Second North American
October 3-4, 2007
Call for the Convention
"Second Secessionist Convention Report," Kirkpatrick Sale, Director,
Middlebury Institute, October 22, 2007
"Red State - Blue State Secessionists Unite," Thomas H. Naylor,
Chattanooga Declaration," A Statement Adopted at the Second North
American Secessionist Convention, Chattanooga, TN, October 4, 2007
Some News Stories about the Convention - Entire article or excerpt(s)
"Secessionists Meeting in Tennessee," Bill Poovey, Associated Press,
October 3, 2007
"Anger over Iraq and
Bush prompts calls for secession from the U.S.,"
Leonard Doyle, The [UK] Independent, October 4, 2007
"Take your nation and
shove it: Secessionists from Vermont, Alaska
and Dixie proclaim their desire to smash the 'American Empire',"
John F. Sugg, Creative Loafing, Atlanta, October 10, 2007
"Talking ‘Bout a Revolution," Cheryl Glenn, Gay Charleston
October 4, 2007Gay Charleston
"Our Towns: A Vision of a Nation No Longer in the U.S.," Peter
Applebome, The New York Times, October 18, 2007
REPRESENTATIVES TO THE
SECOND NORTH AMERICAN SECESSIONIST CONVENTION
Issued May 16, 2007
The Second North
American Secessionist Convention will be held on 3-4 October 2007 in
Chattanooga, Tennessee, at the Marriott Convention Center Hotel. The event is
co-sponsored by The League of the South (www.dixienet.org)
and The Middlebury Institute (www.middleburyinstitute.org).
As with the First
North American Secessionist Convention, held in November 2006 in Burlington,
Vermont, this gathering offers a forum for secessionist organizations to
exchange ideas and established closer ties. Unlike the first convention,
however, this event will be open to secessionist organizations from Europe.
On behalf of The
League of the South and The Middlebury Institute, we invite legitimate secession
organizations and observers to send a representative to this important event.
The convention will begin with an informal gathering on Wednesday evening (3
October) at 7:00 in the Tennessee River Room at the Marriott and will continue
all day Thursday (4 October). Our activities will be capped off with a banquet
on Thursday evening at a local restaurant. Thereafter, we invite everyone to
stay over for The League of the South annual convention at the adjacent
Chattanooga Convention Center
on 5-6 October. Please let us know no later than 1 July whether your
organization will be sending a representative (please provide name, address, and
other contact information for your representative(s)). Travel funds will be
available on a limited basis from the Middlebury Institute.
The League of the South can be reached at the following:
Phone: (800) 888-3163
Mail: PO Box 760, Killen, Alabama 35645
The Middlebury Institute can be reached at the following:
Mail: 127 East Mountain Road, Cold Spring, NY 10516
Dr. Michael Hill, The League of the South
Mr. Kirkpatrick Sale, The Middlebury Institute
Back to Contents
Second Secessionist Convention Report
Kirkpatrick Sale, Director,
October 22, 2007
For contact information groups mentioned below,
Registry of North American Separatist Organizations.
In a rare and powerful display of unity by the anti-authoritarian left and the anti-authoritarian right, the Second North American Secessionist Convention was held at the beginning of October in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Co-sponsored by the
League of the South, working toward a free Southern republic, and the Middlebury
Institute, the secessionist think-tank based in New York
the convention drew eighteen delegates representing secessionist organizations
in at least 36 states. The deliberations were watched by some 40 observers and
organizers from an additional 8 states.
The convention drew
attention across the country, largely thanks to an AP story printed on its
opening day that was carried nationwide (in the on-line sites of the New York
Times, Newsday, Washington Post, and USA Today, among others), and news of the
event went international, to England, Ireland, New Zealand, Belgium, India, and
Canada. Several television stations attended the gathering, a short film was
posted on youtube, a crew from Ithaca
College filmed the entire proceedings,
and more than 50 radio stations ran interviews with the convention leaders.
(Some of the coverage can be found below.)
