Thursday, October 13, 2016

We Get Comments... (#3)

Amidst the ramp-up of the US presidential debate of 2016, we're getting a steadily increasing flow of inquiries about the "plans" for an independent Texas. These are sincerely submitted questions about the structure of government, logistics, economics, and even a query as to what will be done to restore the sadly decaying battleship USS Texas, moored at the Houston Ship Channel.

We've tried to offer polite and informative responses to these inquiries, all of which ran pretty much as follows:

Let's not get the cart before the horse. There's really not much point in asking an entity promoting an independent Texas to describe in detail what that independence will look like. Most decisions about political and civil infrastructure will of necessity be products of some form of political process. Nobody can say in advance what the ultimate decisions will be. The people of Texas will have to ponder and approve them. It's not for any of us to declare — pre-secession — what post-secession Texas will look like.

It's understandable that folks have concerns about keeping corrupt Washington-style politicians out of the equation, and not repeating many of the mistakes made by Washington. But let's be realistic. The people of Texas have to be trusted to do the right things when fleshing out their newly liberated republic (if that's what it remains post-secession), including its political and civil infrastructure, etc.

To ask a proponent of Texas secession to define the nature of post-secession Texas is a bit like asking a bachelor to describe the routine and character of his household after he has married. Sure, certain preferences may be described, but asking him for such a description, particularly in the absence of a prospective bride's input, and well before the household has actually been established and its principles and routines hammered out, is both unrealistic and excessively demanding.

Let us instead occupy ourselves, for the time being, with the goal of informing others about the viability and potential benefits of an independent Texas. As a critical mass of secession-minded Texans emerges, there will no doubt be think tanks and interest groups calling for various elements to be woven into the fabric of the freshly liberated republic. Let's wait to voice our preferences about such details until success seems much closer to the horizon.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

After Brexit…?

In the wake of the recent "Brexit" vote in Great Britain, we've seen a flurry of online activity — some pleasant, some not so pleasant. The increase in bumper sticker sales means the very prospect of secession is going to be more visible to the public eye on Texas streets. The surge in embarrassingly ignorant emails we could have lived without.

What "Brexit" means for Britain, the EU or Texas surely remains to be seen. Experts have pointed out that the British parliament has the final say as to whether Britain leaves the EU because the recent referendum was non-binding. The margin by which the "leave" vote won was anything but compelling, and in fact a few short days after the vote there were reportedly already over three million signatures on a petition calling for a new vote. The only sure thing is that there's no sure thing.

Why so many Texans have only now become aware that there's a movement for an independent Texas is hard enough to fathom. Harder yet to grasp is that they see fit to pepper us with a stream of fact- and logic-free arguments about the "dangers" of withdrawing from a "free country" and "ignoring" the interests of anti-secession Texans.

Some of these antagonistic writers have even made it clear they want no dialogue: after shoving their ignorance under our noses so we can smell it in all its glory, they assure the perpetuation of their own ignorance by demanding that we not reply to their rants. (Can't run the risk of having the record set straight.)

We can deal with such emails, partly because we're confident that for every one of them, there are several Texans out there who are not overreacting and have done (or are doing) their homework. It's encouraging that "Brexit" has stirred things up in Texas a bit. The exposure can only strengthen the Texas Independence movement. But the real, long-term effects of the British vote will surely take some time to manifest themselves.

But as Paul Craig Roberts has deftly pointed out, expect a lot of political and financial muscle to be applied towards negating the "Brexit" vote. The matter is far from over.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Fact-Free Federal Funding Challenge

After the recent flooding that many Texas communities experienced due to some extremely heavy rains, we received an email asking:
"How do you feel about using FEDERAL funds to clean up that flood damage?
"Shouldn't you take care of it yourself and prove you are capable?"
The questions might seem superficially legitimate, but they ignore at least a couple of relevant facts.

First, Texas routinely pays far more TO the US federal coffers than it receives FROM Washington. So an occasion for Washington to return some of those Texas funds to Texas after a natural disaster is actually a good thing, in that it restores some balance to the equation. Had Texans been able to keep that wealth within Texas in the first place, there would have been more than adequate funding for relief efforts. But because Washington has been leaching Texans' wealth for its own agenda for decades, it is only fitting that some of that wealth be returned to Texas for aiding in the coming months of recovery.

