Free Capitalist Network - Community Archive
Mises Community Archive
An online community for fans of Austrian economics and libertarianism, featuring forums, user blogs, and more.

The secession approach to convert people to anarchy

rated by 0 users
This post has 12 Replies | 4 Followers

Top 100 Contributor
Male
Posts 853
Points 17,830
Graham Wright Posted: Sun, Jan 24 2010 3:36 PM

I want to share with you an extraordinary success I've had in the last few days converting a conservative friend of mine to a 'quasi-anarchy' position, just by sending him an article and asking him a few simple questions. 

As a bit of background, this guy is very smart, loves politics (Conservative Party) and is always intrigued by my views.  We've talked endlessly about how a free market in education, health, the environment, roads, security, courts, law, etc, is superior to a monopoly, both economically and ethically.  While he takes a free market position on more things then he used to, overall he is not convinced of the case for libertarianism or anarchy. 

After about a year, his position has shifted towards mine only a tiny bit.  He still thinks I am an idealist, a utopian, and an extremist.  He talks about how 'impractical' and 'unrealistic' my radical views are, and tells me if I want to make a real difference I should work within the Libertarian Party for incremental changes in government policy.

But a few days ago I sent him Let’s Try Everything – Local Autonomy And Innovation In Government.  Here is the whole remarkable email exchange between us...

Me:
What do you think of the ideas in this article?

Him:
Very good.  I agree with it.  What do you think?

Me:
I think its potentially a more fruitful way of acheiving liberty than arguing directly for 'libertarian policies', which is the traditional approach of the liberty movement.  I think we've discussed this before but I can't remember what you said... would you support Scotland seceeding from the UK at all, and under what circumstances?  What about Cornwall?

Him:
If the people of Scotland and Cornwall express a clear definitive majority opinion to secede then they should be able to.  However:
- 50% of those voting but < than 50% of those entitled to vote is not a clear definitive majority (as a minimum 50% of those entitled to vote should be required) 
- The countries should not assume any rights with respect to the country they are seceding from.  Eg the rest of the UK would be entitled to treat the citizens of Scotland as foreign citizens. 
- If parts of scotland or cornwall express either a desire to secede in their own right or to remain within the UK then this should be allowed. .
 
Personally I´ve always hoped that Scotland would not secede, but that article made me think that perhaps there could be substantial benefits.

Me:
Those conditions sound reasonable.
 
You say "parts of Scotland or Cornwall"... does it make any difference how small the part is?  Is there a minimum size below which you think a region should not be allowed to secede?
 
For example, what about if >50% of those eligible to vote in Oxford were to express a desire to secede from the UK and set up an independent city-state?  Should this be allowed?

Him:
I was thinking about this.  It would seem sensible to impose this but it creates a who decides problem. The truth is that there is no need - if an area is genuinely too small to survive on it's own then it it's citizens wouldn't vote to secede anyway.

Me:
What do you mean by a who decides problem?

Him:
Who decides what the minimum size is?  If one state is trying to secede from the other why should the state being seceded from have a right to impose a minimum size?  Who else would have the right (a "world government").  In practice you wouldn't want too small a state as it would be impractical and unsustainable, but surely the people seceding should have the right to decide this (i.e. they wouldn't want to secede only to fail).

Me:
I agree.  So, in theory then, if you had a really small group - like a village community - that decided to give it a try and see if they could make a small 'village-state' that was both practical and sustainable, they should be allowed to do this.  Maybe it would work and maybe it wouldn't.  But it would be wrong for the state they were seceding from to say no they can't secede, no matter how small the group is.

Him:
That's right, but in practice if the state they were seceding from wanted to be difficult it would be impossible for the village to do anything, like trade etc, particularly if surrounded by the state they are seceding from.

So he is now, in principle at least, an anarchist.  A fruitful approach indeed.

  • | Post Points: 50
Top 75 Contributor
Male
Posts 1,129
Points 16,635
Giant_Joe replied on Sun, Jan 24 2010 3:43 PM

Good job and thanks for telling the experience. It helps people with trying new approaches.

I'm going to say this was an easy case though, since you claim he is smart. :p Anyone smart should be able to recognize the truth about such matters.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 25 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,959
Points 55,095
Spideynw replied on Sun, Jan 24 2010 4:54 PM

So why don't you take it to the obvious conclusion that an individual should be able to claim sovereignty? 

Regardless, I like the line of thinking very much.  I will have to incorporate this.

At most, I think only 5% of the adult population would need to stop cooperating to have real change.

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,209
Points 35,645
Merlin replied on Mon, Jan 25 2010 8:36 AM

By far the easiest way to introduce anarchy into a discussion. Even if the word “anarchy” won’t be specifically mentioned, it’s till there. Well done.

