The Secession Meme

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.

47 thoughts on “The Secession Meme”

  1. “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.”

    I don’t know about this. I think the progressive element has in some ways shifted South and West. Especially over the last 30 years. New England doesn’t strike me as particularly progressive anymore.

  2. “Progressive” is a much abused word and I agree that modern American Leftists are in fact reacionaries.

    In their own meaning of the term, however, (mainly equalitarianism) they have been consistent from the founding until today.

    The Pilgrim Fathers were Communists, don’t forget

    Lexington does however seem to have overlooked the biggest method of territorial independence: States rights

    So we might soon have Leftists advocating more devolution of power to the States!

    How amusing

  3. Decentralization (including states’ rights) is what strong civil societies do instead of full secession. I think it is a very logical answer to the divides we see right now.

    And Lex didn’t say progressive, he said “progressive” — i.e., as they define it themselves.

    Cotton Mather actually was a progressive by satndards of his place and time. He believed in expanded education and expanded frnachise, and opposed the Salem witch convictions as a travesty of the rule of law. Although he believed in witches (as did almost everyone in his day) he demolished the prosecution arguments in that particular case. Too late to save them, unfortunately.

  4. “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.”

    It seems to me the red staters are just as eager:

  5. Sam, I followed your link. Everyone wants to ship Illinois out of Red-State-istan. All the blue folks get to take is Chicago and subrban Cook County. The rest of us will stay thank you very much…

  6. This is a representative copy of an email that was going around my home state the last couple months of the campaign:
    (starts below)

    “[Please note that Texas is the only state with a legal right to secede
    from the Union. (Reference the Texas-American Annexation Treaty of

    We Texans love y’all, but we’ll have to take action if Kerry wins over
    Bush. We’ll miss you too. Texas has given all those complainers plenty
    of time to get used to the results of the last election. After seeing
    the whiners along the campaign route, the folks from Texas are
    considering taking matters into their own hands.

    Here is what will happen:

    #1: If John Kerry becomes President of the United States, Texas will
    immediately secede from the Union.

    #2: George W. Bush will become the President of the Republic of Texas.

    So what does Texas have to do to survive as a Republic?

    1. NASA is just south of Houston, Texas. We will control the space

    2. We refine over 85% of the gasoline in the United States.

    3. Defense Industry–we have over 65% of it. The term “Don’t mess with
    Texas,” will take on a whole new meaning.

    4. Oil – we can supply all the oil that the Republic of Texas will need
    for the next 300 years. Yankee states? Sorry about that.

    5. Natural Gas – again we have all we need and it’s too bad about those
    northern states. John Kerry will figure out a way to keep them warm….

    6. Computer Industry – we currently lead the nation in producing
    computer chips and communications–small places like Texas Instruments,
    Dell Computer, EDS, Raytheon, National Semiconductor, Motorola, Intel,
    AMD, Atmel, Applied Materials, Ball Semiconductor, Dallas Semiconductor,
    Delphi, Nortel, Alcatel, etc, etc. The list goes on and on.

    7. Medical Care – We have the largest research centers for cancer
    research, the best burn centers and the top trauma units in the world,
    as well as other large health centers. Dallas has some of the best
    hospitals in the United States.

    8. We have enough colleges to keep us going: University of Texas, Texas
    A&M, Texas Tech, Rice, SMU, University of Houston, Baylor, UNT
    (University of North Texas), Texas Women’s University, etc. Ivy grows
    better in the South anyway.

    9. We have a ready supply of workers. We could just open the border when
    we need some more.

    10. We have essential control of the paper industry, plastics,
    insurance, etc.

    11. In case of a foreign invasion, we have the Texas National Guard and
    the Texas Air National Guard. We don’t have an Army, but since everybody
    down here has at least six rifles and a pile of ammo, we can raise an
    Army in 24 hours if we need one. If the situation really gets bad, we
    can always call the Department of Public Safety and ask them to send
    over Chuck Norris and a couple of Texas Rangers.

    12. We are totally self-sufficient in beef, poultry, hogs, and several
    types of grain, fruit and vegetables, and let’s not forget seafood from
    the Gulf. Also, everybody down here knows how to cook them so that they
    taste good. Don’t need any food.

    This just names a few of the items that will keep the Republic of Texas
    in good shape. There isn’t a thing out there that we need and don’t

    Now to the rest of the United States under President Kerry:

    Since you won’t have the refineries to get gas for your cars, only
    President Kerry will be able to drive around in his big 9 mpg SUV. The
    rest of the United States will have to walk or ride bikes.

