Care of photog at Orion’s Cold Fire, here’s a thought-provoking piece by Christopher Roach of American Greatness, “The Left Won’t Allow a Peaceful Separation“: https://amgreatness.com/2019/01/21/the-left-wont-allow-a-peaceful-separation/
Roach touches on some of the same points I bring up in my essay “Progressivism and Political Violence,” in which I diagnose some of the well-known pathologies of the Left, including its tendency towards totalitarianism. That impulse is why the Left is never content to adopt the Right’s “live and let live” mentality. Thus, the willingness to eat their own (as in the Northam non-troversy), to demonize young conservatives, to harass conservatives at dinner, and to denounce anyone who doesn’t believe whatever the latest frontier of social justice is this week.
The idea that America is in a “cold civil war”—one that is turning increasingly hot—isn’t nothing new (sadly). Controversial Dissident Right figure John Derbyshire calls it a conflict between “goodwhites”—the limousine liberals and soccer moms who think Trump is mean and who want to virtue-signal to minorities to appear cool and progressive—and “badwhites”—the rest of us folks in “flyover country” who largely want to be left alone to enjoy our faith, family, and liberty in peace.
That the cold, cultural civil war may turn hot is a cause of concern to many folks on the Right and Left. I shudder to contemplate it. Roach, in his piece, argues that a peaceful separation may one day be the result of our current Kulturkampf, but he is pessimistic that the Left would willingly let anyone leave, due to its totalitarian nature.
He also points out that, though we often forget it, the United States is, itself, a product of secession—from merry old England. As I often point out to my students, the question of whether or not States were bound permanently to the Constitution was an open question until 1865. The Jeffersonian “compact theory” argued, essentially, that the States had formed the Union and “opted in” to the Constitution. The big, open question prior to the American Civil War, then, was thus: having opted in to this arrangement, did States have the ability to opt out? A straightforward reading of the Declaration of Independence suggests heavily that, in certain extreme circumstances, they might be able to do so.
As I’ve long told my students, the Civil War answered that question conclusively by force of arms. Now, States sue the federal government through their respective attorney generals’ offices should there be any conflicts between them and the feds.
That said, as I’ve grown older, I’ve come to realize that no political question is ever truly “settled,” and no political arrangement—even one as enduring and amazing as our federal constitutional republic—can last forever. The idea of secession could be given a renewed lease should the federal government continue to overextend its authority, and should the culture wars deepen and darken.
To be clear, I’m not advocating for secession or anything of the sort. I’m merely exploring—in a very brief way—a complex idea that is, in the balance, not entirely without merit. Regardless of the motivations for the American Civil War, the notion of States’ rights—an entirely constitutional idea, per the Tenth Amendment—and of “compact theory” are quite sound, and could enjoy renewed credibility.
There is much to chew on and mull over here. I recommend you read Roach’s piece and make up your own mind. Feel free to leave comments below.