Mr. Christopher Butler asks that common question in a recent essay here at The Hayride. He and others believe that reliance on federal largesse poses a nearly impossible obstacle to surmount to States that wish to part ways with, or re-configure in major ways, the current union. But is it?
The answer is quite easy on this point – No, it is not insurmountable. Let us look at Louisiana in particular. A normal budget for Louisiana is in the neighborhood of $30-35 billion. Early in the JBE years, for instance, before hurricane and covid relief from the federal government dramatically inflated it, the FY 2017-8 budget was $29.5 billion. $16.3 billion was raised by State taxes; $13.2 billion came via the federal government. Thus, if Louisiana decided to separate from DC, she would have a $13 billion budget gap to fill. That sounds awfully big until one takes a look at how much income tax our State sends to DC, which in the same time period totaled about $39 billion. With that tax revenue being redirected to Baton Rouge instead of DC, the budget deficit would be covered in its entirely, and there would still be plenty left over.
Financial self-sufficiency would not be a problem for an independent Louisiana. What does pose a genuine danger is the collective character of Louisianans. A powerful writer in defense of Christianity and tradition, one of Louisiana’s French kinsmen, the counter-revolutionary Chateaubriand, once said that a major defect of the French character is its frivolity. And Louisiana, despite the addition of more serious, down-to-earth ethnic groups like the English, Celts, Vietnamese, and others, retains this flaw of our first settlers from France. The unseriousness of carnival/Mardi Gras permeates much of Louisiana culture, and it is this that ultimately threatens any attempt by Louisiana to separate from woke/globalist Blue States, as buffoonish leaders and corrupt morals inside and outside of government destroy a people far more quickly than weak GDP numbers.
The cure for that is to strengthen the religious and cultural fabric of our State. There are many heroes who can help us in this task. Some Christian heroes in particular include three saints whose feast days are celebrated about this time of year. The way of life of St. Enda (+530), the praiseworthy abbot of Inishmore, the founder of Irish monasticism, and his monks can inspire us all to repentance and lofty deeds. It is said of them,
The holy Abbot Enda and his brethren led an extremely austere ascetic life, imitating the Desert Fathers of Egypt. Each monastic community comprised a church or chapel with a number of monastic cells. On Inishmore monks practiced manual labor and devoted most of their time to fasting, prayer and studying the Holy Scriptures. Apart from tiny stone ascetic monastic cells, the monks lived in separate caves or isolated sketes, as many of them chose the ascetic traditions of the ancient fathers. Under St. Enda it was not allowed to kindle fire in monastic cells of Inishmore even in very cold weather, the monks’ clothing was very humble, and they normally refrained from any conversations during their meal in the monastery refectory. The diet of Inishmore monks was very simple and consisted of bread, cereals, and water. Fish and milk were a rarity, while wine and meat were a luxury and allowed only in extreme cases (occasionally on great feasts or during illness). St. Enda and many of his close disciples did not taste meat at all. In addition, the climate of Inishmore was too cold to grow fruit.
The brethren slept on the bare ground of their cells or laid down a bundle of straw. They had a flock of sheep which provided them with wool to weave their clothes. They toiled on the land, grew barley and oats, baked bread and did many other things with their own hands. In spite of these austere customs, hundreds of ascetics settled on this holy island, and Inishmore became a shining light of holiness in Western Europe for many centuries. Notwithstanding the coldness of the monastic cells, the ascetics did not feel cold as their hearts were glowing with ardent divine love. A cloud of future missionaries, who studied in this island monastic city, absorbed its spirit of love, community, sanctity and prayer, disseminating this radiant light to many foreign lands that had before been pagan.
The fame of St. Enda spread far and wide. The loving care of the holy abbot was directed not only toward monks, but also at the poor, the oppressed and suffering. According to tradition, he ordered the monks to build “eight places for refuge” on the island, where all who had nowhere else to go could find shelter and care. St. Columba who had visited Inishmore in his early youth was so impressed by its atmosphere that he described it as “the second Rome for pilgrims”, “the Sun of the West” (the Aran Islands lie to the west of the westernmost country of Europe) and witnessed that the glory of Inishmore was so bright that “even the angels of God descended from heaven and worshipped in its churches.” It was said that Columba went into mourning on the day he had to leave Inishmore. For many, Inishmore was in some sense like an image of Paradise. Many wanted it to be the site of their resurrection so they dreamed of being buried on Inishmore.
There is the true ‘city on a hill,’ folks. And yet they are not alone as luminaries. The lives of two French saints, Romanus and Lupicinus (+5th century) who helped to establish monasticism in France, also make for inspirational reading, along with many others from our past.
By remembering the lives of men and women like them, by teaching our children about them, by imitating them to the best of our ability, by re-establishing and promoting monasticism, chivalry, etc., we can change our culture for the better: not completely rejecting the idea of festivity, but taming it enough that Louisiana can survive and flourish, whether the times be good or bad.
And we must be prepared for either. Major changes are taking place in the world. As Dr. Steve Turley never ceases to mention, the Western, secular, globalist, unipolar world order is giving way to a multipolar world order under the sway of several large and powerful countries who adhere to principles more in line with traditional religions/morality. The effects of this transition will be felt here in the US, too. We must be prepared for the unexpected.
This takes us back to where we started, with Mr. Butler’s thoughts on the impossibility of a breakup of the current union of States. In the 1770s, no one would have believed that 13 rustic colonies of the British Empire, one of the most powerful empires in the world, would defeat that Empire in war and become independent nations in their own right by 1783, or that they would expand and eclipse that Empire in economic and military might less than 200 years later. History is fraught with change and unexpected turns. Louisiana, the South, and all the other States would be foolish to believe that the current political configuration will go on existing – static, unalterable – like one of Plato’s divine forms. In these days, as the old saying goes, we must expect the unexpected.