    You won’t have any TV as the Space Center in Houston will cut off
    satellite communications.

    You won’t have any natural gas to heat your homes, but since Mr. Kerry
    has predicted global warming, you will not need the gas.

    Signed, The People of Texas

    P.S. This is not a threatening letter – just a note to give you
    something to think about…BEFORE YOU VOTE THIS NOVEMBER.


    Back to me, the poster: I’m not sure if the email was a joke, or not!

  7. Funny Buddy. I like the guns and ammo one. Reminds me of the Swiss: “When the German Kaiser asked in 1912 what the quarter of a million Swiss militiamen would do if invaded by a half million German soldiers, a Swiss replied: “Shoot twice and go home.”

  8. More on Cotton Mather as a progressive. He attempted to introduce inoculation against smallpox, but was overruled by the powers that be.

  9. As an emailer on Powerline noted: you have to look at the county-by-county, not the state-by-state map. The vast majority of New York counties (my home state) are red. There appear to be all of ten or so blue counties (but they happen to have massive populations, because they are urban centers). Attempting to wrangle these red counties into some new blue entiry (even in theory) would be a recipe for utter destruction and devastation. Obviously nobody is suggesting seccession in any serious way, it’s just rhetoric. But the rhetoric needs to be answered, and the simple answer comes from one glance at the county-by-county map.

  10. Jack — memetic rhymes with genetic. “Meme” is supposed to be a non-biological parallel to “gene”. Derivative words therefore match up as well.

    William. Cotton Mather is one famous memetic ancestor to the whole puritan then Yankee then puritan/Yankee-descended cultural stream which evolved over 350 years. David Hackett Fischer in his book Albion’s Seed spells out the deep continuities in this settlement stream, then the spread of this cultural influence (for example, the many leftist, small liberal arts colleges which started as mainline protestant institutions) throughout the country, but still to a large degree localized in the upper tier of the country.

    Lindenen, make that the past 200+ years, and you are right about New England. The hearth territory of this cultural stream has been swamped to some degree by later waves of immigration.

  11. I’m a Canadian who travels regularly to the USA on business, usually to the west coast and mountain states. I love “red state America”, as do a lot more Canadians than you might think. Some of the states today are enormous — for instance, California has more than 15 times the total population of the original 13 states at the time of the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Federalism, which is the only way to “run” countries like the U.S. and Canada, would probably function better if these megastates were divided into smaller units. Places like San Francisco and Los Angeles would probably be happier as semi-self-governing units, and the rest of California would probably feel the same. This isn’t “secession”, which nobody with a brain wants any part of. It’s just a constructive suggestion based on observation of the widening divisions in America today. It’s time for some new states.

  12. Let’s just look at it this way.

    Noting the above commenter, the only state with a legal right to secede is Texas. Since Texas went red (fairly firmly too) and it is almost completely self sufficient, we have no problem with it.

    If the blue states tried to secede… you have all those red counties. Immediately, you’re loosing ground.

    Not to mention: the blue counties are all non-contiguous. They’re at best islands of blue in a sea of red.c

    Conservatives also have most of the farmland, and most of the food.

    We also have most of the guns… and most of the ammo.

    We’re also home to the most present and former military staff.

    So we have liberals who are poorly trained, fed, armed, have absolutely no experience, supplies….. what are they gonna fight us with… spitballs?

    On the other hand, we have conservatives who are well trained, well armed, many who have plenty of experience, and most if not all of the professional army of the US of A behind them.

    Is there anyone else who believes conservatives would wipe the floor?

  13. Chaz is right that any violent secession would be a failure. But no one is seriously proposing that.

    CJ is right that the direction to go is to push authority downward to regions and cities and if necessary break up overly large states. This is the opposite of secession, but it is a more realistic approach, a truer federalism. The main obstacle is the Supreme Court, which imposes an unneeded and counterproductive degree of uniformity on a very disparate country.

    CJ, btw, on vacation in Maine I have met Canadians who would be center-right Republicans in the USA. Canada is a far more diverse place than we give it credit for.

  14. Dallas may have some fine hospitals, but Houston has the Texas Medical Center, the largest med center in the nation and home to many of the best hospitals in the world.

  15. Sorry, CJ, but there’s no way we’re going to give SF or LA their own (hard-core Democrat, flaming left wing) Senators.

