Cape Republic

Please Support cape Republic

Please Support Cape Republic

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 3,381 other followers

Western Cape REIT Spear FY19 presentation



Classical Liberalism versus Anarchocapitalism

Classical Liberalism versus Anarchocapitalism

  • hains_0.PNG


In this first decade of the 21st century, liberal thought, in both its theoretical and political aspects, has reached a historic crossroads. Although the fall of the Berlin Wall and of real socialism beginning in 1989 appeared to herald “the end of history” (to use Francis Fukuyama’s unfortunate and overblown phrase), today, and in many respects more than ever, statism prevails throughout the world, accompanied by the demoralization of freedom lovers.

Therefore, an “aggiornamento” of liberalism is imperative. It is time to thoroughly revise liberal doctrine and bring it up to date in light of the latest advances in economic science, and the experience the latest historical events have provided.

This revision must begin with an acknowledgement that classical liberals have failed in their attempt to limit the power of the state and that today economic science is in a position to explain why this failure was inevitable. The next step is to focus on the dynamic theory of the entrepreneurship-driven processes of social cooperation that give rise to the spontaneous order of the market. This theory can be expanded and transformed into a full-fledged analysis of the anarchocapitalist system of social cooperation, which reveals itself as the only system that is truly viable and compatible with human nature.

In this article, we will analyze these issues in detail, along with a series of additional, practical considerations regarding scientific and political strategy. Moreover, we will make use of this analysis to correct certain common misunderstandings and errors of interpretation.

The Fatal Error of Classical Liberalism

The fatal error of classical liberals lies in their failure to realize that their ideal is theoretically impossible, as it contains the seed of its own destruction, precisely to the extent that it includes the necessary existence of a state (even a minimal one), understood as the sole agent of institutional coercion.

Therefore, classical liberals commit their great error in their approach: they view liberalism as a plan of political action and a set of economic principles, the goal of which is to limit the power of the state while accepting its existence and even deeming it necessary. However, today (in the first decade of the 21st century) economic science has already shown:

  1. that the state is unnecessary;
  2. that statism (even if minimal) is theoretically impossible; and
  3. that, given human nature, once the state exists, it is impossible to limit its power.

We will comment on each of these matters separately.

The State as an Unnecessary Body

From a scientific perspective, only the mistaken paradigm of equilibrium could encourage belief in a category of “public goods” in which satisfaction of the criteria of joint supply and nonrivalry in consumption would justify, prima facie, the existence of a body with a monopoly on institutional coercion (the state) that would oblige everyone to finance those goods.

Nevertheless, the dynamic, Austrian conception of the spontaneous order that entrepreneurship drives has demolished this entire theory put forward to justify the state: the emergence of any case (real or apparent) of a “public good,” i.e., joint supply and nonrivalry in consumption, is accompanied by the incentives necessary for the impetus of entrepreneurial creativity to find a better solution via technological and legal innovations and entrepreneurial discoveries which make it possible to overcome any problem that may arise (as long as the resource is not declared “public” and the free exercise of entrepreneurship is permitted, along with the accompanying private appropriation of the fruits of each creative, entrepreneurial act).

For instance, in the United Kingdom, the lighthouse system was for many years privately owned and financed, and private procedures (sailors’ associations, port fees, spontaneous social monitoring, etc.) offered an effective solution to the “problem” of what “statist” economics textbooks depict as the most typical example of a “public good.” Likewise, in the American Far West, the problem arose of defining and defending property rights concerning, for instance, head of cattle in vast expanses of land. Various entrepreneurial innovations which resolved the problems as they arose were gradually introduced (cattle branding, constant supervision by armed cowboys on horseback, and finally, the discovery and introduction of barbed wire, which, for the first time, permitted the effective separation of great stretches of land at a very affordable price).

This creative flow of entrepreneurial innovation would have been completely blocked if the resources had been declared “public,” excluded from private ownership, and bureaucratically managed by a state agency. (Today, for instance, most streets and highways are closed to the adoption of innumerable entrepreneurial innovations — the collection of a toll per vehicle and hour, the private management of security and noise pollution, etc. — despite the fact that most such innovations no longer pose any technological problem. Nevertheless, the goods in question have been declared “public,” which precludes their privatization and creative, entrepreneurial management.)

