When Can We Start Shooting the Bastards?

Part of an ongoing conversation. A reader (here) has written to ask on what grounds I am not outraged over Mr Shea outlawing talk of secession and treason by outraged pro-gunners at his blog.

I began with a respectful disagreement with Mr Shea, but, as time goes on, my respect grows and my disagreement shrinks. Naturally, I would prefer my friends to come into an accommodation with each other, and hope these words soothe rather than inflame any ill-will. 

Let me deal with your points in order.

First, you say that Mark Shea’ objection to the HHS mandate is insincere or illogical on the grounds that he is objecting to that tyranny because it is uncatholic, not because it is tyrannous. Whereas his lack of support for NRA pro-gun types is because “Catholics are not complaining about the rules of the game, they’re complaining that they’re not winning. That tyranny is ok, as long as it’s Catholic tyranny.”

That is not what Mark Shea said, and not related to what he said. You should not be leveling such a serious (and scurrilous) accusation without firm and clear support for the proposition.

You then go on an on about how Catholics support tyranny and we want to be in charge, and how stupid we are for not realizing that tyrants might turn on us, and you utter such venomous nonsense that it ill behooves me to dignify such libel with a reply.

I am willing to assume you did not realize this is insulting to me personally, and to my Church, and particularly insulting to the martyrs who died just this year in China and in the Middle East resisting tyrants and spilling their blood for the glory of Christ.

Because of our friendliness to each other, I will resist the temptation to take offense, but whether I take offense or not, the comment is objectively offensive. You make the comment so heedlessly, I wonder if you even realize the gravity of the accusation. If this is the kind of troll-comments you made to Mr Shea, he was right to ban you.

Be that as it may, even granting your argument its best interpretation, your anger that Mr Shea, or Catholics in general, are not as excited about a matter peripheral to our Church as we are about a direct attack on our Church is not surprising, and no grounds for criticism.  The Catholic Church is not the NRA.

There is nothing in the catechism which requires a Catholic to be pro-Second Amendment.

The Second Amendment is roughly 200 years old and the Church is 2000 years old. So if a Catholic is not as vocal in his support for a purely local and parochial partisan matter as he is concerning the eternal truths of the Christian faith, this would not be a matter for complaint.

Indeed, Mr Shea made it clear what is his objection to pro-gun rhetoric: it reminds him of pro-abort rhetoric.

In both cases, the partisans resist even the slightest attempt to infringe on their rights, so that even arguably reasonable regulations which pose little or no threat to the right are resisted as if they are absolutes. In both cases, the pro-aborts and the pro-gunners are afraid of a slippery slope. The pro-gunners think that a slight infringement on their gun rights is nothing but a precursor to an all out assault and abolition of their rights. The pro-aborts feel the same way. So it is hardly surprising that their rhetoric would tend to be the same.

Keep in mind that in neither case is the fear unreasonable. We will not rest until all abortion for any reason is treated as infanticide, and abolished. I expect to see the abolition of abortion in my lifetime. There are Leftists who feel the same way about disarming all civilians. They will not rest.

(Let me mention that Mr Shea and I part company on this point. While I think talk of secession is treasonous and absurd as long as the ballot box is open, I do think the threat of creeping tyranny is real and immediate. Americans should begin arming themselves and training in the safe use of arms, in order to cow the Left into surrendering their sick dreams of socialist tyranny. However, the media is the enemy, and gunfire will not help us in a war of the spirit. We cannot win an armed rebellion if we cannot win the support and enthusiasm of enough people to win an election.)

Note, however, that these two cases are not like the HHS case. The Catholics are not worried about a slippery slope that funding contraceptives and abortifacients will lead to practices that offend God. We hold that funding contraceptives and abortifacients, or using them, right here and right now offends God.

We are not worried about limitations of magazine sizes or scary-looking bayonet lugs will one day lead to a confiscation of the right to bear arms. Our inviolable right to the practice of our religion is violated here and now by the HHS mandate. We are being commanded directly to violate God’s commands.

The proposed additional restrictions on gun rights are unconstitutional as well as being imprudent and pointless (they will not save a single innocent life) but they do not directly violate the Second Amendment. So I hope you see the difference between the two types of problems.

You then ask whether treason by America’s founders was beyond the pale? You smirk, and say the straight line was too tempting for you. I would say that if the American founders rebelled because the British Crown lowered the number of musket balls carried in a poke from ten to seven, but gave the colonists full representation in Parliament so that any other disputes could have been settled peacefully in the ballot box and not on the battlefield, yes, it would apply to them too. As a Southern gentleman, I dismiss the complaints of the Confederate States of America as treason unworthy of shedding blood to defend.

These complaints are less worthy than theirs to trigger rebellion.

You then give the case for opening a discussion about treason, namely, that the Constitution is violated, and therefore the dissolution of all loyalty to the sovereign people of the United States should now be open for discussion. You ask whether it is really that treasonous to begin discussing secession.

The answer is yes.

The Federal government has been in violation of the Constitution since the time of FDR. We should be discussing Federalism and Constitutionalism, and throwing all the toad-eating collaborationist RINO’s out of the GOP, not discussing a new Civil War. (For one thing, this generation does not have the manhood needed to found a rational form of government if the old form were overthrown. Can you imagine the leaders these days, who cannot abolish or even reform Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae, having enough skill at drafting law to establish a republic?)

Democrats started the Civil War because they hated and feared Lincoln. Republicans only fought it. My party does not start Civil Wars. We do not even stage riots. That is a Leftwing pastime. We do not even use military metaphors (like “Occupy” Wall Street) for our peaceful protests. We are routinely and incessantly accused of violence—but we do not start it. By talking as if we do, by talking about when we should, the pro-gunners who shoot their mouths off about committing treason harm our cause. They are not serious.

If you are willing to shoot your neighbor in the head in front of his wide-eyed child, so that blood and brain matter splatters over the child’s shocked face, and being willing to die when the neighbor’s brother bayonets you in the guts, so that your intestines are in your lap, and so that it take you hours to die, all the time crying for water, then you are serious about fighting a Civil War.

If you think that this nation, which still has a free press, and free elections that are almost honest, has reached a point where outlawing ten-round magazines makes you willing to die and justified to kill, then you are serious.

Seriously crazy, that is, a sober defenders of our Constitutional rights should not be seen with you.

Myself, I regard such language as extravagant and inflammatory, not to mention infantile and disgusting, and hardly in keeping with Christian notions of longsufferingness, patience, and peace.

If my neighbor were coming to enslave me, I would be glad to kill him and glad to be killed by him in the noble cause of preserving my liberty, whether his child were looking on or not.

But only the atrocious and most serious provocation by my neighbor would be sufficient. The damage inflicted by the my neighbor on my nation or must be lasting, grave, and certain; all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective; there must be serious prospects of success for the mutiny; the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated.

The remainder of your comments do not ask any direct questions, nor change the basic outline of the argument. Mr Shea is being more sarcastic than I think prudent, but sarcasm is his schtick and it amused me when other people’s sacred oxes are gored, so I do not flinch when he gores one of mine.

I think he is being emotional and falling rather gullibly for Leftwing agitprop on this point, but I do not find his disgust at talk of treason to be beyond the pale. I share his disgust.

