18 June 2009

Is Secession Going Mainstream?

"Picture an America that is run not, as now, by a top-heavy Washington autocracy but, in freewheeling style, by an assemblage of largely autonomous regional republics reflecting the eclectic economic and cultural character of the society. . ."

And . . .

"But nearly a century and a half has passed since Johnny Rebel whooped for the last time. Slavery is dead, and so too is the large-scale industrial economy that the Yankees embraced as their path to victory over the South and to global prosperity. . ."

Click here to read the rest of this recent article in the Wall Street Journal on "devolution."

Strange times we live in, don't you think?

16 comments:

Michael Bradley said...

I do not advocate secession but I do read history. I have lived through the greatest devolution of centralized power in the history of the modern world---the break-up of the Soviet Union and the regionalization of government in Great Britain. It would be foolish to assume such cannot happen here. The United States is not bound together by a common language, a common religion, or even by natural borders. The United States is a nation, not because it MUST be that way but because we THINK we are a nation. Once, when we ceased thinking we were one nation, we ceased (for a time) to be one nation.

I travelled in Great Britain two years ago. In Scotland I never saw the Union Jack except on buildings which belonged to the national government. All local buildings, such as schools and city halls, flew only the St. Andrews Cross flag. In Yorkshire, part of England,the same wass true only the flag was the St. George Cross of England.

We have already seen devolution abroad. It is not unreasonable to think it can/may happen here. The issue is, do we want it to happen? Can it be prevented? Should it be prevented?

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

I'm no advocate of secession either. I don't think those who are have fully considered the turmoil and dangers secession would cause.

However, I believe we are naive if we don't recognize that there are forces currently at work that are beyond anyone's ability to control - devolution being one of them.

Bob Pollock said...

Richard,

I read your blog most days. I rarely agree with you, but you are interesting. I just wanted to say I am glad to hear you do not advocate secession. Just for contrast, there are those who are advocating the expansion of the United States. They just don't seem to get as much attention as the secessionists these days.

http://www.geocities.com/us_int/index.html

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Hello Bob, thanks for reading and thanks for taking the time to comment. I'll take interesting, we'll work on the agreeing part.

I would not advocate expansion either.

Best,
RGW

acwresearcher said...

I agree with Mr. Bradley. We do think we are a nation, however, our thinking is based in the Constitution. Regardless that our national governement is probably not what the Founders intended because of legislation, amendment, judicial interpretation and personal interpretation, we have a framework that directs our thinking with regard to our perception of the US as a nation. Sure, we've had the brief period in which the Constitution, as it existed, did not define the nation for everyone. For the most part, the Constitution has served to define our perception of the US as a nation for most of our history.

What I belive would prevent "devolution" is a common-sense approach to interpreting the Constitution and looking at how the Founders who put it together meant for things to be. If I were to recommend an amendment to the Constitution, even more than term limits, I would amend the qualifications of office for all three branches to include having read the Constitution, The Federalist Papers and The Anti-Federalist Papers within the last five years of running for office, reelection, or being nominated for appointment, and Supreme Court Justices should have to read them every five years to stay on the bench. The latter two resources for required reading are simply representative, not all-inclusive, of what the arguements for and against the Constitution were and what should still frame our interpretation. That might be extreme, but it would help maintain focus on what is acceptable under the Constitution.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Hello Greg.

"What I believe would prevent "devolution" is a common-sense approach to interpreting the Constitution and looking at how the Founders who put it together meant for things to be."

I agree except very few in government operate on a "common-sense" approach. Most operate on a "I want to keep this cushy job" and "I want more power" approach.

While your required reading of the founding documents, and writing of the founders, is not a bad idea I frankly believe that many politicians couldn't care less what the Constitution says or what the founders believed. As I already stated, their primary goal is keeping their position and expanding their power.

Furthermore, I think the constant denigration of our Nation's heroes and our founders, i.e. "they were all slave-owning, oppressors who stole land from the Indians" is coming home to roost. Their accomplishments regarding the founding of our country is not as respected as it once was therefore, many Americans' have the attitude of "who cares what they thought."

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Bob:

BTW, are you in favor of expansion of the U.S.?

acwresearcher said...

I agree that the "denigration of our Nation's heroes and our founders" does taint the perception of the what they thought as they framed the Constitution. I think that is the double edged sword of our democracy: we are so inclusive to the detriment of a national identity, which should be founded in the thoughts and ideas of the republic's early leaders. When one truly reads Jefferson's, Washington's and other early leaders' writings it is apparent they saw the disparity between the ideals they aspired to and the ideals that actually existed. This is the reason I believe I am doing the right thing by teaching history to young people. I see presenting these ideals as they wished them to be and not denigrating their lives as being my chief responsibilities and I do not take them lightly.

