California Secession: A Good Start

On April 23, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla approved language for a 2020 ballot proposal submitted by the Yes California Independence Campaign. The proposal will — assuming the campaign can collect and submit signatures from 365,880 registered voters by October — kick off a process already widely known as “Calexit” (after the United Kingdom’s “Brexit” from the European Union).

That process entails three parts: Asking Californians (in 2020) if they want to “discuss” secession; if yes, asking Californians (in 2021) if they want to secede; and if again yes, asking 2/3 of both houses of Congress and 3/4 of the state legislatures to pass a constitutional amendment allowing California to leave the United States.

Whether or not that last step should be necessary is debatable, but seeing as how the last American secession resulted in a four-year war and a million dead, getting buy-in from DC and the other states might be the wisest course. Either way, if Californians want to go their own way, they should be free to do so, as should other existing states and even smaller areas and groups.

As an independent nation, California would boast the fifth largest economy in the world, and would rank 36th in population (by comparison to the world’s 196 existing countries) and in the top half by area (it’s larger than Hungary, Greece,  or Portugal). It has its own coastline (but its secession would still leave the US with access to the west coast via Oregon and Washington). It has its own border with a country other than the US (Mexico). It relies on other states for energy and water, but making that trade international rather than merely interstate doesn’t seem like an insuperable problem.

In short, California looks like an excellent test case for independence. It mostly has what it needs to function on its own.

As for relationships with other states and with a national capital 2,375 miles from its own, it’s far from obvious that the people of California have so much in common with the people of Texas or Florida or New Hampshire or Wisconsin that all five states need a government in common.

Ultimately, political government itself is the problem and a system of market anarchy or panarchy (competing “public service” providers within the same geographical area) is the solution. Until we can feel our way to such an arrangement, peaceful secession, decentralization, and devolution are probably the best outcomes we can reasonably hope for.

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How to Compromise on the Government Question

The libertarian philosophy posits absolute liberty among consenting individuals. Don’t want the government? You shouldn’t be forced to pay for it or live by its rules. Want the government? You should voluntarily pay for it and voluntarily live by its rules.

But, per the libertarian philosophy, where governments exist they must be voluntary, via fully informed consent.

A radical libertarian believes voluntary association is required in a free society. A pragmatist libertarian believes the philosophy should evolve to include not only non-libertarians, but anti-libertarians.

So how does a libertarian who’s engaged in politics go about political discourse? The bait-and-switch scheme and willful ignorance are in opposition to libertarianism. Libertarian candidates can make the case for voluntary government, but also make the case for voluntary secession from said government.

Policy? It’s easy. The government itself can be a public option. In the face of competition, people can opt for private sector or, via a case-by-case basis, opt for a government service, through user fees.

That’s compromise. Without compromising libertarian principles. Gary Johnson, Bill Weld, Bob Barr, Wayne Allyn Root, Alicia Mattson, Tim Hagan, Larry Sharpe, Alicia Dearn, etc. are examples of pragmatists who seek to make libertarianism indistinguishable from liberals and conservatives.

That’s not to say all radical libertarians are rational, but even the irrational ones understand the philosophy. Want positive change? In the words of Carla Howell: be bold.

You can call for the abolition of mandatory payment (theft) for government education and offensive military without the baggage of “anarchism.” It’s called strategy, without the dishonesty.

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Economic Nationalism: Elitism in Populist Clothing

My old friend and former American Conservative editor Dan McCarthy gets it all wrong about Donald Trump’s “national security” tariffs on aluminum and steel.

I won’t discuss Dan’s strictly economic case for the tariffs — I’ve already discussed this— but I want to draw attention to a few other things, beginning with his lament — which is embraced by many other conservatives and progressives — that the American economy has become a “service economy.” In fact, all economies are service economies, as Bastiat well understood. There is nothing intrinsically better about heavy industry. People grow richer when they produce things that other people value. We have no grounds to disparage “services.”

Dan shows he’s not keeping up when he writes, “[A] middle class is hard to imagine in a postindustrial economy consisting of a tiny capital-controlling elite and a vast population of Amazon warehouse workers.” While I oppose all government measures that have created and fostered the capital-controlling elite, Dan is wrong to disparage service workers as mere warehouse drones. (Not that this sort of work is per se deserving of disparagement.) Paul Thanos writes:

The services sector is wide and diverse and covers a wide array of sectors including retail, financial services, digital services, real estate, hospitality, education, health, social work, computer services, recreation, media, communications, and electricity, gas and water supply.

