Catalonia Secession Updates

About a year ago I wrote something about the prospect of Catalonian Independence and a growing trend towards secession and political devolution in the world.   The regional parliament of Catalonia (in Spain – think Barcelona) has decided on putting out a referendum on November 9, 2014 where they ask two questions:   “Do you want Catalonia to be a state?” and “Should that state be independent?”.    A vote of yes and yes doesn’t mean that Catalonia would split away over night, but it would probably really get the ball rolling.

For what it’s worth, the government in Madrid has pretty much dismissed the motion by calling it unconstitutional and saying that the vote won’t be held…but some Catalonians are asking how can they stop it?   Send in the police or military?

Spain ‘won’t have enough tanks’: Catalonia to vote on independence , defy Madrid  

The article above briefly tackles that question by bringing up the fact that the Spanish military has been so scaled down that they don’t have the teeth in Madrid to put them down if they wanted to.    The poor economic climate and ineffective government that leads to weak institutions plays a large part in bringing about these kind of secessionist sentiments, so that’s kind of a double whammy.    We’ll see what happens between now and then.   As of right now, it sounds like la gente in Catalonia are about evenly split on the issue.

…and in another update   Separatist Spirit:   Catalonia Ditches Spanish King’s Christmas Speech

Catalonian public television decided to not air the King’s Christmas speech this year.   They say it was a brief worker’s strike to protest budget cuts and outsourcing and there’s probably truth to that.   The station said it was unrelated to the independence movement but it sounds like too much of a coincidence to not have anti-central government sentiments too it.    I can’t think of a direct apples-to-apples comparison, but this situation would be kind of similar to major TV networks in Texas (or any state) deciding to not play Obama’s State of the Union Address or something in response to something from Washington.   Kind of a bold statement, really.

Again, we’ll see what happens.    I don’t think Spain as we know is going to unravel this year or next or anything, but it’s interesting to watch the developments as things stay rough over there.   I recently met a guy that moved to Spain from Argentina after Argentina’s economic collapse and just moved from Spain to the US due to economic reasons, I should talk to him a little bit about the situation in Spain and his experiences.

Secession: How Vermont and All The Other States Can Save Themselves From The Empire by Thomas Naylor

When the topic of secession came up in the immediate aftermath of the 2012 presidential election most people associated those sentiments with the southern states, “tea baggers”, republicans in the Western States, angry conservative white men, racist rednecks, survivalists or any combination of those demographics.    Most people would be surprised to know that liberal-leaning Vermont is actually the state with the most viable secession movement in the United States.

This book is more of a manifesto than a real brass-tacks book on secession and I have to admit that author Thomas Naylor lays out a pretty good case for Vermont jumping ship. He starts off by outlining some of the looming problems facing the United States such as foreign policy blunders, peak oil, globalization, the culture of consumption, environmental problems, dwindling democracy and the high potential for an economic crisis.    The book concludes with a Q & A format on some of the technical issues of secession.

While Vermont is currently economically and politically at the low end of America’s totem pole, Naylor argues that Vermont’s smallness is exactly what would make Vermont successful as a sovereign nation.   There’s currently a culture of self-reliance intertwined with a localized communitarian spirit in Vermont that would allow them to adopt to the kind of scaled down economy envisioned in James Howard Kunstler’s World Made By Hand (Kunstler is even referenced in this book) – Naylor describes parts of Vermont that don’t seem like they’re too far away from already living like that.     Naylor also makes a case that globalization has been particularly damaging to Vermont and being able to control their own economic policies rather than those of Washington might be beneficial to Vermont.

The book describes Vermont and being socially and politically out of step with Washington and mainstream American society.   I believe it’s the only state with an independent congressman and the style of democracy preferred in Vermont tends to be at the local level (i.e. the annual town meeting day tradition) and highly populist.

