Thursday, March 21, 2019

A Frightening Word

     The great Mike Hendrix posted this morning about a possible secession of upstate New York from the downstate region. It’s a valuable piece largely made up from two other pieces that appeared in the New York Daily News. The first snottily ridicules the idea that upstate New Yorkers would enjoy the results of secession. The second argues the opposite with equal or greater snarkery. Mike’s own pithy contribution:

     As always, arrogant, obnoxious libtards should be very careful what they wish for, lest they get it—good and hard.

     I would be very grateful for such a secession even though I’m stuck on Long Island, which would be joined willy-nilly to the far-Left downstate region. First, it would compel downstaters to pull their heads out of their asses and confront what the political elite of this state has done to us. But second and far more important, it would emphasize to politicians everywhere that subjugation can be resisted – that a sufficient number of freedom-minded persons can and will eventually liberate themselves, regardless of the price.

     Secession is a frightening word to politicians and their hangers-on. The late Joseph Sobran noted that it really means freedom. For the upstate region to separate from the cancer that is New York City would be to free upstaters from the political dominance the Big Apple has exerted over them for many decades. New York City’s many pathologies would no longer burden the upstate region. Neither would the many intrusive and irrational laws the city’s liberal population has forced on the state. And let’s not get started about New York’s taxation, which is driving young Americans out of the state at a record rate.

     I think it as good as guaranteed that the New York political elite will fight any organized drive for a separation into two states. Politicians generally aren’t stupid, regardless of how often they may posture stupidly before a camera. They grasp that power requires subjects, and the more the better. The national political elite will fight a secession drive equally fiercely, as it would provide conservatively inclined Americans with more votes in the Electoral College. Sadly, given the requirements imposed by Article IV, Section 3 of the Constitution:

     New states may be admitted by the Congress into this union; but no new states shall be formed or erected within the jurisdiction of any other state; nor any state be formed by the junction of two or more states, or parts of states, without the consent of the legislatures of the states concerned as well as of the Congress.

     The Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to prejudice any claims of the United States, or of any particular state.

     …the elites are almost guaranteed to prevail. Still, it’s a nice thing to contemplate.

     Laws that impose the interests of some upon the backs of others will always germinate resentment. Hearken to the great Frederic Bastiat:

     As long as it is admitted that the law may be diverted from its true purpose — that it may violate property instead of protecting it — then everyone will want to participate in making the law, either to protect himself against plunder or to use it for plunder. Political questions will always be prejudicial, dominant, and all-absorbing. There will be fighting at the door of the Legislative Palace, and the struggle within will be no less furious. To know this, it is hardly necessary to examine what transpires in the French and English legislatures; merely to understand the issue is to know the answer.

     Is there any need to offer proof that this odious perversion of the law is a perpetual source of hatred and discord; that it tends to destroy society itself? If such proof is needed, look at the United States [in 1850]. There is no country in the world where the law is kept more within its proper domain: the protection of every person's liberty and property. As a consequence of this, there appears to be no country in the world where the social order rests on a firmer foundation. But even in the United States, there are two issues — and only two — that have always endangered the public peace.

     What are these two issues? They are slavery and tariffs. These are the only two issues where, contrary to the general spirit of the republic of the United States, law has assumed the character of a plunderer.

     Slavery is a violation, by law, of liberty. The protective tariff is a violation, by law, of property.

     It is a most remarkable fact that this double legal crime — a sorrowful inheritance from the Old World — should be the only issue which can, and perhaps will, lead to the ruin of the Union. It is indeed impossible to imagine, at the very heart of a society, a more astounding fact than this: The law has come to be an instrument of injustice. And if this fact brings terrible consequences to the United States — where the proper purpose of the law has been perverted only in the instances of slavery and tariffs — what must be the consequences in Europe, where the perversion of the law is a principle; a system?

     Bastiat wrote that in 1850: eleven years before the sundering of the Union over the very subjects he cites above. The rebellion of the South occurred to preserve slavery against the North-based abolitionist movement and to escape the protective tariffs that favored Northern manufactured goods over cheaper imports. A state of affairs much like that which bedevils New York brought about the secession of the Confederate states.

