Sunday, June 7, 2009

What would be the result of secession?

There is a school of thought that says of secession that, pacifists that we (modern Americans) are, there would be no agressive counter-movement by the central authority were a state or a group of states to secede from the union.

At the Tenth Amendment Center Jeff Matthews argues this position (albeit he doesn't use the term "pacifists," but I think this is essentially what he's getting at).

Jeff Matthews writes:

No way we’d have civil war if one or more states seceded. Not in these days of thinking we Americans are above the fray. We have it in our minds that civil wars and unrest are for the Middle East and perhaps, Korea, but not for here. We are far too good a people for that. There is no way the feds would even dream about it. They’d be pissing their pants, thinking about what to do, but there is no way, they’d invoke martial law and start shooting, dropping bombs, throwing grenades, and launching rockets. Not if it happened now.

Ha, ha.

No disrespect intended, but sometimes I have to wonder about these people, about their personal experiences, their upbringings, etc., -- what it is that convinces them to believe that any government, including (or especially) our own, cannot be provoked to take up arms against its own citizens. The thinking, in my opinion, besides being pretty naive, is a bit dangerous as well.

I personally cannot imagine a scenario involving the secession of one or more states in which the central government would not see it as a hostile act by the offending party/parties. Thus, I cannot imagine a secession scenario that would not involve aggressive action by the central government eventually resulting in bloodshed. So Jeff and I are on opposite ends of this particular spectrum. Okay, I'll grant a 1% chance that a state or states would be allowed to secede from the union peacefully, with no immediate violence done to them on behalf of the union. But that's about all the chance I'd give it. And notice that I said immediate.

Does it never occur to people that it's easy to be pacifistic whenever pacifism is made easy? Sorry if it sounds a little too cliche', but isn't it the truth? I mean, what need have our northern neighbors the Canadians of a strong, viable military? What need of national strength and masculinity when the most powerful nation on God's earth shares a continent and a border with you? However, whenever someone feels like he's being backed into a corner and fears for his life, he's liable to come out swinging. But our government isn't run by a bunch of pacifists anyway. They just like to give that impression because they think it's in vogue. Besides, I hold that any government capable of a Waco style massacre is capable of just about anything.

Update: The discussion took off after I mentioned in the thread the implications of the Waco massacre.

Patrick Henry Lives wrote:

The one thing about Waco, though, was that it was secretly torched. Attacking a seceding State would have to be open and overt war, so the dynamics are different. At Waco, they had to conceal the arson and murder of 80 people, including women and children, and thus play homage to virtue and moderation by hiding what they wre really like and lengths they willing to go to. With a seceding State they could not conceal the aggression and killing. The whole facade of pretending to be righteous would have to be shed.

Jeff Matthews follows up:

Also, Waco was perceived as a small group of nutjobs. It’s far different than taking on a whole state.

TM replies,

You guys are making the point and then missing it. What do you think a seceding state would be made to look like but a bunch of nutjobs hostile to the United States? C’mon.

and further:

…even by a (large) segment of its own citizenry, by the way; a segment of the citizenry that enjoys a form of dual citizenship - state and national.

Hannibal Barca weighs in:

Constutional convention or secession…This is why it is important - NO, it is CRUCIAL, to take over the state legislature. Everything else is smoke and mirrors. The tenth amendment is about the states. We should be focusing on the states. We should be looking at pulling people out of office via recall. We shouldn’t be waiting to just vote them out. Rip them out.

The good news is that WE THE PEOPLE happen to live in the states, not WE THE FEDERAL GOVERNNMENT.

TM follows up on Patrick Henry Lives's comments:

“The one thing about Waco, though, was that it was secretly torched.”

True. But let me just point out that that was after the ‘compound’ and the people in it were ruthlessly attacked (by land and air) by a bunch of jackboot thugs who had already tipped off the media and everything else. So what, in reality, is different about it?

The ATF wasn’t too concerned about the image it was going to project, other than it concerned itself pointedly to projecting the image of POWER wielded for the noble cause of ‘justice’. Not to mention that there was a fifty one day ’standoff’ in which all manner of evil and lewd and lascivious behavior was going on at the hands of our illustrious government law enforcement officers taking their orders straight from the top (granted, this was all concealed). But the Congressional hearings on the matter, in which such things came out, were an absolute joke in which the government was made to look like the innocent and noble victim of a bunch of religious crazies in spite of it all.

Yeah; I can see that happening again.

Jeff Matthews replies:

You are all letting your imaginations get the better of you. Our federal government will not start a war with a seceding state. Think about it and tell me who will. Congress? Not on your life! The President? Fat chance. It will not happen. The feds would rather write them off than suffer the blow in the world’s eyes of having a civil war - not to mention the cost of such a war.

