“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.” So begins the Declaration of Independence, that remarkable document which charted the course of independence of thirteen British colonies. Are the truths of this declaration as applicable today as they were 241 years ago? The necessity of dissolving political bands? God’s grant of political autonomy? If they are truths, and I believe they are, they are timeless, as relevant today as they were then. Yet, this declaration of dissolution, of separation, of secession led to war!
Fast forward 85 years (1861) when seven states of the United States of America chose to dissolve their political bands, to separate, to secede. This also led to war, the War Between the States. (Or the “Civil War” as it is mistakenly referred.) “Piziali,” you say, “each of these secessions led to war, yet you are arguing that secession prevents war?” Yes. Let’s see why.
What Defines Society?
A society may be very small or very large, a family, neighborhood, city, county, state or country. What unifies each of these? What binds the members together? The traditional family—husband, wife and children—is bound by marriage and by blood. Yet, they are also bound by the same things that knit together larger societies: language, culture and values. These characteristics enable peaceful relations among people in the absence of laws defining every minutia of human interaction. What happens though when the members of a society become numerous and their lands become large?
Those very things that bind together the society—language, culture and values—begin to diverge. I recall driving from Wichita Falls to Ft. Lauderdale as an 18-year old airman on leave, stopping for gas in some Louisiana bayou. When I walked back to the shack to pay my bill, I couldn’t understand a word the proprietor spoke. Our only common language was green paper! Yet, he would claim he spoke English and I, the Yankee that I was, would claim the same. Our language had diverged. How about culture?
Anyone who was “not born in Texas but got here as fast as I could” will testify to the cultural identity of Texas. Check out the chapter “Distinct Culture” in Daniel Miller’s excellent book Line in the Sand. And it’s the same throughout the world. Geographic distance creates cultural diversity. What about values?
It may be argued that values contribute to culture but they are a distinct characteristic. Integrity. Honesty. Fidelity. Work ethic. Each is a value that men and women have: some more, some less. Who can argue these are the same the world over, or even in all the states? Again, relational distance leads to diverse values. If the glue of society—language, culture and values—diverge as a society grows, how do we maintain peace?
Secession Means Peace
Peaceful relations among men, where you are free to do whatever you choose so long as you do not violate the person, property or contractual obligation of another, can only exist in a cohesive society. A cohesive society shares common language, culture and values. When those are no longer shared, division results. Consider progressive states and cities willfully ignoring federal immigration law, mayors ordering their police departments to cease enforcing laws against violence and property destruction, universities selectively allowing the exercise of First Amendment rights. And, on it goes. In the post-Obama era, division across these “United States” is rampant. This is not only a consequence of eight years of progressive, humanist leadership, but also a consequence of natural societal diversification as society grows.
We have been witnessing the solution to this destabilization since the end of World War II: political autonomy. As a measure of the number of sovereign nations in the world, consider United Nations membership. In 1945 there were 51 member countries of the U.N. Today there are 191! As each country found itself embroiled with discord, secession (the intentional dissolution of political bands) prevented conflict. The most prolific (re-)creation of new countries followed the collapse of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.).