His take on foreign policy is interesting – he dedicates a few pages to the Vermont Air National Guard’s F-16s and how it would be nice to have those gone.   I thought this was kind of funny because in my own state of Iowa they were talking about shutting down an ANG fighter wing and apparently the governor or a senator or someone worked out a deal to get a drone base to replace the F-16s and keep those jobs around.   Anyways, Naylor makes a case that current American foreign policy is detrimental to Vermont in terms of dollars, blood and goodwill and that if Vermont was a sovereign nation, no one would want to come harm them anyway.

He brings up a point that if states like Alaska or Hawaii (which have secessionist tendencies, of course) wanted to leave the union, the federal government wouldn’t take it lightly due to their strategic importance.   Vermont on the other hand has very little economic importance and definitely no strategic importance, so they might actually take it a little better.   Who knows?

The subtitle is “How Vermont and All The Other States Can Save Themselves From The Empire”.  What’s implied by this is that bold action from a state like Vermont could force the rest of the United States into some deep soul-searching on the way we’ve been doing business.    I certainly agree that what this country needs is a lot more decentralization one way or another.

As far as the book itself goes, I have to say I felt a little cheated by the price.  I think I paid $9 and some change for a download for 1200 lines and most of it was opinion.   I think a lower price would be a little more reasonable, but if you’re interested in the topic of secession it does give some great food for thought on the subject.     It’s a good read, but I can see how someone would feel a little let down by the price for someone’s manifesto.

I also have to say that the author did a great job of portraying Vermont’s uniqueness.   I’ve never been there or anywhere near there, but he does make it out to be a part of the country with a very distinct culture, history and way of life.    Oh, I also got a chuckle out of the author basically calling Ben and Jerry sellouts.   I’ll still destroy a pint of “Everything But The…” every now and then, but yeah, they totally sold out.

 

The Nine Nations of North America by Joel Garreau

 

 

I post a lot about topics like regionalism, devolution, localism and secession and I think this is a very important book that inadvertently covers these topics.   At the very least it’s a good book to help understand the United States and how un-monolithic it really is.

This book was written in 1981 (which was the same year I was born) and is amazingly relevant, despite how much has happened since then.   It covers topics like the uncertainty of the sun belt’s future, the decline of the rust belt, ethanol subsidies in the Midwest, the growth of cottage industries in New England, some American cities being important Latin American cities and many other little things that have come to pass or are coming to pass now.    Being a geography aficionado and having known of this book for a while, I can’t believe I hadn’t read it up until now.

When we look at the world around us, we tend to look at it in terms of political units like states and countries.   Even regions are usually thought of as a grouping of states.  Garreau’s book completely ignores political boundaries and looks at culture, economic activity and the environment to define regions.     These are the things that really make where we live what they are.

Take Illinois for example… Sure it’s one political unit, but there are more or less three different regions within the state.  Chicago is in “the foundry”, which is an area defined by heavy manufacturing, being urban and high concentration of non-WASPs.    The central part of the state is part of the “breadbasket”, defined by agriculture being the dominant business, mild-mannered culture and being mostly rural.  The southern part of the state (along with Southern Indiana) is considered part of Dixie, where people tend to be culturally, economically and politically intertwined with the South.   I remember a guy I went to boot camp with from somewhere way down south in Illinois who had a very thick southern accent and we all thought it was funny he was from the same state as Chicago.  If you look at a map, the southern tip of Illinois really isn’t far from Mississippi as the crow flies.

The book kept my attention, but some parts of it seemed unnecessary and almost like an uninspiring travel write-up.   I’ll admit I skimmed through some of these parts to get to the meat and potatoes.     I understood some of the anecdotal stories as being representative of the regions, but some really did seem disconnected from the book

Another interesting aspect of the book is that he doesn’t stop at international borders.   Canada is just as disjointed as we are and the author points out that someone in say, Hamilton, Ontario probably has more in common with someone in Erie, PA than they do with a fellow Canadian in Ville de Quebec, St. John’s, Vancouver or Saskatoon.   I know that occasionally Canadians like to pretend that they come from a completely different planet as the United States, but there are a lot of close regional connections between our two countries.   I know I’ve met people from Ontario while in Europe there’s kind of an unspecified acknowledgement that we both come from the same kind of place.