Furthermore, most people believe the state is necessary because they confuse its existence (unnecessary) with the essential nature of many of the services and resources it currently (and poorly) provides, and over the provision of which it exercises a monopoly (almost always under the pretext of their public nature). People observe that today highways, hospitals, schools, public order, etc. are largely supplied by the state, and since these are highly necessary, people conclude without further analysis that the state is as well.

They fail to realize that the above-mentioned resources can be produced to a much higher standard of quality as well as more efficiently, economically, and in tune with the varied and changing needs of each individual, through the spontaneous market order, entrepreneurial creativity, and private property. Moreover, people make the mistake of believing the state is also necessary to protect the defenseless, poor, and destitute (“small” stockholders, ordinary consumers, workers, etc.), yet people do not understand that supposedly protective measures have the systematic result, as economic theory demonstrates, of harming in each case precisely those they are claimed to protect, and thus one of the clumsiest and stalest justifications for the existence of the state disappears.

Rothbard maintained that the set of goods and services the state currently supplies can be divided into two subsets: those goods and services which should be eliminated, and those which should be privatized. Clearly, the goods mentioned in the above paragraph belong to the second group, and the disappearance of the state, far from meaning the disappearance of highways, hospitals, schools, public order, etc., would mean their provision in greater abundance, at higher standards, and at a more reasonable price (always with respect to the actual cost citizens currently pay via taxes).

In addition, we must point out that the historical episodes of institutional chaos and public disorder we could cite (for example, many instances during the years prior to and during the Spanish Civil War and Second Republic, or today in broad areas of Colombia or in Iraq) stem from a vacuum in the provision of these goods, a situation created by the states themselves, which neither do with a minimum of efficiency what in theory they should do, according to their own supporters, nor let the private, entrepreneurial sector do, since the state prefers disorder (which also appears to more strongly legitimize its coercive presence) to its dismantling and privatization at all levels.

It is particularly important to understand that the definition, acquisition, transmission, exchange, and defense of the property rights which coordinate and drive the social process do not require a body with a monopoly on violence (the state). On the contrary, the state invariably acts by trampling on numerous legitimate property titles, defending them very poorly, and corrupting the (moral and legal) behavior of individuals with respect to the private property rights of others.

The legal system is the evolutionary manifestation of the general legal principles (especially regarding ownership) compatible with human nature. Therefore, the state does not determine the law (democratically or otherwise). Instead, the law is contained in human nature, though it is discovered and consolidated in an evolutionary manner, in terms of precedent and, mainly, doctrine.

(We view the Roman, continental legal tradition, with its more abstract and doctrinal nature, as far superior to the Anglo-Saxon system of common law, which originates from disproportionate state support for legal rulings or judgments. These judgments, through binding case law, introduce into the legal system all sorts of dysfunctions that spring from the specific and prevailing circumstances and interests in each case.) Law is evolutionary and rests on custom, and hence, it precedes and is independent of the state, and it does not require, for its definition and discovery, any agency with a monopoly on coercion.

Not only is the state unnecessary to define the law; it is also unnecessary to enforce and defend it. This should be especially obvious these days, when the use — even, paradoxically, by many government agencies — of private security companies has become quite common.

This is not the place to present a detailed account of how the private provision of what today are considered “public goods” would work (though the lack of a priori knowledge of how the market would solve countless specific problems is the naïve, facile objection of those who favor the current status quo under the pretext, “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t”). In fact, we cannot know today what entrepreneurial solutions an army of enterprising individuals would find for particular problems — if they were allowed to do so. Nevertheless, even the most skeptical person must admit that “we now know” that the market, driven by creative entrepreneurship, works, and it works precisely to the extent that the state does not coercively intervene in this social process.

It is also essential to recognize that difficulties and conflicts invariably arise precisely in areas where the free, spontaneous order of the market is hindered. Thus, regardless of the efforts made from the time of Gustav de Molinari to the present to imagine how an anarchocapitalist network of private security and defense agencies, each in support of more or less marginally alternative legal systems, would work, freedom theorists must never forget that what prevents us from knowing what a stateless future would be like — the creative nature of entrepreneurship — is precisely what offers us the peace of knowing that any problem will tend to be overcome, as the people involved will devote all of their effort and creativity to solving it.1

Economic science has taught us not only that the market works, but also that statism is theoretically impossible.

