July 4th 1776 - The First Brexit

The markets have recovered from the Brexit panic, but people are still reeling in the aftermath of the UKs vote to leave the European Union, at least in part because it seems like such an unprecedented action.

But it really isn't so unprecedented.

The truth is that we had something like the "Brexit" 240 years ago on July 4, 1776, when our Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence officially declaring the American colonies' independence from the British Empire and the transnational corporate elite that the empire supported, the British East India Company.

Just as the American colonists rejected the British East India Company, voters in the UK recently rejected the neoliberal multinational corporatists that had co-opted the economic and political powers of the United Kingdom.

By the 1760s, the East India Company controlled nearly all international commerce to and from North America along with large portions of the commerce in India, and the company was aggressively importing opium into China to take control of larger markets there as well.

The British East India Company was essentially the Wal-Mart of the colonial era, and the fact that so many members of British government and high society were stockholders in the Company made it easy for the company to lobby for laws that exclusively benefited their transnational corporate interests.

In the decade leading up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the British government passed a series of laws, like the Townshend Acts of 1767 and the Tea Act of 1773, to increase the East India Company's power and influence, while reducing competition.

For example, many people today think that the Tea Act was a simple tax hike that led to the Boston Tea Party and the eventual Declaration of Independence.

But it was more than that, it was the largest corporate tax cut in history at that time. The whole purpose of the Tea Act was to give the East India Company full and unlimited access to the American tea trade, by helping them wipe out American small businesses.

The Tea Act exempted the East India Company from taxes on tea exported to the American colonies, and gave the company a tax refund on millions of pounds of tea sitting in inventory that the company couldn't sell.

According to the official British version of the history the 1773 Tea Act was a "legislative maneuver by the British ministry of Lord North to make English tea marketable in America" with a goal of helping the East India Company quickly "sell 17 million pounds of tea stored in England."

The American colonists didn't appreciate how the Company used the colonies as a profit center, and they especially resented the fact that American small businesses couldn't compete with the East India Company's subsidized prices.

So, just like the Vote Leave groups in the UK rejected corporate-friendly neoliberal economics at the expense of the British working class, the colonists cried "no taxation without representation" and rejected the British imperialism that supported the East India Company's transnational monopoly at the expense of American workers and small business owners.

The Boston Tea Party, for example, was an early rallying point in the fight against this corporate colonization of the early American states.

We're seeing something very similar to that discontent with the worldwide surge in populism, the rejection of global neoliberalism, and the insane corporate-managed trade deals that are destroying the middle class in the developed world and concentrating global wealth into the coffers of a very few members of the global corporate elite.

The Boston Tea Party wasn't just about "taxation without representation", even though that was their rallying cry.

Based on the writings of George Robert Twelvetrees Hewes, a colonist who took part in the Boston tea party, we know that a large part of what was really driving the colonists' rage is the fact that England was passing tax laws solely for the benefit of the transnational East India Company, and at the expense of American workers and small-business owners.

In Britain, anti-immigrant sentiments have been cast as the driving force behind the Brexit, but a survey of more than 12,000 voters in the United Kingdom shows that the number one reason they voted to leave was their belief that the U.K. should remain a self-governing entity that's not responsible to some overarching supranational body that simply hands down rules and regulations about the economy to the benefit of a few political and economic elite.

In the 18th century, the British Empire was likewise blocking the American colonies' economic sovereignty, and in the Declaration of Independence the American colonists included "For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world: For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent" in their list of grievances against the empire.

On July 4, 1776, American colonists signed the Declaration of Independence, making it clear that the American colonists wanted their sovereignty from a global empire intent on rigging the worldwide economy to favor the East India Company and its stockholders.

On June 24, 2016, the UK declared its independence from the neoliberal multinational corporatists that govern the EU and hand down economic decrees which only benefit the economic and political elite in Europe.

And now, like Bernie Sanders recently wrote in the New York Times, it's time for Democrats to wake up and come together to reject these insane corporate-managed trade deals that have wiped out the American middle class, undermined our national sovereignty, and funneled our wealth into the coffers of a handful of our corporate economic elite.

It's time for America to declare our independence again, this time from corporate trade agreements and corporate trade courts, so we can take back our economic and legal sovereignty to make our democracy and our economy once again work for the American worker and the American middle class.

Happy Independence Day!


Sojourner_Lisa's picture
Sojourner_Lisa 7 years 50 weeks ago

Thanks for that Thom! I can't think of a more patriotic way to celebrate Independence Day than to begin throwing off the shackles of corporate rule, enforced by these undemocratic trade deals. My husband and I looked up George Monbiot's article on Neoliberalism, (Reaganomics), and were amazed at how it explained the concerted plan to shift wealth from the middle and lower income folks to put it into the pockets of a few elites. My favorite quote from that peice is: "The freedom that neoliberalism offers, which sounds so beguiling when expressed in general terms, turns out to mean freedom for the pike, not for the minnows."

Deist's picture
Deist 7 years 50 weeks ago

Love the title of your excellent article! Have a great Fourth!

