The Great Divorce: Secession, Everywhere By Chris Knight

     The idea of secession, breaking up the nation state into separate ethno-states, or divisions based upon culture and politics, has until now been regarded as a fringe idea. But now, this idea that the nation state is not working has been discussed in mainstream publications such as The New York Magazine:

“Let’s just admit that this arranged marriage isn’t really working anymore, is it? The partisan dynamic in Washington may have changed, but our dysfunctional, codependent relationship is still the same. The midterm results have shown that Democrats have become even more a party of cities and upscale suburbs whose votes are inefficiently packed into dense geographies, Republicans one of exurbs and rural areas overrepresented in the Senate. The new Congress will be more ideologically divided than any before it, according to a scoring system developed by Stanford political scientist Adam Bonica: the Republicans more conservative, the Democrats more liberal. Come January, we are likely to find that we’ve simply shifted to another gear of a perpetual deadlock unlikely to satisfy either side. For the past eight years, there has been no movement toward goals with broad bipartisan support: to fund new infrastructure projects, or for basic gun-control measures like background checks or limits on bump stocks. Divided party control of Capitol Hill will make other advances even less likely. For the near future, the boldest policy proposals are likely to be rollbacks: Democrats angling to revert to a pre-Trump tax code, Republicans to repeal Obama’s health-care law. By December 7, Congress will have to pass spending bills to avoid a government shutdown. Next March looms another deadline to raise the debt ceiling.

Meanwhile, we have discovered that too many of our good-governance guardrails, from avoidance of nepotism to transparency around candidates’ finances, have been affixed by adhesion to norms rather than force of law. The breadth and depth of the dysfunction has even Establishmentarian figures ready to concede that our current system of governance is fatally broken. Some have entertained radical process reforms that would have once been unthinkable. Prominent legal academics on both the left and the right have endorsed proposals to expand the Supreme Court or abolish lifetime tenure for its members, the latter of which has been embraced by Justice Stephen Breyer. Republican senators including Cruz and Mike Lee have pushed to end direct election of senators, which they say strengthens the federal government at the expense of states’ interests.

Policy wonks across the spectrum are starting to rethink the federal compact altogether, allowing local governments to capture previously unforeseen responsibilities. Yuval Levin, a policy adviser close to both Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio, wrote in 2016 that “the absence of easy answers is precisely a reason to empower a multiplicity of problem-solvers throughout our society, rather than hoping that one problem-solver in Washington gets it right.” In a recent book, The New Localism, center-left urbanists Bruce Katz and Jeremy Nowak exalt such local policy innovation specifically as a counterweight to the populism that now dominates national politics across the Americas and Europe. Even if they don’t use the term, states’ rights has become a cause for those on the left hoping to do more than the federal government will. Both Jacobin and The Nation have praised what the latter calls “Progressive Federalism.” San Francisco city attorney Dennis Herrera has called it “the New New Federalism,” a callback to Ronald Reagan’s first-term promise to reduce Washington’s influence over local government. “All of us need to be reminded that the federal government did not create the states; the states created the federal government,” Reagan said in his 1981 inaugural address. At the time, Democrats interpreted New Federalism as high-minded cover for a strategy of dismantling New Deal and Great Society programs. Now they see it as their last best hope for a just society.”

     Support for the Great Divorce is increasing, particularly among younger people:

     Here is a good talk by Paul Joseph Watson, an elegant speaker, who uses the Joker movie to make telling points about the degeneracy of liberal society:

     We traditionalists must refuse to live with the refuse of history anymore: refuse the refuse! Here is an item about the problems that pluralism has created for nations like France:

     There is no contemporary discussion of this issue in Australia. Not so in the past: Western Australia  had a referendum on it in 1933:

“James MacCallum Smith, the proprietor of the local weekly newspaper, The Sunday Times started publishing pro-secessionist articles in 1907 under its editor Alfred T. Chandler. In 1926, Smith, a committed secessionist, and others established the Secession League to provide a public vehicle for advancing the secession cause. Prior to the Great Depression in 1930, the State's major export had been wheat. However, with the depression, wheat prices plummeted and unemployment in Perth reached 30%, creating economic havoc. Also in 1930, Keith Watson founded the Dominion League which advocated secession and the creation of a separate Dominion of Western Australia. The league held numerous rallies and public meetings which tapped into the general discontent brought on by the depression. Smith continued to agitate until the mid-1930s when a syndicate of mainly nationalists purchased the paper's parent company.

