Nutjob secessionism is not welcome here

So to demonstrate that our gun culture is perfectly rational, the conversation in my comboxes regarding Federico Lombardi’s common sense remarks managed to turn, rather quickly, toward fantasy scenarios about secession from the Union.  Nothing says “engagement with reality” like fantasy scenarios about violent revolution.  And all because of a couple of mild proposals made–reluctantly–in response to a slaughter of six year olds.  Yeah.  Gun culture is really impressing me with its rationality.

Back in the last decade, the zealots for torture in the Thing that Used to Conservatism spent *massive* amounts of time dwelling on and fantasizing about ticking time bomb scenarios.  What they told themselves was that they were being “realistic” in dwelling on these thriller movie fantasies.  What they were in fact doing was living in deep unreality in order to justify both their fears and, more especially, their irrational will to justify the sins they were attached to and striving to defend and perpetuate.

Dwelling on panicky dystopian  futures in which “patriots” secede from and make war on the United States is the same sort of thing.  It is not “realism” or “preparation” for any having to do with reality on the ground.  It is simply indulgence of fear with a view to enabling violence.  It is precisely to this kind of mindset that Jesus speaks when he says, “Do not worry about tomorrow.  Tomorrow will worry about itself.  Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

Now hear this: This blog will. not. be. a forum for “discussing” secession or civil war.  I will, as Chief Tyrant of Catholic and Enjoying It, have exclusive rights for saying that those who advocate (ie. “want to discuss”) this are dangerous and irresponsible and unwelcome to do so here.  Those who choose to ignore me on this point will find themselves in the same ban file as those who want to use my comboxes to advocate for abortion.  For both of you are urging the death of lots and lots of innocents.

Here’s a crazy idea: How about conservative Christians try approaching our culture’s problems in some way *other* than fantasizing about getting the chance to indulge in violence, torture and war?  The Church treats these things as last resorts, but comboxers have a weird way of making them first resorts on the flimsiest fantasy scenario provocations.

This policy is not open for discussion.  You are, on this point, welcome to agree with me.  That’s it.  That’s all.

Update: Some people chose to ignore me and offer apologetics for secession anyway.  Those posts are gone.  Keep ignoring me and you will be gone.  Comprende?

"Hmmm... I'm having a difficult time deciding the right way to reply because I think ..."

Is Technology Morally Neutral?
"Lewandowski, another sociopath Catholic who flaunts his faith - like Paul Ryan, Steve Bannon, Kellyanne ..."

Our Post-Satire Age
"Comment keeps getting deleted. Will try one last time...See Russell Hittinger's essay "Christopher Dawson on ..."

Is Technology Morally Neutral?
"Our Post Human Age - Corey Lewandowski demostrates how to devolve here:https://www.thedailybeast.c..."

Our Post-Satire Age

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Here, here! And what this guy said:

    First of all, then, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity. This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth. For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as ransom for all. This was the testimony at the proper time. For this I was appointed preacher and apostle (I am speaking the truth, I am not lying), teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. It is my wish, then, that in every place the men should pray, lifting up holy hands, without anger or argument.–1 Timothy 2:1-8

    And this guy:

    Beloved, I urge you as aliens and sojourners to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against the soul. Maintain good conduct among the Gentiles, so that if they speak of you as evildoers, they may observe your good works and glorify God on the day of visitation. Be subject to every human institution for the Lord’s sake, whether it be to the king as supreme or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the approval of those who do good. For it is the will of God that by doing good you may silence the ignorance of foolish people. Be free, yet without using freedom as a pretext for evil, but as slaves of God. Give honor to all, love the community, fear God, honor the king.–1 Peter 2:11-17

    And, you know, Jesus:

    They sent some Pharisees and Herodians to him to ensnare him in his speech. They came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion. You do not regard a person’s status but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not? Should we pay or should we not pay?” Knowing their hypocrisy he said to them, “Why are you testing me? Bring me a denarius to look at.” They brought one to him and he said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They replied to him, “Caesar’s.” So Jesus said to them, “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” They were utterly amazed at him.–Mark 12:13-17

    And my own response to pre-secession people from just after the election was over:

  • Confederate Papist

    I guess you need to ban me. I was pro secession before pro secession was cool.

    I, however, do not condone secession in a violent way..nor will I ever..unless the forces of whomever come kicking my door down, and only to protect my family.

    I may also add, that secession is not patriotic and that those who think it is should do a little more research as to why seven sovereign States left the Union (and why the other six later joined them); and what the general public opinion was in the north about secession. Conside also how many Union soldiers died at Sumter (I’ll give you a hint – none), and why that was.

    Also consider, this was not the first attempt at secession in 1860, but it was the first advocated by States in the South.

    I like your writing Mark, but thy will be done.

    Deo Vindice!

    • Harry Piper

      “…do a little more research as to why sovereign States left the Union…”
      The issue was there from the beginning of the United States, where it was a glaring issue that in a land where all men were supposed to have been created equal it was legal to own other men as property. According to Lincoln’s views, at least the Founding Fathers hoped that slavery would die out quietly over the years, but they didn’t foresee the invention of the Cotton Gin. But I know more about the Civil War than about slavery in that era.
      The controversies over the extension of slave rights into newly settles territories were an obvious illustration of the problem – the new territory of Kansas was bitterly divided between pro-slavery settlers and free-soilers, and this resulted in a kind of state-wide civil war that lasted from 1854-1861. John Brown made an appearance here when he murdered several pro-slavery settlers in the Pottawatomie Massacre in 1856 – pretty much par for the course at that point.
      Also the Dredd Scott case in 1857, wherein the Southern dominated government essentially said to the Free States “your rights don’t exist when it comes to my property” over an escaped slave, who, to the relief of the Southern States, was taken back into slavery via the power of the federal government over the protests of the Northern States. This was the Fugitive Slave Act – showing that States Rights meant absolutely nothing to the South when it became inconvenient for them.
      A minor issue, but we should remember that the infamous ruling of said case – “the black man has no rights which the white man is bound to respect”- was written by the ostensibly Catholic Judge Taney, who had at one point freed his own slaves; “personally opposed”, I guess.
      Not to be forgotten are the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858, where the central issue of contention was slavery, and where Lincoln made many eloquent statements in favor of gradual emancipation and equality before the law – his opponent, Stephen Douglas, defended slavery and accused Lincoln of promoting miscegenation. Lincoln made clear throughout the debate that it would be impossible, under the Constitution, to interfere with slavery where it already existed. He wanted an end to slavery, but the best way to do that was to contain it and let it die.
      This would not placate wealthy southerners, for their wealth rested on the “peculiar institution” – emancipation meant the death of the south. This is why they were in favour of expanding their territory in Mexico and Cuba, if need be – a couple of expeditions were organised, but it never came to anything. Slavery to them needed to expand – a gradual death wasn’t on the cards.
      Also we have to take into account the “caning” of Charles Sumner in 1856 – two days after making a polemical speech attacking slavery in the Senate Chamber, Sumner was approached by the Southern delegate Preston Brooks, who proceeded to beat him viciously with his cane. After leaving Sumner in a pool of his own blood Brooks fled the scene . He was widely regarded as a hero in the South for his actions – fans went so far as to send him canes of their own.
      Mustn’t forget Harper’s Ferry – John Brown’s ludicrous attempt in 1859 to set off a slave revolt. Of course it didn’t work and he was executed, but he became a martyr to abolitionists in the North (and it should be noted that Frederick Douglass was impressed by Brown – Douglass could merely “…live for the slave, but John Brown could die for him.”)
      Later on we have the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 – and when it became clear that Lincoln won the election freely and fairly, the Southern States seceded over the fear that the ascension of the anti-slavery Republican party would mean emancipation.
      In 1861 the Southern batteries start the war by firing on Fort Sumter.
      You’ll notice I didn’t say a thing about tariffs – Neo-Confederates will bring the issue up in a pathetic attempt to justify the South in the Civil War. It’s horse manure. The Civil War started because of greed, fear and pride on the part of the South over Slavery.
      Just thought I’d try and head that rubbish off at the pass – anyone else who knows something about the subject, please jump in.