Press attention was so
high in part because of the alliance among groups that on the surface would seem
to have not a lot in common on political and social issues like abortion,
homosexual rights, pornography, prisons, public schooling, religious observance,
immigration, health care, or gun control. But none of those differences arose
in the day-long proceedings because the groups were united on these overarching
issues: opposition to the American empire, its current government, its war in
Iraq, its corrupt and beholden legislatures, its invasion of privacy with the
tools of repression, its repeated interference in state and local affairs, its
quasi-fascistic affiliation of big business and big government, its enhancement
of the dangerous power of international corporations—and the need to get out
from under all that and restore liberty and democracy through peaceful
As the convention put
it in a closing document, the Chattanooga
Declaration: “The deepest questions of human liberty and government facing
our time go beyond right and left, and in fact have made the old left-right
split meaningless and dead….The American Empire is no longer a nation or a
republic, but has become a tyrant aggressive abroad and despotic at home….The
States of the American union are and of right ought to be, free and
show of unity, felt palpably by the delegates around the room, made individual
issues and policies irrelevant, subsumed under the clear need to work toward
making secession a viable and reasonable option now for the people of the
various states. That question—basically the “how” of secession, after its
legitimacy and legality are established—is now perhaps the most important issue
facing the secessionist movement and came in for extended discussion at the
outlined different approaches. The League works through state chapters and some
of those have local chapters focusing on local issues, including property
rights, taxes, centralization of power, and public display of the Ten
Commandments. Vermont secessionists work through three affiliated
organizations, the Second
think tank, a Vermont Commons newspaper promoting the state’s unique character
and history, and a Freevermont.net group working to put secession on the agendas
of the 250 town meetings over the next few years. The Alaska Independence Party
has web page and web radio sites, displays and sells T shirts, CDs and videos of
past speeches, posters and the like (the university has proved a useful
marketplace), and hopes to have public hearings on a repeal of the vote for
statehood, which it regards as bogus. The Georgia LOS organization has a
successful tabloid newspaper and a far-reaching radio network,
Dixiebroadcasting.net, with a Southern Liberty Store that sells “lectures and
speeches from the Southern Movement.”
The question of
working through the two major parties also came up, with opinions on both
sides. One delegate from Texas ran in a Republican U.S. senatorial primary on a
secession platform and garnered more than 50,000 votes and is fixing to try it
again. A Georgia
delegate ran for governor two years ago on a “Georgia
first” platform and plans another race. A delegate from Louisiana has been
organizing around a possible entry into next year’s Republican primary race for
President. Alaska secessionists have worked within both main parties. But
strong sentiment was expressed that, even as an “issues” candidate, there were
dangers in trying to work through established parties, who do not greet such
ventures with open arms, and who traditionally have successfully co-opted or
smothered maverick candidates.
Some Vermonters are
contemplating eventually fielding candidates for the state legislature on a
forthright secessionist platform, avoiding major party labels.
convention ended with a barbeque banquet addressed by Thomas Fleming, editor of
Chronicles, “A Magazine of American Culture.” His general argument was
that once he was in favor of all secessions, but with instances like Kosovo, for
example, he came to think that there were some bad secessions as well as good.
It was not a theme that had much influence on an audience of people who, as this
Second Secessionist Convention showed, were acting on the premise that any state
or region working for secession, at least in North America, was legitimate and
Cory Burnell, of the
Christian Exodus movement that hopes to settle in and free South Carolina,
mentioned in his presentation that a poll was taken last fall by the Opinion
Research Corporation and broadcast by CNN on October 23, 2006. It found that 71
percent of Americans agreed that “our system of government is broken and cannot
be fixed,” and another 7 percent agreed it was broken but “hoped” it could be
fixed. That is astonishing in one sense, since we are not normally provided
such insight into the popular mind, but it is a measure of what should be
obvious—and it provides extremely fertile ground into which secessionists can
plant their seeds.
We will examine just
what’s growing and where at the Third Secessionist Convention next year,
location to be determined.
Back to Contents
Red State - Blue State Secessionists Unite
Thomas H. Naylor
Flag-waving patriots didn’t like it one
bit. Nor did left-wing Democrats, right-wing Republicans, the Bush
administration’s neocon mafia, the Israeli lobby, Corporate America, Fox news,
CNN, National Public Radio, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, The Nation, The Wall
Street Journal, or The New York Times. The have-gun-will-travel Southern Poverty
Law Center was absolutely beside itself. And what exactly was it that they all
On October 3-4
representatives from thirty state separatist movements met in Chattanooga,
Tennessee to discuss peaceable ways to dissolve the American Empire. Delegates
came from as far away as California, Alaska, Oregon, Vermont, and New Hampshire
joining Southerners from Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina.
