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.
Great post, Mark; a lot to digest.
In God We Trust is the national motto.
Ooops – my bad: but I’m leaving the phrasing as it is.
“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.”
Boehner, Cantor, and McConnel will get right on this. They will get tons of support from Grahm, Kirk, Brown, Murkowski, Smith, and the whole cross the isle to get along gang.
Darth Rino is laughing his ass off.
Bit by bit we work on it – the TEA Party movement is the way to go as we can “primary” RINO after RINO and eventually ensure a more reform-minded government. Of course the concept of getting States to voluntarily break up will be hard – especially in those States run by liberals who will see their power reduced. But with States like California and Illinois heading to bankruptcy, I think a secession movement can get off the ground.
Excellent analysis Mark, and how tru the following comment is.
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.
If only we could get back to a governance more in line with the constitutional framework, we would all be better off. I have also often thought that our desire for cultural diversity in this country harms the spirit of E plurbus unum and not that those are mutually exclusive concepts, but the unity aspect can quickly get lost if we lose our focus on it.
hell our GOP governor cant even stand up to al $hitstone and black panthers flown in from chi cago to riot and threaten citizens of our state with death.
he went on a witch hunt to overide the local police and prosecutor to charge a man with murder for self defense,
do you REALLY think ay of these creeps will stand against the federal govt?
Now there Neo, both of can’t be bad boys at the same time. I think we should take turns.
I like the idea, Mark, but there is one catch. If I’m not mistaken, in order for states to be divided into smaller states, Congress must approve (except for Texas, which has the right to divide into up to 5 total states, according to the treaty under which they entered the Union). Getting some of those congress-critters to go along, and thus give up a share of their power, might not be all that easy.
If it does happen, I’d like to see Pennsylvania broken up, and the “red” part take in a few counties from Maryland (my state), most of which would stay with “blue” areas like Baltimore and the DC suburbs.
What Hanson proposes reminds me of Switzerland, which has a long history of dividing power among its cantons (analogous to states) and communes (analogous to counties) to accommodate the different official languages (4 of them) and state religions. Three of the 23 cantons have even been divided into half-cantons, with each half-canton getting one of the canton’s two members in the Council of States (analogous to our Senate). Of course, I’m not suggesting that we have half-states, each with one Senator, but an attitude of “we’ll do our thing here, and you do your thing there” would certainly be a good thing to get back to.
The legislature of the state involved has to approve the creation of a new state that includes its own territory. Not likely to happen in states like Cali and Illinois where the tax base is outside of the political base.
OT. Another Mitt crowd. This time in Ohio.
That is the key – let’s face it, none of us conservatives like what is going on in San Francisco…but, then again, if we don’t live in San Francisco its really none of our business. As long as the essential rights guaranteed by the Constitution are enforced there they can do whatever they please in that city – the problem we have, though, is that the people of San Francisco in alliance with the people of Los Angeles are reaching out to dictate to other places and making them do things that only San Franciscans want. And when the LA/SF alliance gets in touch with their allies in New York City, Boston and Chicago they can go a long way towards making the whole country do what San Francisco wants. That is not the way it should be – in fact, it can’t be that way because if we really keep going like this then it won’t be a reform movement reorganizing the States (as I’ve proposed) but a genuine secession movement breaking up the country. How long will Texas and Nebraska allow themselves to be taxed and regulated to death to please people in San Francisco and New York?
Texas and Nebraska, but not Wyoming, North and South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia or Alaska who take California’s tax money while bashing California?
I wish “e plurbus unum” was the official motto. It includes all Americans, not just the fearful superstitious ones.
You’ve posted what?? six or seven?? posts this morning and every one has consisted of nothing but sneering, sniping, and attacks on people.
Evidently this is all the RRL and its freaky minions can bring to the table. Politics, not so much, as none of you can admit to the core ideology of the system you support and its execution over the past four years has given us nothing but the totally predictable failure of this system whenever it is implemented.
Nope, all you can do is focus on Identity Politics and show off your bottomless well of vitriol and hatred. It’s not only all the RRL has, it is apparently all you are capable of.
Yawn, another “you’re attacking” attack post from Ammo.