      • ivan_the_mad

        It does need to be headed off at the pass. Making slavery out to be a minor cause is wholesale historical revisionism. Here are some primary sources on the matter, from the very declarations of secession:

        Note, for example, the second sentence of Mississippi’s declaration: “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery– the greatest material interest of the world.”

        The other issues are not severable from that of slavery.

        • ivan_the_mad

          I’m fairly certain that the blog post concerned advocating secession or revolution. Regardless, cry me a river.

        • Harry Piper

          Oh no, secession isn’t inherently immoral, and it’s a fascinating topic of discussion vis a vis its legality. But there is a small number of Conservative Catholics who have this attraction to the Confederacy – they see it as a romantic throwback to a better era. See this Crisis article – – for a good encapsulation of that view.
          You can be sure that when the topic of secession comes up they’ll try and put across their ridiculous views.

          • Confederate Papist

            Nice writing Harry with the notable yank – educated slant. I used to believe that way too. Hey, I used to believe that the GWOT was a noble and great thing too until I realised the USA is just gobbling up territory and laying waste to everything in it’s path, not to mention looking away as Christians in the ME are being slaughtered by the very “nation-built”, US supported governments they have now propped up.

            But hey, Lincoln freed the slaves by killing over half million Americans, so it’s all good. Plus they’re backwards Southerners, so even better. We don’t need their kinds around here any more anyway…they’re so pre-historic.

            • Harry Piper

              Actually, I’m Welsh. I live in that wonderful country. I’ve only just started reading up on the Civil War in my spare time, and just from a quick survey of the early events before full scale war – Bleeding Kansas, Dredd Scott, Harper’s Ferry, Lincoln-Douglas debates, caning of Sumner- it is not hard to detect a recurring theme.
              I don’t know what the GWOT is, and I’m not really a fan of the current administration.
              Lincoln did not kill half a million Americans – Southern greed and support of slavery, Northern military incompetence (McClellan, Burnside, McClellan, possibly Meade) and great Southern generalship (Lee, Stonewall, Longstreet) did that. Lincoln was not some kind of tinpot dictator enthused by the spilling of blood- by all accounts, he was generous, kind, merciful and deeply troubled by the violence of the war. Hence the complete lack of retribution towards the South at the end of the war – a bad policy, it turned out. From that sprung the failure of Reconstruction and the ascension of Jim Crow.
              I don’t gloat over the mass casualties produced by the war, but nor do I consider Southern slavery merely incidental to the conflict. I do not consider it a mere problematic issue that would have faded away with time – if the South had won, they would have extended it, there’s absolutely no question about it. And let there be no mistake , it was an institution built and sustained by incredible violence – physical, mental and sexual – and inflicted great torment on millions of innocent men, women and children for the sole purpose of the pursuit of wealth. I shed no tears over the fate of the South, though I’ll happily say a prayer for the souls of those whose dead- it was a shame that the cause they gave their lives for was so monstrous.

              • Harry Piper

                I do have some sympathy for the right to self-determination, yes – every Welshman’s hero is Owain Glyndwr, after all.
                But the issue is more complicated with a Union of various states – Wales was conquered and occupied. And secession came after Lincoln fairly won an election – it does not speak well of the South that they up and left because they lost a fair contest.
                And the determining issue for the South was slavery – to say that that they left the Union for freedom is a sick joke indeed.
                And whilst slavery had been extinguished in other nations because of the factors you mention, this had very little impact on the South. They were a proudly agrarian society, and despised the industrial North – it was a fundamental component of their identity.
                And in response to challenges to slavery from Abolitionists, they had built up an increasingly belligerence defense of the institution – from moral (“we are helping the black man by lifting him from barbarism”), scientific (blacks are genetically predisposed to be less intelligent) and scriptural grounds (Curse of Ham, “Jesus didn’t say anything about it so it must be alright”). Just look at the “cornerstone speech” by the vice-president of the Confederacy, Alexander Stephens –
                “….It was an evil they (The Founding Fathers) knew not well how to deal with; but the general opinion of the men of that day was, that, somehow or other, in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away… Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the idea of a Government built upon it—when the “storm came and the wind blew, it fell.”
                “Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and moral condition.”
                The above is a product of the new defense of slavery the South came up with in order to justify the institution. They had absolutely no intention of getting rid of it – if they did, their Confederacy, and much of the rationale for it, would collapse

                • Harry Piper

                  If you want to argue over the legality of secession, please do so, but not with me. I do not know enough about the subject – the Constitution, the American legal system; it’s all a foreign country to me. Further reading is required.
                  I do know enough about the Civil War to see whitewashing when I see it, however. So if you’re in support of secession, that’s no problem. It is a problem when you suggest that secession in the Civil War had little to do with slavery.

                • Confederate Papist,
                  The Union was as you describe only under the Articles of Confederation. Under the present Constitution, the Union is a relationship between the states, yes, but *sovereignty* resides not with the states, but with We the People. Sorry. Stop doing the “Bob’s Bible Shack” exegesis of the Constitution, please, and consult some actual experts. Other than biographers of Calhoun. Take a con law class.

                  • RFlaum

                    Even in the Articles of Confederation, secession would not have been legal. The full name, remember, is the “Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union”. Article XIII underlines this point, reiterating twice that “the Union shall be perpetual”. Since the Constitution was intended to create a “more perfect Union” than the AoC, it presumably is also perpetual. See Texas v. White (1869): “The Constitution, in all its provisions, looks to an indestructible Union, composed of indestructible States.”

                    • Johnny

                      “Perpetual” means it need not be renewed. It had not expiration date. “Perpetual” treaties had been ended, and this was not considered a treaty violation.

                    • RFlaum

                      Well, the Supreme Court disagrees. Again, see Texas v. White. Also see Article XIII of the AoC. IANAL, but as I read it, Article XIII indicates that Congress’s permission would be needed to secede.

                    • j. blum

                      If states are indestructible, why is there a West Virginia? (Salmon P. Chase, Chief Justice at the time of Texas v. White, thought the breakaway counties naturally belonged to his Ohio.)

      • Mike

        One does not need to “justify” the South to think that the actions of the North were wicked. It is quite possible to oppose slavery, and oppose an unnecessary war in which 600,000+ people were killed. The vast majority of them owned no slaves at all. There would be far more justification in rounding up and killing individual slaveholders. But most of them got through the war unscathed. Many of them started right up in 1865 where they’d left off in 1861, with their former slaves now sharecroppers. This is in your mind justice? Why did teenagers from Maine, who’d never even seen a slave, have to die for this?

        The fact that this was the only occasion on which a war was needed to end slavery is something that should at least be considered. That slavery was peacefully ended in the North is also something that should at least be considered.

        • RFlaum

          I actually think the US would have been justified in taking military action even were slavery not involved at all. To allow the secession attempt would have defeated the entire purpose of the Union, by allowing foreign powers to play states off against one another; even the loyalist states would have been tempted to use the threat of secession to get their way, once the precedent was set. If any state can leave when the Federal government does something that state doesn’t like, the Federal government has no authority at all, and therefore cannot fulfill its responsibilities. Now, I’m not claiming that the specific action Lincoln took was always justified, but I think he definitely had an obligation to take some sort of military action to preserve the Union.

      • Mike

        Would there be any scenario, in which you could imagine that secession would be valid?

        You say you’re against violence, torture and war. But you seem to suggest that every instance of secession must inevitably lead to war. This is just not the case.

        Should the Czechs invade Slovakia after their secession? Does Sweden have no other choice than to invade breakaway Norway? Should the Russians work to reclaim the territories they’ve lost since 1990? Should the UK be sending troops to Canada, India, Australia, etc?