He is wrong about guns increasing rather than decreasing the crime rate. The statistics, as well as common sense, are against him. The number of mass murders, although they get more press these days then previously, are actually less frequent and less dangerous than in previous years, and much less than in previous centuries.

Not a single child’s life will be saved by gun control. Not. One. All such talk is pure emotionalism, bull excretion and horse manure. The federal government is utterly powerless to stop atrocities like Sandy Hook. Utterly, utterly powerless. They can do nothing. Nothing. The culture decides things like whether parents get divorced, whether madmen get locked up, whether all grown men tend to go armed or tend to rely on others to save them, whether schools proudly advertise the fact that they are in ‘victims disarmament’ zones, whether they mind their own business or mind each other’s, and so on. The culture is not under federal government control. The government makes laws, it does not establish values and virtues.

There will be no peaceful secession of states from the union of the United States. The Civil War settled that issue, and even if it did not, the peaceful division of the Eastern from the Western Roman Empire should be a terrifying cautionary example.

40 Comments

  1. Comment by Stu:

    In both cases, the partisans resist even the slightest attempt to infringe on their rights, so that even arguably reasonable regulations which pose little or no threat to the right are resisted as if they are absolutes.

    But I don’t believe that is what Mr. Shea has encountered on his blog, yet that seems to be how any disagreement with his view on things is portrayed. There is a lot of regulation now on firearms. I would submit that most disagreeing with Mr. Shea are simply pointing out that instead of piling on more layers of legal code, we ought to consider what works first.

    Let me mention that Mr Shea and I part company on this point. While I think talk of secession is treasonous and absurd as long as the ballot box is open, I do think the threat of creeping tyranny is real and immediate.

    Interestingly, the ones who routinely bring up secession in Mr. Shea’s forum are the proponents for more gun control as they like to characterize anyone who believes that having an armed populace is a hedge against tyranny, as being in favor of such action or indulging in “revolutionary fantasy.” Again, the opinion counter to Mr. Shea is blackballed to the most extreme as a pretext for any discussion.

    I don’t believe outrage is the proper response to Mr. Shea. I think walking away from his discussion is the right choice. And that’s an absolute shame because he has much to offer. But the siege mentality to any disagreement with his observations just gets in the way.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      I did not read Mr Shea’s comments thread, but I was also taken aback at the vituperation and scorn he heaped on us, the pro-gunners. He gives much more credence to various Leftist talking points that I would have expected a man of his years. He seems to believe that more gun laws will lower the violent crime rate. It is like believing that the minimum wage will raise the wage rather than raising the wage for groups with political “pull” and causing unemployment for groups without.

      I am a member of the NRA. I am also convinced the touchstone on how much a man believes in liberty is how willing he is that his neighbors be armed. If you cannot trust him with a gun, why trust him with a vote that controls the laws that controls the guns? If you do not think he is your equal, where is your faith in Democracy? If he is your equal, and not a serf, and not a nithling* doomed to the straw-death, on what grounds do you deny him the right as a gentleman to go armed?

      [obscure reference alert: NITHLING= Nithingr. A wretched coward; a vile wretch. The very worst insult a Viking could say to another. True Vikings believe in the Second Amendment, because if you die unarmed, you don't go to Valhalla.]

      • Comment by Rolf Andreassen:

        To get into Valhall it is not sufficient that you die armed; you must die in battle. Or so at any rate some sources, and let’s remember that our knowledge of Norse mythology comes from documents written by Christians two centuries after people had ceased to really believe in it, claim. I have also seen claims that Vikings dying of old age would have their friends nick them with a spear, shedding their blood in the hope that Odin would take it as a battle wound. It is not clear whether this is a true account of an actual custom, whether people really believed that it would work, whether it was widespread, when it occurred if it did – perhaps it was a late addition to a decaying faith, added on to try to compete with the White Christ’s afterlife – or whether, perhaps, it is made up out of whole cloth. Let us further note that in other accounts, dying in battle is not sufficient either; you must die bravely and come to the notice of the Valkyries. Odin is gathering an elite army of the very best warriors on Earth, for the purpose of fighting the giants at Ragnarok; it is not his intention to give meat and mead to every barely-bearded peasant who has the good fortune to pick up a spear before the professional warriors kill him.

        Anyway, all that aside, I reiterate that we don’t really know much about what the Vikings believed about the afterlife. Valhall is Odin’s hall, and in Asgard there are many buildings; we hear very little about what afterlives Frey might have given his faithful, or Njord. If, indeed, the afterlife stuff was actually original, and not a later Christian addition; the afterlife being such an improtant part of Christian mythology, they tend to view other religions through that lens and insist that they must have some kind of belief about it.

        • Comment by John C Wright:

          To get into Valhall it is not sufficient that you die armed; you must die in battle.

          Do Vikings die with weapon in hand outside of battle often enough to make it so that you actually, honestly thought the phrase I used referred to such circumstances? Are there recent archeological digs of which I am unaware unearthing Norsemen in full kit with battle ax in hand, perhaps in shield wall formation, all dead suddenly by choking on a mutual chicken bone, or slipping off a cliff?

          As for the rest, I have no reason to suspect that the Christians misrepresented their fathers’ pagan beliefs, since it is well known that pagans do not keep records nor show much curiosity of the about the beliefs of others, whereas Christians invented anthropology. Compare, for example, the sublime indifference of the Romans and the Muslims toward the Egyptian mythology, versus the attempts of the Christians to discover it. Compare the attitude of the Arabs toward the pre-Islamic beliefs of their fathers to the almost absurd respect Christians pay to classical gods and goddesses of Greece and Rome whose worship they supplanted. The idea of Christians as brutal book burners is an invention, and indeed, a psychological projection, of that modern religion called Leftism. It is one of their myths.

          After the Leftists pass away, we will lovingly preserve their myths also.

          • Comment by Rolf Andreassen:

            I got a server error and am not sure if my post was submitted or not. Please delete one if you get two.

            Do Vikings die with weapon in hand outside of battle often enough to make it so that you actually, honestly thought the phrase I used referred to such circumstances?

            In the context of a Second Amendment discussion, yes, I did take ‘armed’ to mean “owning a weapon” rather than “carrying a weapon ready to use”. I apologise for misunderstanding you.

            As for the rest, I have no reason to suspect that the Christians misrepresented their fathers’ pagan beliefs

            I believe Snorre and Saxo Grammaticus were being honest to the best of their knowledge, yes. I also believe that they were working from oral traditions two hundred years after the fact, without benefit of Google or Wikipedia, and through cultural lenses very different from those of the pagans they chronicled. I am not accusing anyone of lying; I am saying that they were working in very difficult circumstances.

        • Comment by John Hutchins:

          Did the vikings consider childbirth battle or was that just the Aztec?

  2. Comment by Nate Winchester:

    A reader (here) has written to ask on what grounds I am not incensed over Mr Shea outlawing talk of secession and treason by outraged pro-gunners at his blog.

    Oh, I apologize again for my flawed communication. I didn’t want to imply that you should be incensed. (I am not comfortable with anyone telling anybody how they should feel.) I was merely attempting to explain why I was incensed.

    First, you say that Mark Shea’ objection to the HHS mandate is insincere or illogical on the grounds that he is objecting to that tyranny because it is uncatholic, not because it is tyrannous. Whereas his lack of support for NRA pro-gun types is because “Catholics are not complaining about the rules of the game, they’re complaining that they’re not winning. That tyranny is ok, as long as it’s Catholic tyranny.”

