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, MiddleburyInstitute.org) 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.
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