Secession Is The Future: An Interview With Kirkpatrick Sale

July 24, 2009

The following interview with Middlebury Institute director Kirkpatrick Sale appeared in the Kayhan International newspaper of Tehran, Iran on July 21, 2009, and in the Persian language Kayhan News the same day. The interviewer was Seyed Yasser Jebraily.

You have argued that the major theme of contemporary history is the break-up of great empires. Would you elaborate on this and also evaluate the current status of U.S. Empire, I mean its failures and successes?

It is important to realize that the separatist and self-determination movement is actually the most important and most widespread political force in the world today and has been for the last half-century, during which time the United Nations, for example, has grown from 51 nations in 1945 to 193 nations in 2009. The break-up of the Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia are recent manifestations of the separatist trend, and there are separatist movements in more than two dozen countries at this time, including such well-known ones as in Catalonia, Scotland, Wales, Lapland, Sardinia, Sicily, Sudan, Congo, Kashmir, Chechnya, Kurdistan, Quebec, British Columbia, Mexico, and Puerto Rico.

I believe the American empire is succumbing to these same pressures. It has grown too large and distended to maintain its political and military hold over the world, or even to control its own economy. It is unable to wage war anywhere, despite piling on huge resources and tons of money, and as it does so it creates enmity in most of the world and unpopularity at home. It is corrupted by corporate interests to the core, and is inept and inefficient, unable to solve the myriad problems its oversize and overstretch have created, including its enormous debt, its out-of-control health system, its failing public school system, its unregulated financial sector, its dependency on foreign oil and other resources, and its significant contribution to global warming.

In 1995 you predicted that by the year 2020, there would be a convergence of three disasters: Global currency collapse, significant warfare between rich and poor, and environmental disaster. It seems that these are happening. What was the basis of these predictions?

They are happening, and sooner than I expected. My hope now is that by the time the worst of it occurs I will no longer be around to observe it. But I don’t think it took any genius to see that this would occur. Anyone could see back then that all systems and institutions, domestic and global, had grown too big and complex to control, or even to understand, and that was before the impact of the internet and the dominance of cyberspace in our lives. Anyone who could understand that everything had grown way beyond the ability of humans to cope with it, and with the technological super-apparatuses that have been created to advance global capitalism, could have made the same prediction.

In 2004 you founded Middlebury Institute. What do you do there and what have been your achievements? We do not have so much information about the secessionist movement in the U.S., can you tell us about these movements?

The Middlebury institute is devoted to the study and encouragement of separatism, secession, and self-determination. We have built up a body of literature showing the legitimacy and value of secession in the United States (on our website, and we have held three North American Secessionist Congresses that have brought together the thirty or so secessionist organizations on the continent.
At this time there is more attention being paid to secession than any time since 1865, when the Federal forces finally won in the War of Southern Secession (miscalled the Civil War).

Here in Iran we think that it is not easy to change the current system of government in the U.S. Do you think it is possible? How? How much secessionists have proceeded?

It will not be easy, but the point is that it is the ONLY possible way to bring about serious change and survive the collapse of the empire – to survive the sinking of the Titanic by creating lifeboats now. There is no future in party politics in a corrupt system, no future in revolution when they hold all the power, so all that’s left is the solution that the original Founding Fathers came up with in 1776 – “when any form of government is destructive of … rights, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it’ (Declaration of Independence). In other words, secession just as they did against Britain.

What do you think about the coming years?

I see a real possibility that three or four states will hold conventions on secession or elect a majority of secession-minded people to state legislatures where the debate on secession can begin. I think Vermont, Texas, Hawaii, and Alaska are likely places, but there is also strong ferment in the South and the Northwest. I would predict that one of the American states will vote for its independence in the next 10 years.

Your country, U.S., has been extremely hostile to Iran. Western media are lying day and night about Iran. Iran has not ever invaded any country; it has proved that it is looking for a peaceful nuclear energy. What are reasons behind U.S. aggressiveness?

U.S. foreign policy has been effectively hi-jacked by Israel and the Jewish lobby since 1948, and especially since the rise of the neoconservatives in the Bush years. The Israelis figured out how to get us to invade Iraq, a thorn in its side, and now they are trying to get us to do the same to you. It’s quite simple, but of course the bulk of the American public does not understand it.

U.S. condemns its opponent countries for human rights abuses, for repressing speech freedom, and for not being democratic. Can you tell us about freedom, human rights and democracy in U.S.?

The U.S. is a reasonably free country, if you talk about speech and religious freedoms and not about drugs, though the speech is allowed because there’s not much it could do to change the power structure in place. It is reasonably free of human-rights abuses, except for portions of the underclass, particularly in the cities, and the majority of people know the limits. There is no democracy at the national level, of course, and there cannot be with 300 million people; it calls itself a representative republic, but the party figures do not represent anything but corporate interests, as all the laws (and the “stimulus package”) attest. There is often some democracy at a local (town, village, city) level, although the two-party system has such a stranglehold on most electoral systems that even there it is a struggle.