Regards,
Greg

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Greg:

"I see presenting these ideals as they wished them to be and not denigrating their lives as being my chief responsibilities and I do not take them lightly."

Great, I wish you much success in passing on our great traditions of liberty and freedom, even with our warts and imperfections.

Bob Pollock said...

Richard,

I'm not a member of the Expansionist Party that I provided that link to. I didn't even know there was one. I found their website while I was looking for an article I read a couple years ago that I thought made some interesting points in favor of expansion. Unfortunately, I couldn't find it. As I recall, the author pointed out that every generation of Americans had seen a star added to the flag except ours, and that expansion opened new opportunities and made new resources available to America. A lack of growth could mean stagnation and decline. He made a case for some possible new states, but I don't remember much of it. I wouldn't say I would be against expansion.

BTW, this is something we definitely both agree on - America does have "great traditions of liberty and freedom, even with our warts and imperfections."

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Thanks Bob. I think Scotland would make a nice #51. ;o)

I don't think the new resources would do us much good since we obviously don't have the political will to tap what we already possess.

Yes, we are in agreement there. We've never been perfect but past generations have always strived to overcome impediments to liberty and freedom. I'm not so optimistic about our future - regardless of which political party is in power.

Bob Pollock said...

Richard,
Since many of my ancestors came from Scotland, I think that is great idea! :)

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Bob:

We can always dream!

RW

Arthur B. Breedlove said...

Mr. Williams:

"I'm no advocate of secession either. I don't think those who are have fully considered the turmoil and dangers secession would cause."

I would respectfully disagree with that conclusion. If by "turmoil" and "dangers" we mean armed conflict. History would seem to suggest this is far from a foregone conclusion. Since 1990 the number of peaceful secessions has increased. The disolution of the Soviet Union resulted in the independence of fifteen republics. Czechoslovakia is now the Slovak and Czech republics, respectfully. Norway seperated from Sweden in 1905; Belgium seceded from the Netherlands in 1830. Other examples include Slovenia, Croatia, Singapore, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Estonia, and most recently, Montenegro. For the most part, all were negotiated peacefully. Also, many of the countries now mentioned are amoung the most productive economically. If for no other reason, they have sufficient autonomy to control their own destiny. A good comparison might be that of Ireland to Scotland. I don't advocate secession either, but am far from rejecting it on the basis of any supposed philosophical inviability.

Mr. Bradley:

"The United States is a nation, not because it MUST be that way but because we THINK we are a nation. Once, when we ceased thinking we were one nation, we ceased (for a time) to be one nation."

An excellent observation regarding the mindset of most Americans. It reminds me of a quote that I stumbled upon recently:

"The modern state is not a fated existence; it is a human artifact only two hundred years old. And it no longer has the authority it once had. The secession and devolution movements in the world today, along with the demonstrated viability of small states, raises new and exciting possibilities. Americans have not rejected these possibilities; they simply have never occurred to them. The reason is that they are still under the spell of the centralized modern state founded in the Lincoln myth." -Donald W. Livingston,PhD.

Anonymous said...

"In the mid-19th century, the anti-federalist impulse took a dark turn, attaching itself to the cause of the Confederacy, which was formed by the unilateral secession of 13 southern states over the bloody issue of slavery. Lincoln had no choice but to go to war to preserve the Union"

This paragraph shows the bias of this author.
First, I have never seen an impulse attach itself to anything. The Confederate authors clearly favored a less centralized government, a goal that is pursued in many states today. It wasn't that the Confederate authors hijacked some respectable political philosophy and subversively attached it to their Constitution to legitimize it. Second, note how the issue of slavery is mentioned in one sentence and in the very next, the war was about preserving the Union: Secession over a self-aggrandizing regional government, and war over Union. Basically, the South was attacked for having the audacity to seek independence regardless of why it sought disunion.

Note how slavery is described as a "bloody issue", but war is, well, not bloody? And Lincoln "had no choice"? Of course he did, and he chose invasion and war until he regained absolute power at the cost of more American lives than all other conflicts combined. A necessary price? Highly debatable.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Anon:

Yes, I'm aware of that slant by the author. However, I still find it remarkable that the piece made it into the WSJ.

Slavery was central to the War, but only part of the equation and the South bears no more guilt for the institution than does the North.