     In composing a tract such as this, it’s absurdly necessary to say explicitly that this is not an argument for slavery or the Confederacy’s desire to preserve it. Rather, it’s an illustration of the sectionalist tensions and enmities that result when one region imposes its interests on another through the law. Quite similar tensions and enmities afflict New York State. The only imaginable solution, given the thoroughgoing corruption of the state’s political class and the unbelievable arrogance of the urban liberals who support them, is secession.

     Should that solution be thwarted, the tensions and enmities will grow. I don’t want to find out what the consequences will be by experiencing them. Far better than we part while an amicable parting is still possible. But don’t expect to hear that from Andrew Cuomo or any of the Democrats who dominate the councils in Albany and New York City.

     One final set of considerations before I close: the borders of the various states often came about because of natural features. In New York’s case, the Great Lakes, the Delaware and Saint Lawrence Rivers, and Lake Champlain were the most important such features. In that spirit, perhaps secession should divide the state along the Hudson River. That would preserve the original concept of the state as mostly naturally bounded, though it would unfortunately leave Albany and its pathologies in the upstate region. That a number of good persons ardent to be free of downstate domination would need to haul stakes, cross the river, and find new homes is also unfortunate, but it would be nicely compensated by the water border, the bridges across which could be dynamited should the downstaters ever get the idea that they could “reunify New York” by force.

     Ah, how pleasant it is to dream…


Linda Fox said...

When I was young, talk of secession seemed to be the last gasp of the dying former Confederacy. Of course, in 1961-1965, we were celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Civil War, and - although the Rebs wore cooler uniforms, the Yankees had the better infrastructure (even that many years later, the South had not fully recovered).

I believe that it starts like this. Some incidents happen, that are not dealt with fairly, but along partisan lines. The more affected live in certain regions, and begin complaining about the inequity.

Rather than address the manifest unfairness of the government actions, they double down, and call us names, too. Not only accuse us of being Evil, but stupid and lazy. They use their power to promote scorn at us, and everyone associated with us.

We start to simmer. Only a few hotheads are talking about secession.

Fast forward several years. Now, they are going after our children, and trying to keep them from participating in economic, social, or religious life. We see them threatened with jail, forced to spend money they don't have to keep their freedom. See that afterward, even though they have "won", they are still penalized for years, strictly to make the point - don't mess with us. We will DESTROY you and all who know you.

Now, the talk starts to heat up. It no longer seems to be unthinkable to separate into two countries - one that wants every institution changed/destroyed, and the other that wants to preserve the rights guaranteed under the Constitution.

But, still not hitting the tipping point. Except that, now, the pro-secession side is getting their message out to the people. And, they are beginning to see that it's not such a wild idea.

It's gonna take more time, and a lot of abuses (or, one truly horrific incident) to reach the tipping point.

I'm going to re-read Gladwell to see what he has to say about those Tipping Points - some of it might spark further comments.

Glenda T Goode said...

I too am a long term resident of the Empire of NY. Our Evil Emperor 'Cuomo the 2nd' has done little if anything to ease the tension between upstate flyover NY and the urban drone capital of NYC.

The secession of upstate from downstate seems a pipe dream but it is being discussed far more seriously today than ever before. Discussions such as these are the result of dissension.

The leadership of the state being primarily from the urban areas does not need to ameliorate the concerns of the minority. We are not any threat to them politically nor can we legislate locally to stop any perceived oppression promulgated upon us. As such, we are not represented in government and cannot be. Essentially the urban majority has a tyrannical hold over us.

It is hard to envision a situation where these divisions would become so profound that violent insurrection would result. While it is not impossible, I expect that the exodus of people from New York State will continue and increase. Eventually this will have a negative effect on the urban areas. By then it will be too late to fix the problem.

You can argue to a great extent that upstate is under the control of downstate and as such are effectively restricted by this rule against our wishes. Being forced to live by someone else's rules against your will is a violation of rights that cannot be denied.

milton f said...

What a wonderful idea! Hope springs eternal that the liberal islands of power one day be cleaved off. When the fallout from their caustic policies are brought home to them, one hopes that they can be converted to becoming real Americans once again.