How to Break Up the United States

I haven’t had this blog for very long, but so far I have avoided addressing politics very much. I’m supremely uninterested in horse race politics, and I am not a Republican nor a Democrat nor a member or proponent of any third party. As a disclaimer, let me say that I do not consider these to be totally unimportant questions. I do care, on some level, about politics and the political situation of my own country, my state, and my community. I understand that these things affect my life and the lives of those I care about.

Politics simply isn’t the focus of this blog. There are lots of important things that I care about that I don’t address on here, like diet and exercise, for example.

Part of the reason for this is that one must maintain some boundaries to be readable. I care about all kinds of (unimportant) things like Seattle Seahawks football and coffee-growing conditions in Ethiopia, which are irrelevant at best to 99% of readers.

But another reason is that I find the things I do address to be most interesting and most important, at least for me. That is: God and religion; our relationship to the divine; the day-to-day choices that lead to the good life; the nature of the True, the Beautiful and the Good; and how to live a meaningful life in a time and place that deliberately sucks meaning out of every nook and cranny it can get its ravenous maw on.


It’s that last point that prompts me to finally address a semi-political issue on “Out of Sleep”. I often read Lawrence Auster’s View from the Right blog, and it’s one of the very few I see fit to link in my sidebar. I’ve also been a sometime commenter at that blog (usually posting under the name “Daniel H. in Seattle”). I don’t always agree with Mr. Auster, but I usually do, and I find him one of the most honest, forceful, and eloquent writers anywhere on or off the internet.

Something he’s occasionally addressed on his blog, usually with lengthy comments from readers (which to me signifies that he’s really hitting a nerve), is the idea of an eventual break-up of the United States along liberal/conservative lines.

I consider this a “semi” political issue because it’s completely off the radar of politics as they are in the USA today. Ultimately, the break-up of the United States would be extremely political by definition. But it’s not about today’s electoral politics; it’s not about the House or the Senate, or Barack Obama or Mitt Romney or Michelle Bachmann or anyone like that. So I consider it only “semi” for those reasons, if you understand.

I can’t rehash all the arguments here. If the topic interests you, here are four posts from VFR: link, link, link, link. But I find it a fascinating idea. Part of me thinks it is desirable, and all of me thinks it’s a cool idea, in the SciFi, counterfactual history sense. Does that make me seem intellectually unserious, that I entertain something for its coolness factor? Actually, I think we would all do well to let ourselves get inspired a little more, rather than immediately tamping down ideas because we’ve been told they are ridiculous. Frodo carrying the Ring into Mordor was ridiculous too.

The most recent post that Mr. Auster posted was this one.

So after all this preamble, I come to the meager kernel of my thought. One of the consistent threads running through the arguments about separating the United States into two (or more) separate nations is the idea of geographical separation. Things are thorny because unlike in the Civil War days, the warring sides are not neatly separated into geographically contiguous states. Rather they are separated mainly between urban zones and rural zones. And as I can personally attest, many people living in one zone are at complete odds politically with their neighbors. Here’s a map that probably no American needs to see, but merely to back up my point: voting patterns by county from the 2004 presidential election.

What Americans who want to break away from the overwhelming, overweening, multiculti, degraded and hyper-materialist State probably need to do is to form explicitly conservative communities. Of course, many small towns in the West and the South are already this way (and in the North and Midwest too, of course, to a lesser degree). But it’s not explicit. In order to have a political separation begin on the explicit level, there needs to be some sort of political confrontation.

The most obvious way for this to happen would be the Federal Government (by far the most liberal institution, not to mention the most powerful) to explicitly overrule a conservative community. Now, of course, this has happened many times before (over abortion, over regulations, over “gay rights”, etc.). The biggest potential for a really meaningful fight in the United States always happens at the State vs Federal level. States are very feeble against the Feds since the New Deal (and since the Civil War, really), but they still manage to win court cases here and there, even at the Federal level.

The most recent example of a really big fight between a state and the Feds was the immigration law passed in Arizona. Conservative Arizonans are still very much activated by this issue, though it has completely dropped off the national radar. But Arizona, while it’s not exactly New Jersey, is not the most conservative state in the country.

What if there were a serious court battle between Utah or Idaho and the United States Government? And what if that battle were over something explicitly conservative and anti-federal? It’s a stretch, but I can envision a scenario where Utah, sufficiently roused to action by something they really care about, declares some form of independence from the Feds. This tactic doesn’t even need to succeed on a legal level. It just needs to act as an impetus to the rest of conservative America. The start of something. Presumably it would be messy and complicated.

We saw the beginnings in Arizona, and that fight is perhaps not over yet, at all. But Arizonans are not pushing the matter very much. I think of Utah because it is of course mostly Mormons, who believe in themselves and who inhere as a group. They love their own and they don’t doubt their own right to live as they see fit. The rest of us non-Mormons don’t need to believe in Mormonism to benefit from the cohesion that Mormons have.

If Utah (or Idaho or Alaska) started a true separatist movement, that could, with the help of the internet, inspire a larger movement to create communities that were explicitly in defiance of Federal power. Even in my own “blue state” of Washington, there are many conservative people, especially East of the Mountains, as we say here. The Feds can clamp down on one little law like in Arizona, but they cannot quash a thousand communities across a dozen states, not if the people in those communities are strong of heart and courage.

Is this just a pipe dream? I don’t think so. The tension is real, and even if the truly conservative in this country are vastly outnumbered, they still number in the millions. It’s interesting to think about how the future might look. Certainly we will not see things remain the same. They never do.

