I found this piece on “soft secession” from the Mises Institute interesting. Read it all, but here are my thoughts. Excerpt:
So our topic today, in the context of the US, is this: What if the greatest political trend of the past two hundred years, namely the centralization of state power, reverses in the twenty-first century? What if this century is not about ideology, but about separation and location? And what if covid has dramatically laid bare this possibility?
Empires desperately fear losing control over their provinces, and exactly that appears to be happening in the US. Those of us on the anti-interventionist right sometimes forget that DC is very much an imperial power with respect to the fifty states, not just in the Middle East. So any discussion of soft secession and its prospects in the US begins with identifying domestic pushback against this empire. And contra the self-styled progressive saviors, any political arrangement which denies people the right to walk away peacefully is not liberal by definition.
What do we mean by soft secession versus hard secession? It is something more than de facto versus de jure, because everything about American laws and political norms already became blurred over the past century. De facto violations of constitutional provisions, for example, become de jure over time, by operation of federal regulations or the terrible Supreme Court. Garet Garrett’s 1944 essay “The Revolution Was” explains this as a “revolution within the form.” Everything ostensibly remained the same: a constitution, fifty states, three “branches” of government. The country was overthrown a hundred years ago—beginning with Woodrow Wilson and reaching full form in FDR’s New Deal. But America’s second revolution was managerial, a seizing of jurisdiction over every aspect of life by a centralized federal bureaucracy.
So by soft secession we mean a counterrevolution within the form: aggressive federalism, regionalism, localism, and an aggressive subsidiarity principle, operating in de facto opposition to the federal state—or at least sidestepping it. Sometimes it takes the form of direct nullification or flouting of federal edicts, which it turns out are fairly hard to enforce without the support of local populations. Biden’s vaccine mandates will be an instructive test of this; several governors already filed suits. Or it can take the form of legal grey areas, as we’ve seen with more “liberal” US states in their approach to immigration sanctuaries and marijuana laws.
The gist of the piece seems to be that we can save the nation my decentralizing it. While the outcome is preferable to another civil war, and may represent the best path forward, I’m skeptical of whether it could actually be executed. Here’s why.
In the conclusion, author Jeff Deist states:
I’ll close with this: the pushback we are witnessing in America and across the West is directly proportional to the speed and ferocity with which progressives have advanced their agenda in the past five years. Reactionaries are reacting to something. It’s not just in their heads.
Trump had to happen; Brexit had to happen. It was never about Trump’s politics or policies or personnel; it was about 70 million Americans willing to go off script and vote against Hillary Clinton, the embodiment of the deterministic progressive arc notion of history. Both Trump and Brexit were protosecessionist events. American progressives essentially have been in a state of psychological coping and vengeance ever since.
Left progressives oppose the decentralization of political power for a very simple reason: they firmly believe they are winning. So why would they let anyone walk away? They will always portray breakaway movements as nativist or racist or nationalistic. They can’t help themselves. This is the white savior complex of today’s progressive West.
Note the bolded section (emphasis added by me). Against all evidence, the Left believes they are winning – just look at all the crap Democrats in the Imperial City are trying frantically to shove through, with a razor-thin majority in the House and an even tie in the Senate and Heels-Up Harris’s tie-breaking vote. Most of their measures are wildly unpopular outside the Beltway, but they are pushing ahead relentlessly, keeping poor old Joe Biden’s Weekend At Bernie’s presidency on life support as a rubber stamp.
Soft secession, yes, as described in this piece, would be the best of all likely outcomes for the United States right now. But the Left, being at heart authoritarians, won’t go along with it. They know what’s best for us, see, and they are more than willing to use force to gain compliance – see Eric Swalwell’s comments on nuking Americans, or even old Joe’s comments on “nukes and F-15s.”
A Great Decentralization has the potential to give everyone the government they want, more or less, without violence, and assuming people would continue to vote with their feet – as Mrs. Animal and I have done, and as millions of others have already done. But the Left will never go for it.