We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Political entities and boundaries come and go. They should never be frozen in history, because so many are accidents of history anyway. Should powerful empires, crazy-quilt conglomerates - China, Russia, the EU, maybe the USA - devolve? Why not? Would it be worse, or better?
In the US, I can easily see California and Texas as their own countries. They were never envisioned at the beginning anyway. Either one would be more of a nation than Canada, Australia, or Austria. Smalleer governments are more accountable and more responsive.
Even Spain could break into its constituent parts if the empire permits a vote.
Good article with some similar sentiments to Jerry Z Muller's essay in Foreign Policy in 2008.
Assistant Village Idiot
The Civil War comment is interesting. There were arguments at the time in favor of just letting those states go. Making some nice offers to Virginia and something to keep the border states in the fold, and the Confederacy would have been a nonindustrial, fairly isolated nation.
Except for the Port of New Orleans, which was an enormous consideration. Yet had we retained decent relations with the new Confederate nation, that could have been only a small problem. The northern USA would have built railroads more quickly, and as slavery was on its way out throughout the European colonies, it would have ended in the Confederacy as well, though later. The world would be different now, but I don't think unrecognisable.
If this seems callous and calculating on my part in view of the moral issues, remember that hundreds of thousands of citizens died, and hundreds of thousands more were at least partly disabled for life. That's a high cost.
Assistant Village Idiot
Why wouldn't you say that a political movement to preserve and extend slavery that caused some 600,000 dead is objectively immoral by almost any standard?
Being from Canada I could take offense but am too polite to say so.
Seriously though, how so Canada and Australia not being as much of a nation as Texas or California? Ethnically and linguistically California and Texas are more split than Canada albeit different languages and race. Australia is much more uniform than virtually any US state. Australia is only slightly smaller than Texas. Canada slightly smaller than California.
Devolution by ethnicity would seem the logical result. The Melting Pot in the US was supposed to solve that. Multiculturalism sure put an end to that.
There are two major problems with any attempt for a state to split off and become it's own country. The first is the vote. It is assumed that the vote is up to the people in the state but it is not it is up to every citizen. While I might be more then willing to vote to let Detroit or Ferguson out of the union I would not be willing to vote for Texas or California to leave. The second problem is splitting the sheets, what do they take with them and what do we keep? California might want to take all that water from the Colorada when they split but the rest of us want to keep it. California might want total control of their ports but the safety of the other 49 states demands we control the significant ports and not some new country who dislikes us enough to split apart from us. Then there is the issue of the people and their assets. I would assume that many of California's citizens would have left long ago for other states but they are stuck owning real estate or businesses there and must stay there and suffer the higher taxes and punitive bureaucratic rule. But a split would push them into finaly declaring their allegiance to the other 49 states and they would have to be compensated for their assets left behind. California may well have the richest state economy (on paper) but they are all but destitute so who would pay for assets left behind? This could be very beneificial for lawyers and take 100 years to negotiate even in the unlikely case it were to happen at all.
One last point; what if California did vote to become it's own country but we by some stroke of luck had a honest federal administration and an Attorney General committed to the principles of our constitution (yeah, I know a true fairy tale...). And what if that attorney general saw the vote and recognized it for what it was a typical dishonest California election where 500,000 illegals voted and another half a million dead or imaginary people cast their ballots as well. After all you don't really think California got to where they are today honestly do you? Could Nancy Pelosi or Jerry Moonbeam Brown really get elected without a huge criminal union "get out the illegal" vote effort? We all know our elections have been stolen for decades but what would be the result if the AG actualy did the job he was supposed to do and exposed it and vigorously investigated it?
There is no right of any state to secede from the United States, that's been settled legally and by force of arms.
And what, exactly, is the American "empire"? Apart from some insular possessions, the "empire" never was much of an empire. the Philippines gained independence in the '40s, and Puerto Rico voluntarily remains a Commonwealth.