Should Traditionalist States Secede? Some Case Studies from History

2012_US_Presidential_Election_Results_by_Counties

Patulcius

A political fault line divides the United States into two countries, each mutually hostile to the other and perhaps irreconcilable without force of arms. The recent government shutdown is only the latest manifestation of this widening fault, with the promise of even more difficulties ahead.

The relatively traditional side is composed of supporters of individual liberty and Constitutionalists, traditional Christians or those who support their values, and anti-regulation capitalists. The Progressive side is composed of social liberals, ethnic minorities, feminists, and welfare statists.

Either one side must eventually politically dominate and culturally overwhelm the other, or the two sides must go their separate ways. Progressives have the most to gain by trying to stifle their opposition; they overwhelmingly control the culture and seem to fully possess the minds of the youth, and the world elites support their agenda. If Traditionalists hope to survive, their best route is to seek a total political and geographic separation.

If the United States were to split into two or more separate nations, could the new nations survive? From the perspective of a Traditionalist, could the removal of the morally corrupt portions of the country prolong the survival of an American nation into the future? Or would the separate portions weaken one another through constant conflict and allow foreign powers to sweep both of them aside?

History has several examples of nations that have broken into two or more parts on their own—that is, not imposed by a foreign power. It might be useful to analyze the fates of such nations and compare them to our own situation. For the purpose of this analysis, I am not considering any secession movements by nations that were ruled by another and had little or no voice in its governance (like Ireland from Great Britain, for example). Such cases do not shed much light on the current situation of the United States.

Judah and Israel

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Israel remained a united theocracy for hundreds of years, ruled by priests and judges until the rise of kings Saul, David, and Solomon. As the country grew increasingly corrupt, the country split in two in about 930 BC, with Judah in the south ruled by the line of David, and Israel in the north ruled by a variety of dynasties.

The northern kingdom almost immediately grew more corrupt than the southern with the construction of two golden calves for its people to sacrifice to God in order to prevent them from making pilgrimages to the holy temple in Judah’s city of Jerusalem. Gradually and steadily, the northern kingdom fell further away from their foundations for about 200 years until they were swallowed up by the Assyrians and dispersed, leaving a remnant of quasi-Jews called Samaritans.

The southern kingdom of Judah also gradually became corrupt, though more slowly than in the northern kingdom, with occasional periods of reform, until it too was consumed by the Babylonians about 200 years after the northern kingdom fell. But a remnant of the captured Judeans sustained their ancient Jewish traditions firmly enough that they restored their nation in their former territories around Jerusalem about 50 years after the fall of Judah.

The division of the united Israel in 930 BC allowed Jewish Traditionalists to geographically consolidate under Judah and the Progressive, worldly Jews to coalesce in the north, thereby prolonging the life of the south and giving the southern kingdom a chance to renew itself.

A division of the United States would be similar to that of Israel and Judah. One side rejects its founding principles and founding religion as it falls into decadence. The other, also slipping into decadence, tries to uphold those values. If the traditional United States can cut away the rotten parts of the country, then theoretically it might prolong its life and even re-emerge as a new and stronger nation.

Eastern and Western Roman Empires

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The division of the Roman Empire occurred somewhat gradually from the time of Diocletian in 293 AD to its final split in 395 after Theodosius I. The division of the Roman Empire, in effect, allowed the Eastern Empire to continue for more than 1,000 years after casting off a poorer, more corrupt, barbarian-infested West, which collapsed after 100 years of separation from the East.

The Roman Empire divided at a time of cultural shift from pagan to Christian society. East and West both transformed into new civilizations, but while the West fell under barbarian invasions, the East managed to maintain its political integrity. The division of the Roman Empire allowed the healthier Eastern half to consolidate at the expense of the weaker Western half, a move that allowed the East to survive for a millennium as what we now call the Byzantine Empire.

In the United States, the wealthier portions currently belong to the Progressive side, though the growing prosperity of Texas shows that this situation could change quickly. One of the derisive comments by the Left against the secession of the Conservative Red states is that the Red states (in general) take more from the Federal government than they pay in taxes. Would a peaceful dismemberment of the country lead to a poorer Traditionalist country and a wealthier Progressive one? If wealth is the dominant factor in determining success, then the new Traditionalist country could suffer a disadvantage that leads to its defeat.