Sponsored by the New England based Middlebury Institute and The League of the
South, the Second North American Secessionist Convention brought together a
strange mix of so-called blue state liberals and red state conservatives
committed to the peaceful breakup of the Empire.
There was only one
issue on the table - - the Empire. There was no time whatsoever for discussion
of such divisive issues as race, religion, class, sexuality, or immigration.
Delegates from both camps sniffed each other out, acknowledged their
differences, and remained steadfastly on topic for two full days.
Delegates took note
of the fact that our government has lost its moral authority and that our nation
is unsustainable, ungovernable, and, therefore, unfixable. Both the Democratic
and Republican parties were dismissed as completely irrelevant as are the yahoos
running for president.
Near the end of the
convention nearly all delegates signed the “Chattanooga Declaration.” The
declaration listed seven truths upon which most delegates agreed. It
acknowledged the fact that the left-right dichotomy was an anachronism from the
past exploited by politicians to help keep us divided. It further noted that the
Bush administration has tried to resurrect the left-right divide to gain support
for its convoluted war on terrorism.
conservatives have blamed all of our problems on the federal government.
Liberals, on the other hand, blame Corporate America for our ills. Both sides
are right. The U.S. government is owned, operated, and controlled by Corporate
The terms liberal
and conservative have no meaning anymore. The real issues are size, scale, and
empire, not Iraq, the economy, health care, or immigration. The American Empire
is the most powerful, most militaristic, most violent, most racist, most
imperialistic empire of all time. That’s the only issue that really matters.
convention was energized by an Associated Press piece by Bill Poovey released a
few hours before the convention began. In his extremely well written piece,
Poovey quoted University of North Carolina Professor Harry Watson who said that
the unlikely red state – blue state partnering “represents the far left and far
right of American politics coming together.”
The AP story was
picked up by hundreds of radio stations, TV stations, websites, and newspapers
nationwide. League of the South President Michael Hill gave over thirty-five
interviews. Fox News, CNN, National Public Radio, and the Financial Times
covered the convention. It even made Jay Leno’s monologue!
The meeting ended
with the delegate from the Second
Vermont Republic inviting others to join
Vermont in a “Genteel Revolution” of thoughtful writers, artists, academics,
blue collar workers, doctors, farmers, lawyers, merchants, and other rebels
committed to helping save America and the rest of the world from the American
May God bless the
Untied States of America!
Thomas H. Naylor
October 15, 2007
Back to Contents
The Chattanooga Declaration
We, the delegates of the secession movements represented
at the Second North American Secessionist Convention, acknowledging our
differences, yet agree on the following truths:
1. The deepest questions of human liberty and government facing our time go beyond right and left, and in fact have made the old left-right split meaningless and dead.
2. The privileges, monopolies, and powers that private corporations have won from government threaten everyone’s health, prosperity, and liberty, and have already killed American self-government by the people.
3. The power of corporations endangers liberty as much as government power, especially when they are combined as in the American Empire.
4. Liberty can only survive if political power is returned from faraway and self-interested centers to local communities and states.
5. The American Empire is no longer a nation or a republic, but has become a tyrant aggressive abroad and despotic at home.
6. The states of the American union are and of right ought to be, free and self-governing.
7. Without secession, liberty and self-government can never be sustained, and diversity among human societies can never survive.
Mark A. Thomey Franklin Sanders
Thomas R. McBerry, Jr. Thomas Moore
Eugene C. Case Larry S. Kilgore
Lynette Clark Dexter O. Clark
David Towery Michael C. Tuggle
Walter D. Kennedy Robert Pritchett
Cory Burnell Thomas N. Naylor
Kirkpatrick Sale Michael Hill
Back to Contents
Some News Articles
Meeting in Tennessee
By Bill Poovey
October 3, 2007
[This article was linked at DrudgeReport.Com
in dozens of publications, including Fox News and USA Today]
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — In an unlikely marriage of desire to secede from the United States, two advocacy groups from opposite political traditions — New England and the South — are sitting down to talk.
Tired of foreign wars and what they consider right-wing courts, the Middlebury Institute wants liberal states like Vermont to be able to secede peacefully.
That sounds just fine to the League of the South, a conservative group that refuses to give up on Southern independence.
"We believe that an independent South, or Hawaii, Alaska, or Vermont would be better able to serve the interest of everybody, regardless of race or ethnicity," said Michael Hill of Killen, Ala., president of the League of the South.
