To Alter and Abolish
Secession Movements on the Move


by Diane Alden September 5, 2000

"Whenever a government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it." (Declaration of Independence)

What do Walter Williams, Joseph Sobran, Lew Rockwell, Murray Rothbard and Ron Paul have in common? Besides being very bright, responsible, intelligent and erudite men, they believe in the right of states around the world and in the good old United States of America to secede.

In this day and age it is the unspoken option that simmers beneath the growing cultural, political, spiritual, regional, sexual and economic chasm that has developed over the last 50 years. The alternative to the spreading social and political balkanization of America is gathering energy and proponents.

As in any marriage gone bad, there is the hesitancy to speak the unspeakable. After attempts to change, to reform, to come to grips, to adapt, the basic problem and irreconcilable differences are still there. They grow like a killing tumor until the pain becomes so unbearable the only choice is to cut the cause of the pain from the body. Usually "cures" for this sickness only put off the inevitable.

Our differences have become too profound, too wide and too deep. The anxiety and tension expand and our only options will be to fight or flee. The divorce, the separation, the final recognition that there can be no resolution might salvage what little love remains between some groups of Americans and others. So, while there is still the desire to remain at peace and not totally destroy the other, the need to separate begins to fill the air and a day will come when it cannot be denied.

The American Secession from Britain

The American Revolution was not a revolution in the strictest sense of the word. It was a separation, a secession, because the British government was not overthrown; rather, a new entity came into being out of an old union. The independent United States of America was that new creation. England and the monarchy, however, remained and still exist today. Eventually, our mother country became our friend and ally. We have fought several wars together since the dissolution of the American-British marriage, and the bond is stronger than ever.

After the secession, the U.S. Constitution and federalism were not created overnight. Our Republic grew out of the Articles of Confederation of 1781 into a Constitutional Republic.

As Joseph Sobran stated in his essay, "The Right to Secede," "The original 13 states formed a 'confederation,' under which each state retained its 'sovereignty, freedom, and independence.' The Constitution didn't change this; each sovereign state was free to reject the Constitution. The new powers of the federal government were 'granted' and 'delegated' by the states, which implies the states were prior and superior to the federal government."

Sobran goes on to say that Hamilton and Madison hoped secession would never happen but they never denied it was a right and a practical possibility. The states would not be "rebelling" because the states were sovereign and free and secession was the basic principle of "self-preservation."

Today the problem is that we are no longer a united people joined by a common culture, educational system, basic religious beliefs, and tolerance. The fabric of America is fraying and dissolving even as diversity is celebrated. As our common heritage and belief systems are destroyed by something alien to them, a compromise of values and political philosophy may not be possible.

Modern trends have shattered our unanimity and common bond. Trying to put the American humpty-dumpty together again will only lead to our final dissolution or an unacceptable tyranny of the majority at some point in the future.

The trends that have been our undoing include a denial of the Bill of Rights and its original interpretation. Add to that a legal system not in keeping with the intent of the Founders, the destruction of the separation of powers as well as an imperial executive branch, and a tax system so corrupt, unfair and burdensome that no amount of tinkering is going to fix it. Additionally, we have rejected the binding nature of our religious heritage, which was the basis for our common purpose.

Include the exponential increase in the power of the state and the growth of the government bureaucracy, and the late great United States is on life support. Well-meaning conservatives offer the argument that if they get in power they will downsize government and decrease the power of the state. Often their actions belie their words. Many in the House and Senate vote to expand police powers and do nothing to keep activist judges from the bench or prevent the profusion of legislation that adds power to the state. Apparently, they don't understand that in the history of mankind government has never willingly given up power or perks in order that liberty and freedom should thrive.

Ancient Rome is only one example of many. As the effectiveness of the Roman Senate decreased, the power of its bureaucracy grew, as did the tax burden on individuals. The tax system became a career passed on from father to son and only grew in its intrusive and self-defeating nature.

Eventually, the Republic was lost to Empire as Rome centralized and used military adventurism to increase its wealth and power. Lost was the republican past, along with civic virtue, a unique culture and common values based on notions of the individual vis vis the state. Internal enemies were often blamed for the problems of the state. Those enemies included Christians, foreigners and the weak in Rome itself.

The great Roman Republic was replaced by a culture that became so decadent it could not survive the onslaught of barbarians and dissolution. As much as anything, Rome lost the ability to look beyond itself to the future. It lost its will along with the imagination and creativity that had helped to make it great.

