Secession? Nullification? A second Civil War in the presently not-so United States of America? According to a historic and highly fascinating Abbeville Institute event that took place November 9 and 10, 2018 in Dallas, Texas, a number of influential American thinkers, political figures and activists gathered to discuss how peaceful secession and nullification could very well be one of the most important ways that Americans in the near future could potentially thrive. And despite the efforts of some, like Think Progress (who had a supposed reporter by the name of Casey Michel visiting the event to lend their own predictable spin of distortions and omissions regarding the discussion), modern-day peaceful secession efforts could very well truly represent one of the ways to preserve our unique cultures and defuse the hostility and violence amongst different people groups.

As someone who has been involved in the secession and nullification movement (on both the left and the right) since around 2010, the conference was an event I personally couldn’t miss. Driving the 10+ hour trip to Dallas on Friday, opting to traverse the backroads through small towns, passing through the already somewhat seceded communities of native Americans in Oklahoma, and witnessing the flavor of life scattered throughout the hills and plains of the Midwest, I couldn’t help but be thoughtfully impressed by the diversity of people that I encountered. Men, women, old, young. Black, White, Asian, Hispanic, Native American. Many areas could readily be seen as being predominantly Christian, with signs proclaiming the sanctity of life, or where one’s eternal destination might lay. But on the flip side in other more “progressive” urban areas, I could also see the glaring evidence of an unfortunate and obvious animosity between those who clearly don’t share the same views as their more conservative neighbors.

Of course, as we’ve all doubtless seen, our United States is just not that “united” anymore. Perhaps it never was. But with outbreaks of violence erupting across the nation, and a Cold Civil War of words, propaganda, elite news agencies, politicians and brother vs. brother views that best not be shared at family gatherings (lest angry words be exchanged and family members are forever snubbed for their right or left leanings), we ALL know something is wrong. But truthfully, for all of us whether on the left or the right, we just want to live in peace and stop having views we don’t like crammed down our throats.

Enter peaceful secession and nullification. Dr. Donald Livingston, founder of the Abbeville Institute, noted that in 1991, 15 states peacefully seceded from the Soviet Union and the world applauded. In Canada, Quebec nearly seceded in 1995, Scottish secession was narrowly defeated in 2014, Catalonian secession was voted on in 2017 and Brexit (the secession of England from the European Union) continues to be an important topic of discussion. “For over 2000 years, most governmental bodies were not much larger than the Athens city state. But since the French Revolution, governments have adopted attitudes of ‘monster states’.” The thought was that in America, new states or even city states – like Cantons in Switzerland – would be carved out of secession from older states. Says Thomas Jefferson to Dr. Joseph Priestley in January of 1804, Whether we remain in one confederacy, or form into Atlantic and Mississippi confederacies, I believe not very important to the happiness of either part. Those of the Western confederacy will be as much our children and descendents as those of the Eastern, and I feel myself as much identified with that country, in future time, as with this: and did I now foresee a separation at some future day, yet I should feel the duty and the desire to promote the Western interests as zealously as the Eastern, doing all the good for both portions of our future family which should fall within my power.

Allen Mendenhall, Associate Dean and Executive Director of the Blackstone Center for Law and Liberty at Faulkner University Thomas Goode Jones School of Law noted how we are all trying to find and develop a place we want to live in. Perhaps the fighting can be defused through decentralization. Not only are decentralized systems more responsive and efficient, but they invite participation and more of a sense of community. “People don’t respond to abstractions. They don’t enjoy wine by thinking about it, but through tasting and experiencing it.” Mendenhall explained in regards to community and political systems. “We think about our immediate families, communities, and how we might achieve victories through these. Not through faraway, abstract notions of government or televangelists. But through familiar spaces we all can participate in, experience and help shape.”

Jeff Deist, President of the Mises Institute, an advocate and writer for property, markets, and civil society; Kirkpatrick Sale, a left leaning anti-globalist who is the author of Human Scale Revisited: A New Look at the Classic Case for a Decentralist Future; Michael Boldin, Founder and executive director of the Tenth Amendment Center, an organization who has helped launch the concept of nullification into more mainstream political thought in America; and Dan Fisher, a former member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives who ran for Governor of Oklahoma on a State Sovereignty platform were also on hand to speak, discuss and answer questions regarding the issues of secession and the future of America.

Attending the event were around 100 individuals comprised of university instructors, medical and technology professionals, historians, young people and more. Numerous questions were asked about strategies in elevating this important discussion, as well as how active participants in decentralization might move forward in the coming years. Talking with many attendees afterwards, the event clearly exceeded expectations, and was an amazing opportunity to network and form friendships with others on both the left and right who are concerned about our society moving forward. Later that evening, a number of individuals had the honor of sitting down with Dr. Livingston, and sharing a meal with this titan of modern American philosophical thought. The discussion ranged from Tolkien and themes of Industrialization and Agrarianism in the Lord of the Rings, to how language impacts the perception of ideas.

As Marcus Ruiz Evans, a more left-wing founder of the California Secession Movement “Yes California” noted (and who was conveniently and entirely omitted by the Think Progress report of the event at the time of writing this article), “We can’t sit on the sidelines. This isn’t a left or right problem. This an everyone problem!” Ruiz, who claims around 43,000 people support Yes California (also known as Calexit), with around 1/3 of Californians in general supporting secession, noted that the group often oddly gets side lined by the mainstream media. “But even if we may not agree,” Ruiz states, “we can support YOUR RIGHT – irregardless of left or right – to have your own community. We should be proud of who we are, and be able to live in peace.” Amen to that.

Note: I’d like to extend a special thanks to Dr. Donald Livingston and the Abbeville Institute, as well as all the speakers who delivered such thought provoking messages on this timely and important topic. Thank YOU all!

Matthew Silber

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