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Commentary :: Politics
Individual Steps Towards Secession
28 Feb 2010
Steps that forward the probability of a successful secession.
In an earlier article I proposed that New England secede from the United States (On the Benefits of Seceding from the United States). The present essay is a follow up essay outlining suggestions on steps that individuals can take to peacefully forward the idea of secession. Secession will not be accomplished overnight. The proper conditions must be put in place before it can become a reality. You can contribute to the movement by taking the simple steps enumerated later in this essay.

Formal declarations of secession only succeed after actual secession is an accomplished fact. The original 13 colonies were able to secede from England because they were already, for the most part, independent. They were not economically dependent upon England. For the most part, they governed their own lives locally. If anything could be said of colonial America, it is that England depended upon her more than she depended upon England. This state of actual independence was not accomplished overnight. It took more than 200 years to reach that point.

Mexico's secession was the product of Spain's use of Mexico as an administrative center for its American and Asian colonies (Viceroyalty of New Spain). Over the space of a few centuries, as the power of Spain diminished, it was more a matter of formality to secede from Spain. Spain was unable to govern its North American empire and Mexico was already playing that role.

New England is in a much better position than that colonial America (Anglo or Spaniard). We are already well developed. We contribute more to the Empire than the Empire contributes to us. The only things keeping us from independence is a weak sense of identity, an interdependence born more of convenience and national borders than anything else, and the threat of war. While most residents of Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine think of themselves as New Englanders, they submerge this identity beneath their self identification as Americans. While our region produces a great many products, we tend to buy based on price rather than based on origin, health, and environmental factors. Additionally, there are a great many industries that we have failed to engage in because the United States and its trading partners provide their goods and services to us (e.g. the entertainment industry, the textile industry, the electronics industry). While it may seem a benefit to obtain our entertainment, clothes, and electronics from external industries, each and every industry that we do not partake in productively represents yet one more area where we could employ more New Englanders but have failed to do so.

My proposal is to work towards changing the reality on the ground for New Englanders. We need to make ourselves less dependent upon external trade via the United States. We need to elevate New England identity over American identity. We need to build relationships with our future trading partners such that our success as an independent nation state translates into their success as well (thus creating allies that will oppose rash American steps to put down secession).

The most directly beneficial thing each one of us can do to forward New England secession is to buy locally. Most of us have heard of the "shop sustainably" movement. Purchasing locally made products is a win/win action that we can all partake in. By purchasing locally made products rather than imported products, we increase local employment, keep money within the local economy, reduce the amount of energy needed to transport the products we consume, build a sense of community, and increase our independence. Less energy consumption is a key ingredient to independence. New England does not possess great quantities of hydrocarbon based energy resources. Less unemployment reduces our dependence upon the federal government. Productive farms and factories makes us less dependent upon imported goods.

The canonical "buy local" movement, while it does help the cause of secession, can be expanded by defining "local" as "made in New England." If you cannot find a product made in your town or state, feel free to purchase a product produced or grown in any New England state. Such a choice will create a greater sense of community within New England and a greater sense of New England identity.

The same principal can be applied to charitable giving. Yes, there are times when one must give to causes far away (e.g. the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile), but when it comes to non-disaster related giving, give locally - give within New England. Contribute to your local food banks. Give to causes in other New England states. Let your fellow New Englanders know that you, a New Englander, are there for them.

Of course, there are products we will not be able to produce locally (e.g. pineapples, bananas) and raw materials that we will need to import, but those are conditions every nation on Earth experiences. Successfully trading for these materials merely requires that we export products that other nations need. We are capable of producing goods for overseas trade, we only need a change in status that gives us control to make local production a reality - that change can only be brought about by secession.

When you do need to purchase an imported product, try to purchase from our natural trading partners: the Maritime Provinces of Canada and Quebec. Build stronger relationships with these regions through trade. Some parts of New England already trade intimately with our natural trading partners: the State of Vermont and the City of Burlington are prime examples.

Building a sense of community within New England and our natural trading partners can also be accomplished by vacationing within New England, the Maritimes, and Quebec. The same can be said of volunteer work. Charitable and non-profit organizations from New England, the Maritimes and Quebec should regularly work together. The more we bind ourselves together and with our neighbors, the less likely it is that the United States will oppose our secession with force. Moreover, the more likely it is that we will have economic support and trade relations during a time of tension with the United States.

Consider reducing your dependence upon the power grid. If you live in a house, explore the feasibility of harnessing wind and/or solar power on your property. If you live in an apartment, suggest the same to your landlord. Cities and towns should explore employing renewable energy sources to power public buildings. Private businesses should do the same. Reduction of energy importation will positively impact New England's trade balance.

The local currency movement has long been alive in New England. Local currencies encourage buying locally and, as we have seen above, buying locally helps build the secession movement. If you live in a place that has a local currency movement, partake in it. If you find the idea motivating and your community does not have a local currency, work towards creating a local currency for your community. A third path, as I suggested in a previous essay, is to promote the use of Canadian currency within New England. While Southern New Englanders are less likely to have occasion to use Canadian currency, the same is not true for Northern New England. Many Northern New England businesses encounter Canadian customers on a daily (if not hourly) basis. If you are a New England business owner, put a sign on your window indicating that you accept Canadian currency. It is easy to find the current exchange rate on line and if your margin is small it may be necessary to recompute prices for purchasers using Canadian dollars, but I suggest that if it is at possible, accept Canadian money at face value and provide Canadian change to those using Canadian dollars. The discount that results will cause the Canadian dollar to become a local currency with all the same advantages of a local currency (see this FAQ about BerkShares). As the use of Canadian currency catches on in Northern New England, one is likely to see its use spread farther south as New Englanders themselves begin to use it.

Finally, I suggest that we promote a sense of New England identity. I am no proponent of nationalism, for it leads to discrimination and war, but identity and nationalism are not one in the same. One can love one's place of origin or residence without making that love exclusive. It is a very American phenomenon to define the world as "us verses them." We don't need to go that route. However, we do need to promote a sense of being a New Englander. One step towards doing so is to actively identify yourself as such. If a form asks you for you place of national origin, write "New England." If you are required to identity your heritage, indicate "New Englander." Teach your children that they are "New Englanders."

I am sure that there are many things that could benefit a secession movement that I have failed to address. I encourage readers to make their own suggestions. Secession is not a pie in the sky concept. It is something you can work on here and now by changing your own behavior and outlook.
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