Marginal: Ron Paul’s call to secede

On The mysticism of Abraham Lincoln and Texas’s successive secessions. The idea of secession should be troubling to Americans, not only from a practical and patriotic viewpoint but also from a philosophical one. The argument in favor of a right to secede is the argument against a right to revolt, and the right of revolution – a right we must hold to now as much as we did in 1776 – is a basis of our political liberty. The American Revolution was the victory of the individual’s rights over the state’s when those rights were in conflict. Secession is the assertion of the state’s rights over the individual’s, beginning with the rejection, in 1860 as well as now, of a president’s election by majority vote.

So Ron Paul couldn’t have been further from the truth when he argued Monday that “Secession is a deeply American principle” and that “This country was born through secession.” I don’t describe too many philosophies as dangerous, but secession and its relativistic, historicist foundation are uniquely un-American and dangerous. Why? At its foundation, secession denies the political existence of the individual.

Paul continued:

If the possibility of secession is completely off the table there is nothing to stop the federal government from continuing to encroach on our liberties and no recourse for those who are sick and tired of it.

Paul here couldn’t have sounded more like John Calhoun, the chief philosopher behind nullification and secession.

First Rick Perry, now Ron Paul. Do conservatives believe in a people’s right to revolt or a state’s right to secede? Is there a spark of divinity in man, or is mankind so benighted that its rights exist only at a state’s behest? If the Republicans are going to reflect on what kind of party they now wish to be, as so many pundits have recently suggested they do, they could not start with a more important and fundamental issue.