Second, it seems at once naïve and presumptuous to suggest that Texas should "prove" itself "capable" of "taking care of" a natural disaster recovery by generously telling Washington to keep the wealth it has taken from Texas, and turning instead to whatever resources remain after that plundering. Were Texas already a truly sovereign and independent state, there might be a different story to tell. But as long as the infrastructure exists wherein Washington bleeds productive states like Texas to fund their unproductive counterparts, the producing states' fiscal health has already been handicapped. They've already "proven" themselves quite "capable" of sustaining their less productive siblings, so there's really no need to "prove" it again with self-imposed austerity.

Until either or both of the above situations change, no one should realistically expect Texas to do anything less than call on Washington to return at least a portion of its plunder to relieve Texans of natural disaster losses.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Secession Begins at Home (by Jeff Deist)

[This article, adapted from a talk presented by Jeff Deist at the Houston Mises Circle, January 24, 2015, originally appeared at]

Presumably everyone in this room, or virtually everyone, is here today because you have some interest in the topic of secession. You may be interested in it as an abstract concept or as a viable possibility for escaping a federal government that Americans now fear and distrust in unprecedented numbers.

As Mises wrote in 1927:
The situation of having to belong to a state to which one does not wish to belong is no less onerous if it is the result of an election than if one must endure it as the consequence of a military conquest.
I’m sure this sentiment is shared by many of you. Mises understood that mass democracy was no substitute for liberal society, but rather the enemy of it. Of course he was right: nearly 100 years later, we have been conquered and occupied by the state and its phony veneer of democratic elections. The federal government is now the putative ruler of nearly every aspect of life in America.

That’s why we’re here today entertaining the audacious idea of secession — an idea Mises elevated to a defining principle of classical liberalism.

It’s tempting, and entirely human, to close our eyes tight and resist radical change — to live in America’s past.

But to borrow a line from the novelist L.P. Hartley, “The past is a foreign country, they do things differently there.” The America we thought we knew is a mirage; a memory, a foreign country.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is precisely why we should take secession seriously, both conceptually — as consistent with libertarianism — and as a real alternative for the future.

Does anyone really believe that a physically vast, multicultural, social democratic welfare state of 330 million people, with hugely diverse economic, social, and cultural interests, can be commanded from DC indefinitely without intense conflict and economic strife?

Does anyone really believe that we can unite under a state that endlessly divides us? Rich vs. poor, black vs. white, Hispanic vs. Anglo, men vs. women, old vs. young, secularists vs. Christians, gays vs. traditionalists, taxpayers vs. entitlement recipients, urban vs. rural, red state vs. blue state, and the political class vs. everybody?

Frankly it seems clear the federal government is hell-bent on Balkanizing America anyway. So why not seek out ways to split apart rationally and nonviolently? Why dismiss secession, the pragmatic alternative that’s staring us in the face?

Since most of us in the room are Americans, my focus today is on the political and cultural situation here at home. But the same principles of self-ownership, self-determination, and decentralization apply universally — whether we’re considering Texas independence or dozens of active breakaway movements in places like Venice, Catalonia, Scotland, and Belgium.

I truly believe secession movements represent the last best hope for reclaiming our birthright: the great classical liberal tradition and the civilization it made possible. In a world gone mad with state power, secession offers hope that truly liberal societies, organized around civil society and markets rather than central governments, can still exist.

Secession as a “Bottom-Up” Revolution

“But how could this ever really happen?” you’re probably thinking.

Wouldn’t creating a viable secession movement in the US necessarily mean convincing a majority of Americans, or at least a majority of the electorate, to join a mass political campaign much like a presidential election?

I say no. Building a libertarian secession movement need not involve mass political organizing: in fact, national political movements that pander to the Left and Right may well be hopelessly naïve and wasteful of time and resources.

Instead, our focus should be on hyper-localized resistance to the federal government in the form of a “bottom-up” revolution, as Hans-Hermann Hoppe terms it.

Hoppe counsels us to use what little daylight the state affords us defensively: just as force is justified only in self-defense, the use of democratic means is justified only when used to achieve nondemocratic, libertarian, pro-private property ends.

