Joel Garreau takes on Igor Panarin

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In Saturday’s Washington Post, Joel “Nine Nations of North America” Garreau takes on Igor “The U.S. will break up into six parts by 2010” Panarin:

Never uncommon in North America is the geopolitical urge to take a walk for a pack of cigarettes. At any given time, there are as many as a dozen secession movements ongoing. The one getting the most press currently is the Second Vermont Republic.

Such unhappy places usually want to secede because they are marginal, cheated, powerless, sparsely populated areas neglected by the big urban centers that control powerful states. The reason their secession movements are thoroughly ignored is that they are marginal, cheated, powerless, sparsely populated areas neglected by the big urban centers that control powerful states.

The regionalists’ problem with Panarin is that he couldn’t be more clueless about where the real fault lines of culture and values are.

I’m not a regionalist, but that was the complaint of a blog post I wrote last week that Garreau cites. Garreau doesn’t think a breakup along any lines is in the offing, just that we Americans have lots of identities other than that of Americans:

We can hope that Igor Panarin is offered the opportunity for a long road trip in these parts, either before or after his 2010 deadline for the end of the federal empire.

Perhaps he would discover what the acutely perceptive Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville did in the 1830s, as he wrote in “Democracy in America”: that we Americans are an extravagantly creative people in how we generate social forms.

“Americans of all ages, all stations of life, and all types of disposition are forever forming associations,” he wrote. “In democratic countries, knowledge of how to combine is the mother of all other forms of knowledge; on its progress depends that of all the others.”

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