    That is not what Mark Shea said, and not related to what he said. You should not be leveling such a serious (and scurrilous) accusation without firm and clear support for the proposition.

    You are quite right and I should have abandoned a point I was struggling to adequately express. I humbly ask you to chalk this up to an amateurish writing experience.

    You then go on an on about how Catholics support tyranny and we want to be in charge, and how stupid we are for not realizing that tyrants might turn on us, and you utter such venomous nonsense that it ill behooves me to dignify such libel with a reply.

    And you would be right. I am sorry as I didn’t mean to make it applicable to all Catholics (indeed, I could name several off the top of my head I wouldn’t dream of leveling the accusation against). There are some I’ve run across that give of that air, but I should have had concrete examples at hand, else my accusations have no weight. By all means, strike it from the record and let each syllable be a strike upon my back. (not entirely hyperbolic here either)

    I am willing to assume you did not realize this is insulting to me personally, and to my Church, and particularly insulting to the martyrs who died just this year in China and in the Middle East resisting tyrants and spilling their blood for the glory of Christ.

    I am sincerely regretful of it and have the deepest respect for all the martyrs of today and times past of any Christian denomination (even some of other faiths if they behaved honorably).

    Because of our friendliness to each other, I will resist the temptation to take offense, but whether I take offense or not, the comment is objectively offensive. You make the comment so heedlessly, I wonder if you even realize the gravity of the accusation. If this is the kind of troll-comments you made to Mr Shea, he was right to ban you.

    I will only say in my own defense that I linked to the point I was banned and you can see whether anything I originally said was that bad. However, I must say that some of his posts offended me just as much and so I let my emotions get the better of me.

    Be that as it may, even granting your argument its best interpretation, your anger that Mr Shea, or Catholics in general, are not as excited about a matter peripheral to our Church as we are about a direct attack on our Church is not surprising, and no grounds for criticism. The Catholic Church is not the NRA.

    Please understand I meant no attack on the Church. As I said in my previous reply, I am as aghast at the government’s attack on it as any on gun control. Like I said awhile back before on you board, I am ready to stand with them on the violation of all of our rights. If I have any complaints, it is strictly directed towards specific individuals, not the church as a whole. (like I said, I highly recommend Jonah Goldberg’s Tyranny of Cliches as having one of the strongest defenses of the Catholic church as you’ve probably ever read from a secular Jew – and even if I’ve always been protestant, I’ve ever remained grateful for all the Church did in getting humanity to here through history)

    There is nothing in the catechism which requires a Catholic to be pro-Second Amendment.

    The Second Amendment is roughly 200 years old and the Church is 2000 years old. So if a Catholic is not as vocal in his support for a purely local and parochial partisan matter as he is concerning the eternal truths of the Christian faith, this would not be a matter for complaint.

    No objections here.

    Indeed, Mr Shea made it clear what is his objection to pro-gun rhetoric: it reminds him of pro-abort rhetoric.

    Again, keep in mind how hurt you were just now when I compared his rhetoric to the rhetoric of tyrants. That’s how hurt I am by his accusation (especially as I doubt you or he hate abortion as much as me – email me directly if you want more info)

    In both cases, the partisans resist even the slightest attempt to infringe on their rights, so that even arguably reasonable regulations which pose little or no threat to the right are resisted as if they are absolutes. In both cases, the pro-aborts and the pro-gunners are afraid of a slippery slope. The pro-gunners think that a slight infringement on their gun rights is nothing but a precursor to an all out assault and abolition of their rights. The pro-aborts feel the same way. So it is hardly surprising that their rhetoric would tend to be the same.

    Now, no offense intended:
    But a lot level the same accusation against Catholics (and well… conservatives) when it comes to things like the HHS mandate. This is what offends me on an intellectual level. It’s like returning to the wolf/sheepdog parable I know you’ve talked on before. We can look at both and see that they both have teeth and claws but is it the commonalities the only important thing? If it is, then we need to be aware and ready that the tools we use now could very well be turned against us.

    Because as Briggs likes to point out all the damn time, they can use statistics to prove just about anything. Mark my words, if we make the rule of thumb “rights can be repressed if lives are saved”, they WILL make an effort to prove your religion (and I now mean “you” to whomever is reading this comment, not just John) costs lives.

    Keep in mind that in neither case is the fear unreasonable. We will not rest until all abortion for any reason is treated as infanticide, and abolished. I expect to see the abolition of abortion in my lifetime. There are Leftists who feel the same way about disarming all civilians. They will not rest.

    Side note: I actually expect to see it end too, but only because I half expect things to get so bad, we won’t have the luxury of it any more (as your debt clock points out).

    While I think talk of secession is treasonous and absurd as long as the ballot box is open, I do think the threat of creeping tyranny is real and immediate. Americans should begin arming themselves and training in the safe use of arms, in order to cow the Left into surrendering their sick dreams of socialist tyranny. However, the media is the enemy, and gunfire will not help us in a war of the spirit. We cannot win an armed rebellion if we cannot win the support and enthusiasm of enough people to win an election.

    On this you and I are in perfect agreement.

    The proposed additional restrictions on gun rights are unconstitutional as well as being imprudent and pointless (they will not save a single innocent life) but they do not directly violate the Second Amendment. So I hope you see the difference between the two types of problems.

    Well on this we only disagree on minor degrees. Heck, I think our only real disagreement is on possible tactics. But that’s something we can discuss another time. This comment will probably crash your blog as it is.

    You smirk, and say the straight line was too tempting for you.

    Well I meant the smirk in a manner “yes I know I’m being a smartass and deserved to be slapped. I will not resist my rightful punishment.” We sort of do that at work sometimes.

    I would say that if the American founders rebelled because the British Crown lowered the number of musket balls carried in a poke from ten to seven, but gave the colonists full representation in Parliament so that any other disputes could have been settled peacefully in the ballot box and not on the battlefield, yes, it would apply to them too. As a Southern gentleman, I dismiss the complaints of the Confederate States of America as treason unworthy of shedding blood to defend.

    These complaints are less worthy than theirs to trigger rebellion.

    Again, on this you and I are in perfect agreement. I was merely wanting to establish a common frame of reference.

    You then give the case for opening a discussion about treason, namely, that the Constitution is violated, and therefore the dissolution of all loyalty to the sovereign people of the United States should now be open for discussion.. You ask whether it is really that treasonous to begin discussing secession.

    Again, my apologies for communicating poorly. As I think my link to Jonah in the previous comment proved, I also am in favor of federalism and constitutionalism. It was more of a philosophical musing. You know how tempting what-ifs are to we sci-fi geeks.

    By talking as if we do, by talking about when we should, the pro-gunners who shoot their mouths off about committing treason harm our cause. They are not serious.

    Now again, I think we only disagree by degrees. At least as far as I can tell, you are right, they are not serious, just philosophizing. (the “what would it take for you…”) Yes you can probably find some that are serious (though I’d also wager a lot are just bluffing at the moment to get the busybodies to back down) but surely we can at least agree that painting such folks with a broad brush is as wrong as my previous sin.

    Myself, I regard such language as extravagant and inflammatory, not to mention infantile and disgusting, and hardly in keeping with Christian notions of longsuffering, patience, and peace.

