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Better Off Without Each Other?
August 13, 2012 6:42 AM   Subscribe

Would the Northern and Southern United States be better off making it official (again)? Chuck Thompson thinks so [1][2].
posted by Rykey (152 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm not sure even the author is arguing that the South would be better off, given that this appears to boil down to "stop being religious, right wing and ill-educated or GTFO and become Baptistan".

It also has the drawback that you'd have to effectively abandon large minority populations to even more unequal lives. I mean, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Tennessee without federal rights protections? It's already a clusterfuck in LA and TN at least.
posted by jaduncan at 6:56 AM on August 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America

The US is much more complex than North/South.
posted by stbalbach at 6:57 AM on August 13, 2012 [27 favorites]


As a historian, I really believe this and have been saying so for years. The bloodshed of the Civil War woudn't have been worthwhile in retrospect for any cause; but that of forcing the South to be part of a mystical "union" with no real advantages to either north or south was pointless. Later generations of Americans would point to the end of slavery, but after reconstruction southerners had a free hand to essentially impose the conditions of slavery under a different name. In essence, they got to do whatever they wanted anyway; for the price of hundreds of thousands of lives, nothing essentially changed except their technical inclusion in the Union and an abiding bitterness that has poisoned the country for a century and a half and now, it could be argued, destroyed it.

Anyone interested in the culture of the south, especially in the present time, ought to read Michael Lind's Made in Texas, along with a few of the classics, like The Mind of the South, The Strange Career of Jim Crow, and The Peculiar Institution.
posted by Balok at 6:58 AM on August 13, 2012 [19 favorites]


I'm gonna need a 12 hours heads up to grab all the BBQ and Fried chicken recipes and make it to the border.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:58 AM on August 13, 2012 [37 favorites]


This is really dumb. As you can see on the SPLC Hate Map, hate is not limited by geography. As you can see on all of these maps there is a whole lot of blue in the south, a whole lot of red in the north, and mostly just a whole lot of purple.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:59 AM on August 13, 2012 [20 favorites]


Chuck Thompson is from Alaska.

Just thought I'd put that out there.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:02 AM on August 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


It also has the drawback that you'd have to effectively abandon large minority populations to even more unequal lives. I mean, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Tennessee without federal rights protections? It's already a clusterfuck in LA and TN at least.
Quite correct. Black folks are going to catch hell if this were to ever happen. I don't think they'd want to re-institute slavery (outside of the drug war/prison version) but Jim Crow would definitely be resurrected.
posted by Critical_Beatdown at 7:02 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is really dumb.

Well, yeah. It's a comic with no academic history skills writing a troll coffee table book. Yet here it is, pumped on Mefi and ready for chat show couch discussions. Lazy author, lazy bookers, lazy publishing.
posted by jaduncan at 7:02 AM on August 13, 2012 [21 favorites]


Here's a good (IMO) rebuttal from the Washington Monthly:
I urge you to read [Colin Woodward’s] whole review, but as a native southerner who has applied just about every term of abuse in the book to elements of Southern religion, politics, economic practices, and culture, I continue to challenge the fundamental premise whereby all the baleful things associated with the South are inherent to the region’s very nature and are spreading virally elsewhere. To make a very long story short, I believe you can’t understand the South without understanding a history whereby the region and its people (obviously the African-Americans but also poor white folk) were serially victimized by historical developments and predatory elites that were both internal and external. To put it another way and in a very current context, I may well believe that Scott Walker wants to model Wisconsin’s public policies and economy on South Carolina’s, but that’s mainly because Scott Walker (and many other conservative politicians from far beyond Dixie) serve ideological and economic masters, and live in a moral universe, that may be prevalent in the South (though not without massive and continue resistance from many southerners) that is no more native to the South than Hollywood culture is native to southern California. Getting rid of the South, if that were somehow possible, will no more kill off right-wing politics and culture in other parts of the country than letting California drift off into the Pacific would destroy the worship of celebrities. I’d counsel a little more sympathy for the South from northern progressives; after all, you may fear living in a replica of South Carolina, but the residents of that state have to live there now.

Besides, there’s food and music to consider.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:03 AM on August 13, 2012 [25 favorites]


That's the kind of book cover that makes e-readers really worth it. Not sure I'd be real comfortable pulling that one out on the subway.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:05 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Splitting up might "save" the blue states from the God-n-Guns folks, but it won't do anything about the other threat, the "Greed and More Greed" folks. Romney's pick of Paul Ryan shows that when the rubber meets the protester, all the GOP is really interested in is cash and more cash, and they'd stay with the "blue states" because a parasite needs a healthy host. They wouldn't have their army of footsoldiers who genuinely believe that we're going to see Jesus return in our time, they'd just have to make do with having bazillions of dollars and de facto control of the existing government. Hell, they would probably support the switch because they could then move manufacturing plants to Jesustan or whatever and pay those people pennies to do all the labor and save on transport costs.
posted by Legomancer at 7:06 AM on August 13, 2012 [21 favorites]


I wonder how each half would do economically, assuming the two halves became separate countries and not just a confederation (ha!) of two loosely related halves.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:07 AM on August 13, 2012


"Better Off Without ’Em is a deliberately provocative book whose insight, humor, fierce and fearless politics, and sheer nerve will spark a national debate that is perhaps long overdue."
This is marketing for "this is trolling crap, but you'll get a little thrill of superiority".
posted by jaduncan at 7:07 AM on August 13, 2012 [21 favorites]


I'm not sure even the author is arguing that the South would be better off, given that this appears to boil down to "stop being religious, right wing and ill-educated or GTFO and become Baptistan".

It also has the drawback that you'd have to effectively abandon large minority populations to even more unequal lives. I mean, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Tennessee without federal rights protections? It's already a clusterfuck in LA and TN at least.


Not just the minorities but there's stil significant areas of conservatism in the bluest of blue states (i.e. in California, everything outside the 9 counties and the greater LA metropolitan area is red) and significant areas of liberal progressives in red states (i.e. Austin is a liberal stronghold in red Texas).

It might tip the balance in the senate to dispense with conservative southern asshattery but not much else would be accomplished.
posted by Talez at 7:08 AM on August 13, 2012


Personally, I feel the United States should be split by the Mississippi. East and West are far more culturally distinct than North and South.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:10 AM on August 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


If I were a minority in the South I'd be wondering what the federal government has done for me lately.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:11 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


"When my eyes shall be turned to behold for the last time the sun in heaven, may I not see him shining on the broken and dishonored fragments of a once glorious Union; on States dissevered, discordant, belligerent; on a land rent with civil feuds, or drenched, it may be, in fraternal blood! Let their last feeble and lingering glance rather behold the glorious ensign of the republic, now known and honored throughout the earth, still full high advanced, its arms and trophies streaming in the original lustre, not a stripe erased or polluted, nor a single star obscured, bearing for its motto, no such miserable interrogatory as 'What is all this worth?' nor those words of delusion and folly, 'Liberty first and Union afterward,'; but everywhere, spread over all the characters of living light, blazing on all its ample folds, as they float over the sea and over the land, and in every wind under the whole heavens, that other sentiment, dear to every true American heart—Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!"
Chuck Thompson is an idiot with a book deal.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:12 AM on August 13, 2012


From my casual observations in the past, there seem to be two primary factors for being a blue state vs a red state:

1. being near the coast
2. being near several major academic universities

neither of these are north/south things.
posted by jimmythefish at 7:12 AM on August 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


Chuck Thompson is from Alaska.

So we get to blame him for Sarah Palin and kick Alaska out of the Union, right?
posted by hydropsyche at 7:13 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Talez: "Not just the minorities but there's stil significant areas of conservatism in the bluest of blue states (i.e. in California, everything outside the 9 counties and the greater LA metropolitan area is red) and significant areas of liberal progressives in red states (i.e. Austin is a liberal stronghold in red Texas)."

You can do this in almost every state, which greatly underlies the author's point. Washington has the divide between west and east of the Cascades (or, really, King County versus The Rest Of The State). Texas, like you said, has Austin, El Paso, and Big Bend country. Ohio has Cuyahoga County, NC has Mecklenburg. Dumping off the South simply because it has people with different opinions, beliefs, and misconceptions is exactly the opposite of what we should be going for.

Yeah, it sounds nice to daydream this but it does a huge disservice to the residents of those states. Right or wrong, they arrived at their opinions in some way; refute that, not the region.
posted by fireoyster at 7:15 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


It might tip the balance in the senate to dispense with conservative southern asshattery but not much else would be accomplished.

Who needs anything else? That's HUGE!
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:17 AM on August 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm for it, except we need 7-8 nation states and not just a north-south divide. Let Texas and Alaska go off and do their own things. Split northern and southern California. New York, Northern NJ, Connecticut, and parts of PA stick together. The US is really rather unwieldy.

Everyone who wants out of the south can just come up here, someone can crash on my couch and I got plenty of floor space if you bring sleeping bags.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:18 AM on August 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


Quite correct. Black folks are going to catch hell if this were to ever happen. I don't think they'd want to re-institute slavery (outside of the drug war/prison version) but Jim Crow would definitely be resurrected.

Hey, FYI from Tennessee, we are not sitting around chomping at the bit to re-oppress minorities, held back only by federal authority that we bitterly resent. There is definitely ugliness and there would probably be some further creep of the drug war/prison/voter ID crap but the idea that Jim Crow would return is ridiculous. Obama got 41.8% of the vote in 2008, Harold Ford Jr. got 48% of the vote running for US senate in 2005.
posted by ghharr at 7:18 AM on August 13, 2012 [12 favorites]


So, let me get this right, this guy, whose claim to fame may be that he wrote for Hustler "toured the south" and came to these conclusions...?

Sorry, I think I'm going to take my future-think ideas from someone with a bit more substantial reputation.