Why Statism Is Theoretically Impossible

The Austrian economic theory of the impossibility of socialism can be expanded2 and transformed into a complete theory on the impossibility of statism, understood as the attempt to organize any sphere of life in society via coercive commands which involve intervention, regulation, and control and emanate from the body with a monopoly on institutional aggression (the state). The state cannot possibly achieve its coordination goals in any part of the social-cooperation process in which it attempts to intervene, especially the spheres of money and banking,3 the discovery of law, the dispensing of justice, and public order (understood as the prevention, suppression, and punishment of criminal acts), for the following four reasons:

  1. The state would need a huge volume of information, and this information is only found in a dispersed or diffuse form in the minds of the millions of people who participate each day in the social process.
  2. The information the intervening body would need for its commands to exert a coordinating effect is predominantly tacit and inarticulable in nature, and thus it cannot be transmitted with absolute clarity.
  3. The information society uses is not “given;” it changes constantly as a result of human creativity. Hence, there is obviously no possibility of transmitting today information which will only be created tomorrow and which is precisely the information the agent of state intervention needs to achieve its objectives tomorrow.
  4. Finally and above all, to the extent state commands are obeyed and exert the desired effect on society, their coercive nature blocks the entrepreneurial creation of the very information the intervening state body most desperately needs to make its own commands coordinating (rather than maladjusting).

Not only is statism theoretically impossible, but it also produces a whole series of distorting and highly damaging peripheral effects: the encouragement of irresponsibility (as the authorities do not know the true cost of their intervention, they act irresponsibly); the destruction of the environment when it is declared a public good and its privatization is prevented; the corruption of the traditional concepts of law and justice, which are replaced by commands and “social” justice;4 and the imitative corruption of individuals’ behavior, which becomes more and more aggressive and less and less respectful of morality and law.

The above analysis also permits us to conclude that if certain societies thrive nowadays, they do so not because of the state, but in spite of it.5 For many people are still accustomed to behavior patterns that are subject to substantive laws; areas of greater relative freedom remain; and the state tends to be very inefficient at imposing its invariably clumsy, blind commands. Furthermore, even the most marginal increases in freedom provide great boosts to prosperity, which illustrates how far civilization could advance without the hindrance of statism.

Finally, we have already commented on the false belief held by all those who identify the state with the provision of the (“public”) goods it now provides (poorly and at great cost) and who wrongly conclude that the disappearance of the state would necessarily mean the disappearance of its valuable services. This conclusion is drawn in an environment of constant political indoctrination at all levels (especially in the educational system, which no state wishes to lose control of, for obvious reasons), an environment where standards of “political correctness” are dictatorially imposed, and the status quo is rationalized by a complacent majority, which refuses to see the obvious: that the state is nothing but an illusion created by a minority to live at others’ expense, others who are first exploited, then corrupted, and then paid with outside resources (taxes) for all sorts of political “favors.”

The Impossibility of Limiting the Power of the State: Its “Lethal” Character in Combination with Human Nature

Once the state exists, it is impossible to limit the expansion of its power. Granted, as Hoppe indicates, certain forms of government (like absolute monarchies, in which the king-owner will, ceteris paribus, be more careful in the long term to avoid “killing the goose that lays the golden eggs”) will tend to expand their power and intervene somewhat less than others (like democracies, in which there are no real incentives to worry about what will happen after the next elections). It is also true that in certain historical circumstances, the interventionist tide has appeared to have been dammed to a certain extent.

Nevertheless, the historical analysis is irrefutable: the state has not ceased to grow.6 And it has not ceased to grow because the mixture of human nature and the state, as an institution with a monopoly on violence, is “explosive.” The state acts as an irresistibly powerful magnet which attracts and propels the basest passions, vices, and facets of human nature. People attempt to sidestep the state’s commands yet take advantage of its monopolistic power as much as possible.

Moreover, in democratic contexts particularly, the combined effect of the action of privileged interest groups, the phenomena of government shortsightedness and vote buying, the megalomaniacal nature of politicians, and the irresponsibility and blindness of bureaucracies amounts to a dangerously unstable and explosive cocktail. This mixture is continually shaken by social, economic, and political crises which, paradoxically, politicians and social “leaders” never fail to use as justification for subsequent doses of intervention, and these merely create new problems while exacerbating existing ones even further.

The state has become the “idol” everyone turns to and worships. Statolatry is without a doubt the most serious and dangerous social disease of our time. We are taught to believe all problems can and should be detected in time and solved by the state. Our destiny lies in the hands of the state, and the politicians who govern it must guarantee us everything our well-being demands. Human beings remain immature and rebel against their own creative nature (an essential quality which makes their future inescapably uncertain).

