Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Secession Party

The Secession Party

Mitchell Langbert, Ph.D.*

The United States of America has become too large and needs to be broken in two. As well, New York and other states that have an urban-rural split ought to be split. The nation has become too large to manage, as today’s Congress attests. This would be so even if ideological differences did not divide the nation and the states. The nation should be broken up into a red nation and a blue nation and New York should be broken up into upstate and downstate.

The Secession Party would aim to dissolve the union, undoing the work of Abraham Lincoln and reasserting the aims of the anti-Federalists, who opposed the scope and extent of federal power that came to pass under Washington.

When the United States was established in 1789, there were approximately four million Americans and 65 members of the House of Representatives. That is 60,000 Americans for every Representative. Today the nation’s population is 310 million and there are 435 members of the House of Representatives, 713,000 Americans for every Representative. Only special interests and financial donors have full access to Representatives. Increasing the number of Representatives would be administratively difficult because a House as representative as it was in 1789 would have 4,800 Representatives.

Historical Precedent

One nation in western history has been equal to the United States in terms of its power: Rome. By the late third century Emperor Diocletian established a rule of four, whereby two senior and two junior co-emperors oversaw a quarter of the Roman Empire each. He also began a shift of power from Rome to other cities. Ultimately, Byzantium, later named Constantinople, survived the western Roman Empire by nearly one thousand years. Diocletian could not have anticipated that quartering the Empire would allow part of it to survive. I claim that halving the United States into free and social democratic halves would allow the free half to survive as the social democratic half sinks into a dark age.

American Decentralization

The forces that encouraged Diocletian to think in terms of decentralization are at play here. Management theorists recognize that there are limits to rationality. The way to run a large firm is to break it into operating divisions. Likewise, the Founding Fathers or Federalists, including Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, believed that the federal government needed to be combined with decentralized states. Under the Constitution the states are responsible for much administration. Part of the reason is that the states are better able to represent their citizens. Large scale leads to complexity which makes management and representation difficult from the center. The federal government suffers from centralization without representation.

The Civil War began an assertion of federal power that has escalated past the point of diminishing returns. The Civil War’s cause, prevention of the expansion of the “slave power” was just. But a side effect of the Civil War was squelching of important aspects of states’ authority. It was not and is not clear that states do not have the right to secede or to nullify their participation in the union.

Progressivism a Form of Insanity

Recently, I had a discussion with an attorney who believes that regulation is desirable. I pointed out to him that workers’ compensation does not work. He agreed. I pointed out that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) has not worked well. He did not know much about it, but he was willing to agree. I pointed out that the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, which was meant to limit monopoly, has had the effect of expanding the size and power of big business. I pointed out that the Federal Reserve Bank has massively subsidized the wealthy at the expense of the poor. I pointed out that Social Security turned out to be a wealth transfer vehicle from the 21st century’s workers to the 20th century’s retirees. He offered no meaningful counter-arguments, only to say that the sub-prime crisis was due to the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act. But he could not explain how, after 75 years of securities regulation Wall Street is more destructive than it was in the 1920s.

Despite the long list of regulatory failures, the left-wing attorney believes that regulation must be increased. He suffers from a religious mania with which it is impossible to argue.

A recent study found that about two or three percent of government agencies are ever terminated. In contrast, 80 percent of businesses fail within their first five years. People who believe that government programs, no matter how destructive, cannot be terminated are incapable of rational discussion.

Since there is no common ground between those of us who believe in freedom and those who believe in socialism, there is no longer common ground required for a single nation. The United States was founded on a belief in freedom. But half the nation believes in the slavery of social democracy, in tyranny of the majority. The union is no longer tenable.

Large Scale Has Advantages

Large scale has advantages. These include the ability to support a strong military and to permit large scale economic activity. However, there are limits to these kinds of advantages, and there is no reason why independent units cannot permit large scale economic activity across borders.

The advantages of large scale have limits as do the advantages of small scale. There needs to be balance. But under the influence of New Deal Democrats and Rockefeller Republicans the nation has discarded the notion that small scale offers any advantages. When government employees are paid 40 percent more than private sector employees, it is just in the centralizers’ opinions. When private sector firms innovate, it is greed and must be regulated. No degree of centralization is sufficient for America’s big government mono-maniacs.

Party System Committed to Large Scale

Left-wing Democrats and the Rockefeller Republicans claim to hate each other. But both favor large scale. The Democrats have ritualized regulation. The Republicans have ritualized big business. The fact is that big business would not exist without big government, and vice-versa. Just as regulation has repeatedly failed even as the Democrats mindlessly chant its mantra, so has big business repeatedly failed as the Republicans chant its mantra.

Need for a Pro-Secession Party

The election of Barack H. Obama has proven that American democracy no longer functions. The nation is too large to represent its citizens. Smaller units are needed now. The two party system is too corrupt to permit the decentralizing impulse. A new, pro-secession movement needs to energize America.

*Mitchell Langbert is associate professor of business at Brooklyn College. He blogs at http://www.mitchell-langbert.blogspot.com/.


Anonymous said...