And food for thought regarding the US not being established as a Christian nation by and for Christians: http://deism.com/deistamerica.htm

Progress! Bob Johnson


2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 7 years 50 weeks ago

It's been quite clear that corpse elites and the public servants they purchase are incapable of honoring the contract of "good government." Government's authority must come from the people, and just as our founders resisted, we the people have a right to resist when the that contract has been violated.

The United States of amnesia seems to have forgotten it's enlightenment roots. July 4th is a good time to drink some beet juice, or whatever, and try to remember what that great struggle was all about.

IM Jussayin 7 years 50 weeks ago

From every point you make here it seems to me what you need to do is support Mr. Trump. If your biggest issues are what you say they are, you are more in agreement with him than you might feel comfortable with.

RFord's picture
RFord 7 years 50 weeks ago

President Obama seems to want us to believe that global trade and a global economy regulated by trade regulations written by lawyers of global corporations are normal and we should get used to it. I don't know what he's been smoking but I want some of it. John Lennon asked us to imagine. Let's imagine every country dismantling corporate written trade deals and only elected representatives writing trade policy written for the best interest of the workers in each country. The Wright brothers imagined flying machines carrying people. Ben Franklin and friends imagined starting a new country using the English colonies in America. It can and will be done if the people demand it

Queenbeethatsme's picture
Queenbeethatsme 7 years 50 weeks ago

America had something like that in 1860 also..but we decided we would rather kill the South and destroy their cities, than let them exit.

Queenbeethatsme's picture
Queenbeethatsme 7 years 50 weeks ago

This article would have been even more appropriate (and fair) had Thom also mentioned the decimation and undermining of the US middle class by both NAFTA and CAFTA..of course then, that inconvenient truth about Clinton authoring those two outsourcing bonanzas might have damaged his narrative, some. But to really throw off the shackles, we must not only expose the slave masters but the slave pimps (Democrats) also.

Queenbeethatsme's picture
Queenbeethatsme 7 years 50 weeks ago


Queenbeethatsme's picture
Queenbeethatsme 7 years 50 weeks ago

Better yet, let's imagine each affected voter allowed to vote yes or no on trade deals or mandated insurance schemes or wars..what was not possible prior to computers is easily collated and possible now...we don't need representatives to pretend to speak for us. modern technology can receive and categorize our votes..reps were used when individual votes were too far flung and too many to count. By

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 7 years 50 weeks ago

Queenbeethat'sme, that's because the South wouldn't let African-Americans exit the plantation.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 7 years 50 weeks ago

Queenbeethat'sme, is your motto, "If you can't dazzle 'em with brilliance baffle'm with bullshit."? You defend slavery and then affect outrage at it.

Thom opposes NAFTA and CAFTA. He does downplay the so called Democrats' support and sponsorship of them but also points out that Republicans were the much greater supporters of them.

The Democrats who supported slavery, by the way, are now Republicans.

Hermit1's picture
Hermit1 7 years 50 weeks ago

I live in the UK so perhaps I'm allowed a few comments regarding the recent Brexit? When I was a child our politicians joined what was only ever meant to be a "common market" i.e. so that the countries involved could simply trade more easily together but then years later without recourse to the people of the UK our politicians signed the Maastricht Treaty which appears to have led the UK towards a greater "federal" Europe. I was old enough when this happened to be annoyed by this as it was clear that "those in Brussels" were moving towards a euro government which took away more powers from our own. I am happy that the people of the UK have finally been allowed their say in whether we wish to be ruled by people in europe who we have not elected or our own parliament. Our government is a long way from perfect but at least if we disagree with them we can get in a car and knock on their door!

Kend's picture
Kend 7 years 50 weeks ago

Many of my friends in the UK and other countries in Europe are also tired of massive amount of people pouring into their countries. Not only are new immigrants taking over neighborhoods but whole cities. Here in N. America many seem to like this and want to call anyone who doesn't like it a racist. The truth is many Eutopean countries liked their culture and country the way it was not the way it is going to be. I have to admit I don't like the way it is going either. I think this is just the start of anti globalization.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 7 years 50 weeks ago

Of course, Kend has to represent the element of ethnic intolerance. The Asian immigrants in Europe are subjects of the European empires, the Indians and Pakistanis in the U.K., the Arab peoples in France are of the formerly colonized people coming to Europe to enjoy the fruit of their own slave labor. The extravagant standards of living of the United States and Western Europe would not have been possible without colonial exploitation of non European nations.

Kend's picture
Kend 7 years 50 weeks ago

Mark it isn't the right that is allowing tens of millions of illegals to pour into the country to exploit their cheap labor. The right is fighting hard to stop it and get wages up. With the massive debt and lack of jgood paying jobs i just don't understand why the left in Canada and the US wants so many immigrants. How can the better our nations.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 7 years 50 weeks ago

The "race card" played against those in the U.K. wishing to exit the E.U. is like a similar neo liberal strategy in the U.S. that is, in fact, a pitfall of identity politics. "Diversity," is extolled as a value of neo liberalism to take attention away from economic inequality and issues of justice of racial ,gender, sexual orientation, etc. are emphasized with the pointed exclusion of issues of economic or class justice.

