That conflict, in the middle of the 19th century, was not primarily about freeing the slaves, which noble goal was already underway without resorting to arms. The Civil War was all about the right of states to join or resign from the voluntary federation that was the United States at the time. Various policies, including trade and tariff issues, forced Southern states to seek separate nationhood for their largely agrarian society, against the industrial/mercantile north, and the secessionist movement was born in North America. The loss of the war, and the creation of an all-powerful federal authority of national union, set the mold for the next century of U.S. history. It may be that the Confederacy was simply premature.
Around the globe, population pressures, climate change and development are creating local discontent among populations losing land and culture to invasive globalization, increasing demands for autonomy and local rule. In the Niger delta rebels hold the oil industry hostage, demanding payment for resources. In Myanmar the Karin are still waiting for the Brits to follow through on their World War II promise of independence, and on both sides of the old colonial border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, Pathans and Waziris consider their tribal identities before national identity. In Mexico the Mayans in Chiapas and the Michuacana farmers resist army raids on their villages under the pretext of drug suppression. The sudden emergence of border battles in the Caucuses has taken the west aback, but in retrospect it was predictable if not inevitable.
For the several centuries of the industrial revolution and the concomitant emergence of powerful central governments and empires, the presumption was that mankind would progress by organizing itself into a corporate model of central management. Primitive tribes would organize themselves into nations, nations would band together for defense and trade and eventually one world government would make all things right — a dream which gave rise to wars and political ploys for the leadership and control of that emerging power structure.
Unfortunately, history does not support the dream, or its current attempt at application. The United Nations is a “toothless tiger” with neither the military nor economic ability to make its writ run anywhere outside the eastside HQ of the organization. The devolution of the Euro-empires came about from their inability to deliver services and control their territories in the face of change. For that matter, America hasn’t done all that well by increasing Washington’s grip on political priorities over the past several decades.
Perhaps it is time to consider an alternative to “getting it together.” Maybe the population figures mean that nobody can control anybody else, any longer, and self-rule, like self-control, is the only answer.
“Travus T. Hipp” is a 40-year veteran radio commentator with six stations in California carrying his daily version of the news and opinions. “The Poor Hippy’s Paul Harvey,” Travus is a member of the Nevada Broadcasters Hall of Fame, but unemployable in the Silver State due to his eclectic political views.