Separated by hundreds of miles and divergent political philosophies, the Middlebury Institute and the League of the South are hosting a two-day Secessionist Convention starting Wednesday in Chattanooga.
They expect to attract supporters from California, Alaska and Hawaii, inviting anyone who wants to dissolve the Union so states can save themselves from an overbearing federal government.
If allowed to go their own way, New Englanders "probably would allow abortion and have gun control," Hill said, while Southerners "would probably crack down on illegal immigration harder than it is being now."
The U.S. Constitution does not explicitly prohibit secession, but few people think it is politically viable.
Vermont, one of the nation's most liberal states, has become a hotbed for liberal secessionists, a fringe movement that gained new traction because of the Iraq war, rising oil prices and the formation of several pro-secession groups.
Thomas Naylor, the founder of one of those groups, the Second Vermont Republic, said the friendly relationship with the League of the South doesn't mean everyone shares all the same beliefs.
But Naylor, a retired Duke University professor, said the League of the South shares his group's opposition to the federal government and the need to pursue secession.
"It doesn't matter if our next president is Condoleeza (Rice) or Hillary (Clinton), it is going to be grim," said Naylor, adding that there are secessionist movements in more than 25 states, including Hawaii, Alaska, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Texas.
The Middlebury Institute, based in Cold Spring, N.Y., was started in 2005. Its followers, disillusioned by the Iraq war and federal imperialism, share the idea of states becoming independent republics. They contend their movement is growing.
The first North American Separatist Convention was held last fall in Vermont, which, unlike most Southern states, supports civil unions. Voters there elected a socialist to the U.S. Senate.
Middlebury director Kirpatrick Sale said Hill offered to sponsor the second secessionist convention, but the co-sponsor arrangement was intended to show that "the folks up north regard you as legitimate colleagues."
"It bothers me that people have wrongly declared them to be racists," Sale said.
The League of the South says it is not racist, but proudly displays a Confederate Battle Flag on its banner.
Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project, which monitors hate groups, said the League of the South "has been on our list close to a decade."
"What is remarkable and really astounding about this situation is we see people and institutions who are supposedly on the progressive left rubbing shoulders with bona fide white supremacists," Potok said.
Sale said the League of the South "has not done or said anything racist in its 14 years of existence," and that the Southern Poverty Law Center is not credible.
"They call everybody racists," Sale said. "There are, no doubt, racists in the League of the South, and there are, no doubt, racists everywhere."
Harry Watson, director of the Center For the Study of the American South and a history professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said it was a surprise to see The Middlebury Institute conferring with the League of the South, "an organization that's associated with a cause that many of us associate with the preservation of slavery."
He said the unlikely partnering "represents the far left and far right of American politics coming together."
On the Net:
* Middlebury Institute: http://middleburyinstitute.org
* League of the South: http://www.leagueofthesouth.net
* Second Vermont Republic: http://www.vermontrepublic.org
* Southern Poverty Law Center: http://www.splcenter.org/index.jsp
Back to Contents
Anger over Iraq and Bush prompts
calls for secession from the U.S.
By Leonard Doyle
October 4, 2007
(Excerpt from article)
Along the Appalachian Trail, the 2000-mile ribbon of wilderness stretching from Vermont to Tennessee, the leaves are putting on their annual display of dazzling yellows, gold and vermilion...
And like the autumn leaves politics turns quicker in Vermont than elsewhere in the US.
The self-styled Green Mountain state has always had a doggedly independent streak. It opposed slavery long before other states. Vermont people are fiercely proud of the way they run their affairs through "town hall meetings" at which everything from school budgets to planning applications are thrashed out in public.
In 2004, Vermont elected its first socialist congressman Bernie Sanders, it almost sent the maverick Democrat Howard Dean to the White House, and was the first state to approve same-sex civil unions. Montpelier is the only state capital in the US to have no McDonald's restaurant and Vermont has kept Wal-Mart superstores out of its cities far longer than any other state. Vermont has some of the toughest environmental laws in the country. In a landmark case, it recently won the right to set tougher pollution standards on car makers than federal law demands.