  16. Greg’s comment makes me think we could see a race to break up states to get more senators once the process started. We could end up with hundreds of states. Still I think we will see more state autonomy and more regional an dlocal autonomy within states, rather than breaking or combining of big units, just because it is too darn hard to make gross changes of that sort.

  17. Texas Monthly brings up the division issue regularly. It must be a Hatch/Specter fantasy – imagine judicial votes.

    The following references are quite off-topic but some may find them interesting:

    Boston Background: In May, a smallpox epidemic began in Boston and continued through the year. The first widespread inoculations in the Western world were carried out by Dr. Zabdiel Boylston at the instigation of Cotton Mather. The Boston populace, however, feared that inoculation spread rather than prevented the disease. In a bitter controversy, the NEC published writers who opposed inoculation. We have no evidence for BF’s or JF’s personal beliefs concerning inoculation at this time, though it has been generally assumed that they opposed it. JF twice, however, said that he would publish articles either for or against inoculation (4 Sept and 4 Dec). Neither the BNL nor the BG would publish anything against inoculation.

    Although the Mathers claimed that the Couranteers were the first who ever severely criticized the Massachusetts ministers, JF cited earlier criticisms (4 Dec (b); see also 7 June).

    The BF is Benjamin Franklin. His brother was critical of Mather and (this is from memory but fits) inflamed the populace who circled the Mather’s house and even threw a brick through a window. Mather was a member of the Royal Society in London and exchanged papers with European scientists.

    I don’t have Fenn’s Pox Americana here, but I think that is where I read this.

  18. This discussion is truly pathetic. I susspect that there about 1,000 members of the LLL siting up and masturbating about this kind of stuff. They need help.

    The Democrats have to decide if they want to survive or be pure. If the later and they re-run the 1972 convention in 2008, they will disappear from the stage and be replaced.

    If not they will have to figure out how to reconnect with a potential majority of voters in the US. My guess would be that they would take a more libertarian line, but that is just a guess. I don’t get a vote in their inner councils.

    At any rate, this kind of stuff is for losers. Men who want to win, spend time figuring out what they did wrong. They also put aside their arrogance and go and talk to the people. As my father, z’tl, always used to tell me, there is no such thing as an unhappy customer.

  19. I disagree with this notion of Greater New England (GNE) being the heart of progressive movement for several reasons. Firstly, the argument tries to draw a clear, uninterrupted history between the GNE of the 19th Century and the one of today. It does not take into account the wide demographic shifts that have occured, with countless millions of GNE citizens migrating to the South and West and taking their Yankee Republicanism with them. Or the fact that GNE has experienced massive demographic swings of its own, with influxes of Democratic voting Eastern Europeans, Italians, Jews, Irish, and Black who have largely drowned out the old Republican Puritan tradition.

    Alternately, this passage also assumes that GNE exists as a uniform, anti-Republican voting bloc, when in fact, there are stronger remnants of old “Party of Lincoln” Republicanism in the Northeast, than there are remnants of the Old Democratic Party in the Sunbelt. We must not forgot that *25 million* of Bush’s votes came from the “Blue States” and that Kerry only carried PA, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota, by an average of 2.8 points. Bush even managed to pluck Iowa away, another sign that the historically Midwest heart of Republicanism remains vital, and is perhaps even asserting and balancing the party’s neo-Southern wing. Furthermore, the GOP holds 4/6 New England governor seats, as well as 5 of 12 Senate seats.

  20. Greg D,

    They already have their flaming liberal senators. How about some center-right senators from San Diego or the Imperial Valley areas?

  21. Lex, you’re considerably understating the amount of French political chaos since the US consistution was adopted. The full score is

    3 monarchical constitutions
    2 imperial constitutions
    5 republican consitutions.

    Plus assorted periods of anarchy, occupation, inter-regnum, revolution, civil war etc.

    It’s about a new one every 21 years. The current one has lasted over 40, so is well overdue for overthrowing.


  22. Well, I’m all for San Francisco and Berkely secceding from the rest of the country. No need to fight about it – they don’t want us and we don’t want them, so let ’em go. Carve out a chunk of Northern California, and let New York and Chicago left-wingers emigrate if they choose. We’ll take their right-wingers in.

    Sorry, but SF-ers and their ilk don’t understand (or do understand but don’t like) the whole basic individual rights business. They prefer the collective approach – that is, they are truly not American in spirit. As Franklin put it, they “have become a new nationality, and require a new nation.”

    Let ’em go, and may the door hit their ass on the way out.

  23. I would like to see southern Illinois dissolve its ties to the north. Chicago has a stranglehold on the entire state.