They demand a crystal ball to ensure not only that they know what will happen in the future, but also that any problems which arise will be resolved. This “infantilization” of the masses is deliberately fostered by politicians and social leaders, since in this way they publicly justify their existence and guarantee their popularity, predominance, and governing capacity. Furthermore, a legion of intellectuals, professors, and social engineers join in this arrogant binge of power.

Not even the most respectable churches and religious denominations have reached an accurate diagnosis of the problem: that today statolatry poses the main threat to free, moral, and responsible human beings; that the state is an enormously powerful false idol which is worshipped by all and which will not countenance anyone’s freeing himself from its control nor having moral or religious loyalties outside its own sphere of dominance.

In fact, the state has managed something which might appear impossible a priori: it has slyly and systematically distracted the citizenry from the fact that the true origin of social conflicts and evils lies with the government itself, by creating scapegoats everywhere (“capitalism,” the desire for profit, private property). The state then places the blame for problems on these scapegoats and makes them the target of popular anger and of the severest and most emphatic condemnation from moral and religious leaders, almost none of whom has seen through the deception nor dared until now to denounce that in this century, statolatry represents the chief threat to religion, morality, and thus, human civilization.7

Just as the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 provided the best historical illustration of the theorem of the impossibility of socialism, the huge failure of classical-liberal theorists and politicians to limit the power of the state perfectly illustrates the theorem of the impossibility of statism, specifically the fact that the liberal state is self-contradictory (as it is coercive, even if “limited”) and theoretically impossible (since once we accept the existence of the state, it is impossible to limit the expansion of its power). In short, the “law-based state” is an unattainable ideal and a contradiction in terms as flagrant as that of “hot snow, wanton virgin, fat skeleton, round square,”8 or that evident in the ideas of “social engineers” and neoclassical economists when they refer to a “perfect market” or the so-called “perfect-competition model.”9

Anarchocapitalism as the Only Possible System of Social Cooperation Truly Compatible with Human Nature

Statism runs counter to human nature, since it consists of the systematic, monopolistic exercise of a coercion which, in all areas where it is felt (including those corresponding to the definition of law and the maintenance of public order), blocks the creativity and entrepreneurial coordination which are precisely the most typical and essential manifestations of human nature. Furthermore, as we have already seen, statism fosters and drives irresponsibility and moral corruption, as it diverts the focus of human behavior toward a privileged pulling on the reins of political power, within a context of ineradicable ignorance that makes it impossible to know the costs of each government action. The above effects of statism appear whenever a state exists, even if every attempt is made to limit its power, an unattainable goal which renders classical liberalism a scientifically unfeasible utopia.

It is absolutely necessary to overcome the “utopian liberalism” of our predecessors, the classical liberals, who were both naïve in thinking the state could be limited, and incoherent in failing to carry their ideas to their logical conclusion and accept the implications. Hence, today, with the 21st century well under way, our top priority should be to allow the (utopian and naïve) classical liberalism of the 19th century to be superseded by its new, truly scientific, and modern formulation, which we could call libertarian capitalism, private property anarchism, or simply, anarchocapitalism. For it makes no sense for liberals to continue saying the same things they said one hundred fifty years ago when, well into the 21st century, and despite the fall of the Berlin Wall nearly twenty years ago, states have not ceased to grow and encroach upon people’s individual freedoms in all areas.

Anarchocapitalism (or “libertarianism”) is the purest representation of the spontaneous market order in which all services, including those of defining law, justice, and public order, are provided through an exclusively voluntary process of social cooperation, which thus becomes the focal point of research in modern economic science. In this system, no area is closed to the drive of human creativity and entrepreneurial coordination, and hence efficiency and fairness increase in the solution of problems, and all of the conflicts, inefficiencies, and maladjustments which bodies with a monopoly on violence (states) invariably cause simply by virtue of existing, are eradicated.

Moreover, the proposed system eliminates the corrupting incentives created by the state, and in contrast fosters the most moral and responsible human behaviors, while preventing the emergence of any monopolistic body (state) which legitimizes the systematic use of violence and the exploitation of certain social groups (those which have no choice but to obey) by others (those which at any time have the tightest hold on the reins of state power).

