With 2010 being another election year, here in Vermont there are a full slate of independent candidates with one primary objective: Secession from federal union, and declaration of full independence from federal government control.
The idea of secession is nothing new in American history – it was the very basis of the War for Independence (1775-1783), and the Civil War (1861-1865). Currently, secession is being seriously discussed by core groups of dedicated individuals in Vermont, New Hampshire (the so-named Free State Project), Texas, Alaska, and Hawaii. There are stirrings of it as well in places like Montana and Tennessee, whose governments have passed decrees ranging from full exemption from the USA PATRIOT Act and REAL ID, to provisions purportedly negating federal law over firearms and ammunition manufactured in those regions – so long as the weapons remain within its borders.
While these acts of dissent are in ways admirable, they fall short of true secession. Observe the platform of Second Vermont Republic, the quasi-political organization that is the driving force behind the idea of Vermont secession (quoted directly from their website, vermontrepublic.org):
“The Second Vermont Republic is a nonviolent citizens’ network and think tank opposed to the tyranny of Corporate America and the U.S. government, and committed to the return of Vermont to its status as an independent republic and more broadly to the dissolution of the Union. Members of the Second Vermont Republic subscribe to the following set of principles:
1. Political Independence. Our primary objectives are political independence for Vermont and the peaceful dissolution of the Union.
2. Human Scale. We believe life should be lived on a human scale. Small is still beautiful.
3. Sustainability. We celebrate and support Vermont’s small, clean, green, sustainable, socially responsible towns, farms, businesses, schools, and churches. We encourage family-owned farms and businesses to produce innovative, premium-quality, healthy products. We also believe that energy independence is an essential goal towards which to strive.
4. Economic Solidarity. We encourage Vermonters to buy locally produced products from small local merchants rather than purchase from giant, out-of-state megastores. We support trade with nearby states and provinces.
5. Power Sharing. Vermont’s strong democratic tradition is grounded in its town meetings . We favor devolution of political power from the state back to local communities, making the governing structure for towns, schools, hospitals, and social services much like that of Switzerland. Shared power also underlies our approach to international relations.
6. Equal Opportunity. We support equal access for all Vermont citizens to quality education, health care, housing, and employment.
7. Tension Reduction. Consistent with Vermont’s long tradition of “live and let live” and nonviolence, we do not condone state-sponsored violence inflicted either by the military or law enforcement officials. We support a voluntary citizens’ brigade to reduce tension and restore order in the event of civil unrest and to provide assistance when natural disasters occur. We are opposed to any form of military conscription. Tension reduction is the bedrock principle on which all international conflicts are to be resolved.
8. Mutuality. Both our citizens and our neighbors should be treated with mutual respect.”
True secession means throwing off the shackles of all forms of political government – federal, state, local – all of it. From the president and his goons in the White House, to the local yokel tax collector. You don’t get there by running for office and promising to establish a smaller, supposedly less intrusive version of “our” tax system, “our” schools, “our” health care, “our” mutual defense, “our” democracy. You don’t get there by using any political structure – existing or forecasted – to affect change. Change is the last thing, in fact, that you’re going to get when you employ such foolish, shortsighted tactics.
Those who advocate secession need only seceed themselves – and encourage as many other individuals to do so as well. I have already gone a long way towards doing so, as have most other anarchists. Here are some concrete elements of individual secession:
• Don’t vote. Stop voting if you still do, and go the further step of demanding (politely – you made the choice to begin with) that your name be removed from the voter registration list. (Remember also that the very word “registration” has its root in “regis” or “regent,” i.e. king or ruler). And obviously don’t contribute your time, money, energy, or even attention to candidates or political campaigns of any kind – not even “Libertarian” Party ones. Remember that electoral politics and anarchism (libertarianism, voluntaryism) are anathema to one another.
• If you have children, homeschool them. Do not let the government-controlled tax-financed public schools distort their minds. Do not have any contact with such institutions.
• Find every conceivable way to pay as little in all taxes as humanly possible. Make avoiding taxes in every way your watchword, in all you do.
• Consider owning gold and silver bullion and coins. Uninflatable numismatic metals are one of the best ways to fight government sanctioned fiat currencies, like Federal Reserve Notes. Also, engaging in tax-free bartering, counter-economics/agorism is productive towards subverting the State.
• Read everything you can get your hands on about anarchist theory and philosophy. Some of my personal recommendations would be anything and everything by Lysander Spooner, “The Market for Liberty” by Morris and Linda Tannehill, and “Adventures in Legal Land” by Marc Stevens. For economics, try anything by Ludwig von Mises, and “The Road to Serfdom” by Friedrich A. Hayek. Henry David Thoreau’s classic essay, “Resistance to Civil Government” is also excellent.
• Finally, live your life – remember it is YOUR life – the way you like, and enjoy yourself. Just freeing yourself from the self-imposed burden of paying attention to politics can be very liberating. The realization that you are an individual human being – not part of some specious, imaginary collective – goes a long way towards achieving sovereignty and greater self-expansion.
While it may take sizeable numbers of people to embrace market anarchism in order for it to operate on a societal scale, each individual act of non-political secession is the only path towards making a zero-government society a reality. You now know what the steps are to get there, and you have – among numerous other sources – the Center for a Stateless Society to help you spread the word, and anarchist ideas in general. Excuses over. Now let’s get out there and make it happen. Let’s suceed from government, in all forms, altogether.