This title comes from a Russian author responding to the question: “Too big to fail?” related to Lessons From the Demise of the Soviet Union.
Kirkpatrick Sale, an essayist published in Donald Livingston’s book, Rethinking the American Union for the Twenty-First Century demonstrates that “a nation need not be large and self-sufficient to succeed in the modern world.” Mr. Sale notes that nearly 40 percent of the world political entities counted by the United Nations are the size of Vermont—or smaller.
[Incidentally, Vermont was an independent republic before residents chose statehood in 1791, according to Chilton Williamson Jr. writing in Chronicles (ChroniclesMagazine.org)].
Sale proposes a political principle, the “Law of Government Size—Economic and social misery increase in direct proportion to the size and power of the central government of a nation.”
We could avoid these miseries if government was closer to home and thus, more accountable. Our States—many of which are relatively small in area and population (“50 States have populations below five million people”)—operating with complete sovereignty could succeed independent of a monolithic central government. Sale (and others) believes that secession is our only hope for a democratic revival in America. The choices are government by the People versus control of our lives by an overpowering political class.
American States historically fought for independence from what they believed to be oppressive nationalistic control of their lives. Why did Americans fight the British in the 1770s? And why did the Southern States fight an invasion by Northern States supporting a nationalist government in the 1860s? It’s a universal desire to be free of domination by centralized oppressive power.
This month the Scots will decide whether they declare independence from the British government. According to an article in McClatchy Washington Bureau voters split 48 to 42 percent against independence, but last month the spread was 22 points. On September 18 Scotch citizens will vote on freedom from a nationalist government.
An academic pollster at the University of Kent in England said that secession “would not cripple the United Kingdom.” It would only “lose clout” (power) in the eyes of “the world stage.” Why should Scotch citizens care what the “world” thinks?
Ironically, radical “right-wingers” aren’t behind this Scottish independence campaign. McClatchy’s Lesley Clark writes, “There’s growing frustration among many in the left-of-center country who say the London-based government began moving to the right with the election of Margaret Thatcher and has not looked back.” Statists also deserve the government they choose.
And, of course, we have only to look a few miles north of our border to observe provincial secessionists at work in Quebec, Canada. Not only do they want to be free of domination by nationalists in Ottawa, but they don’t even want to speak English.
At least we American supporters of limited, decentralized government want to preserve our language and other traditions. But we don’t want to forfeit our freedoms to powers predictably too-big-not-to-fail.