Official Left and Right Agree: Shut Up About Nullification and Secession

A writer in the conservative weekly Human Events, founded in 1944, scolds us for talking about nullification and secession, about which he proceeds to repeat every misconception under the sun.

In my latest column, I reply. I begin:

These days there has been a lot of talk of nullification – the refusal of a state to allow the enforcement within its borders of an unconstitutional federal law – and even secession. This is not allowed in the United States. We are supposed to let the New York Times dictate the terms of the national debate, and the Times has not indicated that these topics are on the table for discussion.

What kind of national health program we ought to have, how much the political class should expropriate us, or whether that foreign country ought to be bombed right away or starved to death first – this is how the Times prefers it. The debate is framed from the establishment’s point of view, and no matter how it comes out, the vested interests and the status quo prevail.

Then there are the conservatives and libertarians who likewise take their lead from the Times. Why, that issue you are raising must be “crazy” – after all, I don’t see Newsweek or the New York Times talking about it. Not even Rush Limbaugh, that bold ideological risk-taker, discusses your ideas, citizen! Are you sure you still want to advance them?

And so there you have the glorious American political spectrum – all 3.7 inches. What we laughingly call the “limited government” side of the American political debate plays by the rules of the pro-government party, so much so that when the chips are down one can hardly tell them apart. When it comes to people who want to raise truly fundamental questions, the two official sides can’t kiss and make up fast enough.

Secession is especially unthinkable. You might think the size of the political unit called the United States would be a practical question, not a matter of religious mysticism. But mention secession, or the possibility that the existing apparatus may be so big as to be dysfunctional even by government standards – propositions that are obviously within the realm of possibility – and you are treated like a heretic, if not a lunatic. Why, 3.79 million square feet is the heaven-sent size of the United States, and not one square inch less! And anyway, they assure us, secession wouldn’t solve anything.

Wouldn’t it? Here’s just one thing. If the United States devolved into several smaller units, would they all have a Jacobin foreign policy in the Middle East? Would they all have made the disastrous decision to enter World War I? These are interesting possibilities, yet we are not even allowed to consider them. Stick to the 3.7 inches, citizen.

So the same kind of article you might read criticizing (for example) nullification or secession in Human Events or WorldNetDaily might just as easily be found in the New Republic. The two sides can’t kiss and make up fast enough.

Read the whole article, then pick up a copy of Nullification for a mere ten clams.

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  • Ganesh

    Ha ha. Thanks for a good laugh Dr. Woods, with your slam of the “approved” opinion makers.

  • J Fournier

    Looks good! (I think you meant 3.79 million square *miles* though, unless I’m missing something)

  • Tom Woods

    I changed it. It now has the square footage of the U.S., which is funnier anyway.

  • William Schooler

    Tom you cannot run around and blame everyone for their miss conceptions of freedom, or the dictionary versions of freedom and ideologies. Unlike them you use the ability of creation and understand what this actually means to you, but so many in this country don’t create at all, they are trained to follow leaders. No one ever pointed out not all leaders are created equal and in fact many are alien to the idea of being equal in capacity. Yes we can say it is their fault because they were not willing to review the facts but at the same token assumption is very popular here. You realized this in your own history as well I.

    Remember how easy it was to slip into that assumed idealism of conservatism? This would certainly share with us how simple it is for all others to run blindly thinking this is the answer of a life time and never look back.

    It is simple for us to laugh at the left and right now but really as long as they run wildly down the rabbit whole the effects will continue. Math has shown us it only takes one percent of a population to decide change and manifest it.

    I personally remember when I was so in the dark about these issues I found myself very embarrassed at one point, (how could I have done this to myself) Lucky for me I am one of the few who actually answered this question.

    I think we should have more compassion for stupidity and learn to understand how easy it is to fall into and then figure out how we can assist in pulling them out of the mud.

    Maybe we should simmer down and really realize what Life really is comprised of and then understand we are all entitled to learn lessons and grow with far better skill.

    This does not say I disagree with you, I just think making fun of others for floundering is really a refusal to look at ourselves and how we found ourselves in the same trap.

    It was ok to be ignorant when you were correct? I know it was when I was, now how can we capture the attention, what example of accomplishments do we have to share to expose them to such truths? Something far more valuable than words strewn across page in books. I mean it is activities we are describing right?

    Good successful Nullifications and acts of seceding would be great examples to achieve, but they are only as viable as the results they produce are.

  • Rob Revert

    Has anyone seen this from Jimmy Kimmel live? It says a lot more than I think they realized

  • Left Wing Mole

    Interesting that foreign wars that supposedly “defend our freedoms” are good, but when it’s time to defend freedom on our own here, it’s not good. But, of course, that’s if we are to assume that a civil war will occur.

    Whenever we advocate for Just War Theory, we get told that we’re a bunch of chickens that won’t stand up for our freedoms and blah blah blah.