Posted by Lexington Green on November 9th, 2004 (All posts by Lexington Green)
Instapundit had this post, and Nito posted these maps in response. The basic idea is that the Blue Staters are so horrified about living under the rule of George Bush that they want to break the USA into pieces and form their own country. Of course, they are just venting.
The core strength of “liberal” America resides in the descendants of Yankee puritans, a memetic “Greater New England” that sprang from the Yankee diaspora which settled the Northern tier of the country. These folks have been living uneasily with their fellow Americans for over 350 years. They have been trying to reform the rest of us for our own good the whole time: Revolution, abolition, prohibition, civil rights, environmentalism … . Sometimes they are even right, as much as I hate to admit it. Look at a picture of Cotton Mather, or Susan B. Anthony, or any eat-your-peas liberal do-gooder. The eyes: sad at the foolishness and injustice of the world — the mouth, a mirthless line — and the jaw, set in determination to rectify the world’s wrongs and smite its wrongdoers. Those Yankees, genetic or memetic, are the core of the “progressive” element in American life, and they have been for centuries, and they’ll never change.
Still, even though secession is not seriously on the table, it is interesting that the immediate impulse of the embittered defeated party in 2004 was to think about rearranging territory, not tearing up the Constitution and forming a Second Republic.
This all has an Anglospheric dimension to it. Jim Bennett in his new book reiterates a theme he has written about repeatedly. Anglospheric political struggles tend not to aim at regime change, ala the French, who are now on their Fifth Republic since 1789. Rather, Anglospheric Constitutional struggles end up being “compositional struggles” leading to attempted or successful secessions with territorial division being the outcome. A big issue in the 18th century was about the composition of Britain, and the Act of Union of 1707 (uniting England and Scotland) led to two wars in 1715 and 1745 before Scotland was firmly embedded in a “United Kingdom”. Our own Revolution of 1776, of revered memory, was similarly a matter of territorial composition and secession, much less about Constitutional values. The Americans claimed to be fighting for their rights as free-born Englishmen, after all. In 19th Century America the big question was: Will the slave states have their own country or not? They rolled the dice and lost. A tumultuous issue in 19th Century Britain was Irish Home Rule. This vexatious problem was resolved, incompletely, by civil war and secession. The peaceful devolution of rule to Canada, Australia and New Zealand was due in part to the painful lessons of 1776 et seq.
A large part of the success story of the Anglosphere has been the ability of its communities to maintain their cultural, economic and military ties while reconfiguring the territorial elements. These reconfigurations have, to an unusual degree, been peaceful and lawful. Where violence did occur it has usually come at the end of protracted efforts to compromise and work out differences peacefully. And once a conflict has ended there have always been strong constituencies pushing to restore the many ties of civil society relatively rapidly in the aftermath. The strands of civil society, across the Atlantic, and even across the Irish Sea, have been relatively swiftly rewoven repeatedly for many centuries. (An example that comes to mind is the Treaty of Washington, negotiated by President Grant’s administration, which resolved outstanding claims against Britain as a result of its assistance to the Confederacy. There was much bitterness against Britain, but there was also a strong desire to reopen the spigots of British investment capital. There are many other examples.)
So seeing maps with “Jesusland” and “United States of Canada” should not surprise us. It is the traditional Anglospheric way of thinking out loud about how to resolve seemingly irreconcilable differences. One way is to leave, physically, for some new place — “light out for the territories”, or “go West”, or as Davey Crocket put it “you people can go to Hell; I’m going to Texas”. And if there are too many dissatisfied people for this method to work, there is pressure to re-deal the cards on who runs which pieces of real estate.
Thankfully, for now, any proposed division of territory is merely political satire. But secession thinking is often the first straw in the wind of a storm of deeper conflict coming up.
The patterns repeat themselves like family resemblances, the living seeing echoes of their own faces in old photographs.