L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 273, May 30, 2004
"You can fool some of the people all of the time, and those are the ones you want to concentrate on."
President George W. Bush, speaking at a Gridiron Club dinner, Washington, D.C., March 2001
On Texas Libertarianism and Secession
Exclusive to TLE
Now thenpull up a chair, young feller .... I'm fixin' to tell you why Texas secession is highly unlikely, a libertarian one even less so.
The modern "Republic of Texas" afficianados (a good word for it, that) are divided into roughly two camps: those that are in it for the quick buck and a great deal of noise and threats of violence, and those rather more serious who are quite a bit less public.
The first bunch, as we say down here in Texas, got holed up and shut down in the far West Texas Mountains when it was discovered by some of the folks that they bilked that they were essentially a bunch of crooks. The Texas Rangers, recognizing the political implications and sensitive to not having the Feds orchestrate another Waco, were patient with these scoundrels and talked them out. One Ranger, One Riotonly this time their motto didn't need activation. Good thing for those outlaws, tooTexas Rangers aren't exactly gentle souls by temperment.
What's interesting, and what was not reported, was that a couple of the people in the first group were also active in the second group, the real Republic of Texas secessionists (also known as Texan Patriots, and some other names). This second group has more support amongst Texas Rangers and some corridors in power in Texas politics than one might expect, given Texas' amazing ability to get more than "its fair share" in pork from Washington, DC. In any event, these folks are associated with other militias in other states, and have Gramscian-like ties into some Texas universities (there being a notable shortage of "think tanks" in Texas, but no shortage of academics, including Texas A & M and Rice University). But do not be misleadthey are underground, almost Masonic, and are not referred to in polite company.
For the most part, though, it would be incorrect to ascribe especially intellectual characteristics to the "real" Republic of Texas secessionists. The belief is viseral, nearly tribal (read T. R. Fehrenbach's seminal work "Lone Star" and you *will* understand both Texas and the westward expansion, not to mention the War Between The States, like you never understood it before). It is a love of the land, the people, the mythology, the lost "true American Republic" of the early South, the clan-ties to Scotch-Irish ancestry, but most importantly it is the love of self-determination based on Texan culture that drives their spirit.
There is an Institute of Texan Cultures in San Antonio. It is a serious subject.
In all of this, it should be noted that no one in Texasnot the State itself, not the pseudo-crooks of the pseudo-Republic of Texas, and not the real, underground Republic of Texasbelieves in ANY scrap of paper as any sort of justification for secession. Indeed, the agreement that joined Texas to the USA stating that Texas can divide itself into 5 states any time it wants to is not taken all that seriously (and its against dogma to advocate this, since dividing Texas is anathema). No one would give a damn about any written "constitutional right" that says this anyway, since Texans do not put much faith in "Constitutions" (the Texas one being a particularly, ah, flexible document amended at will by a State Legislature all too eager to be practical at the expense of any sort of adherance to philosophy, which both Fehrenbach and I argue IS the quintessential Texas cultuaral attributepracticality above all else).
In this sense, parenthetically, Texans are quite correct. Its obvious that the US national government also puts little credence in its own Constitution. But I digress ....
In the end, the real, underground Republic of Texas secessionist movement prays (for they are nearly all practicing Christians) for salvation but has no doubt that if the time comes, they will have to fight. Anyone who knows the history of internecene strife on the North American continent knows that when Americans fight Americans, it is astonishingly bloody and ruthless. The War Between The States proved the point, but more telling for Texans was not the battle for Texas Independence (being relatively brief), but rather the Indian Wars along the Rio Grande Valley and into Comanche territory in west and central Texas. Men like Leander McNelly, Rip Ford, and others made George Patton look like a wimp. This has never left the mind of a Texas patriot, nor his heart. McNelly, it should be noted, was a former Preacher. The concealed carry laws in Texas, which are quite strict, suddenly make sense when you consider the nature of the Texas mythology and the Texan mind.
An independent Texas would not be libertarian, as 80% of Texas is suburban or urban and the population shift from rural to cities has accelerated in rate in the 1990's and 2000's. Texans talk independent, but in fact are notoriously statist and enjoy the concept of "Good Government" (as expressed by Charles Murray in his same-named book), or at least a form of corporate-statism that doesn't embarrass the average person too much in how badly the average person is harvested in this State. The dreams of an independent Texas with a relatively libertarian government are extremely unlikely; a semi-Christian theocracy would be much more likely, though with tolerance for Jews and non-threatening Muslims. The most likely division point, a flare-up of ancient, long-buried Christian vs. Catholic animosity, has never been a huge concern in Texas and would be unlikely to flare into open conflict.
An Independent Texas would be an amazing engine of enterprise, though, and likely a very wealthy country. Its likelihood of occuring is extremely slim, and grows slimmer with each passing year. Texans, truth be told, have "figured out Washington" and most importantly accessed, and been accepted by, the Eastern power elite that C. Wright Mills spoke of. There is no reason to leave, since the rest of America IS so much like Texas nowat least the growing parts, such as Florida, Arizona, California. Indeed, it is Texas that has conquered America. Why secede? Texans are, after all, nothing if not practical.
Publication date: August 2001 from Mazel Freedom Press, Inc.; distributed by Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership, Inc., PO Box 270143, Hartford, WI 53027.
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