Public launch of the Dominion League at His Majesty's Theatre, Perth on 30 July 1930
To counter the pro-secession movement, a Federal League of Western Australia was formed which organised a 'No' campaign. They brought several high-profile people to Western Australia including the Prime Minister Joseph Lyons, Senator George Pearce, and former Prime Minister Billy Hughes for a brief speaking tour of Perth, Fremantle and country centres, but often received hostile receptions. The Federalists argued for a constitutional convention to examine the state's grievances but was unable to counter the grassroots campaign of the Dominion League. The question of holding a constitutional convention was the second question asked in the referendum. On 8 April 1933, Nationalist Premier Sir James Mitchell's government held a referendum on secession alongside the State parliamentary election. The Nationalists had campaigned in favour of secession while the Labor party had campaigned against breaking from the Federation. 68% of the 237,198 voters voted in favour of secession, but at the same time the Nationalists were voted out of office. Only the mining areas, populated by keen Federalists, voted against the move. The new Labor government of Philip Collier sent a delegation to London with the referendum result to petition the British government to effectively overturn the previous Act of Parliament which had allowed for the creation of the Australian Federation. The delegation included the Agent General, Sir Hal Colebatch, Matthew Lewis Moss, James MacCallum Smith, and Keith Watson. They argued as follows:

“Our opponents lay great stress on the words contained in the preamble to the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act:
Have agreed to unite in one indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and under the Constitution hereby established. They emphasise the word "indissoluble". We insist on the equal importance of the rest of the section: "Under the Crown" and "under this Constitution". Will it be contended that if – a highly improbable suggestion – the always loyal Commonwealth of Australia decided to break away from the British Crown and establish a republic, we in Western Australia should still be bound in the "indissoluble Federal Commonwealth? Our contention is that the words "under the Constitution hereby established" are of equal significance, and if we can demonstrate – as we are prepared to do – that in a number of essentials, the Constitution has been violated to our detriment, we are entitled to be relieved from our bargain. The federation is a partnership between six States in which certain guarantees were given and certain safeguards were provided. We can show that these guarantees have been violated – that these safeguards have been swept aside – and so we ask for the annulment of the partnership. After all, what does the word "indissoluble" mean? Remember that it occurs only in the preamble and not in the Act itself. Is any arrangement made in this world indissoluble? Can the rulers of any country 'dressed in a little brief authority', bind the people of that country not merely to the third and fourth generation, but for all time? Is there either justice or common sense in continuing an agreement that is working badly? Is a party to that agreement – after giving it a trial for 35 years and having proved it to be hampering to its industries, destructive to its prosperity and a grave bar to its development – prohibited from seeking relief?” The United Kingdom House of Commons established a select committee to consider the issue but after 18 months of negotiations and lobbying, it finally refused to consider the matter, further declaring that it could not legally grant secession. The delegation returned home empty-handed. As a consequence of the failure of negotiations and of the economic revival, the Secession League gradually lost support and by 1938 had ceased to exist.”

     As usual, Britain hosed things down for the purposes of the smooth functioning of the Australian client state. However, the secession idea arose at various points since 1933, but never gained critical momentum. There was also some interest in secession for Tasmania, and Queensland:

     There is a book on all of this, by Greg Craven, Secession: The Ultimate State’s Rights, (1986), which takes a constitutional law look at how Australia could be unwound. For the mainstream conservative, this idea would be considered poison. But we live in desperate times, something conservatives find hard to take in. Like all Western societies, the country is hopeless divided politically by totally incommensurable values, and democracy simply cannot work. Further, undemocratic immigration, mainly to produce the Great Replacement, has fragmented all Western societies beyond repair. Like hopeless marriages, the cleansing action of a divorce is need. It is better that this comes peacefully rather than from civil war, as seems to be America’s future. I am not predicting civil war for Australia; on the contrary, in this land of the long weekend, it is much more likely for things to simply wither on the vine, so secession may give a dying society a resuscitation. Otherwise is will be sleepwalking to oblivion, on the slow death by a million cuts, business-as-usual scenario.



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