Readers may know that I dislike most of what the central government does, favor states’ rights and do not shy away from correcting widespread Yankee revisionist history about the origins and purposes of the
Civil War War of Northern Aggression. That having been said, I am among those who look upon that pitiful history of our country and learn the lessons it offers us. Among them is this; neither peaceable or armed rebellion against this government has a reasonable chance of succeeding.
These are not the only considerations, of course. We can look to Thomas Aquinas for some guidance on the question of just war. It seems to me the motives could be just. For example, I find many of the policies of the central government to be immoral and dangerous. The fears of the founders have come true; the government they constructed is increasingly hostile towards the citizens it exists primarily to protect. This is the nature of governments. They understood it. Either we do not, or, as I think is more likely, we do, and we simply want it to be ‘our’ government that we wield against them. This is basically the argument of the Republicans now. The Democrats have long since stopped pretending they didn’t want a all-power state a la Mao or Stalin.
In theory there could be a peaceable secession. This would satisfy Thomas’ “means” question. However, it seems to me the War Between the States already proved that our central government will not tolerate secession. Instead of being seen as a bloodthirsty tyrant who would eagerly kill innocent women and children to protect the artificial political state voluntarily joined by the individual states, Lincoln is routinely seen as a hero. I suppose one day Obama will be lauded similarly. So dreaming of peaceable secession is out of the question.
We then have to ask, if we have both a legitimate cause, and acceptable means, whether the situation that would result would be better than the one we have now. I believe most of the rebels and revolutionaries today assume that it must be. They would be mistaken of course. Most everyone assumed Iraq would be better off without Saddam. Look how that turned out. For that matter, many of my associates couldn’t wait until Clinton left office. I wish we had him now. Sometimes you really are better with the devil you know.
But granting for now that any new government would be less hostile, we’re left with the all important question of whether or not the endeavor has a reasonable chance of succeeding.
Many on the right see themselves as latter-day Revolutionary War patriots. It’s a pleasant delusion. I often times see myself as a martyr. It’s a way to pleasure our egos while denying the reality of the situation. Those on the right will tell me they’re fighting for
God, or for the restoration of the Republic, or for liberty, or lower taxes, or whatever. They usually don’t really know and can’t define it well enough to sell it. After all, the founders weren’t establishing a government pledged to recognizing the sovereignty of God and to carry out His will; they explicitly created a government which denied that all-important truth. You know, the whole, ‘build your house on sand‘ approach. Presumably the southern and western WASPs who would lead this rebellion and form the new government would similarly embrace “religious liberty”, also known as, the ‘freedom to drown in my own error’.
These well meaning ‘patriots’ think that a little insurrection will, I guess, cause Washington to suddenly fear the citizens and just let all the states walk away from $100 trillion in liabilities. Presumably the remaining, oh, let’s say 35 states would happily pick up that tab, while the rebels start fresh.
John Whitehead writes, in support of the notion that things are going to change quickly:
Those tempted to write off the standoff at the Bundy Ranch as little more than a show of force by militia-minded citizens would do well to reconsider their easy dismissal of this brewing rebellion. This goes far beyond concerns about grazing rights or the tension between the state and the federal government.
Few conflicts are ever black and white, and the Bundy situation, with its abundance of gray areas, is no exception. Yet the question is not whether Cliven Bundy and his supporters are domestic terrorists, as Harry Reid claims, or patriots, or something in between. Nor is it a question of whether the Nevada rancher is illegally grazing his cattle on federal land or whether that land should rightfully belong to the government. Nor is it even a question of who’s winning the showdown because if such altercations end in bloodshed, everyone loses.
What we’re really faced with, and what we’ll see more of before long, is a growing dissatisfaction with the government and its heavy-handed tactics by people who are tired of being used and abused and are ready to say “enough is enough.” As I show in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, there’s a subtext to this incident that must not be ignored, and it is simply this: America is a pressure cooker with no steam valve, and things are about to blow.
The government has been anticipating and preparing for such an uprising for years. For example, in 2008, a U.S. Army War College report warned that the military must be prepared for a “violent, strategic dislocation inside the United States,” which could be provoked by “unforeseen economic collapse,” “purposeful domestic resistance,” “pervasive public health emergencies” or “loss of functioning political and legal order”—all related to dissent and protests over America’s economic and political disarray.
It’s an interesting read. But consider the central government response to Clive Bundy, and put it in context. This was a disagreement over $1MM in taxes, some land and cattle. Not a big deal in their world. It went badly for reasons I’ve already explained, and which shouldn’t be interpreted as a sign of weakness. How would Washington respond if the new confederacy announced its intentions of separating? I think we know how Obama would react. It’s pretty simple to imagine how Chris Christie or Hillary/Biden would act. With Rand Paul, who knows.
Mr. Whitehead therefore challenges you and I to answer for ourselves as to whether or not we’re rebels, revolutionaries or slaves. I answer by saying, “Well, I plan on being an expat“.