    Again, half serious, half being a smart ass:
    Would you call it being aplomb? ;)

    (yes, I have earned 2 smackings now)

    The damage inflicted by the my neighbor on my nation or must be lasting, grave, and certain; all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective; there must be serious prospects of success for the mutiny; the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated.

    Again, philosophically I have a question:
    How do you define “serious prospect for success”? Is it wrong to fight for a lost cause? Given that we agree far more than not, I assume I must be misunderstanding something since right now it strikes me as… well what was the prospects for success for Fordo or Aragorn or the ancient Vikings? (they would lose even in their afterlife)

    But only the atrocious and most serious provocation by my neighbor would be sufficient. The damage inflicted by the my neighbor on my nation or must be lasting, grave, and certain; all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective; there must be serious prospects of success for the mutiny; the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated.

    Yes, which is why I asked if secession might be considered the civil disobedience of last resort.

    The remainder of your comments do not ask any direct questions,

    I did not? I was genuinely curious about the philosophical (or is there another term I should use) questions I put forth. But then, that might cause you blog again and I’ve tempted you astray too much. Let’s just say, if you do blog upon such questions, I look forward to reading them.

    There will be no peaceful secession of states from the union of the United States. The Civil War settled that issue, and even if it did not, the peaceful division of the Eastern from the Western Roman Empire should be a terrifying cautionary example.

    Again, I am only curious from a sci-fi fan perspective. What if. What if the debt and finances got so bad, the union split apart and no war was fought because no one could afford it? (wait, isn’t that what happened with the USSR?) Or what if it was backwards this time? The North (and W coast I bet) decided leave the “red” states? Does anyone else just wonder how the USA might end? (though of course as a patriot, I hope it never does)

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      I am glad I did not take offense, and I sympathize with your hurt feelings. Like you, I think Mr Shea is overreacting for seeing a surface comparison between the fans of infanticide and the fans of liberty as equally zealous.

      I would be happy to answer your question if I understood what they were. You made a series of statements, so I replied with a series of statements. If you want to know the details of my reasoning, ask away.

      Let me answer what you did ask: Serious prospect for success means that the necessarily evils of turmoil and mutiny and war are suffered for the sake of achieving some real good, such as preserving liberty or life, and not merely as a suicide charge. The uncertainty of war makes the prospect of such success difficult or impossible to measure, therefore the utmost care must be taken before war is declared. The bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City was a retaliation for the cruel, pitiless and pointless massacre at Waco, according to the bomber. He honestly thought it would be a signal for the American people to rise up in rebellion against the federal government and overthrow us. With him there was no serious prospect of success.

      But the factors to be weighed in assessing one’s prospects of victory cannot be precisely defined: it is a judgment call.

      As for the science fiction questions, the scenario you outline is very similar to what I speculated about as part of the backstory of COUNT TO A TRILLION, so I, too, have thought of it. I assumed what would be necessary was a generation raised and educated by the public schools to believe that the United States Constitution had no legitimacy or legal authority, so that when a popular president (in my book, I called him Jefferson Dayles, a rather obscure homage to A.E. van Vogt’s fixup novel THE MOONBEAST) refused to relinquish office when impeached, the population was divided rather than unified in its response. Turmoil follows, ending with the US Joint Chiefs imposing martial law for the duration of the emergency. The emergency lasts two hundred years.

      Here is my timeline:

      • 2091 —Jefferson Dayles refuses to step down when impeached, instead attempts a coup. Succession Wars in the USA.
      • 2092 —Joint Chiefs of Staff assume administration “For the Duration.” Beginning of the Imperial Federal Government.
      • 2120-2220 —The Starvation reaches worldwide levels in AD 2120.
      • 2121— Disunion War. American Imperium breaks into People’s Ergonomic Positive Republic of California, the Gaianist Democratic Union of America, and the Confederate States of America (Informally known as Oddifornia, Greenyland, and Jesusland).
      • 2139 —Abecedarian War begins (so-called because it is an ABC war, Atomic, Biological, Chemical).
      • 2150-2170 — The Harmonious Forward Leap Together. Japan makes territorial gains along the cost of North and South America, establishing enclaves, erecting schools and factories.
      Re-industrialization spreads from the Orient. Supremacy of Japan under the Tenno. Cyber-Shintoism. Japanese establish the Co-Prosperity Sphere in the Pacific, from Australia to the Aleutians, and parts of California. Pacific Rim Wars. Artificial Volcanism first used as military terror-weapon
      • 2151 —The Big One. The long-expected San Andreas earthquake destroys the coastal cities of California. The coastline is shattered into an Archipelago. Japanese commercial interests and military units are invited in by Sacramento to restore prosperity and order. Oddifornia becomes a client state of the Tenno.
      • 2155 —The Southwest frees itself from California, declares itself Aztlan, a province of Reino del Extasis, the federated drug-theocracy stretching from Mexico to Brazil.
      • 2165-2216 —Plague Years begin (also called The Fifty Years). Extinction of the Great Apes.
      • 2171-2190 —Semiotic analysis of the human genome prompts the First Revolution in Biotechnology. Rapid advances in bioengineering.
      • 2176-2180 —Reconquista. Southwestern United States overrun by Mexico.
      • 2176 —The Armed Republic of Greater Texas breaks away from the Confederacy.
      • 2180— Semiotic analysis of semantic neuropsychology prompts creates the Linguistic Consequentialism theory, or “Volksseele” first in Dutch Africa, later in Europe, first as an academic theory, later as a political movement. As a result, nation-states, blamed for the horrors of the depopulation and war, begin to lose predominance to Lingospheres.
      • 2181— The Kali Yuga. India reduces Middle East and Indochina to radioactive wasteland, bombs European cities. Effective end of the Jihad. Copts rise to power in Egypt.
      • 2182 —Treaty of Charleston ends the Abecedarian War.
      • 2187 -2190—Linguistic Laws, first in France and Germany, and later throughout the civilized nations, require subjects to declare their primary language, and to avow loyalty to it, rather than to nation-states.

      I assume not only a change in politics, but a change in the theory of politics. In my future history, the nation-state of the Enlightenment goes the way of the absolute Monarchies and state-Churched of the Reformation, the Imperial states and statelets of the Renaissance, the limited monarchies under an international Church of the Middle Ages, the Imperial state of the Romans, the Cities-States of the Greeks, and a new theory of political loyalty conjured the creation of linguistic spheres of influence as the primary social identity.

      • Comment by Nate Winchester:

        Serious prospect for success means that the necessarily evils of turmoil and mutiny and war are suffered for the sake of achieving some real good, such as preserving liberty or life, and not merely as a suicide charge. The uncertainty of war makes the prospect of such success difficult or impossible to measure, therefore the utmost care must be taken before war is declared.

        Ah, so it is not the hopeless cause you are railing against but those that go to war without a plan for what to do after winning? So things like the rebels in Star Wars wouldn’t be in the wrong for fighting against am empire they have no real hope of beating, but if they were fighting and had no ideas on what government or anything else they’ll do once they “win”? (which supplemental material revealed they did have one)

        Hmm… You should read Avatar (last airbender): the promise. (I sent you my review, right?) Of course, since the characters were kids, I would say they were as serious about success as they could have been, but the revelation of just how unprepared they all were for victory I think may make the point you were saying.

        I assume not only a change in politics, but a change in the theory of politics. … a new theory of political loyalty conjured the creation of linguistic spheres of influence as the primary social identity.