And, if anyone should succeed from the union, perhaps it should be wall street, we can certainly do without those idiots!
posted by HuronBob at 7:19 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'll share what I tell my stars and bars type friends in Richmond,

You know all of that massive federal spending Northern and West Coast states have been bankrolling that keep their kids litterate, their elderly fed, their adults employed and their infrastructure intact? Those trillions of dollars that Southern states have wrung from our brows, all the while complaining about how they spend our money? I'll be happy to let them secesseed when they pay up.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:19 AM on August 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


It also has the drawback that you'd have to effectively abandon large minority populations to even more unequal lives. I mean, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Tennessee without federal rights protections? It's already a clusterfuck in LA and TN at least.
I agree, to an extent. While civil rights progress is slow, what I call the "MLK South" is large enough and influential enough that a return to the 1960s, much less the 1860s is impossible. Also the handwavium about open borders and mobility strikes me as bullshit.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 7:22 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey, FYI from Tennessee, we are not sitting around chomping at the bit to re-oppress minorities

Largely because, based on measured differences between ethnic groups in economic and criminal justice outcomes, you have created a system that has already done so?
posted by jaduncan at 7:22 AM on August 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


NC has Mecklenburg.

Not to mention the Triangle. It feels much more liberal than Concord, NH did when I lived there. I really feel like it is time to split the country into "distributed republics" a la Snow Crash. Sign up for whatever "country" you want to belong to, and you get the rights and responsibilities pertaining to that country. I know Snow Crash was supposed to be dystopian, but there is something very appealing in that notion to me.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:23 AM on August 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


And, if anyone should succeed from the union, perhaps it should be wall street, we can certainly do without those idiots!

AKA: Hong Kong. They do reasonably well, I understand.
posted by jaduncan at 7:23 AM on August 13, 2012


Who needs anything else? That's HUGE!

It wouldn't change the public discourse though. It wouldn't stop suburban Minnesota electing Michelle Bachmann or suburban Wisconsin electing Paul Ryan. Which is what really needs to be changed. These extreme "idea" people who get elected on the back of conservative districts who have large swaths of people who would never vote anything but Republican even if their lives literally depended on it and whose primaries can be gamed with a few hundred extra supporters coming out to vote.

Then they get on CNN/Fox and pollute the public discourse with falsehoods and bad maths.

The electorate needs to elect people who want to see a way forward for all Americans rather than those who seek to claw back what they see as "theirs" just so that some welfare mother won't see a red cent for her to spend on "doobies" and "Cadillacs". Pointing fingers at other states and saying "you're the most fucktarded we're voting you off the island" doesn't change this.
posted by Talez at 7:24 AM on August 13, 2012


Balok: “As a historian, I really believe this and have been saying so for years. The bloodshed of the Civil War woudn't have been worthwhile in retrospect for any cause; but that of forcing the South to be part of a mystical "union" with no real advantages to either north or south was pointless. Later generations of Americans would point to the end of slavery, but after reconstruction southerners had a free hand to essentially impose the conditions of slavery under a different name. In essence, they got to do whatever they wanted anyway; for the price of hundreds of thousands of lives, nothing essentially changed except their technical inclusion in the Union and an abiding bitterness that has poisoned the country for a century and a half and now, it could be argued, destroyed it.”

There was a lot of trouble during the Reconstruction, and it's unfortunate that Lincoln didn't live to see it through correctly (Grant was a disaster of a president, probably the worst we've had) but it is really hard to see why a historian would make the silly claim that emancipation didn't change anything at all. Are you really making that argument that Southern 'historians' have loved to make for years that the South would've ended slavery anyway if the North had just let them?

Also this Thompson guy is a joke.
posted by koeselitz at 7:24 AM on August 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Also, the idea that by, somehow, retreating to territory held by people who, presumably, all agree on what constitutes "good" politics, is as idiotic as those Libertarian dreams of colonizing a state and making it into a Randian utopia.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:25 AM on August 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


If I were a minority in the South I'd be wondering what the federal government has done for me lately.

It's upheld the First Amendment, for one.
posted by jquinby at 7:27 AM on August 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


Then they get on CNN/Fox and pollute the public discourse with falsehoods and bad maths.

We'd actually be getting CNN International here in the North then. Might be better.
posted by FJT at 7:29 AM on August 13, 2012


It heartens me to see people, especially liberal elite New Yorkers from Metafilter, point out how ridiculous this is.

On the other hand, it saddens me that the culture war is apparently entirely real, and that both sides of it seriously can't stand to live in a country with the other.
posted by vogon_poet at 7:30 AM on August 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


Are you really making that argument that Southern 'historians' have loved to make for years that the South would've ended slavery anyway if the North had just let them?

What? No; in the text you quoted right above this, he made the opposite argument: that after the Civil War the South didn't actually end slavery so much as "essentially impose the conditions of slavery under a different name". You can certainly disagree with that if you have an argument to the contrary.
posted by nicwolff at 7:35 AM on August 13, 2012


David Williams' book Bitterly Divided helped break my stereotypes of the South. It makes the case that, not surprisingly, the South was not an monolithic entity in agreement on the Civil War. While slavery was a facet of the Civil War, it was also about federal power encroaching on an entrenched economic elite who depended on that labor system for their wealth. Most people did not own slaves and saw no real reason to lay down their life or risk a husband for a bunch of rich dudes who had never plowed their own field, and who were as remote to the average family's way of life as people like Romney are to most of the voting public.
posted by burnfirewalls at 7:37 AM on August 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


But he tried to use that as part of the argument that "The bloodshed of the Civil War woudn't have been worthwhile in retrospect for any cause." So either it wasn't worth it to end slavery – or slavery would have ended anyway.
posted by koeselitz at 7:37 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I greatly enjoyed this review in the Wall Street Journal.
Now, the South—I say this as a Southerner myself—ought to be fertile territory for any writer with even a modest talent for exposing inanities. From "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" (1876) to the Englishman Nick Middleton's "Ice Tea and Elvis" (1999), the American South has provided writers of satire with a ready source of targets: genteel hypocrites, proud ignoramuses, religious fraudsters. But unlike others from outside the South who have written about it—think of Jonathan Raban's marvelous "Old Glory" (1981) or V.S. Naipaul's "A Turn in the South" (1989)—Mr. Thompson didn't set out on his travels to discover things he didn't know before. He went to see the ridiculous and dreadful things he knew would be there, which is a different approach altogether.
posted by BobbyVan at 7:39 AM on August 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


Through a surreal coincidence I just so happened to re-watch the brilliant film C.S.A. this weekend. Its genius was in how outrageous it made the "imaginary" alternate-history C.S.A. look, by coming up with a host of fake ads from the purported modern-day slavery-ridden nation, letting everyone laugh at how witty and clever the satire was -- but then at the very very end, the filmmakers turned everything on its head and pointed out that a lot of those ads were based on actual products that existed well into the 20th Century of the U.S.A. -- many of them in states north of the Mason-Dixon line.

It ain't as simple as all that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:40 AM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Largely because, based on measured differences between ethnic groups in economic and criminal justice outcomes, you have created a system that has already done so?

I don't want to trivialize the very real issues Tennessee, the South, and the whole U.S. has with race, still, but I think it is undeniable that racial equality is less awful (still not good!) right now than it has been pretty much ever. That's not declaring victory or anything but comparing today to the early 20th century is absurd.
posted by ghharr at 7:44 AM on August 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sure, cut up the country.

So, who gets the nukes?
posted by tspae at 7:47 AM on August 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


It heartens me to see people, especially liberal elite New Yorkers from Metafilter, point out how ridiculous this is.

On the other hand, it saddens me that the culture war is apparently entirely real, and that both sides of it seriously can't stand to live in a country with the other.


With respect, the whole "liberal elite New Yorkers" thing is a huge part of the culture war. Most New Yorkers aren't "elite" by any means, even those of us who are liberal.

Unless you were being facetious...?
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:47 AM on August 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


If you put together a list of all those states (mostly in the South) that get more money back from the govt than they put in, and those states that get back less than they put in, you will quickly see why no southern political figure would push to begin a break away from the honeypot they now have.
posted by Postroad at 7:48 AM on August 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


It ain't as simple as all that.

Of course not. A more spec fiction treatment of the South as an independent country was the Timeline-191 series by Harry Turtledove.

Needless to say, things don't turn out so bright and cheery in that world. Basically, the Mormons form an insurgency against the North every 50 years or so, Canada gets Occupied by the North and Quebec is made into a collaborator state. The South is worse off, as basically a Southern Hitler takes over in their version of WWII and commits genocide on African-Americans. Oh yeah, and Charleston gets nuked and the South is once again re-occupied by the North.
posted by FJT at 7:49 AM on August 13, 2012


I'm pretty elite.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:50 AM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


but I think it is undeniable that racial equality is less awful (still not good!) right now than it has been pretty much ever. That's not declaring victory or anything but comparing today to the early 20th century is absurd.

Reminds me of this Family Guy quote:
Cleveland: Thanks for including my Civil Rights boardgame in the game night rotation guys.
Lois: Oh, we're always happy to play "Two Decades of Dignity." It makes us all feel a little less guilty.
(Peter rolls dice and moves his gamepiece.)
Peter (reading off a gamecard): For whistling at a white woman, go directly to jail. Aww, man doesn't anyone ever win at this game?
Cleveland: You don't win. You just do a little better each time.
posted by Talez at 7:50 AM on August 13, 2012 [14 favorites]


Having RTFA now, it's even more idiotic than it sounded at first. After Thompson explains that Texas will remain in the Union because ... well, just because, this line stood out " ... in my imaginary secession legislative framework, I’m building in a period of 10-20 years where there’s free and open citizenship for anybody who feels caught on the wrong side of the divide."

In other words, there's nothing historically informed here, or even anything even remotely factual, the whole thing is the equivalent of a dude making himself King of a country he's drawn on the back of a napkin.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:55 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Unless you were being facetious...?

