"I cannot teach you violence, as I do not myself believe in it. I can only teach you not to bow your heads before any one even at the cost of your life."
~ Mahatma Gandhi
I often get mail from readers inquiring on what to do to advance the cause of secession in their respective locales. So I’d like to discuss a few ideas on how it has worked in the past and how it may work in the future. I would first dispose of the canard that it is traitorous or unpatriotic to consider this. Do you suppose our rulers in DC abide by the rule of law, see the Constitution (I prefer the DI) as a bedrock document and seek to respect the real diversity in America (not the silly race, class & gender motif)? That diversity is the vast gulf in tolerance for levels of government as opposed to governance. Government is the command and control apparatus to manipulate people through coercion and violence. The distinction is that governance can occur in a minarchist or stateless realm because it runs the gamut from forms of external control to the personal controls of one’s own nature and relationship in society. Positive self-governance is the ability not only to do right by yourself but use your self-interest to serve others e.g., a business or voluntary work in a community and do them no harm. You have to ask whether your own philosophical ideas emanate from law or party; from conviction or the desire to get ahead at other people’s expense. You have to pry out the deeper recesses of who you are to divine what your motivations are in your community. If you conclude that in order for you to get ahead in life, you must use the vicious power of government to achieve this, secession may not fit you. The new regime in town will see that your needs are answered…for a while. Until they run out of money or create a state so suffocating that 1984 looks like a resort lifestyle.
The first task is to educate yourself on the ideas that would inspire such radical measures as secession. From whence does your conviction come? In a previous essay, I recommended a number of books on the subject. I would also add Thomas Naylor’s thin tome, Secession, as a great primer on the whole notion. There are a rather small number of books that deal directly with the secession issue. Yet, if we look at the vast number of books published since 1750 which deal with the precursors and history of both the First (1775—83) and Second (1860—65) American Revolutions the books start to increase tremendously which tangentially or directly deal with the notion.
Simply the words Declaration of Independence seem rather descriptive now, don’t they? To wit:
We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levey war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.
We were not asking for a Declaration of Dependence wishing to increase the size and weight of the British yoke, we were putting a petition to the world that we would no longer be shackled like draft animals to a system of government that had become overbearing, tyrannical and cruel in the violence it visited on men who wished to be at the helm of their own destinies.
The Constitution was then penned and approved but it left plenty to be desired in a Founding document. Those who actively engage in Constitution worship may want to turn away from the remainder of this paragraph. The Constitutional Convention was a political coup held in secret behind closed doors. The delegates were sent to amend the Articles of Confederation, not abolish them. The resulting document so terrified the Anti-Federalists that they immediately pressed for the Bill of Rights to put the brakes on what they perceived to be a pernicious concentration of power in the central government. Patrick Henry at the time referred to the Federalists as Consolidationists who wished to turn the states into mere administrative departments of the central government. Alexander Hamilton had managed to consign liberty and freedom to the dustbin of history as soon as the ink was drying on the new documents. So a careful consideration of secession should not be restricted to the primary and secondary source documents for the Constitution but all the literature and actions which took place prior to and after its adoption.
I have mentioned before that a mastery of the logic and rhetoric of the Anti-Federalists is powerful medicine in the coming conflicts. They speak eloquently to the decentralist and devolutionist impulses. I especially enjoy the acid-tongued Brutus.
So how does the American central government feel about secession? They like it as long as it is happening to other nations. The US State Department is now the champion of a two-state solution in Israel and Palestine and the American government was not shy about the applause it offered the fifteen states that calved from the moribund USSR a generation ago or calls to free Tibet from Chinese occupation but the American state is not at all thrilled at the prospect of its own partition and break-up in the near future. Yet the US State Department has not shied from its positions on other states’ right to secede:
"The Secretary and other members of the Administration have expressed concern to Chinese officials that the anti-secession law may be counterproductive"…
Imagine if the Soviet Union had collapsed in 1989—91 and these united States insisted that all fifteen of the states that fell away from and seceded from the USSR had to stay or else. Yet the American government insists that Kosovo secede from Yugoslavia proper protected under NATO’s skirts but South Ossetia better not secede from the American-Israeli satellite of Russian Georgia. Thomas Franck, one of the five international law experts asked by the Canadian government to consider certain issues regarding a hypothesized secession of Quebec, wrote that:
"It cannot seriously be argued today that international law prohibits secession. It cannot seriously be denied that international law permits secession. There is a privilege of secession recognized in international law and the law imposes no duty on any people not to secede. While international law does not foreclose on the possibility of secession, it does provide a framework within which certain secessions are favored or disfavored, depending on the facts. The key is to assess whether or not Kosovo meets the criteria for the legal privilege of secession."
A privilege granted by whom? So it appears our rulers are quite conflicted when it comes to the recognition of secession on the world stage. We need to leverage this schizophrenia.
Remember the golden rule when it comes to successful resistance, rebellion and secession: grievances are exploited whether real or perceived. Every state in the increasingly reluctant Union has their own respective beefs with the central government ranging from taxation to the environment to energy policy. In your state or region, the key to successful monkey-wrenching of the system is to start small and witness to friends, family and neighbors of the injustices and inequities you feel the denizens of Mordor are doing to you and yours where you live. For the Austrians among you, witty explanations of the evils of central planning and the ills of government interference in the economy through taxation and regulation will yield great benefits for the right audience. It is your job to awaken folks from their collectivist fever-dreams.
Taxes too high? US Forest Circus wolf reintroduction programs reducing your elk populations? Local timber industry destroyed due to the EPA? Agricultural subsidies destroying farm yields and family farms through perverse pricing schemes? Helium reserves for WWI dirigibles? Insolvency of the Socialist Security System? The list for agitation and substantive reasons to divorce the DC Mob are too numerous to list and I leave it to your imagination. The point is that the nurturing of grievances is an important step in shaping and influencing the way people think in your community. Essentially, no one knows more about your neighborhood and environs than you and the potentates in DC are in this case the ultimate know-nothings. Leverage this cognitive dissonance to your advantage.
Think about the Gandhian-style non-compliance which occurred at Jarbridge, NV in 2000 when a Federal agency tried to ply their mischief. It apparently got to where Federal employees were denied victuals and lodging in local towns. Good old-fashioned shaming and shunning.
By the way, writing letters to your Feral (sic) Congress-critters to beg for the Ninth and Tenth Amendments of the Bill of Rights (among others) to be recognized is a waste of time. They will not yield the benefits they reap as rulers in their nests in DC. Something happens when they are there for more than a year and you will never get the smell out. They will ignore you or worse. Ignore them.
If you see fit to organize local Committees of Correspondence and Safety as our First American Revolutionary forebears did, modern communication techniques and sousveillance will make it very interesting indeed.
Local action is required for local results. I share with Lew Rockwell an increasing skepticism of any political action having a meritorious result in the causes of freedom and liberty but you must take your own counsel.
Isn’t secession the ultimate vote in a supposed democracy?
"They can jail us. They can shoot us. They can even conscript us. They can use us as cannon fodder in the sod. But — But we have a weapon more powerful than any in the whole arsenal of their British Empire — and that weapon is our refusal. Our refusal to bow to any order but our own, any institution but our own.
Our friends in the Royal Irish Constabulary would like to shut me up. Oh yes, jail me again, shoot me, who knows? And I’d like you to send them a message. If they shut me up, who’ll take my place?"
~ Michael Collins