        I think you were only off by your dates. This may very well happen ahead of schedule.

        Also, please tell me you’ll be including an apendix in the third book detailing all this history. It’s cool. :)

        • Comment by John C Wright:

          I am sorry that I am unclear. Throwing a society into war, bloodshed, murder, fratricide, and inflicting such wounds as may never heal (many a Southerner still detests the Yankee for evils and retaliations outside living memory) is evil if done with no serious chance of overthrowing and curing the injustice which provoked the war. In a case where the plucky rebels cannot win, it is better that they not take up arms and suffer the injustice, because the evils of war are so great that nearly anything is preferable. If you besiege a city, expect starving mothers to kill and eat their own children. If you bomb a city, expect little girls to burn, be trapped in rubble, and to die with their cries audible to helpless folk outside who cannot rescue them. If this is what you intend to inflict on a society, it can be excused if the evil being averted or cure is so much the worse than this. Logically, if the war effort is vain, and you have no serious prospect of success, then the excuse of averting a greater evil cannot apply. If you have no chance of success, you will avert nothing.

          I said nothing about the government to be set up after, and never even approached that topic remotely. I do not understand how you could imagine that I had said anything of the kind.

          There is an appendix in one of my books with these dates. I cut and pasted the information I posted in my comment from it.

          • Comment by Nate Winchester:

            I am sorry that I am unclear.

            It’s probably me, I freely admit this is my own wolf/sheepdog blindspot so it’s probably more my own fault.

            So, ok. I like using fiction etc as mental exercises to grasp concepts so sticking with that:

            If we ignore the final acts and/or the fact that we know, as the audience, the good guys always win- what stories would illustrate your point if we were characters within that story (and only knew what they knew)? Would the rebels of star wars be in the wrong? Or the free peoples of middle earth? (always my first thoughts as two of the most near hopeless wars in fiction)

            The federation vs the Borg or Dominion would also be interesting examples.

            Then there’s questions of just war vs total war but we probably need to get on the same page about the basics first. :D

            • Comment by John C Wright:

              The rebels in STAR WARS had ships, equipment, trained military personnel, and apparent widespread popular support. The free peoples of Middle Earth were the defenders, and nothing in just war theory requires a defender not to defend himself, no matter the hope of success or the hopelessness. We are talking about when it is moral and proper to start a war or insurrection.

              I can think of no example from fiction of acts of war or rebellion where the rebels inflict casualties with no hope of success, with the possible exception of the abortive attempt of the rebels in Ursula Le Guin’s EYE OF HERON, or perhaps civil turmoils depicted in her THE DISPOSSESSED or her FOUR WAYS TO FORGIVENESS.

              On second thought, perhaps there is one. It has been a while since I read that book, and I confess certain essential details were not clear to me, such as, for example, the nature and magnitude of the threat. But in Peter Watts’ BLINDSIGHT, as best I can tell, when the crew of the Theseus opens fire, the act is done as pure defiance against a superior enemy which is not even aware of the humans. The destruction of the ship results. The damage to the aliens is of no account because they are not self aware. If the scene I recall was what the author intended (an hypothetical whose veracity I cannot attest) then this would fall under the prohibition on starting a war one cannot win.

  3. Comment by meunke:

    I tried to avoid the entire secession argument in those threads (not easy as it seemed everyone wanted to steer the conversation in that direction).

    Regarding gun control and Mark, I think one of the most maddening things about the entire series of exchanges was that it appeared (and here I’m talking more about the conversations on Facebook) that Mark equated people disagreeing with his gun control ideas with something he called ‘active passivity’, that we were holding the 2nd amendment as some kind of absolute and we didn’t want to do anything to try to prevent the killing of children. It almost appeared as if he wasn’t bothering to read what was posted. Of course by that time, the whole issue had exploded and he was probably, and I suppose understandably, sick and tried of having to police every comment thread.

    In order to be clear, I VERY much doubt that outside some anarchist or SERIOUSLY hardcore Libertarian circles, there is anyone who really thinks that the government has zero right to regulate firearms on any level. I haven’t seen anyone, for example, declaring that we should lift the background check system, or that we should certainly allow convicted, violent felons to purchase any weapon they want, etc.

    What at least some of us were attempting to do was to point out the unrealistic nature and magnitude of the infringement that he was proposing, as well as pointing out how unworkable it was, particularly when other methods were available that could possibly have a MUCH greater effect. The idea that ZERO regulations could be tolerated at any level was to my knowledge never even brought up.

    The real disagreement was not in the ends sought, in my opinion. The end we all seek is the safety of the innocent and protection of society. What was in disagreement was the MEANS to achieve those ends. Unfortunately, it became obvious to me reading the posts that it appeared that Mark confused anyone who disagreed with his means as rejecting the end sought.

  4. Comment by plymouthbelvedere:

    this nation, which still has a free press, and free elections that are almost honest

    LOL

  5. Comment by howling_wolf:

    There will be no peaceful secession of states from the union of the United States. The Civil War settled that issue, and even if it did not, the peaceful division of the Eastern from the Western Roman Empire should be a terrifying cautionary example.

    If we’re going Roman, the various attempts to hold the Empire together (or even the original Latin tribes together), though thought to have “settled the issue”, did not stop the inevitable breaking up.

    The US will die. Maybe not in our lifetimes, but only the arrogant will think it will live forever. There will be a Holy Mass celebrated over the ruins of the Capitol, to bless the late, great Republic. I predict the US will die this way; when secession becomes the safest route by which to preserve your culture or your way of life. At that point, all talk of a “perfect union” becomes a slavish farce, and the oppressive peace will be traded for a hateful war.

    All this talk can be called treason, sure. But the farsighted know that such words, like “justice”, “democracy” and “rule of law”, (hey, remember when Caesar meant “curly hair” and not “absolute ruler”?) flow and ebb with the tides of circumstance.

    Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

    • Comment by John Hutchins:

      America is more of an idea and ideal then it is an institution. The institution of government could be completely dissolved but until the last person that believes in the ideas and ideals of America enough to be willing to die for it is gone then it will not have died completely. In fact over throwing the existing institutions of the government may eventually become necessary for the survival of the rule of law, republic, and justice, it has happened in the past, is currently happening in many places, and will continue to happen and may happen here, but we are not there yet.

      The constitution and our laws may have been corrupted in many places but there are still courts that try to do their job, still elections which can change things, still a senate, still a house of representatives, and still states with their own state governments. Even if both parties are primarily engaged in selling lies to the public that isn’t too far different from what has always happened since the start of the republic (or of any republic) and the lies will eventually come tumbling down on top of us.

  6. Comment by plymouthbelvedere:

    Howling Wolf is correct. The American constitution, which I swore an oath to defend, is no longer in effect. The American nation ( = European ethnicity, Christian culture ) for which the flag stood has been dead since the early 1960s.

    An “America” without its original constitution and culture isn’t an “America” at all. It’s an evil pagan empire, and I say to hell with it.

  7. Comment by The Deuce:

    John, read this, watch the unedited video, and read the comments, and reach your own conclusions: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markshea/2013/01/meanwhile-the-gun-lobby-continues-to-impress.html

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      I am unable to see the video due to limitations in my computer. You are arguing with Mr Shea over a trivial point. He thinks it was rude for the pro-gunners in the audience to chose that moment to speak because the man just had his child gunned down brutally and senselessly, and you think the audience was challenged if not provoked. Mr Shea uses his typically colorful language for describing this, you start to accuse his personal motives as if you know what is in his heart.