Byzantine Empire and Successor States

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During the Fourth Crusade, Crusaders took over the Byzantine capital of Constantinople in 1204 AD instead of journeying to the Holy Land, and three competing successor states formed from parts of the Empire’s territory in the wake of the turmoil.

The short-lived Empire of Nicea formed around the exiled Byzantine aristocracy after the Crusader take-over, and it merged back into the Byzantine Empire in 1261 with the restoration of the Greeks to the imperial throne.

The Despotate of Epirus also formed in response to the Crusader take-over, but the restored Byzantine emperors never had a chance to re-take it. Epirus scraped by as a separate state until its final withering in 1479. Constantinople had fallen in 1453 to the Turks, so Epirus outlived its progenitor by a generation. Despite its longevity, Epirus made little long-term impact on the people of that region.

The Empire of Trebizond formed just before the fall of Constantinople to the Crusaders in 1204. Two brothers of the very prominent Komnenos family took advantage of the disorder from the Crusaders to establish themselves in the Black Sea city of Trebizond. The Empire of Trebizond lasted as an independent Greek state from 1204 until a few years longer than Constantinople, falling before the Turks in 1461.

Unlike Epirus, Trebizond did leave a lasting impact on its people. The Greeks around Trebizond survived as a Greek exclave in Turkey for almost 500 years, forming their own dialect and traditions that survived in northern Anatolia until 1922, when Greece and Turkey agreed to a population exchange. (Greeks left Turkey and the Turks left Greece, often forcibly.) Today these Pontic Greeks exist as a distinct ethnic diaspora, mostly in Greece, though they are quickly assimilating into their dominant cultures.

This division is an example of the fracturing of a nation in an advanced state of decay. The broken pieces shared the rot of the original country and continued a parallel decline along with it, falling at around the same time.

There is no question that both sides in the cultural divide of the United States are showing signs of cultural decadence and decline, often with little to distinguish them from each other (such as divorce rates). The rot might well have set in too deeply for the traditional side to recover, as they lose their children and grandchildren to the Progressive side. If the United States breaks apart, the corrupt pieces could decline at the same rate and fall at roughly the same time.

China

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Throughout its long history, China has alternated between periods of unity and disunity, with unified empires growing corrupt or weak and then splitting into various competing geographical entities. The most recent example of this disunion occurred from 1916 to 1950 in the Chinese Civil War. This disunion manifests itself in the present day in the independent state of Taiwan, which still calls itself the Republic of China.

Could such a cycle of disunity and unity happen in the United States? The USA is a very large country, and well populated. It is entirely possible that if the United States fractures, and if no entity outside the US can take over its entire geography, that the country could follow the Chinese cycle through the next several centuries, uniting and fracturing in various forms.

In the shorter term, an area of the US could follow the example of Taiwan. Hawaii, for instance, could sustain a well-armed independence from a hostile mainland power. Alaska could do the same, or even geographically isolated portions of the continental US.

South Africa

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The Cape Colony was ruled and colonized by the Dutch from 1652 to 1806, when the British took it over and started their own process of colonization. When the British outlawed slavery in 1833, many of the original Dutch settlers grew dissatisfied with British rule and decided to form their own nations outside of the Cape. This led to the creation of various Boer and Griqua states, the Boer states comprised of Dutch settlers and their slaves and the Griqua states ruled by mixed-race Afrikaans-speaking Coloureds.

Gradually, the British took over these separate states, with the last ones, the Transvaal and the Orange Free State, falling in the gruesome Second Boer War. Interestingly, Great Britain ruled the unified South Africa only for a short time, as the Boers came to dominate the country politically before rejecting the British Commonwealth and establishing an Afrikaner-dominated republic for the next forty years until the end of White rule in 1994.

This example demonstrates how a people who hold firmly to their traditions and culture can come out ahead when they separate themselves into independent nations. Even after their sovereign republics fell the Afrikaners managed to rise again because they retained a steadfast devotion to their fundamental beliefs and culture.

