Ockham’s Razor and Secession

By Russell D. Longcore

(This is an update of a 2010 article.)

Ockham’s Razor is the principle that “entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity” (entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem). The popular restatement of this principle is that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one.

William of Ockham was a 14th-century English logician that came up with this principle. The term razor refers to the act of shaving away unnecessary theories to get to the simplest explanation.

So today we’re going to look at secession, founding documents and compare them to the other solutions presented by various modern thinkers and writers.

The Articles of Confederation

We should begin this discussion with thirteen new sovereign North American nations in 1781. They decided that they wanted to be a confederacy of thirteen sovereign nations. The Articles of Confederation (AOC) were ratified that year, but had been sent to the various new nations for review as early as 1777. That tells us that the colonies, due to the words of the Declaration of Independence, considered themselves free and independent nations, and were fighting the British prior to ratification of the AOC. The war did not end until 1783.

The Articles of Confederation acknowledged and guarded the sovereignty of each new nation, and created the united States of America as an errand boy…sort of a property management company, designed to do the bidding of the principals. The USA was funded by the several State legislatures. The AOC formed a Congress of only one house, the unicameral legislature. The USA only existed as a Committee of the States when the Congress was in session. And, alteration of the AOC had to be approved “in Congress assembled” and ratified by ALL thirteen States.

The AOC was pretty simple and required no Bill of Rights. After ratification in 1781, the United States was ineffective until 1787. The weakness of the AOC was intended to protect the sovereignty of the States. Consequently there were lots of disputes between States…primarily about commerce between the States…that the United States was unable to settle. Then Shay’s Rebellion occurred in Massachusetts (Massachusetts politicians deserved it), and many made calls for a stronger government. Thomas Jefferson refused to be alarmed by the rebellion, and uttered the famous quote: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

So, for a confederation of thirteen sovereign nations who wanted to solve common problems, the Articles of Confederation were the simplest solution. But malevolent men brushed it aside for a new government with nearly unlimited powers.

The US Constitution

The Philadelphia Convention of 1787 was organized and held under the premise of amending the AOC to settle the ongoing trade disputes between the States. But the more radical leaders like Alexander Hamilton pledged to entirely rewrite the AOC into a new Constitution with overarching power for a new nation, setting the stage to subsume the States under a strong central government. (For a detailed history of the Constitutional Convention, read “Hologram of Liberty,” by Kenneth W. Royce.)

Perhaps you didn’t know that, of the 55 delegates to the Philadelphia Convention, only eight had signed the Declaration of Independence. Men like Sam Adams, Thomas Paine and Christopher Gadsden were not even chosen. Patrick Henry refused to sign the Constitution, saying, ”I smelt a rat.”

As Lysander Spooner wrote in his epic “No Treason,” “The Constitution has either authorized such a government as we have had, or has been powerless to prevent it.”

The US Constitution was a quiet coup d’etat. It established the foundation for an uncontrollable and unaccountable central government. The seeds sown in 1789 are now a maturing crop of crushing taxation, relentless regulation and unchecked tyranny. The US Constitution was designed to be ambiguous, to protect the Federal government from the citizens, and to perpetuate the Federal government into the future. Everything that is touched by the Constitution, and the Federal Government created by it, is part and parcel of its ability to enslave. One cannot be separated from the other. Reform is impossible. The Federal Government that has grown like a cancer on the American population is now so complicated…so ubiquitous…that it cannot be controlled. Ironically, even the Federal Government cannot now control its own growth. And like a cancer, soon the Federal government and its Constitution will consume its host…we Americans…and it will die.

So Ockhams’ Razor cannot be used to shave away the unworkable and unmanageable bureaucracies of the Constitution and its whelp, Washington, DC…any more then a close shave separates one from the pigment of one’s skin. The Constitution created the Federal Government. They have both played their roles exactly as intended by the Framers. The corruption and tyranny is genetically designed into the Constitution.


Nullification begins with two preconceptions: (1) that there is a compelling reason and some unknown, unstated benefit for states to remain in the Union; and (2) that states and “we the People” retain power not delegated to the US. But the Tenth Amendment phrase, “nor prohibited by it to the States,” usually goes unmentioned. In order for states to nullify Federal law, states must have the ability to enforce their own will. That is simple human nature. A father who cannot enforce his will has unruly children. A teacher that cannot enforce classroom discipline has bedlam. A law enforcement organization without guns and the authority to use deadly force would be entirely ineffectual. And finally, a nation without its own money and without its own militia cannot enforce its will.