Yeah, I was. Probably should have added scare quotes. But you have to admit, in other threads on here about the south, things have gotten much uglier.
posted by vogon_poet at 7:56 AM on August 13, 2012


After Thompson explains that Texas will remain in the Union because ... well, just because

Aha, finally Thompson reveals his REAL bias towards Texas-style barbeque. Take THAT, South Carolina!
posted by muddgirl at 7:58 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


...the whole thing is the equivalent of a dude making himself King of a country he's drawn on the back of a napkin.

Hell, who hasn't done that?

-Brandon the First, by the Grace of Zod of the Planet Earth, Mars and Other Planets of Quadrant #549, Supreme Tester of New Strains of the Holy Plant, Defender of Ridley Scott's Prometheus while Recognizing it is not Flawless.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:02 AM on August 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


FJT: "Of course not. A more spec fiction treatment of the South as an independent country was the Timeline-191 series by Harry Turtledove."

My goodness, it is much more satisfying to read Wikipedia summaries of Harry Turtledove books than it is to actually read the books.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:04 AM on August 13, 2012 [11 favorites]


Mississippi, find yourself another country to be part of.

-Phil Ochs
posted by Danf at 8:06 AM on August 13, 2012


finally Thompson reveals his REAL bias towards Texas-style barbeque. Take THAT, South Carolina!

What does Thompson have against the One True Barbeque?

Hell, who hasn't done that?

Well, yeah. But I've never gotten a book deal out of it.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:07 AM on August 13, 2012


octobersurprise: “After Thompson explains that Texas will remain in the Union because ... well, just because...”

It was pretty clear that his reason for including Texas was 'I lived there once, it wasn't so bad as outsiders might think.' Good thing the South is a lot simpler than Texas – otherwise you might have to live there to get an idea of the culture, as opposed to taking a whirlwind worst-of tour.
posted by koeselitz at 8:08 AM on August 13, 2012 [9 favorites]


Can someone get me a rescue chopper out of Austin? I doubt our food trucks and smug irony will stand against the hordes in the rest of the state. I'll bring you tacos.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:11 AM on August 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


A general note for the whole thread from a born-and-bred, obnoxious-and-disliked member of the Liberal East Coast Elite:

Secede. The South seceded from the Union. We are discussing secession.

You know all of that massive federal spending Northern and West Coast states have been bankrolling that keep their kids litterate... I'll be happy to let them secesseed when they pay up.


(Unfortunate "litterate" there, just before "secesseed," considering context.)

And, if anyone should succeed from the union, perhaps it should be wall street

If anyone "succeeded" from the Union, it's Wall Street. Over and over again.
posted by tzikeh at 8:12 AM on August 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


People can spell it or pronounce it any way they want, tzikeh.
posted by koeselitz at 8:14 AM on August 13, 2012


People can spell it or pronounce it any way they want, tzikeh.

Many of them would still be wrong, though.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:16 AM on August 13, 2012 [11 favorites]


You yankees better not be telling us how to spelt.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:16 AM on August 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also, there are vastly more black people in the South than anywhere else in the US. A good chunk of them are Democrats. A good chunk of them also seem to like the South, as wildly outrageous as that may seem. But apparently the important Southerners are all angry white conservatives. Which notion is in itself is more than a little offensive to me, to be frank.
posted by koeselitz at 8:19 AM on August 13, 2012 [9 favorites]


Spelt is a superior grain, IMO.
posted by rocketpup at 8:19 AM on August 13, 2012


A good chunk of them also seem to like the South, as wildly outrageous as that may seem.

Or...your preconceived notions of the South might not be correct.
posted by kjs3 at 8:24 AM on August 13, 2012


Which also goes to my point.
posted by koeselitz at 8:26 AM on August 13, 2012


"I'm pretty elite." Did you mean 1337
posted by HuronBob at 8:29 AM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


it saddens me that the culture war is apparently entirely real, and that both sides of it seriously can't stand to live in a country with the other.

It's always been that way, it's a myth that the US was ever united culturally or ideologically. It's also a myth that there are (only) two America's Red/Blue or North/South.
posted by stbalbach at 8:31 AM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I love secession discussion, especially those that don't fall back on the old North/South divide. I've read good arguments for dividing the country 4-5 ways. It won't happen, but it's an interesting speculation about how states would group. Remember when NE wanted to secede?

Also, I have no idea why California stays in the Union. Eighth largest economy in the world and all that, they all are getting a raw deal.

If there is another civil war, it will probably all come down to natural resources, land, and food, not ideology. We Great Lakes states are keeping our water.
posted by katyh at 8:35 AM on August 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Folks intrigued by this thread who are interested in taking a look at a more nuanced, multi-faceted cultural breakdown (rather than just revisiting reconstruction) might really enjoy The Nine Nations of North America by Joel Garreau. It's one of my favorite books of all time, and while a little out of date I feel like coupled with The Big Sort by Bishop and Cushing it does an amazing job of arguing that many North American frustrations break down to the simple fact that our political boundaries have fallen woefully out of sync with the realities of how we think and live.
posted by trackofalljades at 8:36 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


katyh: “Also, I have no idea why California stays in the Union. Eighth largest economy in the world and all that, they all are getting a raw deal.”

That's... really not how political economy works.
posted by koeselitz at 8:37 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, it saddens me that the culture war is apparently entirely real, and that both sides of it seriously can't stand to live in a country with the other.

One only had to see the truth of the "Take our country back" speech gave to see where it's all headed and how far gone it's got. Look at the rise of hate groups after Obama got elected, the 'With Us or Against Us' rhetoric, no compromise, all that crap and get reminded of McCarthy (also from Wisconsin, sometimes i really hate this state) or worse.
posted by usagizero at 8:41 AM on August 13, 2012


The Civil War:

1) Prevented the Balkanization of the world's major democracy at a time in which the institution of democracy was fragile. If the US became Balkanized, we would probably be continuing in a world of czars, emperors and kaisers. That America succeeded as a democracy proved to the world that power in the hands of people did not mean the end of civilization and prosperity.
2) Ended slavery. No, the sharecropper system was not as bad as slavery - because slavery was really, really bad. Every Southern state had laws making it illegal to teach blacks to read. Sharecropping didn't allow your children to be sold. (And many other examples)
3) Was the first step toward the US becoming a world power rather than just a rural secondhand imitation of European countries.
4) Because of 1 and 3, was one of the most important events in world history, not just American history.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:41 AM on August 13, 2012 [23 favorites]


Thank you, dances_with_sneetches. That explained better than I could why the Civil War really needed to happen.
posted by koeselitz at 8:44 AM on August 13, 2012


So, who gets the nukes?

They'll be privatized and sold-off to rival international insurance cartels. The proceeds will be used to build The Great WallTM, North America Edition.
posted by ennui.bz at 8:57 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Y'all give me a call when Boston elects a black mayor, won't you?
posted by steambadger at 8:58 AM on August 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


"California got back just 78 cents in benefits for every dollar she sent to Washington in 2003 (according to the Tax Foundation) and, as the independent Republic of California, would thereby have an extra 22 cents in her pocket for every dollar. That would have meant, in 2004, that the citizens would have kept $88 million that could have been used for local projects."

I think that's a raw deal, and please tell me it's incorrect.
posted by katyh at 9:04 AM on August 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


The proceeds will be used to build The Great WallTM, North America Edition.

Gee, it would be very interesting to watch what happens to conservative congresspeople who supported a border wall with Mexico when that wall runs right through their communities.

I think that's a raw deal, and please tell me it's incorrect.

For one thing, I don't think it factors in economies of scale - this calculation is assuming that California can set up equally-efficient systems to handle things that are currently handled by the US government. And given the fact that California's legislature has their hands tied financially, I think that's a hard argument to make.
posted by muddgirl at 9:09 AM on August 13, 2012


This is embarassing and offensive discussion to be having. This is nothing more than ignorant, hate speech. As far as the South being this awful, hate-filled place that all sane people are trying to move from? Yeah, not so much.

It would be really great if people wouldn't assign an entire portion of this country an ignorant stereotype and be allowed to seriously discuss it here on this site as if it is a legitimate discussion to be having.
posted by dios at 9:09 AM on August 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


I think that's a raw deal, and please tell me it's incorrect.

Los Angeles has a pretty good deal on the Colorado River, I hear.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:10 AM on August 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


That's true, katyh. But their deficit is much larger than $88 million, unfortunately. Moreover, there are lots of benefits that come with being part of the Union that don't get enumerated in dollars sent to Washington.

However, now that I'm thinking about it, it is an interesting point to consider.
posted by koeselitz at 9:10 AM on August 13, 2012


dios: “This is embarassing and offensive discussion to be having.”

Maybe it would be a good thing to distinguish between the discussion and the awful guy in the links. Or else maybe point to the stuff in the discussion itself that you found embarrassing and offensive.
posted by koeselitz at 9:12 AM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Y'all give me a call when Boston elects a black mayor, won't you?

Boston has only had four mayors since 1960. They'll have to start by electing someone who isn't Menino, who's probably gearing up for a sixth term.
posted by zamboni at 9:16 AM on August 13, 2012


Quite correct. Black folks are going to catch hell if this were to ever happen. I don't think they'd want to re-institute slavery (outside of the drug war/prison version) but Jim Crow would definitely be resurrected.
Y'all really believe stuff like this? Wow.
I think that's a raw deal, and please tell me it's incorrect.
It carefully limits the equation to taxes vs benefits. California gets an enormous amount of defense spending, for example.
posted by Lame_username at 9:16 AM on August 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


For an idea of what the two new countries might act like, look no further than the partition of Indian and Pakistan. We may not have the same level of violence and unrest, but it won't be pretty.
posted by reenum at 9:20 AM on August 13, 2012


1) Prevented the Balkanization of the world's major democracy at a time in which the institution of democracy was fragile. If the US became Balkanized, we would probably be continuing in a world of czars, emperors and kaisers. That America succeeded as a democracy proved to the world that power in the hands of people did not mean the end of civilization and prosperity.

I'm torn on this. The arc of American history has been one of genocidal empire-building and expansionism, with the right to dictate politics in Western territories one of the primary triggers of the American Civil War. It's dimly possible that a defeat of the Union would have provided a check there.

