Secession and other simple solutions to complex problems…


There was an interesting meeting last week in Chattanooga, Tennessee – a meeting of groups hoping to secede from the United States.

Ah, you think. Secessionists. Chattanooga. Must be crazy Confederate apologists looking to re-fight the Civil War (or, if you prefer, the War Between the States, or if that still doesn’t satisfy you, the War of Northern Aggression) or, worse yet, undo any good it might have done to bring the American South into a modern United States – one with silly ideas like racial harmony and equal justice under law.

Well, you’d be half right.

A major player in the Chattanooga meeting was The League of the South, an organization that at best can be described as – retrograde. Note these two points, the first from the “cultural independence” section, the second from the “social independence” section:

The South still reveres the tenets of our historic Christian faith and acknowledges its supremacy over man-made laws and opinions; that our Christian faith provides the surest means of securing the welfare of all mankind; and that our primary allegiance is to the Lord Jesus Christ and His Holy Church. (Italics mine)

Upholds the ontological or spiritual equality of all men before God and the bar of justice, while recognizing and rejoicing in the fact that it has neither been the will of God Almighty nor within the power of human legislation to make any two men mechanically equal. (Italics mine)

What The League of the South hopes for, then, with “Southern Independence” is a theocratic republic where Plessy v. Ferguson is the “right and proper” way for the races to live together under law.

That’s the half you got right.

But that meeting of secessionists in Chattanooga wasn’t only attended by Southerners of the same backward nature as those in the famous Harvard Yard joke:

Q: How many Southerners does it take to change a light bulb? A: Four – one to change the bulb, three to talk about how great the old bulb was….

The Middlebury Institute also sent delegates. Here are the “minimal rights and freedoms of individuals in a sovereign state” as articulated by Middlebury Institute:


Rights to
Life, liberty, security
Equality before the law

Trial before competent tribunal, due process, counsel, appeal
Possess property and not be arbitrarily deprived thereof
Periodic elections with universal adult suffrage
Secession by any coherent unit

Freedoms of
Speech, opinion, expression in any media
Peaceable assembly, association
Belief, thought, religion, worship
Movement within any state, and to leave and return

Freedoms from
Slavery or servitude
Discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, religion,
political belief, nationality, property, or birth

Torture or degrading treatment
Arbitrary arrest or detention
Invasion of privacy
Arbitrary deprivation of citizenship
Any action by the state to destroy or deny any of these rights and freedoms
(Italics mine)

Clearly, the aims and goals of the Middlebury Institute are light years from those of the League of the South. So why are they meeting together? Is secession that strong and attractive an idea – one that reasonable people actually believe feasible? Interestingly, the Supreme Court may never have ruled definitively on the issue. Perhaps that is an impetus to the behavior of these groups.

For those on the far left like The Middlebury Institute and the Second Vermont Republic that oppose the Iraq War, support civil unions, and seek to free themselves from what they term “federal imperialism,” secession is a way to escape what they perceive as growing “corporatocracy” and pursue more humanistic, peaceful political and social paths. For those on the far right like The League of the South and Christian Exodus, secession would allow them to establish separate political and social states based on their views on race, religion, or both. And so they meet together to strategize and try to increase their support bases because while their particular reasons for secession may be widely different, their ends are the same – independence from what they believe is an increasingly intrusive and meddlesome federal government – a government more inclined to act for the political or economic gain of the governors than in response to the needs and wishes of the governed.

What’s perhaps most chillingly sad about this is that, no matter which side of the political spectrum one leans toward from that amorphous point we call “the center,” one can feel at least a twinge, an inkling of agreement with (or at least interest in) their reasons for seeking to leave the American union. Since we know that often what the fringe begins ends up in some form becoming the middle, that suggests problematic clouds on the horizon for what for now we know as these United States….

11 replies »

  1. Is there a way that we can let the LoS secede? Obviously they can’t have the whole South, because there are a LOT of damned smart people there. But maybe we could herd them all into a corner of Mississippi and wall it off?

  2. The Middlebury Institute doesn’t strike me as far left.

    The values are worthy of upholding.

  3. Let the South secede, but with the provision that anyone who wants to emigrate to the remaining states of the US may do so. That way, we’ll get all the talent.

