Scotland is about to vote on whether or not to secede from Mother England and the most noteworthy part of it to me is the fact that this may be pulled off without a massive amount of bloodshed.
In my opinion, one of the greatest mistakes made by the framers of the US Constitution was their failure to include a process for peaceful secession. Human associations are a complicated affair, and one of the things that creates constant difficulty are differences of opinions on how those associations are to be managed. The beauty of the US Constitution is its ability to hold those differences in harmony, enacting checks and balances to make sure that there are non-violent mechanisms available for resolving those differences whilst preventing one particular group to do too much damage to the other group. A situation where these protections and mechanisms would prove insufficient ought to have been anticipated and integrated into the document.
Clearly, one of the other great mistakes was to compromise with the pro-slavery states in the first place.
Theoretically, then, these states would not have signed on to the whole program. Are we really quite sure that this would have been all that bad? After all, the situation would spiral out of control to a point where more than a half million Americans would die at each others’ hands, not to mention the rest of the chaos it created. Does this mean that there would still be slavery in America today? I doubt that very much. While it may have taken a couple of more decades for the pro-slavery cause to lose its argument, the weight of theology, philosophy, and economics were against them. Hindsight is 20/20, as they say. When the Constitution was drawn up, the anti-slavery folks were passionately for abolition, and for them to compromise on the question of slavery surely meant that there was some other cause they felt more pressing. Looking back, I would say they were wrong. Obviously, they did not have access to the same data, since they were then living in and through it.
But there is something wrong with ‘unionism’ in principle and practice that needs a ‘check and balance’ erected against it, which to this point has not happened.
There is a special kind of arrogance required to argue that some other group of people should remain associated (as subjects?) with another group, with whom they have severe disagreements. Add to that the willingness to kill the people who will not remain associated–that there is a special kind of madness. All this, in the name of ‘union.’ But how is it that ‘unionism’ is so sacrosanct?
The ‘right to free assembly’ has currency throughout the world these days, which is good. However, would not such a right logically entail, as its converse, the ‘right to dis-assemble’? Yet whenever we read of a group looking to part company from another group, there are catcalls and insults and, usually, cries that the other group is being selfish. Ostensibly, this is in defense of ‘union’ but it seems to me that something else is going on.
First of all, it should be obvious that the secessionists have some kind of reason for what they are doing and this reason will in large measure concern actions by the other group that bother them, and no other way to rectify the problem has surfaced, short of violence itself. Rather than acknowledge that it is possible to push one’s opinion onto another too far, the ‘mother’ group essentially declares, “My way or the high way!” This can work and people can co-exist in such a situation, but only to a point. When this point comes, it is useless to say, “Oh well, it is just because you are a selfish cretin for not submitting to our demands.”
Second of all, as often seems to be the case, the majority has erected a scheme that requires the participation of every person, or else it will not work at all. Socialism/Communism is such a scheme, which is why the the Soviets gobbled up as many territories as they could and sought to expand its “Union” to the globe. As is usually the case, such schemes are advanced with purely noble intentions, eg, ‘for the common good’ or ‘the general welfare’ or ‘the most good for the most people.’ And as also seems to be the case, the tyrannical and monstrous nature of those schemes reveal themselves by the fact that more and more people subjected to those schemes try their darnedest to get away from them. The Communists had to put up a wall in Berlin to keep their people in, not to keep anyone out–for there were precious few that would voluntarily subject themselves to such schemes. (It is not a coincidence that the writer of the Pledge of Allegiance, which includes the word “indivisible”, was a proto-communist.)
To put it bluntly, a good sign that it will take tyranny to maintain a union is when the people are increasingly trying to secede from that union, by voting with their feet.
But what if they cannot vote with their feet?
When even this option is eliminated, there are very few options left on the table. As these slowly get stripped away, the one option that is always on the table, becomes the last option: violence.
When people en masse turn to violence, it almost always means that some other group has crossed the line, and no other way to rectify the situation plausible.
There are disturbing signs that this is precisely where the United States is going. Take for example Obamacare, which, we are told, will only work if everyone participates. The ‘losers’ in Obamacare are expected to ‘take one for the team.’ Like all socialist schemes, it is plainly understood that when implemented, even successfully, some people will suffer more than they would have so that (in theory) other people will suffer less. But there is a big difference between people voluntarily taking suffering upon their shoulders and people being told by bureaucrats that they’ve been selected to serve as the sufferers. (In Obamacare, indications are that this will be the elderly–to start with.) Such a scheme can only be enforced so far before the people turn rebellious, but Obamacare will not let people out. As in the case of Berlin, people are voting with their feet–or trying. Far fewer are trying to get into the ‘paradise’ that is the Obamacare East Berlin than they expected and far more are trying to scramble over the wall into West Berlin… except there is no wall and no West Berlin because under Obamacare, there is no where to go, except, it seems, to some other socialist country.
Left without recourse, what are they to do? In poll after poll, we learn that the majority in the US are steadfastly opposed to Obamacare. The 2010 elections represented a landslide victory for those who were opposed to Obamacare, but this proved futile. So, the people are against it and their elected representatives are incapable or unwilling to reverse it. Nine people in black robes, and one in particular, effectively removed all legislative mechanisms. In this bizarre situation, it is the majority’s will that is being thwarted. It is hard to see how that can end well for the minority.
If it were just Obamacare, it would be one thing. However, as all of the ‘limited government’ protections provided by the US Constitution have been eroded, and, worse, perhaps, a ‘big government’ ethos has come to pervade every layer of government–Federal, state, and local–majorities at all levels of government have seen fit to intrude themselves in the lives of the minorities, and demand that these (only a hair smaller) populations “eat it and learn to like it.” It is thus the case that all across the country, people are complaining about overreach. This includes areas dominated by Republicans. But it is in response to the overreach of liberals where we have seen actual attempts to secede. Parts of California and Colorado come to mind, but whole states, such as Texas, have been in the news.
These ‘secession’ conversations should be seen for what they really are: signs that in the eyes of many, non-violent options for self-government are steadily being removed from the table. As stated, there is a continuum here, and the Republicans are definitely on it. It just that in some areas and on some issues, the liberals have drawn much closer to people’s breaking point. Neither the Republicans or the liberals seem to have taken the hint.
Secession is the last non-violent option on the table. If we grant a ‘right to assembly’ we should similarly grant a ‘right to secede.’ Splintered regions certainly have some disadvantages, but it is far better that the people in those regions weigh the advantages and disadvantages for themselves and voluntarily choose whether or not they will bear the cost and risk of remaining separate from some other region. In my opinion, no union merely for the sake of having a union is worth the killing of thousands of people in order to preserve that union. Great Britain seems to have gotten that part right, and that is to its credit. Perhaps a day is coming, and sooner than we think, when we may have to draw a lesson from Scotland.