Happy Independence Day, America.
Today is a day of observance for all Americans – to celebrate their independence from the British Empire, and the creation of a nation built on a foundation of democracy and human rights. One of the most defining moments in western history – a revolution remembered around the world.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. -- Declaration of Independence
It has been over 230 years since the Declaration was signed, and how ashamed would its authors be to see the degree to which the great nation they were determined to build has eroded human rights – not only within its own borders, but in nations across the globe.
Over my slow travel I started reading Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine - which should be made compulsory reading in every American school (if not worldwide). Klein dissects the past sixty years of history – for the most part, the untold story of American and western capitalist imperialism. A meaty, well researched and compelling exposé of how nations around the world have been subjugated using economic shock tactics, with the primary aim of opening up the free market economy. Klein answers questions I have had for years, giving insight into the subversive invasions and meddlings by the CIA and US government in South America, Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa.
The economic shocks – designed to eradicate the economic structure of a country to replace it with a free market – are compared to electric shock torture – a technique now widely known to be used by American troops on prisoners in Iraq. The invasion of Iraq by US and UK forces is described in terms of economic motivation, with Klein revealing the economic, cultural and psychological eradication of a nation for corporate means.
Clearly this is unacceptable – but what is even more unforgiving is that we, as the public who have elected our governments who rule on our behalf, simply sit back and let it happen. Americans continue to put individuals in office who create administrations that support these policies, while politicians mislead the public to earn support for conflicts in the name of “democracy”.
European nations endorse the policies, either for their own capitalist gain, or out of fear to stand up to US dominance. Klein even touches on indiscretions by the Canadian government – who I have feared for some time had been beginning to stray from the pillars of social democracy that we have always held dear (and that set us apart from our southern neighbours ...)
The result has been the destruction of nations, cultures and lives – all to line the pockets of big business, all in the name of democracy.
So happy birthday, America.
Give yourself a gift this year and read The Shock Doctrine.