Is Secession in the Cards? The Unfolding of an Historical Irony

by David Solway (March 2021)

Secession 1 (detail), Gustav Klimt, 1898



It has been said many times by many writers and commentators: America is broken. We see a country riven by innumerable social factions, political conflicts, partisan animosities and incompatible red and blue states that make a mockery of the call for unity. Unity no longer exists and is now little more than a figment of unsustainable hope. Mutual antagonisms seem to have gone too deep for healing.

        The election of Joe Biden whom perhaps a majority of Americans regard as an anti-president, riding an electoral travesty and weaponizing what we may term a panicdemic to suppress individual freedoms, has only exacerbated the issue.  Even Time admits that “There was a conspiracy unfolding behind the scenes…that curtailed the protests and coordinated the resistance from CEOs…the result of an informal alliance between left-wing activists and business titans [whose] work touched every aspect of the election. They got states to change voting systems and laws…recruited armies of poll workers…successfully pressured social media companies,” and so on to ensure that Trump was not re-elected. The kicker is that Time considers this a good thing. “They were not rigging the election; they were fortifying it.” In effect, they were fortifying the election by rigging it.

        What we are witnessing is a disinformation technique perfected in the Soviet Union—dezinformatsiya—setting up a straw man called “enemies of the state” and using every vice, trick and deception to discredit, demonize and purge those who believe in freedom, probity and truth. In his book of that title, former chief of Romanian Intelligence and defector to the U.S. Ion Mihai Pacepa describes “disinformation” as “smoke and mirrors,” a “black art,” and “a permanent national policy” beloved of dictators. In this particular case, the “enemies of the state,” according to Time, would be Donald Trump and his supporters, including by implication half or more than half of the electorate, whereas those who worked to forge the results of the election confessedly via disinformation, censorship, collusion and glaring illegalities congratulate themselves as “democracy campaigners” and “pro-democracy supporters,” as per the article in Time. The irony is delectable. They are protecting a “vulnerable” democracy by employing anti-democratic tactics, cloned from the playbook of the Soviets and the Maoists. This is precisely what Time is floridly praising and the techno-oligarchic class in America is assiduously practicing.

        Following an unprecedented blitz of Executive Orders reversing the legislative accomplishments of the previous administration—cancelling the Keystone XL pipeline, ending construction of the U.S./Mexico border wall, embracing Marxist-inspired critical race theory, favoring transgender activism, firing Trump-appointed, Senate- approved attorneys, initiating a purge of conservative voices and Republican voters, etc.—opposition among patriotic groups, targeted sectors of the population and state legislators has begun to form. It is as if they recognize that marginalizing a majority of the people is one definition of tyranny, and that this is the trend under the new political authority.

        Texas GOP chairman Allen West suggested that law-abiding states should “bond together and form a union of states that will abide by the constitution.” I suspect this option would not be very effective. Something more than “bonding” is needed. Texas state representative Kyle Biedermann had suggested a process similar to Brexit, pointing out as well that other states, under Article V of the Constitution regarding the Convention of States, have shown themselves interested in joining the process.

        The problem here is that Article V requires the ratification of a plurality of states, which concurring Republican jurisdictions do not command. The 10th Amendment, which states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people,” would serve the purpose far better. As president of the New York Young Republican Club and associate fellow at the London Center for Policy Research Gavin Wax writes, “Don’t expect Congress, the president, or even the Supreme Court to undo more than a century of federal overreach. It’s going to take serious disruption to return to the spirit and letter of the 10th Amendment, which rounds out the Bill of Rights.”

        Pressure is beginning to mount by the day. The Epoch Times reports that a coalition of state attorneys general from West Virginia, Arkansas, Indiana, Mississippi, Montana, and Texas have informed Joe Biden that “any potentially unconstitutional executive actions or federal overreach will not go unchallenged.” Nullification measures are currently under consideration in Missouri, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Wyoming. South Dakota (Bill HB 1194) and North Dakota (Bill 1282) have introduced nullification legislation to combat Biden’s “executive overreach.” And Texas is now suing the Biden Administration “for climate actions that ‘kill jobs’.” The Permian basin is beginning to dry up.

