"Middlebury Declaration" Calls for Secession from Bush’s America

by Peter Lamborn Wilson

Should Vermont secede from the USA and declare itself independent again (as it was from 1777 to 1791) under the name of the Second Vermont Republic? This question was posed to attendees at a conference and town meeting, both held in Middlebury, VT, on the weekend after the national election, Nov. 5-7; and in both cases the answer was a nearly-unanimous YES.

The conference—Rad.Con 2—was organized jointly by the Second Vermont Republic (SVR) and the UK-based Fourth World Organization (publishers of Fourth World Review), which sponsored the first "Radical Consultation" in Britain in September 2001. American historian Kirkpatrick Sale contributes regularly to Fourth World, and made the keynote speech at Rad.Con 2 in Middlebury.

Fourth World proclaims itself (on the cover of each issue): "For Small Nations—Small Communities—Small Farms—Small Industries—Small Banks—Small Fisheries—& the Inalienable Sovereignty of the Human Spirit."

This "platform" is largely based on the writings of two 20th century philosophers, Leopold Kohr and EF Schumacher, summed up in the phrase "Small is Beautiful" (the title of Schumacher’s 1973 book). Radical decentralists, Greens, bioregionalists, "buddhist economists", socialists, libertarian marxists, anti-Globalists, tribal rights militants, neo-luddites, true federalists, true conservatives (i.e. conservationists and isolationists), anarchists—and even a few disgusted Democrats—can all find something to admire in this philosophy.

The name Proudhon came up several times at Rad.Con 2, and I made sure to mention Lysander Spooner and the American Philosophical Anarchist view of secession: namely, that small states are less bad than big ones; that every state has a perfect right to secede, as does every town, neighborhood, family, group or individual; that every independent and autonomous individual and group has the right to federate freely with others. Administration and economic organization should be undertaken by revokable delegates to regional congresses; public defense by a people’s militia, etc. This encapsulates the politics of what Benjamin Tucker called "the unterrified Jeffersonians": anti-authoritarian, agrarian and devoted to "direct democracy."

The question posed to Rad.Con 2 delegates—"After the Fall of the American Empire, Then What?"—takes on extra urgency after the Nov. 2 elections. And it was meant to. SVR founder Prof. Thomas Naylor felt certain the Republican would "win" and that the conference would therefore be riding a wave of anger and confusion. The next four years should see the US Empire mired in Mid-Eastern war, vast debt, inflation, depression (both economic and psychic). More and more socialist-leaning governments will win elections in Europe and South America. Even now many Americans feel disgusted with Democratic Party waffling and hypocrisy and ready for something much more radical. If you don’t like the word "secession," call it "independence." Either way, it’s American as apple pie.

The most forceful and interesting talk I heard (because I missed the first day) was made by Don Livingston, a professor from Emorty University, whom Naylor called one of the philosophical gurus of the Second Vermont Republic. I heard that Kirkpatrick Sale’s keynot e address was also rousing. I was also very impressed by Prof. Naylor and his reborn Green Mountain Boys (and Girls), the core SVR membership. Particularly memorable were Jim Hogue and Gus Jaccaci, who acted the roles of Ethan Allen and Tom Jefferson at t he Town Meeting on Saturday evening–as nice a bit of political theater as I’ve ever seen. The Town Meeting voted to make Jan. 15 a State holiday commemorating Vermont’s independence and first Republic, launched on that day in 1777 when the region first seceded from New York and the British Empire in one rash and dashing gesture of defiance. Oddly enough, it succeeded.

Delegates to Rad.Con 2 came from England and other faraway places. The neighboring state of New Hampshire sent a delegate from their own Free State Project, a Libertarian-inspired political scheme aimed at greater local autonomy and perhaps secession. We heard about similar movements in other states, including Maine, Alaska, Hawaii, Texas, South Carolina and the commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Some of these separatist movements seem rather right-wing, others are more left-wing; all appear small, but all rather lively. We New Yorkers at the conference wished we could’ve said as much for our own home state. But at least we had the sat isfaction of learning (from Prof. Livingston) that New York, along with Virginia and Rhode Island, actually reserved the right to secede when signing the US Constitution. Our revolutionary Governor George Clinton was himself a radical democrat and Anti-Federalist who (under the pen-name Cato) attacked the Constitution as sheer counter-revolutionary reaction—which it was. (Sadly, Clinton opposed Vermont’s right to secede from New York, and he hated Ethan Allen. During the Town Meetings, Kirk Sale acted the role of a disgruntled New Yorker and got big laughs from the audience—who all seemed to remember the ancient rivalry with great vividness.)

On the last day (Sunday morning) the meeting room at the old Middlebury Inn was packed and humming. Most of the core delegates signed a resolution supporting world-wide separatist/secessionist movements (see below), drafted by Sale and others at dinner the previous night. All the delegates, attendees and guests in the room gave unanimous support to two resolutions—one supporting the formulation of a think-tank-type network to study independence movements everywhere; the second supporting the aims and goals of the Second Vermont Republic, approved to applause. The atmosphere in the room was excited and positive.


The Middlebury Declaration:

The Second Republic
Journal of Vermont Independence
POB 1516
Montpelier, VT 05601 (sub. $20)

Thomas Naylor, the Vermont Manifesto
published by Xlibris, 1-800-795-42 74

Naylor on Vermont, George Bush and Secession, from the Vermont Cynic

Vermont Independence Day Petition:

New Hampshire Free State Project
74 Shirley Hill Rd.
Goffstown, NH 03045

Fourth World Journal
ed. John Papworth
POB 2410
Swindon, England SN5 4XN


Special to WORLD WAR 4 REPORT, Dec. 10, 2004
Reprinting permissible with attribution