Kirkpatrick Sale of the Middlebury Institute recently observed that there is presently “more attention being paid to secession than any time since 1865” and predicts that “one of the American states will vote for its independence in the next 10 years.” Neo-secessionist sentiments are frequently stereotyped as a characteristic exhibited primarily by “right-wing extremists.” Yet there are serious reasons why genuine progressives should consider secession. Among the most compelling reasons why the Left should consider dissolving the U.S. into multiple nations, regions, or city-states are:
-Break-up of the U.S.A. means an end to the American empire that has killed millions of people throughout the world over the last sixty-five years, including perhaps two million Iraqis, three million Southeast Asians, hundreds of thousands of Central Americans, half a million Timorese, thousands of Afghanis, and many, many more.
-Without the support of the U.S., international capitalist organizations such as the IMF, World Bank, WTO, etc. would be much less powerful and influential.
-The demise of the federal regime would mean an end to U.S. aid to Israel, and a fighting chance for the Palestinians.
-The collapse of the U.S. federal system would mean an end to federal corporate-welfare, bank-welfare, and, above all, the death of the military-industrial complex.
-No more federal regime means no more DHS, FBI, CIA, DEA, BATF, Bureau of Prisons, Bureau of Indian Affairs, federal drug war, federal mandatory minimums, or the national police state built up around the war on terrorism. What could be more successful at overturning the “terror war” legislation of the last eight years than complete disintegration of the federal government itself?
-An end to federal corporate welfare means a severe weakening of Big Pharma, agribusiness, or local developers utilizing federal money in efforts at gentrification.
-The disintegration of the U.S. means not only the end of federal drug prohibition but an end to U.S. support for the international drug war and the America-centric structure of international drug prohibition, thereby allowing other nations to develop more progressive policies on this matter.
Some may object that progressives have at times appealed to federal power against local reactionaries (for instance, in cases of civil rights, abortion rights, and church/state separation issues) and that dissolution of the federal regime may also weaken gains in this area. However, it should be considered that the majority of the U.S. population resides in the 75 to 100 largest urban, metropolitian areas. If these areas-New York, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Chicago, Miami-were all independent city-states or micronations along the lines of Monaco, Luxemborg, or Singapore, genuine progressives would be in a much superior political position than at present. The major U.S. urban areas tend to be the most diverse culturally, racially, ethnically, and religiously. It is also in these areas where the majority of racial minorities, LGBT people, persons with countercultural values, and those with left-leaning political views tend to be concentrated. The majority of the underclass persons fed into the prison-industrial complex also originate from the large cities. It is in the major cities where most abortion services are located and where most abortions take place.
If these larger urban areas were separated from the states in which they are presently located and from the federal system, urban progressives would no longer need to share space politically with rural, small-town, or suburban reactionaries, conservatives, or religious fundamentalists. Therefore, it would be immensely easier for independent city-states of this kind to enact, for instance, single-payer health care, same-sex marriage, stem cell research or a living wage. It would also be easier to protect abortion rights from the influence of current state legislatures or the federal government. Likewise, it would be much more possible to decriminalize drugs, prostitution, gambling and other “consensual crimes” along the lines of New Zealand, Portugal, or the Netherlands at present. Such changes would severely weaken and undermine the police state and prison-industrial complex. The likely weakening of corporate power following the demise of federal and state corporate welfare would also provide a more level playing field for activists to take on landlords, developers, bankers, and other plutocratic interests on a municipal and regional level, and perhaps initiate economic alternatives like cooperatives, collectives, communes, LETS, mutuals, land trusts, and so forth. Meanwhile, social conservatives and other non-progressives who dissented from this prevailing liberal-libertarian-left paradigm could likewise achieve sovereignty for themselves in their exclusionary suburban enclaves, homogenous rural counties and towns, or sparsely populated red zones. Surely, this would be a better state of political affairs than the present system. If indeed secessionist sentiments are likely to grow in the years and decades ahead, why should progressives be left out?