    The least we could do is break up our electoral votes like CO thought about doing.

  24. Speaking as a resident- Chicago doesn’t need to be changed from socialism to capitalism, it needs to be changed from a benevolent dictatorship or perhaps monarchy (talk about your idiot kings) to capitalism.

  25. Even the “Blue” states are covered with “Red” counties. For example, California is a “Blue” state, but almost all of the counties away from the coast voted “Red”.

    The “Blue” counties–home to tolerant and smart liberals–are dependent on water piped in from the “Red” counties.

    So what happens if the “Red” California counties vote to remain in the Union, while the “Blue” ones secede?

  26. States that divide themselves (except for Texas, although there is some dispute about that issue) would still need the recognition of Congress before the breakaway part could be admitted. We have two historical examples, Maine (which had been part of Massachusetts at the time of ratification) and West Virginia. The second example is anomalous because of the wartime environment, but the Maine example is a perfectly acceptable precedent. So I doubt there would be a stampede to subdivide. More likely new states would be admitted as they always have been, in pairs, and with great attention to the political balance. But there are probably at least a dozen states in which there has been longstanding sentiment for division, so there could be substantial momentum to this movmement. And remember the first proposal in modern dimes of division was William F. Buckley Jr.’s proposal for statehood for New York City in his mayoral bid of 1965.

  27. In fairness, that email started circulating in Texas right after Teddy Kennedy made his dignified, senatorial, from-the-blue-heartland remark that “the war was something cooked up down in Texas” (Kennedy DOES speak for the ‘blue heartland’, right?).

  28. We need a constitutional amendment that says that no state may have more than twenty representatives in Congress. Any state with more (N.Y., Fla., Calif., Tex., Ill.) will then be encouraged to subdivide to get below that level. Or, they can choose to be underrepresented.

    Texas does not have a right to seceed. It tried that in 1861, remember, and it wasn’t successful then, was it? What it does have is that a subdivision has already been approved by Congress, to be used when necessary. This provision was placed into the annexation treaty because Texans were afraid that two senators wasn’t enough representation for what they expected to be the largest state in terms of population.

    (And we need a second amendment that says that no sitting Senator may receive an electoral vote.)

  29. Alex,

    I suggest you read David Hackett Fischer’s Albion’s Seed for a persuasive argument against your position. I agreed with you till I read this book and looked at the persuasive evidence.

    On Mather and the Witch Trials Mather agreed with the use of “spectral” evidence and that he condemned the trials very late in the day, well after his reputation, an thereby much of the moral authority of the puritan churches, was substantially eroded.

  30. Greater New England and its outlook is a style and way of looking at the world, not a specific set of positions and ideologies. It is rationalistic and rationalizing, moralistic and moralizing, conservative with a small c in some regards (particularly its dislike ofn waste and excess) and liberal in others. It has both good and bad points, but without it we wouldn’t be America, we’d be something else. Without it,maybe we would have abolished slavery gradually and with less trauma and bloodshed — than again, maybe they’d be auctioning off slaves today on E-bay. We can never really saya for sure.

  31. What Richard and Jim said. I did not lay out the whole business of GNE in this post, but David Hackett Fischer is the man to read on it.

  32. Glen et al: Go to the Cal Secretary of State for county results. SanFran was 83% Kerry, almost up to DC levels.

    So, should we let Mendocino County back in the real world? They went from 75 Gore, 20 Nader, 5 Bush; to 68 or so Kerry, 30’s Bush.

    What do you think, doc?

  33. In light of the over-simplification and attribution of events to the long dead going on here: this election was a triumph of the Jacksonians, pure and simple. The Scots-Irish character, in my view the single biggest creators of the American culture (if there is such a thing), was dominant. Character matters over abstract ideas, a man of his word vs. somebody who didn’t know what he believed in (or at least tried to hide it), good triumphs over evil, and America is the best damn country in the world.

    But the Jacksonians at heart are isolationsts, which doesn’t bode well for the Wilsonian foreign adventurism of the Bush administration long term. I hope the Republicans are aware of this or they could be having this same conversation in reverse in 4 years.

  34. Without the Scots-Irish (or British Borderers, or New Ulster, or Okies and hillbillies, whatever you want to call them) America wouldn’t be America. But that is true of all the cultural nations in us. New Ulster values are particularly useful at this time, when we are dealing with an enemy whose attitudes are very much like those of 14th century border-raiders –they understand the warrior values, hostage-taking, kinship ties, and the war of all against all. At other times other aspects of America were more needed. The crafty Manhattanite Franklin Roosevelt and the steady, focused Midland American Eisenhower could put together and hold together a delicate worldwide coalition that was essential for victory in the war of their day. Jacksonians like Patton were confined to middle-level command, and rightly so. We truly couldn’t have won WWII by ourselves.

