Posted 117 days ago
I'm glad that Jacobin published an article about this, as it has been something that had been rolling around in my mind for some time since the elections. And Maisano's take on these two books is thoughtful.
I am inclined to think like Kreitner, who advocates for dismantling the union. This may sound slightly technocratic, but in the age of information, nations are no longer determined by their physical borders. Of course, all nations have physical borders, but money, labor, culture, goods, etc. flow between borders without much of a thought. We are governed by the states we reside in, but as we have seen in the 2020 elections, metropolitan and rural areas are often very different on how they vote and think about government.
Why should states like Georgia have a single governor? Or two Senators determined by a popular vote? If we have radically different ideas about education, religion, the military, should we all really be putting our taxes in the same pool? What if we could choose which system of government to partake in? Where to send our taxes irregardless of simply residing in a specific area?
Of course, these ideas sound kind of ridiculous when I write them down, but the underlying thought still hits me: why is a liberal in Vermont under the same government as a conservative from Alabama? They have very different historical context and aspirations, should we really just assume things are better off for the sake of unity? What if divided we were better and stronger, and people felt more fulfilled and trustful of their government?
On the other hand, French certainly makes sense in his arguements.
In his view, the republic is fraying under the stresses and strains of factionalism because we seek to dominate, not accommodate, one another and the wide array of views and interests that exist in this country. Enlightened citizens of a liberal and pluralistic government would “defend the rights of communities and associations to govern themselves according to their values and their beliefs,” so long as they do not violate the Bill of Rights or the right to dissent.
The sheer havoc of breaking apart the union could be disasterous. Here, Maisano seems to side with French, although on a slightly different level. He says that if we decentralize, we are ceding "much of America to the mercies of the Right." Akin to the slavery of the past, fights to dismatle public healthcare and infrastructure, and topics such as abortion and LGBTQ+ rights, decentralizing could prove disasterous to people at the frays.
And even on Left, Maisano says:
One can easily imagine a “progressive” confederacy where abortion is legal and drugs are decriminalized — both good things — but millions are trapped in a permanent gig-worker underclass. That’s not too different from what exists now in Blue America.
For this reason he believes breaking up the union is a "tempting proposition to many. Democratic socialists shouldn't be willing to take it." As somebody who doesn't proclaim themself as a democratic socialist, but is certianly sympathetic to the cause, I'm still up in the air about this topic. But I think Maisano did a fine job reviewing it from both sides.