Individual Secession

September 18, 2010

By a Texan currently living abroad


Some years ago I listened with keen interest to a speech by a professor from Alabama speaking about how Americans had tried “State Secession” twice. It had worked once and it had failed once. While we all look forward to the time that we might go for “the best of three”, there remain some things that one can do as an individual. They fall in the category of Individual Secession. Individual Secession comes in many flavours and the applications are as diverse as the people who implement it.

For some, it begins with taking our children out of government indoctrination centers, and arranging for private or home school solutions. That is as much an act of secession as anything else, and has been resorted to by literally millions of parents at this point. Believe me, it concerns the Central Planners, when those fertile brains are removed from their dominion. (It’s always touching to see their “concern for the children.”)

Others have walked away from churches which teach false doctrines, or left social clubs and even jobs over issues they feel are inimical to their family or the entire country. In fact, it’s an American tradition to quit when you don’t like the way things are going – to just walk away. That’s why songs like, “Take This Job and Shove It”, resonate with the American working man. Indeed, “I was lookin’ for a job when I found this one,” was a theme long before it was a song.

In 1865, and for a decade following, Southerners emigrated from the South in such numbers that it constituted one of the great migrations of Western Civilization. Much has been written of the fact that the American West draws its independent nature from Southerners who had no intention of living with the boot of Yankee occupation squarely on their neck. Most of them fled west to Texas and beyond.

Tens of thousands, however, went to different countries. Not a few went to England and Scotland. Many thousands went into Mexico. Between ten and twenty thousand went to the most famous settlement of Americana, leaving an interesting cultural impression upon the region, where ante bellum cotillions are still danced, and the most Southern accents you can imagine are still spoken by the older descendents. Most, however, returned to the US, and found their way west. The primitive conditions and foreign cultures were difficult on all, and the distance from families was not worth the price, especially when locals were not necessarily welcoming of these strange new immigrants.

Where did we all come from in the first place? There is not a single American or European (or Asian or African, for that matter), who does not descend from an immigrant at some point. We are a nation of immigrants, legality notwithstanding. And those who came, did so under conditions far more difficult than what we face today. They left family behind, without benefit of FaceBook or e-mail for daily communication. They went to a strange culture, often a strange language for a couple of major reasons – the chance to own their own land (private property) and/or the necessity to flee tyranny. (The two are often related.)

In the late 18th Century, Scottish and Irish immigrants found it so difficult to feed a family that they voted with their feet, by walking to the nearest port and booking passage to the colonies, principally to America, and later to Australia and New Zealand. The government became alarmed, shortly after the absentee landlords became alarmed, for the rents simply quit coming in. A royal commission was created to figure out what had happened to all the (formerly servile) farmers and shopkeepers.

As is so typical of governments, they immediately developed a conscience about the conditions in which those poor emigrants had to travel. (Wink, wink.)

In 1803, the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed the Passenger Vessels Act. It was the first of many laws intended to regulate the transportation of immigrants and to protect emigrants on board ships from exploitation by transportation companies (such as exorbitant rates and consequent subjection to poor sanitary conditions). The Passenger Act required improved conditions relating to hygiene, food and comfort for passengers travelling to North America. However, this law was not always followed by transportation providers and the spread of infectious diseases such as typhus continued.

This act was established under humanitarian pretences, but the more practical and desired effect was to raise the cost of passage to prevent as many as possible from leaving. Landlords who feared the emigration of their population lobbied extensively for this piece of legislation, and where one could previously travel to Canada for £3–4, the price for the same passage was in some cases raised to £10 or more. The ability to move abroad was subsequently limited to a small class of people until it was repealed in 1826.

As one South Texan recently told me, when I asked him, what would your ancestors say, who came from Europe 150 years ago to claim this ranch and build a homeland for generations. His response was startling in its intensity. He said, “My family came here to escape government oppression and to find cheap land. I’ve had enough government meddling with my property and confiscatory taxation. I’ve found cheap land in another country. If my family lived here with me now, I guarantee you, they would be helping me pack!” He now owns a ranch in Argentina. (I asked him about the socialist government there, and he said, “It could be bad, if they were efficient, but they’re so incompetent that they practically don’t exist. I can live with it.”) Reminds me of Will Rogers’ famous quip, “I should think the last thing you want is all the government you pay for!”

Someone told me recently that 4,000 Americans a week arrive in Panama to make it their new home. Obviously, many are retirees, choosing to get better value for their dwindling dollars there than they can back home. But many of the people leaving the US these days are simply fed up, and no longer convinced that they can do a thing in the world to change things here, and willing to make the effort to start over for the sake of children and grandchildren.

All of that to say, “Things are at a head.” None of us are surprised that a crisis is coming – it’s the common core belief of a huge section of Americans today. And some are preparing creative ways to secede, right where they are. They are opting out of government systems, disappearing from the traditional and moving into alternative forms of buying and selling their goods and services. These things need a lot of discussion and development and debate. Whether it’s food production and cooperative buying, or alternative health programs, or herbal medicine, or contract labor, etc., there is a healthy underground economy out there that is (a) invisible, and (b) helping prop up the sick and dying economy.

If you decide to become an expatriate and leave the country, you’re in good company. Follow your own path, knowing you’re not the first, nor the last. (Chances are, you’ll be back.)