By ratifying a Constitution authorizing the Federal government to collect taxes directly from the people, and power to control the state militias, and by giving the Federal government the power to coin money, the states willingly sold themselves into slavery to the United States.

It is common for slaves to groan under the weight of the oppression of their masters. But slaves who have no money of their own and no weapons to defend themselves can only balefully sing “Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen”…while they continue to obey the Master.

Applying Ockham’s Razor to nullification shows the simplest explanation: Nullification is only possible if the slavemaster allows it. (Remember the Federal REAL ID Act?) Any time that the slavemaster resists nullification and moves to punish the slave for resistance, he will lay the lash to the back of the slave without mercy.

The Constitutional Convention

Many today call for a “ConCon.” They optimistically propose that if we can only rewrite the Constitution, “We The People” can bring the Federal Government under control once again. Those hopeful folks must not have read that old Constitution and the method whereby a ConCon can occur. The deck is stacked in favor of “the house.” In Article V, it states that two-thirds of the state legislatures (34 states) must apply for a ConCon, or that both houses of Congress must approve of the ConCon by a two-thirds majority. A ConCon opens the Constitution to any amendment or to be entirely rewritten. Then, whatever is produced by the ConCon must be ratified by three-fourths of the State legislatures (38 states).

Why would two-thirds of the ruling class in Congress voluntarily open themselves to being fired? They already have all the power. There is no benefit to Congress to participate in a ConCon. And to think that 34 states would agree to a ConCon, and then that 38 states would ratify a new Constitution, is naivete writ large. So, Ockham’s Razor, applied to the ConCon, leads us to the conclusion that the states are too inured to the US Constitution to change it.

Election Victories and the Two-Party System

Most Americans still believe in elections. Most Americans still believe in the two-party system; roughly 40% are Republicans, 40% are Democrats. They faithfully trot to the polls whenever they are told to. But there is no quorum…no minimum number at which an election is made null and void. So if only three votes are counted, someone will win. And now, in the age of electronic voting machines that are reprogrammed to commit fraud in nearly every election, the integrity of the voting process cannot be guaranteed. As if it ever was. Ockhams’ Razor applied to elections tells us that elections are intrinsic to the Constitution and the Federal Government’s system. To continue voting is to perpetuate the system, but voting cannot abolish or amend it.

Secession and Sovereignty

Any entity subject to the US Constitution must play by its rules. That includes the US Federal Government and the serf states. But in 2012, Washington completely ignores the Constitution and does exactly what it desires. There are absolutely no control mechanisms on the Federal Government. Ockham’s Razor will indicate that any effort to reform the United States cannot succeed, since remaining a part of the system requires slavish obedience to it. Voting in Federal elections only mollifies the voter and makes him believe his vote matters. Nullification cannot be successful since the States cannot enforce it.

The only solution…the simplest solution…is Secession. Secession makes nullification, Constitutional Conventions and Federal election victories irrelevant. It removes a State from the dictates and tyranny of the Constitution and the United States Federal Government. It seeks no overthrow, desires no further amendment, begs no permission. It is the embodiment of the natural law of freedom of association.

The only solution to the darkness of tyranny is the sunlight of secession. Who will be first?

DumpDC. Six Letters That Can Change History.

© Copyright 2012, Russell D. Longcore. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

25 Responses to Ockham’s Razor and Secession

  1. Mark Matis says:

    Gonna have to **** “Law Enforcement” first. Because it is THEY who “…will lay the lash to the back of the slave without mercy…” Are you ready to do THAT? Or are you still joyfully singing ““Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen”…while (you) continue to obey the Master(?)

  2. Richard says:

    Which ‘law enforcement’ are you talking about?

    Historically, local police are tied to local politics. Examples of police cooperation in the face of German & Japanese occupation of the 1940’s and subsequent allegiance of the same to liberators is proof. Same is true for local bureaucrats.

    The real question is to query the loyalty of State representatives to State constituents. I once heard a representative on the floor of the Florida State legislature declare during debate on a bill, “I swore an oath to uphold the Constitution of the State of Florida, not the Feds.”

    It gave me hope to hear that.

    but that’s just me hollering from the choir loft…

  3. Mark Matis says:

    And that Florida representative was somewhat dishonest in his claim:
    His oath is per Article II Section 5.