Since you reference virtually nothing I’ve written, while I am directly referencing the specific content of the previous post and the original blog, who is posting “nothing but sneering, sniping, and attacks?
Hey, if it makes you feel better, have at it.
This has a great deal to do with the Seventeenth Amendment which allowed direct election of Senators which moved their focus from representing their State to the “big money” of politics.
Since you are Nevada, you (unfortunately) have Harry Reid. In the last election cycle–if the the State was to select it’s Senators rather than by popular vote–the State would look to see who did them best rather than outside money (some estimates over 55% towards 90%) wondering “What Harry could do for them?”
Bye-Bye outside money and influence but you would still need to reign in the casinos and the labor union forces there. Do the same nationwide and it would quickly limit the power of the “urban centers” back towards the people in general.
freakzo, you probably do think that by “referencing” a prior post you are actually responding to it, but all you are doing is using it as a springboard for slurs, attacks, and mindless “ain’t-I-just-the-cutest-freak-ever” titters.
Nope, you are clearly and accurately identified as nothing more than a speed bump wannabe, whose sole contributions are snark and exhibitions of what you seem to find darling.
All I can say is it’s refreshing to hear SF rather than LA catch most of the heat for a change, lol!
But I agree — something is very wrong when the powers that be feel compelled to call our baseball team the “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim”. It’s our team, dammit! We here on the other side of the Orange Curtain don’t go around claiming the Dodgers should be named the “Orange County Dodgers of Los Angeles”, or some such. Take your Dodgers and GO HOME! 🙂
our baseball team the “Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim”. It’s our team, dammit
do da name BROOKLYN ring a bell?
Article 4, section 3. of the Constitution. Big Foot and I were both correct.
Retired Lt. Col. & Special Ops Planner Explains WH Protocol: ‘The President Knew Immediately’ About Benghazi Attack
“It’s a bald faced lie.”
There is a simple answer to your question but it will take generations to accomplish, just as it did for the Progressives, which is to return to the Constitution this country was founded on. It can be done and it will be difficult to say the least. Start just as they (progressives) did and wipe out case law in favor of Constitutional law, return the vote of Senators to the State assemblies, and get rid of the Fed.
Check every Federal program and department against the original intent of the first clause of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution / 10th Amendment and return all of those not qualifying to the State or the dustbin of history. Yes, I mean the Federal Education, NEA, EPA, and the other gobbley-gook of departments to include Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid—if they survive at State level. There are better ways to do most of these at lower levels as the Federal government seems to have the reverse Midas touch.
It is what the founders meant by enumerated duties and before someone cries about SS, Medicare or Medicaid—I would like to see the pictures and stories from 1955 where carts were sent around neighborhoods collecting up the dead and dying. Once again, it took a hornswoggle effort to attempt to pack the bench of the Supreme Court (from 9 to 15) to get this statist crap passed.
This would be a good start to returning to fundamentals and it would cost me dearly but I am willing to pay a large price to return to a level playing field for my brother’s children. “A chicken in every pot” should not mean you take three of mine for folks that can but do not want to work for it. Those that actually could not work were always cared for—before all of this government intervention. Those that could but would not did not fare so well.
Then again—of course they [progressives] “must” hold President Wilson in utter contempt because he segregated the Federal workforce (including the military) while spending time with Margaret “Euthanasia of lesser people [blacks]” Sanger who founded Planned Parenthood which is based (majority) in inner city locations. Alveda King, niece of Martin Luther King, Jr. has said that ‘abortion is the white supremacist’s best friend,’ pointing to the fact that Black and Latinos represent 25% of our population but account for 59% of all abortions.” Nope—these are their idols.
If any of the Flapping Monkey brigade actually had compassion—you would donate at the rate of us “evil, mean conservatives” actually do. I could continue but as I said—this would be a good start and secession is not a requirement.
To me, this program is part of what is necessary for us to get back to a fully constitutional republic – the other part is to reform our economy in a Distributist manner, but we’ll leave that aside for the moment.
Government got out of our hands when it got too difficult for average folks to pay close attention to it – the main government that should deal with people on a day to day basis must be the government they can, as it were, walk over and take a look at.
One of these days, when both right and left finally see the wisdom of Distributism, you and I are gonna share a handshake and a beverage. I know that might creep you out now, but…