July 4, 2008. It’s a day, just like any other day. Well, not any other day, because today it’s a Friday which makes it a better than average day. End of the working week and harbinger of the weekend. Yay!
Of course, the world knows what July 4 is, despite the fact that the date holds no special significance for any other nation besides the United States of America. As Hollywood tells us, and because so many movies have been made either about the date or encompassing the date, it’s independence day. It’s kind of hard to escape knowing what significance the date holds for that nation. Americulturisation (great word, I think I’ll patent it) ensures that from a very early age, the date is instilled in all of us for it’s significance to another people. Doesn’t it make you feel all warm & fuzzy, knowing that Americans all over the place are feeling warm & fuzzy….all over the place.
Okay, that’s my ‘oh fuck! Not more waving of the bloody flag!’ despair out of the way. Here’s the crux of my urge to post on this subject. What is in a flag? Just what does Olde Glory mean to your average American? Do they all have one on a pole outside their home because everyone else in their street has one on a pole outside their home? Is it the thing to do, and have? Why is it that we don’t see our own mish-mash national identity symbol on poles outside of homes across the country. I reckon I know.
Consider the history of the United States of America, and how those states came to be. British colony to union of loosely aligned and independent states within a commonwealth formed through war. Then to two bitterly divided ideologically different divisions within the commonwealth of states, sundered by civil war and bonded again by blood, much of it spilt in vain. States taken into the union through conquest and others divided, lost and regained through fighting, war and blood. In the few hundred years the United States of America has existed as a bonded union of collective interests and patriotism, the culture has been forged on the anvil of war, sacrifice and an ethos of battle for rights. Any kind of rights.
In this country, while we’ve had our patriotic battles, they’ve almost always been between the oppressed and the establishment with the establishment winning out. Eureka springs to mind. Fantastically patrotic in the Australian collective culture, but Lalor & his followers were beaten to a pulp. We still today look upon Ned Kelly & his gang as the ardent underdogs done wrong, when reality tells us they were thieves, thugs and malcontents. In the two hundred twenty years this nation of ours has been officially in existence, our culture has evolved into what it is today. It hasn’t been forged, so to speak. We haven’t had to fight to become what we are. It’s just happened.
Now, I know there will those in our society who’ll think what I’ve written is heresy, bordering on treason. It’s not that I don’t believe we’re a patriotic bunch, because I do. We’re just not overt about it like the Yanks seem to be. We’re understated, and I think we like it that way. Yeh, we’re proud. What of it, eh? We don’t recognise Australia Day to any great extent, other than to take off to the beach or bush for the long weekend, sit around in groups and drink piss, thinking what a great place Australia is. No fireworks, no flashy shows of patriotism, no mass presentation of flags. Although I did notice after January 27, 2008, a few cars running around with small gimmicky mish-mashes mounted on their cars. The gimmick lasted a week or so before the mish-mashes fell off during the daily commute and were never replaced. Yeh, we’re patriotic, but there’s more to being an Aussie than a mish-mash.
Why a mish-mash? Because that’s what it is. It’s not us, it’s bits and pieces of others. Bits of Mother England, bits of her navy. Reminiscences of colonialism, the lash, rum-runners, military overlords and brutality. Reminders of culturally genocidal treatment of our indigenous landlords, repression and theft. The only element of the national mish-mash worthy of holding its place, in my mind, is the representation of an astronomical constellation. At least the Southern Cross remains today as it was millennia ago. Unchanging, rock solid, reliable. As for the rest of the mish-mash…..wouldn’t give you tuppence for it.
So that’s what I reckon the difference between us and the Yanks might be. They made themselves. We were made by others. They’re proud of what they’ve done and become. We really don’t give a shit either way. We are what we are. Don’t like it? Then fuck you very much! Frankly, I rather like the latter. We’ve become the Southern Cross. Uncaring of external opinions. Unchanging, rock solid and reliable. I’m not saying American’s aren’t, but we don’t appear to need a flag to prove it, as they appear to.
So, happy birthday, America. Just keep the racket down, will you? Other’s aren’t really interested all that much..