12 comments on “How to Break Up the United States

  1. Wyandotte says:

    In most of the discussion at Auster’s site it’s assumed that Democrats are liberals and Republicans are “conservative”. What nonsense; they are two sides of the same coin.

    As “Paul K” pointed out at, “There are so many conflicts within conservatism that even a population of self-styled conservatives would have profound internal conflicts.” And dare I say one could make the same claim about liberals.

    If the USA is going to break up, it sure won’t be as simple as much of the discussion on makes it seem, with whiny dependent slugs on one side and moral, decent, hardworking, honourable folks on the other. Everybody loves their culture of entertainment: porn, football and restaurant food. This will keep you together. (I’m not from the USA and I’m just telling you how it looks from here.)

    • outofsleep says:

      Yes, a very good point. People will need a rallying cry, a Yes-or-No decision that based around truly conservative principles (not just low taxes or even anti-abortion stances). How this would play out is difficult to see, but I don’t consider it impossible at all.

      • Wyandotte says:

        How about pro-preemptive wars VS noninterventionism (not isolationism)?

        Everything that happens in the USA could eventually be viewed – correctly or incorrectly – from a standpoint of fiscal responsibility. Closing at least some of those bases and stopping the invasions and occupations would be a good place to start, though if you listen to 7 of the 8 self-styled “conservative” Republicans running for Prez, it’s still “full steam ahead” – kill all those wogs and starve their children, too, with sanctions and bombs, to keep Amerikwa safe.

        The biggest falsehood, a total disaster, is virtually everyone believing that warmongering is “conservative”.

        A nice little bundle of catastrophes and calamities might just be what the doctor ordered to wake everyone up, and would appear to be on the horizon, anyway.

    • outofsleep says:

      Your excellent points aside, I should point out that Mr. Auster is NOT under the illusion that Republicans are de facto conservatives. It is in fact one of the recurring themes of his blog that so-called “conservatives” are nothing of the sort. He deserves this credit.

      Still, I agree that the left/right, red/blue split is not the split we should be aiming for if we want a truly conservative polity. Both sides are deeply infected with liberalism.

      • Wyandotte says:

        I do indeed acknowledge Mr. Auster’s wisdom. I was referring more to those commenters and the general populace who seem unable to see past left ‘n’ right, blue ‘n’ red, Dem & Rep.

  2. zhai2nan2 says:

    ‘the warring sides are not neatly separated into geographically contiguous states. Rather they are separated mainly between urban zones and rural zones.’

    You need to start reading a website called GG at:

    There you will find all kinds of relevant info, plus links to lively and readable discussions of same, e.g. Dmitry Orlov’s “Reinventing Collapse.”

  3. bgc says:

    I would regard the break-up of the US as a positive development – indeed unless there is such a break-up then the US is almost-certainly doomed by current trends – however, for this break-up to be a ‘Good thing’ the rationale would need to be Christian (including Mormon) and not simply aiming at economic benefit, or aiming at comfort. And in between Christian and economic in Goodness would be a desire to preserve national *culture* (including language).

  4. Rusty says:

    Wyandotte is exactly right. Most of us who see ourselves as conservative have assumed many liberal beliefs and have forgotten how liberal they have become in only a few decades. They can be brought back to reality, but it will take a lot of work and some leadership. Changing hearts should come before anything else because before our politics can be conservative, the culture must be so; people tend to get the kind of government they deserve.

    I’ve been advocating all over the web for years that conservatives should separate and create a parallel culture, starting right where we are, right now. Nothing very radical is needed. Conservatives won’t take to radical ideas, anyway, it’s not their nature. This could help us rebuild real community and give us the support we need. Even if it didn’t change the national scene, it would improve our local environment and make our daily lives more bearable.

    But this idea of a parallel society is a real conversation killer. Just like most people assume that homeschooling parents keep their children in dungeons, they also seem to assume that separation must involve all manner of impractical unpleasantness. I’m more than discouraged that there are so few conservative bloggers who have any practical ideas about this, much less any practical plans. There are none, actually, at least none that I’ve found.

  5. Aurini says:

    At one point did it become ‘obvious’ that larger organizations benefit from economies of scale? That countries are more effective than city states? The one example where this could arguably be called ‘proven’ is anything but – large corporations vs mom-and-pops.

    The reason we see so many large corporations – I think we’re down to two independant gas retailers here in alberta – is because government regulation protects large business against small start ups. I just don’t buy that a huge company, with it’s institutional momentum, is going to be superior to the little guys who can move with versatility.

    Same goes for countries. Aside from national defence (which is a complex, but ultimately tractable problem) why do we benefit from the tip of the pyramid making so much?

    • Rusty says:

      Ita vero. One of the first and most most interesting things one learns in bizcool is that easily 90% of all laws are written by big businesses for themselves, in order to gain market advantage over competitors, keep out new competitors, create artificial scarcity to drive prices higher, and get around existing rules. Biz school is not doing its job if it does not teach how the dirty system works and how to use it to your advantage. (Oops, did I give the game away?)

      BTW, RedTeam members, think about that the next time you use the term, RINO. Giant political parties in the pockets of banksters and global business corporations cannot possibly be conservative, anymore than a giant earth-moving machine can be.

  6. […] might try and define my politics a little better in the future. As I said in an earlier post, it’s not totally unimportant. But, in another sense, it is unimportant. The circle I […]

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