is “little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind”(Gibbon), was contemplated in their ideas. For the first time in history there was a framework designed to efface mankind’s burden of inequality and servitude.

It is unfortunate, then, that our government has so rarely applied the sentiments behind our Constitutional framework when dealing with the rest of the world, or indeed with its own citizens.

I maintain my allegiance because of my continuing hope that we can return to our “founding sentiments”.

Our country is now at war, based on what appears to be false and misleading pretexts. Soldiers are dying, innocents are suffering, because of a potential threat that was purposefully exaggerated. Our elected representatives have mislead us, manipulated us, clearly contradicting the ideals and values of our country. What is worse, this is far from the first time.

"War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.

I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we'll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.

I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.

There isn't a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its "finger men" to point out enemies, its "muscle men" to destroy enemies, its "brain men" to plan war preparations, and a "Big Boss" Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.

It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.

I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents."
Excerpt from a speech delivered in 1933 by Major General Smedley Butler, USMC

Liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, all have a responsibility to fulfill. Through our voices we MUST take back the government and reinstate the principles of our enlightened, idealistic, founding fathers.

By all means vote. But write your politicians, talk to your friends. Send letters to the editor. It CAN be done, and we’d better do it before its too late.