Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Segregation in the South not an argument against decentralized democracy

Which includes the idea of States' Rights. The reasoning goes that if a decentralized, and more direct, democratic state of things were to be implemented that there wouldn't be anyway to stop segregation, and possibly slavery as well. However, this idea doesn't hold water for the reason that our legal system is based on equality before the law. Presumably, in a situation with more States' Rights there would still be the Bill of Rights, something representing fundamental rights that couldn't be voted out. If there are basic rights, if they exist, and they don't establish some sort of feudalistic stratified system, then the idea of separate but equal has no validity. If people have freedom of speech, then everyone has freedom of speech, if there are basic rights that people as humans have there can't be separate institutions set up for different classes of people that those rights are manifested through. Universal rights necessarily exclude the idea of a two tiered legal and social system. Secession provides a slightly different idea.

I'm not overly enamored with the original Republican justification for the Civil War, which is that unity had to be preserved and basic rights imposed by force. What people who feel that approving of secession is horrible don't take into account is that no matter whether a state secedes from the union or not the same problems still exist regarding slavery. Secession wouldn't have been a panacea for pro-slavery people. Let's say that they did secede, they won the Civil War, and formed their own separate country. The same questions about equality under the law and about how it would be possible to own another person would exist, and eventually it would have lead to a situation where slavery was either overthrown or phased out, this time without any sort of out like that of the "Lost Cause", where the North is thought to be the enemy that imposed freeing the slaves on the South. Nope, this time the overthrow of slavery would have been home made, or else it would have been influenced by the South becoming an international pariah state and finding life in international trade hard to conduct. As time went by the options would either to have been to modernize or to go backwards farther towards outright feudalism, which would have done the job of bringing out the truth of their society to the outside world.

1 comment:

Harold Thomas said...

This is a very unusual, but perceptive view of States' Rights, and one with which I completely agree.