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Hail Fredonia

By Michael J. Smith on Monday November 2, 2009 09:43 PM

A former commenter here -- now, alas, somewhat exhausted by his efforts to keep New Jersey a safe haven for the heirs of Bill Clinton -- recently asked:

Why do the Muslims of Palestine deserve their own state but not the Muslims of Albania?
This is a very good question, in a perverse sense. It's not a good question because it's an intelligent question. It's a good question because it's a stupid question, stupid in a brilliantly helpful way, and offers an opportunity to examine the unexamined (and quite fatuous) premises that most discussions of this topic are based on.

Nobody -- well, maybe God, but nobody else -- is in any position to decide who deserves what. Certainly nobody -- including God -- will ever be able to state a categorical rule deciding which "peoples" are entitled to "self-determination" and which are not. The Confederacy claimed self-determination. The Lombard League wants self-determination. Staten Island would dearly love to secede from New York.

Mere humans as we are, we can't claim the godlike privilege of determining who is deserving and who is not. What we can -- must, in fact -- decide is who we support in their quest for self-determination and who we don't support.

In practice -- and in principle too, for ought implies can, and cannot implies need not -- we make these decisions on some highly specific grounds. There just aren't any general principles.

Do I support the Palestinians? Do you have to ask? Of course I do. I don't like thieves -- except for the Robin Hood variety. And the Zionist project is a project of thievery, without any Robin Hood about it.

You may say that all nation-building is founded on thievery, and you would be right. But thievery that took place hundreds of years ago, and to which no resistance has been offered in living memory, acquires a certain legitimacy by default. Nobody is going to say, Indo-Europeans Out Of Europe!

Zionist thievery, however, has mostly taken place within living memory, and resistance to it began immediately and has never ceased. So there are actual sides to choose, in an ongoing struggle. Are you on the side of the robbers or the robbed?

This is what they call a no-brainer.

Then there's context. The Albanian Kosovars -- like the other secessionists in the former Yugoslavia -- rode to "self-determination" on the back of a Great Power project to dismember the last nonaligned state and, oh by the way, continue the perennial imperial project of caging the Russian bear.

Is this a project I want to support? Another no-brainer.

Somebody will sooner or later come up with a clever poser, like, Would I support Welsh secession from the so-called "United Kingdom" of the Saxons?

Well, yes, but only because the Saxons are a people both craven and brutal, servile and truckling to their masters and nauseatingly cruel to anybody who falls into their power, and I would like to see London's writ cut back to the historical territory ruled by Alfred the Great. Or further, come to think of it. (When will those people wake up and realize that they're just another played-out small country -- Liechtenstein, with crummy food?)

Then there's the context argument. Sam the world-bestriding hegemon would hate to see his coddled little brother's feathers trimmed -- a consideration which applies to England as it does to Israel -- and if that isn't a good reason to trim 'em, I don't know what is.

You get the point, right? No broad universal principles here. Such things are just not to be had.

I will be happy to apply the long-pondered and highly refined Smith Self-Determination Heuristic, version 9.8, to any simmering situation anywhere in the world, for a modest fee of $499.95 per race, creed, or color. Contact me off-line.

Comments (12)


Not only is there no principle involved, there is no "right". Right is only a name for force, or for wish before sufficient force is in place. No one today takes the divine right of kings seriously, but up to about 400 years ago it was considered a fundamental part, or evidence, of the system that held the universe together.

Al Schumann:

hce, I think you could find the right to self-determination an appealing concept. My short argument is that the assertion of it, and respect for the assertion, is the best way to make pwogs and wingnuts grow up.

Mike Hunt:


Fredonia is a village in Chautauqua County, New York, United States. The population was 10,706 at the 2000 census.

Just down the road is Lilly Dale the worlds largest psychic center. This sits outside Cassadaga. Tom Petty has a song titled Cassadaga and it is the former home of Roxanne Pulitzer.
Mary McDonald attended college in Fredonia.
The Flaming Lips spent sometime in the area.
And some pole vaulter chick hails from there.