News Flash - America has ALWAYS been 2 nations - that is how the Founders established it to be. Legally and Constitutionally IT STILL IS ! The CSA (Confederate States of America) has always been its own soverign nation AND STILL IS - EXCEPT SINCE 1865 IT HAS BEEN UNDER ILLEGAL FEDERAL OCCUPATION after Lincoln illegally invaded the south nation and illegally occupied it, and it has been illegally Federally occupied for the past 150 years !
The CSA has its own general government and is currently re-establishing its Confederate State govts.
Tyrant and dedicated Marxist Lincoln burned everything of truth and history he could find. He alone forced the 2 American nations into one, but it has never been accepted by the CSA. The CSA nation NEVER SURRENDERED as Lincoln made everyone believe in his Reconstruction and invented Federalist 'history' that all have been force-taught for the past 150 years.
See TRUE history page (while Obama still allows the truth web site up) at: http://home1.gte.net/carriet/TruthCivilWar.htm This is the best introduction to TRUE history there is.

Anonymous said...

Why won't Google accept the passwords and no one can read those letters for verification.
They are all twisted together so you cannot see what they are.
This is why many do not post comments.

Doug Plumb said...

Rousseau, in The Social Contract, says that the number of government representatives should be the square root of the population so that the power is more evenly distributed. The more I consider this, the more it sounds like a very good idea.

I have often considered the idea of elected voters at a lower level - each voter representing no more than 100 people and paid by these people to study issues and vote responsibly on their behalf.

The average person has no time to become aware of the issues to the point required for knowledgeable and responsible voting. A system such as this would see America returned and the US crumpled up and tossed into a waste paper basket.

Anonymous said...

Professor Langbert,

You've hit the nail on the head. Unfortunately, collectivists would never peacefully agree to let those of us who value liberty leave and form our own country as it is in the nature of collectivism to enslave everyone, no exceptions. And I'm afraid many who value liberty would see secession as unpatriotic.

To me, the key paragraph is, "(s)ince there is no common ground between those of us who believe in freedom and those who believe in socialism, there is no longer common ground required for a single nation. The United States was founded on a belief in freedom. But half the nation believes in the slavery of social democracy, in tyranny of the majority. The union is no longer tenable." We are indeed two cultures now, with irreconcilable differences. I don't think the polarization between these two "cultures" can be reversed at this point. The collectivists must go through the same "learning from the school of hard knocks" that a rebellious teen must go through. They need to try to make it work, and finally see it inevitably fail, probably catastrophically, before they can begin to value freedom and liberty.

If those who value freedom don't get a clue and start thinking about this issue, and working toward implementing a plan to peacefully achieve a free nation somehow separated from the collectivists, it's going to get really ugly. I'd prefer a Czech/Slovak solution if division is unavoidable, but fear it would be worse than the India/Pakistan partition to actually make this happen. Unlike the War Between the States, which was a war of secession, as the southern states weren't trying to control the whole country, any conflict arising from this proposal would degrade quickly into a true Civil War where neighbor fights neighbor. There is no Mason-Dixon line that I can see in this situation.

Do you have any thoughts on how this could be accomplished? At what point, if we haven't already passed it, would we need to take a stand? How would we divide the country? How would we divide the military? How would we divide the debt? How would we deal with families and businesses that wished to relocate to the free zone, but couldn't sell their property in the socialist zone? Would the free zone use the US Constitution or write a new one? Who would you trust to conduct a new Constitutional Convention?

I don't relish the idea of dividing our country, but I believe that the ideal of America as envisioned by the Founders is more important than the ongoing contiguity of America. As they say in medicine, "sometimes you've got to cut to cure."


Brock Townsend said...

The Civil War’s cause, prevention of the expansion of the “slave power” was just.
THE Cause? Surely, you realize that there was much more than this. If there was, but a single Cause, it would be the Tyrant Lincoln's invasion of Virginia, as without this, there would have been no war. Ft. Sumter? Insidiously provoked by Lincoln.

"You and I both anticipated that the cause of the country would be advanced by making the attempt to provision Ft Sumter, even if it should fail; and it is no small consolation now to feel that our anticipation is justified by the result. "
Lincoln, Letter To Gustavus Fox on 1 May, 1861

"He (Lincoln) himself conceived the idea, and proposed sending supplies, without an attempt to reinforce giving notice of the fact to Gov Pickins of S.C. The plan succeeded. They attacked Sumter it fell, and thus, did more service than it otherwise could."
Senator Orville Hickman Browning's diary dated July 3, 1861
(Lincoln's personal and political friend)

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Phil Orenstein said...

Keep the faith! Wait 2 more years till 2012 when we will be rid of Obama, Pelosi, Cass Sunstein, Van Jones and all the totalitarian czars running our country it won’t be so bad as to invoke CSA or succession movements to restore freedom to America.

Mitchell Langbert said...

Phil--you're an optimist. The last time the Republicans won power on a cyclical basis was 1980. I'm still waiting for them to reduce the crap regulation that the Democrats and their Republicrat allies have imposed on us. As America declined all through the 1980s and 1990s the Republicans were busy congratulating themselves on a rising stock market that was actually causing the decline because it resulted from monetary stimulus, not innovation.