        • Mark Shea

          Why are you searching so hard to find rationales for shooting your neighbor? Because that is, practically speaking, what secession would mean here in violence-crazed America. That’s why gun zealots have been hammering away at the vital need for guns as the means for “protecting ourselves” against tyrants. They know perfectly well that secession means a bloodbath. Why are you looking for someway, somehow to justify contemplating a bloodbath?

    • Mark Shea

      As long as you abide by rule, you are welcome to whatever private opinions you like. But secession is, by its nature, a violent proposal. Hence all the gun zealots talking about the need for guns to “defend” it.

      • Confederate Papist

        Understood. Violence is not the answer. My compatriots and I advocate peaceful secession..violence will not help either cause.

      • Nick

        I am a longtime reader and appreciate you and your blog. I find your claim that secession would have to be violent in the US an interesting and provocative one. What do you make of the secession of West Virginia from Virginia? Perhaps you mean to limit your claim to secession from the US federal government, and then claim that the counties of West Virginia never seceded from the federal government? I am genuinely interested.

        • Mark Shea

          Yeah, I have in mind the notion of secession from the United States, which is all the nutjobs mean (unless they are talking about trying to form some sort of small armed compound in Idaho or Montana that pretends to be a separate country). The key here is not really the size of the community that secedes, it is the violence they are willing to employ to defend their fantasy when the state dissents from their nutty idea or, alternatively, the violence they are willing to impose on their neighbors in protest of the perceived threat from the larger society. The safe bet is that every person who says “We need guns in order to fight for our freedom from the tyrant when we secede” is not, despite disclaimers to the contary, envisioning peaceful secession. All such talk is bloody-minded nonsense that will only succeed in getting innocents killed.

  • Andy

    Yesterday I started a response and gave it up. The paranoid fantasies of protecting oneself from the intrusion of the federal government, the need to have guns to be a true patriot make me wonder about what conservatives have become. Thak you for stopping the “discussion” of secession.
    The inability of any readers to read what Father Lombardi was trying to say shocked me – he repeated the Catechism. Now we can return to our regularly scheduled dismissal of what the church teaches aboutbtorture, economics, and violence in general.

    • RFlaum

      A lot of the fantasies of gun culture revolve around the desire to pretend that our safety doesn’t depend on society at large.

  • Well said, Mark.

  • To be honest, Confederate Papist is correct. There have been talks about succession for years now. Back during Bush’s presidency, I remember several stories about folks on the other side of the aisle tossing about the same scenarios. It’s probably symptomatic of the growing divide in our nation, that tendency everyone has of agreeing that America sucks, but insisting it’s a growing portion of [the rest of] the population’s fault. A nation of graph paper.

  • ivan_the_mad

    It really boggled my mind that commenters in that thread jumped straight to secession without even a nod to non-violent civil disobedience.

    • Jmac

      Non-violence? Like a god-damned LIBRUL?

      • ivan_the_mad

        Zounds! I’ve been discovered! *dons Groucho Marx glasses*

      • Non-violent civil disobedience, the tactic of Dr. King, ought not to be spoken of in the context of the Slave Power’s “nullification” doctrine as espoused by Calhoun and the later segregationist governors.

    • The first seven States, led by South Carolina, left peacefully, just wanting to be left alone.

      “Just wanting to be left alone”? Seriously?
      And then they let all the enslaved men, women, and children “secede” by walking North. Oh, no, wait, no they didn’t. I bet all those black folks just wanted to be left alone, too. For four hundred years, I bet they wanted to just be left alone by all the slavers, murderers, and rapists of “peaceful” Southern culture. “Just wanting to be left alone?” Such sympathy for evil is sickening to read.

      I’ve said enough.


      • ivan_the_mad

        Yeah, it did. Read the declarations of the causes of secession by the seceding states. They’re pretty clear it’s about slavery. The other issues aren’t severable from that. Here you go, enjoy:

        Enough with the asinine historical revisionism, people.

      • Preach! Preach! I grew up in a border state, and my father eventually moved to Alabama for work when I was not quite a teenager. I remember hearing the same BS you’re taking down at least weekly. The South, for all its pretentions, willingly intertwined itself with a grave evil and they’ve never owned up to it. Sure, they might have abandoned slavery peacefully with the rise of industrialization, but their current sentiments suggest the slave class would have remained as second class citizens. To do this day I avoid visiting the South.

    • Mark Shea

      Talk of violence tends to be a first, rather than last, resort in gun discussions. The rush to imagine situations in which you get to fire a weapon at somebody is one of the many unhealthy things about the culture that I’ve noticed.

      • But Mark! Freedom means the freedom to shoot other people when they disagree with you! Why do you hate freedom? Do you hate…America?

        Seriously, thank you for your regular attacks on the right wing freak show. That anybody, Christian or otherwise, would get themselves hooked up with this train wreck is beyond me. Perhaps living in the Pacific NW has kept you away from the worst of it? I live in an ultra-liberal college town in the northern Midwest and I only encounter this stuff occasionally at church events, usually from “that guy.”

  • Gam Samgee

    Look, folks. Mark said he was against nutjob secessionism. He never said he was against sane and rational secessionism. So just be sure to keep the nutjob jazz out of your secessionism when you vist here. I’m sure Mark’s against nutjob Catholicism as well. I know I am.

  • You make some good points, Mark. But you overlook a few things:

    1) The TRUTH about 9/11!
    2) Birth certificates!
    3) Area 51!
    3.5) Dan Brown was Right!
    4) HITLER!!!!

    You would make a lot more sense if you would only engage these serious issues rationally.

    [Note to the humor impaired: this comment is a joke.]

    • Harry Piper

      You left out ISLAM! On purpose, I suspect.
      Clearly you’re a member of the stealth-jihadist Muslim Brotherhood, intent on forcing Sharia law on us – don’t try to deny it! I know all about Taqiyya!

      • Mr. Piper,

        You clearly are a wise and discerning soul. I take your admonition to heart and add to my list:

        Phi) ISLAM!!
        and also:
        Pi) COMMIE SPIES!!

      • Mark Shea

        “It’s another Taqiyya Sunrise…”

  • Peggy R

    I am not a secessionist. It is a huge thing to consider and carry out, an earthquake in our lives and world history.

    Our nation does have a glaring problem of two sizable factions that see the role of government and our founding principles very differently. Neither side is very tolerable to allowing the other to have its way. Each side sees the other as not just misguided but evil in fact. Elections have grave consequences, as we have seen. So. The question is how do we resolve these differences and remain one union?

    • Confederate Papist

      We’ve passed that time, I am afraid Peggy. It’s been a long time in the works. The secessions of 1860 did not happen overnight either.

      • The divisions were quite deep in the 1960’s, and yet there was no war. Today’s problems are not the worst problems the nation has ever faced. Far from it. Calm down.

        • Rosemarie


          *Half* the US population desires the imposition of atheistic socialism? I don’t think it’s nearly that high.

          • That’s just how Michael defines “Democrat.”

      • Peggy R

        I do not disagree at all. I am not promoting secession, but I don’t see how we reconcile and live as one union. We are past reconciliation it seems. It’s a hard truth. We could have an amicable division or dissolution of the union without battle.

        • More likely, the angry old people, who mean well but are simply befuddled by present reality, will be replaced by people who are done fighting the culture war about what should be minor fiscal issues, and America will survive. The key is to hold the country together with a minimum of violent reactionary mischief while waiting for demographics to do its thing. These are just some shoals to guide the ship of state through, that’s all.

          • Late 20-something here. It’s not just the old people that espouse this stuff, but their children, as well. Everyone I know views the contemporary American Right as something like fundamentalist Christianity: not quite a cult, but definitely a mind hijack that ruins your ability to function as a normal human being.

            • The sad thing about the kids who leave both fundamentalisms behind is that they think that what they’ve escaped from is “Christianity” and react accordingly.

              • Because their minds have been ruined by it. Fundamentalism warps your mind like any deliberate attack on your mind, and it takes years of decompression to process. Many of those ex-fundamentalists eventually become normal again, but it takes time. Which is just another reason to oppose fundamentalism in all forms.

