Arnold Kling  

The Secession Solution

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From a news report:


A long-simmering movement by liberal stalwarts in southern Arizona to break away from the rest of the largely conservative state is at a boiling point as secession backers press to bring their longshot ambition to the forefront of Arizona politics.

Maybe I should donate to this cause. Secession is a really good thing, and we need to remove the stigma that associates it with slavery.

At the very least, we should take on those Arizona Republicans who are taking a knee-jerk stance against the secession proposal. If Republicans living in southern Arizona feel badly about living in a liberal state, then they should carve out their own mini-state and secede themselves. We need to get to the point where you can secede with just a small territory, or even secede into a virtual territory. When secession fails to make people happy, the best solution is more secession.

Long live Baja Arizona!


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CATEGORIES: Political Economy




COMMENTS (17 to date)
John Fast writes:

I agree with you 125%. To me, the simplest explanation of anarcho-capitalism is to say that each property-owner can secede at will and join whatever government he wants.

IVV writes:

The only issue I have with the anarcho-capitalist model mentioned by John Fast is that it requires an ur-government that can define property rights independently of the governments below it. Otherwise, I am under no obligation to accept anyone's claim of property ownership, and attempt to conquer others--they're just standing on my property, after all.

Guy in the veal calf office writes:

Would you also give them 2 U.S. senate seats and, at minimum, 1 house seat?

Joseph K writes:

Secession should be looked at overall in terms of actual examples. And there are a number in the 20th century, though not everyone would call them all "secession" there are plenty of examples of larger states breaking up or parts of states breaking off. Greece seceded from Turkey, Finland seceded from Russia, Ireland seceded from UK, the Czech & Slovak Republics seceded from one another, Singapore seceded from Malaysia, the Baltic states seceded from the USSR (not to mention all the other former Soviet nations), Taiwan seceded from China. And we could add a number of places that maybe should or have tried to secede, such as Somaliland trying to secede from Somalia (namely trying to be recognized as an independent country), Palestine gaining independence from Israel, Darfur separating from Sudan, Kurdistan becoming a real country

Joe in Morgantown writes:

This West Virginian agrees on the merits of secession as a remedy for secession.

Doc Merlin writes:

It will never lose this stigma, because absolutely everything that the left doesn't like is accused of being racist. So when a right winger or libertarian suggests secession, then the left will automatically tar it as racist.

Lord writes:

It's really a purple state and probably the next one to switch. All they need is patience.

Evan writes:

The problem with secession is that it opens the opportunity to create barriers to trade. The whole reason the USA is such an economic success story is that the Federal Government prevents states from setting up trade and immigration barriers against each other, resulting in a gigantic zone of free trade and open borders from coast to coast.

Seceding places would have to keep doing that, or wealth would be destroyed very quickly. Imagine needing a passport if you want to go shopping at a mall a county over, having to pay tariffs on stuff you order from someone in another state, or needing a green card to work in a city you don't live in.

Hugh writes:

Why Arizona? What's wrong with Maryland seceding?

The problem with secession is that it opens the opportunity to create barriers to trade. The whole reason the USA is such an economic success story is that the Federal Government prevents states from setting up trade and immigration barriers against each other, resulting in a gigantic zone of free trade and open borders from coast to coast.

Seceding places would have to keep doing that, or wealth would be destroyed very quickly. Imagine needing a passport if you want to go shopping at a mall a county over, having to pay tariffs on stuff you order from someone in another state, or needing a green card to work in a city you don't live in.

Evan, that is beside the point. Baja Arizona wouldn't be a sovereign nation-state, it would be the 51st state of the US.

darjen writes:

Wow, I wonder if those liberals in Arizona have read thinkprogress many posts about how evil secession is. Apparently not.

Michael Orlowski writes:

"The problem with secession is that it opens the opportunity to create barriers to trade. The whole reason the USA is such an economic success story is that the Federal Government prevents states from setting up trade and immigration barriers against each other, resulting in a gigantic zone of free trade and open borders from coast to coast."

I'm sympathetic to that argument, but I would imagine it wouldn't be such a problem if the seceding states were small enough. Also, if these small-enough, states were close to each other, it might be easier to immigrate to a state an individual likes.

BZ writes:

As the only living Texas libertarian whose heart does not sing at the notion of a newly independent Republic of Texas, I must echo and then disagree with Jayson above. He's right that the free trade requirements of being in the Union are a benefit that would be extremely tough to lose. However, I don't think they (I assume we are talking about Tucson & Nogalas) are proposing to secede from the union, just from the state.

mark writes:

I think this is a great idea and more states should do it. Particularly the large states would be better served by subdividing. It would increase representativeness, and diversity. Hopefully somewhere there would be a libertarian state with a good climate.

For BZ, please remember that the treaty that admitted TX into the Union allows it to subdivide into 5 total states each of which is guaranteed admission into the Union. I have never understood why the politicians there don't pursue that more vigorously.

Brian Clenidnen writes:

California has discussed this for years about breaking the state in the three new states. Mostly so the conservative north actually has a say and the middle might actually be purple. I am for this in large states but the states would have to pension the federal legislator for this. The congress can't make new states out of existing ones with-out the consent of the state.

I could see south Florida wanting to breaking off from the rest of the state.

Lord writes:

The big problem with secessionist movements is they are naturally motivated to take advantage of disportionate Senate representation making governance less democratic. A possible solution would be to force would be secessionists to join another state or join several low population states in a larger unit.

AirmanSpryShark writes:

Rather than seeking secession en masse, we should lobby for interstate commerce in real estate: the owner of a parcel of land on a state border should have the right to 'transport' the land to the adjacent state (i.e., move the border to the other side of his land). Similar initiatives could also apply intrastate to city & county limits.

While unlikely to immediately satisfy the Baja Arizonans, it would be preferable to secession for the same reasons that markets are preferable to central planning: the aggregate outcomes are determined by millions of individual decisions instead of a few collective decisions.

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