In a way the book was actually kind of optimistic in the way it recognized the regions’ strengths.   New England may be poor, but it’s completely bought and paid for and well-suited for an energy crisis.   The Islands and MexAmerica are very important economic hubs for all of Latin America.  The Breadbasket feeds the world.  Ecotopia is well-suited for trade with the Pacific Rim and ahead of the game on environmental/urban planning issues.   I forgot what he said was promising about Dixie or the Foundry, but I guess I can come up with a few things from my own thinking.

At any rate, this book (or at least just looking at the idea of the book) is a good one for seeing the world a little differently than most people do.   When you understand the idea that political borders are often arbitrary, some things become a little more clear in the world.

 

Suburbs “Secede” from Atlanta

 Suburbs Secede From Atlanta

I heard about this story the other day and figured I’d post it because it’s a microcosm of where I see things going and in a way it’s kind of hopeful because it shows that you don’t always have to sink the ship/leave with the girl you came to the dance with, etc.

The TL;DR version:   The city of Atlanta has a lot of problems ranging from the omnipresent municipal debt problems, corruption and the real possibility of the public school system losing accreditation.   I’ve never heard of that happening before to a public school system, so that has to be bad.   Bucking the trend against larger cities incorporating smaller ones, many communities within the Atlanta area have begun to incorporate themselves as new cities in order to get away from Atlanta’s problems and have apparently been successful so far.   Oh, and there’s been a handful of accusations of racism for good measure.

An anonymous “key leader” in the black community (side note: who knows what this actually means.  Could be a city councilman with a bit of pull or it could be some random self-aggrandizing asshole with no pull)  who wants to file a lawsuit against the new cities made the following statement:

“So when you allow powerful groups of citizens to opt out of a social contract, and form their own, it may benefit the group opting out, but it hurts the larger collective,”

It’s also mentioned that the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus was upset over this and tried to bring the cities back into Atlanta’s orbit via a lawsuit in 2011 because the “super-white” cities diluted the voting power of black voters in Atlanta.   To me it seems like it would be just the opposite but what do I know, I’ve never been voted into office.
So the municipal government and some “city leaders” are pissed off because some of the city’s more affluent former residents aren’t happy with being forced to pay for mismanagement that they (largely) didn’t ask for as well as being politically subordinate to a voting bloc that as the GLBC suggests doesn’t vote in their interests.      Now there’s a lot of crying and yelling “they can’t do that!” even though they just did.
I really hope to see more of this throughout the country.   This allows people who feel they’re being mistreated to take greater control over their affairs and it forces the people doing the mistreating to cope without the people they’re mistreating.   We’ve had “bigger is better” engrained into us over the past few generations and maybe that’s not the case when it comes to these things.   Being a handful of different cities doesn’t mean that the people in the suburbs can’t work, shop or entertain themselves in Atlanta and vise-versa.   All it means is that everyone gets a little more responsive local government.
Sure it sucks for the people of Atlanta, but you have to draw the line somewhere.

 

Virginia Considering A State Currency

 

We’re not immune from the consequences of human behavior,” Marshall said. “At some point there is going to be a dollar that breaks the camel’s back.”

 

The Latest Lunacy:   Virginia Considering It’s Own Currency

Virginia Advances Bill Pushing for State To Establish Its Own Currency

 

 

Today at the gym I saw a headline on FOX News about Virginia looking to come up with a state currency over fears of the dollar crashing.   Naturally this sort of thing piqued my interest and I looked it up as soon as I got home.  It looks like Robert Marshall of the Virginia House of Delegates proposed this bill, which is gaining traction.    I’m not sure if he’s explicitly calling for a gold standard or if that’s just what’s implied.   I know a handful of other states have made similar propositions in the past few years.