And in the stores of its cities, T-shirts bearing the slogan "US out of Vt!" are big sellers. Because Vermont is now home to a growing movement agitating for outright secession from the United States. In Vermont's rural air, there has always been a whiff of rebellion. One of Vermont's founding fathers, Ethan Allen, was an early American revolutionary and guerrilla leader who fought with his Green Mountain Boys for Vermont's independence in the American Revolutionary War and for the establishment of the Vermont Republic which lasted from 1777 to 1791.
The modern independence movement campaigns with a mixture of whimsy and brass-neck maintaining that the United States has lost its moral authority. They argue that the "US empire" is unsustainable and have tapped into a growing well of anger over the war in Iraq, fears for the global environment and anger at the administration of George Bush.
In 2005, activists held their first convention in the golden-domed statehouse in the state capitol Montpelier where passionate arguments were made for Vermont to quit the union. The gathering, sponsored by a group called the Second Vermont Republic, was the first statewide convention on secession in the US since 1861, when North Carolina voted to leave.
Founder Thomas Naylor set out the case for independence in a Green Mountain Manifesto published in 2003 and subtitled Why and How Tiny Vermont Might Help Save America From Itself by Seceding from the Union. Naylor, 70, a retired professor, was a management consultant to Russia during the breakup of the Soviet Union from where he derived some of his inspiration on the future break up of the United States. Much of the rest of America sees Vermonters as closet Canadians. Naylor sees Vermont as a state of small towns, small farms, local government, grassroots democracy and green activism – not unlike a Switzerland of North America.
Naylor and his followers proudly claim the support of 8 per cent of the population of Vermont for the separatist path. They want fellow citizens to vote on the matter at a Town Meeting Day next March, a ballot which they say could eventually persuade the state Legislature to declare independence.
This week, however, the eccentric left-wing scholars and retired busy-bodies behind the campaign took a more controversial step which is puzzling some of its die-hard supporters. They traveled the 2,000 miles to the other end of the Appalachian Trail to sit down with an equally academically-minded group from the south also pushing for secession from the United States. Unlike the delegates of the Second Vermont Republic, the League of the South wraps itself in the flag of the Confederacy and has been widely denounced as a racist hate group.
Organized by a the left-wing Middlebury Institute of New York, the secessionists from opposite ends of the political spectrum have been meeting for two days in a Chattanooga hotel discussing how they might break away from the United States of America by peaceful means. The League of the South proudly displays a Confederate Battle Flag on its banner and campaigns for a breakaway 'anglo-celtic' state.
Many Americans may not realize it but there are, in fact, several secessionist movements afoot across the country. There are groups in Alaska and Hawaii still bitter over their annexation half a century ago, as well as secessionist groups in Texas, California and even New York City.
Separatist groups with diverse causes share the view that the US government has grown too big and too powerful. They want to restore America's lost liberty by strict obedience to the Constitution, and maintain that the federal government long ago overstepped its constitutional powers, leaving secession as a valid and legal recourse.
Since the Civil War, most Americans have taken their lead from Abraham Lincoln who viewed secession as a tyrannical threat to the principle of democracy and an unlawful act of rebellion by the slave-holding Confederate States.
The Vermont secessionists argue that secession is a continuing theme from America's formative years and that far from saving the Union, Lincoln was a racist warmonger intent on strengthening federal authority. This is what makes this week's marriage of convenience between them and the League of the South so puzzling for outsiders.
Unfortunately for the secessionists, they face a hurdle in a Supreme Court decision which as far back as 1868 barred the road to disunion. The case of Texas vs. White, issued a judicial coup de grâce to secession. Despite Texas having been an independent republic before joining the union in 1845, the Supreme Court ruled that it had no right to secede. "The Constitution in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union, composed of indestructible States."
Michael Hill, the Alabama-based president of the League of the South, says that if allowed to go their own way, New Englanders "probably would allow abortion and have gun control" while Southerners "would probably crack down on illegal immigration harder than it is being now".
Naylor said the friendly relationship between Vermont and the League of the South doesn't mean they share all the same beliefs. He said the League shares his group's opposition to the federal government and the need to pursue secession.
Back to Contents
Take your nation and shove it
Secessionists from Vermont, Alaska
and Dixie proclaim their desire to
smash the 'American Empire'
John F. Sugg
Creative Loafing, Atlanta
October 10, 2007
(Excerpts from article)
Looking around at the 50 or so folks – many bedecked with Confederate flag shirts, hats, lapel buttons and neckties – in the crowded Sticky Fingers meeting room, it appeared "the message" was recommencing the Civil ... um, I mean the War of Northern Aggression.