        These are important initial gestures but can scarcely be expected to redress the larger situation, which would explain the fact that Biedermann has now introduced House Bill 1359 —also known as the Texas Independence Referendum Act (TIRA)—to give Texans the opportunity to secede from the United States. Some Texans are thinking of taking the cause to other states by exerting a physical presence. Like it or not, the upshot is that the spirit of resistance and the idea of divorce are plainly catching on.

        For as America continues to unravel, as the Washington cabal propels the nation ever further to the Left, and its allies in the media and Big Tech progressively cancel and deplatform all who dissent from the prevailing socialist/globalist orthodoxy, many have come to believe the only serious challenge to the status quo would appear to be the secession option—a last resort preferably to be averted but which may become unavoidable.

        Secession would involve thorny issues such as border control, trade and treaty arrangements, military adjustments, debt sharing and currency provisions, as well as a “cascade” of individual counties within blue states choosing to amalgamate with adjacent red states (rarely the other way round). The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment is also an issue should rural counties feel their votes carry less weight in the apportionment of legislative districts than those of urban centers. The Move Oregon’s Border movement, now known as Greater Idaho, is gaining ground.  Vexit2020 leader Rick Boyer in Virginia argues that the question of red areas dominated by a blue metropolis can be solved only by county realignment with an adjacent state, in this case West Virginia. Such transactions at every level, whether county or state, are formidably complex, but the alternative is grimly foreboding.

        Texas political commentator and talk show host Dennis Miller is of the same persuasion. “I see something just shy of cataclysmic coming,” he says, “but I don’t see it [the U.S.] coming back around. I see it getting very tribal. And I can only hope, at some point, we divvy up the albums like in a relationship that’s gone. It’s like Woody Allen in Annie Hall

        The prospect of a national breakup has been canvassed in books such as Frank Buckley’s American Secession (2020), James Kennedy’s Red State Red County Secession (2020), and Daniel Miller’s Texit (2018)—Miller (no relation to Dennis) is president of the Texas National Movement. Buckley believes that America is too big not to fail, and, as he contends in an interview with Bob Zadek, “the devolution away from a regulatory state based in Washington” may be inevitable. But he also believes secession as such may be moderated and rendered less traumatic by going a somewhat different route, namely, by dividing powers between the states and the central administrative authority, essentially a return to old-fashioned federalism. Following the 2020 electoral scandal and the renewed—and likely cemented— domination of the political and cultural Left, Buckley’s proposal may be dead in the water.

        Charles Murray’s Coming Apart is especially prescient in this respect. What Murray calls “the American project” is fraying before our eyes. “Many of the best and most exceptional qualities of American culture,” he writes, “cannot survive unless they are reversed”—an awkward formulation by which he means a reversal of their impairment. In other words, America cannot survive, as he makes clear, without a return to limited government, “policies that support marriage, religion and traditional values,” and “the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.” It is this “reversal” that the current conversation about the restoration of republican virtue along state lines is all about.

        Texas is obviously the bellwether state—Buckley thought it might be Oregon, or possibly California. Biedermann did not identify the other “interested” states, but as I have previously suggested, Florida, South Carolina, Alabama, Nebraska, Mississippi, Louisiana and other southern-central red states could align with Texas to form a unified, powerful and coherent nation, blessed with industry, energy, agriculture and open sea lanes. Other non-contiguous states, such as West Virginia, Arkansas, Montana, Alaska and the Dakotas could unilaterally opt to join the new federation. Various militant groups in Georgia are pitching for secession and are dutifully smeared in the press as right-wing extremists and conspiracy mongers. Secessionist thinking is that something must be done to parry a neo-Leftist oligarchy determined to impose a one-party, dirigiste regime upon the nation, including the rapid introduction of Great Reset protocols, as John Kerry has told us, entailing the diminishment of personal freedom and drastic reduction of Constitutional rights for all its citizens. The model for many patriots is the example of 1990 Lithuania, which asserted its independence in the face of intimidating odds.