      He says this of himself:

      “I have no interest in confiscating guns. I don’t want to repeal the 2nd amendment. I don’t think there are any serious plans to do it. I think secessionism is nutty … I come at this stuff as a sort of bystander to the gun debate, horrified by Sandy Hook, and not very impressed by a lot of the gun culture rhetoric. At the same time, I’m sympathetic to conservatives who deeply fear the growth of the police state and so forth.”

      If we cannot win a man of these sentiments to our side with our rhetoric, then our rhetoric is deeply, deeply flawed.

      The enemy wants to make this into a simple binary choice: either you are a good angel who cares about children and therefore hates guns or you are an evil bloodthirsty demon who loves guns and therefore hates children. We need to point out that the point of guns is to protect children from bad people; and that good people can care about encroachments against our liberties, particularly the right to bear arms, without lacking any compassion for the children whose lives and freedoms we wish to protect.

      Mr Shea came across a well-crafted piece of enemy propaganda, and it was so successful that it left him with the emotional impression the propaganda was meant to convey to him, even after he saw it in context. Since I have not seen it, neither the edited version nor in context, I cannot say if his emotional impression was fair or unfair. I am willing to believe it was fair even if, when and if I ever get around to viewing the video, it might not be the impression I come away with.

      If we are driving a right guy like Shea into the enemy camp, we are doing something very, very wrong.

      • Comment by The Deuce:

        You really do need to see the video to get a sense of what actually happened, and how severely it was twisted into something else. My argument was not over whether people in the audience were rude or not. My point, which should not have been controversial, is that there is a fundamental difference between answering a question directed at you at an arguably inappropriate moment, and Westborough Baptist style heckling, and that to portray one as the other is fundamentally dishonest and slanderous.

        I simply cannot get my head around the notion that deceiving millions of people into believing such a lie against their fellow citizens, using a faked-up historical record, is no big deal, on the grounds that the targets of the 2-minute hate strike you as having been kind of rude nonetheless.

        I’ve got nothing to say about Mark’s personal motives, despite the strong urge by now to “return the favor” on that front. I’m just describing what I’ve seen him *do*.

        He says this of himself:

        Just about everyone in favor of gun control says that about themselves, at least the first three sentences of it, and most probably believe it. I believe it or disbelieve it based on how they respond to attempts at respectful dialogue and to facts and arguments placed before them.

        We need to point out that the point of guns is to protect children from bad people; and that good people can care about encroachments against our liberties, particularly the right to bear arms, without lacking any compassion for the children whose lives and freedoms we wish to protect.

        I have made those points, and still make those points (though less so as I get the impression of dealing with a bad-tempered brick wall). You have to understand that what I say in that thread is the culmination of weeks of frustration at having those points completely ignored whenever anybody makes them, and the people making them dismissed with accusations of hypocrisy, bad faith, and even murderous intent for spurious reasons.

        • Comment by John C Wright:

          It seems to me that your disagreement with Mark Shea amounts to a difference of opinion on the amount of courtesy to use in a public debate when that debate is framed entirely in an emotional issue (I am tempted to call it a publicity stunt: why is the father of a dead child speaking in public on this issue at all? It is like shoving the widows of 9/11 into the spotlight to get their opinion on war policy or the Ground Zero mosque.)

          Shea expresses disgust at the tone-deafness of our side to the serious concerns of our enemies. You react by being tone-deaf to his admittedly less serious concern. This is counterproductive.

          We have facts, logic, common sense, law, tradition, honor and statistics on our side. They have the media on their side. The media fooled Mark Shea with deceptive editing. But the unedited version left him still disgusted by the excess of partisan zeal on our side. The proper response there was not to display even more zeal for even stricter partisanship.

          Having not seen the video, I have no opinion whether his reaction was proportional or disproportional: but why even reach the point where that is what we are discussing? The atrocity at Sandy Hook is a windfall for the ghouls in the Political Correctness cult, since any public disaster or calamity serves them as an excuse, in the same of public safety, to expand the reach of government, and tighten the gyves and fetters of Caesar with another turn of the screw. We are the few last remaining rational men in a deluge of panicky emotion, and our foes delight to cause panics and stampedes because nothing else will serve them. You calm a panicking crowd by using sweet reason in a calm tone, not by allowing your understandable frustration to show, and not by making personal attacks.

          More charity is the answer, not more emotion. If Mr Shea has wronged you — and he indeed has a tongue like a termagant — rejoice that you have an opportunity to forgive him. It is good practice.

          On a more personal level, I just have to listen to a co-worker of mine, a fellow I otherwise love and respect, tell me he is planning to pretend he is an American Indian so that he can join a protest against the ball team “The Redskins” and call all sports fans racists. He is deliberately setting about to spread satanic hatred throughout the community for no other purpose than to masturbate his own bloated ego.

          I made one small remark expressing my disagreement, and he pretending I had said something else, so that he could make a self-serving ego-stroking speech about that: and when I yet again made one small remark about the unwisdom of such strawman tactics, he yet against pretended not to hear me, pretended I had said what I had not, and made another ego-speech.

          I did not follow up on my natural impulse to take up my sword cane and maim or kill him, despite that this would have been right and just. Christian terror of the Almighty, who frowns on wrath as on murder, and promises to mete out to me all the unforgiveness I measure to others cows me into terrified meekness, and I pray the Good Lord remove from me these murderous impulses which these wretched liars provoke in me. The provocation they will have to answer for before the great white Judgment Seat on the Last Day.

          Whether I accept the provocation I and none but I will have to answer for. The fact that another man offered me a drink is no excuse for taking up the cup gleefully in both hands and tossing back my head and draining the cup of wrath to the lees.

          I have no idea if you are a man of my choleric temperament or not, but if you are, I urge you to resist that temperament, and forgive Mr Shea, and anyone else who offends you. It is possible that they do not know what they are doing.

          Your life will be more stress free.

  8. Comment by The Deuce:

    Just to reiterate, in my reading hardly anyone at Mark’s site actually advocated secession. There could have been other messages that I didn’t catch, but as far as I could tell, what actually seemed to get people banned was saying things like:

    While I think talk of secession is treasonous and absurd as long as the ballot box is open, I do think the threat of creeping tyranny is real and immediate. Americans should begin arming themselves and training in the safe use of arms, in order to cow the Left into surrendering their sick dreams of socialist tyranny.

    In other words, if someone stated that we must maintain our arms so as to have the capacity to defend against even a hypothetically tyrannical American government in the possible future should the need arise, they were accused of being nutjob secessionists who fantasize about murdering millions of their fellow citizens.

    If they protested that, on the contrary, their preference would be for a peaceful separation if they ever found themselves at insoluble odds with the aforementioned hypothetical tyrannical American government (if peaceful resolution were at all possible), they were told that they were obviously lying, on the grounds that their desire to maintain arms clearly shows that they want a bloody war of vengeance rather than a peaceful resolution, and that they therefore were not only nutjob secessionists, but nutjob secessionists who were too chickenshit to admit it. And that’s usually when the banhammer came down, from what I could tell.