TM replies to Jeff:


A flyover state like Oklahoma (perceived by the general public to be populated by a bunch of ungovernable backwoods hillbillies) secedes. Upwards of thirty percent of its citizens cry foul. The U.S. government has an interest in that thirty percent because they are also U.S. citizens who disagree with Oklahoma’s move to secession. On top of everything else that group would be perceived as victims of an aggressive majority population whose rights would be threatened, and the U.S. government would be pressured (as if that would be necessary) to come to their rescue. And on and on and on.

Now, you can say I’m letting my imagination run away with me, but it doesn’t make it so. And you can’t simply say “not on your life,” “fat chance, it isn’t going to happen.” That’s a bit weak, don’t ya think? But what in God’s name does the fed care about world perception on the subject of a seceding American state? ‘The World’ routinely puts down such movements. So whose side do you think it would take?

I can imagine any number of scenarios involving secession that would ultimately result in bloodshed, but I can’t imagine a single scenario that would not. Nonetheless…

I’m content to leave it at that. We’ll undoubtedly see eventually because a state will definitely cross over that rubicon at some point in the not too distant future. And I imagine that others will soon follow. Until then, it’s all just speculation on our parts. But I’ll wager a cup of coffee on it if you like. ;-)

Jeff replies:

I see the issues you raise, Terry. I imagine it is possible to manufacture a “Fort Sumter” scenario all over again.

I find the whole scenario kind of eerie in a “Hotel California” sort-of way. “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”

TM replies:


Believe it or not I’ve actually quoted that exact Hotel California line myself (several times) in these same kinds of discussions.

And don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that a state seceding would necessarily result in an immediate aggressive counter-move by the national government (although that, to me, seems like the most likely scenario if some latitude is given to the term “immediate, for the reasons I’ve already listed and more.). On the other hand, I can hardly envision a “fractured” America (an America that does not universally recognize a single central governing authority) that could live in mutual peace and harmony for very long. So when I say that secession means civil war, I’m saying that a fractured America, from the very moment that it fractures into different (independent) governing entities and onward, is an America whose exposure to internal disputes automatically increases exponentially. Independent governing entities have, by nature and by necessity, authority to enter into treaties with other nations and states, coin money, provide for its own defense, declare war, and so forth and so on. So in the end, it all boils down to internal disorder between the various governing entities, and civil war. At least that’s the way I see it. And let’s face it, there’s no love lost between certain states and certain others in this union. But anyway…

I will add further comments as they're posted.

Also, not that I'm trying to cover every possible scenario, or to mention every single contingency that would ultimately factor into a likely scenario (as if to say that I'm capable of it in any event), because I think it is important that different perspectives be offered, but I cannot fail to mention that in addition to the "upwards of thirty percent" of U.S. citizens that the U.S. government would be "bound" to defend, there are also the "birthright" children that the government would consider, under such a scenario, wards of the state. Again, I think the Waco incident is a good analogous example of how this might all play itself out.

Update: Jeff Matthews responded to my last post above:

I see it not as a matter of will everyone think what everyone else does is okay after a secession. I highly doubt that. We certainly don’t agree with all that England or France does, but we get along with them just fine (for the most part).

I see no problem existing that way and being the happier for it.

I would as soon see the Union stick together, but these clowns in D.C…. They are ruining it for all of us.

I chose not to respond under the article because I figure it's probably time to let the discussion die in that particular thread. Plus, I wanted to give Jeff the final word, since it's his article'n'all. ;-) We can take the subject up again somewhere else. However, let me just say that in his comments above Jeff reveals more lack of discernment. First of all, comparing the severing of the United States into two or more independent sovereign governmental entities to our relationship with Great Britian and France, et al, is like comparing apples and oranges. To have mentioned our relationship with Canada and Mexico, given that we share the same continent and are not separated by a whole ocean, would have been a better example, but it would still be apples and oranges. I trust that you understand why.


J. Morris said...

The act of hostility towards a seceding state is a matter of human nature. Forget about all of the politics and the politically correct love everyone non-violent smoke screen and consider what your left with. A group of human beings living together in a "free" society, despite the popular belief that we are more educated and refined than everyone else because we are Americans, hence not capable of such an act of civil war. The question one must ask himself is: Are we any less human than anyone else in the world? Have we somehow managed to change the very nature that we were born with? The answer is obvious. If one state succeeds civil war is inevitable, although it may not happen instantly it will happen eventually.

Call Me Mom said...

I have no doubt that there will be a bloody, violent (although portrayed as politically correct and heroic by the MSM)reaction to the first secession on the part of the "federal" government.

Terry Morris said...

JM and Mom, thanks.

Obviously we all agree on what the end result would be should a state secede from the union. Personally, I see that (a state crossing over the rubicon) as inevitable at this point.