    • Richard says:

      I know the passage you are referring to. I also know that I was present in the gallery when the member (elected representative) made his statement. I hear his words. This is not second hand information. I was there.

      So were all the other representatives. Strangely, NONE of them offered the same criticism that you did, including the other member with whom he was debating the issue. Read that; NONE. Why is that do you suppose? hmmmm?

      Logic may prevail on the internet, but it does always do so in practical reality.

      Like I said, it gave me hope. It still does.

  4. Grenadier1 says:

    Secession….then what?
    So your State has withdrawn itself from the union what then?
    You now just have a tyrant thats closer in geography.
    The Anarchists would have you believe you continue this process all the way down to the individual which is in theory a good concept. Reality is that any level of secession means whats left of the Union just marches back in and takes you over. You then live under “reconstruction” and tyranny for 100 years. My family played this game once and lost. Sorry this Georgia boy has a better idea.

    Hollow them out from the inside. Make them no more than a security guard watching the fence around the factory. Thats their only legitimate job function.

    • dumpdc says:

      Grenadier: I would much rather have tyrants closeby than thousands of miles away. But I do not accept the automatic premise that a seceded state would be run by new tyrants. It’s apparent to me that you are new to DumpDC, and have not read articles in the Archive. We don’t recommend secession until after the Dollar collapses, and after the economy is in the shitter, secession will boil up from the populace if leaders will lead. Russ

      • GunRights4US says:

        Mr Longcore is absolutely correct. Local and state pols are far more accountable than federal pols. The aggregate of centralized power ever higher and higher up the pile is what’s brought us to this point. That “one nation, indivisible” crap needs to be purged from our mindset. The united States were never meant to be one nation!

      • Grenadier1 says:

        Tyranny down the street is no different than tyranny 500 miles away except its a little easier to walk down the street and shoot the bastard. I am not completly new just not commented here.
        I dont oppose the concept of secession just pointing out that under current conditions even if it gets somewhat worse any zone that attempted it would be crushed.
        The danger with waiting for things to go to the shitter is the rise of a strongman type leader. People in desperation will accept all manor of tyranny for a stable situation. My position is likely close to what you are advocating (I have not read your archive) As things get worse, offer a better alternative and people will see the shortcomings of DC and even the local State governments. Build smaller resilient communities and TAZ’s that will self govern and the State is reduced to its actual only purpose. Keeping the barbarians from overrunning us. They can do what ever else they want to make themselves feel important but as long as the real power is local and personal things will function.

    • Richard says:

      Secession, then what?

      Do you know that the Florida Keys SUCCESSFULLY seceeded from the union several years ago? It’s called the Conch Republic. It issues real passports that are recognized by several European countries. Google it.

      Tourist gimmick? Certainly. Legal maneuver? Yes, an exercise if you will consider it. What happened? Did the world come to an end? No. Did Florida suffer an invasion? Tourists, yes. Feds, a bit. No damage though.

      My point is that it was done. Somebody DID something more than talk and argue. And nobody got hurt.

      Think about it.

      • Grenadier1 says:

        Seriously? The Conch republic is your example of successful secession? I tell you what if any of the Citizens of the Conch Republic have stopped paying federal income tax and not been invaded by IRS storm troopers I will give some credence to your suggestion.

      • Richard says:

        To Grenadier: I submitted the Conch Republic example for the purpose of precident. I agree that the Keys is not, by any stretch of the imagination, an independent nation nor is it a viable model for such. It did provide a working template of what would and would not be expected from the Feds and the locals if such a scenario were in fact tried in modern times. As a test, I think it went rather well.

        Do you have something better than objections to offer? I’m game if you are. Any port in a storm, so to speak.

        BTW 30 years ago most of the locals were not supportive. Apparently most Americans still resist the idea.

      • Grenadier1 says:

        I dont mean to sound harsh or too dismissive Richard, I just think people pin their hopes to something like secession or a ConCon or a Free state type movement and there is nothing to warrant putting all the eggs into that basket.
        Everyone is looking for something better and I am as well.
        I do have what I think is a better offer. Start in your neighborhood. Grow outward from there but only as much as you need to geographically. Focus on building what your local area needs to be independent. Water, energy, food supply plan and build as if your area was a third world country. What you can source locally is superior in terms of importance to what is brought in from 100 miles away. The idea is to build an enclave in a sense that CAN be independant from everything else. You can do most of these things in the current state of afairs and getting your neighbors on board and spreading the idea ensures acceptance. If you can do this as the rest of things collapse you demonstrate the irrelevance of the government at large. The systems you put into place will determin the size of your new community and the limits of its self determination. Its secession in a sense but in a reverse process. You build the community and its independence becomes self evident.