I'm more inclined to believe that peace between Union and Confederacy would have been short in duration, with additional wars provoked by the likes of John Brown or control of Western territories and shipping rights on the Mississippi.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:20 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Y'all give me a call when Boston elects a black mayor, won't you?

I assume you mean to imply that racism is the cause of this?

Just so you know, Massachusetts does have a black Governor (Deval Patrick) who was elected in 2006 and reelected in 2010. And both times he dominated in the city of Boston. And Boston does have a lot of diversity on its city council. And if you really want to learn more about how complicated these issues really are, you can spend some time reading this comparative study of Boston and Denver in terms of the factors that lead to black mayors in one city and not the other. It elaborates on what Zamboni just said. Some times our preconceived ideas about how a place works are simply not true, and that is something we can all remember when we attack the south or anywhere else in this country.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 9:21 AM on August 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


it was also about federal power encroaching on an entrenched economic elite who depended on that labor system for their wealth

Bullshit. The South didn't have any problem with the Fugitive Slave Act, which required federal marshals to "arrest anyone suspected of being a runaway slave on no more evidence than a claimant's sworn testimony of ownership," even if the state was a free state and/or had personal liberty laws.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:21 AM on August 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sure, koeselitz: any discussion of "the South" as if it is a homogenous sociological oddity is offensive in itself. To push that suggestion further to even being to suggest that the South is filled with neo-confederates just itching to get rid of civil rights and enslave black people is an idea of such hate-filled ignorance that it should not be tolerated in discussion much less discussed.

Look, I could care less if people have the same old endless discussion about the causes and motivations of the Civil War that was 150 years ago. But treating this idea that succession is reasonable or desirable today because of some intrinsic worth, value or principles of the South is an embarrassing and offensive discussion.
posted by dios at 9:21 AM on August 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's dimly possible that a defeat of the Union would have provided a check there.

It would have removed a future check on hitler, although then again, wwi might have ended differently, so no hitler. Man, alternative history is hard.
posted by empath at 9:26 AM on August 13, 2012


Sure, koeselitz: any discussion of "the South" as if it is a homogenous sociological oddity is offensive in itself. To push that suggestion further to even being to suggest that the South is filled with neo-confederates just itching to get rid of civil rights and enslave black people is an idea of such hate-filled ignorance that it should not be tolerated in discussion much less discussed.

I don't see anyone here actually saying any of that. Quite the opposite, in fact.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:34 AM on August 13, 2012


That's true, katyh. But their deficit is much larger than $88 million, unfortunately. Moreover, there are lots of benefits that come with being part of the Union that don't get enumerated in dollars sent to Washington.

I think there are some significant issues with pork-barrel funding. On the other hand, if you take the contemporary liberal view that a federal-level social safety net is good to have, then complaining about economic disparities between states strikes me as inconsistent.

Not to mention that the people getting those safety-net dollars are generally not the ones arguing for defunding those programs.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:35 AM on August 13, 2012


This is nothing more than ignorant, hate speech.

Ignorant, yes; "hate speech," no; it's just garden variety trollery. Though, I can see why someone who was the kind of neo-confederate Thompson thinks the south is full of might be deeply offended.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:37 AM on August 13, 2012


As long as S. Florida can join up with Cuba and the rest of the Caribbean states to form a super awesome baseball, music, beach-vacations and cocaine super-power. We don't really care what the rest of you do. (Jamaica can still prefer track & field as the sport of their nation. Haiti, apparently likes soccer, which is fine. It gives us something to talk about when hanging around with the rest of Latin America.)

Fear not, we will be happy to continue receiving money from your cruise ships (and, of course, we've got some of the best shipping ports in the western hemisphere, we're happy to keep Miami as a trade hub).
posted by oddman at 9:40 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


In his envisioning, who gets Washington, DC? I rather like the Smithsonian.

Interesting thing about the Boston mayor comment. First Black mayor was in Louisiana (1868). Second was in Tennessee (1869). Then California (1888), Ohio (1966 and 1967), Indiana (1967), DC (1967). 1968 added New Jersey, Kentucky, and North Carolina to the list; Mississippi in 1969. The list is predominately Southern and Midwestern states. Similarly, the first Black governor was in Louisiana (1872), and first elected in Massachusetts, but first since the Reconstruction was in Virginia. I didn't expect that.

Kinda reminds me of a discussion I had with someone recently about Houston's mayor being on the Colbert show. He kinda wouldn't let up on the fact that she's a lesbian, but really it doesn't matter one way or the other to most of us.

Every state can look back at some period of time that is shameful to them now, and every state has people with a vast variety of thought and belief including some who are hateful and intolerant. For the writer to make sweeping statements about an entire state (an artificial line drawn on a map) and propose dividing a nation based on those impressions, is pretty silly.

And I can just imagine how this would play out in Texas. "I think you're pretty backwards and I'm gonna specifically mention slave years, but we want your money and Florida's too. Also, I'm worried about NASA and energy." That actually is not compelling. If he understood us at all he would know that.

And that zinger about Florida? "Filled with Jews, Cubans, and meth labs, today’s Florida is, like Texas, impossible to characterize in prototypically southern terms." Hey, that won't play well either.
posted by Houstonian at 9:50 AM on August 13, 2012


As long as S. Florida can join up with Cuba and the rest of the Caribbean states to form a super awesome baseball, music, beach-vacations and cocaine super-power.

* snerk * I notice you leave the Panhandle out; I think I know why - a friend is from Pensacola and has described the area as "Alabama with a beach".

I get stuck trying to parse how New York State would be divvied up; I keep envisioning it as a Red State with a couple of pockets of Blue-State Autonomous Zones here and there.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:12 AM on August 13, 2012


I don't want to trivialize the very real issues Tennessee, the South, and the whole U.S. has with race, still, but I think it is undeniable that racial equality is less awful (still not good!) right now than it has been pretty much ever. That's not declaring victory or anything but comparing today to the early 20th century is absurd.

Oh, absolutely. It's just still terrible, and when there's times of stress such as the NOLA flood it gets really openly racist and ugly. There's also terrible prisons, and a lot of prison slave labour.

Add a lack of educational investment that means that the schools are at the bottom of US league tables...and tell me honestly if you think that the bad schools aren't dispropotunately black and Latino. From outside that looks awfully like a system that takes people, gives them few opportunities, but is prepared to spent money imprisoning them. That then removes their voting rights, and so the minorities are marginalised further.

That's not even going into the intentional efforts to deny people the right to vote via voter roll purging and the like.
posted by jaduncan at 10:15 AM on August 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Remember when NE wanted to secede?

Until I clicked on the link I was wondering why Nebraska wanted out of the union. Defending their banks and corn?
posted by Mister Fabulous at 10:28 AM on August 13, 2012


a friend is from Pensacola and has described the area as "Alabama with a beach".

That might be because it's less than 20 miles from Alabama's beach.
posted by twisted mister at 10:42 AM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Like a cartoon lemming, I make at least one trip South every year, and it is one of those sacramental sojourns that I have enshrined in the hard and fast rules of what I will or will not do in a job. I will work on Christmas, on my birthday, and on most holidays (in my previous career at the museum, I often did just that), but I will not work the week of Thanksgiving, because that is immutably my time, when I take the only vacation I seem to take anymore, to a grand old house that's one of the last grand old houses left in my family's hands.

I leave from work the Friday of the week prior, take a meandering, slow drive for 605 miles, with the simplest directions possible for such a trip—(1) drive to Route 197 in Laurel, (2) turn right on Route 301, (3) turn left at the old house. I love the drive, and the food, oh my, the food, even the stuff that makes me feel so guilty, but still I stop for all-you-can-eat and eat a pile of Carolina Q the size of my head. I love the cotton fields and the odd civility, the old ruinous sagging barns and motels converted into apartments and the endless, mostly empty country roads.

In Georgia, I adore my family, who are an odd mix of Southern intellectual stock, salt-of-the-earth everyday people, modern layabouts and artists, restaurateurs, irritatingly smart and articulate whippersnapper cousins, teachers, big event managers, preachers, and a few Southern archetypes here and there (my cousin Alice is married to a man named "Dixie Royal," for Pete's sake). It's a trip that's been a sort of emotional palliative escape, particularly after my father died fifteen years ago. I do not miss my Thanksgiving week for anything short of a death in the family.

I've lived my whole life below the Mason-Dixon line, but Maryland's a sort of special case, and my Southerners don't recognize it as Southern and Northerners don't recognize it as properly Northern, so I tend to identify with the chronically misunderstood (a reading of Jim Goad's book, The Redneck Manifesto, is useful in this case). It's too easy to use a Southern accent as a comic stand-in for stupid, and too easy to forget that pig ignorant assholes are just as common in NYC or Chicago or Los Angeles as they are in the South, but we're a country of quick reads and superficial analysis.

I've taken the Southern side a lot, but lately—

Well, this year, Chick-Fil-A happened, and because the people I used to see just once a year are now present in a day-to-day way, thanks to facebook, I saw a whole lot of reposted "WE SUPPORT CHICK-FIL-A" photos, and congratulatory "thanks for supporting Chick-Fil-A" postings, and hurf-durf-Obama-ain't-uh-chrisshen cartoons, and I've really been disheartened.

For the first time since I've been driving to Georgia at least once a year, my heart's not in it. I'd actually been going to two reunions over the last ten years, once for my family on the branch of Joseph Belknap Smith's offspring that revolves around my grandmother's sisters, and once for the branch that ran the family gold mine and were bible-thumping preacher folk. I gave up on the latter because it was just a tiresome church function, meeting in the basement of my grandmother's church, where our family "talent show" was essentially a hymn-singin' fest, and most of the churchgoing younger cousins didn't want to have anything to do with the weird Northern relatives (though the ladies always sort of automatically fag-hagged onto my ex, who admittedly is charming and cute as a button). I let that one go. Maybe I'll go again sometime, or not.