It placated the desires and whims of its citizens and grew government so large and oppressive that in the end it died of its own weight. Rome was unable to envision the future free of corruption but rather accepted that corruption as inevitable. It did not nourish the virtues necessary for any society to prosper and remain whole and intact. In a state of disintegration, Rome did not see the Visigoths waiting on the other side of the hill about to take advantage of that lack of imagination and vision.

When Rome finally collapsed. it did not take long. It had been in the process for years.

In our day many Americans observe that our common beliefs, standards and ethics are being destroyed and replaced by something alien. The Bill of Rights and Constitution are considered flexible documents subject to the whims of whoever is in power or whatever a poll or the courts say they are.

Today more and more Americans do not recognize the country they grew up in, learned about, fought and died for, worked in, dreamed for, or adjusted to. That fact is not acceptable to a significant proportion of those people.

The process started long ago but has accelerated since the end of the Cold War. In the past ten years, the great melting pot has become an intolerant, multicultural, diverse, balkanized hodge-podge of unworkable elements and people. Multiculturalism, along with other movements such as environmentalism, feminism, statism, globalism, and the miscellaneous ism, has worked only too well.

Thus, big government, mega-corporations, various cultural movements, the monolithic mainstream media, corrupted educational system, and feel-good, unprincipled quasi-religions have tossed the Western cultural tradition into the ash heap. We have come to deny the destruction of what it has taken man ten thousand years to develop. We have created divisions that may not be healed.

The proponents of multiculturalism as well as those who have created the Leviathan State should be satisfied to know that they have succeeded. We now have a nation that no longer understands the philosophy behind the principles in its founding documents. Many Americans would not even vote for those principles if they were put on a ballot today.

This cultural and political elite should be proud to know that only 51 percent of Americans would vote for the Constitution of the United States if it were set before them.

The elite and the anti-Western-tradition "progressives" have succeeded in separating men from women, families from society, culture from tradition and beauty, government from the people, and common sense from the underpinnings of the Republic.

They have replaced common sense with political correctness, fed the Leviathan State with the wealth of individuals through usurious taxes, trashed the culture, and made it safe for a proscribed kind of tolerance while destroying the religious faith that was the cornerstone of the nation-state they inhabit.

Life is made safe for gay individuals but the Boy Scouts are thrown to the cultural and societal wolves. Both groups SHOULD have their rights protected, and both should be allowed the freedom to live in peace even if that peace is separate. Speaking or practicing one's religion is more or less okay as long as one keeps silent about it and does not bring it out in public or apply its tenets to life.

Recently, billionaire media mogul and one-world guru Ted Turner led the charge against orthodoxy at the U.N. religious summit. That summit was the showcase for what has happened to American and Western society and tradition. Ostracized and criticized, Christians and Orthodox religion, as well as Orthodox Judaism and Islam, took it on the chin. In fact there was booing and tussling in the audience and outside the meeting as those of Orthodox or traditional religions were ungraciously condemned. Thus, it has become okay for the new religions to be intolerant, but it is not okay for the Old World religions to complain or fight back.

By whatever name it is called, intolerance is still wrong. Christianity, Islam and Judaism can not gut basic doctrine in order to gain the good wishes of Ted Turner or anyone else. Though not always following it very well, Christianity and the other great world religions have at their core the Golden Rule, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

The effort on the part of these religions has given the basis for the United States of America, which has the most freedom mankind has ever known. This freedom has led to prosperity and a home place for nearly every kind of person on the planet that has ever made the effort to get here, with the exception of small boys from Cuba.

It would seem Mr. Turner and others have now replaced the Golden Rule with the golden calf. They substitute concepts that have worked to man's benefit with those that will only make him less free, more barbaric and more subject to the whims and dictates of the elite like himself.

However, the world according to Ted Turner and his ilk is merely the visible symptom of the great divisions that have taken place in American society as well as in other societies throughout the world.

In the United States it is becoming obvious to all but the most obtuse and implacable that the contract between society, government and the people has been displaced by a new ethic and a new contract. Out of the ooze of 19th century Prussian statism, Marxism and fascism, 21st century America is now home to a bizarre philosophy and rationale.

They may call themselves Progressive Democrats or Progressive Socialists or the Third Way. By whatever name you call it, that philosophy is incompatible with the ethics and philosophy of Western tradition, which is the girding for the Constitutional Republic known as the United States of America. There is no compromise with the philosophy of progressivism, because at the heart of that philosophy the state is superior to the individual, the collective is more important than individual liberty. Western tradition and progressivism are opposites and one or the other will be destroyed.

