Robert David STEELE Vivas
This book is a follow-on to The Vermont Manifesto, which I absorbed and reviewed in 2006 when I first realized that there existed a vibrant nation-wide network of secessionist movements, with Vermont being among the most ably represented.
I strongly recommend this book for every citizen. Regardless of who "wins" this mock election, we all lose--the two-party bi-opoly is a crime family, and absent electoral reform the Republic is dead. As the author of this book puts it, "our" government is corrupt to the core." I will be speaking briefly to the annual reunion of the two dozen secessionist movements in New Hampshire on 15 November 2008, and I will be encouraging every one of the movement to announce an intent to exercise its right to withdraw from a corrupt Union *unless* the pseudo-President agrees to implement four core reforms (they are outlined, along with the legitimate grievances of the varied secessionist movements, in Election 2008: Lipstick on the Pig (Substance of Governance; Legitimate Grievances; Candidates on the Issues; Balanced Budget 101; Call to Arms: Fund We Not Them; Annotated Bibliography).
This book opens with a tremendous introduction by Kirkpatrick Sale, author of Human Scale and dean of the Middlebury Institute that furthers the secessionist movement.
The book then offers a summary of the earlier work, eight points in the manifesto:
1) increasingly difficult to protect ourselves from big everything
2) government is too everything, including intrusive and unresponsive
3) US government has lost its moral authority both at home and abroad
4) we have a single (criminal) political party [I for one weep at the charade that the Democrats have put on with 700 million in largely illegal contributions made possible by Obama not being able to honor his word to the public)
5) The "American way" is a way of greed, exploitation, and waste
6) America's foreign policy is immoral and illegal as well as unconstitutional
7) To be a part of the Empire is to invite terrorist attack
8) The existing "nation" is ungovernable, unfixable, and unsustainable.
Beginning on page 43 the author addresses each of the options he can think of (the author is a professor emeritus from Duke):
3) political reform
I am charmed by the author's overview of many of the emerging trends, mostly negative, that I have found in so many non-fiction books over these past few years. He outlines examples of domestic imperialism, calls into question the 9/11 "official story", and lambastes both corporations and the federal government for fraudulent book-keeping.
On page 76 he lists the eight principles that are explained at length in the earlier work:
1) Political Independence
2) Human Scale
4) Economic Solidarity (some would call this "buy local")
5) Power Sharing
6) Equal Opportunity
7) Tension Reduction
This program is achieved in four steps that are discussed in detail by the author:
1) Denunciation (I have certainly tried to do that with my own reviews)
3) Demystification (i.e. secession is NOT sedition, it cannot be)
The middle of the book is a description of Vermont in compellingly attractive terms, and two points stay with me: they outlawed billboards; and Vermont is one of two states whose banks did not fail in the Great Depression, and one of three states whose banks did not fail in the 1980's.
The author observes that the Inter-State Commerce Act is used to force Wal-Mart into Vermont, and sadly notes the reality that too many Vermonters do not understand that cheap prices from Wal-Mart are achieved by destroyed local jobs and the rest of the earth (see among many works, Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price.
The author provides a very helpful overview of Constitutional History of Secession which is the thickest book in my secession reading pile, and the last I will get to. Bottom line: every state has a right to secede from the Union, and it is the Constitution, not the Union, that we are all sworn to uphold.
The author provides a fine overview of how Eastern Europe led the way in modern secession, with favorable references to Vaclav Havel and his book, Power of the Powerless: A Brother's Legacy of Love (Crossroad Book).
The book moves to a conclusion in observing that Alaska, Hawaii, Texas, and California (the latter with three secessionist movements calling for three separate republics to be made out of the state, the eighth largest economy on the planet per the author), are all ripe for activism. The author does not make this point so I will: the best time for any group to secede is when the larger group is bogged down in a foreign war that is bankrupting the whole.
He ends by citing Switzerland, with 7.3 million people total, as an excellent model for the Second Vermont Republic by itself, but his own hope is for a New Arcadia consisting of the eastern part of Canada with New Hampshire, and Main joining Vermont. This presumes Quebec's eventual success (and one can also anticipate Alaska moving on the Empty Quarter while British Columbia links up with Washington and Oregon and the sane part of California (the northern part). See The Nine Nations of North America, still the best overview around.
I cannot say enough good things about this book, I consider it a core reading for any adult with brain who cares about the Constitution, the Republic as it was conceived by the Founding Fathers, and the cause of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness which our federal government is supposed to be about, but is not.
Three others books within my ten link allowance:
The Tao of Democracy: Using Co-Intelligence to Create a World That Works for All
A Power Governments Cannot Suppress
Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace
I do not favor secession IF (big IF) we can force the matter of the four reforms on the pseudo-President at the Citizens Summit that will take place in Denver in February 2009.