But there's a sourness left in me after seeing the endless "but we're just defending the man's First Amendment rights" retorts from people like cousins who I've never treated with anything by respect and civility, or the particularly galling "I just had a shake from Chick-Fil-A" post from my aunt, who I respected and valued as a family member (by marriage) despite the ugly, meanspirited stuff my uncle thought and said, right down to when he lambasted my father for failing to raise me properly and whoop the gay out of me—this from an adulterous, racist, twice-divorced narcissist gym bunny who was so neglectful of his mother that when she had trouble, our family had to drive 624 miles to tend to her because good ol' Uncle Jerk couldn't be bothered to drive from Atlanta to Thomson to check in on her.

Right now, my heartfelt instinct is to say fuck the South. Fuck their histrionic pulpit-thumping preacherman idiot claims that they're the victims of evil political correctness, and fuck their constant use of federal funds that come from all the states they regard as corrupt "big government" dens of wickedness, and fuck their tiresome provincial wagon-circling self-identification as the people who are supposed to "reclaim" America, because I don't want the America they plan to "reclaim."

This is, of course, just how I feel at the moment because I'm really hurt by how absolutely devoid of basic human decency people in my family have been, and by how utterly wrong they are about the world, and this too shall pass, but man, I get it when people just want to hang it up and say "yeah, just go already."

It's so much harder to take the higher ground and to deal with people with kindness, compassion, and precision. People believe in dumb things because they've been around dumb ideas all their lives, and it takes a while to undo the damage, as well as people who, despite being literally demonized in the minds of a small and very loud minority of fools, stay engaged and counter the ugliness. I do my part, and wrote a long, thoughtful response to what was out there, but for the first time since I've had a driver's license and sufficient spending money to make a trip, I may just skip it this year.

Sigh.
posted by sonascope at 10:46 AM on August 13, 2012 [27 favorites]


I'd totally be in favor of letting the South secede. The only problem is that lots of military bases are located in the south, including ones with nuclear capability. So.... yeah, may not work out too well.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:48 AM on August 13, 2012


Really? Which ones are those?
posted by Snyder at 11:01 AM on August 13, 2012


"I notice you leave the Panhandle out; I think I know why - a friend is from Pensacola and has described the area as "Alabama with a beach"."

Panhandle? Dude, The South can keep everything north of Lake Okeechobee. To be honest, we don't much care for anything north of Broward and Collier, but you might get us to take some counties like Lee or the Palm Beaches, we're willing to negotiate. (And yes, I know that Orlando has a heavily Hispanic population and has demographics in common with with Miami. Don't care. They're staying with the rest of Florida. (However, if you want, we'd happily take take St. Augustine.))
posted by oddman at 11:03 AM on August 13, 2012


USA OUT OF CONFEDERACY NOW
posted by eoden at 11:03 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Surely the world would be a better place if everyone in a given geographical location agreed about everything with everyone else living in that given geographical location!
posted by "But who are the Chefs?" at 11:04 AM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's true, katyh. But their deficit is much larger than $88 million, unfortunately.

But the national deficit is is also quite large (Not being snarky. I agree California debt prevents them from cuttin' loose.)


Surely the world would be a better place if everyone in a given geographical location agreed about everything with everyone else living in that given geographical location!

The million dollar statement! We just have to define "geographical location." Sea to shining sea? Or a day's driving distance? Shared climate? Industry?

Has there ever been a Democratic Republic of 313 million people? We're still an experiment, and I'm not sure it's a success.

(By the way, separating doesn't mean hating. There have been many amicable break-ups. It gets nasty when one or the other (or both) want everything the other has, and/or wants the other to suffer for breaking the relationship.)
posted by katyh at 11:13 AM on August 13, 2012


In his envisioning, who gets Washington, DC? I rather like the Smithsonian.

I'd give it to the North; it would seem strange to have a small part of the South north of the Potomac. There's historical precedent; all of what's now DC was originally part of Maryland.
posted by madcaptenor at 11:20 AM on August 13, 2012


"Has there ever been a Democratic Republic of 313 million people? "


Um, I'm going with yes, there has. Well, technically it's over 1 billion, and so not strictly 300 million, but I suspect my point stands.
posted by oddman at 11:21 AM on August 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


The only problem is that lots of military bases are located in the south, including ones with nuclear capability.

Really? Which ones are those?


The author proposes kicking out the following states:

Alabama: Massively into aerospace, home of Maxwell A.F. Base and Redstone Arsenal and a NASA flight center, and 4 other military bases. Also, Mobile which is a port, with other ports mostly going into the Tennessee river or the Tenn-Tom Canal.
Arkansas: Three military bases. Also, a lot of what we think of currently as "US business" such as WalMart, J.B. Hunt, Tyson Foods, and a good part of the auto industry.
Florida: A whopping 21 military bases, plus a NASA space center. Also, the Port of Miami and a lot of fruit and fishing.
Georgia: Twelve military bases, including Ft. Benning. Also, West Point, peanuts, corn, soybeans.
Kentucky: The Paducah Plant is involved in nuclear weapons production. Two military bases. Also, horses, goats, many Ford, Chevy, and Toyota auto assembly plants.
Louisiana: Four military bases. Also, some of the best damn food you will ever eat, seafood, the Port of S. Louisiana (fourth largest in the world), Tabasco, petroleum refining.
Mississippi: Five military bases. Also, cotton, Mississippi River, Tenn-Tom Canal, several railroads.
North Carolina: Eight military bases. Also, tobacco, soybeans, beef, paper products, Duke University and the whole of the N. Carolina Research Campus and Piedmont Triad Research Park.
South Carolina: Savannah River Site is involved in nuclear weapons production, and also has 8 military bases and The Citadel. Also cattle, paper products, soy, auto manufacturing, hay, and rice.
Tennessee: Part of where it all began: Oak Ridge. Plus 2 military bases. Also, poultry, soy, cattle, FedEx, AutoZone, International Paper, Eastman Chemical, Caterpillar, auto assembly for Volkswagon, and the Smoky Mountains.
Virginia: 26 military bases and obviously a lot of DC government workers. Also, computer chips, data centers for the Internet, tomatoes, tobacco.
West Virginia: Two military bases. Also, coal, electricity production, logging.

But I can't imagine the following states joining up with his magical Northern configuration, so you might also add:

New Mexico: Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, Los Alamos, and the Sandia National Laboratories are involved in nuclear weapons production. Four military bases, including White Sands Missile Range. Also, petroleum, hay, peppers.
Colorado: Rocky Flats Plant is involved in nuclear weapons production. Also, six military bases including Buckley AFB and Cheyenne Mountain, and the Air Force Academy. Also, the Denver Mint, supermax and federal prisons, minerals.
Nevada: Nevada Test Site and Yucca Mountain are involved in nuclear weapons production. Three military bases. Also, casinos, minerals in particular gold, cattle.
Texas: Pantex is involved in nuclear weapons production. Also, 15 military bases including Lackland and Laughlin AFB, Ft. Hood and Ft. Bliss. Also, NASA, oil, natural gas, electric power, timber and other agriculture especially cotton, the Port of Houston, many of the defense contractors, HP and Dell, and the Texas Medical Center.

tl;dr: Lots and lots of military bases, some of the top military academies, and half or more of nuclear weapons production. Also, a lot of what we think of as "American businesses", food, energy, cotton, computers, technology, bringing goods in and out of the US via ports and canals, assembling cars, and healthcare and health research.
posted by Houstonian at 12:24 PM on August 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


"California got back just 78 cents in benefits for every dollar she sent to Washington in 2003 (according to the Tax Foundation) and, as the independent Republic of California, would thereby have an extra 22 cents in her pocket for every dollar. That would have meant, in 2004, that the citizens would have kept $88 million that could have been used for local projects."

This number is quite far off. Let's play with more up-to-date numbers:

In 2010, California paid out $273.4 Billion in Federal Income tax. $225.5B was from individuals, $41.1B from business taxes. In 2010, California received $0.87 for every dollar that had been paid in income tax, meaning they only received $237.9B, or were shorted $35.5 Billion in 2010 alone.

Let's take it one step further. The federal government obviously is running up massive debts. For every $1 that is received, the government spends $1.22 (with $0.22 being debt). If you take into account that gap, it gets worse. California is shorted $95.7 Billion when this is taken into account.

I'm pretty confident that $35.5B or $95.7B would take care of a big portion of their budget worries.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 12:36 PM on August 13, 2012


kirkaracha: I didn't claim that the Southern elites didn't appeal to federal power when it helped them, as you justifiably point out. In the game of political football, everybody tried to retain possession of the federal government. I disagree with the notion that the Civil War was about States Rights, for reasons like the Fugitive Slave Act. It's hard to argue States Rights when you're using the federal government as a bludgeon against the Northern states to force them to support your parochial economic system.

it was also about federal power encroaching on an entrenched economic elite who depended on that labor system for their wealth

What I said was factually accurate: federal power enacted and enforced laws that encroached on Southern slaveowners by outlawing slavery. I think that you may have missed the spirit of what I was trying to say because of some awkward phrasing on my part.
posted by burnfirewalls at 12:41 PM on August 13, 2012




As a historian, I really believe this and have been saying so for years. The bloodshed of the Civil War woudn't have been worthwhile in retrospect for any cause; but that of forcing the South to be part of a mystical "union" with no real advantages to either north or south was pointless. Later generations of Americans would point to the end of slavery, but after reconstruction southerners had a free hand to essentially impose the conditions of slavery under a different name. In essence, they got to do whatever they wanted anyway; for the price of hundreds of thousands of lives, nothing essentially changed except their technical inclusion in the Union and an abiding bitterness that has poisoned the country for a century and a half and now, it could be argued, destroyed it.


Imagine World War One with a partitioned United States.

USA sides with the Kaiser.

CSA sides with London.

Trenches along the Ohio River.
Mustard gas wafting through the Alleghenies.

Fuck that. Under no circumstances should the South be allowed to manage its own foreign policy.
posted by ocschwar at 1:03 PM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Georgia: Twelve military bases, including Ft. Benning. Also, West Point, peanuts, corn, soybeans.

