Tag Archives: secession

Book Review: Back to the Land by Dona Brown

When most people think of the “Back to the Land” movement, the image that generally comes to mind is of hippies retreating to rural communes in the early 1970s. However, in her new book entitled Back to the Land: The Enduring Dream of Self-Sufficiency in Modern America, Dona Brown effectively shows how those back-to-the-landers were simply the latest manifestation of a very old American cultural tradition. As she powerfully demonstrates, the impulse to return to the land can be traced to the era when Americans first began to leave it for life in industrial cities.

A professor of history at the University of Vermont, Dr. Brown buttresses her narrative with numerous examples drawn from her extensive knowledge of the primary sources, beginning with the very first back to the land book. Published in response to the economic crisis of 1857, Ten Acres is Enough initiated a pattern that would continue for more than a century. In moments of crisis when unemployment became rife in the cities, many people came to see owning a farm as a powerful buffer against the vagaries of the market economy (in particular, the movement seems to have appealed to the higher echelons of blue collar workers and the lower middle class). In the time from the panic of 1893 to the First World War, the back to the land impulse became an actual movement, with powerful backers, several magazines, and an extensive number of published books.

The War and the prosperity of the 1920s moderated the movement’s goals and vision, but its radical side reemerged with a vengeance in the 1930s, when some aspects of it were incorporated into the New Deal. Partially in response to that institutionalization, a decentralist, alternative back to the land movement, which was very suspicious of the central government, also emerged during this period, centering in Vermont. This, in turn, laid the groundwork for Vermont to be one of the main stops for the subsequent generation’s own back to the landers.

Outlining in great detail the projects and personalities that characterized the back to the land movement over the course of the past century and a half, Dr. Brown’s book is not only a rich source of information about the past, but also casts many of the projects of the present in a new light. As her work demonstrates, things like food sovereignty and the local food movement exist are not wholly new developments, but descend from a long and venerable lineage. Even Vermont secession, which most contemporary advocates trace back to Frank Bryan’s work in the late 1980s, is shown to have reared its head in previous iterations (Vrest Orton, the founder of the still extant Vermont Country Store, was advocating a second Vermont republic as early as 1928). As such, this book is not only of great interest to those with an affinity for the history of social movements or of Vermont, but it is also essential reading for anyone involved in contemporary projects inspired by the back to the land spirit. Understanding the motivations and experiences of one’s intellectual ancestors is essential to fully comprehending the meaning of one’s own work, and Dr. Brown’s book is the best tool I’ve encountered for cultivating that consciousness. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Back to the Land!

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Political Decentralism, the Civil War, and the Significance of John Brown

In my time engaged in politically decentralist activism in general, and my work on Vermont independence in particular, I’ve noticed that it is very difficult to escape the long historical shadow cast by the Civil War. When considering the idea of using state sovereignty as a legitimate tool for resisting Federal abuses, the claim is often made that the issue was settled by the Civil War. The North (and thus centralized sovereignty) prevailed over the South (and distributed sovereignty) in 1865, and the question is thus closed.

Generally, this attitude is characterized by two key elements. The first is the concrete opinion that the Civil War functioned to cement America as “One Nation, Indivisible,” which is true, as far as it goes. In the years after the Civil War, the term “United States” morphed grammatically from plural to singular, and the balance of power between the Federal Government and the States has shifted continuously towards the former. However, though the aforementioned attitude is certainly descriptive of historical phenomena and trends, it is not, from a legal or moral standpoint, a valid argument against the legitimacy of the reassertion of a state’s sovereignty, up to and including its secession from the union. Rather, as has been argued persuasively and in great detail elsewhere, such principles as that of self-determination and the legitimacy of government being derived from the consent of the governed mean that subsidiary political units have the inalienable right to independence. Continue reading

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Vermont’s Secession Movement Featured in TruthDig!

An article released today by Chris Hedges presents an interesting, largely favorable picture.  Choice excerpt:

The movement correctly views the corporate state as a force that has so corrupted the economy, as well as the electoral and judicial process, that it cannot be defeated through traditional routes. It also knows that the corporate state, which looks at the natural world and human beings as commodities to be exploited until exhaustion or collapse occurs, is rapidly cannibalizing the nation and pushing the planet toward irrevocable crisis. And it argues that the corporate state can be dismantled only through radical forms of nonviolent revolt and the dissolution of the United States. As an act of revolt it has many attributes.

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Heads in the Sand: The “Democratic” Forums and the Attempts to Silence Dennis Steele

The events of the last month have powerfully revealed the descent of the campaign for Vermont Governor into the realm of farce. While the anointed Republican Brian Dubie sits idly on the side-lines waiting for a Democratic front-runner to emerge, the five Democrats have initiated a whirlwind “consensus-fest” tour of the Vermont, holding forums across the State during which they agree with each other for ninety minutes in front of a live audience. This has, obviously, led to some incredibly boring and near meaningless public meeting, which have only been spiced up by the presence of independent candidate Dennis Steele.