Trey Parker - Freedom Isn't Free Lyrics

What would you do
If you were asked to give up your dreams for freedom?
What would you do
If asked to make the ultimate sacrifice?

Would you think about all them people
Who gave up everything they had?
Would you think about all them War Vets
And would you start to feel bad?

Freedom isn't free
It costs folks like you and me
And if we don't all chip in
We'll never pay that bill
Freedom isn't free
No, there's a hefty in' fee.
And if you don't throw in your buck 'o five
Who will?

What would you do
If someone told you to fight for freedom?
Would you answer the call
Or run away like a little ?
'Cause the only reason that you're here
Is 'cause folks died for you in the past
So maybe now it's your turn
To die kicking some ass

Freedom isn't free
It costs folks like you and me
And if we don't all chip in
We'll never pay that bill
Freedom isn't free
Now there's a hefty in' fee
And if you don't throw in your buck 'o five
Who will?

You don't throw in your buck 'o five. Who will?
Oooh buck 'o five
Freedom costs a buck 'o five


"self "determination right or wrong
often requires considerable
"self "co-ordination
and "self "action
determined to be self determining

not a boat ride
to achieve and enforce
nor should it be

some outfits got it in em
some ain't
much as the second mrs kane
was told about singing
by her voice coach

Al Schumann:

Owen, indeed. The devil finds work for empty heads. I don't want to crack them, like so many ghastly eggs for a vengeful liberal omelette. But I'd very much like for them to find something to do, something that might fill up that space in a salutary fashion.


haha... my favorite scene

la la la plink plink plink your out of pitch! some people can sing, some can't. Impossible, IM-POSSIBLE!

Smiff writes:
I will be happy to apply the long-pondered and highly refined Smith Self-Determination Heuristic, version 9.8, to any simmering situation anywhere in the world, for a modest fee of $499.95 per race, creed, or color. Contact me off-line.

Would that be proprietary, or open-source?

Btw, interesting you'd lead off with that trailer for Duck Soup, which has moved into second place (right after A Night At The Opera) for my Most Favorite Marx Brothers Film Of All Time.

Halfway through the Clinton Era, I'd decided that the USA should rename itself "Fredonia" as I figured we wouldn't be any worse off if this country were run by Rufus T. Firefly. At least with a President Firefly, you'd know exactly what you were getting.

Peter Ward:

The problem with arguing about self-determination is that everyone assumes the nation-state isn't basically an imaginary, at any rate a very artificial construct. Not to mention inherently exclusivist and discriminatory one. I think it makes more sense to regard a nation as an institution like a corporation or church that is made up of constituents rather than thinking of it as some kind of religico-ethnic species that is defined on some metaphysical level or that is objectively distinct in some scientifically legitimate way.

But when the state one belongs to inflicts violence on people in another I believe one has an ethical obligation to try to prevent this action. In the case of Kosovo the bombing of Serbia and the ethnic cleansing that followed the "liberation". In the Occupied Territories the US-sponsored destruction of the Palestinians. This is a universal principle in application, or it is meaningless. But it is not one that can be defended rationally however desperately we want to be able to.


the marx brothers are a ghastly over rated bag of vaudeville bones

yes groucho has a nice solo effect
much as dean martin does
but linked to his two protoplasmic
fraternal sterilities
ho ho ho ... hum
even the wonderous leo McCarey
couldn't lift those turkey shooters
much above
the soup line era's
heckle and jeckle
and oh ever so ponderously
those were
the zany outer limits ???

give me scareface
'for all time '
towering verbal paragon
anti victorian miscreant



"inherently exclusivist and discriminatory"

what the hell else are boundaries for ???

ya private property lines exist too
but citizen ward THE STATE ...any STATE worth talking about
of whatever mixture of volks
can sweep those petty private plottings aside like paper swans

and yet
IT'S boundaries
....inter state boundaries
the very profile of civilization itself


'give me scareface '
as opposed to funny face owen??

some typos must be left as is
if only to soften
the over-bright glare
of my genius


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