Tolerance recognizes these differences and in the immortal words of Star Trek's Spock the wise would say, "Live long and prosper." However, that cannot mean that I want to become a convert and turn over my core beliefs to your system.

Americans can't have it both ways. This is more than a minor disagreement over the color of paint in the bathroom. It goes to the heart of where freedom lives.

On one side the individual is only as free and at liberty as the state will allow. Government is no longer the servant but the master, and an expensive one at that.

This philosophy is neither progressive, as the left would like to believe, nor is it compassionate: it does not serve mankind, it serves itself and the elite who benefit from it. This new state of affairs is antithetical to all that has gone before and it is tyranny by whatever names it is called.

In America the new progressive politics plus the various social trends are a bad combination of Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World," George Orwell's "1984," "Animal Farm" and "Blade Runner."

Yet if that is how some wish to live, they should be allowed to do so. But those who do not should be free to create a place, government, and environment that is compatible with their core beliefs.

An Idea Whose Time May Have Come

Nonetheless, a revolution is brewing. As the "progressive" movement with its politically correct social engineers becomes more entrenched, there will be a revolt against it. Human nature will not exist for long confined to a condition that it deems oppressive. It is not long before it seeks to go beyond those boundaries that are antithetical to human nature, the laws of nature and nature's God, the movement of history, and man's own evolution as a free being.

While many people worry about the New World Order, the European Union, and America's own growing tendency to give up its sovereignty to supranational bodies, another tendency has been germinating all over the world. Like the universe, our world is coming together and breaking apart. New nation-states are forming out of old alliances and dependencies. It is the natural law for new growth to form out of the old. For young stars to form out of what is left of the old stars.

With the end of the Cold War, independence and secession movements have sprung up in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Belgium, Italy, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Spain, Yugoslavia, Indonesia, Canada and the Middle East.

Yet there are those who cannot conceive that it could happen in the United States. Many people believe secession movements in the U.S. are nothing more than the crazed fantasies of loony militia white separatists, when actually some of the leading proponents of secession are blacks, Hawaiians and Native Americans.

In the United States the two most influential independence movements are in Alaska and Hawaii. The Alaskan Independence Party has 18,000 members - about 8 percent of the electorate. The party gained respectability in 1990 when Walter J. Hickel was elected governor on that party's ticket. The AIP complained to the United Nations in 1993 about the abuses against that state and their right to 'use and exploit' the state's wealth and natural resources.

Alaskans have been in turmoil since Jimmy Carter declared nearly 55 million acres as "wilderness," disallowing the state from using its own resources or deriving the benefits therefrom. Alaskan Indian tribes have been cut off from their own riches as the federal government in Washington has taken over these resources for its own purposes.

This same federal government thousands of miles away is running Alaska's territory and wealth for environmental or statist military purposes.

Additionally, up until 1992, Alaska was one place where an American could homestead. In other words, stake out a claim on property and "prove it up" so that in five years an individual could own the property free and clear. That is no longer allowed. Actually, private property rights have been lost all over the United States and the federal government now owns 42 percent of the land mass of the states, particularly in the intermountain West.

In Hawaii a similar move toward independence is under way and gaining steam. On January 16, 1994, Hawaiian separatists declared the restoration of the Independence of the Sovereign Nation-State of Hawaii. They declared: "The current citizens of the Independent and Sovereign Nation of Hawaii consist of all those who are descendants of the Kanaka Maoli prior to the arrival of the first westerners in 1778, and those persons, and their descendants who have lived in Hawaii prior to the illegal overthrow, invasion and occupation of January 17, 1893. ... " Thirty thousand descendants of Hawaii's Polynesians voted in favor of creating a native Hawaiian government that may resemble Indian reservations on the mainland.

Indigenous tribes located within the United States have been granted self-rule through the "Indian Country" Laws, 18 U.S.C. Section 1151. The U.S. Government recognizes 200 tribes in Alaska and 235-plus tribes in the remaining states.

In The Republic of Texas on December 13, 1995, there was "The rebirth of the Sovereign Nation of The Republic of Texas," International Court of Justice, cause #94135. Texas, as a Nation, was first established in 1836, when it won independence from Mexico. Proponents state that the United States has unlawfully occupied Texas since 1865.

Speaking the Unspeakable

Professors Thomas Naylor of Duke University and Donald Livingston of Emory University in Atlanta have stated: "A booming economy and a roaring stock market can cover up a host of social, economic, and political sins. But once the bubble bursts and everyone discovers that the emperor truly wears no clothes, whether in the Oval Office or elsewhere, local independence movements may seem a lot less radical than they do today."