                An aside: I’ve been seeing fundamentalists at my own parish ruin their children this way. Many are just hitting their late teens and coming out profoundly weird as a result. I’m too young to have experienced this firsthand until now and it’s shocking how people treat it as normal. One family went so far as to put their daughter in therapy (presumably Christian) because of her “rebellion.”

          • Titus Pullo

            It looks like you are one of the diversity marxists cheering the death of Western Civilization where equility of results or more likely central planned govt enforcmeent to ensure the “victim” classes are lifted up and the “evil white males” are forced in slavery is the end state. Forget natural law..forget freedom and liberty and the natural unequal results you will get if you let people rise to their ability. I heard enough of baby boomer “catholics” like you…My grandfather immigrated from Italy with nothing..and faced discrimination..decades later I faced the “diversity” police who told me I couldn’t get promoted at Xerox becuae I was “white”…maybe your right..the rise of the folks who don’t care less about the Constitution and what America is all about..freedom not security will certainly change the country..cheer all you want at the demise of Americans of European background..but all your money printing by that Rothchild Bernanke isn’t going to save America…all Republics go down in a blur of vote buying the the govt and empire building…

            Look at what America built…I doubt your new demographics with their focus on entertainment, reality TV, style and govt giveaways will be building spacecraft that can go to the moon.

  • Blog Goliard

    The collapse of the present American order is all but inevitable at this point.

    That justifies–if not compels–those involved in the political sphere to engage in various forms of dissent, protest, activism, et cetera.

    It does not justify arson. And that’s how I see secession talk right now: seeking to burn down the house because it’s in grave danger of burning down.

    • Dan C

      Your issues are on display here.
      Servant of God Dorothy Day would respond to this with a witty line such as “Its about time you showed up.”

      • Blog Goliard

        I have no idea what you mean by this reply. Or was this meant to be attached to a different comment?

  • The Texas Embassy in Beijing will impress the Chinese.

    • Harry Piper

      Harsh but true. And hilarious.

    • If “the Texas Embassy in Beijing” was a common restaurant concept, I would be a much happier person. Barbecue, Tex-Mex AND Chinese! Sounds heavenly.

  • What happens to the nukes, etc.?

    • ivan_the_mad

      LOL they’ll be made available for private ownership. It’s the only way to prevent the government from herding everyone off to camps. You have a right to keep and bear arms, and nuclear armaments are arms, so QED!!!

    • Confederate Papist

      The USA can have them. We have no desire to build an empire like them, so therefore, no nukes are needed.

      • What constituency outside your own head does this “we” signify? The last time there were serious secessionists in this country, there was talk of a slave empire expanding deep into the Caribbean and beyond, as I recall.

    • The USA should voluntarily disarm itself of nukes. The only purpose for nukes is to kill people. If we got rid of nukes, then the world would be a safer place since there would be less nukes. We will put up signs at the entry point of our country – “nuke free zone” – and all will be safe.

      • If we got rid of nukes, the Canadians and Mexicans would conquer us. Oh, no, wait, they wouldn’t. Maybe intrinsically evil weapons of mass destruction opposed by Dorothy Day and G.E.M. Anscombe are bad. Nah. Only liberals would think that.

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    Here’s the thing I’ve noted about many secessionists I’ve argued with: They’re just mad. They haven’t spent any time engaged in the political process. They don’t contact their representatives, either state, local, or federal. They haven’t written an editorial to the local paper. And if you count the number of minutes they’ve spent praying for the nation, you won’t need more fingers than you have on one hand. However, they do rant on messageboards with like-minded people, but that amounts to nothing more than intellectual masturbation — and I use the term intellectual sparingly. They shame our forefathers.

    Our forefathers engaged in revolution only after the political process had been exhausted and proven utterly futile. If you’re not engaged in the political process and you’re talking secession, shame on you.

    If you think your government no longer shares your values, then get involved in changing things.

    • “If you think your government no longer shares your values, then get involved in changing things.”

      That, too, is increasingly futile. When the U.S. was founded, it set the amount of people per representative at a reasonable 30,000. At some point, the number of representatives was fixed and now we are approaching 750,000 per representative in Congress and usually millions per Senator. So any one individuals influence on a given rep. is only a few percent of what it used to be. Also, politics is such a dirty business that good people hesitate to become involved, although I agree that they need to, in order to have any prayer of things turning around.

      Some, including me, are trying to influence one of the major parties, and some are trying to set up new parties, but somehow it doesn’t seem to come to much, and our candidates get worse and worse. God willing, that can change, but these are some of the sources of the frustration.

    • S. Tate

      I find you to be a tad insulting Mark. You are casting straw men out and shooting them down with gusto. I happen to know one of the “secessionists” you are speaking of, and he is far more politically active than many. More than I, and I was a PCO and delegate in Washington State.

      Mark said, “And if you count the number of minutes they’ve spent praying for the nation, you won’t need more fingers than you have on one hand. ”

      You and I are WHOLLY unfit to make such a statement and should be ashamed for doing so.

  • Secession is unconstitutional. To change that would require a constitutional amendment, which would require preponderant national support for allowing it, not just some localized grievance. Some silly vote in one angry state would not suffice.

    • Work to get better justices on the court. Or pass a human life amendment. Or do anti-abortion work outside a clinic.

    • Who’s halting succession? We just had another inauguration yesterday.

  • After the election of 1860, a group of angry white Southern men noticed that demographics were going to make it harder for them to win national elections. So these sore losers got violent instead. After the election of 2012, angry white Southern men (many of them with rather large gun collections, apparently) are noticing, again, that demographics are making it unlikely they will soon win many national elections. This is leading to an uptick in violent rhetoric from “patriot” loons, to Brownshirt-like “open carry” intimidation of innocent people in public spaces, and to a general pattern of acting like “our country,” which only these angry Southern white men apparently have any right to feel any sense of ownership in, by their reckoning, is going to be “taken back” from various ethnic and cultural others by some unspecified but ominous means. Second Amendment remedies. Etc. Secessionism is at the rotten heart of gun culture. Hatred and fear of other people, other cultures, other possible futures than their own. These people will keep losing elections. And keep stockpiling guns. “Tyranny” is not the threat here, any more than it was when Booth shot Lincoln. Just as then, petulant men with guns are the threat. I am glad this blog will not be tolerating them. Now if only there was a way to be politically active against the slavery-like scourge of abortion without constantly having to mix with such people….

    • I’m always leery of taking the horrible groups of yesterday, and identifying them with those horrible groups I stand against today. Just like I’m leery of assuming I would have been right up there on the cross next to Jesus, as opposed to being with those folks abandoning him, or worse, crucifying him. If it’s unwise for me to assume I ever and always stand with the heroes of history, it’s equally unwise of me to assume that those with whom I disagree stand with the villains.

      • Ding-ding-ding. We have a winner. Beautiful post, Dave G.

        • Confederate Papist

          Agreed. It’s very easy to look at 19th century society with 21st century glasses…

      • I might have been an awful person in the nineteenth century. I’m not so hot now. As for those with whom I disagree, I think neo-Confederates and those who think elections are only legitimate when their guy wins are pretty much identifiying themselves with that past.

        • Well, it cuts across the board, and seems to have little to do with whites or not, men or not, gun clingers or not, Southerners or not. Since 2000, I’ve heard illegitimate and succeed from the union from several sources. Only in recent decades has being radically anti-government been the domain of the ‘Right’. When I was growing up, it was those rascally leftists most likely to set off bombs or engage in selective terrorism against the government. My guess is, no matter when, you’re going to have folks who take things to the extremes on any side of any issue. Trick is, keep the boundary around ‘extreme’ as tight as possible, and resist the temptation to broaden it to include a growing number of things and groups I happen to disagree with.

          • Fair enough.
            (Comment lengthened to placate spam filter.)

    • Harry Piper

      “Now if only there was a way to be politically active against the slavery-like scourge of abortion without constantly having to mix with such people….”

      Back in the day, abolitionism was a position very popular with the Know-Nothings. Doesn’t make the cause any less righteous or the other positions of those involved in it any less incorrect.

