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Commentary :: War and Militarism
On the Benefits of Seceding from the United States
22 Feb 2010
Time to swap Bucks for Loonies?
Just as the former USSR drained itself to non-existence through the extension of an empire it could not sustain, so too has the United States. If governments were led by intelligent folk, a lesson would have been learned by the collapse of the USSR, but alas, the USA is not led by intelligent folk. We are led by corporations whose only goal is immediate self enrichment. It is more than ironic that both the USSR and the USA have met their fates while entangled in unnecessary conflicts in Central Asia.

The probability that the United States will survive its historically unprecedented slide into debt is zero. We are not sliding into a mere Great Depression. Added to our economic collapse is our complete bankruptcy. We will never be able to pay off the national debt. Our capacity to produce our way out of it was destroyed by the corporate captains. They've moved our factories and jobs overseas. As long as they remain in charge, nothing will improve. Their vision for the future does not include a prosperous working class. It doesn't even include a middle class. They see themselves as ruling the world and skimming off the global economy in perpetuity. Everything that has happened over the last decade has been focused on turning both our treasury and our future earnings over to this financial class. We need to get rid of these parasites – the faster the better.

However, a revolution is not in the cards, at least not at this point in time. We are out gunned. The corporatists control the media and, therefore, the minds of the masses. While some part of the United States may be up for throwing off the chains reaching out from Washington D.C. and New York City, most of the United States is clueless and wallowing helplessly in a vague notion that something is not right. The best thing that could happen to the American people is the secession of that portion of the United States best able to survive on its own. Such a secession would stand as an example to the rest of the states. In short shrift, they too would follow suit.

To succeed at secession, the new country would need to have a cohesive history, a distinct culture, direct access to a foreign nation for the purpose of trade should an embargo be imposed, and a coastline for international trade. The distinct culture and cohesive history would give the new country a sense of unity and identity, something that would help pull the people together through the difficult times ahead. Additionally, the seceding region would need to be viable. It would need to be a region with an historically positive productive capacity. Put simply, it would need to be a region that has long contributed more to the federal government than it has received in return.

Only three regions of the United States meet the above qualifications: Texas, Cascadia, and New England. I will leave it to the Texas and Cascadians to argue their case, as I am sure they can do it well, but as a New Englander, I would like to speak to the direct benefits to New England of secession from the United States.

Let us begin with how New England is qualified to make it on its own, even in the face of opposition from the federal government. Historically, New England is a distinct region of the United States. Like Texas, it has its own set of dialects, its own distinct culture, its own distinct history, and ties that stretch beyond its borders. While Texas is historically connected to Mexico, New England is historically connected to the Maritimes and to Quebec. Culturally, New England and the Maritimes form a single continuum. In terms of family ties, deep and long connections reach across the borders and bind New England with the Maritimes and Quebec. Historically, these three regions have long been close trading partners. During the war of 1812, New England opposed war with its neighbors to the north. Parts of Maine immediately surrendered to Colonial Canadian and English troops. Private citizens of Vermont sold goods and provided timber to the forces of Lower Canada (Quebec) in opposition to the United States. New England as a whole nearly seceded from the United States rather than go to war with what was to become Canada. This should be of no surprise. The Canadians were our trade partners, our extended families, and our cultural brethren. We had much more in common with the Canadians than we had with our fellow Americans. We still do.

As the central governments of the USA and Canada grew stronger, the borders between Canada and the United States became a greater and greater impediment to trade. The greatest victims of this unnatural border were the people of New England and the people of the Maritimes. Once a bustling economic region, each suddenly found itself divided from its natural partners and forced into inefficient long distance travel along narrow east/west corridors. A look at the map of Northern New England obviates the effect on New England. Not a single interstate highway crosses Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine in an East/West direction. While Southern New England comprises approximately one quarter of the total land mass of New England, residents of Northern New England find themselves required to drive all the way to Southern New England and then back up to Northern New England to get from Maine to Vermont, as driving on the small East/West roads takes a prohibitively long time. New England is in this predicament, in part, due to the border between itself and Canada. Our federal government sees New England as a far off corner, the very end of a spoke extending out from the hub. Seeing New England as a corner, the infrastructure was built to take goods out of New England and send them towards the rest of the United States and then to sell good back to New England from the United States. New Englanders have a difficult time trading with each other and their Maritmes neighbors because the imperial infrastructure of their respective nation states not only divides the two regions, but divides within the two regions. The lack of any East/West highway in Northern New England is truly symbolic of Washington D.C.'s neglect of this region, the very cradle of the United States. Indeed, the only truly East/West highway in New England is I90 in Massachusetts and it is a toll road.

