Secession has been a hot topic in 2017. At least two important plebiscites have been celebrated: Kurdistan and Catalonia. Predictably, both the governments of Iraq and Spain have strongly condemned them as illegal, respectively. Both governments are right: the laws of both Iraq and Spain do not allow for secession in the terms that the plebiscites propose it. But, then again, basically no country in the world (Ethiopia and Canada being notable exceptions) accepts the legality of secession. Yet, throughout history, secessions have happened multiple times. Technically, almost all of them have been illegal. Morally, some of them have been celebrated, some not. What, then, is the criterion to judge the morality of secession? What makes George Washington a hero, but Jefferson Davis a villain (if at all)?
Since last week’s presidential election, over half the nation has been in a state of disappointment, shock, and even mourning. They have coped with this upset in a variety of ways: coping on their own, taking to the streets in protest, and threatening to move to Canada. One small but loud movement in California even calls for its state’s secession from the union. Defeated by the outcome of the election, some members of this blue state have lost faith in the nation. The Yes California Independence Campaign promotes the passing of a referendum that would declare California as an independent nation in a vote. The initiative has come to be known as the “Calexit” vote. The “Yes California” website brags, “As the sixth largest economy in the world, California is more economically powerful than France and has a population larger than Poland. Point by point, California compares and competes with countries, not just the 49 other states.”