This article originally appeared in The Gold Standard, the journal of Gold Standard Institute.


Many people are angry about the outcome of the election.  While there is some soul searching, there is also a large and growing disgust, not just with President Obama but with the electoral process and the country itself.  Out of anger and frustration, some people are calling for secession, though it’s unclear how many.

It is easy to see the attraction.  Let each “side” go its own way.  Red states can be “conservative” and blue states can be “liberal” (those terms have different meanings in America than elsewhere).  No more strife at the ballot box; let each side be governed as it chooses.

There are two problems.  First, there is not much difference between the “liberal” and “conservative” positions.  Both believe in paper money, public education, regulations and permits, transfer payments, progressive taxation, government-provided retirement and healthcare, massive taxes on inherited wealth, government-provided transportation, and many other statist ideas.


Second, these two groups are not neatly sorted out with one group on one side of a line and one group on the other side.  Even in the “liberal” state of California, the “liberals” are in Los Angeles and San Francisco and the rest of the state is “conservative” for the most part.

The situation today is totally unlike the situation in 1860 (the only time secession was attempted), in which there were distinct ideological groups and they were geographically separated.

Today the majority is unhappy with the consequences of ideas they themselves believe in.  We can see this with the “conservatives” saying that if they were elected, they would repeal Obama’s version of socialized medicine and replace it with a “common sense program to provide universal health care access.”  As if their version would somehow incorporate “common sense”.  As if there could possibly be “common sense” in taking money from some people and using it to give free benefits to others.

Secession is no solution for the any of the problems that plague us today.  Let’s look at what it would mean in reality.

The original idea behind Southern secession was that states have a “right” to allow whites to impose slavery on blacks.  Of course, states do not have “rights”.  Rights are by definition and by nature individual.  But many today hold the idea that states should have a “right” to impose the laws that the local voters desire, such as imposing religion on the population, or group-based welfare.  These ideas will fail at the local level for the same reason they fail at the national level.

Now think of what secession would mean, especially if it really picked up momentum.  Ultimately, there would be 50 countries (or more—why can’t Northern California secede from Southern California, if California can secede from the US?), each with its own diplomats and armies.  There would be innumerable borders, across which the flow of people, goods, and money would be restricted and/or taxed.

What would happen if people in each region were forced by circumstance to eat only what could be produced locally?  Once the flow of oil stopped, the people in arid western states like Arizona would perish, as there is little water without pumps powered by diesel or electricity.   And how would oil pass through so many borders between mutually distrusting (if not hostile, envious, or trade-warring) countries?

What if other consumer goods had to be produced locally?  There could be no such thing as a computer, as the chips in computers require a worldwide market.  There could not be 50 local Intel corporations.  Nor motor manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, pumps, power plants, lighting, etc.  Even if there were no wars—started because one of these little countries thought to plunder another—there would be large-scale death and a huge decline in the quality of life.

Could law enforcement exist this way, and what of respect for law and order?  It would be an environment of strained public budgets combined with mass anger.  Those who feel entitled to be given free stuff could form gangs to take it from anyone they find.

And think of your money.  You wake up one day, and the US dollars in your bank account are replaced with Texas “Stollars” or “Montana Bucks”. North Dakota already has a state-run bank, and other states could follow suit.  The only thing worse than the current system where money is borrowed into existence, is one in which the legislature can print it at will.  Could “Dakotars” hold any value?

Breaking this once-great country into 50 remnants will guarantee that we collapse.  And this is why I am writing about secession.  The theme is the same as with the gold standard.

We must work to prevent collapse.

I don’t know if some Romans in 465AD thought that collapse would help them restore a more honest form of government.  We do know now that their civilization did not bounce back for over 1000 years after it collapsed.

The fight for the gold standard is the fight to preserve civilization and prevent collapse.  Opposing secession is part of the same fight.


Dr. Keith Weiner is the president of the Gold Standard Institute USA, and CEO of Monetary Metals. Keith is a leading authority in the areas of gold, money, and credit and has made important contributions to the development of trading techniques founded upon the analysis of bid-ask spreads. Keith is a sought after speaker and regularly writes on economics. He is an Objectivist, and has his PhD from the New Austrian School of Economics. He lives with his wife near Phoenix, Arizona.



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3 Responses to “Secession”

  • I think all of you are saying the same. I´m not sure, of course, but I think that Keith´s criticism goes to borders, not to countries. The problem with secession is not the lack of unity, but the lack of liberty that probably is going to follow. And to prove that we have just to watch our actual borders and see what happens with them. Custom taxation, retaliation between countries, capital controls, human capital controls. All that is going to make us poorer, not richer. I´m an spaniard, and we got a similar problem (a more acuted one) here in Spain with Catalonia and the Vasque Country. I am not a supporter of Catalonia secession but I do not oppose it either. What I try to say is that I think that what almost no one understand is that everybody is going to end worst, not because the secession itself, but because the politics that probably are going to follow. In the spanish case is alredy ongoing a boycott to catalonian products. And catalonian firms are quickly trying to get some factories in the rest of Spain with spanish names. If, eventually, catalonia gets what half the population there want, I am sure that tight borders will follow and with them capital, human and trade controls, wich is going to benefit nobody.

  • No6:

    Totally disagree with your conclusion. This form of logic will conclude with a one world government.

    Competition is a good thing. The more countries/states the better. Hopefully one day they will number the population of the planet.

  • georgew:

    I intentionally waited to see what Pater had responded with before commenting. I agree with your initial points on the mindless red vs. blue game we are deluded into playing, and that that breaking the country up wouldn’t save us from our own ignorance…which you stated quite well with “unhappy with the consequences of ideas they themselves believe in.” If one acknowledges the fact that we are being managed like a herd of sheep by our rulers, who maintain their tyranny over us through very good divisive politics, per Calhoun, I fully agree. I also agree that if secession happened via magic wand, it would not really address the problems we are facing.
    I start to disagree in part after “Let’s look at what it would mean in reality”. 50 (or more) mini-countries would save us from highly concentrated power and the dangerous risks that entails. And as Pater points out, the semi-free market of mini-nations for citizens to vote with their feet and the additional problems you suggest are risks that in the worst case could come to pass, but are far from certain. I further assert that if the will of the people could be mustered to engender secession on a grand scale that would mean a fundamental shift in thinking on the part of the populace that would also be a positive sign for individual liberty.
    I believe that the political unrest the people are experiencing now is mostly feckless. The masses are too ignorant and hoodwinked to form any coalition against the Govt. tyrannizing them at this time.

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