Secession: A Five-Point Program
Ed.’s note: In the February issue of the Rail, Jason Flores-Williams issued his “Call to Secession.” In this issue, the writer outlines his battle plan.
I. You are the SECESSION EVENT: throw a bash, organize a softball game, battle of the bands, dinner parties, book clubs, art shows, pancake breakfasts in the park, dance competitions, theater, yoga, lectures—it doesn’t matter. The point of Step One is to build the movement. Call it a SECESSION EVENT. Let the people know it’s a SECESSION EVENT. Let the media know that it’s a SECESSION EVENT.
Progressives are smart, we’re not dependent on leaders. Make your own explicit statement for why we’ve all gathered here today.
Special Call to Secession Artists RE: Cultural System Shock. Movements need to have teeth. We’ve got to burn off the illusion of unity with the red states. Sever the ties. (This comes into play later.) Secession culture will be beautiful, but at this juncture we’ve got to shit on Bush America. Literally. There should be “shit-ins.” A portrait of George W. Bush on which our performance artists take a highly-publicized shit. Poems devoted to mocking the South. A radical, condescending aesthetic performed, in lieu of blowing up things.
We free ourselves through culture. We get rid of them through culture.
II. THE SECESSION ELECTION TOWARD THE 3-DAY CONSTITUTIONAL CONFERENCE AND FIESTA: Once the Secession Events are rolling, we’ll hold city-wide elections to elect 11 representatives. Our representatives will organize the inaugural 3-DAY CONSTITUTIONAL CONFERENCE AND FIESTA.
The 3-Day Event takes place in one of the People’s parks: Prospect or Central. Our representatives will outreach to the New England secession movements, host press conferences, frame our arguments to the media, get good bands, set the agenda, generate a barebones constitution to be fleshed out and voted on, find locations (important: see below) and report back to us through newsletters and town hall meetings. We had a constitutional convention once in 1787, and we’ll do it again—but with women and people of color leading the charge.
THE 3-DAY CONSTITUTIONAL CONFERENCE AND FIESTA will be one hell of a party. The official birth of secession culture and cuisine. We are founding not just a new nation, but a new consciousness. I’ll say it once here and forever: everything will be done with ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY as the alpha and omega of our ethos.
See here, important: The main function of our representatives is to submit various locations at the 3-Day Event, so that we can vote on and select our first SECESSION AUTONOMOUS ZONE.
III. THE SECESSION AUTONOMOUS ZONE
We will have voted on and selected a location, probably in one of the outlying and depressed areas of the city. We will not gentrify or displace. We will improve the community from the lowest rung. We will slowly introduce our own laws and economy. We will develop our own police force. This is not to forego the possibility of a New York State Secession via the current governmental and economic institutions, but we must create a space that sets an example and provides an alternative. A magnet for progressives from around the country.
This seems monumental, but it would only take 200 or 300 of us to make it work. Two hundred can forge a progressive, sustainable culture based on mutual aid and gender equality. (Also, we will keep in mind our friends the animals, who don’t have enough rights under the current system.)
Rather than pack four or five apartment buildings, better to have five or six of us living in numerous buildings throughout the one or two mile area. This gives us room to breathe and develop in a more natural way. Our heart and center will be Secession Capital Hall. We’ll buy an abandoned space and transform it into a magnificent workshop of politics and culture.
IV. SECESSION MEANS SECEDE, MOVEMENTS NEED MOVEMENT
After two to three years of community building, kickass art shows, grounded discourse and hard work helping people—we’re going to bring it to a head. Secession means secede, movements need movement. Remember: the goal is not a commune, but a dynamic, progressive nation of our own.
There are one or two U.S. constitutional arguments regarding Secession, but they’re more myth than reality. (For the record, the best probably is under Article I Section 8, Clause 3—the Commerce Clause—analogizing ourselves to an “Indian” reservation where we would have limited sovereignty, but it’s not going to fly.)
We’re going to need to demand sovereignty. This is the moment. With our cultural assault—remember the shit-ins—the rift with the conservative mainstream will have grown so large that they’ll be happy to see us go. We shake hands, say goodbye and let the new world open unto us. This is what happened with the Czech Republic, so it’s not out of the realm. Bush mainstream America proclaims to despise liberals and progressives anyway, so why would they want us to stay? Like a great revolutionary writer once said—it’s Common Sense. Let them have their Christian Evangelical State. Let us have our Rational Progressive State.
V. WELCOME TO YOUR NEW NATION, BROTHERS AND SISTERS
I read Homage to Catalonia when I was twenty-five. That progressive, idealistic Americans could be so brave as to go to Spain to fight in the Abraham Lincoln Brigades—the book changed me. Belief without action is meaningless. Mere existence is not a virtue. There comes a time when you have to sign your name to the declaration.
I’m tired of nothing ever changing. The world has been waiting for something to happen. I want to live in a country that I love.
Step Five of the SECESSION FIVE POINT PLAN is—once secession has been achieved—to create a decentralized government where the representatives remain deeply connected to the communities that elect them. A liberal socialist system where power is localized and emanates from the people. And if there needs to be significant power accorded to a few positions, then those positions are to be filled by women, with children, who are trained in ecology.
JASON FLORES-WILLIAMS is a lawyer in New Mexico.
Colonial Waterscapes: The Water Issue in Puerto Rico
River Rail Puerto Rico | River Rail
To fully grasp the current state, and the issue of water in general, we need to ponder the history of the waterscape in Puerto Rico and the changing social circumstances that have influenced its making, without losing sight of the role that both capitalism and colonialism have played in this process.
Whats possible now?By Rodrigo Moura, Susanna V. Temkin, and Elia Alba
JUNE 2021 | Editor's Message
Between the summer of 2020 and the fall of 2021, El Museo del Barrio is presenting ESTAMOS BIEN LA TRIENAL 20/21, a large-scale nationwide survey exhibition of Latinx contemporary artists, both online and in its galleries. The physical show opened in March 2021 and, with the intention to expand its resonance and extend its scope, we invited art workers, cultural leaders, and creatives to participate in the Critics Page of the Brooklyn Rails June issue
The State of the Plague
SEPT 2021 | Field Notes
For this issue of the Brooklyn Rail, Aminda Smith and Fabio Lanza interviewed Chuang about their first book, Social Contagion and Other Material on Microbiological Class War in China, forthcoming in October as one in a series of new titles from the historic Charles H. Kerr Publishing Company.
Gego: Measuring InfinityBy Jenny Wu
MAY 2023 | ArtSeen
Despite the radicality of her practice in the context of twentieth-century modernism, Gegos work has been largely overlooked in the US, an issue that the Guggenheim sought to redress in her first museum retrospective in New York. Building on a selection of nearly two-hundred sculptures, drawings, prints, textiles, and artists books, Gego: Measuring Infinity, curated by Geaninne Gutiérrez-Guimarães and Pablo León de la Barra, attempts to summarize a rich and varied oeuvre through a spiraling procession of geometric constellations in the museums vertiginous rotunda.