When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

17 November 2008

Breaking up is hard to do

The problem with looking something up at Wikipedia is that one invariably veers off on the most interesting and time-consuming tangents... or, I should say, I do...

Found today while looking up something else: an absolutely fascinating (and long!) list of currently active autonomist and secessionist movements, including some here in the US.

Sure, because of the recent news coverage related to Sarah Palin, you might have become aware of the Alaskan Independence Party... but this was the first I'd heard of the proposal for the Free State of Tri-Insula (the three islands being Manhattan, Staten Island and Long Island...)


New York magazine picked the idea up and ran with it
(tongues planted firmly in cheek) in 2004:

Consider: If New York were its own country, its army, the New York City Police Department, would be the twentieth-best-funded army in the world, just behind Greece and just ahead of North Korea. Its GDP, $413.9 billion, would be the seventeenth largest, just behind the Russian Federation and just ahead of Switzerland. With more than 8 million residents, it would be more populous than Ireland, Switzerland, or New Zealand; roughly half the countries in the Middle East (including Israel); most of the former republics of the Soviet Union; and all the Scandinavian countries besides Sweden.

New York is already an island off the coast of the United States. And its mayors already act like heads of state. When terrorists first tried to blow up the World Trade Center in 1993, David Dinkins was in Osaka. When Rudolph Giuliani was in Gracie Mansion, he entertained Tony Blair and threw Yasser Arafat out of Avery Fisher Hall. “Every time a leader came to City Hall,” says Jerome Hauer, the former director of the Office of Emergency Management, “people at the State Department started taking Maalox.”

The idea of secession has been suggested before, and it has always been dismissed as patently inane. (So now we need passports to go to the Hamptons? How would we get our water, our electricity, our Social Security? Are we supposed to form a navy?) What is interesting, though, is how persistent the fantasy of secession remains in the New York imagination—how intuitively logical it seems, how tantalizing and how real, and how quickly everyone grasps the concept. “It’s impossible, but it’s not crazy to think about,” says Leslie H. Gelb, the former president of the Council on Foreign Relations, “especially given that the city is chronically shortchanged by Washington and Albany and yet still retains financial strength and the great creativity of its citizens.”

After contemptuously dismissing the idea, even the crustiest, crankiest city officials will say that, yes, the Democratic Republic of New York is a very interesting place to contemplate. How fabulous our national anthem would be. How cool our currency, the york, would look. Vera Wang could design our flags, Groucho Marx would be on our stamps; we’d all agree not to have a national bird (sorry, pigeon). Bill Clinton could be president again—assuming, after eight years of presiding over the Free World, he has the patience to worry about potholes—though Ed Koch jokes he’d volunteer for the job, adding he’d name an international airport after himself and call it EIK.

The Independent Republic of New York (New York magazine, August 2, 2004)

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