But defying that conclusion was gold miner Dexter Clark, who sported a 2-foot-long beard and enumerated the achievements of the Alaskan Independent Party – including the election of Gov. Walter Hickel in 1990. Likewise, retired Duke University economist Tom Naylor, natty in a Green-Mountain-State-green sports coat, disclosed how he'd defend an independent Vermont with an army of dairy cows – Bovinistas, he calls them. Equally non-Southern, Burt Cohen, a radio talk-show host and former New Hampshire state senator, warned: "We're too big to govern. We have to prepare for when the empire falls." And in the vortex of the chatter was one of America's true iconoclastic cognoscenti, Kirkpatrick Sale, from the decidedly Yankee Hudson Valley in New York.
What all of the very disparate political radicals had in mind is a fractured, segmented America, many nations where there was once one. Hill made a point of referring to "these" United States, not "the" United States. "Secession" was the password to a convention of go-it-alone radicals in Chattanooga.
"We don't all have the same political outlook or worldview," Hill said. "But we are all here to challenge the status quo, an out-of-control empire."
CL's cover story in this issue is a collection of essays that take off from the hyperbolic, albeit tantalizing, suggestion of Atlanta's secession from Georgia. That concept earned high, if sometimes barbed, praise from those gathered in Chattanooga. Ray McBerry, chairman of the Georgia League of the South chapter – who pulled almost 50,000 votes (12 percent) in a 2006 Republican primary challenge to Gov. Sonny Perdue – said: "We really are two states, with two sets of values. Most of the people I know would support Atlanta seceding. They feel the downtown Atlanta establishment has unwarranted authority over the rest of the state." Of course, Atlantans feel that way about rural Georgia counties' unwarranted authority over the metropolis.
Is the idea of secession loopy? Independence movements are not new or novel in America. The Revolutionary War was a secession from the British Empire. Vermont and Texas were once independent republics. Several states have the right of secession embodied in their Constitutions.
Maybe it's time.
Kirkpatrick Sale – a writer best known for his brand of neo-Luddite opposition to America's wasteful consumer society – began to assemble secessionists three years ago with a "radical consultation" that resulted in the founding of the Middlebury Institute. Last year, Middlebury sponsored its first convention in Burlington, Vt.; the second was the meeting last week in Chattanooga.
Sale said secession is a practical concept because it doesn't advocate such sweeping changes as the elimination of capitalism. In America, it would resemble the breakup of the European empires, including the Soviet Union. Pointing out that imminent shortages of oil, the possibility of severe climate changes and the collapse of the dollar will force people to seek local solutions – raising food in each community, for example – Sale said: "The future is on our side."
Naylor is bespectacled, and his face is framed with flowing white hair – a good approximation of, appropriately, Benjamin Franklin. He says the movement's strength is its pugnaciousness. "What could be more ridiculous than tiny Vermont taking on the empire?"
Questions about racism dogged Hill and his confederates in the League of the South. Hill conceded that harmony after secession "won't be the easiest thing because of history." Walter Kennedy, a Louisiana league member who has authored books such as The South Was Right, commented: "This isn't 1950. The conservative nature of the South will now defend equality before the law. A return of Jim Crow? It ain't gonna happen."
The meeting last week ended with the adoption of the "Chattanooga Declaration." It argues that the "old left-right split" is meaningless and dead, that the "power of corporations endanger liberty as much as government power, especially when they are combined ... in the American Empire," and that the "American Empire is no longer a nation or a republic, but has become a tyrant."
A lot of Americans clearly feel the same way. A year ago, a CNN poll found that an overwhelming 71 percent of Americans felt "our system of government is broken and cannot be fixed." Things have gone from merely terrible to really horrible since then.
In the vision projected at Chattanooga, America would become a collection of self-governing states, some connected by confederations. The South would embrace social conservatism – there would be no debate about the evils of gay marriage or abortion, for example. The Northeast would harbor the blue-state ideals of community and multiculturalism. Rugged individualists would flock to the West and Alaska.
Sale effused: "Only in that type of diversity can we have liberty."
Back to Contents
Talking ‘Bout a Revolution
October 4, 2007
When I first moved south of the Mason-Dixon Line, after spending my growing up years in Illinois, I was surprised to be met by some Southerners who still held onto the Civil War. Or, ahem…. The War of Northern Aggression (to be said in your best Scarlett O’Hara voice). To go from a place where a flying Confederate flag meant one thing, to the South, where people were trying to convince me it meant something entirely different, was confusing, to say the least.
