By Žikica Milošević
It is a well-known fact that 4th July is the biggest American holiday. On that day, in 1776, a group of politicians and fighters for independence from Great Britain made the fateful decision not to seek a solution within the system, but to find their own way that resulted in the Declaration of Independence. But, in American culture, independence is more than just a declaration.
FROM THE FOUNDING FATHERS UNTIL TODAY
In Philadelphia, the Founding Fathers abandoned the tradition symbolized by their previous colonial history. If they had not done that, the US would today resemble Canada. As a result, the contemporary US promotes independent tradition that glorifies individuality over collective, and initiative over anticipation. In short, the declaration was the first step towards recognizing that both the state, which was based on the 13 colonies of New England, and every one of its citizens would always be ready to take matters into their own hands, namely to defend themselves, to have the right to medical treatment and education, to find happiness on the distant horizons of unchartered areas in the West or the South, to start a company, to invent something new… Thanks to this spirit, throughout its history, the country has been attracting millions of people who were ready to pursue happiness and achieve the American dream. That is actually how the American dream was created; with the idea that society will allow initiative, and that, if injustice occurs, society has to change.
Another result of this was the birth of the highest form of entrepreneurship, although such entrepreneurship had existed in Britain before the independence and in parallel, in other Commonwealth countries that remained loyal to the Motherland. Max Weber connected Protestant ethics with the spirit of capitalism and the entrepreneurial spirit, and his book is a kind of a Bible for sociologists and finance ministers. Even the president of Serbia quoted it from time to time when he was prime minister. Although we see the same thing happening in other Protestant countries, the United States still perpetuates the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, namely that one should sever their ties with anyone who is an oppressor or slows down their development. This is the reason why there is a huge number of startups in America, because American people, just like their ancestors – the Founding Fathers, can leave companies they work for, declare “company independence” if you will, and create an independent enterprise.
In the US, venture capital is always ready to finance new business ideas, more than anywhere else in the world. Indeed, from Silicon Valley to the advent of Hollywood and Off-Broadway and Off-off-Broadway, indie-rock labels that have become major players like Geffen, outsiders that have become a symbol of modern TV production like Netflix, or a bunch of students that have become leaders in innovation, like Google or Facebook, everywhere we see “declarations of independence”, i.e. readiness to move on.
You’ve probably seen countless movies where if a person suffers injustice, they stand against it and after a prolonged fight, their win and thus change society for better. This, in real life, results in certain inertia of the system to change itself, so the citizens have to “push” it a little bit. Sometimes, the rest of the world finds it hard to understand the incomprehensible desire for solitude (“privacy”, if you will), living in remote locations, carrying weapons and exercising personal freedoms in medical treatment, but that’s all perfectly clear to the Americans. That’s a result of their spirit of independence and non-reliance on the other. There have been cases when citizens even voted against having public transport, fearing that ‘collectivism’ will affect the spirit of entrepreneurship. In a way, America has always rested on “the consensus of all citizens who each fight for the best individually”, thus improving ‘the collective’. This is their recipe for being „the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave“.