      • j. blum

        Not sure about that, Mr. Piper. Know-Nothings had some “free soil” sentiments in them, but not active abolitionism. “Free soil” all too often meant “schwarzenrein,” “free” of black folks. Many Western states tried to ban blacks from living there. My native Illinois–albeit to no avail.

    • mike in kc, mo

      “Secessionism is at the rotten heart of gun culture. Hatred and fear of other people, other cultures, other possible futures than their own.”
      – And here I thought I owned firearms in order to protect my family in case of home invasion, because I enjoy the skill of blasting tiny targets at hundreds of yards, and competing against others in IDPA and PPC competitions. I’m very glad Irenist was here to point out that what is REALLY driving me is Secessionism and a dark hatred of immigrants and foreigners. I’m so ashamed now.

      It’s a good thing Mark is keeping those crazy secessionists off of his site. Heaven knows the last thing we need is for people to project their ignorance and bigotry on people they don’t know and quite obviously have never interacted with in real life. Those types of people are just wacked out!

      • I did not say all gun owners were secessionists. But the most radical, committed parts of organized Second Amendment absolutism (groups to the right of the NRA, e.g.) are often pretty neo-Confederate. In one manner of speaking, it might make more sense to call them a “fringe.” When I wrote “heart,” I was thinking of them as being the “core” in the sense of “hard core” or extremist.

        • So the SPLC raises a flag for you, but not secessionism? Got it.

        • Look, I’m not going to argue over whether meant to say that all gun owners are secessionists. You read me as saying that. I apologize. They aren’t. Okay?

          As for how much personal experience I have with gun culture people: I live in West Texas. We have a few gun owners out here. Like, almost everybody. And I love my neighbors. Wonderful folks. I am making a broad point about politics here, not a narrow point about you and your friends, okay? This is not a personal attack. Similarly, when Ross Douthat called liberal secular culture decadent, he wasn’t personally attacking all liberals. He was trying to move the public conversation forward. If you want to talk politics outside an echo chamber, grow a thicker skin.

          As to the extremists who are the rotten apples in the gun culture barrel, take a look at the sponsorship of the recent Gun Appreciation Day. You will find, e.g., members of the League of the South. That’s pretty neo-Confederate. So, y’know, facts and stuff. Reality exists. Now are you going to engage in some more ad hominems about my not knowing any real gun folks or are you going to engage my actual point?

    • Secession would trigger an unwinnable war. Unjust wars are not licit.

    • As it happens, I think the Revolutionary War was most likely unjust. Hard to see killing so many people just to to speed us along a road that Canada traveled much more peacefully not that long afterward. The recourse to violence was too quick.

      • Another Mike in KC

        You mean the Canadians accomplished a sort of secession without violence? How could that possibly be as we are told here that any and all who discuss either the possibility or reasons for secession must be gun nuts with violent fantasies?

        • Mark Shea

          Annnd you’re gone. Anybody else wanna spout double talk about how we all need guns in order to fight the war of Secession while pretending you aren’t violent fantasists? I can do this all day.

  • KM

    Thank you, Mark, for posting this.

    The crazy dark violent fantasies of revolution and secession are a sign of defeatist thinking and a lack of faith. My general advice to people is to stay away from the talk radio programs that peddle fear/hate and from the crazy conspiracy websites. Also it helps to listen to people with opposing viewpoints. I’ve discovered that most (normal) people of all political persuasions want a better, more peaceful world for their children too.

    Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself. Pray constantly. Have faith.

    Matthew 17:20: “…for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.”

    • KM

      Mark is nipping such talk in the bud before it gets out of hand. My favorite conservative-leaning blog comboxes have been thoroughly infected with such comments including links to dark swamps of the internet, so I no longer read those blogs.

      • Interesting. I know nothing of actual secessionists other than what I see here on this blog. Perhaps that is why I am not as alarmed by it as others. I’m sure that at least some of those advocating secession do so for bad reasons and are not very balanced people, to say the least.

    • KM

      I don’t think I’m better than anyone when I offer what’s worked for me. I think the conservative talk radio and conspiracy sites do escalate any existing fear or frustration out there. Highly educated people are just as susceptible to group opinion as anyone else.

      I became aware of the level of fear out there when it crept into many talk radio shows and websites I frequented. I have friends whom I consider quite intelligent who listen to or read this stuff, and have become quite worried about the future for no obvious reason (they have good jobs and families, etc.).

      The fear-mongering at conservative websites became apparent after Obama’s re-election, but it became much worse after the gun debate. Elizabeth Scalia has pointed out at her blog how she noticed an uptick in doomsday prep talk when she was out and about in the last month.

      I’m just pointing out what’s worked for me and offering that. Sorry if you took it in the wrong spirit or took offense to it.

    • Peggy R

      “Succession” is usually non-violent. “Secession” may or may not be violent. ;^D

  • “joe”

    hey MS, i agree with you.
    just, like, making it official.

  • What exactly do you mean by our “gun culture” and how are violent fantasies about secession inherently tied to it? As far as I’ve seen, flights from reality is a very common thread in Generation Narcissism and neither conservative or liberal, gun advocate or gun control proponent are immune (I once had a gun control advocate tell me that we could ban guns because if someone tried to go on a murder spree in a mall with a knife then “the crowd would tear him apart limb by limb.” That kind of divergence from reality in preference of such a violent fantasy makes me nauseous). Just look at our society’s obsession with zombie apocalypses. Such constant obsession with living in a post-apocalyptic world killing mindless hordes of human beings (justified within the fantasy because they are already dead) seems to me to pose just as much of a threat to our spiritual well-being as these other fantasies of secession etc. But the zombie lovers get a pass because they’re mainstream.

    Our whole culture is sick and I don’t think that guns are the problem. Sure, many people have a problem with guns (and I don’t mean the ones who want to ban them, at least not in this context, but those who are obsessed with them and, often, also obsessed with violence) and certain people should never be allowed to possess a firearm. However, I grew up around guns, all of my friends had guns, I competed in shooting sports in high school and I was very good at it. Yet I reject these fantasies and all violence that stems from our culture of death, I am in favor of many gun regulations (many of which are, thankfully, already in place), I would never carry a gun in public and I would never defend guns or the privilege of owning them over my fellow human beings, yet am I not still a part of this vilified gun culture?

    I’ve posted this before, but I believe that it bears repeating again and again. Here is a study published in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy:

    It demonstrates a negative correlation between gun-ownership and violent crime, not just in the United States, but around the world. This alone of course cannot prove a causal relationship. Instead, upon examination of the evidence available to them, the authors conclude that murder and suicide rates are determined by basic social, economic and cultural factors and not by the prevalence of any particularly deadly mechanism. Because the evidence backs this claim far better than it does the typical claims of either the gun-control or the gun-rights advocates I would endorse an evidence-based public policy that does not seek to either a) reduce guns in an attempt to reduce crime or b) increase guns in an attempt to reduce crime but c) seeks to address the underlying social, economic and cultural factors that lead to a more violent society, most prominent I suspect being the Culture of Death that Pope John Paul II so frequently warned us about. Ultimately, our problems of violence are far bigger than any culture of guns, whatever that may mean (still not sure), but the natural conclusion of an ailing culture of narcissism and death.

    • Guns are not the reason our culture is sick. However, the patriot/militia/neo-Confederate fringe of the gun movement holds such sway that moderate gun owners are drowned out by those who think that moderate regulation of guns is the road to Weimar. That is pernicious. It’s bad for responsible gun owners, and bad for the rest of us. When neo-Confederate nuts get violent again (as in OKC), it will be nonviolent conservatives who take the blame. Doesn’t it behoove non-violent conservatives to worry about dealing with these people before that happens, both for their own sakes and for everyone’s?

  • The last surviving Founder was Charles Carroll of Carrollton, IIRC. Catholics should know that.

