If you agree with Gore Vidal that “only corporate America enjoys representation by the Congresses and presidents that it pays for,” then your average July 4th quote is going to ring pretty hollow.
“My patriotic heart beats red, white, and blue” or “And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free” — why do people bother emailing this kind of stuff at all anymore?
But whether you agree with Dr Johnson about patriotism being the last refuge of the scoundrel or whether you find inspiring examples of freedom and integrity in the American past, maybe this year you should arm yourself with a different kind of Independence Day quote.
To that end, we provide quips from the brave, the wise and the gadfly, all on the topic of freedom and its perversion by big corporations. (Want more quotes on corporations? Check out Bill Huston’s extensive list).
Why pick on corporations? Because we think that their plutocratic control of government in the US and beyond is the biggest single obstacle preventing the peoples of the world from getting the clean energy and local economies that we need to prepare for peak oil and fight climate change.
I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.
I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.
James Madison, speech, Virginia Convention, 1788
Unless you become more watchful in your states and check the spirit of monopoly and thirst for exclusive privileges you will in the end find that…the control over your dearest interests has passed into the hands of these corporations.
Talk about slavery! It is not the peculiar institution of the South. It exists wherever men are bought and sold, wherever a man allows himself to be made a mere thing or a tool, and surrenders his inalienable rights of reason and conscience. Indeed, this slavery is more complete than that which enslaves the body alone.
Henry David Thoreau
I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and cause me to tremble for safety of my country; corporations have been enthroned, an era of corruption in High Places will follow, and the Money Power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the People, until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic destroyed.
Abraham Lincoln, letter to Col. William F. Elkins, Nov. 21, 1864
The fact is, that civilization requires slaves. The Greeks were quite right there. Unless there are slaves to do the ugly, horrible, uninteresting work, culture and contemplation become almost impossible. Human slavery is wrong, insecure, and demoralizing. On mechanical slavery, on the slavery of the machine, the future of the world depends.
As we view the achievements of aggregated capital, we discover the existence of trusts, combinations, and monopolies, while the citizen is struggling far in the rear or is trampled to death beneath an iron heel. Corporations, which should be the carefully restrained creatures of the law and the servants of the people,… are fast becoming the people’s masters.
Grover Cleveland, address to Congress, December 3, 1888
[W]e now hold, that a corporation is not a citizen within the meaning of the constitutional provision that ‘the citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states.’
Blake v. McClung, 172 U.S. 239 (1898)
I again recommend a law prohibiting all corporations from contributing to the campaign expenses of any party….Let individuals contribute as they desire; but let us prohibit in effective fashion all corporations from making contributions for any political purpose, directly or indirectly.
Theodore Roosevelt, address to Congress, December 3, 1906
Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of it. The history of liberty is a history of resistance.
It would be easy for us, if we do not learn to understand the world and appreciate the rights, privileges and duties of all other countries and peoples, to represent in our power the same danger to the world that Fascism did.
The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to the point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That in its essence is fascism – ownership of government by an individual, by a group or any controlling private power.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed – else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Certainly when the fourteenth amendment was submitted for approval, the people were not told that ratifying an amendment granting new and revolutionary rights to corporations and were not told that it was intended to remove corporations in any fashion from the control of the state governments. The fourteenth followed the freedom of a race from slavery. Corporations have neither race or color.
Multinational corporations do control. They control the politicians. They control the media. They control the pattern of consumption, entertainment, thinking. They’re destroying the planet and laying the foundation for violent outbursts and racial division.
There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop.
The only difference between the Republican and Democratic parties is the velocities with which their knees hit the floor when corporations knock on their door. That’s the only difference.
Punk is not dead. Punk will only die when corporations can exploit and mass produce it.
April is tax month. If you are having trouble filing your taxes, then you should hire an accountant. They’ll give you the same advice that they’ve given hundreds of corporations – taxes are for douche bags.