by Tom Baugh
Even a casual blog reader will note that secession is an idea which has broken through the crust of contemporary political thought. As Russ Longcore points out in his editorial notes for a recent article on DumpDC, when the topic appears in the progressive rags, then something is afoot. Reading over the list of speakers at this year’s Free State Project Liberty Forum, you can bet that secession will be a key topic at that event, and many others like it.
And yet, the public, by-and-large, has been trained to view secession as something which only evil slaveholding racists, or other antisocial malcontents, would seriously consider. Many of our fellow citizens need little training in suspecting secessionists because their supply of crumbs would be threatened if secession caught on. If you start ticking off all the classes of people who benefit from the status quo, and examining the steady slide toward oblivion that we have been on for many election cycles, you might come to the conclusion, as I have, that they surround us. We all heard a lot of packs dropping when Scott Brown was elected recently, but even if the man channels Reagan, the best he can do is slow the juggernaut down imperceptibly; certainly not reverse it. Plus, that Republican from the heart of liberal America has yet to cast his first votes. We’ll see.
Let’s not forget that our enemies have the ability to replicate themselves, even within our midst, as much as they desire. They can manufacture as much fiat currency as they wish, either by printing more directly, or indirectly by
inflating entitlements of all kinds. They can use their unconstitutional means and agencies to divide and conquer us, individually and in detail, as our state officials stand by and feign helplessness. And each day, they turn more of our children against us because we have abdicated education of our most precious to them. I have a hard time imagining how, in our current situation, even a single state, even as more citizens wake to the threat, will be able to concentrate enough political vigor to make a serious bid for secession, much less accomplish it.
Once the first state accomplishes even a decent showing in a referendum on the secession, woe be unto them. The media and national authorities will spring into action to paint first the secession leadership, and then all the rest, as any imaginable scoundrel as can be made to stick in the minds of the populace. Should you be such a ringleader, you will be painted in the media and in the courts as a weapons violator, a drug dealer, a polygamist, a child pornographer, a sexual offender, a religious deviant, a domestic terrorist, or any necessary combination of these and others. If no such evidence exists, no problem, they’ll bring plenty when they come to kill you, ahem, arrest you. This evidence, when pulled from the ashes of your home and family, will be sufficient to convince our fellow citizens that you are, or were, indeed, one of those evil secessionists who wishes to enslave his fellow man. The mass of leeches who benefit from the status quo will have won again.
This doesn’t mean that our situation is hopeless, far from it. We just need to make sure we are fighting the right war. Any plan based on leeches waking up to Constitutional principles is doomed from the start. How many times have you tried to explain even the basic fundamentals of liberty to your fellows, only to have them wander off because the big game is about to start? We liberty-minded folks tend to clump together, which makes us overestimate our concentration in the populace at large. This overestimation then causes us to fight on our enemies’ terms and on their terrain, instead of what we should be doing, which is changing the landscape of the battlefield, much as a soldier might by digging tank traps, stringing barbed wire, constructing fortifications or using camouflage.
Before talking about that terraforming, let’s define some terms. Federalism is a central strength of our Constitutional system, but in the minds of our enemies, the word has come to mean strong national government, of course. Throughout the remainder of this series of articles, I use the term national where popular usage says federal. I use nationals to identify the national regulators and enforcement agents, and nationalists to identify those plus all of our fellow citizens who are unsympathetic, or hostile, to the secessionist cause and prefer the status quo. This classification is merely for discussing secession; nationalism in general is a great thing for our united States when dealing with our international enemies.
This at least gives us terms now to identify the nationalists as the secessionists’ natural political enemies, and as such, enemies to liberty itself. Nationalists use the nationals as their agents to enforce our submission to the national level of government. Our state houses and governor’s mansions, town halls and sheriffs’ offices, are choked with nationalists or nationalist sympathizers, whether Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians or Independents, and of all religious, social and economic classes. Many of these aspire to national office, and as such are perfectly willing to abandon their responsibilities to true federalism in pursuit of their selfish ambitions. So, when the nationals come to burn your family in your home, nationalist sympathizers in local office will stand idly by, shaking their heads at the shame of it all, instead of doing their duty of arresting your national attackers on sight. We don’t want to put all those highway and education dollars at risk, do we?
Sadly, the vocabulary has been so twisted by progressives of all parties that we can’t use the proper term, statist, to differentiate our Andy from the nationalist Barney. We could perhaps use a capitalized Statist, but even this would be confusing to the unwary. A true federalist would naturally prefer a strong State among a nation of States, but this too has been perverted within all those mushy minds. So, I will use secessionist to refer to those liberty-minded folks who believe that States should be more than simple administrative subdivisions of a national whole, whether these States actually secede or not. Die-hard secessionists, of course, are already familiar with these terms; I’m merely defining them here so that the newly aware patriot knows what we are talking about.
Secession is a noble, if somewhat idealistic, approach to solving the overreach of the national government in our daily lives. It is necessary that we fully understand the implications of secession, and its consequences in the real world. To help illustrate key points, I’m going to present italicized hypothetical dramatizations of key issues, and then discuss how those issues relate to our current situation. Nothing in what we discuss here advocates secession or violence, but instead is a warning of what might happen if that path is chosen, and choices that would be required of the participants in those circumstances. Hopefully, by highlighting some of the negative aspects of secession we might be able to see the actual problems, and solve those instead through continued discussion.
This is a deep topic. When I first discussed some of these ideas with Russ Longcore after a gun show in Marietta, I was excited to write this article right away. After stewing over it for a week, I realized it had turned into a series of three articles, which I released to various blogs. Some of these blogs published Part I right away. A day later, I realized I had left out several key pieces of the puzzle, and had poorly written those portions I had included. As a result, I pulled the entire three-part series to reconsider the tougher portions. I hope that this new series of six articles makes more sense to you than the original three made to me upon reflection.
You may walk away from this series of articles thinking that secession is a hopeless, quixotic quest. But, on the other hand, you may see a light at the end of a different tunnel. Regardless, don’t misunderstand my attitude toward secessionists themselves. Almost all of these people are far more liberty-minded that the typical citizen. Most of them are well-read, and have drilled into classical study of secession, and liberty itself, far more deeply than many who scribble on posterboard these days.
Yet this fact makes them all the more of a threat to those who enjoy the status quo, including some of the posterboarders. Which is why I think that when push comes to shove, most of the hard-core secessionists, who should be our leaders and public servants instead of the nationalists who rule us today, will be demonized in the press, after which they will be shot or burned, to the celebration of the masses. I think there might be a better way to get to the same goal that secessionists seek, which is the minimization of the national government in all our affairs, without subjecting these brave souls to undue personal sacrifice.
Regardless of whether secession itself is practical, or will solve anything, secessionists have worked to develop many great ideas for their cause. These ideas might find better application in other, more practical ways.
We continue these thoughts, and consider a possible secession with teeth, in the next article in this series, The Second Shot.
Tom Baugh is the author of Starving the Monkeys, Fight Back Smarter. He is also a former Marine, patented inventor, entrepreneur and professional irritant.