In answer to a growing swell of interest in realistic responses to the excesses of the present American empire, The Middlebury Institute has been launched by a group of activists and professionals to promote the serious study of separatism, secession, self-determination and similar devolutionary trends and developments, on both national and international scales.
We believe that, of the options open to those who would dissent from the actions and institutions of a government grown too big and unwieldy and its handmaiden corporate sponsors grown too powerful and corrupt, the only comprehensive and practical one is some form of separatism. Exploring this option is not a step to be taken lightly, because there are established forces that will hamper and resist, and yet it is a legal and viable enterprise, squarely in the American tradition, and of a piece with the worldwide devolutionary current that has seen the breakup of European empires (including the Soviet) and the expansion of the United Nations from 51 to 193 nations in sixty years.
Moreover, the accumulating signs point to a series of major crises that will seriously disrupt and may even destroy the American system in the near future. These include economic disruptions in the wake of global “peak oil” production before 2010, deterioration of the power of the dollar through mounting and uncontrollable national debt and trade imbalances, continued degradation of vital ecosystems on which the nation depends, climate change and severe weather causing widespread devastation of coastal areas, extended use of military force worldwide leading to increased terrorism and the reinstitution of the draft, judicial takeovers at the Federal level by rightwing ideologues capable of altering fundamental legal rights, and terrorist attacks at facilities (nuclear plants, harbors, chemical factories) the government has been unable or unwilling to protect. Those who want to absent and cushion themselves from suchlike devastations would reasonably want to explore ways of removing their communities and regions from dangerous national political and economic mechanisms that are incapable of reform.
It is for these reasons that The Middlebury Institute hopes to foster a national movement in the United States that will:
* place secession on the national political agenda,
* encourage secessionist and separatist movements here and abroad,
* develop communication among such existing and future groups,
* create a body of scholarship to examine and promote the ideas of separatism,
* and work carefully and thoughtfully for the ultimate task, the peaceful dissolution of the American empire.
To these ends we intend to issue regular papers treating with a broad range of secessionist issues, including the question of the constitutionality of secession in the U.S.; reports on the status of various secessionist movements in the U.S.; scenarios of federal responses to states opting to secede; the ethics of secession; the history of secession in America; the economic consequences of secession-a cost-benefit analysis; a history of worldwide secession and devolution developments of the past 20 years; case studies of individual foreign separatist movements of modern times; and excerpts from the considerable body of literature on separatism and secession.
We will also sponsor various gatherings, including academic seminars, in which leading scholars and activists will be invited to deliver and discuss papers on separatism and its corollaries; weekend conferences of speeches and workshops; national congresses with representatives of active separatist movements in the U.S.; and debates on various issues involving secession and separatism, with activists, elected politicians, scholars, and think-tank representatives, among others.
And we will be sending out regular news releases that draw attention to the breaking action or new activities of separatist groups, here and abroad, with special attention to the victories and achievements in the movement.
Eventually we will have a website that will be an archive of book chapters and articles on separatism and secession, particularly over the last dozen years, with regular news coverage of separatist events and links to the more prominent and active secessionist groups. At some point we will make room for postings from readers to discuss related matters as they wish.
This is a long-haul project: the task is as immense as it is urgent, and we must go carefully, even as we go steadily. We will need your help: contact us, send us your email address, contribute what you can. Ultimately the Middlebury Institute will be what its constituents need and want, and we will serve the movement in any way we can.
Spread the word. Join the action. Take the battlements. And keep in touch.
Kirkpatrick Sale is the author of twelve books, including Human Scale, The Conquest of Paradise, Rebels Against the Future, and The Fire of His Genius: Robert Fulton and the American Dream.
Thomas Naylor is a former Professor Emeritus of Economics at Duke University.
They can be reached at: Jkelas@ aol.com
P.S.: Below is the Institute’s first paper, The Middlebury Declaration, passed at a “Radical Consultation” meeting in November of last year.
The Middlebury Declaration
“Whenever any form of government is destructive of these ends [life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness] it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government in such form as to them shall seem most likely to affect their safety and happiness.”
Declaration of Independence
We gathered here this weekend to explore the possibilities of a new politics that might provide a realistic and enactable alternative to the familiar sorry political scene around us that has just ratified its decadent and corrupt nature with the re-election of George W. Bush. We are convinced that the American empire, now imposing its military might on 153 countries around the world, is as fragile as empires historically tend to be, and that it might well implode upon itself in the near future. Before that happens, no matter what shape the United States may take, we believe there is at this moment an opportunity to push through new political ideas and projects that will offer true popular participation and genuine democracy. The time to prepare for that is now.
In our deliberations we considered many kinds of strategies for a new politics and eventually decided upon the inauguration of a campaign to monitor, study, promote, and develop agencies of separatism. By separatism we mean all the forms by which small political bodies, dedicated to the precept of human scale, distance themselves from larger ones, as in decentralization, dissolution, disunion, division, devolution, or secession, creating small and independent bodies that rule themselves. Of course we favor such polities that operate with participatory democracy and egalitarian justice, which are attainable only at a small scale, but the primary principle is that these states should enact their separation and self-government as they see fit.
It is important to realize that the separatist/independence movement is the most important and widespread political force in the world today and has been for the last half-century, during which time the United Nations, for example, has grown from 51 nations in 1945 to 193 nations in 2004. The break-up of the Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia are recent manifestations of this fundamental trend, and there are separatist movements in more than two dozen countries at this time, including such well-known ones as in Aceh, Basque country, Catalonia, Scotland, Lapland, Sardinia, Sicily, Sudan, Congo, Kashmir, Chechnya, Kurdistan, Quebec, British Columbia, Mexico, and the Indian nations of North America.
There is no reason that we cannot begin to examine the processes of secession in the United States. There are already at least 28 separatist organizations in this country-the most active seem to be in Alaska, Cascadia, Texas, Hawaii, Vermont, Puerto Rico, and the South-and there seems to be a growing sentiment that, because the national government has shown itself to be clumsy, unresponsive, and unaccountable in so many ways, power should be concentrated at lower levels. Whether these levels should be the states or coherent regions within the states or something smaller still is a matter best left to the people active in devolution, but the principle of secession must be established as valid and legitimate.
To this end, therefore, we are pledged to create a movement that will place secession on the national agenda, encourage nonviolent secessionist organizations throughout the country, develop communication among existing and future secessionist groups, and create a body of scholarship to examine and promote the ideas and principles of secessionism.
Middlebury, Vermont November 7, 2004
ALEXANDER COCKBURN, JEFFREY ST CLAIR, BECKY GRANT AND THE INSTITUTE FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF JOURNALISTIC CLARITY, COUNTERPUNCH
We published an article entitled “A Saudiless Arabia” by Wayne Madsen dated October 22, 2002 (the “Article”), on the website of the Institute for the Advancement of Journalistic Clarity, CounterPunch, www.counterpunch.org (the “Website”).
Although it was not our intention, counsel for Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi has advised us the Article suggests, or could be read as suggesting, that Mr Al Amoudi has funded, supported, or is in some way associated with, the terrorist activities of Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda terrorist network.
We do not have any evidence connecting Mr Al Amoudi with terrorism.
As a result of an exchange of communications with Mr Al Amoudi’s lawyers, we have removed the Article from the Website.
We are pleased to clarify the position.
August 17, 2005