The author of the US News opinion piece, Susan Milligan, basically argues that we haven’t seen inflation like some other countries, so a state currency is uncalled for.   She also incorrectly states the government’s official position that inflation is only a few percentage points, which doesn’t factor in food or fuel.  She admits that there are reasons to be concerned with the strength of the dollar, but states that it’s currently the world’s dominant currency.   This is certainly true, but if there are concerns about the dollar’s future, why not have a plan B in place?  It’s easier to work something like this out when everything is running smoothly rather than trying to put the pieces together after it’s already needed.   Proactive > Reactive, Susan.

She also states that while fiscal responsibility is a worthwhile goal, a new currency is not the answer.   I think that a competing currency is as good of an answer as any.   They just had a huge debate in Washington over our deficit and the only thing they came up with is that they’re going to make some insignificant cuts to the budget sometime later down the road.   They’re still planning on that 16 trillion (and growing!) debt going away through all this economic growth that we’re all waiting for.   At this point it seems completely Pollyanna-ish to think that any kind of solution is going to come out of Washington, so why not take every opportunity to diverge ourselves from their shipwreck?   If only everyone was represented by politicians who were willing to think a few steps ahead and bring up some uncomfortable topics, we might not be in the kind of mess we’re looking at.

The currency would compete side-by-side with the US dollar in Virginia.    Because the dollar is the dominate currency of the world, I’m sure it would be dominate in Virginia as well but it would give Virginians (and anybody else, really) more choices to pick how they want to do commerce or receive compensation.      I would also suspect that a local currency would help keep a lot of Virginia’s commerce close to home and help keep money within local communities.  If no one is in to it, it will fail.   If they are, it will secede, or, uh, succeed.   Freudian slip, perhaps?

At any rate, I think the real lunacy is the idea that the dollar is invincible and that there will never come a day when we need something else.

On a side note, I think it’s kind of funny how an alternative currency like Ithaca Hours are viewed as quaint community-builders but as soon as a Republican backs a currency and/or “gold” is mentioned, it’s a wacky idea at best and a treacherous strike right at the heart of America at the worst even though they both basically work on the same idea.   Alternative currencies are in the eye of the beholder, I guess.

 

 

 

White House Responds to Secession Petitions

Daily Kos:  White House Responds:  No Secession Today Boys

 

 

 

In States Filing Petitions for Secession I wrote about how virtually every state had a Whitehouse.gov petition for secession.  I said that internet petitions are usually exercises in futility, but sometimes they can force someone to take a few minutes out of their day to address it.   If a petition on Whitehouse.gov gets enough signatures, by policy they have to respond to it and the Obama administration just did that this week.

He said basically everything you would expect.  Honestly, it wasn’t a bad response.   “Boy, we sure do have a lot of differences, but let’s work together!”, along with mentioning that secession is illegal and bringing up the fact that 600,000 Americans died the last time secession was tried.   I’m sure someone out there took that as a subtle threat.

Just like last time I posted about secession, I don’t really think there’s anything going on at the moment but I think it’s something we’ll hear a lot more of in the next 10 years for some of the reasons laid out in The 2012 Election and The Elephant Outside The Room

I think Daily Kos is a joke, but I linked to their article for a reason.   Reading the comments and the tone they take with the people signing the petitions says a lot about how divided we are as a country.   Very few people are talking about how to reconcile the wishes of red states to be red as the country around them becomes increasingly blue.   Instead of  asking questions like “how do we allow conservatives in North Dakota to live the way they want without dictating it to liberals in New York City?”, there’s a lot of ridicule, name calling, and expecting people to just “deal with it”.     If the people/places signing the petitions are so fucked up, why are these people so ardent about keeping them in the union?  You would think they would fall all over themselves to help the “teabaggers” go off on their own.  It is notable that the people signing the secession petitions aren’t asking the other states to do anything special beyond let them go their own way.     The more I read and see the less likely I think this country will remain “indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”.    In the meantime, I’ll just continue to do my own personal form of secession from all of the bullshit they put on the news every day.  I’m more interested in insulating myself from other people’s bad choices than arguing with them why they’re wrong anymore.