It comes, in large part, from the '60s in the U.S. when labor was strong (and corrupt, having become "part of the problem" it reactionarily opposed social change) and there was a large blue collar middle class. What poverty there was in the U.S. then was race based, i.e., it was the result of racial discrimination. So, consequently, the liberation movements of the '60s were about racial rather than economic or class justice and a class consciousness and sense of class struggle never developed in the United States. Condaleeza Rice is Secretary of State, Clarence Thomas is is on the Supreme Court, Barrack Obama is President so everything's alright in America.

This is in contrast to Europe, where in France in 1968, for example, 10 million workers walked out in solidarity with leftist students in a nationwide general strike. One can't imagine something like that happening in the U.S. in the same period. Quite the contrary, here the "hard hats" started the "America, Love It or Leave It!" campaign and cracked heads of leftist young people.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 7 years 50 weeks ago

Kend, that is patently false. It is the right that creates "globalization" to force migration of cheap labor and foment anti immigrant sentiment to divide and conquer the working classes.

Here in the United States, NAFTA quadroupled the flow of undocumented immigrants from Central and South America who were largely peasant farmers who lost their rights to their land because of the treaty. Having arrived in the United States they found themselves forced to accept substandard wages and working conditions because of their undocumented status, which, in turn, lowered wages and working conditions for U.S. born workers as well and brought the U.S. born workers' ire against them.

The "right" is not a monolith. Big business conservatives were very much in favor of NAFTA and the cheap labor it would bring. They were positively up in arms over the immigration raids G.W. Bush was conducting in the mid 2000s, for example - although they didn't understand he was being helpful to them by keeping the pot boiling and keeping the immigrant workers' fearful so they'd never DREAM of demanding their rights.

The blue collar and working class, "beer hall" conservatives are the suckers of the former category of conservatives. They take the bait of division and blame, not NAFTA and the machinations of business and political elites but, the undocumented workers themselves for trying to survive and make a decent living and fall for race baiting and race hating demagogourey.

Queenbeethatsme's picture
Queenbeethatsme 7 years 50 weeks ago

Btw..I have been an Independent since 1982, and know plenty of racist Democrats..not holdovers from the civil war...but racist, myopic, self righteous Democrats who think patronizing other races is championing them and who are bigots in their own right. The right most definitely has no monopoly on racism and Clinton pushed NAFTA and CAFTA.

Stop being a party hoe. They both have less than our best interest at heart. Look at Obama and all the ways we are now forced into certain types of commerce like health car, home and car insurance, etc..losing freedoms everyday.

Queenbeethatsme's picture
Queenbeethatsme 7 years 50 weeks ago

Lol. When did I defend slavery? Having a shared and very rich history with my ancestors as slaves, I am part of the demographic well aware of not only slavery but colorism (being that I am one of those darker black people) and not as a theory or standard bearing white guilt movement but as my race's legacy and my everyday reality.

Truth is truth. Look at the dates of the Emancipation proclamation and when war was actually declared.

Freeing the slaves was a ploy, not a position of conscience. Guess that is what is meant by "white washing, eh? There are no haloes from that war.

The civil war did not begin because of slavery or even dialog about slaves. How well revisionist history lessons take and how readily some (like you) adopt and believe the versions that make you feel more comfortable or righteous.

Thankfully, having gone to school prior to PC history lessons, we learned not only about the economic deal between the South and England that caused the North to react, we also know freeing the slaves was not a moral choice for the North or Lincoln but a strategic one that was to preempt England from entering the war on the side of the South.

Like most wars, this was all about money and trade not right or wrong.

Sorry if that offends your sensibilities, but truth is truth. This is also why, when after the war as former slaves relocated znorth, the still got lynched and were segregated into ghettos and there was Jim Crow.

If the North and Lincoln were as moral as you like to believe, why did it take over100 years to end segregation and why are we still waiting for equal treatment? # white privilege, # trayvonmartin, # Ferguson,mo, # Eric garner.

guess you follow that old adage if "if you tell a lie long enough, it replaces the truth. Smh

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 7 years 49 weeks ago

Queenbeethat'sme, my history instruction was long before PC as well. Slavery may not have been Lincoln's truest motive but it was his ostensible motive and for the people - and for the Southern secessionists - it was THE motive, nothing else would have been reason enough for seccession. Southern rhetoric was that secession was because "the North was trying to tell us what to do" but what it was trying to tell them to do was not practice slavery, even if it would not have been very pretty for the South to admit that in so many words.

I can't believe you didn't know that, especially if you're African-American, as you claim. To defend Southern secession is to defend slavery, bogus rhetoric aside.

The Republican Party was, in that period, the progressive party for human rights. It was not only abolitionist but supported the labor movement of that period of the Industrial Revolution supporting the 40 hour week and such.

The Southern Democrats of pre Civil Rights times are now Republicans and Democrats have to at least try to be racially inclusive. Most of the Democratic Party, as I said above, has abandoned the labor movement and ostentatious committment to racial diversity, it seems, is a re herring means of ignoring that.


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