As Charles Johnson has noted, July 4th is the anniversary of the death of an existing tyrannical government. Anarchists can therefore ironically appropriate the holiday for their own purposes. Let us celebrate the death of British colonial rule rather than the creation of a new nation-state. Both British imperialism and American nationalism deserve to be criticized. They both exalt and create division among the people of the world. Both lead to sanctifying a collectivist identity based on blood and soil. This encourages the use of aggressive violence to sustain an irrational collective unit.
No one should raise the stars and stripes on the 4th. The proper flag to raise on the 4th of July is the black flag of anarchy. It’s far more revolutionary than the military colors of the U.S. government. This is especially true, because of the frequent aggressive military actions engaged in by the American state. The status quo has been statism and militarism for ages. A genuine revolution would overthrow both.
This appropriation of nominally statist holidays is a good way to reach the broader populace. People are more likely to respond to imagery related to what they are familiar with. This is the tactical relevance of reinventing these holidays. It allows the anarchist message to reach a greater number of people. This is important for the purpose of garnering mass support.
In garnering mass support through these means, anarchists are changing the culture from a state reverent one to an anti-state one. A change in culture is essential for the success of political and economic liberty. The changing of holidays is a crucial part of our struggle against government. Its help in cultural progress could be immense. It’s a chance not to be passed up.
A related subject pertains to whether we ought to make use of our own unique holidays as well. The answer is a resounding yes. There are anarchist themed holidays like May Day that should be preserved. It’s an integral part of our history as anarchists. The historical is not always worth keeping around, but this celebration is.
The fact that keeping around May Day is worth it raises the question of how we can make it even more anarchistic. We can emphasize the role of government in oppressing the working class. The use of military and police power to break strikes. We can put an emphasis on how government redistributes wealth upward to a governing class. Let us begin to do this today!