While employment in manufacturing has indeed declined — beginning before the demonized NAFTA, WTO, and Chinese membership in the latter — manufacturing output has done the opposite. As Mark Perry points out:

In inflation-adjusted constant 2014 dollars, US manufacturing output has increased more than five-fold over the last 67 years, from $410 billion in 1947 to a record-setting level of output last year of $2.09 trillion.… Although we frequently hear claims that the US manufacturing sector is dying or in a state of decline, manufacturing output in the US, except during and following periods of economic contraction like the Great Recession, has continued to increase over time, and reached the highest level of output ever recorded in 2014.

It is mainly technology, not trade, that has done away with old-style factory jobs, so there aren’t so many jobs for Trump’s tariffs to save. Dan says little about the many people who could lose jobs — in export and steel- and aluminum-using industries — because of the tariffs. How is that good for “the country” or the middle class?

But doesn’t the elimination of jobs create hardship for those who have to find new work? Of course. Life is change and adjustment. Instead of trying to thwart that inexorable process, the government should remove its special-interest impediments to adjustment, such as barriers to economic and geographical mobility, among them occupational licensing and land-use restrictions. (See my “How the Government and Special Interests Thwart Economic Mobility.”)

Nor need we worry that manufacturing is down as a percentage of GDP. Perry again:

The decline in manufacturing’s share of U.S. GDP over the last forty years is nearly identical to the decline in world manufacturing as a share of world GDP, which fell from 26.6% in 1970 to 16.2% in 2010. Therefore, we can conclude that the declining share of manufacturing’s contribution to GDP is not unique to America, but reflects a global trend as the world moves from a traditional manufacturing-intensive “Machine Age” economy to more a services-intensive “Information Age” economy. [Emphasis added.]

These developments, of course, have come in an economic order that is far from free. Corporatist government intervention has certainly distorted development here and abroad. But we can be confident a truly free market would also have seen the emergence of a “services-intensive ‘Information Age’ economy.” The big difference, I surmise, is that without government privileges, capital would be more widely owned and, as earlier libertarians predicted, bosses would be hunting up workers rather than vice versa.

Be that as it may, Dan is wrong to believe the “service economy” imperils the middle class. Yes, it’s shrinking, but that’s because people are moving up and out of it. Donald Boudreaux writes: “The American middle class, if it is disappearing, is disappearing – contrary to Mr. McCarthy’s implication – not into the lower class, but into the upper class.”

That calls for emphasis. So let’s turn to Scott Sumner (pay attention to the graph Sumner displays): “The main reason that the middle income group has shrunk is that more and more Americans have incomes above the (arbitrary) cut-off point, and fewer and fewer are either “middle income” or poor.”

Dan also buys the national-security argument for the tariffs, something Trump’s own secretary of defense [sic] does not:

[T]he US military requirements for steel and aluminum each only represent about three percent of US production. Therefore, DoD does not believe that the finds in the [Commerce Department] reports impact the ability of DoD programs to acquire the steel or aluminum necessary to meet national defense requirements.

Moreover, if the U.S. government were not policing the world, its demand for resources and labor would shrink considerably, leaving them available for more and better consumer goods. (For more on the national security canard, see this and this and this.)

Dan warns that if the government does not support strategic industries, the country won’t have the capacity to fight and win wars. He has the Civil War and World War II in mind. This requires further examination. One may reasonably attribute many evils to Lincoln’s violent crusade to preserve the Union, including the emergence of a continental, then hemispheric, then global empire that has wreaked havoc for generations. (Secession would have cut the distance of the Underground Railroad dramatically, shortening the escape route for self-liberated slaves, who would no longer be subject to the federal fugitive-slave law.) About World War II, may I point out that this horror could not have taken place had the U.S. government not had the resources to enter the Great War in 1917? Let’s please do a full accounting. World War II gave a big boost to the Soviet Union and the Chinese communists: aren’t those also to be chalked up as products of the U.S. government’s access to awesome industrial power?

