Peaceful secession: the Gandhi approach

[Updated April 22, 2009, below]

When I was a child growing up in the 1960’s, if anyone had predicted the big, bad Soviet Union would break apart within a few decades, they would have been labeled a lunatic.

If anyone had predicted the nations of Eastern Europe would free themselves–secede–from the yoke of the Soviets, they also would have been labeled lunatics. After all, the Hungarians and Czechs had both tried, and were crushed.

Yet, through peaceful but determined resistance, these independence movements succeeded.

The same holds true for India, which seceded from Britain in 1948 under the non-violent but determined leadership of the incomparable Mohandas Gandhi. Again, if one had said in 1940 that India would be independent by 1948, he would have been declared insane.

I bring up these historical examples because the same attitude prevails about the prospects of American secession. Right now, anyone who brings up the idea of secession of individual states seems loony.

“Never happen,” people will say–even if they support the idea.

“Why, if Washington hears about it at nine, the tanks will be rolling by noon,” say others.

The tanks might indeed roll. After all, though we like to pretend that our masters in Washington are so much better than the old Soviet masters, when their precious empires are threatened, they move quickly.

More and more people are beginning to understand, however, that Washington DC is completely out of control. Domestically, the Beast is now firing the heads of major American companies, and printing money hand over fist in a desperate attempt to spend itself rich.

Internationally, despite the fact that it is beyond broke, the Beast continues building an American Empire spanning the globe, stationing troops in well over a hundred countries.

Secession movements have become more and more vocal, and continue to gather followers. In the far northeast, there are two active secessionist movements, one in Vermont with a distinctly socialist feel, and one next door in New Hampshire, with a libertarian approach. Power to them both!

In Texas, Governor Perry has made himself the butt of jokes by casually mentioning secession as an option. Yes, it is true that talk about Texas having a right to secede written into its treaty to join the Union is an urban legend. (Texas insisted on the right to divide itself in up to five separate states if it saw fit to do so, but there is no secession clause.) Texas has only the same right as every other state to do so, under the Tenth Amendment.

A recent poll shows that almost one in five Texans, given the opportunity, would vote to secede.

If Vermont or New Hampshire (or any other state) declares independence from Washington, it would be interesting (to say the least) to see the reaction. Would the tanks roll in by noon? Maybe–and that would show the true nature of our central government Politburo.

Should states declaring independence take up arms and fight against Washington? What, are you nuts?

No, the only approach that would succeed would be the Gandhi approach: mass civil disobedience and non-violence.

To paraphrase a line from David Attenborough’s film: “You don’t expect us to just let you leave the Union, do you?”

“Yes sir. That is exactly what I expect you to do.”

Update: Secession is no longer a discussion topic that is beyond the pale. See the recent articles by Justin Raimondo at, and Walter Williams. We are still a long ways from any state taking that critical first step, but with the Bush/Obama economy teetering on the edge, the time may come sooner than anyone thinks.