We also have the 4th largest container port in the country (Port of Savannah), Kia's US manufacturing as well as a good chunk of the production capacity for Lockheed (in particular, the F-22, the C-130J and the P-3 are built/upgraded here). Georgia Tech is one of the top military & government research centers in the country and many folks who are nuclear officers in the Navy do their graduate work there.

And we still grow a lot of cotton.

BTW...not sure what you mean, but our West Point is not *the* West Point.

Louisiana: Four military bases. Also, some of the best damn food you will ever eat, seafood, the Port of S. Louisiana (fourth largest in the world), Tabasco, petroleum refining.

Probably more important is the Mississippi River Delta, which gives one control of one of the most important inland waterway in the country.
posted by kjs3 at 1:19 PM on August 13, 2012


USA sides with the Kaiser.

CSA sides with London.
What? I think you've got it backwards there, chief.
posted by Talez at 1:22 PM on August 13, 2012


> USA sides with the Kaiser.
> CSA sides with London.

Beyond reading too much Turtledove, why would you assume that?

> Fuck that. Under no circumstances should the South be allowed to manage its own foreign policy.

The US managed not to throw down with Canada for more than 200 years. It's not a forgone conclusion a hypothetical partition would result in ongong conflict.
posted by kjs3 at 1:24 PM on August 13, 2012


What? I think you've got it backwards there, chief.


Sorry, NO.

During the Civil War, the Union Army relied on German volunteers, primarily refugees from the 1848 Spring of Nations, whom the Southerners dubbed "Yankee Hessians."

And the British Crown was itching for the opportunity to intervene on the South's behalf.

Had the South won, in 1914 the South would have been with the Allies, and the North would have been with the Entente.

And either way, an international border along the Ohio or the Potomac means the risk of an international war along the same line. DO. NOT. WANT.
posted by ocschwar at 1:26 PM on August 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


federal power enacted and enforced laws that encroached on Southern slaveowners by outlawing slavery

Slavery wasn't outlawed under after the South started the Civil War, though. In fact, in March 1861--before the shooting started--Congress passed the Corwin Amendment, which would've prevented any attempts to amend the Constitution to end slavery. The preliminary Emancipation Proclamation (which only freed slaves in Confederate states that hadn't returned to the Union) took effect on January 1, 1863. The 13th Amendment ended slavery in the United States, on December 6, 1865.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:26 PM on August 13, 2012


Look close at the long line of dixiecrat presidents we teed up and ask yourself.
posted by Twang at 1:27 PM on August 13, 2012


During the Civil War, the Union Army relied on German volunteers, primarily refugees from the 1848 Spring of Nations, whom the Southerners dubbed "Yankee Hessians."

And the British Crown was itching for the opportunity to intervene on the South's behalf.

Had the South won, in 1914 the South would have been with the Allies, and the North would have been with the Entente.


because international alliances during that period in history lasted 70 years or more? I don't think so.
posted by eoden at 1:28 PM on August 13, 2012


> Had the South won, in 1914 the South would have been with the Allies, and the North would have been with the Entente.

There is little or no reason to assume that 50 years of alternative timeline diplomacy and politics would make this true. Clue: Japan was our ally in WWI.
posted by kjs3 at 1:31 PM on August 13, 2012


The US managed not to throw down with Canada for more than 200 years.

Not true, we lost every time we tried in both 1775 and the War of 1812.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 1:32 PM on August 13, 2012


Clue: 2012 - 1812 = 200 years ago.
posted by kjs3 at 1:34 PM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Had the South won, in 1914 the South would have been with the Allies, and the North would have been with the Entente.

because international alliances during that period in history lasted 70 years or more? I don't think so.


54 years, to be precise, and that was, to be less than precise, the life expectancy of an alliance around that time.

More importantly, a partition of the United States would have enabled outside powers to play the two nations against each other, something Britain would have loved. Add to that the formative attitudes based on who did what during the war, and you have a good case for TUrtledove's counterfactual.
posted by ocschwar at 1:36 PM on August 13, 2012


Thanks, kjs3, for adding to my list of contributions made by each of the states. I knew I'd left out a lot. ("The" West Point -- I have no idea. Of course, just West Point.) You think I'd have done better, with family in the South, but... At least, I hope my general point stands, which is that these Southern states that the author sneers at are actually contributing quite a bit to the success of the United States, although I think we forget how much. Even I forget, apparently. :)
posted by Houstonian at 1:40 PM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


("The" West Point -- I have no idea. Of course, just West Point.)

I think the point (heh) was that the United States Military Academy (commonly called "West Point") is in New York State.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:48 PM on August 13, 2012


Yes...our West Point is a small town in the south-west of the state situated on West Point Lake. Unless you're thinking of depriving the North the excellent fishing and boating there, you undoubtedly mean the school up in NY.
posted by kjs3 at 2:02 PM on August 13, 2012


Boy is my face red! Yup, the North gets to keep West Point, the military academy (and I guess that naval academy in Maryland -- Maryland, right? -- which I would name properly if only "we" get it instead of "them"). We get fishing? Ok, and Virginia Military Institute (please tell me that's in Virginia!) and The Citadel (The Citadel, right?)? Holy cow I need to reacquaint myself with a map.
posted by Houstonian at 2:28 PM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Of the "big" military colleges, they'd get West Point, Annapolis (yes, MD), USCGA & USMMA. We'd get VMI, the Citadel, Virginia Tech, Texas A&M and North Georgia College. The USAF Academy is in CO, so that depends on where it goes in this little fantasy.
posted by kjs3 at 2:40 PM on August 13, 2012


MD is south of the Mason-Dixon line. Just saying.
posted by jquinby at 2:42 PM on August 13, 2012


But it was a Union state. Mason-Dixon wasn't a perfect line of demarcation, FWIW.
posted by eoden at 2:44 PM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


And the British Crown was itching for the opportunity to intervene on the South's behalf.

I don't think that's the case. England needed Union corn more than Confederate cotton, protecting Canada would have been difficult, the war was already a meat-grinder, and the Confederacy unpopular among working-class English. Once Lincoln apologized for the Trent Affair, England had little reason to get involved in an even bloodier repeat of the War of 1812. The British Army had just revealed its dubious competence in the Crimean War, which likely added to the reluctance to break neutrality.

Without a decisive Confederate victory, Lord Palmerston was apparently willing to sit back and let the Americans butcher each other, especially if drafted Irish immigrants were involved.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 4:14 PM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]



Right now, my heartfelt instinct is to say fuck the South.


You know, I am sorry you are dealing with this from your own family. That is just wrong and it makes my heart hurt.

But, not all of us in the South are like that. Not all of us are religious, gay hating, racist assholes. We're not. I'm as liberal as they friggin' come. I have argued with a multitude of people over just the recent CFA crap.

Hell, I stood outside the CFA in Lynchburg, VA. You know, the home of Liberty University, during the evening of the Kiss In. I held up a sign for gay rights, in a place that is most definitely not gay, or liberal, friendly. Guess what? It was calm, and nice, and there was not a massive number of antigay signs or any shouting.

I have lived in the South for 30 years. Yes, there is hate and homophobia in the South. There is hate and homophobia in the north as well, and the west, and the east. I have heard more racist jokes, gay jokes, and hatred in the times I have visited my family in the north, than I do here in Virginia.

I am tired of my home being treated as if we are all horrible racist/homophobic/assholes. This is ridiculous that in 2012 people are generalize an entire part of the USA. This is as bad as generalizing any group of people as a whole. We are not all homogenous.

Things will never get better until we all learn to get along and not do this to one another.

Come on, down, enjoy the South. Heck, you drive about 8 miles from my house when you're on part of 301. I'll have a pitcher of tea ready and make you the best damned fried chicken you've ever had, just remember not all of us are horrible.
posted by SuzySmith at 5:42 PM on August 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


This whole thing is silly, but if one were to play this game anyway, some of the arguments make no sense whatsoever. Like the long lists of military bases that the Blues would lose to the Reds. Err, what am I missing? Good riddance! A lot of military bases are kept alive only by congress critters to be used as a money spigot sloshing funds from the federal government to whatever district the bases are on. Tons of them are absolutely useless - so useless that the military itself wants to close them down, but - thanks, pork-loving congressmen - can't. The South is welcome to them. As soon as the federal government stops shoveling money to them, their entire raison d'être vanishes like a puff of smoke - they would have no reason and no money to keep them open. So you're telling me that the Blues would be in the welcome position of sticking the Reds with these abominations, and not have to pay for them (as they are currently doing)? Oh, we should be so lucky!

As to some of the more advanced defense industry plants - again, it's not so simple. First and foremost, a lot of those plants were placed in various states for purely political reasons - to buy votes, to provide economic funds for the areas and so on. There is no natural infrastructural advantage in a lot of those Red states with those advanced industries - if anything, the opposite is true. It is the better educated populations of the Blue states (warning: generalization, exceptions expected) and the deeper human/scientific resources which provide a superior environment for such advanced industries. The fact that they were placed in the South is mostly politically driven.

Auto industry etc. - a lot of it is in the South, again, not because there is a naturally superior infrastructure, but for other reasons - weak labor laws, lack of unions, cheap labor force, low taxes and/or tax incentives, weaker environmental protections. Frankly? You don't want that kind of "advantage" for the sake of some auto plants - the price is way too high. By the same reasoning we could take a page from one of those South American or African hell-holes where people are reduced to scrounging about like animals so they'll take extremely dangerous jobs in mining for next to no pay - employment, hurray, and an advantage in the "mining industry". These are states that compete by pimping out their human resources to the lowest bidder, willing to pollute their environment and debase their lives. Will some companies be tempted to take advantage of such "bounty"? Sure - they'll take the cheap, powerless labor. But note, these same "lucky" auto-industry states will be at an disadvantage when it comes to a more poorly educated work force and less healthy population, in an area with worse quality of life - and all the more complex engineering, design and other work will happen in other - mostly blue - states. It's rather an odd attitude to envy the South their auto plants and other such industries. It makes little sense to try to compete in a race to the bottom - there's always Somalia as the ultimate destination, so no thanks. Rather, the Blue states should do what all successful developed economies have done - not compete in a race to the bottom, but move up the developmental ladder into ever more knowledge-intense economic drivers. Do not hanker after what the South has - let 'em keep it. After all, we didn't hanker after the ultimate low-cost labor the South was so infamous for - we fought a war over it.

