2011, Jan 1. I read an interesting blog post today about secession fights in the Internet era. There are fledgling secession movements, down at the level of thoughtful crank activity, in several states – and not all Southern states, either. One of the more interesting is the “Second Vermont Republic” outfit, which hearkens back to the days of 1777, when the Republic of New Connecticut declared its independence. Six months later it chose the name Vermont.
The Second Vermont Republic describes itself as “a nonviolent citizens’ network and think tank opposed to the tyranny of Corporate America and the U.S. government, and committed to the peaceful return of Vermont to its status as an independent republic and more broadly the dissolution of the Union.” The SVR website links to like movements in Texas and Alaska.
SVR is certainly not pro-slavery, instead promoting a raft of issues that much more fit quirky Vermont, including green sustainability and “economic solidarity.” And there’s a city-state rationale as well: “Power Sharing. Vermont’s strong democratic tradition is grounded in its town meetings . We favor devolution of political power from the state back to local communities, making the governing structure for towns, schools, hospitals, and social services much like that of Switzerland. Shared power also underlies our approach to international relations.”
As 2010’s Wikileaks affair brought forth the frenzied activity in darker corners of the Internet, SVR assessed its own imperilled position:
Both the Second Vermont Republic and the Texas Nationalist Movement, the two most high-profile secession movements in the United States, have recently been the object of WikiLeaks-like cyber attacks.
For over a year twenty Vermont Internet cowboys engaged in an intense Internet debate about secession on a private network known as the Free Vermont Framework. All participants thought the network was confidential and secure. They were mistaken. Six weeks before the November 2nd election the content of the network, including all Internet conversations over the past year, was released to three Vermont Technofascist Truth Squad websites which were hostile to the Second Vermont Republic and its election candidates. The leaked information was then used to wage a vitriolic CIA-like smear campaign against SVR and its candidates.
Anyone who has the audacity to challenge Barack Obama, the Democratic Party, the War on Terror, or our government’s unconditional support for Israel is fair game for the Tecnofascist Truth Squads. You are likely to be accused of racism, homophobia, anti-semitism, or possibly even hate crimes. The Texas Nationalist Movement has experienced even more of the same.
Clearly there are some very powerful forces urging the United States to take out Iran’s nuclear program, as evidenced by some of the WikiLeaks dispatches. Are these some of the same forces which are behind the cyber attacks on Vermont’s fledgling independence movement?
Not unlike Wall Street, Corporate America, and the Pentagon, the Internet is driven by money, power, speed, and greed. With or without WikiLeaks, Democratic it is not.
Many Americans would like to see greater use of the Internet by the Chinese and the Iranians, speculating that it would lead to more democratic tendencies in these two authoritarian nations. This is pure fantasy. There is no reason to believe that either the Chinese or Iranian governments would be any less skilled than the U.S. Government in manipulating the Internet. The Internet is all about manipulation and control, not freedom and democracy.
Thomas H. Naylor
January 1, 2011
Founder of the Second Vermont Republic and Professor Emeritus of Economics at Duke University