In Jason Sorens’ piece on secession, there is an important distinction between the ideas of secession and secessionism. To define these not only as separate points, but also to articulate them as within their own categories, the difference between action and theory, provides a set up for the discussion that he proceeds to give. Even before this distinction is clearly giving, we can see when Sorens addresses the rarity of successful secession movements, yet when we think of history of particularly European Empires in the 20th century, we can look at the decolonization of African and Asian states as potential secession movements, yet Sorens only lists a number of these as examples.
We can see more of a reference to the struggles with African, as well as Eastern European, states with his discussion of the power of ethnicity within the struggle for an autonomous state. On page 21 he states, “Experiments have shown that when individuals are classified into groups, even on the basis of arbitrary criteria such as tastes for abstract art, their behavior changes. They cooperate more with members of their own group, and less with members of other groups than they do when no group identities are assigned.” When we look at this kind of claim in the context of what we are normally exposed to when discussing secession and the idea of separate states, we are forced to look with new ideas at the idea of categorization of these states in the first place.
This type of idea is something that I personally find fascinating. The matter of looking at not only why groups want an autonomous power, but why they were formed into the initial group, and for what reasons and amount of times were these groupings able to take place is fascinating. The categorization of both others and ourselves is something that can be looked at critically in the context of secession; specifically what this means in terms of our modern American identity and why we always need a prefix in our self identification as Americans.