Sunday, June 5, 2011

Have we ever been truly free? Part 2

This revolutionary idea did not sit well with the leadership class. Here it was, for all to see in its glory, the flaw in their power, the chink in their armor the déjà vu in the Matrix. If men did not need or fear the leadership class, how could they keep control?

At first they ignored it. After all, they were still getting their alms. The political class was divided in three clans. The Monarchy who controlled men’s bodies, The Church that controlled the mind and soul and The Banks that controlled his property continued business as usual. Lands and titles were still granted, Men were still recruiting, ahem, saving new souls and merchant were still taking out loans. Life was still good. Colonists were making money hand over fist. The tobacco and cotton crops were bringing in a lot of gold to the colonist and they continued to play the game. So why try to upset the apple cart?

Enter the war between France and England. The banks financed both sides of the war in a hostile takeover attempt on the political class. England demanded that the colonist give their blood and treasure to the King in the fight against the Indian Nations and France in Canada. The colonists, been good subjects of the King, obliged. After all, weren’t we still subjects to the King? We can live as men and be subjects at the same time, right? But a funny thing happened during that disastrous misadventure. The British Regulars, who considered the colonist to be the dredges and rejects on Great Britain, forgot they were no longer dealing with the original subservient uneducated rabble. Distance from the King and the taste of freedom had done something to the grand children on the original colonists. 

They were now hardened, independent and proud. They did not take kindly the abuse heaped on them by the pompous “Red Coats”. They were free men and although had been in denial about their relationship to the crown, there was no longer any denying, they were no longer the men that the crown thought they were. 

After the cessation of hostilities (which benefited no one but the Banks, great surprise there), the Crown found itself in “hock” to the bank. The King could not raise the taxes of merchants and wealthy landowners in Britain anymore without a revolt and there were no more lands to conquer and profit from. So clearly, the loans should be paid by that rabble in the colonies. After all, he thought, it was for their own good anyway.They should be united in the war time obligations of Britain. 
The crown imposed a tax on all documentation (legal documents, bills of sale, newspapers, etc) to help defray the cost of their military (Stamp Act). The crown also ordered the Colonies to pay for the military expenses of British Troops stationed in the Colonies (Quartering Act). Colonial merchants, who for a generation had begun to call themselves Americans, did not see it this way. John Dickinson writes in a Letter from a Farmer in Pennsylvania:

If the British Parliament has a legal authority to issue an order that we shall furnish a single article for the troops here and compel obedience to that order, they have the same right to issue an order for us supply those troops with arms, clothes, and every necessary, and to compel obedience to that order also; in short, to lay any burdens they please upon us. What is this but taxing us at a certain sum and leaving us only the manner of raising it?

Their objections did not sit well with the Banks. After all, if the colonies did not pay the debts of the crown, their own wealth was at stake. They did what they have always done, they restricted money flowing to the colonies in order to punish the merchants. But they were shocked when they found that the colonies did not need them. The colonies had bypassed the banks and issued their own currency called the Colonial Script. The audacity of this move would shake them to the core. If the rabble was allowed to ignore the banks, how could they control them? 

The political class tried to enforce the taxes and then in panic, to negotiate. They removed all taxes but a small tax on tea. After all, a small tax on tea was not unreasonable. They could be reasonable men. And once the colonies accepted that small tax, well they will accept the rest of them. In time.

The colonists did not see it this way. Like rebellious children they stood their ground. Not one coin in taxes would be paid. The loyalists in the colonies were outraged. Can’t you see the King is been reasonable? We must get along and pay this small tax. After all, we are doing well and are prosperous. It is unpatriotic and treason to oppose the King!

But it was too late. The spirit of rebellion was already lit and the curtain hiding the great OZ was wide open for all to see. In a famous act of economic terrorism, the colonists blocked all shipments of tea from entering the colonies. They even went as far as dumping the contents of a hip at Boston Harbor, the most important port in the colonies overboard. Millions of pounds worth of tea was lost. This was the equivalent of sinking every oil tanker in the Gulf of Mexico today.

The King could not let this stand. He garrisoned a Battalion of Red Coats in Boston proper and sealed the harbor to all commerce. Now, garrisoning troops was in those days a mite more intrusive than it would be today. Merchants were tossed of their homes and places of business to house and feed the troops for free. Local police was replaced by military forces. Roads in and out of Boston were blockaded. Hundreds of men became unemployed. This was certain death from starvation to the inhabitants of Boston. 

Instead of isolating Boston it had the opposite effect. It served as a shinning beacon of the denial that the colonists had been suffering. Are we men or are we slaves? If we own our lives and property, how can we let the crown take it away? The cognitive dissonance was too much. The final veil ripped and the truth was exposed. 

You can not be a slave and a man at the same time. You must choose. And so they chose.

"If you love wealth more than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, depart from us in peace. We ask not your counsel nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains rest lightly upon you and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen.”—Samuel Adams 

Yes, those men made many mistakes. I specially find it telling that they could live with the sin of slavery even though they knew it was an abomination. Quoting Jefferson in a letter to Thomas Rutledge:
"I congratulate you, my dear friend, on the law of your state [South Carolina] for suspending the importation of slaves, and for the glory you have justly acquired by endeavoring to prevent it for ever. This abomination must have an end, and there is a superior bench reserved in heaven for those who hasten it“
Yet, they did something that had not been attempted before. They recognized that governments serve men. This was a shocking concept. The political class would now be the servant and man the master. Like an adult taking care of an aging parent, they had turned the Parent/Child relationship upside down. The illusion was over.

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