The daily dose of social turmoil has me looking beyond the “they’re right; they’re wrong” ways of framing the current situation. This applies to most western countries but is particularly acute in the USA. So I read this book with more than a little curiosity.
The political divisions, very broadly defined as left-right, appear to be deep and intractable. While there are more subtle ideological subdivisions, the overall “us vs. them” atmosphere is impossible to ignore. I believe there is no scenario in which one side defeats the other and peaceful relations established. As a peaceful man, I am drawn to ideas that may alleviate the tensions while not calling for the defeat of one side or the other. Enter American Secession.
It seems that this idea may be the only way out of the current deadlock. However, it brings up the most violent episode in American history, the civil war. Fear of that event may be the major barrier to constructive conversations about secession. Fortunately, this is directly addressed in the book and I think successfully.
My only objection to the way the book is presented is with the subtitle. I don’t think it should be “the looming threat…”, but rather “the looming opportunity of a national breakup”.
As with all ideas like secession, it seems extreme at first. I suggest all thinking people read the book and ponder how it might work. Surely it is better than conflict in the streets!
Here is the description of the book on Amazon.
Americans have never been more divided, and we’re ripe for a breakup. The bitter partisan animosities, the legislative gridlock, the growing acceptance of violence in the name of political virtue―it all invites us to think that we’d be happier were we two different countries. In all the ways that matter, save for the naked force of law, we are already two nations. There’s another reason why secession beckons, says F.H. Buckley: we’re too big. In population and area, the United States is one of the biggest countries in the world, and American Secession provides data showing that smaller countries are happier and less corrupt. They’re less inclined to throw their weight around militarily, and they’re freer too. There are advantages to bigness, certainly, but the costs exceed the benefits. On many counts, bigness is badness.
Across the world, large countries are staring down secession movements. Many have already split apart. Do we imagine that we, almost alone in the world, are immune? We had a civil war to prevent a secession, and we’re tempted to see that terrible precedent as proof against another effort. This book explodes that comforting belief and shows just how easy it would be for a state to exit the Union if that’s what its voters wanted.
But if that isn’t what we really want, Buckley proposes another option, a kind of Secession Lite, that could heal our divisions while allowing us to keep our identity as Americans.