To return America to the innovative leadership role it played until 1960 will require a great deal of gut sucking, and I don't really believe that the Republicans are up to it, although it would be nice if you are right and I am wrong.

In all honesty, though, I fear you're a Pollyanna. The real hourly wage hasn't increased in 40 years, and much of that time the GOP was in power. They did nothing then. What is different now? With Trent Lott pulling the strings in Washington, it seems to me that the Republicrats are going to have a field day as America sinks into oblivion because of their and the Democrats' stupidity.

Phil Orenstein said...

You are a realist, but I hope and pray you’re not right. But I believe the Democrats are the traitors and should be hung and the Republicans are America’s last best hope if they stand up and do battle with the Democrats before they destroy our Republic. That’s probably why I could never run for office, because I would have to tell the truth and few would support me. Look at the Democrats who have done everything in their power to undermine America for votes, from using the War in Iraq as a political football, lying and sabotaging our troops and commander in chief in a time of war. They have used the progressive tax code to steal from Peter to pay Paul, with the bottom 50% of taxpayers paying only 3% into the system so why shouldn’t they just vote for the politicians who give them everything for free from the largesse of the other half of the taxpayers. The massive government bureaucracy which the Dems keep feeding which is the overall highest paid and fastest growing sector of the economy is an elaborate vote buying scam. The Dream Act and their Amnesty programs are the means to garner 20 million more “illegal” votes. And they gave the criminal Rangel a standing ovation after his censure, for whose crimes most of us ordinary citizens would go jail. You have written about many of these things so I know I’m preaching to the choir, but since they now have the podium, this should all be exposed on the floor of Congress and the new pack of incoming freshman Republican Congressmen should not only be the “party of no”, but the party of “never again.”

I look to such promising incoming statesmen as Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Allen West and others to stand on principle and refuse to compromise on the issues that the tea partiers voted them into office to do. I pray that they fight & take no prisoners.

Juergen Schwarz said...

I definitively agree with you that the U.S. have grown to a size where politics becomes unmanageable and tensions between population groups start tearing it apart.

In addition to the Roman Empire, there are several other countries or empires which were too large to remain manageable, like the Soviet Union, the Austrian Empire, and in some sense also colonial empires like the British or Spanish. All had in common that they broke apart on pre-defined borders (republics, provinces, colonial territories). Breaking up these units, too, like you suggest for U.S. states with high city-country contrasts, always ended up in major bloodshed, like what happened in Bosnia or in the Caucasus countries. Therefore I would warn to suggest such a lower-level breakup.

A breakup of the U.S. probably cannot be organized from above (a "Secession Party" assuming power in the U.S. would want to stay in power in ALL of the U.S., and thus refraining from breaking up the country in any meaningful sense). An alliance of states, however, would surely be able to exercise it. The states would quickly fall into interest groups, although I believe the result would be more than two of these groups - Alaska would not be going with Texas, and neither would California and New York fit into a common group.

Of course, I believe that you will be wrong regarding the relative success of the new state groups. Both the cultural and economic dominance of the U.S. has grown out of the East Coast (New York - think of where IBM came from, and Chicago / Detroit) and out of the Pacific states (Silicon Valley, Microsoft). The South and the Midwest have their own industries, sure, but are much more dominated by agriculture and raw materials. And countries living off their natural resources may seem rich, but tend to be less developed (Saudi Arabia, Russia) than those without any raw materials (e.g. Japan or many European countries). Only exception coming to my mind is Australia, but I am sorry to say the Aussies have got a solid Social Democratic tradition without falling back into the Middle Ages.

But it is only fair to give the various regions of the U.S. a fair try and see what happens. In any case, it will be better than the current ideological and religious blockade. On its current path, I see the U.S. break down under its debts and crumbling infrastructure within the next 10 years.

Mitchell Langbert said...

New York and California each had their historical high points. In New York it was in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, ending with Progressivism and the New Deal. New York's decline coincided with the rise of Robert Moses. A similar process has gone on in California, with its apex in the 1980s and 1990s. It is now in innovative decline. Most of the innovators in California come from India.

Innovation is not a function of resources or historical patterns but of freedom coupled with achievement orientation. An ambitious populace that is free will achieve. That is more likely to be seen in the Red states because both New York and California have adopted European, socialist habits of thought. Their histories will do as little for them as history does for Holland or England.

Anonymous said...

Nice post. Thanks

wil k. in Salem, OR said...

I had also considered a solution to the problem of a lack of legitimate representation. I had thought that with the technology of today, we could have a house of 4-5000 representatives with offices in their home districts meeting via technology instead of cloistered in DC insulated from public pressure, paid on the military scale rather than their congressional salaries. If I in Salem, Oregon could go down the street to let my representative know my opinion on Obamacare, the regulatory behemoth that has grown out of control, and the insane Byzantine tax code, and if every representative were truly accountable to the 30-60,000 voters they should represent, I believe we would have a very different house, and consequently, a very different government.