It is important though, that America formulated and holds out to the world the essence of democracy, even if it never fully practiced it itself and has now in the last half-century abandoned it. It is an ideal worth struggling for, because it is the only way that the people’s will and wants can be fully expressed, which is the only kind of government humans should live under. And also because it is the most corruption-free and efficient form that humans have been able to devise.

Anything you want to add?

I hope the Iranian people get the government that the majority of its people want. But I think the last election exposed some very deep fissures in the country that suggest there are at least two strongly opposed camps. I would suggest that a devolution of power and the possibility of autonomous regions be explored, so that different people can live under differing systems more to their liking, instead of thinking there has to be one set of principles and beliefs imposed upon all.

Good luck. Thank you.

Copyright © 2009 Middlebury Institute

Let Me Be King For Just One Year

July 16, 2009

Let’s face it, my friends. The Federal Government in its present form is irretrievably broken. No tinkering, no new President, no new laws will fix the Federal Government of the United States of America. If the USA wants to avoid mass state secessions, a radical change must be embraced.

We need to go in a new direction. Actually, to be more accurate, in an old direction.

Absolute Monarchy.

Think about it. A king is one guy. He only has about 18 hours each day to do kingly stuff. So, he can’t meddle in very much simply because he doesn’t have the time. Everyone in America would be a lot freer with a King on the throne.

So, I nominate myself, Russell D. Longcore, as the new King of the United States of America.

I don’t want to be King forever. I’ll take the job on a one year basis. I want complete, unchallengeable, absolute power for one year. Then, at the end of that year, the states can have an election to see if I get my job for another year. And on it will go until I don’t want to be King any more, or get voted out of office, or get assassinated by an unemployed lobbyist.

You don’t even have to call me “your Majesty” or anything like that. “Mr. Longcore” or “King Russell” will do nicely.

As the first Candidate for US King, here is what I pledge to do in my year. I have written this list in no particular order of importance, only as the ideas came into my mind:

• Set the salary of the King at $100 million per year. That’s still less than some corporate executives make.

• End the personal income tax: On my first day as King, income taxes are gone.

• Dissolve Congress: Who needs Congress when I’m King? Rex Lex and all that.

• Tell all the States that they are on their own for operations, including the coining of money and taking care of the roads.

• Dissolve All Cabinet-Level Departments except State, Treasury, Defense & Interior: Then, I’ll shrink those remaining Departments to about one-tenth their size, maybe less. I promise they won’t have much to do.

• Dissolve the Army: I’ll close the Pentagon and sell the building or raze it. We’ll go back to using state militias just in case Canada invades us. I’ll close West Point, too.

• Shrink the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps to about 50,000 members each: If we’re only protecting our own borders, we don’t need all that hardware and manpower.

• Mothball 50% of all military ships and aircraft just for a start.

• Order the dismantling of 90% of our nuclear missile inventory.

• Close 75% of domestic military bases and give the properties back to each state.

• Close all foreign military bases, apologize to each nation, give back the property to the various nations, bring all troops home.

• NASA is gone. If you want to go into space, pay for it yourself.

• Lift all bans on domestic oil exploration.

• Lift all bans on nuclear power plant construction.

• Shrink Supreme Court to three Justices who serve at my pleasure. Who needs nine old duffers arguing amongst themselves? Besides, they have no power to enforce any judicial decision. The power is all mine.

• Give back all Federal property to the states. Let them decide what to do with it.

• Cancel all treaties with other nations. Negotiate new treaties if I think we need them…and if I have time. A King’s gotta sleep, you know.

• Dissolve the Federal Reserve.

• Cancel all Federal gun laws and regulations. Once again, it’s up to the states.

• Get rid of all intelligence agencies except CIA. Rename it the King’s Intelligence Agency. Then figure out what kinds of “intel” we really need if we’re minding our own business. The KIA may become just me and about six other guys, plus a couple secretaries in case we need to write something down or need coffee and a bagel.

• Place Federal money on the gold and silver standard. Only issue gold and silver coins and paper money equal to our national precious metal holdings. Allow the price of gold and silver to be determined by the free market. No Federal price control.

• No subsidies for anything. No price supports for anything.

• Cancel all Federal debt. The Federal Government is bankrupt. If debtors want to get paid, tell them to take it up with the guys I just fired. We pay our bills out of income, not borrowing from the world.

• We will trade with everybody around the world who wants to trade with us, and stop meddling in their affairs.

• By the way, Federal income will come from tariffs and a 10% national sales tax. If God can get by on 10% so can the King.

