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America: land of the unfree, home of the knave!

April 18, 2009

According to Independent Long Island‘s Historian James Alcock (he is also our High Commissioner to Canada), when the British Parliament passed the Statute of Westminster in 1931, which elevated Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Ireland from colonies to autonomous dominions within the British Commonwealth (not fully independent because their people were still British Subjects), it also gave them the right to secede from the British Commonwealth. They could just declare their independence and leave! They all had the right, but none chose to exercise it at that time. In fact, they all willingly fought on Britain’s side during World War II.

In 1948, Burma seceded after becoming independent, and Ireland seceded in 1949, just before the creation of the Commonwealth of Nations. So the legal right already present in the Statute of Westminster of 1931, was exercised a bit later on. The London Declaration of 1949, which set up the Commonwealth of Nations, recognised the member countries as fully independent, so they had the right to leave the Commonwealth at any time because they were free and independent nations. They could even leave and return. South Africa, Fiji and Pakistan left and rejoined later.

It is interesting to note that the right to secede from the old British Empire was granted in 1931 to the autonomous parts, a full 18 years before the modern Commonwealth of Nations was created in order to accept a fully independent Indian Republic.

Since Texas Governor Rick Perry made some controversial remarks about secession on Tax Day, Americans have been asking themselves from whether secession is Anti-American, to whether it is illegal.

Perhaps secession is Anti-American, but it is certainly not Anti-British.

Perhaps secession is genuinely illegal in America, but it has been quite legal in the former British Empire since the British Parliament passed the Statute of Westminster in 1931, and in fact it was legal for British ‘dominions’ to secede, but it may not be legal for American ‘States’.

Put in another way, Thomas Jefferson was definitely a cool guy, but there is nothing cool about America. If Thomas Jefferson came back today, he would be ashamed of what his America has become!

It wasn’t always cool to be British, on the other hand, but it is definitely as cool as Thomas Jefferson since at least 1931.

In fact, it is the British Commonwealth which has lived up to the Jeffersonian ideals, while America got stuck with plutocrats, Alexander Hamilton’s central bank, and imperial overstretched government, from which secession is either illegal, or next to impossible.

America: land of the unfree, home of the knave!


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