I also want to highlight Dan’s mischaracterization of those he calls “free-trade ideologues” and “extreme free-traders.” He writes:

Free-traders are not indifferent to national security nor blind to the benefits a nation derives from having a middle class. But the priority of goods is different: Free-traders tend to believe that only by making economic efficiency the supreme goal of public policy can those other ends be achieved. Division of labor produces greater wealth, and so free trade makes everyone better off, with the harm to those whose manufacturing jobs are lost outweighed by the good that comes from, say cheaper flat-screen televisions. Dollars decide. The figures are the outward and visible signs of the fundamental economic truth. [Emphasis added.]

The economics discipline certainly has had many practitioners who appear to hold efficiency as the supreme goal of public policy. But radical free-traders never put their main case in those terms. From Adam Smith to Richard Cobden and John Bright to Frédéric Bastiat to Lysander Spooner to Henry George to Herbert Spencer to William Graham Sumner to Benjamin Tucker — and right on through to Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman, and Murray Rothbard, free trade was a primarily matter of individual freedom and the peaceful social cooperation it spawns. Dollars don’t decide. People do.

Yes, the “system of natural liberty” has the invisible-hand effect of enabling people to get the most value at the lowest cost, but “efficiency” was not to be the goal of government policymaking. (See Rothbard’s “The Myth of Efficiency.”) Let’s not confuse principled free-traders with the technocratic professors who spend their time scribbling equations, drawing curves, and describing one-dimensional “economic man’s” pursuit of material wealth. The free-trade movement, which coincided with the antiwar movement, aimed to liberate people so they could make better lives. (To see why economics is not essentially about wealth and efficiency, see my “The Ubiquity of Economic Phenomena.”)

Earlier Dan writes,

Economic nationalists do not accept the blame made by extreme free-traders that any degree of industrial protection must inevitably lead to less national wealth. But so what if it does? If the price of national security and a durable free middle class is a modest reduction in gross domestic product, the economic nationalist is willing to pay it.

Evidently the economic nationalist is not only willing to pay that price himself; he’s also willing to force it on everyone else. What Dan calls “a modest reduction in gross domestic product” may mean a great deal to the poor who struggle to make ends meet, not to mention advance. At any rate, that price isn’t required for a durable and growing (upper) middle class (and beyond) or security. It’s all cost and no benefit.

An indication of the flaw in Dan’s analysis can be found in this sentence: “For 25 years, free-trade orthodoxy has been a bipartisan consensus among America’s policy elite.” Really? Free-trade rhetoric and a lowering of tariffs (mostly in other countries because U.S tariffs were already low) — yes. But the so-called free-trade consensus has produced government-to-government trade agreements that, while moving tariffs in the right direction, have also included carve-outs for American cronies, such as sugar producers, and imposed rigid freedom-infringing intellectual-property regimes on developing countries. Alas, Dan has allowed himself to be fooled by labels.

Dan’s preference for economic nationalism misses something essential: it is elitism in populist clothing. Politicians, bureaucrats, and their “experts” — that is, an elite — would make life-altering decisions for the rest of us. He mocks free-traders for thinking that the “middle class … must take care of itself.” Who does he think should take care of it? Why, better “leaders in Washington” of course.

“Economic nationalism,” he writes, “requires constant balancing and adjustment if it is to be pursued correctly.” And just who is qualified for that delicate job (and why would the voters recognize him)? Dan ought to reread F. A. Hayek’s Nobel address, “The Pretence of Knowledge.” He should also reacquaint himself with the incentive problems elaborated by James Buchanan, Gordon Tullock, and the public choice school.

“Economic nationalists,” Dan writes, “are intent upon protecting not only certain industries but also a multilayered free-market political and economic order that is anchored by a healthy middle class” (emphasis added). Right, and George W. Bush “abandoned free market principles to save the free market system.”

Economic nationalism, obviously, is a kind of nationalism. Thus it’s tribalism, and tribes have a central leadership that demands sacrifice in the name of collective welfare and security. Another nationalist, John F. Kennedy, said, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”

“Neither half of the statement,” Milton Friedman wrote in 1962, “expresses a relation between the citizen and his government that is worthy of the ideals of free men in a free society.”

Radical free-traders recognize the glaring category mistake in Kennedy’s admonition: a country can neither do things for you nor have things done for it.

What free traders oppose and economic nationalists embrace is the presence of rulers who do things to you.

