Archive for July, 2012

Gypsy Scholar’s message for this 236th Fourth of July

Posted in Uncategorized on July 4, 2012 by Gypsy Scholar

“Welcome. Here comes the Fourth of July, number 236 since the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence and riders on horseback rushed it to the far corners of the thirteen new United States — where it was read aloud to cheering crowds. These days our celebration of the Fourth brings a welcome round of barbecue, camaraderie with friends and family, fireworks, flags, and unbeatable prices at the mall…. So enjoy the fireworks and flags, the barbecues and bargain sales, but but hold this though as well ….” (from Bill Moyers’, 236th Fourth of July 2012 Essay)

The GS, a bit conflicted and ambivalent on this defining national holiday celebration, not quite knowing what to say on FB about it (given the expectation that a lot of folks are going to be expressing something about it),  came across Bonnie K’s posting–thanks Bonnie!–of Bill Moyers’ poignant and sobering reflections of the moral complications/ambiguities of the Founding Fathers, most especially the author of the Declaration of Independence. What else can you say? I mean,  after this, anything I entertained about expressing on FB was kind of flat.

So I figured I would only use my  online blog and FB page to make a disclaimer as to why I did not, as I usually do for the Fourth, present my annual “Independence Day” essay, stating that–other than the weekly radio show fell on the 2nd and therefore too far away–“celebrating” the national holiday was getting more and more problematic (while staying within the restrictions of technically a “music program”). Therefore, this year the GS avoided the entire thing (even mention of the Fourth of July or playing a song in honor of it) and just went ahead with my current series of musical essays on the love affair of Abelard & Heloise (which already had been interrupted for a Summer Solstice special).

Yet this late afternoon, in the midst of the neighborhood’s and community’s celebrations, and after getting online to see what others were writing, the GS had second thoughts about not in any way offering a 4th of July sentiment and at this late time has decided to take a chance and put something out there for my fellow Americans to consider.

Therefore, the spirit of Bill Moyers’ “what’s behind this 4th of July holiday” the GS would add (“So enjoy the fireworks and flags, the barbecues and bargain sales. But hold this thought as well”)–this hope for today. (It’s a page or so out of the my 2011 Independence Day musical essay.)

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The American Revolution, from which this declaration of freedom issued, will prompt an inquiry as to meaning of “revolution” and its attendant concepts of “freedom” and “democracy.” As opposed to the popular view of the American Revolution, Jefferson, Adams and the leading founding fathers had another view: the physical, political revolution was not the primary revolution; it was only the second. No, according to none other than John Adams, the real revolution was in the Imagination of the people:

“As to the history of the revolution, my ideas may be peculiar, perhaps singular. What do we mean by the Revolution? The war? That was no part of the revolution; it was only an effect and consequence of it. The revolution was in the minds of the people, and this was effected from 1760–1775, in the course of fifteen years, before a drop of blood was shed at Lexington.” (John Adams, Letter to Thomas Jefferson, 24 August 1815)

“But what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments, of their duties and obligations…This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people was the real American Revolution.” (John Adams, letter to H. Niles, February 13, 1818)

This is far from what appears as today’s historical consensus on the meaning of political “revolution.” Yet, this alternate view of the Revolution is attested to by historian Clinton Rossiter (Senior Professor of American Institutions at Cornell University and Pitt Professor of American History at Cambridge) in his book, The First American Revolution (1953):

“The rise of liberty in colonial America owed much to the unfolding of intellectual and cultural forces. The spirit of liberty—whether political, social, religious, or economic—was more deeply embedded in the colonial mind than in colonial institutions . . . . Americans looked forward confidently to the rise of an indigenous culture. In all aspects of colonial thought, in science and education no less than in philosophy and political theory, the trend was to liberty, democracy, originality, and self-reliance. Yet the resolution for independence, the decision to fight as a “separate and equal” people rather than as a loose association of remonstrating colonials, was as much the climax of a revolution as the formal beginning of one, and it is this revolution—the ‘real American Revolution’—that I have sought to describe in this book.”

 

Given that Martin Luther King Jr. believed that “America is essentially a dream,” the main concern of this musical essay, given the desperate state of our “democracy” today, is to recall, through Romantic dreamers, the archaic, visionary, and ecstatic roots of American democracy (i.e., the federation of the indigenous tribes) from its near oblivion. I shall attempt to re-vision political revolution into a more essential and comprehensive phenomenon than most understand by the term. . . . for as I have stated in my Introduction, the outer revolution was only half the story, the program, of Romantic Total Revolution. From the last great struggle for liberty against imperialist warfare in the 1960s—marching with banners reading “All Power to the Imagination”—to the present struggle for liberty against on-going imperialist warfare, it has been the poets and writers—those “Singers & Keepers of the Dream” (and I include here songwriting poets, from folk-rockers to hip-hoppers)—who have once again transcended the narrow and bigoted national anthem of “patriotism” to identify with and give allegiance to a greater, transnational collectivity, and who have prophetically called forth an alternative vision for human social fulfillment.
. . . .
Those whom I’m identifying as Romantic Revolutionaries, then, sought to make a deep change in consciousness the heart of social transformation and, conversely, to make the interior heart the basis for on-going social transformation. This is the great political dream of the poet-dreamers (Blake’s “poet-prophet” of America: A Prophecy) to realize a utopian commonwealth (“a state or body politic in which supreme power is held by the people”). Perhaps, with this ideal in mind, we can now establish a truly new political “third party” in America, one based on Emerson’s nineteenth-century “Idealist Party” and its successor in the nineteen-sixties, “the Party of Eros.” Since it brings together ideas and social activism with spirituality, social justice with personal authenticity, and politics with love (the Platonic eros), we could call this alternative political party, “The Order of the Unified Heart” (L. C.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhtHDLeeAfE

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