Liberty Commentary

Sovereignty & the diminished individual

by Michael, Third Palmetto Republic

In this piece the great classical liberal Molinari explains how the individual has not escaped subjection. Earlier he was subject to a king. Now he is subject to a monopoly government. And he can not secede. What is his reward for being under this government? He gets a share in the sovereignty of the regime. But he is only one person and as such he has no real power. He is a subject just as much as if he had a king ruling over him.

[T]he theory of national indivisibility… refuses any right of secession from the State, and this refusal has been sanctioned by rigorous penalties, as if the right of accession to a State did not include the liberty of a withdrawal. The United States interpreted the modern theory of sovereignty thus. The English Colonies voluntarily incorporated themselves in the Union, but when the Southern States desired to withdraw the Northern States compelled them to remain in it by force of arms. In point of fact, the liberty enjoyed by populations voluntarily annexed or united is limited to a right of changing the form of their subjection. They were subject to an oligarchy, personified in a more or less absolute king; they are now the subjects of a nation, whose mouthpiece is a constitutional or republican government. The individual subject enjoys the compensation of a share in the national sovereignty, but the degree, as may be imagined, is not large. In France it is one in thirty-eight million parts.

-Gustave de Molinari, The Society of Tomorrow, pages 52-53