Cultural and political analyst Lew Rockwell of the Von Mises Institute is a former student and friend of libertarian godfather Murray Rothbard. The late Rothbard was a most articulate spokesman for secession around the world and kept track of the various movements and their histories.

Rockwell stated in a column in July that "the usual democratic channels don't offer much hope for real change, any more than they did in the Colonial period. The Congress and the White House can throw us bones in the form of tiny tax cuts spread over 10 years but no legislative efforts are going to gut big government in a way that would have satisfied the signers of the Declaration of Independence, much less those who fought and died to throw off the British Crown. . [B]ig government is bigger than it has ever been, but there is no practical or ideological rationale behind it. The state is just openly and aggressively ravenous much more so than the original British oppressors."

Walter Williams is an African-American and heads the economics department at George Mason University in Virginia. Williams is also very funny and a dead-on analyst of the economic and political scene in modern America. Not long ago he wrote a column, and several since then, suggesting that perhaps it was time for Americans to begin thinking about secession.

Williams maintains that at the time of the first constitutional convention in 1787 the 13 original states had "status as sovereign, free and independent nations. They created the federal government delegating it certain limited powers. In other words, the federal government is an agent, created by the states, who are the principles." He compares it to a relationship between stockholders and corporations whereby the stockholders can fire the folks running the corporations.

There have been successful secessions. In 1907 Norway seceded from Sweden. Texas seceded from Mexico; Panama seceded from Columbia, Cuba from Spain, and the definer of the Union himself, Abraham Lincoln, approved West Virginia seceding from Virginia. While Lincoln put the end to Southern secession, that act and the resulting war did not change the constitutionally guaranteed right of the states to separate.

The New England Confederation seeks to separate from the U.S. along with a couple of maritime Canadian provinces. The reason they state is because the "United States government has grown too large, is too out of touch with the people of the nation and is too expensive to maintain."

The North Star Republic seeks to combine the present states of Minnesota, Wisconsin and the northwest part of Michigan. However, they probably would have to go to war with the feminists who have taken over the universities of those states.

The Northwest Angle of north central Minnesota saw Representative Colin Peterson of Minnesota introduce a Constitutional Amendment in favor of secession. This area wants to unite with Canada.

In July 1998, Frye Island, Maine, a tiny hamlet located in Sebago Lake, approximately 25 miles west of Portland, successfully seceded from the town of Standish.

Meanwhile, residents of the San Fernando Valley still are trying to secede from the City of Los Angeles, claiming LA is simply too big to serve the needs of Valley residents.

There are also the independence movements in Vermont and Illinois. In the case of Vermont, the movement considers that urban-suburban America does not care about the demise of rural areas. They believe rural areas are no longer represented in the federal system and that rural Vermont concerns and needs have been totally abandoned and ignored. The same could be said of the situation in many Western states.

In January of 1992, 27 northern California counties introduced into the state legislature a plan to secede from California and form the 51st state. Staten Island acted similarly when it voted to secede from New York.

Not surprisingly, one of the most famous secession movements is in the South. The Southern Party envisions a republic based on "private property, free association, fair trade, sound money, low and equitable taxes, equal justice, secure borders and armed and vigilant neutrality."

U.S. neighbors on both borders have very active and strong secessionist movements. In Mexico some provinces have revolted against the central government and have more or less gone their separate ways. The rural area of Chiapas revolted and federal troops were called in to quell the rebellion, but it continues under the radar.

Then there are Canada's Cree Indians, a native North American tribe that has an agreement with Canada for a separate territory in Northern Quebec.

The Quebecois French-speaking movement is the most famous secession movement in Canada. A referendum went down to defeat a few years ago, but the fires of separation burn bright.

A less publicized but still powerful movement west of Ottawa is The Western Canada Concept, which seeks to separate the Western part of Canada from the rest of the nation. This country would include Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and the Yukon.

The upcoming registration of firearms and confiscation of certain previously legal firearms in Canada may lead to approximately 1.5 million Canadians choosing to break the law rather than comply. Sixteen thousand residents of the Western provinces have indicated they will not comply under any circumstance.

As one Canadian stated, "Western Canada has been used and abused by Ottawa for too long. They don't have our best interests at heart. We are not like them in any way. We are Canadians but we are unified in name only. They have taken our resources and denied us private property rights. In Canada today they can confiscate private property because we don't have the kind of Constitution the United States has."

People in Canada are also being fined and going to jail for breaking the PC and multicultural laws as well. Even those refusing to obey PC laws based on religious reasons are suffering for those beliefs and granted no relief. A similar circumstance is beginning to happen in the United States.