Anarchocapitalism is the only system which fully recognizes the free, creative nature of human beings and their perpetual capacity to internalize increasingly moral behavior patterns in an environment in which, by definition, no one can arrogate to himself the right to exercise monopolistic, systematic coercion. In short, in an anarchocapitalist system, any entrepreneurial project can be tried if it attracts enough voluntary support, and therefore many possible creative solutions can be devised in a dynamic and constantly changing environment of voluntary cooperation.

The progressive replacement of states by a dynamic network of private agencies which back different legal systems and also provide all sorts of security, crime prevention, and defense services constitutes the most important item on the political and scientific agenda, as well as the most momentous social change to take place in the 21st century.

Conclusion: The Revolutionary Implications of the New Paradigm

The revolution spearheaded in the 18th and 19th centuries by the old classical liberals against the ancien régime finds its natural continuity today in the anarchocapitalist revolution of the 21st century. Fortunately, we have discovered the reason behind the failure of utopian liberalism as well as the need to overcome it with scientific liberalism. Also, we know that the old revolutionaries were naïve and mistaken in pursuing an unattainable ideal which, throughout the twentieth century, opened the door to the worst statist tyrannies humanity has ever known.

The message of anarchocapitalism is markedly revolutionary. It is revolutionary in its end: the dismantling of the state and its replacement by a competitive market process in which a network of private agencies, associations, and organizations take part. It is also revolutionary in its means, particularly in the scientific, economic-social, and political spheres.

  1. Scientific Revolution. On the one hand, economic science becomes the general theory of the spontaneous market order extended to all social realms. On the other hand, it incorporates the analysis of the social discoordination statism produces in any area it influences (including law, justice, and public order). In addition, the different methods for dismantling the state, the transition processes involved, and the ways and effects of wholly privatizing all services now considered “public” comprise an essential field of research for our discipline.
  2. Economic and Social Revolution. One cannot even imagine the spectacular human achievements, advances, and discoveries that will be possible in an entrepreneurial environment completely free from statism. Even today, despite continual government harassment, a hitherto unknown civilization has begun to develop in an increasingly globalized world. It is a civilization with a degree of complexity for which the power of statism is no match, and once it is totally rid of statism, it will expand without limit. For the force of creativity in human nature is such that it inevitably sprouts up through even the thinnest cracks in the government’s armor. As soon as people gain a greater awareness of the fundamentally perverse nature of the state that restricts them, and once they perceive the tremendous opportunities removed daily from their reach when the state blocks the driving force of their entrepreneurial creativity, they will in large numbers join in the social clamor for reform, the dismantling of the state, and the advancement toward a future which remains entirely unknown to us but is bound to raise human civilization to heights unimaginable today.
  3. Political Revolution. The daily political struggle becomes secondary to that described in a and b above. It is true that we must always support the least interventionist alternatives, in clear keeping with the efforts of classical liberals to democratically limit the state. However, the anarchocapitalist does not stop at that; he knows, and must also do, much more. He knows that the ultimate goal is the total dismantling of the state, and this fires his entire imagination and fuels all of his political action on a daily basis. Small advances in the right direction are certainly welcome, but we must never slip into a pragmatism that forsakes the ultimate goal of putting an end to the state. For purposes of teaching and influencing the general public, we must always pursue this objective in a systematic, transparent manner.10

For instance, the anarchocapitalist political agenda will include ever reducing the size and power of states. Through regional and local decentralization in all areas, libertarian nationalism, the reintroduction of city-states, and secession,11 the aim will be to block the dictatorship of the majority over the minority and to permit people to increasingly “vote with their feet” rather than with ballots. In short, the goal is for people to be able to collaborate with each other on a worldwide scale and across borders, to achieve the most varied ends without regard to states (religious organizations, private clubs, Internet networks, etc.).12

Moreover, let us remember that political revolutions need not be bloody. This is especially true when they result from the necessary process of social education and development, as well as from popular clamor and the widespread desire to stop the deception, lies, and coercion that prevent people from fulfilling their aims. For example, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Velvet Revolution, which brought an end to socialism in Eastern Europe, were both basically bloodless. Along the path to this important final result, we must use all of the peaceful13

  1. all possible peaceful means and procedures must first have been exhausted;
    the act must be defensive (a response to concrete acts of violence) and never aggressive;
    the means used must be proportional (e.g., the ideal of independence is not worth the life or liberty of even one human being);
    every attempt must be made to avoid claiming innocent victims;
    there must be a reasonable chance of success (if not, it would be unjustifiable suicide).