Also, a lot of what we think of currently as "US business" such as WalMart, J.B. Hunt, Tyson Food

"LOL", as the kids would say. Keep 'em.

And quite frankly, even if somehow the military industrial complex were entirely lost to the Red states - I'd welcome it. It's a chance to divert resources away from building single-purpose products with little economic returns beyond employment in the making of it, to funding industries that have direct economic returns, building bridges and highways and biotech industries. The Blue states would only win, by dramatically cutting the money that goes to build weapons and engage in wars.

But again, this whole thing is silly and immature. Wishing for a world that does not exist, and cannot exist. Such wishes merely expose our biases and ignorance. We're stuck with each other, and must argue it out in good faith. Separating ourselves is neither feasible, nor even desirable. And we don't have to specify any 10-year window of time for people to move to where they'll feel more comfortable. They can do so today, and have been able to do so for decades. People vote with their feet. States lose and gain populations to transplants from/to other states. Let 'em. If someone feels better living in Mississippi, why, that's where they'll live. California - a state I love living in - has been losing population. The South has been (largely) gaining. People vote with their feet. Maybe it is the cultural values of the South that will prevail, and that is the future of the U.S., rather than assuming that it must be the Blue that will prevail - judging by what's been happening - see the Tea Party movement - it is they who are ascendent. Let us not be arrogant.
posted by VikingSword at 5:50 PM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Like the long lists of military bases that the Blues would lose to the Reds. Err, what am I missing? Good riddance!

I assumed that the implication was that they would use those military bases to eventually wage war on the North. That's why someone mentioned nukes, right?
posted by muddgirl at 5:52 PM on August 13, 2012



I don't think that's the case. England needed Union corn more than Confederate cotton, protecting Canada would have been difficult, the war was already a meat-grinder, and the Confederacy unpopular among working-class English.


I'd like a reference on corn versus cotton, but definitely agree on the working class English. From what I've read, their willingness to sit and suffer during the Cotton Famine made a major impact.
posted by ocschwar at 5:53 PM on August 13, 2012


What reason would there be for the South to attack though? None that I can see. But more importantly, war would simply not be feasible. At this level of military development - including nuclear weapons on both sides (don't forget Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory) - military bases don't determine a single thing. The only thing the South would have is a manpower advantage (militarized), which is immaterial given that a war between two developed economies would be decided by technology. Note, there have been no real wars between developed economies in the last half century (the closest was the skirmish between Great Britain and Argentina) - for a reason. All the ongoing conflicts were either direct or indirect attacks by great powers against third world countries, or low-technology wars between third world actors.
posted by VikingSword at 6:10 PM on August 13, 2012


Wikipedia cites (although on another reading it says wheat):

Ginzberg, Eli. "The Economics of British Neutrality during the American Civil War," Agricultural History, Vol. 10, No. 4 (Oct., 1936), pp. 147–156 on JSTOR. It makes a bit of sense to me given that English food imports were a key part of the Irish Famine.

I think I read elsewhere that England was stockpiling cotton and developing its own competing sources in Egypt and India during this time, which was another disincentive to supporting those slaveowners.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 6:14 PM on August 13, 2012


What reason would there be for the South to attack though?

Since we're constructing some imaginary world where the South is so different politically and culturally from the North that we should just give up on this whole 'union' thing, we might as well stipulate that the South is war-mongering and savage. Why not?

don't forget Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

...and the vast ICBM fields in Wyoming, the Dakotas, and Montana.
posted by muddgirl at 6:18 PM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


What reason would there be for the South to attack though?

Because you cannot secede from the US.

The author of the article talks in terms of "us" and "them" and places himself in the Northern camp. There's really no way to force a state out of the Union, so he is proposing that 38 states secede.

We are not just a collection of independently-acting states with some sort of agreement between us. We are a nation, made of citizens. I'm not a citizen of Texas, and you aren't a citizen of California. We are American citizens. You can read more about this here: Texas v. White, Decision.
posted by Houstonian at 7:34 PM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


@VikingSword: And quite frankly, even if somehow the military industrial complex were entirely lost to the Red states - I'd welcome it. It's a chance to divert resources away from building single-purpose products with little economic returns beyond employment in the making of it, to funding industries that have direct economic returns, building bridges and highways and biotech industries. The Blue states would only win, by dramatically cutting the money that goes to build weapons and engage in wars.

Lucky for you all this speculative wankery is just that, because you are really, really bad at history. History teaches us that following any such division, the first priority is addressing any real or perceived military asymmetry. You'd be spending money hand over fist building bases and infrastructure to counter the "Southern/Red Menace". Good for economies at some level, but not your fantasy within a fantasy utopia of enlightened economic policy.
posted by kjs3 at 9:51 PM on August 13, 2012


@muddgirl: Since we're constructing some imaginary world where the South is so different politically and culturally from the North that we should just give up on this whole 'union' thing, we might as well stipulate that the South is war-mongering and savage. Why not?

If this thread is proof of anything, it's that we don't need a hypothetical split for many people to carry around that preconception.
posted by kjs3 at 9:53 PM on August 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Lucky for you all this speculative wankery is just that, because you are really, really bad at history. History teaches us that following any such division, the first priority is addressing any real or perceived military asymmetry. You'd be spending money hand over fist building bases and infrastructure to counter the "Southern/Red Menace".

Well of course it's speculative wankery. That's a given. Just as your "history teaches us" is complete wankery, and I'm astonished you think your feel for history is any better than mine. There are plenty of examples where countries split, and there was no massive arming and hostility. So, Mr. Good At History, you might want to examine this recent example: Dissolution of Czechoslovakia. History teaches us all sorts of things and only an idiot would claim that they know just what it would have in store for us in any old speculative scenario. I don't flatter myself that I know what would happen - at best I can engage in "speculative wankery". The difference appears to be that you are unaware that your speculative wankery is just that - speculative and wankery. History has a lot to teach us all, it has a lot to teach me, but given what you've written I'm afraid that you have nothing to teach me about history. Ciao!
posted by VikingSword at 10:33 PM on August 13, 2012


But, not all of us in the South are like that. Not all of us are religious, gay hating, racist assholes. We're not. I'm as liberal as they friggin' come. I have argued with a multitude of people over just the recent CFA crap.

I should clarify that when I say that my heartfelt instinct is to say "fuck the South," it's that sort of emotional response that you have when someone breaks your heart—I know that I don't mean it, deep down, and I'll return to my usual, more moderated, feeling about the place, but the sudden outburst of pseudopatriotic rallying behind some imbecilic cause is a Southern thing in the same way that sudden outbursts of insane sports mania is endemic to New Yorkers.

I'm probably doubly disappointed because my family, by and large, is all Southern, but they're rife with academics and intellectuals, with the founders of Duke University in the ranks and historians and teachers and engineers and such—I don't hold to the stereotypes about the South for the most part. If one is true, it's that Southerners will say what Northerners just think, so while a Southerner will spout some idiotic xenophobic thing, someone from, say, New Hampshire will just think it, because their decorum requires the concealment of ugly notions. The end result of bias is still there, though.

So I'll get over it, and the generation of my relatives that believe dumb things like "being gay is not a part of God's plan" will die off and their views won't be preserved by even their most faithful churchgoing kids because the upside of the generations of cynics we've bred is that kids just won't buy into something dumb without a good reason. It's just sad when such things break the surface, even though I know they're out there, everywhere. Ask your Northern, Midwestern, Western, and other older relatives how they feel about gay marriage, for instance, and you'll get a slightly more nuanced version of the Southern disconnect.

At the same time, it tempers the glee of how truly fun it is to be in those states, knowing that, as you cross the border into North Carolina, that a majority of the voters in that state that you see will have voted to make you a second class citizen. You can know, on a smug level, that the heart of NC is the Research Triangle, not the old slave plantations, and that the growing population there will tip the scales in your favor soon enough, but for now, it's just the big church-funded billboards out there—little jabs at every turn.

So it's just a thing of the moment, but...sigh.
posted by sonascope at 4:05 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


in the same way that sudden outbursts of insane sports mania is endemic to New Yorkers.

*snort* Some New Yorkers, maybe....

Spend 20+ years being a New England Red Sox-fan transplant living in New York and your sports appreciation becomes damn clandestine.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:08 AM on August 14, 2012


@vikingsword: Yes, it's speculation and wankery, and I'm real sorry you're all butthurt because I thought I was wanking better than you were. I'm sure that I'm every bit as self ware of my wanking as you are. Further, accept my apology for not effectively communicating the when I was talking about historical lessons, I was talking about historical lessons, and not future facts.

But since you brought up Czechoslovakia I'd just point out that upon independence Slovakia and the Czech Republic declared their desire to join NATO, and the Czech republic joined the NATO "Partnership for Peace" program in 1994 and began the process of modernizing their armed forces along NATO lines. Both committed maintaining defense spending at 2% of GDP. The Czech Republic stayed over about 1.8% until 2006 and the Slovaks pushed spending as high as 3% in 1996 (ref: SIPRI). That's even while reducing the actual size of their militaries and dealing with widespread economic malaise.