    For my part, my position on secession is pretty much identical to yours, but I didn’t dare argue it on Mark’s site, even before the banhammer started coming down, because it was apparent to me from the beginning that the gun-control devotees were doing their damnedest to get 2nd Amendment proponents to make the “defense against tyranny” argument, so they could all point in unison like the Body Snatchers and scream “MURDER FANTASIZER! MURDER FANTASIZER!”

    • Comment by Mary:

      I regret to say that I am not surprised by this characterization. I left, myself, a while back when he threatened to ban me over objections to something he said.

      • Comment by The Deuce:

        *Sigh* I think I’m going to step back for a while too for my own blood pressure, which is a shame because I’m a fan of his and have been a loyal reader for a few years now. I figured that after the immediate aftermath of Sandy Hook when emotions cooled a bit, he’d be more welcoming of reasoned debate and dialogue, but if anything the constant ad hominem has just gotten worse. Venting my frustration and my complaints hasn’t worked either, so I think it’s time to just give up trying to talk about it at all.

  9. Comment by Nate Winchester:

    I’ll create 2 threads to make discussion easier.

    I would be happy to answer your question if I understood what they were. You made a series of statements, so I replied with a series of statements. If you want to know the details of my reasoning, ask away.

    Ok, what I was asking:

    1) It is said that war is the diplomacy of last resort (or something to that effect). … Would secession not be the last resort of civil disobedience? The only action left BEFORE violence results?

    2) What are the limits of this? For instance, is it treasonous for the British (or anyone else) to discuss leaving the EU. Or for any nation to leave the U.N.? What would make that different from say… Virginians leaving the USA? Is it a certain size or age that a group has to be before secession because treasonous and unreasonable?

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      1. Secession is not civil disobedience. Secession is when a state breaks with the federal union as established by the Constitution: it is an act of war. Civil Disobedience is peaceful refusal to obey orders which cooperate with an evil. Hence secession is not the only action left before violence results: it is violence, as much as opening fire on Fort Sumpter is violence. Governors refusing to cooperate with unconstitutional federal mandates (such as establishing local socialized medicine exchanges) is not a break with the union as established by the Constitution, it is, in fact, supporting the Constitution.

      2. What are the limits of what? The E.U. is an alliance, not a state, and commands no fealty aside from what the member states find to be in their own best interest. It is dishonorable to violate a solemnly sworn treaty, of course, but it is not treason.

      If you are asking what is the difference between a nation leaving the U.N. and Virginia breaking faith with the union, this is not a serious question. It is like asking whether a loyal customer of Coke drinking a Pepsi is the same as a married man having an affair.

      The United Nations is a group of diplomats of sovereign powers who make treaties and alliances. The Commonwealth of Virginia assigned her sovereign powers to the federal government in the matters of war and peace, foreign relations, weights and measures, coinage, and every enumerated power listed in Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. Although it has been largely forgotten these days, all other sovereign powers, especially the general police power, is retained. (This is why a murder committed in Virginia offends the commonwealth but not the federal. Murder disturbs the Public Peace, of which the state government and not the federal is protector.)

      The United Nations is not a sovereign, is not a government, and has had no such sovereign authority granted to it. It is not a sovereign power for the same reason it is not a marriage, or a chapter of the Elk’s Club, or a military order of knighthood, or a corporation, or a university, or a church. It is a different institution altogether.

      It is not the size or age that a group has to be before secession because treasonous and unreasonable. It is whether or not (1) fealty is owed (2) fealty has been sworn. Schoolchildren swear to preserve the union each time they salute the national flag with the pledge (oath) of allegiance (fealty). When I became an attorney in the Commonwealth, I swore the same oath military men swear: “to defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic.” When Virginia signed the US Constitution, the Union was formed and fealty was given.

      The wrongness of breaking an oath depends not on size or age or balloon-color or any other absurd extraneous factor, but only on whether an oath was sworn and the oathtaker was in his proper wits.

      • Comment by The Deuce:

        The wrongness of breaking an oath depends not on size or age or balloon-color or any other absurd extraneous factor, but only on whether an oath was sworn and the oathtaker was in his proper wits.

        That puts the entire membership of the EU in the clear, at least.

      • Comment by Tom Simon:

        Secession is when a state breaks with the federal union as established by the Constitution: it is an act of war. Civil Disobedience is peaceful refusal to obey orders which cooperate with an evil. Hence secession is not the only action left before violence results: it is violence, as much as opening fire on Fort Sumpter is violence.

        With respect, this is incorrect and depends upon a false definition of ‘violence’. U.S. Constitution, Article III, section 3: ‘Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.’ Secession is not specifically mentioned in the Constitution, either in respect of treason or in any other respect.

        Schoolchildren swear to preserve the union each time they salute the national flag with the pledge (oath) of allegiance (fealty).

        And they so ‘swear’ at an age at which the law does not recognize the ability of minors to swear legally binding oaths, or indeed to enter into any form of contract in their own names; which leads me to the belief that the Pledge of Allegiance, when so sworn, is not intended as an oath enforceable at law. The fact that children are required to take this pledge, and not commonly allowed to abstain, suggests further that it is not an enforceable oath, because it is not taken voluntarily. An oath sworn only under duress is not binding.

        When I became an attorney in the Commonwealth, I swore the same oath military men swear: “to defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

        Since the Constitution does not explicitly forbid secession, secession, if mutually agreed upon and pursued in a lawful way, does not necessarily violate the Constitution. The well-known secession of the Southern states does not stand as a counterexample, because it was neither mutually agreed upon (the consent of the federal government and of the other states was neither obtained nor sought) nor pursued in a lawful way (as it involved firing upon Federal troops and seizing Federal property without due process of law or compensation). The constitutional law of the United States in the wider sense (including, particularly, the Declaration of Independence) reserves to the people the right to make changes in their form of government. The adhesion of new territories to the union, and the admission of new states, constitute such changes and are sanctioned by law and usage; the cession of territories (as with the Philippines) is another such change sanctioned by law and usage; it is difficult to see on what grounds the secession of states could be forbidden a priori, provided that it is not accomplished or accompanied by other acts illegal in themselves.

        As to the possible means of peaceably dissolving the Union and providing for the secession of one or more states, I should venture to guess that a Constitutional Convention duly convened by the people of the several States would have sufficient authority to take such measures. This lacks the glamour of rebellion and the heady smell of powder and shot, but if it is really secession that one is interested in, and not rebellion specifically, it strikes me as an obvious and perhaps tenable option.

        To look at the more general question of secession from a federal union, not restricted specifically to the U.S.: In 1992, the Slovak Republic peaceably seceded from the federal union of Czechoslovakia. In 1991 and 1992, all fifteen republics of the U.S.S.R. peaceably seceded from that union — there remaining no loyal armed forces or citizenry with which the union could offer violence against the secessionists. In 1905, Norway peaceably seceded from Sweden. In 1964, Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and Nyasaland (Malawi) seceded from the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, an event that was not unattended by civil disturbances, but was conducted legally under British law. In 2000, the Parliament of Canada enacted the ‘Clarity Act’, which established legal conditions under which a peaceable secession from Canada could occur. In none of these cases was it ever held that secession constituted either treason or violence, even though the citizens and officials of all those countries had sworn oaths of fealty to their respective sovereign powers. In each case, the sovereign power released the citizens and officials from their oaths in order to allow the secession to take place; and there is of course no reason why the United States could not do the same in principle.