• Dissolve the FDIC. If you put your money in a bank, you assume all the risk for what happens to it. Don’t pick bad banks. End of discussion.

• Dissolve the DEA. End the “War on Drugs.” Make all recreational drugs legal.

• Give Hawaii back to Hawaiians if they want it.

• Enforce our border with Mexico with shoot-to-kill-on-sight orders.

• Completely stop immigration for one year while we figure out how to do it.

• End all Federal holidays. If you want a holiday, take one on your own.

• Anything else that comes up, I’ll figure it out later.


OK, Americans. Here I am, ready to be your benevolent Monarch. Just tell me what day you want me to move in at the White House.

I’m going to need a throne, though. Are there any really big chairs in the White House? If not, I have leather chair with an ottoman here at home that I can bring with me. A throne could be really expensive.

Is Paula Deen available to be the White House chef? I’m just sayin’…

Declaration Of Independence and The American Revolution, by Patrissimo

July 12, 2009

“When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776, The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

Welcome to our final climactic mega-extravaganza post of Secession Week, in which we both celebrate the spirit of ‘76 and lament its shortcomings. Perhaps nothing exemplifies this marriage of heaven and hell more than Thomas Jefferson himself, a giant whose rhetoric still shines in the firmament (We hold these truths to be self-evident), but whose personal life bespeaks moral turpitude (Sally Hemings). As Stephen Gordon of the Liberty Papers writes:

“While I certainly take a great deal of pride in the fact that a lot of people risked their lives, liberty and property to secure a nation free of Europe’s chains, I’ll never forget that we placed even crueler chains upon a significant segment of our own population…

“As a white person of mostly European ancestry, I understand the pride that most Americans feel on Independence Day. As I’m not black, I’ll probably never be able to truly understand the feelings of African-Americans on the topic. Were I black, I’d likely feel a sense of pride that many of my ancestors laid down their lives to promote a system of government which eventually led to the freest of societies in the history of the world. I’d probably also wish to ensure that people never forget the absolute horrors of slavery. As many of my white friends want us to learn from the positives of the founding of our country, my black friends want to ensure that we truly understand our history so we never repeat the same mistakes.”

To read the rest of this blog post, Click Here.

Non-Territorial Secession, by Patrissimo

July 12, 2009

Welcome to our penultimate Secession Week post, in celebration of Independence Day tomorrow. Today’s concept is non-territorial secession, or seceding without moving. For those who are totally unfamiliar with the concept, I offer a brief introduction.


This is not a new concept, and has been proposed by many names and in many flavors, such as:

* Polycentric Law: “a legal structure in which providers of legal systems compete or overlap in a given jurisdiction, as opposed to monopolistic statutory law according to which there is a sole provider of law for each jurisdiction.”
* Market Anarchism: a “philosophy in which monopoly of force held by government would be replaced by a competitive market of private institutions offering security, justice, and other defense services – “the private allocation of force, without central control”. A market would exist where providers of security and law compete for voluntarily paying customers that wish to receive the services rather than individuals being taxed without their consent and assigned a monopoly provider of force.”
* FOCJ: Functional, Overlapping, and Competing Jurisdictions – A reinvention of these 150-year old ideas by Swiss economists Bruno Frey and Reiner Eichenberger in the 1990s, in articles like FOCJ: Competitive Governments For Europe.
* Panarchy: “a conceptual term first coined by the Belgian botanist and economist Paul Emile de Puydt in 1860, referring to a specific form of governance (-archy) that would encompass (pan-) all others …In his 1860 article “Panarchy” de Puydt…applied the concept to the individual’s right to choose any form of government without being forced to move from their current locale. This is sometimes described as “extra-territorial” (or “exterritorial”) since governments often would serve non-contiguous parcels of land.”

Arnold Kling contributes a post about the idea, which he calls Virtual Secession:

The problem with physical secession is that it is very difficult to achieve critical mass. There is probably not much overlap between the people you want to live with and the people who want to choose your particular form of government. The vast majority of us put up with government we dislike in order to live in proximity to people with whom we want to work and play.

With virtual secession, you could still live in San Francisco or Manhattan or Silver Spring while seceding from much of the government at the city, state, and Federal level. You and your next-door neighbor might belong to very different governmental units.

To read the rest of this article,

Federalism: Secession Lite, by Patrissimo

July 12, 2009

Welcome to our fourth post for Secession Week, in celebration of Independence Day this weekend. Today’s theme is federalism, which Wikipedia defines as:

“The term federalism is … used to describe a system of the government in which sovereignty is constitutionally divided between a central governing authority and constituent political units (like states or provinces). Federalism is a system in which the power to govern is shared between national and central (state) governments, creating what is often called a federation. Proponents are often called federalists.”

