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What's wrong with secession?

  1. Dec 9, 2005 #1
    What's wrong with secession? If the majority of one part of a country wants to split up and become an own state, what then can be said against it? I don't mean necessarily parts of a country that had been autonomous or souvereign before or that is ethnically different from the rest, but just the case when people decide by majority lets divorce and become an independent state.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 9, 2005 #2

    jim mcnamara

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    I don't have a pre-defined position. But it seems to me we can find decent arguments on both sides.

    Pro- it grants people the right to govern themselves and form into politcal groups most amenable to their points of view. Therefore government will work for people rather than against them or be removed quickly because there won't be a lot of dissent.

    It follows a Democratic principle - ie., the right to self-determination. (If we assume there is such a right - Im not here to argue that assumption at all). It also allows people to re-group politcally into more "sensible" or "natural" groups, reducing friction amongst those natural elements in an at-large homogeneous population. This woyuld be the case if we assume humans are naturally attracted to those who are most like themselves. And their is some evidence in support of this.

    Assume we allow infinite political fragmentation. Then maybe it raises the problem of when to stop. Are there sizes that are too small? Which leads to the Con argument.

    Con - we are playing into the hands of the "Enemy". Whoever he/she/they are. We lose security.

    People are tribal in Nature (if you believe Ashley Montague). Self-determination when it has run it's full course, will utimately break countries into the smallest natural groupings - tribes - to acheive maximum self-determination. Assume that natural group element = tribe, then large populations will fragment into many small governments with small resources. Countries that are not democratic and don't fragment will then command an automatic advantage. They conquer, tribe-by-tribe, the dummies who fragmented their resources for the sake of increasing self-determination.

    Divide and conquer.

    I dunno. Anybody who has a simple answer doesn't understand the question. IMO.
  4. Dec 9, 2005 #3
    People in this State(USA) are free to leave to others. No one is stuck here, unless you're awaiting trial, probation, etc. Just because you don’t agree with a State doesn't give you the right to break it apart so everyone can think just like you.
    What would be the point of fragmenting a State over and over to have hundreds of thousands of tribes that agree with every individual ideology? Even if it were to split only into two they would be a horrible economic and defensive position. The individual state wouldn't feel any strong bonding allegiance to the other. The nice thing about this country is you’re allowed to think and act as you feel with only minor limits and rules. So you don't need to secede for your freedom.

    If there is truely a need for a sessecion and there is a large enough group to support it, they would be of size to form their own party and perform their *revolution* peacefully and legally. With the approval of the people.

    Two super-powers with different views door to door doesn’t sound safe to me.
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2005
  5. Dec 13, 2005 #4


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    There are a couple of key problems with secession:

    First and foremost, the US Constitution is the supreme law of the land and it's the federal government's responsibility to protect the individual rights of the citizens, as outlined in the Bill of Rights. If a state seceeded, it would be removing that protection of rights and therefore violating the citizens' rights' to Constitutional protection.

    Second, the Constitution is a contract between the states and contracts cannot be unilaterally voided unless it is explicitly stated in the contract.
  6. Dec 13, 2005 #5


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    I'm not sure that the question was specifically speaking about the US. Even so, seceeding wouldn't necessarily mean the newly separated state would not replace the Bill of Rights with another similar code. From the phrasing of the original question, it also sounds like Ratzinger is speaking of a hypothetical scenario (?) where the majority of the citizens in that state support the secession, for whatever reason. So, I'm not sure that's a sufficient reason for not seceeding or preventing it, etc.

    There is the contractual issue, though I suppose similar to the Declaration of Independence, any state seceeding would need to explicitly state the reasons for that secession.

    However, my interpretation of the question in the OP is more of why would the country that state is a part of not just let them secede if they don't want to be part of the country anymore. I can think of two reasons. The first has been mentioned above: defense. You weaken your defenses to be smaller in size and divided up, and if you appear to be an unstable country losing territory, it makes you a target. The other is natural resources and industry. Not every state in a country produces every product that country needs. This became rather evident during the US Civil War when the industrialized north and agricultural south both struggled for survival without the other half of the country.
  7. Dec 13, 2005 #6


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    Fair enough, but all I really have to go on is the constitution I know best... That said, a lot of what applies to the US Constitution would apply generally. There are inherrent contradictions in the concept of unilateral secession.
    That really doesn't matter: the citizens of the US are protected by the US Constitution and interfering with that protection by the states is not legal. It doesn't matter if they say they will protect those rights themselves, it's still usurping the power of the fed.
    That wouldn't be any more legal than for the citizens of a state to vote to nullify any individual federal law (as opposed to nullifying all of them at once). What would be legal is a Constitutional amendment to allow a state to secede.
    Yes, I agree with both. There were a number of unity slogans floating around prior to the ratification of the Constitution.
  8. Dec 14, 2005 #7
    Even though the question was meant hypothetical and general, let's get specific. What about San Francisco? Sure the constitution forbids it and there are local elections and legisture so the people of SanFran have a fair degree of independence and freedom from federal policy.

    But what reasoning denies them not to seperate. Every American is still allowed to move in and out and do business with people from SanFran and vice versa. But San Fransisco says we all don't like foreign policy of the federal government and can't identify with beliefs and views of most of our country men and women. Let us go and speak for ourselves.

    I believe it's no problem for two sovereign countries to unite if both populations demand it, why not the other way around? What's the logic behind it?

    You could argue it's economically unfair when a better-off part wants to break away and stops transferring tax money to other poorer country
    parts. But SanFran says (and would actually do) we prefer sending money to Africa than to Kansas. What's unfair about that?

    Maybe the strongest point against secession is that in earlier times tax money went into SanFran and so the rest of the country partly owns it.

    P.S. If you don't like the SanFran example, take northern Italy.
  9. Dec 14, 2005 #8
    how about Iraq
    that place has three sets of people who donot like each other
    but turkey doesnot want the kurds to have a country

    in the civil war case in the USA
    I thought that the attack on fort sumpter
    was the case for war not the secession of the states

    the many independant greek city states didnot have a problem
    repelling the persian invasions

    I would favor more independant states over more civil wars
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