This is despite the fact that, due to a somewhat fishy sequence of events, Mr. Steele has not been invited to participate in any forum. At the first event of the campaign season, invitations were sent out to all of the candidates who’d made campaign treasurer filings with the Secretary of State; Dennis had just announced his candidacy and hadn’t yet made that filing, so his exclusion was understandable, if annoying. Soon after-wards, however, it became clear that Mr. Dubie was not going to engage in any forums until the Democratic candidate was determined. As a result, all of the subsequent candidate forums have been labeled Democratic candidates forums. This change made it quite simple to justify organizers’ exclusion of Dennis (or any other independent candidates) from the debates, thus sending the message to voters that only the Democratic candidates (and their opinions) matter.

In spite of this enormous hurdle, Steele has made his voice heard and challenged the weakness of principle and resolve that seems to plague the whole field of Democratic candidates. At the first forum (at which the topic was education), Dennis stood up during the question and answer session and pointed out the deep responsibility the Federal Government has for the erosion of local school control. He then inquired as to what the Democratic candidates would do as Governor to reverse that trend and, if the Feds were unresponsive, if they’d consider political independence. His question stimulated a spirited discussion among the “official” candidates, and expose the whole audience to the idea that we have more options available to us with which to solve our problems that those that the Democrats and Republicans discuss.

Having met with success, Dennis continued this strategy at further forums, confronting the other candidates about such things as bringing the National Guard home from the wars and the fact that, in spite of a Vermont statute legalizing the growing of hemp, the Federal Government still prohibits the production of that valuable cash crop by Vermont farmers. However, the Democrats were catching on to Dennis’ strategy, and began to throw up barriers to having to answer his hard questions. First, at the UVM College Democrats debate, they required that all questions be submitted to the moderator rather than being taken directly from the floor. However, one of the selected questions had been submitted by Steele supporter Steve Liable, and Dennis rose to clarify it when the Democratic candidates deflected its essence. The next event was not open to the public, but was instead peopled by invitees of the sponsoring organizations. Steele was able to circumvent that roadblock by getting a press pass, but when he challenged the candidates about the reality of the budget crisis when $1.5 billion Vermont tax dollars are spent each year on a failed foreign policy, the police pounced and Dennis was escorted out in handcuffs.

Dennis Steele removed from the "Democratic" candidates forum.

This elaborate song and dance powerfully communicates the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of Vermont’s political “leadership”. None of the answers they’re willing to consider even come close to addressing the problems we face: a corrupt, out of control financial system, an empire that is forcing our whole society into bankruptcy, a growing governmental disregard for civil liberties, and the wholesale destruction of the autonomy of local communities. The solutions to these problems require serious resolve, creativity, and a willingness to stand up to the Federal Government; the Establishment candidates, however, want people to keep believing that their stop-gap, band-aid fixes will make everything better. The truth scares them; so much so, in fact, that they’d rather see its messenger led away in handcuffs than take on the heavy responsibility of actually leading Vermont to a better future. Dennis Steele, on the other hand, is ready to take on that task without apology, and deserves your vote this coming November.

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Dennis Steele Confronts the Democratic Gubernatorial Candidates on Bringing Home the National Guard

Dennis’ question sparked a quite interesting discussion; check out the podcast on Radio Free Vermont!

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Secession and Football…

The Super-Bowl is coming up (so I’m told), and in the spirit of the game I though I’d repost a selection from DumpDC that I encountered on Green Mountains Homesteading:

We are only two weeks away from the Super Bowl. After watching the Minnesota Vikings make mistake after mistake in Sunday’s Championship game, and give away the game to the New Orleans Saints*, I think back to my high school football experiences.

After an embarrassing loss like the Vikings had, our coach would have told us, “Boys, we’re going back to the basics and re-learn the fundamentals of football.”


Favre reacts to another fumble.
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The fundamentals of football are:

• blocking and tackling
• holding the football tightly and not fumbling the ball
• keep doing your job until the whistle blows
• score more points than the other team
• work as a team, not as individuals
• winning gets you more girls than losing

What could this lesson possibly have to do with state secession, you may ask?

The Secession War of 1776 pitted the English colonies against motherland England and King George. The Declaration of Independence declared the colonies as sovereign nations…as sovereign as England herself.

Soon after the colonial victory, the states ratified the Constitution, which instituted a very strict few duties for the new Federal Government that the states created, and retained all other power to the states and to the People.

Those are the fundamentals of the game.

Over time, the Federal team began doing things for which it had no power or authority. The People’s team began fumbling the ball…and the Federal team always recovered the fumble. The People’s team gave up yardage (sovereignty) on every series of downs. And the referees…the courts…kept throwing flags against the People’s team and hitting them with the penalties.