        There is much talk of late concerning the revitalization of the Republican Party under Donald Trump and/or a potentially surging Patriot Party to combat the hegemonic plans of a plutocratic totalitarian monocracy that has occupied the seat of power, with a view to the 2022 midterms and 2024 presidential election. This is a dangerous illusion, a species of false comfort, for the voting apparatus will surely have been further corrupted and even more deeply entrenched, rendering fair elections a thing of the distant past. Americans could now expect to be governed by mail-order presidents. Additionally, millions of illegal immigrants will tilt the balance ever more in favor of Democratic Party candidates. The die will have been cast and a Democrat majority can look forward to its perpetuation.

        America is fighting for its very soul. The political Left, writes an American Thinker contributor, “want to begin the campaign to ‘reprogram’ and assimilate us into the collective.” “The Left appears more than willing,” writes Christopher Roach in American Greatness, “to harass and prosecute their opposition using all the weapons of state…[C]ompromise and moderation are false hopes, as evidenced by the second impeachment of now ex-President Trump.” Michael Schmidt argues in Politicrossing that we are experiencing an American version of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, a “systematic assault on God, American values, American historical icons, and our Constitution.” The neo-Marxist consortium has embraced the Maoist agenda of expunging the “Four Olds”: old customs, old culture, old ideas, old habits of mind. Alarmingly, the idea of “truth commissions” is now being bruited.

        Consequently, a compact of seceding states with plebiscitary warrant seems at this tipping point a reasonable means of protecting the Bill of Rights and securing the Republic as understood by the Founders. Of course, the temptation to political inertia is strong: there may be something to see here, but nonetheless let’s move on. This seems like a bad choice and will have consequences.

        “The future ain’t what it used to be,” quipped the ineffable Yogi Berra, wisely. Indeed, what we are now observing is an historical irony unfolding before our very eyes. So-called blue states administered by Democratic governors and big-city mayors have become the new Confederacy envisioning a slavish population subservient to autocratic control, the threat of violence, radical censorship and repressive “social justice” legislation—in other words, a sociopolitical plantation in which citizens have become subjects and governors have become rulers.

        At the same time, former Confederate states, once collectively known as the “South,” are now arguably and gradually coalescing to form a potentially new Union in which traditional values such as the sanctity of the family, freedom of speech, religious belief and assembly, the right to bear arms, limited government, and the virtues of individual autonomy and self-reliance within the purview of the law are assured. The Constitution in its originalist interpretation remains in place, thus preserving the Constitutional Republic that the new Confederacy centered in Washington D.C. is relentlessly dismantling.[*]

        In short, the potentially seceding states, unlike their 19th Century forebears in the Confederate south, would be acting to revive a polity in which all citizens are accorded equal rights, becoming, as we have seen, the new Union. Figuratively speaking, the Mason-Dixon line will have been turned upside down. “North” and “South” will have changed symbolic places on the political compass.

        History does not necessarily repeat itself. Sometimes it reverses itself—as Charles Murray hopes and advises. Nothing is certain, of course. Philosopher Pascal Bruckner quotes the witticism of a French politician, who said: “Everything has been foreseen, except what is going to happen.” It may be too late for a serious re-calibration of the American experiment. But the historical reversal that may be taking place remains, in the estimation of many, the only viable solution to a dark and oppressive future.


[*] Here I wish to avoid the vexed question of the relative merits of the case for southern independence and Yankee bad faith at the time of the Civil War and afterward. I leave this issue to the historians and committed parties as beyond my competence and interest.

Table of Contents



David Solway is a Canadian poet and essayist. His most recent book, Notes from a Derelict Culture, was released by Black House, 2019, London.

Follow NER on Twitter @NERIconoclast


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

New English Review Press is a priceless cultural institution.
                              — Bruce Bawer

Order here or wherever books are sold.

The perfect gift for the history lover in your life. Order on Amazon US, Amazon UK or wherever books are sold.

Order on Amazon, Amazon UK, or wherever books are sold.

Order on Amazon, Amazon UK or wherever books are sold.

Order on Amazon or Amazon UK or wherever books are sold

Order at Amazon, Amazon UK, or wherever books are sold. 

Order at Amazon US, Amazon UK or wherever books are sold.

Available at Amazon US, Amazon UK or wherever books are sold.

Send this to a friend