Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Up the Republic! Happy Independence Day!

The lady above, who I photographed during last year's Royal Wedding celebrations, doesn't seem much of a republican

A friend this evening reminded me that in 1776 the Americans declared independence from the British Crown. They became a republic. Good for them! It doesn't seem to have done them any harm.

Today, 4th July, Americans are commemorating their independence. What an embarrassing contrast to the orgy of kowtowing to Royalty we have just indulged in here, in the UK, with the Diamond Jubilee.

I knew a lot of Americans when I was growing up. My best friend's mum was American. My best friend and her American mum lived together with her American aunt and American grandmother. My teenage years were spent under their roof.

It was a household full of books, antiques, cats, cigarette smoke, whisky, tasty, fattening food, and right-wing views. The family were always very generous to me.

When I was 17 I went on a school exchange to Sudbury, which is near Boston. I stayed with an Armenian-American family in a typical middle-class home. That is to say, it was very big and had three cars in the drive. Like my American friends back at home, this family were also immensely generous, but rather less right-wing.

Socialists wonder when the US poor and working class will get organised and overcome the immense injustice and inequality in their country. Some people theorise an American 'exceptionalism' to explain why there has never been a socialist party in the US on the model of the Labour Party.

This is crap. There have been strong socialist currents in the USA. To find out more, type the terms "the Wobblies" or James P Cannon into a search engine - and that is just for starters.

The USA was born from iconoclasm, and it will surprise us again! Happy Independence Day!

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