The Fourth of July celebrates of the birth of the United States, its act of finally breaking free from tyrannical England, represented by a reenactment of bombs exploding in the sky. As a nation, we fetishize the loss of life on both sides while we devour factory-farmed meats, consume liquids bottled in poor countries, and with fireworks, literally burn the money we sweat and toil for. We yearn for a respite from our jobs, the right to liberate ourselves for a day from the chains of our work. We are free to trade our bodies, complete with aches and pains, for money. We consider our country the freest on the Earth, with civil liberties we celebrate and cherish like free speech and assembly shrink wrapped to our right to dissent.
Yet, as the bombs made by laborers cheaply in other countries for our enjoyment burst in the air, the feeling of true liberation dissipates as quickly as the smoke from a municipal fireworks show. While we eat and drink comfortably in the balmy summer heat, others sit in cold jail cells, imprisoned for their dissent, entrapped by false charges for their own revolutionary ideas which might conflict with the status quo we’ve grown so comfortable with.
The idea we live in a truly free society remains false, with anti-war and anti-capitalist activists imprisoned. Occupy Chicago is currently fighting the state-created case of the NATO5, where Brent, Jared, and Jacob were targeted by Chicago Police before agitating against the NATO summits. In the linked video, they are harassed and threatened before an illegal raid which uncovered home beer brewing supplies that police and prosecutors maintain were a part of a terrorism-related plot. A group of men in Ohio, known as The Cleveland5 participated in a conversation with an undercover FBI agent about property destruction.
“1776- the year of the racist, sexist, classist bourgeois coup. as you light your fireworks in vaguely patriotic gesticulations of nationalism, I’ll be wondering what is wrong with your brain.” - Mark Banks, activist, Occupy Chicago
We are free to trade the authority to raise our children in an education structure that prepares them for minimum wage careers. We are free to lose ourselves in television and shopping, which perpetuates a sense of disconnection with others and allows the state to continue to keep us busy with the banal while going about business as usual. We are free to talk of freedom, of dissent, of the right to protest and speak out against tyranny, provided that tyranny is somewhere else in the past or across the sea.