    • Had the New England states attempted to secede in 1812, it would also have been illegal. It would have been for a far juster cause (since the War of 1812 was Vietnam-level stupid), but it would have been illegal. Still, pleasant when brothers come together to chat about Carroll. A great man. Too little remembered.

  • S. Tate

    As a lesser scholar among much bickering I wish to speak my piece, no need to ban me, I won’t be speaking another word on the subject here. I do not wish to call for secession, but to label it as defeatist or insisting that God won’t choose to use secession is akin to a statement of “Lifeboats are for people who don’t trust in God.”

    Statement1. The people who got on a life boat to escape the Titanic were defeatist and worldly for not staying on the titanic and praying and believing that god would save the ship.
    My response: Maybe God cares more about the people than the ship, and a lifeboat is just what he called for.

    Statement2. The people who think secession is an option of last resort(like a lifeboat) are defeatist and worldly for not remaining with the sinking government and praying that god would save the government.
    My response: Maybe God cares more about the people than the government, and secession could be the method he uses to spare many from ruin.

    Do we secede before trying to repair the nation? No, and I don’t see them advocating that in these arguments. Is holding up the lifeboat of secession as an option of last resort wrong in and of itself? I think not. Now I do think some people jump on the lifeboat too quickly, and some place their trust in it rather than God, but that is not reason to cast off the lifeboat as evil. To sum up, I think it would have been more appropriate to warn against boarding the lifeboat for worldly reasons, or before endeavoring to discern the will of God through prayer and petition.

  • Sure, Michael. Like this peaceful Texas secessionist:
    “Sept. 19, 2010
    An antigovernment extremist with ties to the separatist Republic of Texas organization allegedly opens fire on an oil company worker and two sheriff’s deputies who show up at White’s property in West Odessa, Texas, to access an oil well to which the company has rights. Victor White, 55, allegedly wounds all three men before they retreat, and a 22-hour standoff follows. White eventually surrenders and is charged with three counts of attempted capital murder of a peace officer, one count of attempted capital murder, and aggravated assault. “

  • Y’know what’s completely dishonest? Ignoring the secessionist character of violent patriot militia groups because it doesn’t suit you.

  • The sort of chaos which would permit a successful secession is the sort of chaos which many people would not survive. This is not 1861. We are mostly urban, interdependent, and almost entirely dependent on sophisticated technology and communications. I think we survive or go down together.
    20 years ago, I saw isolated villages on the White Sea in northern Russia that just might survive that kind of blow-up. We don’t have those here.

    • You’re absolutely correct; the problem is that the same people advocating (or, in my opinion, almost erotically fantasizing about) things like secession are the same people suffering from the delusion that they, as enlightened true patriots and salt of the Earth, will be able to survive when it all falls apart, unlike those latte-sipping city dwellers. Unfortunately for us all, that isn’t how the contemporary world works, so instead of trying to actually come up with reasonable, workable solutions to our problems they’re trying to tear the whole thing down. I find them terrifying, to be honest, and consider them a legitimate threat to the stability of the United States and, by extension, the entire world.

  • Mike

    This kind of statist claptrap is something we come to expect from statist maggots like Mark. Move to North Korea please.

    • You’re either terrible at satire or an absolute, incomprehensibly stupid human being.

      • Mark Shea

        I’ll take incomprehensibly stupid, for $200. Bye, Mike!

  • Mr Shea, I kindly encourage you to read a response to this article by fellow Catholic Tom Woods Jr;×5-card-of-approved-opinion-strikes-catholic-blog/

    • Mark Shea

      No. And you are gone too. I don’t need to make my blog a forum for violent fantasy nuts with dreams of the Glorious War of Secession. Had enough with the violent fantasy nuts with torture fetishes.

      • Harry Piper

        What is it with Libertarians and secession? There’s this group of economists – Woods, DiLirenzo, Livingston – who honestly expect me to believe that Lincoln was some kind of mustache-twirling tyrant and the poor, misunderstood South was just fighting for freedom. Ron Paul held these beliefs tenaciously, for some bizarre reason.
        Thomas Woods also wrote the “Politically Incorrect Guide to American History”, wherein we find that the Civil War was actually the “war of Northern Aggression” and slavery would have probably faded away anyway despite all evidence to the contrary.
        How are we meant to take people like this seriously? WHY should we take people like this seriously? They turn up in Crisis, Catholic Culture and other places – this bizarre neo-Confederate rubbish, justified with pathetic attempts at Catholic pathos (“The Pope sent Jefferson Davis a crown of thorns – therefore you should believe that the South was right!”)

        • Mark Shea

          Woods is welcome to re-fight the Civil War in his imagination. But the reality is that today, here, in the real world. fomenting for secession is fomenting for the death of innocents at the hands of nutjobs and violent fantasists. I have empathy with some aspects of the South’s position and think that Lincoln (and Sherman) were war criminals. Duly noted. But the violent fantasists playing with the idea of secession right now are playing with fire and will be held accountable when innocents get killed.

          • Harry Piper

            Just out of interest, what war crimes would you ascribe to Lincoln?

            • Mark Shea

              Sherman’s March. Making war on civilians was one of the “advances” in warfare the Union really went for.

        • bill

          No. You should actually listen to what they’re saying and do some research without dismissing it altogether. That is a knee-jerk reaction, one suited to non-Catholics who have no desire to search for truth. Love alone is not good enough. You need love and truth. Faith guides reason. Not the other way around.

          In the supernatural order, Christ was put to death by our sins. In the temporal, He was put to death by the state. Pilate, who found no fault with the Son of Man, succumbed to political pressure. What kind of political pressures are Catholics under today? What people here are saying is that the state is greater than Jesus Christ. Our Lord has a right to social and political reign, not arbitrary secular bodies that decay and self-destruct over time. Christ is Alpha-Omega, the beginning and the end.

          • Mark Shea

            No. What people are saying is that violent secessionist fantasies of shooting your neighbor in the name of Jesus because you are pissed about losing an election and don’t like the tax rate are crazy and evil rationalizations for murder.

      • I’m amused at the thought of your combox warriors wanting so badly to convince you of their position that they’re passing this post along to their betters. Then again, I have a very dark sense of humor.

      • Orlando M

        I’m trying to find the “violent fantasy nuts with torture fetishes” over at Tom Woods’ blog and I’m coming up empty.
        “violent secessionist fantasies of shooting your neighbor in the name of Jesus because you are pissed about losing an election and don’t like the tax rate are crazy and evil rationalizations for murder.”
        I certainly don’t disagree, and I’m sure most of the people you’re smacking with the ban-hammer don’t either. Most, in fact, are peaceful people who adhere to the non-aggression principle. It is unfortunate that you paint with such a wide brush, or, worse, must resort to straw-manning.
        I have liked your blog in the past, but I don’t understand what’s going on here. Your dictatorial tactics of banning anyone who may have a different opinion – while certainly in your right as this blog is your property – only makes you look petulant. And sticking your fingers in your ears and refusing to hear reasonable people discuss history and philosophy is downright laughable.
        Very sad.
        Don’t worry about banning me. I’ll see myself out. This blog is much too unserious for my tastes.

        • Mark J. Schuberg

          I couldn’t have said it better. I came to this site some months ago because of Mr. Shea’s anti-torture and anti-war opinions. This constant knocking down straw-men is simply childish. I’m out of here for good.

    • It’s obvious that Mark is attacking those within the conservative movement in America that are chomping at the bit (while feigning unease) for a Red State – Blue State conflict, the same kinds of people that talk about the 47% and Rand’s looters. Don’t play dumb. We all know that’s who he’s talking about.

      I can’t imagine Mark has any issues with a country peacefully decentralizing itself, perhaps even to the point of formally breaking the government apart. If the Flemish and the Walloons decide to fully separate Belgium, we’re not going to consider that nutjob secessionism. The people agitating for secession in this country are _not_ advocating a peaceful solution, but are arguing for a sort of clash of civilizations between the Left and the Right, and their entire position is predicated on the inability of those two political philosophies to co-exist, however uneasily. It’s inherently violent, as it a priori denies the possibility of peace.

