Second Secessionist Convention Report
The Middlebury Institute for the study of separatism, secession, and self-determination
127 East Mountain Road
Cold Spring, NY10516
In a rare and powerful display of unity by the anti-authoritarian left and the anti-authoritarian right, the Second North American Secessionist Convention was held at the beginning of October in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Co-sponsored by the League of the South, working toward a free Southern republic, and the Middlebury Institute, the secessionist think-tank based in New York State, the convention drew eighteen delegates representing secessionist organizations in at least 36 states. The deliberations were watched by some 40 observers and organizers from an additional 8 states.
The convention drew attention across the country, largely thanks to an AP story printed on its opening day that was carried nationwide (in the on-line sites of the New York Times, Newsday, Washington Post, and USA Today, among others), and news of the event went international, to England, Ireland, New Zealand, Belgium, India, and Canada. Several television stations attended the gathering, a short film was posted on youtube, a crew from Ithaca College filmed the entire proceedings, and more than 50 radio stations ran interviews with the convention leaders. (Much of the coverage can be found at MiddleburyInsitute.org.)
Press attention was so high in part because of the alliance among groups that on the surface would seem to have not a lot in common on political and social issues like abortion, homosexual rights, pornography, prisons, public schooling, religious observance, immigration, health care, or gun control. But none of those differences arose in the day-long proceedings because the groups were united on these overarching issues: opposition to the American empire, its current government, its war in Iraq, its corrupt and beholden legislatures, its invasion of privacy with the tools of repression, its repeated interference in state and local affairs, its quasi-fascistic affiliation of big business and big government, its enhancement of the dangerous power of international corporations—and the need to get out from under all that and restore liberty and democracy through peaceful secession.
As the convention put it in a closing document, the Chattanooga Declaration (reprinted below): “The deepest questions of human liberty and government facing our time go beyond right and left, and in fact have made the old left-right split meaningless and dead. The American Empire is no longer a nation or a republic, but has become a tyrant aggressive abroad and despotic at home. The States of the American union are and of right ought to be, free and self-governing.”
This extraordinary show of unity, felt palpably by the delegates around the room, mad