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The Middlebury Declaration
November 7, 2004, Middlebury, Vermont
Author: Kirkpatrick Sale
We the undersigned participants of Radical Consultation II held in Middlebury, Vermont on November 5-7, 2004, are convinced that the American Empire, now imposing its military might on 153 countries around the world, is as fragile as empires historically tend to be, and that it might well implode upon itself in the near future. Before that happens, no matter what shape the United States may take, we believe there is an opportunity now to push through new political ideas and projects that would offer true popular participation and genuine democracy. The time to prepare for that is now.
In our deliberations we have considered many kinds of strategies for a new politics and eventually decided upon the inauguration of a campaign to monitor, study, promote, and develop agencies of separatism. By separatism we mean all the forms by which small political bodies distance themselves from larger ones, as in decentralization, dissolution, disunion, division, devolution, or secession, creating small and independent states that rule themselves. Of course we favor such states that operate with participatory democracy and justice, which is only attainable as a small scale, but the primary principle is that states should enact their own separation and self-government as they see fit.
It is important to realize that the separatist and self-determination movement is actually the most important and most widespread political force in the world today and has been for the last half-century, during which time the United Nations, for example, has grown from 51 nations in 1945 to 193 nations in 2004. The break-up of the Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia are recent manifestations of the separatist trend, and there are separatist movements in more than two dozen countries at this time, including such well-known ones as in Catalonia, Scotland, Wales, Lapland, Sardinia, Sicily, Sudan, Congo, Kashmir, Chechnya, Kurdistan, Quebec, British Columbia, Mexico, and the Indian nations of North America.
There is no reason that we cannot begin to examine the process of secession in the United States. There are already at least 28 separatist organizations in this country - the most active seem to be in Alaska, Cascadia, Texas, Hawaii, Vermont, Puerto Rico, and the South - and there seems to be a spreading sentiment that, because the national government has shown itself to be clumsy, unresponsive, and unaccountable, in so many ways, power should be concentrated at lower levels. Whether these levels should be the states or coherent regions within the states or something smaller still is a matter best left to the people active in devolution, but the principle of secession must be established as valid and legitimate.
To this end, therefore, we the undersigned are pledged to create a movement that will place secession on the national agenda, encourage secessionist organizations, develop communication among existing and future secessionist groups, and create a body of scholarship to examine and promote the ideas and principles of secessionism.
"Whenever any form of government is destructive of these ends [life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness] it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government in such form as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness." Declaration of Independence, 1776