These are wise principles, to which I would add that participation and financing must be entirely voluntary. Any act of violence which goes against one of these principles is automatically delegitimized and becomes the worst enemy of the professed objective. Finally, Father Juan de Mariana’s whole theory of tyrannicide is also relevant here. Juan de Mariana, De Rege et Regis Institutione (Toledo: Pedro Rodríguez, 1599) and legal14 means that current political systems permit.

An exciting future is opening up, in which we will continually discover new roads that will lead us, in keeping with fundamental principles, toward the anarchocapitalist ideal. Though this future may seem distant today, at any moment we may witness giant steps forward which will surprise even the most optimistic. Who was able to predict five years in advance that in 1989 the Berlin Wall would collapse, and with it communism itself in Eastern Europe? History has entered into an accelerated process of change, and although it will never come to a halt, it will begin an entirely new chapter when humanity, for the first time in modern history, manages to rid itself of the state once and for all and reduce it to nothing more than a dark and tragic historical relic.

Comments on the Spanish Anarchist Tradition

The chart shows the different political systems and how they evolve naturally into each other. They are grouped according to the degree to which they favor statism or antistatism, and support or oppose private property.

We see how the initial (mistaken and utopian) revolutionary movement of the classical liberals against the old regime slips into the pragmatism of accepting the state and opens the door to forms of socialist totalitarianism (communism and fascism/Nazism). The fall of real socialism ushers in social democracy, which today prevails far and wide (groupthink).

The liberal revolution, which owes its failure to error and naïveté on the part of classical liberals, has a still-pending stage, which will consist precisely of the evolution toward anarchocapitalism.

One consequence that followed the failure of the liberal revolution was the appearance of libertarian communism, which was unanimously reviled and combated by supporters of the other political systems (particularly the most left-leaning ones), precisely due to its antistatist nature. Libertarian communism is also utopian, because its rejection of private property compels the use of systematic (i.e., “state”) violence against it, thus revealing an insuperable logical contradiction and blocking the entrepreneurial social process which drives the only anarchist order scientifically conceivable: that of the capitalist libertarian market.

Spain has a long-established anarchist tradition. While we must not forget the great crimes committed by its supporters (in any case qualitatively and quantitatively less serious than those of communists and socialists), nor the contradictions in their thinking, it is true that, especially during the Spanish Civil War, anarchism was an experiment which enjoyed great popular support, though it was destined to fail. Just as with the old liberal revolution, today anarchists have before them their second great opportunity, which lies in overcoming their errors (the utopian quality of an anarchism which rejects private property) and accepting the market order as the sole, definitive path toward abolishing the state. If the Spanish anarchists of the 21st century can internalize these teachings from theory and history, Spain will very likely surprise the world again (this time for good, and on a large scale) by leading the theoretical and practical vanguard of the new anarchocapitalist revolution.


Excerpted from Property, Freedom and Society: Essays in Honor of Hans-Hermann Hoppe; Mises Institute, 2009, pp. 161–178, this article was first published in Spanish as “Liberalismo Versus Anarcocapitalismo,”Procesos de Mercado: Revista Europea de Economía Política 4, no. 2 (2007): 13–32, and is based on two separate lectures given under the same title, one at the summer university of the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos (Aranjuez, Friday, July 6, 2007) and the other at the summer university of the Universidad Complutense (San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Monday, July 16, 2007).15