 

Patrick Buchanan on Secession

Stirrings of Secession

“The West is decomposing”

There’s not really anything new here that wasn’t brought up in States Filing Petitions For Secession or sentiments that haven’t ever been expressed by Patrick Buchanan before, but I wanted to share it.   In a nutshell,  Buchanan writes about how fragmented American society has become and brings up the historical precedent for secession in this article.   He even mentions the situation in Catalonia and other places around Europe flirting with the idea of secession.     I got a chuckle out of the tongue-in-cheek line about how Super Bowl Sunday has become the one holy day that everyone can agree upon in America.

Anyways, it’s an article worth reading for those of you who have been following the secession thing.    Even though I think most of the coverage of it is based around generating some shocking headlines, I’m still surprised that this idea is getting bounced around in mainstream circles and PJB is getting a little more explicit about it.

Ron Paul Talks About Secession

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhQ31b_dbnM

 

Well, this is interesting.   Looks like the media went to Dr. Paul to get his response on the subject of secession and he responds with a brief video, where he brings up a few good points.    He brings up the fact that Wilson took us into World War I in part for other nations’ right to self-determination (remember the difference between “nation” and “state”) and that we high-fived each other when the former Soviet republics seceeded, thinking that self-determination was good for the people in those places.    Then there’s the fact that we were founded by secessionists – the early colonialists saw themselves as English subjects right up until the point when they decided to secede.

Dr. Paul also brings up the idea that there’s going to be a lot more talk like this as the Federal government gets worse off financially.   Are things like social security, government payouts, etc, keeping everything together?   I think these objections are the ones that come up more often than “No, we’re really one big happy country and we can work everything out!”

Either way, it’s kind of interesting.   I figured this issue would be a one or two day story (for now), but it seems to keep going…

70,000 Signatures For Texas Secession

http://rt.com/usa/news/white-house-texas-secede-612/

So I just saw RT post an article stating that the petition for Texas to leave the union has received enough signatures to merit an official response from Obama.   I still don’t think there’s anything tangible to this at the moment, but I think it’s kind of cool that he has to address it (if that is the case).   Obama’s response will be something along the lines of “yeah, we’re a divided nation but we need to start healing and coming together as Americans” and that’s about it, which is about all it merits at this point.

Either way, I just thought it was an interesting update to some of the things I’ve been posting about lately in The 2012 Election and the Elephant Outside The Room and last night’s posting about the petitions.

 

States Filing Petitions for Secession

Uh-oh…

Rash of Petitions to Secede

Ok, really there’s not much tangible to this.  A lot of people made up internet petitions for their states to secede peacefully from the union.    The internet petition is probably the most futile and ineffective form of civil engagement out there I can think of.    Despite my lack of faith in internet petitions, I think there is something to this in that the concept of secession has hit the mainstream (the article is from Yahoo and I’ve seen a few things floating around Facebook) and people are talking about it one way or another, even if it is for the idea’s few moments before folks become distracted by something else.   I’m sure the media is running with this one just to have a shocking headline to grab people in rather than actually believing there’s a ton of substance to it.

I do think it’s funny that I posted The 2012 Election and the Elephant Outside the Room the other day and predicted that we’ll see talk of states splitting up by 2016 and viable state secession movements by the 2020 election and it’s already in the mainstream media.   I’m not suggesting that my article had anything to do with the one in the mainstream media by any stroke of imagination, but I’m just commenting on the fact that it didn’t take long to start having the “s” word thrown around in public discourse.   Again, I think there’s not a lot of substance to the article but I’m surprised by how quickly the subject has hit the mainstream.   Maybe my guesses as far as time frame might come a little sooner?    We’ll see.

I see that the Texas petition has something like 23,000 signatures but they’ve always had something of a secessionist movement down there.   I remember driving into Texas on I-35 and being greeted by a billboard from one of the secessionist groups down there.  I’ve heard of a group in South Carolina that wants to create an evangelical Christian republican down there and naturally there’s still some secessionist attitudes floating around the rest of the southern states.   A few western states have petitions and movements, which isn’t too surprising either.   The Iowa one had about a dozen signatures when I saw it a few hours ago.


 

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