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Nobody asked but …

I’ve just been listening to a BBC report about the reconciliation of BREXIT to the supposed desires of Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, the EU, and the UK.  Sorry, but I have to say “I told you so.”  The leaving of overcomplicated situations is overly complex.  The software design principle reapplies —  high cohesion, low coupling.

— Kilgore Forelle

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Consent of the Governed, Revisited

What gives some people the right to rule others? At least since John Locke’s time, the most common and seemingly compelling answer has been “the consent of the governed.” When the North American revolutionaries set out to justify their secession from the British Empire, they declared, among other things: “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.” This sounds good, especially if one doesn’t think about it very hard or very long, but the harder and longer one thinks about it, the more problematic it becomes.

One question after another comes to mind. Must every person consent? If not, how many must, and what options do those who do not consent have? What form must the consent take ― verbal, written, explicit, implicit? If implicit, how is it to be registered? Given that the composition of society is constantly changing, owing to births, deaths, and international migration, how often must the rulers confirm that they retain the consent of the governed? And so on and on. Political legitimacy, it would appear, presents a multitude of difficulties when we move from the realm of theoretical abstraction to that of practical realization.

I raise this question because in regard to the so-called social contract, I have often had occasion to protest that I haven’t even seen the contract, much less been asked to consent to it. A valid contract requires voluntary offer, acceptance, and consideration. I’ve never received an offer from my rulers, so I certainly have not accepted one; and rather than consideration, I have received nothing but contempt from the rulers, who, notwithstanding the absence of any agreement, have indubitably threatened me with grave harm in the event that I fail to comply with their edicts. What monumental effrontery these people exhibit! What gives them the right to rob me and push me around? It certainly is not my desire to be a sheep for them to shear or slaughter as they deem expedient for the attainment of their own ends.

Moreover, when we flesh out the idea of “consent of the governed” in realistic detail, the whole notion quickly becomes utterly preposterous. Just consider how it would work. A would-be ruler approaches you and offers a contract for your approval. Here, says he, is the deal.

I, the party of the first part (“the ruler”), promise:

(1) To stipulate how much of your money you will hand over to me, as well as how, when, and where the transfer will be made. You will have no effective say in the matter, aside from pleading for my mercy, and if you should fail to comply, my agents will punish you with fines, imprisonment, and (in the event of your persistent resistance) death.

(2) To make thousands upon thousands of rules for you to obey without question, again on pain of punishment by my agents. You will have no effective say in determining the content of these rules, which will be so numerous, complex, and in many cases beyond comprehension that no human being could conceivably know about more than a handful of them, much less their specific character, yet if you should fail to comply with any of them, I will feel free to punish you to the extent of a law made my me and my confederates.

(3) To provide for your use, on terms stipulated by me and my agents, so-called public goods and services. Although you may actually place some value on a few of these goods and services, most will have little or no value to you, and some you will find utterly abhorrent, and in no event will you as an individual have any effective say over the goods and services I provide, notwithstanding any economist’s cock-and-bull story to the effect that you “demand” all this stuff and value it at whatever amount of money I choose to expend for its provision.

(4) In the event of a dispute between us, judges beholden to me for their appointment and salaries will decide how to settle the dispute. You can expect to lose in these settlements, if your case is heard at all.

In exchange for the foregoing government “benefits,” you, the party of the second part (“the subject”), promise:

(5) To shut up, make no waves, obey all orders issued by the ruler and his agents, kowtow to them as if they were important, honorable people, and when they say “jump,” ask only “how high?”

Such a deal! Can we really imagine that any sane person would consent to it?

Yet the foregoing description of the true social contract into which individuals are said to have entered is much too abstract to capture the raw realities of being governed. In enumerating the actual details, no one has ever surpassed Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, who wrote:

To be GOVERNED is to be kept in sight, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, estimated, valued, censured, commanded, by creatures who have neither the right, nor the wisdom, nor the virtue to do so. To be GOVERNED is to be at every operation, at every transaction, noted, registered, enrolled, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be placed under contribution, trained, ransomed, exploited, monopolized, extorted, squeezed, mystified, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, despised, harassed, tracked, abused, clubbed, disarmed, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and, to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, outraged, dishonored. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality. (P.-J. Proudhon, General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century, trans. John Beverley Robinson. London: Freedom Press, 1923, p. 294)

Nowadays, of course, we would have to supplement Proudhon’s admirably precise account by noting that our being governed also entails our being electronically monitored, tracked by orbiting satellites, tased more or less at random, and invaded in our premises by SWAT teams of police, often under the pretext of their overriding our natural right to decide what substances we will ingest, inject, or inhale into what used to be known as “our own bodies.”

