The Secession Question Returns
It is perhaps a sign of just how deep the dissatisfaction with the national status quo is that the topic of secession has become newsworthy for the first time in nearly a century and a half. I read with interest an article linked to today’s LRC about a group in
This is an obvious truism and a very valid reason for the people of a state to extricate themselves for an entangling union that clearly isn’t serving their (or anyone else other than politically-favored groups’) interests. The problem with secession, as I see it, is that it doesn’t address the fundamental issue, which is the oppressive nature of the State itself (“the State” referring here to government at any level).
A cursory look at the history of the federal government’s expansion since the end of the War of Northern Aggression suggests strongly that much of the legal and political intervention in the affairs of the states after the war was done on the pretext that states were violating the constitutionally-guaranteed rights of individuals. The unconstitutionally-enacted (along with the Thirteenth and most subsequent amendments) Fourteenth Amendment, in particular, gave the newly-strengthened federal government the muscle to intervene, through the federal courts, in cases involving what were clearly state and local matters of law that could not even be remotely construed by the Constitution as the concern of the national government. The notorious Brown v. the Board of Education case is one well-known example. While all of us no doubt believe that school segregation was and is a horrible thing that needed to be brought to an abrupt end (the debatable legality of government schools notwithstanding), the fact is that nowhere does the United States Constitution grant authority to the national government to adjudicate either education or social policy. In other words, the issue in Brown involved no federal law as defined by the Constitution and was purely a matter for the people of the City of
As the facts surrounding Brown demonstrate, the wrongs central to the case were enshrined as law not by the federal government, but by the city of
The point is that secession from the United States will not guarantee respect for individual rights; in fact, the seceding sovereign state that results may be much less free than if it had remained part of the Union. After all, there would be nothing to prevent a tyranny of the majority unless the newly-independent “state” adopted a constitution that prevented this, and even then such a move would likely fail. Indeed, looking at all of the myriad volumes of legislation on the books in each state, many containing laws clearly unnecessary, unenforceable, and contrary to the rights accorded the individual under the principles of natural law, it is hard to imagine that suffering the oppression of a state or local government is in any way an improvement over the trampling of rights perpetrated by the elitist denizens of Rome-on-the-Potomac. Does anyone really believe that the state government of an independent
The only quasi-workable solution, as I see it, is to look beyond the State for the solution, or at least work within the framework of state and local government to effect change. Only when the citizens of each state work to ensure that the few laws they have are those that guarantee individual liberty by respecting the rights of property and person will effective change come about. Perhaps then this will spread to the national level and secession will be a moot point.
While this doesn't appear likely to happen anytime soon, we can always aspire to the goal.