The game has ceased to be fun to play. The refs have left the field to the Fed team, and now the Feds play however they want. The Fed team makes up its own rules, and the game doesn’t even resemble the fundamentals. And insult above all insults, the Fed team tells the People that they have to keep playing and cannot leave the field.

The whole concept of state secession is to return to the fundamentals. No state would ever consider seceding unless the Federal Government that it helped to create was doing things it ought not do. The fundamentals require that the Federal Government operate within its Constitutional restrictions.

Nullification will not be able to be effective, since there is no American state with a Militia in place to enforce any nullification challenged by the Feds.

Then, you must factor in the reality that the US Constitution has no authority to bind any two persons in any way, and that no legal status exists between the People and the Federal Government. Read Lysander Spooner’s “No Treason.”

So, it is time for the People’s team to walk off the field and stop playing this no-win game. But to do so, seceding states had better revitalize their Militias first.

By the way…free men get more chicks than slaves. Lighten up, Francis!

Secession is the Hope For Mankind. Who will be first?

*Even though I was rooting for the old guy, Brett Favre (a Mississippi boy), the Saints are a Southern team, and the South is where my heart is. Geaux Saints!

DumpDC. Six Letters That Can Change History.

© Copyright 2010, Russell D. Longcore. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

I Know who I’d like to be first…

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The Steele Campaign hits TIME Magazine!

I was quite stoked when I saw this article on the front page of TIME Magazine’s website.  As the campaign continues to roll forward, hopefully more positive press like this will be forthcoming.  Best quote:

With 20 or so mostly middle-aged attendees looking on, the candidates each stood at the podium to deliver a remarkably unified message: The U.S. government, they said, was an immoral enterprise — engaged in imperial wars, propping up corrupt bankers and supersized corporations, crushing small businessmen, plundering the tax-base for corporate welfare, snooping on the private lives of citizens — and they wanted no more part of it. “The gods of the empire,” Steele told the room, “are not the gods of Vermont.”

“It’s an abusive relationship we have with the central government,” says Peter Garritano, a square-jawed 54-year-old Subaru sales manager who is running for lieutenant governor. “We know it’s scary to leave the abusive nest. It’s a comfort zone in its own way. But we think we’ll do better leaving.”

Imagine… Free Vermont!  And just in case you missed it, my endorsement which landed me the role of Dennis’ campaign manager can be found here.

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Miles Wigging Out…

…to the tune of the “Song of the Vermonters, 1779″…

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The Vermont Independence Candidates hit the MSM!

The Associated Press just published an article covering the recent developments in the secession movement, and its being carried in literally hundreds of newspapers!!!  This is a great primer for the official announcement on Friday; if you’re not yet familiar with the campaign, check out gubernatorial candidate Dennis Steele’s webpage, and read my endorsement.

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Steven Howard on American Socialism for the Rich, 1/3/2010

In which we discuss the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, California’s fiscal woes, and the Vermont Campaign for Liberty’s upcoming convention in the Statehouse on January 9th, 2010, and his take on the Vermont secession movement.

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A Great Discussion of Nullification

Judge Anthony Napolitano leads a discussion on the topic of nullification and the growing centralization of political power in America.  While they focus on the health care bill, the video is also quite relevant to understanding the implications of Dennis Steele’s run for Vermont Governor as noted below.  Check it out:

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Why I’m Supporting Dennis Steele for Vermont Governor in 2010

All of the candidates for Vermont Governor who still buy into “politics as usual,” whether they are Democrats or Republicans, are running on the same platform: “If I’m elected Governor, I’ll be the smoothest and most effective administrator of Federal money.” Because, in this day and age, that’s what’s expected of a Governor: that he act dutifully in his role of mid-level administrator of the Vermont arm of the Federal Government. The Congressional delegation carves out an nice fat chunk of pork, and the Governor’s job is to distribute the bacon.

This, however, is not what the Governor is supposed to be. Under the federation created by the Constitution, a State Governor is the executive of a sovereign State. In that role, the State Governor ‘s relationship with his or her Federal counterparts should be half-cooperative and half-adversarial; making sure things that are in the interest of the State go smoothly, but also using his power to resist tyrannical Federal acts. Whether we talk about Jim Douglas or Howard Dean, the part that recent Vermont governors have played has been the administrative role; their main goal has been to grab the largest slice of the Federal appropriations pie, no matter how disastrous the long-term impact of such activities may be. It’s been a long time since this State has seen a Governor with true backbone.

The current crop of mainstream candidates holds no greater hope for the future; there are many interesting personalities, but not one of them will make the hard decision to buck the will of the Federal government should justice demand it. That, more than any other reason, is why I will be voting for Dennis Steele for Governor in 2010. Continue reading

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