I’ve noted that an implicit motivation for promoting mass third-world immigration is divide et impera: as Federalist 10 makes clear, the more people, and the more diverse they are, the higher the position of those on top and the less likely those down below will be able to get together and cause problems for their rulers. It’s a trap: mass immigration makes the American governing classes increasingly independent of those they rule, so they become ever more able to impose policies like mass immigration that benefit them but not their subjects. (Here’s an account by a former aide to Vincente Fox of the political benefits of mass immigration for governing elites; here’s another of recent research findings confirming that diversity dissolves popular solidarity.)
So how can we escape from the trap? The short answer may be that we can’t. Still, you have to start somewhere, if only with speculations as to what a solution might look like. It seems clear that the growing gap between the people and the political order that rules them can’t be reduced without some sort of radical devolution, so why not talk about the most radical devolution possible, breaking up the United States into several independent federations? Here are some thoughts on the point:
- It seems clear that the tendency of American government under the Constitution is toward centralization, and toward the recreation of America as one integrated nation. A centralized nation-state of 300 million covering most of the habitable part of an entire continent is however absurd. A nation-state requires bonds of common history, loyalty, sentiment and presumed destiny to a degree that can’t exist on such a scale. So what we get is a huge empire with an oppressive tendency to demand a degree of integration that might suit a single coherent nation.
- Since inherited and customary connections aren’t enough to hold the country together, America has made up for the insufficiency by transforming itself into a religion. A political religion is not, however, a good thing. Caesar is not Christ, and even if vox populi were vox Dei the American political order is not the voice of the people. A big advantage of breaking up the United States would be that none of the sucessor states could pass itself off as a universal nation, the compulsory model for the whole world, or establish itself as a religion. That would likely make politics more sensible.
- Breaking up the United States would make it possible to put the American political order more in line with original understandings. Republican institutions would make more sense on a smaller scale, and something a bit like Jefferson’s “Empire of Liberty” might become possible. A federal union of 50 states does not make much sense, since there’s such a disproportion between the size and power of the union and of its constituent members. Several federations with fewer members might make federalism more workable.
- Decentralization has cultural as well as political benefits. As it is, the intelligent and ambitious seem to concentrate in a few major centers and devote themselves to climbing an immensely high pyramid. That tendency deprives intellectual life of depth, breadth and diversity and starves most of the country of leadership. If there were more and smaller major centers and they were scattered more over the whole continent things might improve.
- I suppose the strongest objection to breaking up the United States has to do with war and peace. As things are, we overmatch everybody else, and that makes us safer. Still, something like NATO should be possible among smaller units, and for all the wonders of technology the Old World remains a long way away. And in any event, great power creates its own dangers. It was the extreme power of America that got us into Vietnam and Iraq, and that brought on 9/11.