Andy Schmookler did not disappoint in this interview, where he touched on secession from a perspective that will make everyone think.
Andy Schmookler discusses The Right of Secession.
- Dr. Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author and former Democratic candidate for Congress, was interviewed on the topic of the right of secession and its historical and modern implications.
- Schmookler’s main argument in his piece “The Right of Secession” is that the Southern states behaved illegally during the Civil War era by seceding without adhering to constitutional processes. He calls this an example of “lawlessness” at the heart of the Confederacy.
- The interview explores the recurring pattern of such lawlessness, connecting it to contemporary issues like the refusal to accept election outcomes. Schmookler suggests that the same spirit that led to the Civil War has manifested itself in modern political scenarios, such as the 2020 election.
- Schmookler also discussed his second article, which argues that the Confederacy was fundamentally about the enslavement of Black people, debunking the “Lost Cause” narrative that suggests states’ rights were the primary issue.
- Towards the end, the conversation turns to broader themes of power dynamics in society. Schmookler posits that political battles essentially boil down to two approaches: one where the few tyrannize the many and another where the few are empowered by the many to serve them.
The discussion between Dr. Andy Schmookler and the host delves deep into the idea that the lawlessness that fueled the Confederacy in the 19th century continues to influence American politics today. Schmookler is clear that secession, as carried out by the Southern states, was unconstitutional, a point he stresses to underline the inherent defiance of the law in the act. By bringing this up, he draws a parallel to current events, like the challenges to the 2020 election, which he argues emanate from a similar spirit of lawlessness. This is especially relevant at a time when some political factions have shown a willingness to challenge the fundamentals of democratic governance.
The interview also debunks the myth that the Confederacy was mainly about states’ rights and not the perpetuation of slavery. This is an essential counter-narrative to the “Lost Cause” mythology that has been perpetuated for over a century. As per the Southern Poverty Law Center, the “Lost Cause” has been a key tool in establishing systemic racism and must be combated to understand the Confederacy’s raison d’être truly.
Schmookler’s broader view on power dynamics aligns well with progressive theories that question the status quo of power being concentrated in the hands of a few, often at the expense of the many. This perspective echoes some of the cornerstone works in political science, such as Robert Dahl’s “Who Governs?”, that call for a more democratic distribution of power.
By tying the lawlessness of the Confederacy to current forms of anti-democratic behavior and linking it to broader themes of power imbalance, the discussion lays out a compelling framework for understanding some of today’s most pressing political issues.