Do Citizens Have a Right to Control Their Own Lives?
The Vermont Manifesto
If your nation is making itself into a big target for hate, and if its apparent priorities run counter to your values, would you consider rebelling or seceding? What if your very survivial depended on it?
Here is an interesting article, reprinted last summer by the Texas Observer after originally running in "Vermont Green Mountains - A Voice."
by Thomas H. NaylorA specter is haunting America -- the specter of technofascism -- a global system of imperialism in which ostensibly free individuals allow Corporate America and the United States government to manipulate and control their lives through money, markets, media, and technology, resulting in the loss of political will, civil liberties, and traditional culture.
We the people of Vermont believe the United States of America has become too big, too powerful, too intrusive, too materialistic, too high-tech, too globalized, too militarized, too imperialistic, too violent, too undemocratic, and too unresponsive to the needs of individual citizens and small communities. National and Congressional elections are bought and sold to the highest bidder. State and local governments aasume too little responsibility for the solution of their own social, economic, and political problems, willingly abdicating their responsibilities.
Our nation suffers from megalomania -- an obsession with personal power, influence, grandeur, and wealth and the obsessive-compulsive worship of anything that is big -- big government, big cities, big business, big schools, big science, big weapons, big computer networks, and big political unions.
Transnational megacompanies, accountable to no one, tell us what to buy, how much to pay, and when to replace it.They tell us where we can work, how much we will be paid, and what our working conditions will be.
The World Trade Center was the shrine of globalization, where believers paid homage to the international system of mass production, mass market- ing, mass distribution, mass consumption, mega financial institutions, and global telecommunications -- a system which works best if we are all the same. But too often globalization was achieved through coercion, exploitation, collectivism, monopoly, and American military might.
American foreign policy is based on the premise that political, economic, technological, and military might make right. Our history differs little from that of any other empire. It is rooted in imperialism toward Native Americans, African Americans, and nations that got in its way. Since the end of World War II, the U.S. has intervened in the affairs of 22 countries, and none of these interventions was preceded by a declaration of war.
As the nihilistic war on terrorism expands, it's just a matter of time before the Pentagon reinstates compulsory military service. How many Vermonters are prepared to die or sacrifice their children to make the world safe for McDonald's, Wal-Mart, 747s, gas guzzling SUVs, the internet, Bill Gates, and the rest of the Forbes 400 richest Americans?
The U.S. runs the risk of "imperial overstretch" in which the sum of our nation's global commitments exceeds its power to defend them all simultaneously. Not unlike the Roman, Ottoman, Spanish, Napoleonic, British, and Soviet empires, the American Empire could be brought down by a leaching away from within rather than by an external threat.
Fine tuning our badly crippled nation will do little to turn it around. There is only one solution to the problems of America-peaceful dissolution, not piecemeal devolution.
Many Vermonters view the American Way of Life through a jaundiced eye -- affluenza, technomania, corporate welfare, the militarization of space, and pandering to the rich and powerful. They are disillusioned with America's hubris and concupiscence and long for a quieter, simpler, less materialistic, more fulfilling life.
Vermont minds its own business. It has no military bases, no cities, no big government installations, and virtually no strategic industries. Not unlike Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Switzerland, Vermont is a threat to no one. Why would anyone invade Vermont? What would they do with it?
Vermont has little in common with Boston, New York, Houston, Los Angeles, or Chicago. It has much more in common with Maine, New Hampshire, and the four Atlantic provinces of Canada. Why should Vermonters be taxed to pay for the military protection of New York City, the epicenter of global capitalism and corporate greed, or Washington, D.C., the vapid capital of the Empire? How can it avoid a global class war between the haves and the have-nots?
There are no quick-fix solutions to our problems of bigness and lack of connectedness -- no substitutes for empowering, nurturing, and supporting small communities. Community building is a slow and arduous process.
As Thomas Jefferson said in the Declaration of Independence, "Whenever any form of government becomes destructive, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new government." An empire by secession can surely die that way.
We believe the time has come for all citizens of Vermont peacefully to rebel against the Empire by (1) regaining control of their lives from big government, big business, big cities, big schools, and big computer networks; (2) relearning how to take care of themselves by decentralizing, downsizing, localizing, demilitarizing, and humanizing their lives; and (3) learning how to help others take care of themselves so that we all become less dependent on big business, big government, and big technology.
We the citizens of Vermont peacefully and respectfully call for a statewide convention of democratically elected representatives to consider one and only one issue -- the withdrawal of Vermont from the United States of America and a return to its status as an independent republic as was the case in 1791. Once the declaration of secession has been approved by a two-thirds majority, Vermont's governor will be empowered to negotiate a separation agreement with the U.S. Secretary of State.
In the world of global terrorism, any state remaining in the U.S. runs the risk of terrorist attack as well as military conscription for Its youth. Secession is no longer just an idle libertarian threat, but a path for survival. The time has come to confront the reality of disunite or die.
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