Volume 8, Issue 1: Verbatim
Quotations on the Coming Break-up
Various Saints and Observers
For the nation and kingdom
which will not serve You shall perish.
Indeed, it is not clear that the United States will survive the next century
in exactly its present form. Because America is a multi-ethnic society, the nation-state
has always been more fragile here than it is in more homogeneous societies like
Germany and Japan. . . . This and many other factors will make the United States
less of a nation than it is today, even as it gains territory following the peaceful
dissolution of Canada. . . . "Patriotism" will become increasingly regional as
people in Alberta and Montana discover that they have far more in common with
each other than they do with Ottawa or Washington, and Spanish-speakers in the
Southwest discover a greater commonality with Mexico City.
Speculating on how the central state will crumble is one of the few pleasures
of the present age. How will the social-democratic mixed economy, inherently
unstable, resolve its contradictions? . . . We can't rule any scenario out, but
recent events suggest that, absent serious top-down reform, a reassertion of
the federal principle will topple tyranny.
The real trend in the world today is toward the decentralization of power. This
has been conspicuous all over Europe, in Canada, and in the demise of the Soviet
Union. Here, however, it has been held in check, thanks to the continued liberal
stranglehold over policy. . . . In fact, the liberal establishment increasingly
resembles nothing so much as a bitter remnant of the Socialist International.
. . Are the Feds unstoppable, then? No, good things are happening out there.
Above all, politicians are unable to stop the ongoing technological revolution,
a powerful force for decentralization. The Industrial Revolution took workers
out of their homes and put them in factories; the Computer Revolution is putting
them back into their homes.
A possible upside from the dissolution of Canada could be the emergence of a
new, low-tax jurisdiction on the North American continent. Any of a number of
Canadian provinces, possibly including Quebec, could dramatically improve their
economies simply by adopting the Hong Kong flat tax of 15%. The first province
to do so could be identified from satellite photos because the moving vans would
be backed up half way to the Mexican border. Best bet to undertake such a radical
American government, we are told, is notable for its stability. And so it seems,
at least on the surface. But stability over a long period, as the Russian tsars
could tell us, is no guarantee of permanence. And the tsars fell very suddenly
after ruling far longer than the U.S. government's two centuries. . . . Americans
victimized or outraged by government are speaking to each other, have established
lines of communication that didn't exist before, and know they aren't alone. The
personal computer can take some credit for this. So can talk radio. But however
it has happened, it has happened.
The prophet Jeremiah was a patriot or most ardent lover of his country, else
he would hardly have deplored its calamities in strains so pathetic as these.
. . . A very considerable part of his prophecy, and almost the whole book of
Lamentations, are the sympathetic complaints of a religious patriot weeping over
the sins and distresses of his country. . . . But what must set the point beyond
all further dispute is the example of Christ himself. If he was a patriot, patriotism
must be a virtue. And that he was such appears from his weeping over the approaching
calamities of his country; the tears which, as man, he shed on that occasion
were tears of patriotism.
In 1559 a more sinister turn was taken in the evangelical affairs. The persecuted
church began to think in terms of armed resistance, even of armed revolt. The
ranks of evangelicals now contained a large number of nobles, unused to suffering
wrongs as patiently as the middle classes who had hitherto predominated. . . . Calvin was sounded as to his opinions on active revolt. He had already, in
a letter to the church in Paris, made it clear that he was aware of the new situation
brought about by the change in the composition of the church, and had spoken
out strongly against the use of force: "Let it be your care to attempt nothing
that is not warranted by his Word. . . It would be better for us all to be ruined
than that the gospel of God should be exposed to the reproach that it has armed
men for sedition and tumult."
Despite the strength of clerical support for the Confederacy, the ideological
presuppositions on which the cooperation was based would eventually undermine
the patriotic contributions these churchmen made. In fact, the ministers' vigorous
praise of what the Confederacy was accomplishing seemed to imply that their patriotism
was in some way conditional and only related to the willingness of the Southern
people to adhere to the laws of God. Clergy wanted their congregations to know
that their enthusiasm for the Confederate war effort was predicated not on mindless
chauvinism, but rather on the fact that the South stood for true religious principles.
Once a wild dream, secessionism is now a reality of regional politics. In nearly
every state in the union, some group, suburb, beach, or county wants to secede
from a higher political authority. The secessionist movement comes from the
grass-roots to force a revolution against the center, whether city, county, state,
or federal government itself. The movement has no billionaire donor, no central
organization, no national mailing list, no television channel, no national spokesman,
no 800 number, and no cabal of power-brokers behind the scenes to kick out the
The people of the great nations of the past seem normally to have imagined that
their pre-eminence would last forever . . . In recent years, the idea has spread
widely in the West that 'progress' will be automatic without effort, that everyone
will continue to grow richer and richer and that every year will show a 'rise
in the standard.' We have not drawn from history the obvious conclusion that material
success is the result of courage, endurance and hard work -- a conclusion nevertheless
obvious from the history of the meteoric rise of our own ancestors.
Our barbarians are home products, indoctrinated at the public expense, urged
on by the media systematically stage by stage, dismantling Christendom, depreciating
and deprecating all its values. The whole social structure is now tumbling down,
dethroning its God, undermining all its certainties. All this, wonderfully enough,
is being done in the name of the health, wealth, and happiness of all mankind.
That is the basic scene that seems to me will strike a future Gibbon as being
characteristic of the decline and fall of Christendom.
We ask too often why cultures perish and too seldom why they survive; as though
their conservation were the normal and obvious fact and their death the abnormality
for which special causes must be found. It is not so. An art, a whole civilization,
may at any time slip through men's fingers in a very few years and be gone beyond
recovery. If we are alive when such a thing is happening we shall hardly notice
it until too late; and it is most unlikely that we shall know its causes.
The Gettysburg speech was at once the shortest and the most famous oration in
American history. Put beside it, all the whoopings of the Websters, Sumners and
Everetts seem gaudy and silly. It is eloquence brought to a pelucid and almost
gem-like perfectionthe highest emotion reduced to a few poetical phrases. Lincoln
himself never even remotely approached it. It is genuinely stupendous. But let
us not forget that it is poetry, not logic; beauty, not sense. Think of the argument
in it. Put it into the cold words of everyday. The doctrine is simply this: that
the Union soldiers who died at Gettysburg sacrificed their lives to the cause
of self-determinationthat government of the people, by the people, for the people ,
should not perish from the earth. It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue.
The Union soldiers in the battle actually fought against self-determination;
it was the Confederates who fought for the right of their people to govern themselves.
So please let us look at these matters without emotion. Just as a passport should
be looked at like a bus ticket (not part of the flag), so should boundaries be
viewed as lines in sand, not in concrete. Borders have been changing since life
began forming into communities on earth. They will keep on changing, whether
we like it or not.
There is nothing to stop you. Your Constitution is all sail and no anchor. As
I said before, when a society has entered on this downward progress, either civilization
or liberty must perish. Either some Caesar or Napoleon will seize the reins of
government with a strong hand; or your republic will be as fearfully plundered
and laid waste by barbarians in the twentieth century as the Roman Empire was
in the fifth;with this difference, that the Huns and Vandals who ravaged the
Roman Empire came from without, and that your Huns and Vandals will have been
engendered within your own country by your own institutions.
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