      Mr. Woods is clearly talking about the peaceful separation and not the violent star spangled wet dream of the ultra-right. Their position is not only illogical (read: stupid) but also immoral by almost any measure, as it’s agitating for violence. They’re as ideologically disgusting as the IRA. Screw ’em, and screw their defenders.

  • Dan C

    I maintain the Tradition has no role for violent uprising against tyranny. It opposed the IRA. It was displeased with violent revolution all over Latin America even as it sympathized with the oppressed poor. It rejected the American Indian Movement, the Black Panthers, and fails to advocate for violent uprising in China.

    The Gospels, and Paul in particular, were written in an oppressive Imperial environment. Yet there is a hard-to-get-around commentary by Paul with regard to the Christian’s relationship to tyrannical Rome.

    The whole holding out against tyranny bit by Christians is 1) overwrought 2) a step from secessionism.

    If the “holding out against tyranny” bit has no place in the Tradition, a Catholic cannot support secessionsim, the step beyond.

  • Dan C

    Secessionsim is not extremist. Its thinking has invaded mainstream Catholic conservative thought. It is mentioned on many many Catholic mainstream websites.

    Other writers provide the intellectual cover for such thinking with language such as “It certainly logical and understandable IF someone thought that secession is the answer, not that I am thinking this way, of course…” That type of passivity is dramatically annoying.

  • I’m always curious about this subject. Academic (and morbid) curiosity only. I’m a big fan of the Front Porch Republic but I was sadly, very disappointed with Kauffman’s “Bye, Bye Miss American Empire” I figured this would offer a “thinking man’s alternative to the “my guy lost so i’m really mad” secessionist rants, (strictly academic curiousity). Nope. More grumpy old man grumping here. No one from the secession crowd seems to be saying anything morally responsible, much less practically feasible. Let me know if I’m wrong. No, Thomas Woods doesn’t count, (even though he has a much better grasp of political and economic realities than any of the the Popes of the last 100 years. Just ask him, he’ll tell you).

  • Hezekiah Garrett


    Out of curiousity, would you ackniwledge that ‘well-armed fantasists and thugs seething over imagined tyrrany and chomping at the bit for violence against their countrymen’ is a title applicable to ‘The Founding Fathers(tm)’?

    If not, why not? I certainly respect your rules but find some cognitive dissonance in posts celebratings Button Gwinnett et al.

    • Mark Shea

      I am not interested in re-fighting the Revolution or the Civil War. I am interested in the fact that, right now, fools are fomenting the idea that there exists anything like the conditions of just war for shooting at their fellow Americans. Because that is what secession means. Such conditions do not exist. Which means that anybody who does decide to start shooting, anybody who is *thinking* about trying to shoot, and anybody who wants a “free and open discussion” of shooting their neighbor is seeking an ocassion of the sin called “murder”.

      • bill

        Secession does not require war. No reasonable secessionist wants to fight, nor do they think we can actually compete with the largest/best armed military in the world. The fact of the matter is, the United States is bankrupt. This is not an opinion. The economist Larry Kotlikoff of Boston University, who has published an annual report on the fiscal health of Social Security/Medicare since 1984, projects that the system would currently need an injection of $222 Trillion to rescue these unfunded liabilities. The capital markets could not even handle that amount of money if it even existed. To create that kind of money would obviously result in hyperinflation.

        What does this have to do with secession? People are being forced to pay for a failing system. Besides, America is a creation of Protestantism. The far more decentralized Articles of Confederation actually took God into account in its formation. Christendom was highly decentralized, and utilized the principle of subsidiarity. Today, we have a highly centralized state that completely ignores the Ten Commandments.

        We’re not interested in re-fighting the Revolution either. We’re interested in educating our fellow human beings, who have not been taught real history, much less history from a Catholic perspective. If the folks here are not receptive to secession, or nullification, perhaps they will be as conditions get worse (which is highly likely), and the United States potentially reaches the unemployment levels of Spain. Like the Catholic Church itself, those who love freedom and morality may well have a vision that reaches into eternity. If we don’t see positive changes in our lifetime, some of us still do work to reach posterity.

        • Mark Shea

          In America, secession *will* require bloodshed, which is why gun heretics keep insisting on the necessity of guns in order to “resist tyranny” and secede. Denial of this fact about gun nut secessionist rhetoric is a bald-faced lie.

          • Orlando M

            *Keeping the guns*, many of us so-called nuts argue, is a way to prevent bloodshed.
            I have kids and a wife to protect and provide for. I can’t do that if I’m dead. And I certainly have no shot against the greatest military empire the world has ever known. So I have no interest in an *actual* battle. The point is to fight, without bloodshed, to KEEP our arms precisely to prevent future aggression. Think of all the ways the federal government currently violates our rights now, and imagine how much worse it would be if we were all even further disarmed…

    • Jmac

      Fun fact, my ancestor killed Button Gwinnett. We maintain he had it coming.

  • “…fantasy scenarios about secession from the Union. Nothing says “engagement with reality” like fantasy scenarios about violent revolution.”

    Why are you equating secession with violent revolution? Just because when secession last occurred, the North waged a war on the South, doesn’t mean that this always has to occur. If the thoughts and ideas of society change, there will be few willing to fight such a war. Also, isn’t it possible that a country -might- just be too large and a geographical area -might- want to secede from it?

    • Mark Shea

      Because in our violent culture of death, secession will mean civil war. And the gun enthusiasts who have been endlessly asserting that the purpose of the second amendment is to make it possible to shoot at the approaching army of HITLERSTALINMAOBAMA when he comes to trample our liberty and put us all in concentration camps makes that fact obvious. Saying “we need our guns to fight tyranny” and “we mean to have a peaceful secession” is a spectacular mental disconnect.

      • steve

        Did Christ Himself not tell the Apostles to arm themselves? They were armed in the Garden of Gethsemane, and Peter attempted to defend Christ from capture.

        While martyrdom has immeasurable value for the Faith, Christ obviously told Christians they had a duty to protect themselves and their families. Possessing firearms does not insinuate a motive for Civil War. It marks the sovereignty of an individual to protect himself, or defend his family. If the soul is a creation of God, and outlives the state, wasn’t this Christ Himself saying that the individual was more important than the state? I would say that American mercenaries are those who die by the sword, not armed Joe-Six-Pack who’s forced to pay for it all.

        “Fighting tyranny” could simply mean protecting yourself from armed intruders, no matter who they are. If an armed group in Germany, say Jewish people, had a large-scale defense to protect themselves from Hitler, would you call that a mental disconnect? It’s just paranoia, right?

        America has become a garbage can. Believe me, I’d leave if I could. You don’t have to give me the cliche of leaving if I don’t like it. Swiss citizenship is far harder to obtain than a country like ours, the State Dept. of which allows known criminals to come in an add to multiculturalism. No, I’m not talking about people who come for work, or even non-violent people on welfare. I’m talking about allowing known criminals into this country. The system is breaking down. We can no longer rely on what our 5th grade teachers told us if we want to be Catholics, or even just intelligent, decent people.

        • Mark Shea

          The ridiculous proof-texting by gun heretics of the passage about Peter’s sword–followed by grotesque exaggerations of this as some sort of basis for lunatic secessionist fantasies of violence is but one of the latest and craziest Protestant fads to seep into conservative American Catholicism. And again, there is no proposal on the table to confiscate your… sword. Not at the national level. Not here in this blog.

      • Saying “we need to have guns to defend ourselves” and “we want to peacefully secede” are not mutually exclusive. I can desire to peacefully sit in my own home, but if someone invades (mind that this is not under my control whether they invade or not), I can defend myself. Desiring to peacefully sit in my own home is ruined by the fact that someone invades my home, not by the aftermath when I decide to defend myself.