        • Comment by John C Wright:

          You are technically correct in every assertion you make, but you are incorrect where you read the word “secession” to mean anything other than a Civil War.

          There have been other nations, no doubt, whose history and character were such that they could be dissolved by the peaceful agreement of all parties, returning to some previously boundary lines of ethnic and linguistic divide. For example, the Eastern and Western Empire severed the commonwealth of Rome into Latin-speaking and Greek-speaking polities. The examples you list are all ethnic or national groups returning to a previous political condition.

          In the context, however, of my discussion with Mr Winchester and the discussion between Mr Shea and his various unhappy commentators, what was being discussed was American secession, specifically, the exercise of the right to bear arms expressly for the purpose of resisting the federal government by force once the patience of the American people with the union has been exhausted, or, in other words, armed mutiny against the federal government. If I said anything to lead you to believe I was discussing both secession by means of civil war and secession by means of a peaceful political compromise, I retract the statement.

          As for your other points: A child who vows allegiance to the flag, if below the age of reason, is still morally liable for oath-breaking, even if he were legally not held to account. Supposing that, for example, the Alger Hiss had never formally signed a contract or taken an oath of loyalty to the United States, but had recited the Pledge every day of his life up until his twenty-first birthday, it cannot be seriously maintained that the moral revulsion normal men feel for this sick traitor is inappropriate because his many vows of loyalty are not legally binding. The purpose of these civic ceremonies is to shape the conscience so that children will grow up to be decent men. Decent men do not betray their nation any more than they stab their mothers with a shiv. While one can imagine extraordinary circumstances were the wrongful act is justified, neither the wrongfulness is excused nor the justification rendered palatable by the legalistic nuance of when the oath was taken or what it meant.

          On the final point, your argument that my oath to the Constitution permits me to promote the dissolution of the Union is self-contradictory on its face, because to dissolve the Union means to work for the secession of its members, to promote civil war, and to render the Constitution to be of none effect.

          The Constitution is the Union and the Union is the Constitution. The words “make war” include civil war. Secession is treason. The Civil War settled that issue both culturally and legally.

          Mr Simon, I mean no disrespect to you sir, but this is now the fifth or sixth time someone has argued with me about acts which either are openly treasonous, or are quibbles that could allow one to inch toward treason. I am gaining more and more sympathy for the choler of Mark Shea the more I discuss this issue.

          Let us recall where this conversation started. There was a ghastly shooting at Sandy Hook, and twenty children were killed. The Left has once again exploited an emotional tragedy to panic the honest folk into begging for more chains and fetters, promising us all that eliminating scary looking weapons as well as outlawing the sale of weapons at gunshows (not one of which was used at Sandy Hook) will stop global warming — or will stop inequality of women’s salaries, or something. It does not matter what Leftists promise, or what is supposed to stop what. The outcomes sought are not rationally related to the policy being discussed.

          In this atmosphere of panic, all that need be done, all that can be done, is to answer the panic and the lies with calm truth. The last thing to do is to panic ourselves, or to start sounding like we are the nutbags the Leftists libel us as being.

          Talking about treason, or talking about secession, or talking about Civil War, even if we are merely having an abstract discussion about hypothetical cases, is panicky talk. It is emotion without reason. It is frustration talking. This is one reason why I broke with my beloved Libertarians. They had no sense of proportion, no sense of when human nature trumped abstract ratiocination.

          Did I mention that I live within walking distance of Bull Run, one of the bloodiest spots of ground in American history? Is it clear that I do not take talk of starting a new Civil War to talk about or joke about at a time like this? Did I mention ghosts are no doubt standing on the ridge on moonless nights, silhouetted against the stars, the rags of their uniforms still blowing from their crooked limbs, their eyes empty as pits, but they listen when we talk about Civil War?

          Until our cause has at least an argument as sound or a cause as just as that of the Southern rebels, we should not be following their example or mouthing their rhetoric.

          (In case that is unclear, I think a rebellion at this time against this federal government while the ballot boxes are still open has LESS justification than the cause of preserving the peculiar institution of slavery, protesting tariffs, or any of the other justifications the rebels back in the day offered.)

          • Comment by The Deuce:

            Supposing that, for example, the Alger Hiss had never formally signed a contract or taken an oath of loyalty to the United States, but had recited the Pledge every day of his life up until his twenty-first birthday, it cannot be seriously maintained that the moral revulsion normal men feel for this sick traitor is inappropriate because his many vows of loyalty are not legally binding.

            The Pledge Of Allegiance had nothing to do with it. Hiss would’ve been a treasonous traitor even if he had made no spoken or written oath even once in his entire life. He betrayed the people who raised him, who provided him an environment in which to live, who lived with him, and who counted on him.

            • Comment by John C Wright:

              The Pledge of Allegiance does indeed have something to do with it. A traitor who has never vowed loyalty is not also a liar and an oathbreaker. One who has, is. You are correct that he would have been a traitor either way. That, in fact, is my point.

              The cause of confusion is that I, the lawyer, am treating the Pledge in this hypothetical as a pedagogic device, a method for training the conscience to tell right from wrong, for habituating young minds to feel the normal and natural feelings of patriotism rather than the abnormal and unnatural passions of treason; whereas Mr Simon is treating the pledge as a legal contract, which, if not signed in black ink and impressed with a seal, is not valid.

            • Comment by John C Wright:

              But a traitor who never took nor broke an oath is not an oathbreakder as well as being a traitor, whereas one who did, is.

    • Comment by meunke:

      John I’m sure will have much better answers than I, but I’ll try to take a stab at this as well.

      1) I would say only if such a thing was possibly non-violent, like say Czechoslovakia was. I know that Czechoslovakia was not on the brink of bloodshed, and yes I know that non-violent secession is theoretically possible, but to be honest I have a hard time envisioning secession in the US that WOULDN’T be violent. We just aren’t that ‘neatly’ divided.

      2) Regarding the British leaving the EU as treason, I don’t think that quite matches up. The EU is not a ‘nation’ per say, but more of a form of multinational federation, if I understand correctly.

    • Comment by The Deuce:

      To answer the second question, “secession” against the EU or the UN is in a different category from secession from the United States for the same reason that there’s no such thing as treason against the EU or the UN.

  10. Comment by fabulous_mrs_f:

    I get the impression from reading Mr. Shea’s blog that many of the crazier secession chatter is on his Facebook page, not in his blog comments. I don’t read his Facebook page (and after hearing Mr. Shea’s comments on said page, I am glad I do not). I think much of his more passionate responses on his blog may originate in response to fb idiocy, for which I cannot blame him. I wonder how badly his ears are burning?

  11. Comment by Rolf Andreassen:

    We do not even use military metaphors (like “Occupy” Wall Street) for our peaceful protests.

    I observe that the original Tea Party was something in between a riot and an armed uprising by local militia. The peaceful name is a rather ironic euphemism.

    There will be no peaceful secession of states from the union of the United States. The Civil War settled that issue, and even if it did not, the peaceful division of the Eastern from the Western Roman Empire should be a terrifying cautionary example.

    The twentieth century, not a period noted for amiable resolution of differences, does offer several of examples of peaceful secessions, starting with Norway from Sweden and ending with the division of Czechoslovakia. I suggest that these recent examples may be more relevant than the ending of an empire which, let’s note, survived for a millennium beyond its split.

Leave a Reply