One may think that the lack of roads connecting Northern New Englanders with one another is an aberration, but it is not. The same can be said for rail connections. If you wish to travel from one part of New England to another by rail, chances are you must travel through Boston, regardless of how far North of Boston you live. In fact, the only connection to New Hampshire and Maine via Amtrak is the “Downeaster”, a route that is not even connected to the rest of Amtrak's network. You cannot take Amtrak from Maine or New Hampshire to the rest of the country without getting out of the train in Boston's North End and then traveling by some other means to the Amtrak terminal in Boston's South Station.

As for air transportation, flying between New England cities is difficult. In most cases, you will be forced to fly in a smaller Piper aircraft with about six other passengers.

Infrastructure in New England connecting outside of New England is relatively abandoned. Amtrak's Vermonter no longer services Montreal. Two bridges across Lake Champlain have been blown up and not replaced. The owners of the only freight train service across Northern New England have declared their intentions to abandon the track. Roads are crumbling. Bridges everywhere are in bad condition. For a region that gives more to the federal government than it gets back, New England is truly the poor stepchild of the Empire.

For a bright span of several decades, the region surrounding Boston was one of the tech hot-spots in the United States. Our federal government encouraged tech companies to outsource our jobs to India and now our tech industry is in decline. The coast of Maine was once a bustling fishing region. Now confined by the national boundaries of Canada, it too is in decline. Rhode Island once was a manufacturing hub, but most of the work moved to the Southern States and then to Mexico (where it is now moving to Central America). Maine, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts were all deeply involved in the ship building industries, but those industries were moved elsewhere.

New England has lost more than just its productive capacity. Participation in the United States has cost New England in terms of spending for wars it did not support. New England opposed the war of 1812, opposed the Mexican American war, opposed the Vietnam war, and opposed both wars in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan. New Englanders are historically not a war making people. However, Americans are a war making people and their support for war has drained the treasury we, in a large part, filled. For two hundred years now we have been squeezed to feed the blood lust of red necks that dominate American politics. In return for that squeezing, we have received nothing but marginalization.

New Englanders, by and large, support national health-care. However, despite our belief that health-care is a right, we will never have a single payer system as long as we remain part of the United States. We will be denied national health-care because we do not control our own destiny. The taxes we pay will be diverted to killing people overseas, corporate welfare, and the financial titans in New York. We cannot secure our own infrastructure, our own well-being, and our own way of life because our voices are too soft, far removed are we from the center, here in our “corner” of the Empire.

If New England were to throw off the chains of the United States and become a free and independent nation, our standard of living would improve greatly. Unburdened by the financial vacuum of endless and unnecessary wars, the draining taxes of the Empire, and the financial vultures of New York City, we would be free to invest in ourselves. As controllers of our own destiny, we could ban the influence of foreign funds to sway our elections and propagandize our broadcast networks. We wouldn't have wealthy conservatives from California funding political referendums in Maine. We could say no to corporations trying to cut our forests bare. We could create a national health-care system. We could invest in a special relationship with Canada aimed at removing the border controls that hinder the economies and social interconnections of New England, the Maritimes and Quebec. We could pass laws discouraging out sourcing. We could rebuild the factories that have moved away. A free and independent New England would be a prosperous New England. In addition to all of the above, we could tell the United States to eat that portion of the national debt that they shoved down our throats. Let them pay for their own wars, their own corporate give-aways, and their own corruption and waste! Enough is enough! These are things we did not choose. They were chosen for us.

How can we get away with this? Well, it really isn't that difficult.

I am not going to base my argument on constitutional grounds. The U.S. Constitution does not prohibit states from leaving the union. Lincoln, of course, ignored the Constitution when the South seceded from the United States. We can be sure that the like Lincoln, our current President will ignore the Constitution as well. We will be able to leave because the U.S. Government will not be able to stop us.

How so? Well, if we take the right steps the U.S. Government will realize that it cannot win. The steps we need to take are not military steps, they are social and economic steps. First, we must raise consciousness, nationally, that the United States will not recover from its current situation intact. It must be made clear to all Americans that the United States is not sustainable and that it is in the best interest of all Americans for the union to dissolve. Nearly all Americans already believe that our current government does not work and that our system is not sustainable. The educational campaign should focus on the impossibility of repaying the national debt and the benefits of returning to locally based economies. Locally based economies are good for the environment, require less energy (and therefore oil), and produce more local jobs. As unemployment increases, this will be a strong factor in gaining support. Moreover, locally based economies can use local currency and local currency is a good way to beat the devaluation of the dollar.