  • Beneton K

    Dear Mr. Shea: The principles of subsidiarity, increased localization, and decentralization are not inherently or logically violent principles. Wanting to be left alone, unmolested by a federal government that implements so many anti-Catholic and hence anti-life policies, is entirely compatible with maintaining peace. Withdraw by itself and in and of itself is peaceful. Therefore, it is not inherently violent. Did the breakup of the Soviet Union lead to a civil war? If it didn’t, then it obviously follows there is no historical necessity of great violence. It’s rather those who wish to maintain absolute and monolithic power by force who promote violence.

    If you disagree, fine. I’ll take Jefferson’s opinion over yours.

    • Mark Shea

      Your delusion that violent American culture and people who insist that we need to stock up on arms to fight the tyrant have no intention of shedding blood in order to secede is an amazingly bare-faced lie. Secession, in America, means war. Only an utter fool believes otherwise. Sell crazy somewhere else.

      • onceproudamerican

        So you are saying that the US will violate the UN Charter which explicitly supports self-determination?

  • Faithkills

    The question is a simple one. Does one man or group of men have the moral authority to compel another man into association? More simply DO we have the right of freedom of association? If we do not then there is no right to secession/divorce/contract rescission. If we do then the right of secession is merely a subset of that.

    Some may find it rhetorically convenient to frame the one who wishes to be free FROM them as the aggressor in such conversation, and the one wishing to compel another man or women to remain bound to them as the very paragon of peace. Yet this is just the opposite of the truth.

    We find the right to secession and self determination to be a valid principle all over the world except at home. Domestically we find the rhetoric of violence against those who suggest they might wish to free themselves to be paradoxically laudable.

    That it is so important to evade the simple logical truth of what the actual discussion is about by any possible rhetorical ploy to demonize the arguER and distract from the arguMENT is fair indication that those arguing for compulsory association know full well their case has no merit. Had the argument merit, it could be championed on the basis of that merit.

    The response to this will be insults or censorship, and will make this point yet again:D

    • Mark Shea

      Your radical libertarian notion that you owe absolutely nothing to the family or nation or civilization that has provided you with virtually everything you have and are, and that you can make war on it with impunity (which is what secession mean, like it or not) is at radical odds with the Church’s teaching on solidary, Caritas in Veritate, and common sense. Again, the stink of heretical monomania the regards the common good as the absolute negation of your pet truth is all over your thinking. Sell crazy somewhere else. Oh, and since I don’t owe you a forum, but allow you here because I am awesome and generous and tolerant, it is not “censorship” when I choose not to give you a forum out of the goodness of my awesome, generous and tolerant heart. For similar reasons, I am not “robbing” you if I choose not to send you any money or let you drive my car. For a radical individualist, you sure have a sense of entitlement.

    • RFlaum

      States weren’t compelled into the association at all — they voluntarily joined the Union, just like signing a contract. Once you sign a contract, you’re bound by its terms even if you later have second thoughts. (Yes, yes, unconscionability claims. You know what I mean.)

      • onceproudamerican

        “Given these facts, secession is equally allowable, since this principle too can appeal to the original sovereignty of
        the peoples of the states. What’s more, since no power to prevent secession was ever delegated to Congress, and since secession is not prohibited to the states, it remains a reserved right of the states under the Tenth Amendment.” – James Madison

        • R Flaum

          Actually, no, Madison never said that. That quote is from Thomas Woods. He was commenting on the Virginia Report of 1799, which Madison wrote, but the interpretation is Woods’s own.

          It’s also worth noting that the Report of 1799 was commenting on the Sedition Act — easily the most severe peacetime violation of the Constitution in history. And nevertheless, Madison endorsed the idea that Virginia had “a warm attachment to the union of the states, to maintain which it pledges all its powers[.]”

  • Johnny

    Secession is withdrawal from a political union, not “violent revolution”. It’s a peaceful act. Like leaving a club, similar to ending membership in the Pie of the Month Club.

    • Mark Shea

      Bullshit. In this country, secession would *inevitably* mean bloodshed. That’s why the gun culture has been insisting at the top of its voice since Sandy Hook that we need our second amendment right in order to “fight tyranny”. They know perfectly well that secession means, in the end, shooting your fellow Americans. Stop lying.

      • onceproudamerican

        If you are so certain of that then you are saying we live under a lawless and tyrannical government… The US is a member of the UN and part of the UN Charter is a recognition of the right of self-determination as a ‘human right’. The only way the federal government could react violently to a peaceful, political separation is by violating the charter and bringing the UN forces to the aid of those who voted to leave. Look-up how many countries existed after WWll, now there are nearly 200 and the VAST majority of those have been the result of self-determination moments – many BTW that have occurred with the aid of the US.

  • Huw

    Mr Shea,
    I agree we have a very violent culture preoccupied with violence. A culture of death. I agree there is a very dangerous argument being made by some that guns and violence are the answer to end statism. I know that is not the answer. But that does not mean the principle of subsidiarity and its practice should be disregarded. I think a peaceful reinstitution of subsidiary authorities can occur. Restoring independence to subsidiary elements within our society is essential to creating a culture of life. Christendom was not like the central state that the USA has been turned into. The authority of Fathers’, necessary to lead/protect their family, is an example of an essential subsidiary authority that is being/has been subjugated to the state. Independence (aka secession) from such subjugation must occur in order for that subsidiary authority to fulfill its role within a culture of life. Secession is occurring without violence. Homeschooling is a form of secession or independence from the Leviathan. Tomorrow I will attend the March for Life with some of my children for the 18th time. The March is an act that many take to declare their rejection of a culture of death and the Leviathan. Every year I hear discussion by other fathers and mothers at the March about separating from Leviathan in ways that do not harm others. The necessity of independence from the Leviathan has a strong tradition within the Church. Monasticism was essentially a form of secession that allowed restoration of subsidiary order. I disagree that any talk of political/economic secession is an endorsement of violence. I would suggest that a culture of life requires some form of secession from the Leviathan that imposes its culture of death. True federalism as sought by the Founders (some excepted) would allow such secession. Too many evils have been imposed by strong central governments like ours. I think peaceful secession is possible, but I agree there are elements of a gun culture that must be refuted. I own firearms and have served in the military and now law enforcement. I do not think guns per se are the problem.
    My own repentance and pursuit of virtuous living would be a good first step in secession from Leviathan. I think many Saints lived lives of secession that led to liberty – even political and economic liberty. That is what made the Founders secession from the British Empire possible IMO.
    As a convert I am very grateful for your book This Is My Body, it was a great blessing.

    • Mark Shea


      You sound like you have your head screwed on straight. I certainly agree we are to be in the world but not of it. Exactly what I find so appalling about the shooters for secession mentality is how world and violent it is. Thanks for providing a healthy alternative witness.

  • Chris Branco

    Mr. Shea, you really need to read Dr. Thomas Woods’ blog about this subject. You replied “No’ when someone else suggested it. Is your opinion on the subject to be taken as gospel (pardon my pun). Is your mind closed to other opinions on the subject? Even St. Augustine, in true skeptical fashion, was willing to question everything.

    • Mark Shea

      I do question everything. I question secessionism, which means launching an unjust war in this culture. I question murder, just as I question torture.

  • beingreal7

    Different topic but on point… I don’t own a gun, and I’ve never used one except once at a sporting clays place, but I think there’s a benefit to being able to defend yourself, and the right to bear arms is in our Constitution and should not be scoffed at. It just might be that our nation, and even the world, is on the brink of implosion because of the serious economic issues that we are unwilling to address. If that occurs, unsuspecting people might become victims of the panic or opportunistic instincts of others. And defending oneself and one’s family is certainly not a sin, but rather laudable – we must be ready to take care of and protect our children. Now, I’m not even willing to raise a finger to purchase a gun or learn how to use one – but I can understand individuals who have these concerns.

  • Any of you ever heard of expatriation? It’s simpler, less messy, and best of all, no one has to argue about it unless you have a spouse. Legal live-in progeny can pack up and leave if they don’t wanna.

  • onceproudamerican

    So I am guessing the author ‘thinks’ the US should return itself to Britain and beg for forgiveness…? Those Founding Father – nutjobs huh??