In other words, a bottom-up revolution employs both persuasion and democratic mechanisms to secede at the individual, family, community, and local level — in a million ways that involve turning our backs on the central government rather than attempting to bend its will.

Secession, properly understood, means withdrawing consent and walking away from DC — not trying to capture it politically and “converting the King.”

Secession is Not a Political Movement

Why is the road to secession not political, at least not at the national level? Frankly, any notion of a libertarian takeover of the political apparatus in DC is fantasy, and even if a political sea change did occur the army of 4.3 million federal employees is not simply going to disappear.

Convincing Americans to adopt a libertarian political system — even if such an oxymoron were possible — is a hopeless endeavor in our current culture.

Politics is a trailing indicator. Culture leads, politics follows. There cannot be a political sea change in America unless and until there is a philosophical, educational, and cultural sea change. Over the last 100 years progressives have overtaken education, media, fine arts, literature, and pop culture — and thus as a result they have overtaken politics. Not the other way around.

This is why our movement, the libertarian movement, must be a battle for hearts and minds. It must be an intellectual revolution of ideas, because right now bad ideas run the world. We can’t expect a libertarian political miracle to occur in an illibertarian society.

Now please don’t get me wrong. The philosophy of liberty is growing around the world, and I believe we are winning hearts and minds. This is a time for boldness, not pessimism.

Yet libertarianism will never be a mass —which is to say majority — political movement.

Some people will always support the state, and we shouldn’t kid ourselves about this. It may be due to genetic traits, environmental factors, family influences, bad schools, media influences, or simply an innate human desire to seek the illusion of security.

But we make a fatal mistake when we dilute our message to seek approval from people who seemingly are hardwired to oppose us. And we waste precious time and energy.

What’s important is not convincing those who fundamentally disagree with us, but the degree to which we can extract ourselves from their political control.

This is why secession is a tactically superior approach in my view: it is far less daunting to convince liberty-minded people to walk away from the state than to convince those with a statist mindset to change.

What About the Federales?

Now I know what you’re thinking, and so does the aforementioned Dr. Hoppe:
Wouldn’t the federales simply crush any such attempt (at localized secession)? 
They surely would like to, but whether or not they can actually do so is an entirely different question … it is only necessary to recognize that the members of the governmental apparatus always represent, even under conditions of democracy, a (very small) proportion of the total population.
Hoppe envisions a growing number of “implicitly seceded territories” engaging in noncompliance with federal authority:
Without local enforcement, by compliant local authorities, the will of the central government is not much more than hot air. 
It would be prudent … to avoid a direct confrontation with the central government and not openly denounce its authority … 
Rather, it seems advisable to engage in a policy of passive resistance and noncooperation. One simply stops to help in the enforcement in each and every federal law …
Finally, he concludes as only Hoppe could (remember this is the 1990s):
Waco, a teeny group of freaks, is one thing. But to occupy, or to wipe out a significantly large group of normal, accomplished, upstanding citizens is quite another, and quite a more difficult thing.
Now you may disagree with Dr. Hoppe as to the degree to which the federal government would actively order military violence to tamp down any secessionist hotspots, but his larger point is unassailable: the regime is largely an illusion, and consent to its authority is almost completely due to fear, not respect. Eliminate the illusion of benevolence and omnipotence and consent quickly crumbles.

Imagine what a committed, coordinated libertarian base could achieve in America! 10 percent of the US population, or roughly thirty-two million people, would be an unstoppable force of nonviolent withdrawal from the federal leviathan.

As Hoppe posits, it is no easy matter for the state to arrest or attack large local groups of citizens. And as American history teaches, the majority of people in any conflict are likely to be “fence sitters” rather than antagonists.

Left and Right are Hypocrites Regarding Secession

One of the great ironies of our time is that both the political Left and Right complain bitterly about the other, but steadfastly refuse to consider, once again, the obvious solution staring us in the face.

Now one might think progressives would champion the Tenth Amendment and states’ rights, because it would liberate them from the Neanderthal right wingers who stand in the way of their progressive utopia. Imagine California or Massachusetts having every progressive policy firmly in place, without any preemptive federal legislation or federal courts to get in their way, and without having to share federal tax revenues with the hated red states.

