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A once-proud people reduced to servitude.adbusters_114_unofficial_history_S

The history of America is the one story every kid knows.

It’s a story of fierce individualism and heroic personal sacrifice in the service of a dream. A story of early settlers, hungry and cold, carving a home out of the wilderness. Of visionary leaders fighting for democracy and justice, and never wavering. Of a populace prepared to defend those ideals to the death. It’s the story of a revolution (an American art form as endemic as baseball or jazz) beating back British Imperialism and launching a new colony into the industrial age on its own terms.

It’s a story of America triumphant; a story of its rise to prominence as the richest and most powerful country in the history of the world. After World War II, “the land of the free and home of the brave” emerged as an inspiring model for the whole world to emulate.

That’s the official history, the one taught in schools and reinforced by our media and culture in myriad ways every day.

The unofficial history of the United States is quite different. It all begins in the same geographical cauldron, save the fact that European settlers were not the first people to inhabit the lands they claimed to have “discovered”—a critical, perhaps calculated, omission from your high school history books. Much later on, a bit player in the official history became vitally important to the way the unofficial history unfolded. This player turns out to be not only the provocateur of the revolution, but in the end its saboteur. This player lies at the heart of America’s defining theme: the difference between a country that pretends to be free and a country that truly is free.

That player is the corporation.

The unofficial history of America, which continues to be written, is not a story of rugged individualism and heroic personal sacrifice in the pursuit of a dream. It is a story of democracy derailed, of a revolutionary spirit suppressed and of a once-proud people reduced to servitude.

— Kalle Lasn, Culture Jam