    You can spin theories about which strain of American is most American or most essential, but in actual fact we got where we are today with all of the elements, and it can never be proven that it could have been done without any one of them. And niether political party is going to hold the lead position if it writes off big blocs of America, red, blue, or purple.

  35. I still think the whole secession meme is pathetic, but roses are grown in piles of shit.

    One value that conservatives have trying to preserve for the last 50 years is Federalism. Maybe dumping Roe v Wade will not look like such a bad idea to the left if the alternative is nationwide bans on abortion and gay marriage.

    I have also hypothesized that if the democrats do not suicide as a socialist labor party. they will have to develop other themes that are more resonant with the broader trends in american society. as suggested above Isolationism and its ugly step-sister nativeism will be temtpting themes. Nativeism will be one way to keep the loyalty of the black community if the Republicans make off with too many Hispanics.

  36. Just to clarify, the Scots-Irish didn’t form American culture all by themselves, but I believe they provided most of the meaningful differences between us and the English. Without them we would probably be much more similar, we might even still be British. In Britain the Celtic customs and spirit were essentially crushed and assimilated into British society. In America they were dominant, especially on the frontier (which in the first 100 year of the US was the country) and were imbodied both physically and philosophically by the first Scots-Irishman to be elected President, Andrew Jackson. What they tried to get rid of like some kind of disease, we celebtrated and made into a permanent part of our way of life.

    Probably without knowing it the Scots-Irish portion of the American character is what Europeans hate most and understand least about America, this goes for Blue Staters as well. It’s no coincidence that the places with lots of red were once once populated by significant number of Scots-Irishmen, and vice-versa. Without that “meme” imbedded in our psyche, we’d probably look at Europe like Canadians do.

    In my view, the Scots-Irish don’t account 100% for our culture, but they account for most the differences between us and Europe, and especially the British.

  37. DS’s use of “English” and “British” is peculiar. To begin with, the British Borderers (to use Fischer’s more accurate term) were as much English as they were Scottish And being a mix of English and lowland Scots, they were as British as anybody on that island. The Borders region is part of a larger cultural/dialectical area that encompassed Northern England and Lowland Scotland, and was probably more Anglo-Saxon in ethnic origin than Pictish, to the extent that means anything. Gaelic influence was rather minimal. The particular elements of Border culture that we are discussing — ready use of interpersonal violence, clan loyalty, warrior’s sense of honor — were attributes that began to distinguish themselves from their neighbors after the consolidation of the English and Scottish monarchies along their current borders began to suppress private violence elsewhere, while the regulatory arbitrage provided by the Border continued to make these attributes useful and necessary. After the Union of the Crowns, sheriffs on both sides of the border began to enforce laws against private violence and deprive the Borderers of cross-border sanctuary. The least tractable of them then went to Northern Ireland, (literally “one step ahead of the sheriff”) where their habits were still useful.

    Yes, the higher percentage of British Borderers in the US relative to the UK are one of the things that set US politics apart from the UK. But the survival of a strong East Anglian/originally Puritan element in Greater New England is at least as important as a differentiator. The Bush family, coming from the latter background but transplanted to the former, combines a readiness to use military power with the Puritan conviction that they are doing God’s work, which means that bin Laden was particularly indiscrete in choosing this president to attack.

    DS is overgeneralizing about the nature of England and Canada, as well as America. The Guardian is no more representative of English sentiment than Michael Moore is of America. Every component of America’s character is also present in the other principal English-speaking nations, but in different proportions. The difference in proportions accounts for most of the differences in the sociology of the various states. It’s also worth remembering that the broader old liberal tradition of England (optimistic and moralistic) is very similar to the Wilsonian tradition in America. Each of the British prime ministers who have had really successful relations with the US have had strong elements of that tradition in their backgrounds — Churchill, who was a Liberal cabinet minister before that party fell apart; Thatcher, who came from a traditionally Liberal and Methodist family; and Blair, who relates primiarily to the old Liberal tradition within labour rather than the socialist element.

    The differences are important, (and get lots of air time) but so are the similarities, which are so pervasive that we tend to be as unaware of them as fish are of the water in which they swim.

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