        Its John Robb’s idea I am just thinking how to apply it in practice.

      • dumpdc says:

        Mr. Grenadier-

        Been watching you and Mr. Paracka trade thoughts. My stalwart position is that secession will not catch on or be a serious solution until after the Dollar collapses. I realize completely the import of that event. There will be rampant crime, widespread death from murder, robbery, starvation and disease. The USA will return to the 18th Century in many ways. But there is only one way to fix society, and that is when the fiat currency/fractional reserve banking systems implode and the “everything bubble” bursts. Those who hold precious metals and prepped for societal collapse will survive, and that probably will not be many people. Rural people have a far greater chance of survival than urban dwellers. I’m not worried about how to govern 300 million Americans, because there won’t be 300 million left after the collapse. Most people are followers, and will follow leaders that have answers that aren’t just the old government warmed over. Secession will only make sense to Joe Sixpack after all else fails. I hope all of us survive long enough to birth a new nation from one of the old ones. But even if I don’t, I can still hold the dream of liberty in my heart and spread that dream as far as I can. Russ PS: please spend some time reading in our Archive. Nearly every question you can think of about secession is covered in the Archive.

  5. Dan III says:

    Wonderful article. Just wonderful !

    Thank you. You’ve enlightened me.


  6. Robert Birdwell says:

    All nations are living organisms. Over time, many appendages grow for this or that “vital function.”

    As more time passes, all of the appendages will compete for diminishing food and the illusion supremacy, the reasons for their formation being long forgotten.

    Historically, the appendages starve the host and former master to death. They soon follow.

    Our “living” government is two or three thousand appendages beyond salvation.

    The only thing for people of thought and action to do is to step aside and let the corpse rot while we design and implement a rational replacement while keeping the scavengers away.

  7. I cannot agree that the Constitution was designed to produce the travesty that has become of Our Republic. It was designed to LIMIT the Federal Government – to PREVENT what has happened – as is evident from its very plain language and the surviving records of the Convention debates.

    What has become is a result of craven, cowardly and greedy men who have ignored its plain language and their own solemnly-sworn oath to uphold it – and a citizenry who deserves no better because of their cowardly refusal to uphold THEIR end of the bargain and safeguard their very own Liberty.

    The Tyrant (hack-spit) lincoln, 16th and 17th Amendments, Wickard and other watershed events contributed as well, but even those things could have been survived had We The People done our part.

    • dumpdc says:

      Dear Mr. Dad- Everybody has an opinion and I respect yours. But remember that some of the signers of the Declaration of Independence refused to sign the Constitution. That should say something to you. Russ

  8. Cassandra (of Troy) says:

    Mr. Longcore,

    Some suggestions for your review & comment.:

    W.S.A. = Western States Alliance

    Territory comprised of the eastern halves of WA/OR/CA to the eastern borders of MT/WY/CO/NM, down from the Canadian/U.S. borders of the uppermost northern states in that territory to the U.S./Mexican borders of the southernmost states in that territory. The Plains states could be called the Prairie States League/Central States League/etc, &, if I may be so boldly impertinent, the states that formed the Confederacy might be known as the Southern States Federation/Independent Federation of Southern States/etc.

    Cassandra (of Troy)

  9. oldtcs says:

    Good points in both the article and the comments. For myself, there are too many possible scenarios for me to do much more than be as ready as possible.

    From what I have learned of history, we are headed for both collapse and war. I don’t know whether war will be against other countries, internal, or both. I do know the fedgov will try to survive at all costs to us and anyone else.

    From history, there is always a leader or group that promises a return to order. The more dependent the populace in general, the more they will flock to the new leader or group. There may be a small window of opportunity for secession, but afterwards I would still expect the need to fight off the same group wishing to return the “rebels” to the fold so they can return to their life of dependancy.

    The idea of resilient communities appeals to me, and fits in well with my general idea of simply being as ready as possible. Sort of “event agile.” It also seems a very good way to prep for secession if that possibility arises.

  10. […] Posted: April 1st, 2012 by Militant Libertarian by Russell D. Longcore […]

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