    US per capita income will skyrocket. We’ll no longer be responsible for cleaning up after hurricanes. And we can sit back and laugh as the new CSA economy tanks on restricted credit, tariffs, and the lack of a central lending bank to maintain reserve ratios.

    But the most fun will be watching all the CSA states secede from each other, one by one.

    Good thing they’ll have those state militias for defense, huh?

  4. The more work I do with consumer news and law, the more I see that state governments are often better prepared to handle the daily crises that occur in people’s lives–and can know the needs of their populace better than Washington.

    I used to be a diehard Federalist, but seven-plus years of the reign of error that is Dubya has given me a new appreciation for states’ rights. It saddens me to think that Lincoln–who waged bloody war to ensure the Union was preserved–would look down on us now and see how frayed and thin the ties binding us have become.

  5. I say we give them the Republic of Tejas first. They were originally Mexican. We’d rid ourselves of the Bushies and the Mayberry Machiavelli’s he took to DC with him. Let them make the bible their Constitution, disenfranchise the women, African-Americans and Hispanics. Get rid of birth control and abortions, gambling and legal booze. Let them not tax any corporation, get rid of public schooling. Let them enstrict strict blue laws. Allow anyone who doesn’t want to live in such a draconian state sell their home and business, etc. and move north or west. If the reich-wing can populate Tejas, then we can start divvying up the rest of the gulf states. They can 15 foot tall wall their entire nation. I’ll miss Austin, and San Antonio and Corpus and even El Paso and the hill country. But nah, the rest of the state, and most who live there…..?Oh, and Galveston too.

  6. Just think, if Grant had made Lee surrender the Confederate flag at the end of the Civil War, it may have solved some of the problems today.

  7. Btw, I forgot to ask. It’s evident there is an abundance of scholarly work here.

    Anything rogue-ish on the horizon? 😉

  8. There is no American “union”. Rather, there is a corporate oligopoly that siphons unearned income from the periphery. This is the only surviving cohesive alliance from a continuing war between the states. The American Civil War was/is fought to claim exclusive entitlement to common resources, once the slaves were freed. But, as Dr. King has observed, Negro slaves were “freed” to starve and wander aimlessly, miraculously surviving to become wage-slaves along with the rest of humanity under the imperial dictates of “American” capitalism. As such, King further observed that African Americans are quite possibly the most profound example of cohesive alliance in the history of mankind. Long-term cooperative alliance amongst primary producers is a mandatory prerequisite for a needed “secession” from the dysfunctional comfort of our contemporary “union” toward a healthier democracy. There is no turning back. The revolution will not be televised.

  9. JS OBrien

    Your argument is backward. The South composed of 15 states in the region is the world’s 4 th largest economy. As in 1861, the North would be the loser economically if we left. We would prosper more without a fiat currency that we now have under the Fed.

  10. 1. At the constitutional convention in 1787, during the final vote, three states (NY, Conn. and Vir.) announced that they voted for the Const. with the understanding that they “reserved the right to assume the powers of a national government.” (Source: Library of Congress). 2. There is nothing in the Constitution which prevents a state from leaving the union, unlike the Article of Confederation, which was a “perpetual union.” No such word is in the Constitution. 3. Lincoln had no authority, except that which he took – unconstitutionally, just as Prince George the Schrub – to hold the union together. 4. Does the League of the South actually have a resolution in one of its planks about returning to slavery? Or is that just an assumption of the Marxist-Leninist crowd (i.e. the residue of the New Left from the 60s with its politics of confrontation.)? 5. George Mason, delegate to the constitutional convention from Virginia, wanted 3 items 5.1 a Bill of Rights before a new constitution was adopted, 5.2 the freeing of all the slaves (and he was a slave owner), and 5.3 a statement about the right to succession (of which we only have the 10th Amendment implying that right). Oh, before you attack my opinions, please note that I am descended of Yankees (51st, 117th, and 120th Pennsylvania VIR) AND, after disillusionment with the military, became a full-time liberal political acitivist and trained (Midwest Academy) community organizer. I believe that the left bears more moral and ethical responsiblity for the societal dislocation than do mainstream conservatives e.g. moral relativism is what the corporate world practices. Most conservatives would rather just be left alone. Perhaps the New Left’s use of government for social re-engineering was a recruiting tool for these insane, treasonous neo-cons as the War in Iraq is a recruiting effort for the next generation of terrorists.