So I guess thanks are in order for confirming my point that historically in even the most amicable state breakup results in prioritizing defense and little "peace dividend" arises. But now that I know the rules of this game, for any future speculation and wankery I'll stick to uninformed pronouncements, utopian idealism and/or idle navel-gazing, and be real sure not to apply historical precedent or other "fact", because only an idiot would do that. Amiright?
posted by kjs3 at 4:19 AM on August 14, 2012


David Williams' book Bitterly Divided helped break my stereotypes of the South. It makes the case that, not surprisingly, the South was not an monolithic entity in agreement on the Civil War. While slavery was a facet of the Civil War, it was also about federal power encroaching on an entrenched economic elite who depended on that labor system for their wealth. Most people did not own slaves and saw no real reason to lay down their life or risk a husband for a bunch of rich dudes who had never plowed their own field, and who were as remote to the average family's way of life as people like Romney are to most of the voting public.

Do we have to go through this again? Ignore the crap produced by the secondary sources. And look at why people actually say they do something.

In seceeding, Mississippi's second sentence claimed "Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery-- the greatest material interest of the world."
Georgia's second claimed "For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slave-holding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery."

South Carolina takes a long time to reach a substantive problem but when it does it is "But an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery, has led to a disregard of their obligations, and the laws of the General Government have ceased to effect the objects of the Constitution."

Texas just says the fault line was slavery but, remarkably has other actual problems.

The Ordinances of Secession don't justify themselves but are very clear the fault line was slavery.

Or possibly you could ask the Vice President of the Confederacy what he thought. He might possibly say something like
They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the "storm came and the wind blew."

Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone 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 normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.
As for federal power encroaching on an entrenched elite, the Confederacy was explicitely claiming that Federal power wasn't encroaching enough. That the North wasn't enforcing the Fugitive Slave Act (paraphrased above). And that the North didn't want to follow the precident set by the Dredd Scott decision, the bit of federal overreach that said that no state could actually ban slavery from its territory.

A line by line comparison of the Constitution of the United States of America with that of the Confederacy should also tell you what they found important. Section 9 article 4 states "(4) No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed." (And they also added the right to put an export tax on goods exported from states - they were pro federal power).

As for the idea that most people did not own slaves, that's true. In two states (South Carolina, Mississippi, a majority of people people were slaves. As for the fighters, and the oft-quoted 98% statistic, the slaveowners were normally the heads of families. They weren't the ones fighting. Although many volunteered on both sides because their homes were under attack.

Incidently, one of the reasons the Emancipation Proclamation was worded the way it was was that the same Chief Justice who wrote Dredd Scott was Chief Justice during the American Civil War. Which meant that he'd almost certainly use any excuse he possibly had to strike down the proclamation. Lincoln therefore left no one with standing to sue to take it to the Supreme Court.



And this doesn't mean that the South is evil. Or that the North are angels. Merely that the cause of the Confederacy was "thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery" and things like States' Rights or blaming "Federal power encroaching" are an attempt to sweep under the carpet a seriously bad cause. People are people and sometimes get behind bad causes.
posted by Francis at 4:24 AM on August 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


Francis: For you, I submit a quote from the Simpsons episode where Apu is applying for US Citizenship:
Proctor: All right, here's your last question. What was the cause of
the Civil War?

Apu: Actually, there were numerous causes. Aside from the obvious
schism between the abolitionists and the anti-abolitionists,
there were economic factors, both domestic and inter--

Proctor: Wait, wait... just say slavery.

Apu: Slavery it is, sir.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:22 AM on August 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


As someone who lives in the south I find it a little concerning how many people think that everything would go to pot if righteous northern legal influence ended. The federal funding aspect I agree with, but supposing the south could secede today there is no reason to think that the rights of minorities would be any different tomorrow.
posted by dgran at 6:34 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Apu: Actually, there were numerous causes. Aside from the obvious
schism between the abolitionists and the anti-abolitionists,
there were economic factors, both domestic and inter--
"

That quote from Apu is so bad it isn't even wrong.

There really wasn't anything important that caused the schism, but what really did it was indeed a bit deeper than just the peculiar institution and the strict abolistionists that explicitly opposed it for its own sake. Abolitionists were vocal in the North and strong in Kansas, but as a voting block they were almost entirely meaningless to the Republic. The real threat to slavery came from the far more popular Free Soilers and their more nuanced but no less hostile view towards slavery. Their fight was not so much for the freedom of slaves but for the containment of the plantation economic model that shut out family farms. Indeed it was as racist as everyone else except for the most radical of Republicans, however it did win 10% of the popular vote as a third party on an explicit platform of containing and dismantling slavery. The Civil War was in many ways about the ideological battle still being waged today between Main Street and WalMart - of family businesses versus centrally organized large fiefdoms ownded by someone or a family that functions as an aristocracy. It was also about the conflict between national and local loyalties, fattening war profiteers, and importantly for the North maintaining the integrity of the Union - but the North was at best non-comittedly divided on the question of personal liberty for slaves then in bondage. It was less about the horror of slavery then we might like to believe and more about how the economics of it affected non-aristocratic white folk.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:43 AM on August 14, 2012


That quote from Apu is so bad it isn't even wrong.

...It...was....from a cartoon TV show.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:47 AM on August 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


That quote from Apu is so bad it isn't even wrong.

How? Every point you raise comes down to slavery. The Free Soilers wanted to prevent the expansion of slavery into the territories. There was a conflict of economic models between one that relied on slavery and one that didn't.

"Fattening war profiteers"? How can a war start over making profits for war profiteers? There were plenty of profiteers, including some who sold to both sides, but they were a result of the war, not a cause.

The Civil War was in many ways about the ideological battle still being waged today between Main Street and WalMart - of family businesses versus centrally organized large fiefdoms ownded by someone or a family that functions as an aristocracy.

This seems more like an intra-South conflict than a North/South one. Are the family business the small Southern farmers and the large fiefdoms the plantation owners?
posted by kirkaracha at 8:44 AM on August 14, 2012


So I guess thanks are in order for confirming my point that historically in even the most amicable state breakup results in prioritizing defense and little "peace dividend" arises.

because(!):

But since you brought up Czechoslovakia I'd just point out that upon independence Slovakia and the Czech Republic declared their desire to join NATO, and the Czech republic joined the NATO "Partnership for Peace" program in 1994 and began the process of modernizing their armed forces along NATO lines. Both committed maintaining defense spending at 2% of GDP. The Czech Republic stayed over about 1.8% until 2006 and the Slovaks pushed spending as high as 3% in 1996 (ref: SIPRI). That's even while reducing the actual size of their militaries and dealing with widespread economic malaise.

Well thanks for confirming that your wankery is not confined to speculating about the future, but to your understanding of the past and present.

What does the breakup of Czechoslovakia have to do with Slovakia and the Czech Republic desire to join the Partnership for Peace and eventually NATO? Nothing, that's what. You appear to be confused by what actually happened (history - which you claim to understand so well), let alone what might happen in some speculative future.

A bit of history then. Czechoslovakia dissolved formally on January 1, 1993. The Partnership for Peace, which the Czech and Slovak Republics were supposed to have immediately rushed to join in fear of each other, wasn't even established until well after that - here's the timeline:

"It was first proposed as an American initiative at the meeting of NATO defense ministers in Travemünde, Germany, on 20–21 October 1993, and formally launched on 10–11 January 1994 NATO summit in Brussels, Belgium.[2]"

And when the Partnership for Peace was established, the Czech Republic joined well after the Slovak Republic did - and while those two were according to you rushing to join in mortal fear of each other, they were both preceded by Poland who joined, I guess in mortal fear of an imaginary second Poland seceding and attacking it.

And what's this... why, it appears that there was a whole gaggle of other countries that joined, around the same time frame - as a matter of fact, most did so before the Czech Republic did.

So since all those countries joined - was that also related some imaginary internal secession in all of them?

Exciting as that would be in your world, the reality is far more prosaic - lots of states, including former Warsaw Pact members joined, and the Czech and Slovak Republics were among them. Had Czechoslovakia not dissolved it too would have joined. The split had NOTHING to do with joining Partnership for Peace.

And yes, it cost money to join and bring up your military forces up to NATO standards. But again, that has NOTHING to do with the split of Czechoslovakia - Poland and many other countries also had to elevate their military spending. What makes you think that Czechoslovakia, had it not split would not have had to similarly escalate their spending? It costs money to retrofit your military to join NATO, whoever you are. The very premise of your supposition is ridiculous unless you posit that Czechoslovakia would not have joined the Partnership for Peace, and there is zero evidence for that, given the long list of countries around it that joined as soon as they could. And all the Eastern European countries did this in the midst of "widespread economic malaise" - in fact, the economic situation was even worse in most of those countries than it was in the Czech Republic (which was doing better economically than most of them during that time frame). The reorienting of military alliances and the restructuring of the militaries in the Eastern European states was the result of the historic realignment between the former Soviet Union and the West - it was a broad trend that both the Czech Republic and Slovakia participated in, and would have participated regardless of whether they'd have stayed united as Czechoslovakia.

The whole Partnership for Peace thing is a derail - how is that supposed to show that the Czechoslovak split resulted in the escalation of military budgets specifically due to the split. It doesn't. It's nonsense. It's a misreading of history.

And now I leave you to your happy wanking, not just about the speculative future, but to your own version of the past - I'm sure you'll satisfy yourself with many happy endings.
posted by VikingSword at 10:27 AM on August 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, and btw., I happened to have lived in the Prague from 1993 to almost the end of 1994 working on a film project, and during that time I travelled frequently to neighboring countries. I had extensive contacts with Czechs (as a matter of fact, lived with a Czech girl), and never once did I hear about any fears of military invasion or attack by Slovakia - not from the people, nor from the media. There was sadness about the split and a widespread belief by Czechs that the Slovaks will be worse off after the split, but zero fear. Nobody spoke of the need to escalate military spending because of the split.
posted by VikingSword at 10:44 AM on August 14, 2012


At the same time, it tempers the glee of how truly fun it is to be in those states, knowing that, as you cross the border into North Carolina, that a majority of the voters in that state that you see will have voted to make you a second class citizen.

Then you must hate traveling in the majority of the country, since the vast majority of the states are the same. It is horrible and rights shouldn't have to be voted on, but this is not just the Southern states that are doing this.
posted by SuzySmith at 12:56 AM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


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