So, to return to the question of political legitimacy as determined by the consent of the governed, it appears upon sober reflection that the whole idea is as fanciful as the unicorn. No one in his right mind, save perhaps an incurable masochist, would voluntarily consent to be treated as governments actually treat their subjects.

Nevertheless, very few of us in this country at present are actively engaged in armed rebellion against our rulers. And it is precisely this absence of outright violent revolt that, strange to say, some commentators take as evidence of our consent to the outrageous manner in which the government treats us. Grudging, prudential acquiescence, however, is not the same thing as consent, especially when the people acquiesce, as I do, only in simmering, indignant resignation.

For the record, I can state in complete candor that I do not approve of the manner in which I am being treated by the liars, thieves, and murderers who style themselves the Government of the United States of America or by those who constitute the tyrannical pyramid of state, local, and hybrid governments with which this country is massively infested. My sincere wish is that all of these individuals would, for once in their lives, do the honorable thing. In this regard, I suggest that they resign their positions immediately and seek honest employment.

Addendum on “love it or leave it”: Whenever I write along the foregoing lines, I always receive messages from Neanderthals who, imagining that I “hate America,” demand that I get the hell out of this country and go back to wherever I came from. Such reactions evince not only bad manners, but a fundamental misunderstanding of my grievance.

I most emphatically do not hate America. I was not born in some foreign despotism, but in a domestic one known as Oklahoma, which I understand to be the very heart and soul of this country so far as culture and refinement are concerned. I yield to no one in my affection for the Statue of Liberty, the Rocky Mountains, and the amber waves of grain, not to mention the celebrated jumping frog of Calaveras County. So when I am invited to get out of the country, I feel like someone living in a town taken over by the James Gang who has been told that if he doesn’t like being robbed and bullied by uninvited thugs, he should move to another town. To me, it seems much more fitting that the criminals get out.

Second addendum: The foregoing (along with a few ill-considered sentences that I have now deleted) was first posted by The Beacon blog in June 2010. I stand by it except for the small revisions just mentioned. However, ultimately, in recognition of the zero probability that the U.S. government would ever treat me decently and would almost certainly only demand greater abasement from me over time, I emigrated from the USA in October 2015. I did not go to a free country; no such country exists. But I did escape some of the more menacing and humiliating aspects of life under the U.S. government as well as the state and local tyrannies that hold the American people hostage.

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Lysander Spooner Quote #21

Majorities, as such, afford no guarantees for justice. They are men of the same nature as minorities. They have the same passions for fame, power, and money, as minorities; and are liable and likely to be equally — perhaps more than equally, because more boldly — rapacious, tyrannical and unprincipled, if intrusted with power. There is no more reason, then, why a man should either sustain, or submit to, the rule of the majority, than of a minority.

— Lysander Spooner

We are bound head to toe in the snares of democratic politics.  We have elected a horrendous POTUS with only 1-of-5 votes from the American population.  (I count the entire population because every man, woman, boy, or girl alive in the US today is affected by the current inadequacy of the office and the person of POTUS).

I am certainly not a fan of the Orange POTUS, but please be assured that my estimation of all occupants of the Oval Office is 0-good, 45-bad.  Even estimable occupants, such as Thomas Jefferson, were sorry excuses for governmental administrators.

If one is not a reader of Lysander Spooner, one should be.  Here is a link to electronic versions of most of Spooner’s work.

Now, we should be sure that Spooner is not advocating either majority elections or minority elections.  He is only pointing out the abject failure of such an innumerate idea.  Majority rule was a byproduct of democracy as founded by Cleisthenes in Athens.  Vote-counting on up-or-down issues was a pragmatic tool for crystalizing decision-making.  It was ingenious, as a method for converting indecision to a binary determinant.  Any question that could be couched so as to be answerable with a “yes” or a “no” could be converted to a unary action.  But this was on a very small scale, and those who did the voting were directly interested in the outcome.  They also had the ability to change a vote, restate the matter under consideration, argue a position, explain a position, and a practically unlimited scope of considerations.  This idea, however, is not scaleable.  Today, we often claim that we have a democratic system here in America, but technically we are a republic, where representation replaces direct accountability for the running of a community.  With 300 million people, we cannot give each interested party a vote.  I suspect that Spooner would advise us to scale back to something we could handle.  That would be my recommendation, humbly, as well.  If one bites off more than one can chew, handle it!  Make the next bite right-sized.

