The New Secessionists

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Previously
by Chris Hedges: One
Day We'll All Be Terrorists

 

 
 

Acts of rebellion
which promote moral and political change must be nonviolent. And
one of the most potent nonviolent alternatives in the country, which
defies the corporate state and calls for an end to imperial wars,
is the secessionist movement bubbling up in some two dozen states
including Vermont, Texas, Alaska and Hawaii.

These movements
do not always embrace liberal values. Most of the groups in the
South champion a u201Cneo-Confederacyu201D and are often exclusively male
and white. Secessionists, who call for statewide referendums to
secede, do not advocate the use of force. It is unclear, however,
if some will turn to force if the federal structure ever denies
them independence.

These groups
at least grasp that the old divisions between liberals and conservatives
are obsolete and meaningless. They understand that corporations
have carried out a coup d'tat. They recognize that our permanent
war economy and costly and futile imperial wars are unsustainable
and they demand that we take popular action to prevent citizens
from being further impoverished and robbed by Wall Street speculators
and corporations.

u201CThe defining
characteristic of the Second Vermont Republic is that there are
two enemies, the United States government and corporate America,u201D
Thomas Naylor, who founded Vermont's secessionist movement, told
me when I reached him by phone at his home 10 miles south of Burlington.
u201COne owns the other one. We are not like the tea party. The underlying
premise of the tea party movement is that the system is fixable.u201D

Naylor rattles
off the stark indicators of the nation's decline, noting that the
United States stands near the bottom among industrialized countries
in voter turnout, last in health care, last in education and highest
in homicide rates, mortality, STDs among juveniles, youth pregnancy,
abortion and divorce. The nation, he notes grimly, has trillions
in deficits it can never repay, is beset by staggering income disparities,
has destroyed its manufacturing base and is the planet's most egregious
polluter and greediest consumer of fossil fuels. With some 40 million
Americans living in poverty, tens of millions more in a category
called u201Cnear povertyu201D and a permanent underclass trapped by a real
unemployment rate of 17
percent
, there is ample tinder for internal combustion. If we
do not undertake a dramatic reversal soon, he asserts, the country
and the global environment will implode with catastrophic consequences.

The secessionist
movement is gaining ground in several states, especially Texas,
where elected officials increasingly have to contend with secessionist
sentiments.

u201COur membership
has grown tremendously since the bailouts, since the tail end of
the Bush administration,u201D said Daniel Miller, the leader of the
Texas Nationalist Movement,
when I spoke with him by telephone from his home in the small town
of Nederland, Texas. u201CThere is a feeling in Texas that we are being
spent into oblivion. We are operating as the cash cow for the states
that cannot manage their budgets. With this Congress, Texas has
been squarely in their cross hairs, from cap and trade to the alien
transfer and exit program. So many legislative pieces coming down
the pike are offensive to people here in Texas. The sentiment for
independence here is very high. The sentiment inside the Legislature
and state capital is one of guarded optimism. There are scores of
folks within state government who are supportive of what we are
doing, although there is a need to see the public support in a more
tangible way. This is why we launched our Let Texas Decide petition
drive. We intend to deliver over a million signatures on the opening
day of the [state legislative] session on Jan. 11, 2011.u201D

Miller, like
Naylor, expects many in the tea party to migrate to secessionist
movements once they realize that they cannot alter the structure
or power of the corporate state through electoral politics. Polls
in Texas show the secessionists have support from about 35 percent
of the state's population, and Vermont is not far behind.

Naylor, who
taught economics at Duke University for 30 years, is, along with
Kirkpatrick Sale and Donald Livingston, one of the intellectual
godfathers of the secessionist movement. His writing can be found
on The Second Vermont Republic website,
on the website Secession News
and in postings on the Middlebury
Institute
website. Naylor first proposed secession in his 1997
book Downsizing
the USA
. He comes out of the u201Csmall is beautifulu201D movement,
as does Sale. Naylor lives with his wife in the Vermont village
of Charlotte.

The Second
Vermont Republic arose from the statewide anti-war protests in 2003.
It embraces a left-wing populism that makes it unique among the
national movements, which usually veer more toward Ron Paul libertarianism.
The Vermont movement, like the Texas and Alaska movements, is well
organized. It has a bimonthly newspaper called The Vermont Commons,
which champions sustainable agriculture and energy supplies based
on wind and water, and calls for locally owned banks which will
open lines of credit to their communities. Dennis Steele, who is
campaigning for governor as a secessionist, runs Radio Free Vermont,
which gives a venue to Vermont musicians and groups as well as being
a voice of the movement. Vermont, like Texas, was an independent
republic, but on March 4, 1791, voted to enter the union. Supporters
of the Second Vermont Republic commemorate the anniversary by holding
a mock funeral procession through the state capital, Montpelier,
with a casket marked u201CVermont.u201D Secessionist candidates in Vermont
are currently running for governor, lieutenant governor, eight Senate
seats and two House seats.

Read
the rest of the article

April
27, 2010

Chris
Hedges has been a war reporter for 19 years, most recently for the
New York Times. He is author of What
Every Person Should Know About War
a book that offers a critical
lesson in the dangerous realities of war. He’s also author of War
is a Force that Gives Us Meaning
. He writes a weekly column
for TruthDig.

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