Friday March 13, 2015
For a century and a half, the idea of secession has been systematically demonized among the American public. The government’s schools spin fairy tales about the “indivisible Union” and the wise statesmen who fought to preserve it. Decentralization is portrayed as unsophisticated and backward, while nationalism and centralization are made to seem progressive and inevitable. When a smaller political unit wishes to withdraw from a larger one, its motives must be disreputable and base, while the motivations of the central power seeking to keep that unit in an arrangement it does not want are portrayed as selfless and patriotic, if they are considered at all.
As usual, disinformation campaigns are meant to make potentially liberating ideas appear toxic and dangerous, and conveying the message that anyone who seeks acceptance and popularity ought to steer clear of whatever it is — in this case, secession — the regime has condemned. But when we set the propaganda aside, we discover that support for secession means simply this: it is morally illegitimate to employ state violence against individuals who choose to group themselves differently from how the existing regime chooses to group them. They prefer to live under a different jurisdiction. Libertarians consider it unacceptable to aggress against them for this.
The libertarian principle of secession is not exactly embraced with enthusiasm by the people and institutions I call “regime libertarians.” Although these people tend to be located in and around the Beltway, regime libertarianism transcends geographical location, which is why I coined this special term to describe it.