A citizen movement committed to restoring Vermont to an independent republic, free to pursue life, liberty and happiness unimpeded by the demands of an imperial, corrupt and disintegrating United States.
A month ago if you had told me that Vermont was once its own country, independent of the United States of America, I would not have believed you. I would have rolled my eyes and brushed it off as a joke thinking “yeah right, I’m not that gullible.” It was something that I had briefly heard tell of, in what I assumed was jest. Then I picked up this book and I learned that not only was Vermont once its own country, but today in Vermont, there are citizens of the Green Mountain state that want Vermont to become a republic once again. Most Likely to Secede; What the Vermont Independence Movement Can Teach Us about Reclaiming Community and Creating a Human-Scale Vision for the 21st Century does just what the front cover tells readers it sets out to do. The book, co-edited by Ron Miller and Rob Williams, is a collection of articles compiled from the journal Vermont Commons: Voices of Independence. The essays all address how much better the community of a smaller nation (say Vermont, if it chooses to become sovereign again) might be, as opposed to being a small frontier outpost of the Empire known as the United States of America.
The book begins with an introduction by co-editor Ron Miller, giving background into the founding of “Vermont Commons” and the Second Vermont Republic, an organized effort to advocate for nonviolent secession. Vermont Commons was first published in April, 2005 – beginning as a twelve page journal that eventually grew to forty pages and was published bi-monthly on newsprint. The topics the journal published also linked with the ideas of retired international businessman and professor Thomas Naylor, who moved to Vermont in 1993. SVR co-founder Naylor imagined that Vermont might lead the way toward the dissolution of the empire the 21st century United States has now become. The writers of Vermont Commons all argue that modern political and economic systems have become too large and overbearing. They say the United States has developed into a massive centralized concentration of power that “dominates local economies, regional cultures and other nations through military intimidation and economic exploitation.” Most Likely To Secede compiles the best of the Commons writings to explore these ideas.
Most Likely to Secede is broken down into four parts. In part one, authors depict the back story of Vermont Commons and its connection to the Second Vermont Republic. The news journal calls out the United States of America as being an “empire” and defines what an empire is. In part two, Vermont Commons authors discuss how Vermont seceding from the United States of America might solve global problems through local solutions. In this section, the writers discuss economics, money, energy, food, information community and resilience. It is “the lengthiest and most detailed section of the book… the publication has devoted many of its pages to concrete problems and practical solutions.” The solutions these writers come up with are smart, creative, and seem just plausible enough to work.
One entry by Kirkpatrick Sale discusses the collapse of the U.S. empire. Sale explains the issue of empires is this – they end when they destroy the environment they exist in, which the U.S. does every day by burning 85 million barrels of oil. Empires are also formed by expanding their military reach, but destroyed by “imperial overstretch.” The United States has “some 446,000 active troops at more than 725 acknowledge (and any number of secret) bases in at least 38 countries, plus a formal “military presence” in no less than 153 countries,” not even including an oceanic military presence. Sale ends his piece by saying there is no escaping the collapse of this empire.
Part three talks about decentralism and the Vermont tradition. The section really focuses on how different Vermont is from the rest of the United States – a unique state in comparison to the nation as a whole. In his piece, Rowan Jacobsen notes how, if one is in a departure gate to Vermont in any airport, one can tell. Same goes with driving on a Vermont State highway. From more books and smaller heels sported by its citizens, to a complete lack of billboard advertisements, Vermont is a state all its own. It seems to be able to take care of itself and that is why so many see it as such likely candidate for secession. Lastly, part four discusses sovereignty and secession, and reiterates how Vermont might pull it off.
Something I really enjoy about Most Likely To Secede was that it always let the reader know that this is not some plot to remove Vermont from the U.S., and that this book is not a manual to do so. The editors were clear in saying that “this is not an attempt to create a fixed or arbitrary agenda; it is a panoramic sketch of the major themes and issues Vermont Commons writers have addressed.” The writers see what our nation could become if it took some advice from Vermont, and they want to share their observations through this book. Secede is easy to follow and fun to read. Its lack of narrative and almost short story style of editing, where every point is addressed, well executed, and concluded within only a few pages, makes the book easy to pick up and start reading anywhere. The authors all have interesting voices that draw you into their points of view and each are able to take their topics and make them interesting to read about, even topics as generically dull as economics. Overall the book presents a unique topic in a unique way, encouraging user-friendly methods for change.