As a founder of the Second Vermont Republic, one of the most high profile secession movements in America, I am often asked, “Do you think Big Brother is watching you?” Until recently I have always answered, “I don’t know.” But that all changed two nights ago, when I received a late night phone call informing me of a forthcoming conference to be held in Charleston, S.C. on December 6-8 on “Secession As An International Phenomenon.”
According to the website, thirty scholars will explore the history and theory of separatism and secession around the world. The conference will be sponsored by the University of South Carolina, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and ARENA, the Association for Research on Ethnicity and Nationalism in the Americas.
Although I have been following the literature on secession for over fifteen years, only one of the thirty speakers is known to me.
Implicitly, the conference appears to divide secession movements into those that are good and those that are bad. Good secession movements take place in locations far away from the United States and Canada. The ultimate example of bad secession is the American Civil War. And to drive the point home, the conference concludes with a boat trip to Fort Sumter, the defining metaphor for the failure of secession in America.
No attention whatsoever will be devoted to any of the thirty or so secessionist movements in the United States or to the Parti Quebecois in Canada. No one from the League of the South, the Second Vermont Republic, the Alaskan Independence Party, the New Hampshire Free State Project, or the Puerto Rican Independence Movement was invited to participate. It’s almost as though the conference organizers believe that interest in secession died in the United States back in 1865, just as Abraham Lincoln would have wanted us to believe.
Ironically, there will be a session on “The Ethics of Secession,” even though the conference is funded by NEH, an agency of the United States government once chaired by Lynne Cheney. The U.S. government is unconditionally committed to the preservation of The American Empire at all cost. There is also a session on “Taiwan Secession.” One of the sponsors is the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office. Very interesting!
And then there is ARENA, one of the conference sponsors. Where does ARENA get its funding?
To what extent will Big Brother use this academic conference to disseminate misinformation about secession so as to counteract the recent upsurge in interest in secession nationwide? Have the conference organizers allowed Big Brother to use them or are they using Big Brother to achieve their own personal goals? Or is it a little of both?
The conference is free and open to the public. We encourage secessionists in the Atlantic Coast states to attend and ask lots of good questions. This will provide the academic panelists with the opportunity to meet some real secessionists. And that might not be all bad.
Thomas H. Naylor
November 27, 2007
Mash here to read more about the author.