Peter Lamborn Wilson on secessionism (Arthur, 2005)

first published in Arthur No. 16 (May 2005)

Freedom Now Maybe: The New Secessionism
By Peter Lamborn Wilson

Last November, right after the Election, I attended an odd event in Middlebury, Vermont—a two-day conference devoted to the question of whether Vermont should consider seceding from the USA and declaring itself the “Second Vermont Republic.”

The first Vermont Republic lasted from 1777 to 1791, during which time it recognized neither Britain nor the USA as sovereign. Thanks to Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Rangers the state has an old and still-lively sense of itself as unique and independent-minded, if not downright cranky.

The keynote speeches delivered at Middlebury by SVR founder Prof. Thomas Naylor and activist/historian Kirkpatrick Sale made it clear that any Vermont independence movement would be radical, Green, Populist non-violent and typically “Vermont-socialist.” (The Bread & Puppet Theater is already interested.) SVR’s underlying philosophy is derived from the “Small Is Beautiful” school of Leopold Kohr (his The Breakdown of Nations is the bible), “Buddhist economist” E.F. Schumacher, the UK-based Fourth World Movement, and ultimately from the minarchism of Thoreau and the American tradition of “unterrified Jeffersonians,” extreme democrats and even anarchists.

All this may be considered odd enough. But what really struck me as strange was the mood of the conference. Everyone there was cheerful, optimistic and pugnacious. Everywhere else in America that weekend leftists, liberals and libertarians were plunged in gloom. But in Middlebury the triumph of Bushite Pre-Millenialist idiocy was taken as a sign that the US Empire is about to disintegrate.

The conference voted unanimously to support the aims of the Second Vermont Republic. Delegates stomped and cheered. One woman, whose son was in Iraq with the National Guard, proclaimed herself ready to die for this new cause if necessary. Suddenly it felt kind of like 1968 again. Were all these people crazy?

Four More Years.

You know what I’m talking about already but let me spell it out. Imagine: Four more years of Neo-Con Jihadist slope-browed pseudo-Zionist McImperialism; four more years of stomping on Iraq and Afghanistan and possibly Iran, Syria and North Korea; of deficit spending and debt both national and individual; of ludicrous Red/Blue culture war; of inflation and unemployment; erosion of civil liberties; no tree left behind; more tax breaks for the rich and the corporations; blah blah blah; and to top it off, “JEB IN ’08!”—and another Four More Years.

Some of my friends are moving to Canada where they can join grayhaired draft-dodgers of the Vietnam era and suffer the bitterness of exile along with the compensations of socialized health care and quasi-legal pot. No one dares to dream of staying on and overthrowing the Empire. Not even us grayhaired really believe in The Revolution anymore. But the piffle of tepid reformism (the “left wing” of Skull’n’Bones, so to speak) makes many of us reel with nausea and depression, or anyway terminal boredom. What’s to be done?

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