Confusingly, in Europe the word is sometimes used for those who support a strong federal government, like the EU, but we are using the earlier meaning of a federation of fairly independent political units, whose central government restricts itself to activities with interstate implications, like national defense.

Federalism is not a fringe issue – the battle over states rights reached the nations highest levels in recent Supreme Court cases like Raich vs. Gonzalez and Kelo vs. New London. And as Real Clear Politics reports in “Can Federalism Solve America’s Culture War?”, popular blogger Andrew Sullivan recently defended federalism in The New Republic: “The whole point of federalism is that different states can have different public policies on matters of burning controversy–and that this is okay.”

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy points out that federalism vs. centralization has been an issue since the founding of the United States:

The Articles of Confederation of 1781 among the 13 American states fighting British rule had established a center too weak for law enforcement, defense and for securing interstate commerce. What has become known as the U.S. Constitutional Convention met May 25 — September 17 1787. It was explicitly restricted to revise the Articles, but ended up recommending more fundamental changes. The proposed constitution prompted widespread debate arguments addressing the benefits and risks of federalism versus confederal arrangements, leading eventually to the Constitution taking effect in 1789.
The “Anti-federalists” were fearful of undue centralization. They worried that the powers of central authorities were not sufficiently constrained e.g. by a bill of rights (John DeWitt 1787, Richard Henry Lee) — which was eventually ratified in 1791. They also feared that the center might gradually usurp the sub-units’ powers. Citing Montesquieu, another pseudonymous ‘Brutus’ doubted whether a republic of such geographical size with so many inhabitants with conflicting interests could avoid tyranny and would allow common deliberation and decision based on local knowledge (Brutus (Robert Yates?) 1787).

In what has become known as The Federalist Papers, James Madison (1751-1836), Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804) and John Jay (1745-1829) argued vigorously for the suggested model of interlocking federal arrangements (Federalist 10, 45, 51, 62). Madison and Hamilton agreed with Hume that the risk of tyranny by passionate majorities was reduced in larger republics where sub-units of shared interest could and would check each other: “A rage for paper money, for an abolition of debts, for an equal division of property, or for any improper or wicked project, will be less likely to pervade the whole body of the Union than a particular member of it.” (Federalist 10).

To read the rest of this blog post, click here.

Secession vs. Revolution, by Patrissimo

July 12, 2009

Welcome to our third post for Secession Week, celebrating July 4th and America’s secession from the UK. Today’s theme is secession vs. revolution. Both are ways of changing governments, which is important, but they are very different in many ways. While we think this is an important topic, it is a more philosophical area than yesterday’s Secession In America. So what we have to offer is a small number of essays, often written specifically for this event, rather than a large number of links. Quality over quantity, so we recommend you read them all.
We’ll start with a general post from Clifford Thies in the Mises Daily, Secession Is In Our Future:
“Can states secede? There are three levels on which this question can be answered:
1. the inalienable right of secession,
2. the international law of secession, and
3. the US law of secession.
All three say yes.”
And then on to the topical material. Our own Jonathan Wilde writes about Revolution vs. Secession:

“Revolution and Secession are very different things. Revolution is an attempt by a relatively small group of people to gain control over the machinery that rules a relatively larger group of people. Secession is a relatively small group of people breaking off from the larger machinery. The difference is crucial.”

To read the rest of the article, click here.

American Secession and Independence Movements, by Patrissimo

July 12, 2009

The United States began as a loose federation of states which seceded from the British Empire, exemplifying the local, competitive government that we still favor.  Unfortunately, in the ensuing 233 years, the vast majority of power has moved to the central (ironically termed “federal”) government.  With a history of local autonomy and secession which is so strong, yet so ancient, it is no surprise that there are strong undercurrents of independence still bubbling in America today.

The future United-ness of the States is quite unclear.  Europe has shown a trend towards centralization, and the iron grip of the US Federal Government is strong.  On the other hand, it is common for declining empires to fracture, and the upcoming financial storms of Social Security, Medicare, underfunded pensions, and rising national debt will increase the divisions between young and old, rich and poor, net tax paying states and net tax recipients.  Will the Union crack under the pressure? Only time will tell.

We certainly hope so – because we believe that a world with many small units of political power is more diverse, innovative, cooperative, and better for almost everyone – except federal bureaucrats.

General Background

We begin with the Stanford Encyclopedia for Philosophy’s entry on secession, covering philosophical issues, theories about the right to secede, and secession within international law.  Next, Ilya Somin at the popular law blog the Volokh Conspiracy defends secessionism against those who claim that it is necessarily stupid (for example, Ann Althouse) saying: “In light of this history and the ambiguity of the constitutional text, I don’t think that belief in a right to secession is at all unreasonable, much less a sign of obvious ignorance or stupidity.”

To read the rest of the blog, Click Here.