  • 1.Israel M. Kirzner, Discovery and the Capitalist Process (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1985), p. 168.
  • 2.Jesús Huerta de Soto, Socialismo, Cálculo Económico, y Función Empresarial, 3rd ed. (Madrid: Unión Editorial, 2005), pp. 151–53.
  • 3.Jesús Huerta de Soto, Money, Bank Credit, and Economic Cycles, Melinda A. Stroup, trans. (Auburn, Ala.: Mises Institute, 2006) (originally published in Spanish in 1998 as Dinero, Crédito Bancario, y Ciclos Económicos, 3rd ed. (Madrid: Unión Editorial, 2006).
  • 4.F.A. Hayek, Law, Legislation, and Liberty: A New Statement of the Liberal Principles of Justice and Political Economy, 3 vols. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973–1979).
  • 5.Carlos Rodríguez Braun, A Pesar Del Gobierno: 100 Críticas al Intervencionismo con Nombres y Apellidos (Madrid: Unión Editorial, 1999).
  • 6.Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Democracy—The God that Failed: The Economics and Politics of Monarchy, Democracy, and Natural Order (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 2001).
  • 7. Perhaps the most recent notable exception appears in Pope Benedict XVI’s brilliant work on Jesus of Nazareth. That the state and political power are the institutional embodiment of the Antichrist must be obvious to anyone with the slightest knowledge of history who reads the Pope’s reflections on the most dangerous temptation the devil can put in our way:
    The tempter is not so crude as to suggest to us directly that we should worship the devil. He merely suggests that we opt for the reasonable decision, that we choose to give priority to a planned and thoroughly organized world, where God may have his place as a private concern but must not interfere in our essential purposes. Soloviev attributes to the Antichrist a book entitled The Open Way to World Peace and Welfare. This book becomes something of a new Bible, whose real message is the worship of well-being and rational planning.Joseph Ratzinger, Jesus of Nazareth, Adrian J. Walker, trans. (London: Bloomsbury, 2007), p. 41. Redford makes similar, though much more categorical, comments. James Redford, “Jesus Is an Anarchist,” (2001).
  • 8.Anthony de Jasay, Market Socialism: A Scrutiny: This Square Circle (Occasional paper 84) (London: Institute of Economic Affairs, 1990), p. 35.
  • 9.Jesús Huerta de Soto, “The Essence of the Austrian School,” lecture delivered at the Bundesministerium für Wissenschart und Forchung, March 26, 2007, in Vienna; published in Procesos de Mercado: Revista Europea de Economía Política 4, no. 1 (Spring 2007): 343–50, see esp. 347–48.
  • 10.Jesús Huerta de Soto, “El Economista Liberal y la Política,” in Manuel Fraga: Homenaje Académico, vol. 2 (Madrid: Fundación Cánovas del Castillo), pp. 763–88; reprinted at pp. 163–92 of Nuevos Estudios de Economía Política. For example, one indication of the growing importance of libertarian capitalism on the current political agenda is the article “Libertarians Rising,” which appeared in the Essay section of Time magazine in 2007. Michael Kinsley, “Libertarians Rising,” Time (October 29, 2007), p. 112.
  • 11.Jesús Huerta de Soto, “Teoría del Nacionalismo Liberal,” in Estudios de Economía Política, 2nd ed. (Madrid: Unión Editorial, 2004); idem, “El Desmantelamiento del Estado y la Democracia Directa.”
  • 12.Bruno S. Frey, “A Utopia? Government Without Territorial Monopoly,” The Independent Review 6, no. 1 (Summer 2001): 99–112.
  • 13.We must never forget the prescriptions of the Spanish scholastics of the Golden Age regarding the strict conditions an act of violence must satisfy to be “just”:
  • 14.As Rothbard indicated, it is not advisable to violate current laws (basically administrative commands), because in the vast majority of cases, the costs outweigh the benefits. Hidden FieldHidden Field
  • 15.The author writes, “In these lectures, I formalized my theoretical and political “break” with classical liberalism, itself a mere step in the natural evolution toward anarchocapitalism. Back in September of 2000, at the general meeting of the Mont Pèlerin Society in Santiago, Chile, in a speech I gave as part of a joint presentation with James Buchanan and Bruno Frei, I clearly hinted at this break. Jesús Huerta de Soto, “El Desmantelamiento del Estado y la Democracia Directa,” Nuevos Estudios de Economía Política, 2nd ed. (Madrid: Unión Editorial, 2007): chap. 10, pp. 239–45.”
Image source: 


Vote for a small party

The best option for tomorrow’s election:

  • ZACP (South African Capitalist Party, National)
  • Cape Party (Western Cape, Provincial)
  • ACDP (African Christian Democratic Party, National & Provincial)
  • FF+ (Freedom Front, National & Provincial)



A Capitalist Party

A strong supporter of decentralisation, self-defence, property rights and freedom of speech.

Africa’s Economic Development Is Impeded by Corruption and Populism

Despite continued support, African governments have been very obstinate in their generally misguided development policies.

Jorge C. Carrasco

Jorge C. Carrasco is a Cuban independent journalist and a coordinator of Students For Liberty.