At the same time, we need to build a stronger identity within New England. We need to educate New Englanders about the benefits of creating a smaller nation state. These benefits include greater democracy, more jobs, freedom from the national debt, freedom from the dollar, freedom from unnecessary wars, the end of federal income tax, freedom from the IRS, freedom from the FBI, and end to government sponsored surveillance of our communications, greater freedom of travel between New England and Canada, greater freedom of travel internationally, national health care, and greater localization of the economy. As for currency, we should promote the use of the Canadian dollar until we reach the point where we can consider the creation of our own internationally accepted currency. We should seek some form of economic union with Canada and reciprocal freedom to travel within each other's countries (much like the European Union).

We must also work to convince the Canadian people to support our cause. As the Canadian Government is unlikely to go against the U.S. Government on such a matter (at least publicly), we will need the moral and practical support of the Canadian people should it become necessary to secure trade and movement across the Canadian/New England border in the face of an economic blockade by the United States. I believe most Canadians would enthusiastically support the rise of an independent and friendly New England. It would be impossible for the Canadian Government to completely ignore the potential benefit to Canada of a very close relationship with a new nation of friendly people with very similar values and an economy of approximately 50% the size of the economy of all of Canada.

Also, in parallel with the above, the New England states should hold a New England wide congress, the purpose of which is to lay out a process for creating a body whose job is to coordinate cooperation between the New England states on governmental and economic matters. The body would have no standing at the national level and the declaration of independence would not be declared at this point. I suggest that a parliamentarian system, similar to that of Canada, be adopted. New England wide elections would be held and the body would be constituted by members of parliament elected directly by the people of New England. This body would then work to improve efficiency within New England by building formal associations between all of the organs of government across all of the New England states (e.g. education, public works, economic planning, infrastructure development, etc). The purpose would not be to supplant the state governments, but to construct a basis for mutual assistance between the states and the sharing of resources where that makes sense. Additionally, the new body would encourage the New England states and all businesses within New England to accept Canadian Dollars in addition to U.S. Dollars. The goal would be to increase the number of Canadian Dollars in circulation within New England, for at some point, upon a declaration of independence, it would be beneficial to already hold Canadian currency as Canada might soon become our only trading partner during a short period of possible hostilities.

Once the groundwork had been laid, the first steps would be to secure agreement from all of the New England states to withhold assistance to the Government of the United States should an invasion follow. Shortly thereafter, each state government would pass a law ordering its police to not enforce federal law, instruct all businesses to stop withholding federal income taxes, and halt all cooperation with federal authorities. The states would order their national guards to repatriate (return from war). The states would refuse to deploy additional national guardsmen outside of New England.

At this point, the United States would be faced with a dilemma. As no declaration of independence would have been made, it would be difficult to declare war against New England. New England would then make an appeal to all Americans to recognize the rights of all people to rule themselves. Grievances against the federal government would be aired. The people of the United States and her armed forces would be asked to refuse to cooperate with any action against New England in its struggle for greater autonomy. They would be reminded that the United States is not viable and that it is in their best interest to consider their own fates. An appeal would go out to the world to stand in solidarity with New England and to support her peaceful struggle to not cooperate with a government that has violated its own constitution with abandon, engaged in illegal wars, perpetrated war crimes and crimes against humanity, and irresponsibly buried itself in debt. Surely the world would take our side.

A stand off would likely ensue. It might even last a few years. In the meantime, those of us with jobs would continue to work. Those of us without jobs could find new work in producing the items that New England likely would be denied during this period via the political influence of the U.S. Government and the economic influence of the corporations that own the U.S. Government. The Canadian people would be more than willing to trade with New Englanders and, in a short time, New England, Quebec, and the Maritimes would experience economic growth in response to the increased economic interaction. The validity of the original proposition would be confirmed: New England, the Maritimes and Quebec form a natural trading partnership. Once this state of success is reached, it would be a mere matter of formality for New England to declare its independence from the United States. Bogged down in multiple wars, deeply in debt, faced with a world of opposition, the United States would just let New England go, and at that point, the real adventure would begin.
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