Abraham Lincoln famously said, “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation…”

What new nation?

How does one “bring forth” a new nation?

Lincoln spoke those words in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 19, 1863.

Since 1863 – 87 (year of address minus four score and seven) = 1776, he was referring to the events we celebrate today, Independence Day.

Did 1776 bring forth a new nation? A nation is a people who share a culture, a language, and often a religion. Nationalism is the position that the nation should have its own state. (This comes with all the usual problems of collectivist concepts, but I can distinguish the nation from the state without supporting either one.)

In an imperial context, nationalism is a secession movement, a decentralizing of power, as we saw with the nations under the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires.

Outside of empires, nationalism is the opposite: an attempt to centralize power, as in 19th century Germany and Italy. So we might consider the events of 1787 a nationalist coup.

Contra Lincoln, what would eventually be “brought forth on this continent” is a new nation-state — but that would come later, either 1787 or 1865, depending on when and where you think the current nation-state begins. I was taught in school that the United States of America was born on July 4th, 1776. But I was taught a lot of nonsense in school.

So why does this nation-state have July 4th as a national holiday? Well, for one thing, the centralizers in charge of the United State (singular) want to promote exactly this confusion. If we notice the huge disparities between the Founders of 1776 and the Founders of 1787 — between the events that culminated on or around those dates and between the governments they produced — then modern patriotism, militarism, statist propaganda (plus central banking, fiat dollars, the Supreme Court, and the imperial presidency) all become problematic.

Anywhere I’ve ever lived here in the US of A, people celebrate the 4th of July as a flag-worshipping, statist holiday that is somehow about both militarism and freedom. I don’t celebrate their holiday. What I celebrate is a different holiday that happens to have the same name and takes place on the same date, but mine — ours — is about a time when American colonists decided to declare independence from empire, from mercantilism, from taxes and regulations, and then fight for that declaration under the banner of natural rights. What the original Founders declared independence from was not just Britain but the very foundations of the modern state.

So while patriots, militarists, imperialists, and other statists gather to celebrate a false history and a real empire, we can gather alongside them and celebrate the opposite. Ours is a shadow holiday that we celebrate in broad daylight.

The featured image is in public domain (CC0 1.0 — photoshopped).