Independence Day – Celebrated Underground

Independence Day in the United States is a time for reflecting on, and celebrating, the Founding of our country. The problem with that these days is that our nation, as she shows herself to the world today, has little connection or affinity with the time or spirit of that founding. This is as true of our publicly-expressed ideals as it is in our demographic makeup. I have no disagreement with Rick Darby on his feeling that, in terms of our public life, we have little to celebrate today.

I recently read a biography of James Madison that was written at around the turn of the (last) century. It was inspiring and valuable, because I was able to feel a connection to another one of the great men who founded the United States of America. Yet I was not sure how to draw upon Madison to speak to us in our present crisis of mass immigration and untrammeled liberalism. Even in 1900, a biographer of Madison saw his value in terms of his liberal values: opposing slavery, supporting freedom of religion, and arguing for a strong, centralized federal government. Yet while I affirm such Madisonian views as positive elements of our national character, they are not going to be of help in resisting current trends such as race replacement and the growth of Islam. Some might say they are part of the problem, though I do not go that far.

Today, July 4 is an occasion for platitudes about the United States as embodying some ideal of universal freedom and tolerance – the liberal view of who we are. The non-liberal elements of our identity – that we are an English-speaking, European people of Christian heritage – are seen as inessential, or even as impediments to the true meaning and value of our nationhood.

So, what do we reactionaries, traditionalists, and nationalists celebrate today? At the very least, that we have an identity and an Independence Day that belongs to us, even if its true meaning is lost to the majority of people today.

I must apologize for invoking ’70s and ’80s British music in a blog about American heritage these days, but it’s part of my frame of reference and sometimes of some use to me. There was a song by a group called The Jam called “Going Underground” that once meant a lot to me. In high school and college, I liked the idea of being involved in “alternative” or “underground” culture, which at the time I understood to be something vaguely libertarian or left-wing. The truth, though, was that the appeal of the “alternative” musical groups came from their sound and sense of fashion and intelligent lyrics, and not inherently from their liberal or left-wing politics. The Jam song went like this:

What you see is what you get
You’ve made your bed, you better lie in it
You choose your leaders and place your trust
As their lies wash you down and their promises rust…

And the public gets what the public wants
But I want nothing this society’s got –
I’m going underground
Well the brass bands play and feet start to pound
Going underground
Well let the boys all sing and the boys all shout for tomorrow

(P.S. I decided to remove the video upon re-watching it. The imagery on the video doesn’t belong on today’s post, although it’s mild enough for that period of music.)

Nowadays, I realize that to really be “underground” is not to be liberal, but to be traditionalist or conservative. This is the position that really challenges the ruling order, and that really takes courage and non-conformity to hold. When we traditionalists celebrate the Founding of our nation (whichever one we may belong to), we have to do it, to some extent, “underground,” outside of the parades, fireworks, and sports events that mark Independence Day in the United States.

And, one thing we assuredly can celebrate is that sympathy for a traditionalist position, and resistance to the current order, is growing, even if we are hard-pressed to find positive manifestations of this. But remember, it’s still early!

So as not to leave out a traditional American element on this day, I refer the reader to the poem “The Swamp Fox,” written by a very politically incorrect Southern writer, William Gilmore Simms, about Francis Marion, who doggedly opposed the British in their occupation of South Carolina during the Revolutionary War:

“We follow where the Swamp Fox guides,
We leave the swamp and cypress tree,
Our spurs are in our coursers’ sides,
And ready for the strife are we—
The Tory camp is now in sight,
And there he cowers within his den—
He hears our shouts, he dreads the fight,
He fears, and flies from Marion’s men.”

Best wishes on this Independence Day. May it be a time of public celebration and private inspiration to all my readers.


4 Responses to Independence Day – Celebrated Underground

  1. Liam says:

    Hello Stephen

    Interesting piece. I was a huge fan of The Jam in their prime. The singer, Paul Weller, penned another very popular song called “Eton Rifles” (as you probably know), which was the usual attack on “privilege.”

    Weller, of course, went on to send all five of his children with assorted women to very expensive private schools. The guitarist Bruce Foxton went one better and sent his son to Eton itself.

    Hope you have enjoyed the summer thus far.

  2. stephenhopewell says:

    Liam, thanks. You liked the Jam? I had several of their albums and loved their stuff, though “Eton Rifles” wasn’t one of my favorites. I actually got to talk to Bruce Foxton once. I knew about the rift between Weller and the others, also that people tend to refer to him as a **** (insert appropriate epithet), but I hadn’t heard the punchline about him and Foxton sending their children to the elite private schools. Which, of course, are teaching pure, unadulterated liberalism and “anti-racism” at present. Thanks for sharing that!

  3. Liam says:


    You might like this. Very melodic and wistful. Beautifully old fashioned somehow.

    If you do like it, other songs of theirs that might appeal are “in the Morning” and “Pass it On.”

  4. stephenhopewell says:

    Liam, thanks for that link – I do like it.

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