Imagine an experiment where residents of the San Francisco bay area were free to live under a political and social regime of their liking, while residents of Salt Lake City were free to do the same.

Surely both communities would be much happier with this commonsense arrangement than the current one, whereby both have to defer to Washington!

But in fact progressives strongly oppose federalism and states’ rights, much less secession! The reason, of course, is that progressives believe they’re winning and they don’t intend for a minute to let anyone walk away from what they have planned for us.

Democracy is the great political orthodoxy of our times, but its supposed champions on the Left can’t abide true localized democracy — which is in fact the stated aim of secession movements.

They’re interested in democracy only when the vote actually goes their way, and then only at the most attenuated federal level, or preferably for progressives, the international level. The last thing they want is local control over anything! They are the great centralizers and consolidators of state authority.

“Live and let live” is simply not in their DNA.

Our friends on the Right are scarcely better on this issue.

Many conservatives are hopelessly wedded to the Lincoln myth and remain in thrall to the central warfare state, no matter the cost.

As an example, consider the Scottish independence referendum that took place in September of 2014.

Some conservatives, and even a few libertarians claimed that we should oppose the referendum on the grounds that it would create a new government, and thus two states would exist in the place of one. But reducing the size and scope of any single state’s dominion is healthy for liberty, because it leads us closer to the ultimate goal of self-determination at the individual level, to granting each of us sovereignty over our lives.

Again quoting Mises:
If it were in any way possible to grant this right of self-determination to every individual person, it would have to be done. (italics added)
Furthermore, some conservatives argue that we should not support secession movements where the breakaway movement is likely to create a government that is more “liberal” than the one it replaces. This was the case in Scotland, where younger Scots who supported the independence referendum in greater numbers hoped to create strong ties with the EU parliament in Brussels and build a Scandinavian-style welfare state run from Holyrood (never mind that Tories in London were overjoyed at the prospect of jettisoning a huge number of Labour supporters!).

But if support for the principle of self-determination is to have any meaning whatsoever, it must allow for others to make decisions with which we disagree. Political competition can only benefit all of us. What neither progressives nor conservatives understand — or worse, maybe they do understand — is that secession provides a mechanism for real diversity, a world where we are not all yoked together. It provides a way for people with widely divergent views and interests to live peaceably as neighbors instead of suffering under one commanding central government that pits them against each other.

Secession Begins With You

Ultimately, the wisdom of secession starts and ends with the individual. Bad ideas run the world, but must they run your world?

The question we all have to ask ourselves is this: how seriously do we take the right of self-determination, and what are we willing to do in our personal lives to assert it?

Secession really begins at home, with the actions we all take in our everyday lives to distance and remove ourselves from state authority — quietly, nonviolently, inexorably.

The state is crumbling all around us, under the weight of its own contradictions, its own fiscal mess, and its own monetary system. We don’t need to win control of DC.

What we need to do, as people seeking more freedom and a better life for future generations, is to walk away from DC, and make sure we don’t go down with it.