I had to remind the Canadian that the U.S. government is confiscating private property due to the legislation growing out of the "war on drugs" and grabbing private property of those affected by the Endangered Species Act, tax laws and other government policies.

Additionally, PC is rampant in the states. Dr. Laura and the Boy Scouts have suffered the wrath of PC advocates. Many other Americans have, as well, because they do not think special rights belong to specific groups because of their gender, race, religion or ethnicity.

Separation Papers

In the United States we have more or less abrogated the Bill of Rights. Yet our three implacable monkeys are fixed in their high-paying positions and dare not speak. They sit in government, the law, and the media. They see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil.

Representative Ron Paul of Texas is the exception. At the time of the breakup of the former Soviet Union he stated, "The right of secession should be ingrained in a free society. There is nothing sacred about large units of government. And there is nothing wrong with loosely banding together small units of government. With the disintegration of the Soviet Union, we too should consider it. Why not think about getting rid of the federal government, returning to the system of our Founders and breaking up the United States into smaller government units?"

A very good question indeed. As our differences grow, as Christians feel put upon by the rest of society, the anger of many men and women grow as feminization takes hold of every aspect of life. Furthermore, as the culture is debased, as government is up for grabs to the highest bidder, as more power is solidified in Washington, and as the Bill of Rights continues its spiral into irrelevancy, perhaps it is time to speak what is in the hearts of many.

America doesn't work anymore. It's been a victim of its own success, hijacked by power and the elite and notions that do not fit with its traditional "rights of man" as they have evolved from the Judeo-Christian tradition.

I suspect if this great secession ever takes place Americans will be better off. The northeast corridor will go its European socialist and PC way. The mid-Atlantic will do what it wishes. The Midwestern rust belt will be one entity. Northern California, Oregon, and parts of Washington State along with Western British Columbia will find more in common than it has with the intermountain West. We could yet become the diverse confederacy of peaceable kingdoms the Founders originally envisioned.

Perhaps we could adopt the Articles of Confederation, which would allow the states to make their own laws, amenable to the people who inhabit those states.

Yet we could share some things in common.

The people who are rabid about any issue could seek out an area of the country that suited them while remaining friends with the rest. Women who live and breathe for the right to an abortion, environmentalists who want every tree saved and every animal to survive, and every advocate of free sex or no sex, gambling or no gambling, God and religion, or no God and religion, or a healthy mix of the two would find the somewhere they belong.

We all need a place where we are comfortable, at home and at liberty.

What we have now is becoming the horse invented by a committee. As legend has it, that beast is called the camel.

Every July Fourth we could have a celebration to mark our loose confederation of the happy and the free.

In America the one thing we should keep in common is the right to live and let live, not one superior to the other, but separate and apart if it must come to that.

In the end, a friendly divorce would be better than the continued civil, political and cultural war we have endured. At the rate we are going we will be at each other's throats soon, and that would be a sad day for these United States.

Success and Secession

Secession movements do succeed.

Norway never went to war with Sweden after it seceded. Southern Ireland never went to war with the British after 1922 or with Northern Ireland, for that matter. In addition, Ireland and Britain fought common cause in World War II as the Irish served in the united forces of the UK.

West Virginia has not fired a single shot against Virginia since it split. Scotland and England still carry on business with each other and with Ireland. India continues to send students and businessmen to Britain even though they are no longer a colony. Poland trades with Russia ten years after the Berlin Wall fell.

The world still works despite the fact that some countries and alliances wisely adjust their differences and allow the individual and the state he chooses the right to live as they see fit.

Adjustments would have to be made and some things would be held in common between the states. Perhaps we could all agree to "provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare," and keep the interstate highway system intact. As far as taxes go, Washington can go back to charging tariffs or excise taxes for keeping the unified military establishment for our continental defense.

While they don't need my help or my collaboration I will throw in my two cents and join other proponents of secession: Walter Williams, Joseph Sobran, Lew Rockwell, Murray Rothbard, and Ron Paul. I will say, "said the Walrus to the Carpenter, the time has come to speak of many things, of sails and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings." To this verse from "Alice in Wonderland" I will add the unspoken word and breathe a sigh of relief as I say it. Secession is not a dirty word, and it may be a word that will be used often in the future.

Diane Alden is a research analyst, writer, historian and political economist. She writes columns for NewsMax.com, Etherzone, Enterstageright, American Partisan and many other online publications. She also does occasional radio commentaries for Georgia Radio Inc.

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