The Liberation of America From Itself

It will not make one whit of difference who is elected president in November, Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.  Either way, it will be business as usual.  Both the silver-tongued, Nobel Peace Laureate, drone aficionado and the mean-spirited, Harvard MBA, venture capitalist shark are unwavering in their commitment to war, Wall Street, Corporate America, and Israel.  But above all, they are each world class narcissists.

There is but one fundamental question which really matters, and, unfortunately it will not appear on the ballot anywhere.  “Is there any justification whatsoever for the continued existence of the largest, wealthiest, most powerful, most materialistic, most environmentally toxic, most racist, most militaristic, most violent empire of all-time – an empire which has lost its moral authority and is unsustainable, ungovernable, and unfixable?”

In his recent book Why America Failed, Morris Berman argues that the United States is and has always been about “hustling, materialism, and the pursuit of personal gain without regard for its effects on others.”  Economist Paul Craig Roberts has expressed similar thoughts in much stronger words.  “The United States is an immoral country, with an immoral people and an immoral government.  Americans no longer have a moral conscience.  They have gone over to the Dark Side.”  As evidence of the veracity of this statement, our president recently decided that he has the right to assassinate any American citizen anywhere in the world, whom his White House advisors deem to be a suspicious character.

Throughout history those who have been victims of oppression have sought liberation from their oppressors.  One speaks of the liberation of Paris from Nazi Germany, the liberation of China from Japan, and the liberation of Eastern Europe from Moscow.  But unlike these examples, the United States is neither occupied by a foreign oppressor nor seriously threatened by one, unless one believes the myths underlying the war on terror.  America’s enemy lies entirely within.  As Pogo once said back in 1970, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

If a state is to remain true to itself, it has no other choice than to maintain its commitment to the humanity of its citizens.  But how does it do this, if its government is too big, too centralized, too undemocratic, too unjust, too powerful, too intrusive, and too unresponsive to the needs of individual citizens and small communities?

America was supposed to have been immortal, but in the end it can’t deliver.  There is no longer any moral justification for the existence of a nation that is corrupt to the core.  The only morally defensible alternative to empire is peaceful dissolution.

“Whenever any form of government becomes destructive, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it…,” said Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence.  Just as a group has a right to form, so too does it have a right to subdivide itself, to withdraw from a larger unit, or to dissolve.

This is a call for the liberation of America, the liberation of America from itself.  It’s high time we (1) regain control of our lives from big government, big business, big cities, big schools, and big computer networks; (2) relearn how to take care of ourselves by decentralizing, downsizing, localizing, demilitarizing, simplifying, and humanizing our lives; and (3) provide democratic and human-scale state and local self-governments.

So long as the Empire remains intact, there will be no end to all of the nasty little wars, corporate personhood, Wall Street dominance, and our unconditional support for the Israeli military machine.  These are all gifts from the Empire.

Peaceful dissolution could be initiated at the state, regional, or national level through some combination of demonstrations, strikes, protests, tax revolts, civil disobedience, and eventually secession.  The U.S. Congress could even initiate dissolution, but don’t hold your breath over that option.

Since dissolution would be nationwide in scope, it would arguably be less self-centered and less ethnocentric than if a single state such as Alaska, Texas, or Vermont tries to go it alone.  Everyone has skin in the game so to speak.  The primary focus would be not on “What’s in it for my state?” but rather on ending global dominance and the military madness, stopping the exploitation of the poor and the middle class by the superrich, curbing the use of fossil fuels and other natural resources, curtailing the dependence on economic growth at any cost, reining in corruption and deceit, and ending the suppression of civil liberties.

Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, for example, might join the four Atlantic provinces of Canada to create a little country the size of Denmark and call it New Acadia.  Upstate New York and New York City might split into two separate countries.  Chicago and Los Angeles could become independent city-states.  Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Florida, and Texas might go it alone with South Texas and South Florida splitting off separately.  It’s not hard to imagine California being divided into three countries and Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia evolving into Cascadia.  A New South and a Rocky Mountain Republic also seem like likely possibilities.

We have no illusion that a large number of Americans will embrace dissolution any time soon.  Our problems will have to become a lot worse before that happens.  But the time to start the conversation is now!  How many people predicted the 1991 implosion of the Soviet Union?  Planned, orderly dissolution is surely preferable to unexpected collapse and utter chaos.

Long live the Disunited States of America!

Thomas H. Naylor

May 2, 2012

Founder of the Second Vermont Republic and Professor Emeritus of Economics at Duke University; co-author of Affluenza, Downsizing the USA, and The Search for Meaning.

www.vermontrepublic.org.