You're right about the human aspect. I would have mentioned it to Jeff in the conversation, but my experience is that when you (openly) accuse someone of not understanding human nature, they get a little testy, if you know what I mean. Better to be subtle about it. :-)

BTW, good to see you here!

J. Morris said...


Thank you for the reply and for the pointers :) I understand what your saying and its true. I have seen it myself from time to time but have not fully learned the lesson do to lack of experience on my part.

I do feel that I must point out that I had no intention of accusing anyone of having no understanding of human nature. I was only saying that we should put all of the distractions aside and use what we know to be true about human nature and draw a conclusion based on that. The real issue tends to get clouded in political matters I find it better to be blunt and get to the point. However my lack of experience in discussing these matters does tend to cause confusion, because the way that I express myself is not always the proper method for the discussion at hand. So again thank you for the advice. :)

BTW, thank you for the warm welcome its good to be here!

Anonymous said...

I would reverse the entire question.

After all, in point of fact the issue is not what is likely to result from secession (though official hostility between certain states and the putative national government is indeed likely, particularly where relatively abundant natural resources are at stake).

The real question is, what will it take to get states to actually start seceding? And the answer is pretty clear. It's going to take outright civil war, precisely because the state governments are comprised of such "peace-lovers".

But the warfare that finally makes states declare independence will not involve neatly, geographically divided, economically sustainable populations. This warfare will be the logical result of a collapse in the value of U.S. currency and debt instruments. When the money the government pumps into the non-productive segment of society to buy their support begins to diminish sharply in value, the productive segment of society will not continue to sell their goods in exchange for colored paper and electro-plated slugs of base metals (side note, have you all seen these new dollar coins?).

Because the largest and most criminal element of the non-productive segment of society is already concentrated in cities, where all necessities of life must be provided by the active intervention of the productive, further reductions in the willingness of the productive to exchange their services for dollars will create a human catastrophe.

Leave aside the issue of whether the unproductive are justified in their demands. Once the lack of satisfaction of those demands becomes a matter of life and death, they will turn to violence. Cities will burn, a pyre for millions unlucky or stupid enough to be caught in the conflagration.

To save their own cities, those states prepared to be fiscally independent will be under the necessity of issuing their own currency instruments and repudiating the value of the dollar. Of course, some accounts will be honored with conversion of assets...but this will be entirely at the discretion of the state issuing currency.

The federal government will have no control at all...and this they will not, cannot accept. Indeed, were the federal government Constitutional, it would be right to reject it (though how a currency backed by the full faith and credit of a government actually under the control of the American people could possibly lose its value to Americans is somewhat difficult to imagine).

They will take action...but somebody is going to have to put down the revolt in the streets before much can be done. That will be bloody work. It's very difficult to negotiate with any mob, more particularly when you are wholly responsible for the privations which have created it. And one questions whether real negotiation will even be on the table, though probably the best organized and politically useful groups will be 'deputized' in short order.

It will take some time, after the bloodshed starts, before the central government can consolidate its transformation into a genuine police state. Time enough for those independent and farsighted enough to secede when it became necessary to prepare to defend what they have preserved.

That contest will be a bitter one, no doubt. But it will be nothing compared to the atrocity which provoked the necessity for it.

Anonymous said...

By the way, specifically to the comment, "There is no way the feds would even dream about it."

Why exactly was there so much talk about Obama being another Abraham Lincoln? Why are they deliberately undermining the economy? Why did they simultaneously try to discontinue using the term "terrorism" for actual terrorist acts and put out multiple policy documents labeling anyone with a non-left wing position a potential domestic terrorist?

The revolt in the cities is all part of their plan (though it will be worse for them than they thought), a prelude to imposition of harsh martial law and creation of a "domestic security force" of greenshirts and Obamaniacs (though some goofus wrote an article about how the 'green' movement should reimage themselves as 'brown' to deter capitalist America from claiming to be 'green'...I guess there's something intrinsically appealing about brownshirts to the totalitarian mind).

They were not planning on actual secessions by the states, but they are definitely planning how to deal with any ('harshly' might be an understatement). They also have more specific plans for a handful of populations which, even without secession, are certain to present organized and effective resistance.

I can easily imagine a federal government allowing secession, its not fundamentally different from America's decision not to annex France after World War II. What I cannot imagine is that the various elements of groundwork being laid to justify a second Civil War have all occurred by accident. The 'feds' dreams may be nightmares, but somebody is already doing a lot more than just 'dreaming' about forceful subjugation of the American people.

Terry Morris said...


Don't get me wrong, I want us to be able to discuss these things openly here. I did not link to the Webster's entry at the Tenth Amendment Center for a reason.


Prescient comments as usual. You have a particular gift for being able to see things from a variety of angles. And of transmitting it via the written word. Thanks for sharing your insights.

Terry Morris said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

J. Morris said...


I agree with TM very thought provoking comments thank you.