Individual A must deal with Individual B — there is no practical means for A interacting with B when it can only be done through Individual C.  The first failing point is that either Individual C would have to declare herself superior to A and B, to make anything stick, or C would have to be empowered by Entity D to rule over A and B.  Any working arrangement that involves more than two individuals has too many moving parts, too many points of friction, too many points of failure.

For a 3-way relationship to work, unit C must be totally indifferent to the outcomes of matters between A and B.  Yet C must devote its very existence to the watching of A and B.  What could go wrong?  One has to wonder how C could be bound to the oversight of A and B, if C had no interest in the doings of A and/or B.  What if it is not beneficial to C to make a decision that is acceptable to A and B.  Shall C be indifferent?  Worse yet, what if other relations of C, say E and F and so forth had their very lives dependent on C making a decision that would make A and/or B very unhappy?

I have taken a great deal of interest lately in international practices of partition or inclusion.  A very hot case right now would be where there is sentiment in Catalonia, a province of Spain, to secede from Spain, to become an independent sovereign.  My sympathies go with Catalonia, as they would with any other secession that is initiated within the territory of the would-be seceder.  But then, I run into the problem of how exactly is determined the true inclination of the territory?  If there is a vote initiative, what percentage of the voters would indicate a fair consensus for or against secession?  Would a simple majority of registered voters do the trick?  I say no, since voter registration laws always work to the reduction of the population who are even qualified to express an opinion.  Therefore a majority of registered voters is not automatically a majority of the whole population.

To solve that problem, might we (and who is “we?”) require a super majority like 60% or two-thirds of the voter base, or a majority, greater than half, of the population?  Then, what of the people in the minority?  Is there any justification for changing the statehood status for a whole block of people based on an arbitrary part of the whole?

To take a current example, I am assured in saying that there is some remnant of Northern Ireland who are vitally interested in staying loyal to the British Crown, just as certainly as there is a block who wish to become loyal to the Republic of Ireland.  This should not be to exclude those who would opt for independence of Ulster.

In the British Isles, there have been two recent plebescites that have left many unhappy excluded people in their wake.  Scotland narrowly decided to stay in the Commonwealth, disappointing the slightly smaller contingent who wanted separation.  Then the UK voted in BREXIT to leave the European Union (EU).  Since we know that vote was very close, we know that either way there is no method for figuring out how a true majority of the total population would have chosen.  We do know that BREXIT may have been viewed differently in Northern Ireland, where perhaps a majority wished to remain in the same politico/market basket with the rest of the Irish Island.

Another problem in Catalonia was that the people there were contemplating secession in a relatively peaceful manner, demonstrating and voting.  But then Spain, in the embodiment of central government from Madrid, tried to prevent a peaceful vote by intervention, ousting officials and usurping police powers.  Spain went so far as to close down polling places by force, as I understand it.  Let me state another principle here.  The retention of a former state or the formation of a new state should not be as a result of intervention from beyond the territory in question.

While we see that the Catalonia story is hanging from coercive, authoritarian, statist action, we know that in other parts of the world self-determination is being forestalled or advanced through military action, plainly, warfare, such as invasion, bombing, embargo, and sanctions.  Whichever contingent is pursuing territory by violence  is in the wrong.  But two wrongs don’t make a right.  Partitioning by third parties — as in the Iraq coalition thinking about dividing Iraq into Kurdistan, Sunnistan, and Shi’istan  — has little chance of being satisfactory.  One need look no further than Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh — an unsettlement created as a parting shot by the British as they were escorted from the Indian subcontinent.

I am not sure what is the right course, going forward, but I am a strong proponent of Spooner’s sentiment that subjugation of any territory by any statist construct is wholly objectionable — to the extent that such should be resisted to the nth-degree, with one’s last dying breath.  There are no cases in this world where a corralled peopled were better off than if they had not been corralled.  It would be much simpler if we had established principles of non-imperialism two centuries ago.

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