The secessionists are still at work today. In fact, just this week, a secessionist convention is taking place in the foothills of Tennessee. But this time around those wily Southerners have interesting bedfellows. The North. Groups from Vermont, California, Hawaii, Alaska…. And many other states…. Will join together for several days to scheme and plan and dream of what they would call a better future. A future that involves secession from the U.S.A.
I still have a low tolerance for Confederate flag waving and the talk that “the South will rise again,” but I am fascinated by this powerful discontent that leads some people to think that they could do this thing called government much better than our established U.S. system. I find myself increasingly agitated by what I deem as a lack of guts by our elected officials to stand up for the social changes that need to happen in our country. The fact that our congress people won’t even ensure that our transgendered brothers and sisters are included in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is a travesty. And I have to admit that my hope is fading fast when it comes to the changes that a Democratic president would actually be able to make upon election.
Maybe these secessionists are on to something. Where are the revolutionaries when you need them?
Back to Contents
Towns: A Vision of a Nation
No Longer in the U.S.
The New York Times
October 18, 2007
(Excerpt from article)
If any New Yorker were to become the theoretician for a new secessionist movement, it figured to be Kirkpatrick Sale.
Mr. Sale, 70, was a campus rabble-rouser at Cornell in the 1950s long before Berkeley made being one fashionable, a model for a character in Richard Farińa’s classic ’60s novel, “Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me,” a writer who worked briefly with his college pal Thomas Pynchon on a musical called “Minstral Island.”
For half a century, he’s written more or less from the left on issues of decentralization, the environment and technology — in praise of Luddites, envisioning with dread the rise of the Sun Belt, lambasting Christopher Columbus as a despoiler of the American Eden and predicting environmental doom in a way that is making him at the moment look more prescient than cranky.
And though he once described the personal computer as the devil’s work (its efficiencies producing more “social disintegration, economic polarization, and environmental devastation”), there he was Tuesday at his modern Adirondack-style house in the woods looking in delight at the inbox on his laptop.
“Look at this,” he said. “There are 177 more messages from people who want to get on our mailing list. There’s nothing that has brought right and left together like this.”
“This” was the Second North American Secessionist Convention, held Oct. 3 and 4 in Chattanooga, and attended by 15 delegates representing 25 states, plus 40 sympathetic observers. It followed, amazingly enough, the First North American Secessionist Convention, held the year before in Burlington, Vt.
In this country, secession has not had the greatest odor since the 1860s, when it produced a movement now seen as racist, violent and a loser. But the spirit of Mr. Sale and his pro-secession Middlebury Institute actually has more to do with Vermont.
There, a group called the Second Vermont Republic has become a small-bore local phenomenon, with its call for a “genteel revolution,” opposed to “the tyranny of Corporate America and the U.S. government,” and committed to “the peaceful return of Vermont to its status as an independent republic and more broadly the dissolution of the Union.” Hence those “U.S. Out of Vt!” T-shirts.
Similarly, the language of the convention’s Chattanooga Declaration decries excess corporate and governmental power, says that the deepest issues of the time go beyond left and right and declares that liberty can survive only if political power is returned to local communities and states.
“The American Empire is no longer a nation or a republic,” it says, “but has become a tyrant aggressive abroad and despotic at home.”
Even those ill-disposed toward the idea of an independent Vermont, Hawaii or Alaska or to the new Confederacy envisioned by the League of the South might see some logic here. Back in 1981, the journalist Joel Garreau published “The Nine Nations of North America,” mapping out how economics, geography and culture really made it more logical for the United States, Canada and Mexico to be nine nations than three.
Mr. Sale argues that the big theme of contemporary history, from the collapse of the Soviet Union to the evolution of the United Nations from 51 nations in 1945 to 192 now, is the breakup of great empires. And some on both left and right agree that the only cure for a federal government that’s too big and too powerful is to make it less big and less powerful.
His relentlessly bleak vision is that catastrophic events, long term (collapsing dollar, out-of-control oil prices, climate change) and short term (Iraq, Katrina, government-sanctioned torture), will produce the downsizing of America, secession movement or no.
“The virtue of small government is that the mistakes are small as well,” he said.
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