Victor Davis Hanson writes another brilliant piece and it goes along with a thought I’ve had for a while – first, a quote:
…As those who run the nation state become ever more estranged, we yearn for the safety and security of our own neighbors, who seem to think, speak, and live more as we do. In other words, we are unhappy residents of Hellenistic Greece who dream of the romance of the lost face-to-face city state, or the bread-and-circuses turba of fourth-century Rome, who feel that their fellow citizens in Gaul, Numidia, and Pontus seem hardly Roman. These days the problem is not just that an Italian wants to leave the EU, but that a Florentine or Venetian would prefer to leave Italy itself. A Texan not only wants us out of the U.N., but may feel he is already out of the U.S. Britain may want no part of the EU, but Scotland wants no part of Britain…
Hanson speaks of a return of medievalism – not in the sense of living in castles but in the sense of extreme localism. That, at bottom, is what feudalism was: local control of most of the power while the central authority had least power. This developed in the post-Roman world because the Roman government could not carry out its self-appointed, imperial tasks. The Roman government, that is, decayed – it became bloated, inefficient, corrupt (sound familiar?) and while trying to micro-manage affairs of the Empire eventually lost the ability to even defend the Empire. People were forced back on their own resources and the feudal lords were really, in origin, no more than whomever could effectively organize local people for self defense.
And it worked rather well – people like to think of medieval times as unrelieved darkness until we managed to fight our way out of it. It wasn’t like that, at all. There were the true Dark Ages which were mostly involved with desperate battles against wave after wave of barbarian invaders. Given such events it is no surprise that the level of cultural achievement fell rapidly. When you’re fighting for your very lives you don’t have time or money to spare on art and literature. But once that time was past (by, say, the year 1000) there was a rapid development of civilization…and all of it while there was no large, centralized State anywhere in the West. As wealth grew and culture started to flourish, kings and emperors began to obtain the resources which allowed them to enforce greater unity – but it wasn’t kings and emperors who fostered high civilization, it was the high civilization which allowed kings and emperors to arise. The main point is that you don’t need large, centralized States to have wealth and art – anyone familiar with the history of Athens, Florence and Venice knows this. The advantages of a large, centralized State are two:
1. Greater capacity for self-defense. The larger unit can build up larger, better equipped armies than the smaller units and thus can better ensure that outsiders are unable to successfully invade.
2. Larger geographic area of free trade. A central State tends to eliminate local barriers to the movement of goods and people. This does facilitate trade which is always beneficial to wealth creation.
The genius of the United States, as framed by our Constitution, was to give us the best of both worlds: a large, centralized State capable of self-defense and having free trade while still having most power broken up among local authorities. What we have done wrong over the past 100+ years is erode local power while granting ever more power to the central government. This, just as it always happens in large, centrally governed States, has led to political atrophy at the local level and political corruption at the central level. The central government proposes, just like the ancient Roman government, to do ever more while at the same time the corruption and incompetency of the central government grows to the point where, for instance, the central government can’t even ensure that the lights stay on in the federal capitol during a little storm.
Our task is to some how restore the balance – to return America to a place with a central government strong enough to defend us but with local government strong enough to defy the central government. To me, secession is the answer. You see, smaller is better – the larger the entity the less chance there is that the common people will be able to control it. Now, I don’t want secession where Texas and California leave the union – but I do want secession where Texas and California become, each of them, two or three States. I want to break up the political system we have in the United States to make it smaller and more manageable by the people – and this will, by giving a real voice to common people in government, allow us to permanently reign in the central government.
Think of it like this – a Californian interested in small government can do what, precisely? Both his Senators are committed to the socialist super-State and there’s little chance the small government advocate will ever change that. Ditto with the House delegation: a majority of it will always remain socialist. Can he at least work in his own State to strike a blow for small government? No – because his State legislature is also permanently under the control of socialists. Why? Because his State contains a few very large urban areas which like the socialist model and always outvote the small government advocates. What we have in California is a dictatorship where Los Angeles and San Francisco lord it over Palmdale and Bakersfield. It doesn’t matter what the people in those localities want – they will be forever outvoted by San Francisco and Los Angeles and so will have no say in how their own local affairs are governed and, of course, no chance to influence the central government in DC. Break up California so that Los Angeles and San Francisco are in one State and Palmdale and Bakerfield in another, however, and then the people of all four localities have a say in what will happen. Nobody in such a circumstance loses anything but the ability to be an overlord – and what is America but a rejection of such human overlords?
Lots of States need to be broken up – and not just large population States like California and Texas. My own Nevada needs to go its separate ways. During the depths of our financial crisis politicians from Clark County (think: Las Vegas) were trying to tax mining interests to bring in more revenue. Fine and dandy – except that we don’t mine much in Clark County but they do up in northern Nevada…which means that the highly populated south of the State was proposing to make up for its revenue shortfall by taxing the people of the north who had no revenue problem, at all. The State should be broken up. So should Illinois, New York, Florida, etc – broken up in to their logical components so that the people within a State share a genuine community of interests and will be able to defend those interests against outsiders who see them as a source of plunder. And such smaller political units will also be more fierce in defending themselves against a rapacious central government in DC (such a break up of the States will provide far more Senators and we should also increase the size of the House by at least 150 members…Britain has more than 600 MPs for 50 million people, we have 435 Representatives for 320 million people; its absurd; the larger the number of representatives and Senators in DC the less likely we’ll have a steamroller of big government idiots able to dictate to all of us).
E plurbus unum – out of many, one. Such is our national motto – lets enforce it. Let us, that is, make a lot more plurbus so that we can ensure a rational unum. Secession – its what can bring us all together.