How To Secede Right Now

So in closing, let me make a few humble suggestions for beginning a journey of personal secession. Not all of these may apply to your personal circumstances; no one but you can decide what’s best for you and your family. But all of us can play a role in a bottom-up revolution by doing everything in our power to withdraw our consent from the state:
  • Secede from intellectual isolation. Talk to like-minded friends, family, and neighbors — whether physically or virtually — to spread liberty and cultivate relationships and alliances. The state prefers to have us atomized, without a strong family structure or social network;
  • secede from dependency. Become as self-sufficient as possible with regard to food, water, fuel, cash, firearms, and physical security at home. Resist being reliant on government in the event of a natural disaster, bank crisis, or the like;
  • secede from mainstream media, which promotes the state in a million different ways. Ditch cable, ditch CNN, ditch the major newspapers, and find your own sources of information in this internet age. Take advantage of a luxury previous generations did not enjoy;
  • secede from state control of your children by homeschooling or unschooling them;
  • secede from college by rejecting mainstream academia and its student loan trap. Educate yourself using online learning platforms, obtaining technical credentials, or simply by reading as much as you can;
  • secede from the US dollar by owning physical precious metals, by owning assets denominated in foreign currencies, and by owning assets abroad;
  • secede from the federal tax and regulatory regimes by organizing your business and personal affairs to be as tax efficient and unobtrusive as possible;
  • secede from the legal system, by legally protecting your assets from rapacious lawsuits and probate courts as much as possible;
  • secede from the state healthcare racket by taking control of your health, and questioning medical orthodoxy;
  • secede from your state by moving to another with a better tax and regulatory environment, better homeschooling laws, better gun laws, or just one with more liberty-minded people;
  • secede from political uncertainly in the US by obtaining a second passport; or
  • secede from the US altogether by expatriating.
  • Most of all, secede from the mindset that government is all-powerful or too formidable an opponent to be overcome. The state is nothing more than Bastiat’s great fiction, or Murray’s gang of thieves writ large. Let’s not give it the power to make us unhappy or pessimistic.
All of us, regardless of ideological bent and regardless of whether we know it or not, are married to a very violent, abusive spendthrift. It’s time, ladies and gentlemen, to get a divorce from DC.

[Note: The views expressed above are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute, or]

Friday, January 9, 2015

«Breaking Away: The Case for Secession» 1-Day Seminar by the Mises Institute

On Saturday, January 24, 2015, the Mises Institute, an heroic champion of liberty and the requisite Austrian economics model has scheduled a 1-day seminar in Houston on the topic «Breaking Away: The Case for Secession». Attendance is a mere $95—well worth the price to hear liberty-minded men like Ron Paul, Lew Rockwell, Tom Woods, Brion McClanahan, and Jeff Deist speak to an issue so dear to many Texans.
We encourage our readers to attend this seminar. You won't be disappointed. receives no financial consideration or benefit for promoting the seminar. We're convinced that such events make for a healthier, better informed body politic within Texas, equipping individuals to better discern the political and economic realities around them, and to communicate the same fundamental principles to their neighbors.
Sign up here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Texas Secede Bumper Stickers Available Again(!)

We're happy to announce that the classic Texas Secede bumper stickers we were selling until about three years ago are again available. Due purely to logistical issues, we had to suspend sales until we could come up with a new fulfillment arrangement.

The original design that inspired these stickers could be spotted on bumpers throughout Texas in the 1970s. But by the 90s, the stickers had become rare, being no longer available for purchase. A year or two after the turn of the century, we became convinced that updating the design and making the stickers available again could have a healthy influence on the politics and public opinion in Texas.

For those who are interested, the bumper stickers can be purchased here.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Scotland, Infrastructure and Logistics

If the results are to be trusted, the people of Scotland recently voted (narrowly) not to secede from the United Kingdom (UK). At least one critic blamed the failure of the referendum on an almost total lack of planning on the part of the proponents.

There's a lesson to be learned here.

To be taken seriously, Texans who are really serious about Texas independence, and aren't just emotionally swept along by the noble/romantic notion of secession, ought to start talking about the details sooner or later. Many who scoff at the idea love to pepper their comments with suggestions that an independent Texas would flounder for losing federal funding or US military protection or some other economic or infrastructure disadvantage.

While most of those speculations are as baseless as the so-called 'legal' reasons why secessions is supposedly impossible, it would behoove independence-minded Texans to be mapping out practical ways that Texas would function again as a wholly independent state.

Matters for consideration and discussion might include the system of government, constitution, economic and monetary systems, policies on immigration and economic and political relations with the US and Mexico (Texas' two most immediate neighbors), energy, etc.

The point is, for the prospect of a Texas independence to be taken serious by many outside observers (not to mention many Texans themselves), any conversation about secession must sooner or later (and preferably sooner) include at least discussions — if not published proposals — for the handling of these kinds of details.

To suggest ironing out the details afterwards is a very short-sighted and naïve approach to a very significant aspect of the formation of an independent state. There's already plenty of such 'thinking' within the Texas independence movement. What remains lacking is a visible element of practical planning with regard to the new nation's political and economic infrastructure and logistics.

Without this element, we fear the secession movement — like that of Scotland — may never 'turn the corner' as a legitimate drive for an informed decision for independence.