Is there a genuine analogy between the secession of South Carolina from the USA and the secession of Lithuania from the USSR? Or between the actions of Lincoln and Gorbachev? The press either ignores the parallels or asserts that the two secessions are somehow different.
Of course they’re different; but an analogy stresses what different things have in common. World Wars I & II were very different, yet both centered in an expansionist Germany. Hitler and Napoleon were very different, yet both were conquerors and both came to grief in the Russian winter.
If there is an analogy between the secessions of South Carolina and Lithuania, a major point of similarity or difference is their claims to sovereignty. Lithuania was unquestionably an independent nation between the world wars and, though taken over by the USSR, never yielded its sovereignty, while South Carolina joined the Union of its own free will. No parallel there? Let us look more closely. If South Carolina could join or refuse to join the Union, it was then sovereign. Did it yield that sovereignty? Nothing was said in the Constitution about the Union being indivisible, and nothing to forbid secession. Indeed, Virginia and New York and other states joined the Union with the specific proviso that they could at will resume the powers they delegated and withdraw. The very word ‘state’, as opposed to ‘province’, implied an independent nation. Moreover, when the Constitution was being drawn up, a motion to give the US government the authority to use force against a state-to “coerce” it-was overwhelmingly defeated (constitutionally, Lincoin had no such authority).
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