Thursday, November 29, 2012

On Secession

It made news after the election that a number of States had petitions at the to allow them to secede from the union. By now, all 50 States have a petition with the White House, and at least one has enough signatures to demand an answer.  Clearly, you don't secede by asking politely "Please Mr. Dictator, may I go now?" These petitions, are not credible, and signing them is a waste of time, and possibly dangerous if the regime decides that these people are "terrorists" and need to be locked up under the NDAA. But, a discussion of secession as it stands today is worth taking up, and Walter Williams has some good points at Parting Company, published on yesterday.

Williams first point is that nothing in the Constitution prevents a State from pulling out, if it feels that the Federal government is trampling the rights of its people, and is not giving proper respect to its Sovereignty.  Those were the conditions upon which the States ratified the Constitution.  If the Federal government now wants to change the relationship that exists, there are ways to go about it set forth in the Constitution itself.  The Constitution has been amended 27 times, so it is not impossible.  But nobody has tried to amend the Constitution to accomplish their power grabs.  Instead, they have used the notion that the Constitution lives and breathes to steal our rights when we weren't looking, and then pretend it didn't happen.

Williams points to a number of statements by the founders, as well as newspaper editorials that favored secession.  Williams writes:

There's more evidence seen at the time our Constitution was ratified. The ratification documents of Virginia, New York and Rhode Island explicitly said that they held the right to resume powers delegated, should the federal government become abusive of those powers. The Constitution would have never been ratified if states thought that they could not maintain their sovereignty.

The War of 1861 settled the issue of secession through brute force that cost 600,000 American lives. Americans celebrate Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, but H.L. Mencken correctly evaluated the speech, "It is poetry, not logic; beauty, not sense." Lincoln said that the soldiers sacrificed their lives "to the cause of self-determination -- that government of the people, by the people, for the people should not perish from the earth." Mencken says: "It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in the battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of people to govern themselves."
The proximate casus belli was the demand of the surrender of Fort Sumter, backing the demand by firing canon at the fort. Lincoln had his war, and could honestly say that the South started it. And so, the issue of whether or not a State may secede was settled on a "might makes right" basis. But it has never really been settled.  I can not help but believe that if we are truly citizens, and not just serfs on masters plantation, then we must have the right of secession.  But it will come only by a State legislature voting for secession, a Governor signing the legislation, and serving notice to the Federal government that henceforth any relationship with said State is dissolved, and any contact with said State shall be treated as a foreign country would be treated.  That is how you secede.  You must take it, for it will not be given.

Update: Thunder Tales has some more thinking about secession. He notes that when people are forced to stay in a union they no longer want, it is not very productive.

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