The Regression theorem is a memetic equivalent of the Theory of Evolution. To say that the former precludes the free emergence of fiat currencies makes no more sense that to hold that the latter precludes the natural emergence of multicellular organisms.
  • | Post Points: 5
Top 200 Contributor
Posts 444
Points 7,395

balkanization is a "good enough" solution in my book.  competition in governance will result in better customer service.

  • | Post Points: 35
Top 50 Contributor
Posts 2,491
Points 43,390
scineram replied on Mon, Jan 25 2010 10:14 AM

Because balkanian costumers are well served.

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 25 Contributor
Posts 4,532
Points 84,495
Stranger replied on Mon, Jan 25 2010 10:26 AM

nazgulnarsil:

balkanization is a "good enough" solution in my book.  competition in governance will result in better customer service.

If anything balkanization was a demonstration of the failure of nationalism, in that a country that had been united and shared amongst multiple nationalities for centuries was suddenly torn apart in a violent civil war when it adopted democratic politics.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 75 Contributor
Male
Posts 1,129
Points 16,635
Giant_Joe replied on Mon, Jan 25 2010 11:18 AM

Stranger:

nazgulnarsil:

balkanization is a "good enough" solution in my book.  competition in governance will result in better customer service.

If anything balkanization was a demonstration of the failure of nationalism, in that a country that had been united and shared amongst multiple nationalities for centuries was suddenly torn apart in a violent civil war when it adopted democratic politics.

Sorry, but this is just plain wrong.

And I'm not going to spend my time giving history lessons on the subject. There is a lot of material out there covering the history of the region.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 25 Contributor
Posts 4,532
Points 84,495
Stranger replied on Mon, Jan 25 2010 12:12 PM

Giant_Joe:

Sorry, but this is just plain wrong.

And I'm not going to spend my time giving history lessons on the subject. There is a lot of material out there covering the history of the region.

Okay thanks.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,209
Points 35,645
Merlin replied on Mon, Jan 25 2010 1:45 PM

Comparing the Balkans with an imaginary state construction would be wrong. What we need to do is compare it with the situation that would have ensued should former Yugoslavia still exist: do you think Croats, Slovenes, Montenegrin, even Serbs and Bosnians would be as wealthy as they are now? I can testify that many reform implemented in Albania would not have been undertaken hadn’t Macedonia implemented similar tax cuts. Hey, with the exception of tax-heavens, Albania, Montenegro and Macedonia have now the lowest tax rates in the whole continent, and only because they’re competing all the time for FDIs. Could a unified state have achieved this much? Did former Yugoslavia strike anyone as “business friendly”? Have France, or Germany, or the UK achieved  half as much?

The Regression theorem is a memetic equivalent of the Theory of Evolution. To say that the former precludes the free emergence of fiat currencies makes no more sense that to hold that the latter precludes the natural emergence of multicellular organisms.
  • | Post Points: 5
Top 100 Contributor
Male
Posts 853
Points 17,830

Spideynw:
So why don't you take it to the obvious conclusion that an individual should be able to claim sovereignty?

Because I want him to think about it and reach this conclusion for himself.

  • | Post Points: 5
Top 50 Contributor
Male
Posts 2,551
Points 46,635
AJ replied on Mon, Jan 25 2010 7:56 PM

Wow, nice job. We ought to catalog the most common paths people take to anarchy, perhaps according to original political bent. Small government folks seems to be agreeable to this path. For instance, Mises mentioned that the right of auto-determination should be extended down to the individual "if possible."

Rothbard lays out the general arc of this argument quite well in Anatomy of the State (see the section entitled "How the State Transcends Its Limits" midway through). His analysis also shows how people can accept the secession part of the argument but somehow not make the connection all the way down to individual secession.

trulib:
But it would be wrong for the state they were seceding from to say no they can't secede, no matter how small the group is.

Him: That's right

Hopefully he makes the final jump.

  • | Post Points: 20
Top 500 Contributor
Male
Posts 244
Points 3,785
Pablo replied on Mon, Jan 25 2010 8:10 PM

AJ:

Wow, nice job. We ought to catalog the most common paths people take to anarchy, perhaps according to original political bent. Small government folks seems to be agreeable to this path. For instance, Mises mentioned that the right of auto-determination should be extended down to the individual "if possible."

I think that would be a brilliant idea. This should have its own section in the forums. Putting our heads together to find ways of spreading the message of individual secession and freedom would greatly speed up the downfall of the state. Yes Beer

  • | Post Points: 5
Page 1 of 1 (13 items) | RSS