The United States and the Confederacy

american-civil-war

Like the Boers in South Africa, American Southerners considered slavery to be an essential part of their culture. When the abolitionists in the North posed a great enough threat to that culture, the Southerners tried to form their own republic. After four years of heavy fighting, in which the South lost 18% of its White male population, the United States restored its wayward states and imposed its will through Reconstruction.

During Reconstruction, White Southerners resisted the Northern occupiers until the latter grew weary and departed, leaving the Southern Democrats to rule the South and suppress their Black populations for the next eighty years or so.

While most White Southerners no longer wish to oppress their Black neighbors, they once again resent the imposition by other parts of the country of values that they generally oppose. The “Solid South”, once solidly Democrat, now solidly supports the Republicans, and they are some of the most traditionalist people in the country. This steadfast devotion to fundamental religious values and Southern traditions is one of the essential ingredients to the preservation and perseverance of a nation of people.

The Mormons

776px-Mormon_Trail_3

The unorthodox religious beliefs of Joseph Smith and his followers stirred hostility in the traditional Christian communities around them, and the Mormons (as they came to be known) repeatedly fled from one area of the United States to the next during the 1830’s and 40’s, leading ultimately to the founding of Salt Lake City in isolated Utah. Despite the encroachments of a hostile United States, the Mormons largely maintained their cohesion and their beliefs, and they have not only maintained a cultural dominance in Utah and southeast Idaho, but they have grown to become a significant world religion.

This example demonstrates that even a small group of people who are bound by strong religious and cultural ties can grow within a geographically separate state (in this case, one that only shortly maintained its political independence) and maintain their integrity.

Similar cases to this scenario can be found in the Puritans who settled the American northeast, the Amish who settled in Pennsylvania, the Sikhs of the Punjab in India, and the Jews who fled Egypt to Palestine. Of course, there are also several cases where this practice failed, often where a small cult either implodes or can’t defend itself against outside forces. While religious groups have succeeded at this separation, ethnic groups have achieved similar success, but only so long as they maintain their distinct culture, beliefs, and traditions.

This demonstrates that even minority groups with members highly dedicated to promoting and upholding their fundamental beliefs can survive for centuries in a small geographic area, even if they are not politically independent.

The United States and Great Britain

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American colonists considered themselves to be loyal British subjects, equal to those in the homeland, while they almost unwittingly evolved into distinct cultures of their own. Ultimately when the British mother country tried to impose its political will on the Americans, the latter resisted and the Revolutionary War ensued, unexpectedly leading to the birth of the United States.

It is ironic that the circumstances that led to the birth of the United States might well lead to its death. Do traditionalist Americans have the fortitude of their 18th Century forebears?

Conclusion

It is clear from history that people who geographically separate from their mother country in order to uphold their beliefs, traditions, and culture can survive where they might have otherwise fallen before their enemies either through conquest or assimilation.  Even when defeated, the cohesion and tenacity of such people often perseveres.

The great question for Traditionalists in the United States is whether they have the tenacity to separate themselves from the Progressive culture in order to maintain and strengthen those beliefs and traditions.

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7 Comments

  1. Reblogged this on Brittius.com.

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  2. How big is the traditionalist population of the US? Just because they vore red doesn’t mean they are traditional in any way other than gun rights and religious issues. The red team is doing the same things as the blue team, just slower making it impossible to tell just how traditional the red voters really are.

    According to this Tax Foundation map, the red states don’t really receive much, if any, more fed money than the blue ones. These things should always be served with plenty of salt, though.

    http://www.freenorthcarolina.blogspot.com/2013/10/north-carolina-is-first-state-to-cut.html

    I have an idea that there is a size limit to what can be effectively governed. A limit in both population and geography beyond which the various regions become too different to reach consensus. Diversity is, after all, the opposite of unity.

    You should read up on the War Between the States a little more. Your synopsis sounds like public school revisionism and is way too simplistic.