I believe books of this type are very important as Americans try to cope with ever decreasing efficiencies of government and the accompanying increasing of injustice.
This book puts forth a viable alternative to the massive federal system of supposedly sovereign states we now have, and it should not be lightly dismissed as many are wont to do.
I would like to see the U.S. break-up into several smaller confederations, and perhaps Northern New England is the place to start! All great empires fall apart. Let's do it with dignity!
This book is a must read!
Thomas Naylor's book is a short one. Amazon shows it as 240 pages in the "Product Details" section. Wrong. It is 120 pages. Subtracting out blurbs, title pages, the table of contents, the dedication, and the foreword, the stuff of the book begins on page 18. Subtracting out contact information, acknowledgements, and the author biography, the stuff of the book ends on page 114. So there really are a bit less than 100 pages of stuff in this book. When I first saw that, I felt a bit cheated. While reading the book I decided its shortness is a good thing.
On page 11, in the dedication, the author refers to the book as a manifesto. That worried me. I was afraid that I was in for a bunch of ranting and rambling. I was right to be afraid.
I am very interested in the idea of secession. I agree with the author that secession appears to be the most reasonable way for a state to free itself from a federal government that seems destined for collapse. So I bought the book in the hope that I might learn something useful about secession: How might a state go about seceding? What would need to be done? What might the repercussions be?
The book does, briefly, get to these points, but not until page 75. Up till then it's ranting, rambling, manifesto time. In Vermont, Billy and Karen Moynihan have presented a Jack-o-lantern show at Ellie's Farm Market near Northfield every Halloween for over 25 years. History and myth about Ethan Allen. The Empire and the tyranny of corporate America, the evils of Walmart, carbon dioxide and global warming, reinstatement of the draft, Imperialism, the Biblical account of the Tower of Babel, McDonald's, Fox News, gas-guzzling Hummers, Google, Bill Gates.
But at last there is some brief discussion about the idea of secession. It boils down to this: One, the Constitution does not prohibit secession. (Anyone who is familiar with the Constitution knows that.) Two, there could be some economic hardships as a result. That's it.
Kyle R. Rose
An interesting read. He makes some great points about why the United States is destined to fall, and constructs many good arguments for the approach of secession to terminate it with some dignity.
That said, the author claims to be a computer science professor, which makes his luddism all the more spectacular. I'm a big fan of organic food, sustainable farming, renewable power, etc., but the notion that computers and networking (for example) are responsible for the state of civic discourse in the United States is demonstrably false: in fact, the internet is almost singlehandedly responsible for the increased awareness of alternatives to centralized control--from secession to libertarianism to anarchy--among the populace.
Furthermore, his grasp of economics is poor to say the least. He gets many of the symptoms right, including consumerism and debt financing, but doesn't demonstrate that he understands why these problems exist, nor how he would solve them.
Anyone interested in this book would do better, in my opinion, to first read a combination of The Omnivore's Dilemma and Ron Paul's The Revolution: A Manifesto, as well as (perhaps) Hoppe's Democracy: The God that Failed and Murray Rothbard's What Has Government Done to Our Money? (also available for free at mises.org). At that point, the reader will be better equipped to pull the interesting bits from this book and be able to point out the flaws in the rest.
Dr. John Switzer
Although the author and I are on opposite ends of the political spectrum on some issues, this book is satisfying because it recognizes the need for devolved forms of government whereby local and regional cultures are able to express themselves and democracy is able to flourish.
Naylor holds up Switzerland as an example of better government because it's a federation of small cantons (states) with differing cultures, languages, and values. Here is a quotation:
"The Swiss cantons enjoy considerably more autonomy than do American states. One finds a host of local and regional cultures and traditions melded into a patchwork of sights and events that are considered 'typically Swiss.' There appears to be less tension among competing cultures, religions, and cantons that one finds in the United States."
He goes on to say that the central government is fairly loose, with a rotating presidency in which the president is "first among equals," so s/he has limited power. (Sound familiar --? That was the goal of our original founders.) It is economically strong, and amazingly peaceful (having adopted neutrality in 1815). It hasn't been involved in a foreign war since 1515. Healthcare is top-notch and is decentralized--and providing coverage for 95% of the population through over 400 private health insurance funds. Even social welfare is decentralized and funded locally so as to better prevent waste, abuse, and fraud. Tax returns are public property. For a few bucks one can purchase a copy of anyone else's tax return--more easily preventing abuse of the welfare system. Local control makes education work, and also supports a profound environmentalism and concern for neighbors.
It's not a Utopia, he says, but in the end "it works." And "it works because it is a tiny, hard-working, democratic country with a strong sense of community."
On the other hand, we've evolved into a large, centrally operated, mega-state where our leaders have assumed more and more power, where they offer themselves perks and greater pay, and where we have difficulty removing them from office once in power (unless they totally anger their constituents as we see now).