During the July 4th holiday each year, when posting something relevant about Independence Day on social media, I usually harken back to an experience some years ago, when a co-worker asked me:

“You aren’t patriotic, are you?”

To which I responded:

“Patriotism implies country, and country implies government—so in that sense, no, I’m not patriotic; rather, I’m patriotic to the individual.”

And this year, I followed up with:

“It is not any group or collective which possesses rights, but the individual; it is the individual who does great things, moves humanity forward; it is the individual who either does, or does not, take responsibility for their actions, for their lives; it is the individual who is either good or evil, moral or immoral, and treats others accordingly; it is the individual who stands steadfastly against evil, and fights the good fight—even when they are in the minority, even when they are being ridiculed or shunned (and often by the very people for whom they are fighting). So today, to all you individuals out there who are fighting the good fight: I solute you!”

And, as an afterthought, I would now like to also add:

…and it is the individual which the state enslaves, for the purposes of the state: to enrich and empower itself and its agents, at the expense of the wealth, liberty, happiness—and ultimately life—of the individual. And it is the individual that the state will persecute, prosecute, incarcerate, or even execute, if they dare resist their own enslavement, or even so much as question the “authority” of the state.

But this year, the venerable Dr. Robert Higgs also posted on social media:

“Let’s get something straight: the Declaration of Independence was not a declaration that people who previously had been unfree would henceforth be free; instead, it was a declaration that people who previously had been subject to the domination of one set of men, resident in England, would henceforth be subject to a different set of men, resident in the thirteen seceding British colonies that joined in making the declaration of their political independence from the British Empire. The rest of the declaration was rhetoric and window dressing. Servants remained servants; slaves remained slaves.”

This was quite a realization for me; for it’s rather easy—as we can see by simply glancing at social media, or observing the America’s celebration of Independence Day—to conceptualize the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776 as being a declaration of human freedom (as is now annually celebrated by Americans across the country), when it is, in fact, no such thing. As Dr. Higgs so aptly points out, it was a declaration that the subservience of Americans would simply be transferred from rulers in Britain to rulers in the United States—or, in other words, from foreign tyrants to domestic tyrants.

And this interpretation makes sense, since mankind will never truly be free, as long as the state exists. And as long as the state exists—regardless of its relative size or variant structure upon inception—it will eventually become an immoral, corrupt, criminal institution which preys on its citizenry, and grows parasitically until the entire society and economy collapses. The dismally failed “American Experiment” has proven this, once and for all—going from the smallest government ever conceived to one of the largest, most evil, criminal, corrupt, immoral, tyrannical governments the world has ever known, in a matter of just a couple of short centuries.

And it will always be so, as this phenomenon—otherwise known as institutionalization—is a product of human nature (I’ve written of this here: The Fundamental Flaw in Non-Anarchistic Libertarian Thought).

So, when celebrating Independence Day, Americans are actually unwittingly celebrating their own subservience to domestic tyrants, as opposed to tyrants in a foreign land—they are not, in fact, celebrating their freedom from tyrants, as is supposed—for that, today, exists nowhere on earth.

I’d like to end this article with one of my favorite quotes, from a top intellectual icon of mine, Butler Shaffer, from his amazingly insightful book The Wizards of Ozymandias: Reflections on the Decline and Fall:

“We will not become free when the state goes away. Rather, the state will go away once we are free.”