Whiskey Rebellion Anniversary


Douglas Rushkoff is a guest blogger.

In 1791, Alexander Hamilton imposed a new tax on Americans – both as a way of paying down the national debt and, in his words, "more as a measure of social discipline than as a source of revenue." The taxes led to widespread organizing, protests, and ultimately insurrection. The first shots were fired in the town now known as South park (not Colorado, but Pennsylvania, but it always made me wonder what Trey Parker had in mind).

By May, 1794, Americans in most states were raising liberty poles, the symbol of revolutionary American resistance to tyranny. Although dismissed by Hamilton as a "whiskey rebellion" in order to make it sound like a bunch of drunks dissing government authority, the movement was a widespread challenge to the federalist model that – perhaps ironically – led to the raising of an American army as big as the one raised for the Revolutionary War, and ultimately a vast increase in centralized control over the American economy, and society. (In the form of corporatism.)

May 13 is also the anniversary of the "May 13 Incident," when Sino-Malay race riots in Kuala Lumpur led to a suspension of Parliament and at least a couple of thousand people killed by police and Malaysian Army rangers.