Secede from all the Things
In the wake of the historic Brexit referendum in the UK, secession is all the rage. Now that Brits have decided they’ll be just fine leaving the European Union, there’s talk about Sweden and Denmark following suit. And after the success of Brexit some are calling for Italeave, Slovakout, Portugone, and Oustria leaving just one country in the EU: Remainia. Even those diehard Brits in the “Remain” camp somehow think it’d be fine if countries within the UK (Scotland and Northern Ireland) left the UK because of the horrible provincialism displayed in the vote.
There’s a video going around showing British millennials lamenting the “Leave” vote and complaining about the injustice of a bunch of people in other parts of the UK deciding things for them. They’re so devastated that they can’t see that theirs is the exact same argument the Brexit camp used in leaving the EU.
Secession fever has also spread to the United States, where the hash tag #Texit encourages the second-largest state in the union to leave and once again become an independent nation. Of course, the Texas independence discussion usually ends up with someone from its capital declaring, “Well, if Texas secedes from the United States, then Austin should secede from Texas!”
While this drama is unfolding in real life, a similar story is unfolding on the big screen, reflecting a historic events. “Free State of Jones” follows the story of Newton Knight who, when his home state of Mississippi seceded from the United States in 1861, formed a company of Confederate deserters to secede from the Confederacy. As a wise man once said, if at first you don’t secede, try, try again.
One may ridicule the contagiousness of the secession movement and laugh at stories like “Post Brexit, UKIP wants tariff-free access to EU single market” asking “How dare those people want to trade freely with people and not be mired in wasteful, unaccountable bureaucracies with them???” But why can’t Britons have full sovereignty and free trade? Why can’t they eat their cake and have it too? Switzerland is a country in the geographic middle of Europe, has free trade deals with the European Union, and her citizens can work and live in EU countries without a visa, yet Switzerland is not a member country of the economic bloc. Why can’t the UK have the same status?
The truth of the matter is that Switzerland is doing just fine as a completely sovereign entity and the UK will be perfectly fine as well as long as the overly sensitive folks on the continent don’t economically shun them for hurting their feelings. They’ll actually be much better off not having to deal with unsustainable, incompetently-run economies like Greece’s. Neither Switzerland nor the UK need another layer of bureaucracy to function perfectly well and be economically prosperous.
And, while it may be incomprehensible to imagine for some, the great state of Texas would do quite well on its own too. The world’s 11th largest economy, Texas has led the country in economic and population growth the last several years. Texans also pay about the same money to the federal government than they get back in entitlements and other federal outlays. Furthermore, the risks are increasing for Texas being tied to economic disasters like Illinois, California, and Puerto Rico. Why should properly run economies be on the hook for and be forced to enable the Puerto Ricos and Greeces of the world? They shouldn’t.
It should be obvious to any student of history that more and more centralization isn’t the answer to civic problems—the failures of the communist regimes should make that clear. And centralization isn’t any more effective when the people vote for it as is the case in democratic socialism. The people of Venezuela don’t enjoy their food lines any more because they supposedly elected their socialist dictator.
The answer is smaller, freer, more sovereign states but where does the separatist trend end? Some will say that there will be no justice until every individual is a sovereign entity. However, most people will agree that some sort of formal organization is necessary for society but that the higher order the organization, the more wasteful and counterproductive it is. I think the answer is a return to city-states that are large enough to be self-sustaining but small enough to avoid the dangers of imperialism.
The Catholic Church has a principle called Subsidiarity, which posits that there are orders of social organization: family, community, city, state, nation, league of nations and that if a problem can be solved at a lower level, there is no need for the higher level to get involved. In fact, “a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order.” The United States in its purest form reflected this model in its original federalism, but our power-hungry overlords have turned it into just another top-down nation state.
Brexit has led the way in Europe and it may take a Texit to get the US back on track. It may take a wave of secession to get the world back on track.
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