Earlier (2012): Nothing Succeeds Like Secession—A VDARE.com Secession Roundup
VDARE.com Editor Peter Brimelow wants me to point out (because he thinks no one else will) that, way back in 1995, in Alien Nation: Common Sense About America’s Immigration Disaster, he wrote that
The contradictions of a society as deeply divided as the United States must now inexorably become, as a result of the post-1965 influx, will lead to conflict, repression, and, perhaps, ultimately to a threat thought extinct in American politics for more than a hundred years: secession.
Well. guess what? This is now happening.
Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene has famously just suggested a “national divorce” over Biden’s Ukraine craziness etc. RINO former Congressman Adam Kinzinger stupidly responded with what could be called the Authorized View of post–Civil War Settlement:
Significantly, however, Kinzinger’s reductionist “once in, never out” rhetoric was rejected even by the communist Daily Beast:
…Twitter’s many amateur historians assiduously explained that this whole secession thing was settled, actually, back when we did the Civil War.
These critiques are an exercise in missing not one but several points: that this isn’t novel territory for Greene or her base, that national divorce is a popular idea across the American political spectrum (including among progressive Democrats), and that it’s popular for pretty good reason. In the grand scheme of stuff that comes out of Greene’s mouth—QAnon conspiracism, space lasers, bad Holocaust analogies—national divorce proposals are well on the normal and sensible side.
[National Divorce Is More Popular Than You Think, by Bonnie Kristian, February 22, 2023]
The Beast’s Kristian thinks the idea is “totally unrealistic” (but miracles happen quite often in politics) while admitting that a lot of people are having the idea—and have been having it for some time.
Both the IRA and the Mafia are alleged to have a rule that says “once in, never out,” which means, in effect, “If you attempt to leave our criminal conspiracy, we’ll murder you.” This is because one defecting Mafioso or terrorist can put the rest in jail.
Does anybody believe that the representatives of the former Thirteen Colonies, changing their post-Revolution organization from the original Articles of Confederation (1783) to the United States Constitution (1787) for themselves and their “Posterity,” added an implied clause that said “If our Posterity ever decide to leave this compact, you have our permission to raise a huge Federal Army, stock it with black and immigrant troops, and burn down their cities”?
That sounds crazy, but it’s what actually happened, and Abraham Lincoln, in a famous speech, declared that that people were dying so that the “nation might live,” the nation being the United States with all its states governed from Washington, D.C.
He said that he was fighting so that “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
In 1920, H. L. Mencken, who lived in Baltimore, a state that had been under Federal occupation from the beginning of the Civil War, scoffed at that:
The doctrine is simply this: that the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause of self-determination —“that government of the people, by the people, for the people,“ should not perish from the earth. It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in that battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves. What was the practical effect of the battle of Gettysburg? What else than the destruction of the old sovereignty of the States, i.e., of the people of the States? The Confederates went into battle free; they came out with their freedom subject to the supervision and veto of the rest of the country—and for nearly twenty years that veto was so effective that they enjoyed scarcely more liberty, in the political sense, than so many convicts in the penitentiary.
[The Vintage Mencken, pp. 79-80]
So, no, Lincoln didn’t win an argument, or a Supreme Court case, or the “hearts and minds” of the South—he won a war. It killed approximately three-quarters of million people.
In 1848, an American statesman gave a speech about the natural right of Secession:
Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up, and shake off the existing government, and for a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable,—a most sacred right—a right, which we hope and believe, is to liberate the world. Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government, may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people that can, may revolutionize, and make their own, of so much of the territory as they inhabit. More than this, a majority of any portion of such people may revolutionize, putting down a minority, intermingled with, or near about them, who may oppose their movement.
The statesman in question: Abraham Lincoln. See Speech on War With Mexico (January 12, 1848).
But Lincoln, obviously, acted quite differently when he was President and the South wanted to secede from him.
Writing about this eleven years ago, I noted that both the U.N. and the U.S. recognize what is called the right of self-determination. Thus in Alien Nation, Peter Brimelow discussed the extraordinary appeal by Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau for American moral support against Quebec separatism:
[I]n a speech before the U.S. Congress [February 22, 1977], implicitly appealing for help after Quebec had rejected his vision and elected a separatist government, Trudeau claimed that the breakup of Canada into its component nations would be
[a] crime against the history of mankind
An extraordinary claim given that it was an American president, Woodrow Wilson, who in effect invented the principle of self-determination and imposed it on the dubious European Great Powers at Versailles in 1919.
Woodrow Wilson’s support of self-determination may have been inspired by the fact that he himself was a child of the defeated and occupied South. (Born in Virginia in 1856, he could remember meeting Robert E. Lee.) The point here is that if the United States government is happy to support independence for Kosovo and East Timor, it would be hypocritical to deny it to West Texas [With Stickers, a Petition and Even a Middle Name, Secession Fever Hits Texas, by Manny Fernandez, NYT, November 23, 2012].
The U.S. Government is quite capable of being hypocritical on the subject, and the fact that “self-determination” is part of international law may not mean much. (In fact, given the state of international law, it probably shouldn’t.)
However, the U.S. government was unable or unwilling to win the War in Vietnam, the War In Afghanistan, stop nationwide rioting, looting, and burning in 2020, or fight ordinary crime in the streets.
Would it really now have the nerve to suppress secession?
Secession, successful and unsuccessful, has a long history in the U.S. The U.S. itself, after all, separated from Great Britain.
But, as VDARE’s Peter Brimelow also pointed out in an interview with a somewhat befuddled Righteous Liberal Alan Colmes, secession can also mean the redivision of U.S. states within the Union.
Vermont separated from New Hampshire, New York and Quebec, Maine separated from Massachusetts, and the Republic of Texas separated from Mexico and joined the United States on terms that arguably allowed Texas to divide itself into five smaller states looking something like this.
(The map is Nate Silver’s.)
See Sailermandering Texas: What to Do While We’re Waiting For Patriotic Immigration Reform, December 9, 2009.
State secession would leave the U.S. intact, but with a slightly larger number of states, and thus a somewhat enlarged Senate. There’s lots of precedent for that, and even a sort of procedure. It’s why, for example, there is such a thing as West Virginia (where VDARE.com is now based).
Western parts of the State of Virginia are agitating to leave and join a Greater West Virginia. And they’re not the only ones:
You’ve got Oregonians seeking to cascade into Idaho, Virginians who identify as West Virginians, Illinoians fighting to escape Chicago, Californians dreaming of starting a 51st state, and New Yorkers who think three states are better than one.
Separation fever is sweeping the nation as quixotic but tenacious bands of frustrated rural dwellers, suburbanites and conservatives seek to break free from states with legislatures increasingly controlled by liberal big cities and metropolitan strongholds.
[Secession fever spikes in five states as conservatives seek to escape blue rule, by Valerie Richardson, Washington Times, February 19, 2020]
The genius of federalism is that State Divorce could make National Divorce less necessary. But crazy government immigration policy has made one or the other inevitable.
It’s just one more of the things that baffle the MSM—but not us here at VDARE.com.
VDARE.com Coverage of Secession
See all posts and articles tagged “Secession.” There are over a hundred of them; here is a selection: