Friday, November 16, 2012

Secession Talk, Well That Should Help the Cause

This is once again an expanded idea from a comment I was trying to formulate on a secessionist Facebook posting.  The problem was that every time I turned around there was another, and another. All of the sudden there was infighting and screaming matches over how ‘true libertarians would never insult secession’ and on and on.  This road off the rails very quickly, and it is unfortunate that we couldn't just step back and take a breath here.

The problem as I have seen it is this: some of us are not at all concerned about the moral, legal, philosophical or historical discussion of the concept of secession.  We know them, understand them, and even agree with some of them, if not in the practical sense at least the esoteric.  But many of us are concerned that when we have such a great opportunity, and so many outlets, to talk with people about the notion of liberty and limited government principles being solutions to the actual, real world problems they are facing in their lives, and we could be one the cusp of convincing many of them to dump the dichotomy and silliness of our present political system, and what do we see? So many of our ranks jump up and defend the concept of these secessionist petitions. You could see where this story was going before it hit the big media, and this is where liberty movement people should have paused and reflected.

The day after an election you see these petitions jump up from places like Texas.  Texas, that never sweat one single overstep of W and the GOP while they put in place a myriad of ridiculous Big Government encroachments that pulled this country right to the edge of fiscal oblivion and Orwellian existence. Texas that came out big for W’s reelection and just as big for Romney this time around.  Never a thought of limited, constitutional government prior to this.  This is the state that is famous for limited government initiatives like the fight to keep being a homosexual in your personal, private life a crime - but now supposedly they have their jimmies rustled about liberty and a free society?  They are upset they lost an election in which they were able to freely participate.  They then want to violate the democratic bargain and take their ball and go home.  What are their long endured list of grievances?  Has the federal government encroached on personal liberty becoming a very dangerous entity?  Absolutely.  But given the absolute fact that there was barely a bit of difference between Romney and Obama on any substantive bit of policy or spending would all of these people have rushed to file this petition regardless of who won the election?  Would we have seen this big spontaneous movement for a return to constitutional principles with a Romney win?  OF COURSE NOT!  This was not a principled statement of the long and unbearable suffering of a people laboring under a despotic regime, this was a knee jerk reaction to losing ONE election they thought they should have won, which is exactly what the Confederacy was based on and why it lacked any real legitimacy.  As the latter part of the Declaration states, and no one is quoting: Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes…While you could easily make the case that those causes do exist, this was not one of those instances, this was theater plain and simple, a circle-jerk of disaffected mooks.

The liberty movement did not need to be involved in any of this, could have said: ‘silly neo-cons, go cry in your cheerios’ and it would have been fine. You don't get involved in a toddler's temper tantrum in the middle of a grocery store, even if you understand and sympathize with the toddler’s grievance, and this little fit is the same thing.  Yet here we are once again.  There are large swaths of people who could support the liberty movement and maybe self identify as somewhat libertarian if not for the fact they have been told that it a crazy ideology, not fit for a place at the table to discuss the big problems.  And what can those potentials, those fence-sitters see from the outside looking in?  Full throated defenses of secession and infighting over ideological purity. I don’t want to ever play the ‘no-true-Scotsman’ game, I want to be inclusive.  We can talk about the concept of secession, just like any free association concept, but the whole ‘FUCK YEAH!’ defense of these petitions hurts the team, I believe.  It is a similar situation to what many of us say about An-Cap. However sacrilegious it is to say to some, An-Cap shouldn't be the public face or the first thing people meet on their intro to libertarian thought. If they get there on their own as a matter of their personal philosophical development, or take some other road like Objectivism or more Classical Liberal, then so be it, it can all fit under a big tent of maximizing personal liberty while minimizing the state.  We must always remember that it has taken decades to get things this screwed up, and it will be incremental steps wrought through compromise that is going to move the ball forward.  Knocking on doors saying ‘can I talk to you about the liberty movement and our first and foremost advocacy of secession?’ is not going to get many converts. These are the reasons we can’t have nice things, and we should be a little more leery of when, where and why we jump into a philosophical argument.


  1. I wholeheartedly agree. The struggle for large-scale liberty is so great that it is tempting to jump on the bandwagon of any and all potential fellow travelers if they are saying or doing something we find exciting. The most relevant question we must consider, as you point out, is "who is clamoring for succession and why?" A sovereign Texas with the GOP at the helm should appeal to no one who favors liberty.

    1. Yeah, I don't know if you saw any of the Facebook stuff, but it got ugly. Lots and lots of 'if you were a true libertarian you would always back secession' which like I said was neither here nor their in this particular issue. It is certainly strange the level of enmity we can see in our ranks, and the seeming lack of a distinction between political thought/theory and practical political application. But of course I would be pilloried in certain corners for my lack of ideological purity for even advocating such a distinction. I worry that when/if our opportunity comes we are going to miss the chance thanks to bickering and litmus tests.