    Secession was being bandied about at least as far back as the 1830s:

    ‘By the end of his life [died 1837-ed] Macon had realised that the cause of republicanism was lost at the federal level, and also that the North was determined to exploit and rule the South. South Carolina tried in 1832 to use “nullification,” state interposition, to force the federal government back within the limits of the Constitution [over tarrifs]. After he read Andrew Jackson’s proclamation against South Carolina, Macon told friends that it was too late for nullification. The Constitution was dead. The only recourse was secession—there was nothing left but for the South to get out from under the “Union” and govern itself.”’

    Above is from this article which is biased for our side:
    http://www.chroniclesmagazine.org/2008/12/16/nathaniel-macon-and-the-way-things-should-be/

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    • “How big is the traditionalist population of the US?”

      Who constitutes a traditionalist? I use the term in this case pretty loosely, meaning anyone who even vaguely believes in the the “old order”, which could be that of 1950’s America or that of the 1770’s and various shades in between. How big is this loosely-defined and generously-lumped “group”? Maybe half of the Red state voters, I’d guess, but who knows? You’re absolutely correct about most of the red staters following the same paths as the blue staters, just thirty years or so behind. The question is, could the red states, if left to their own devices, reform themselves?

      “…the red states don’t really receive much, if any, more fed money than blue ones.”

      You might also be correct on this one, or maybe not. I’m speculating here on possible outcomes of political separation. I’ve seen conflicting data on the fed money issue and economic data, and I honestly don’t know how the economics would play out in the case of independence. Today’s major urban and suburban areas generate more GDP wealth than rural areas, by volume if nothing else, but these are skewed by the government portion of GDP. Would an independent ‘red state’ area have a solid enough economy to maintain its independence? I think it would, but the question should be considered and addressed nonetheless.

      Size limits: not sure that size limits present such a problem with today’s technology, but complexity of population (diversity) rather than its numerical size is maybe the greatest factor that limits effective governance. A more homogenous population is easier to govern than an ethnically or culturally diverse one. I know that we disagree somewhat on how diverse the US was for its first 100 years or so, but we do both agree that the situation is dramatically more heterogenous now and has direct relevance on what sort of culture can dominate the current territory of the United States.

      The Civil War synopsis. Admittedly a very simplistic breakdown of a still-divisive subject. I know the issues were much more complex than I described (the other synopses are also more complicated than described), and my conclusions are debateable, but my major point was that the White Southerners banded together after the war and managed to take their country back to rule it on their own through their devotion to their culture, religion, and traditions. I wanted to show that, even in defeat, a united culture can win out. The particulars of how and why they seceded aren’t important to showcase this fact.

      And I am familiar with most of the factors that led up to the Civil War—though I can see that you have more in-depth knowledge of the subject than I have—but I am one of those people who nevertheless believes that it all boiled down to slavery. Without the divisive issue of slavery the two sides would surely have found compromises on the tariff issue like they did in 1833, and states’ rights issues would not have arisen so fiercely during that time without slavery to incite passions. And I also believe that slavery was an integral part of ante-bellum Southern culture, even for those who didn’t own slaves, and was a system that White society considered essential to maintain for their way of life.

      I’ll have to write a post on the Civil War in the near future so I can define my thoughts on the history and the issues, divided as those thoughts sometimes are. It will be interesting to see more of what you think on the subject.

      Thanks for introducing me to Chronicles; I’d never read it before and find it quite refreshing.

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      • “Complexity of population” may be a better way to put what I mean, but the larger the population the more complex it becomes due to more points of view and geographic seperation leads to cultural and economic differences. The reason a homogenous culture is easier to govern is that it needs less government, government is necessary where the various factions of society have friction. Less friction equals less government, shared fundamental values equals less friction.

        Slavery was an important economic issue in the attempted divorce of ’61, but even without slavery as an issue I doubt any compromise would have been lasting. Abolition wasn’t any more popular in the North than the South; the “Undergroud railroad’ ended in Canada for a reason.. Interestingly, R.E. Lee and Jeff Davis were (somewhat)pro abolition and pro union. The war was fought to answer the question of whether the union was voluntary.

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      • Here’s an interesting site to peruse. Even has letters written during the period.

        http://www.ncwbts150.com/

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