In March 1957, Kwame Nkrumah proclaimed the independence of the British Gold Coast, changing its name to Ghana. Nkrumah was a peculiar person. Trained at British and American universities, he was convinced of two things. The first was that only independence would allow African peoples to overcome their secular backwardness. The second was that in order to achieve it, the ideal vehicle was a sort of African socialism that he called consciencism.

As soon as he came to power, he adopted the title of “Osagyefo” (the redeemer), changed the name of the country to Ghana, which in Akan means “warrior king,” and secured absolute power. Nkrumah was a charlatan devoured by narcissism. Although he did not sympathize with even half of his fellow citizens, who spoke dialects different from that of his native ethnicity, he believed the entire African continent should be united under a single flag.

In the West, Nkrumah was very popular. Kings and presidents celebrated him at receptions and enjoyed his company. It could not be less with a man so charismatic that in his speeches he claimed to have the infallible remedy “against poverty and disease.”

He didn’t end up with either of the two scourges. Nkrumah became a brutal dictator who, supported by the Soviets, authoritatively planned his country’s economy with disastrous results. Ten years after Ghana attained independence, one of the most prosperous British overseas colonies had become visibly impoverished and associated with militarism.

The sad history of Ghana was repeated in each and every country south of the Sahara. With some honorable exceptions, such as Botswana, none of the former European colonies have managed not only to develop but also to ostensibly improve their situation. While countries in other parts of the world, especially in the Far East, have grown significantly and even joined the first world, black Africa remains as poor or poorer than when it gained independence.

The cold data leaves little room for interpretation. Africa’s GDP is 70 percent lower than Asia’s and 80 percent lower than that of Latin America. Many reasons have been given to explain Africa’s stubborn backwardness. It has been said that they cannot develop because they were colonies, and neocolonialism prevents them from doing so. But Vietnam was a colony, for example, and also had to suffer twenty years of civil war. Today, however, it is a country whose economy is growing and to whom the future smiles.

The truth is that the world has not marginalized Africa; it has opened up its markets to it and given it financial means so that, properly managed, it can develop.

Poverty has been blamed on a lack of infrastructure and human capital. No poor country has good infrastructure before it emerges from poverty. Infrastructure is financed by prosperity and, with respect to human capital, the West has earmarked billions of dollars in vocational training programs to prepare local workers.

African politicians often blame the rest of the world, either because it does not open its borders to African products or because it opens them too wide, and Western products flood its markets. The truth is that the world has not marginalized Africa; it has opened up its markets to it and given it financial means so that, properly managed, it can develop.

Both the United States and the European Union have given preferential access to African products and have not spared aid of all kinds and technological transfers. The African Development Bank, financed by the United States and Europe, has allocated $50 billion in credit operations to the continent since 1980. In 2016 alone, the European Union injected 21 billion euros into African countries, to which must be added another 1.6 billion in educational programs. That’s twice the Marshall Plan in just one year.

Despite this continued support, African governments have been very obstinate in their generally misguided and always opaque development policies. They have done exactly the opposite of what should have been done.  Although Africans work very hard, they are still very unproductive, which is not surprising given the low capitalization of those economies and the string of regulations with which their governments embellish them.

According to a report from the Brookings Institution, Nigeria has already overtaken India in the number of people living in extreme poverty (people who live on less than $1.90 a day), with at least 87 million people in this circumstances in comparison to the 70.6 million in India.

Doing business south of the Sahara is heroic. Opening a business in almost any African country is an uncertain, lengthy, and costly process that often ends in countless bribes. Anyone who crosses through Africa knows it. Traveling across the continent means encountering police posts every few kilometers that check visas and claim their tips in countries with almost no rule of law. If that happens to a motorcycle adventurer, what won’t happen to an investor who wants to set up a food processing plant?

All these obstacles to the creation of wealth were not imposed by the former colonial powers but by the governments that arrived later. The main cause of Africa’s chronic poverty has been an endless chain of bad decisions made by its leaders over the past half-century.

The continent’s proverbial natural wealth has been of no use. Everything has been squandered. For example, since it achieved independence in 1961, Nigeria has earned more than half a trillion dollars from the sale of oil—the coveted Bonny Light oil—which is extracted from the Niger River Delta deposits, a natural wealth that would have allowed this nation to take off like so many other countries in the past that started their developing paths selling commodities. But sadly, that is not the case. According to a report from the Brookings Institution, Nigeria has already overtaken India in the number of people living in extreme poverty (people who live on less than $1.90 a day), with at least 87 million people in these circumstances in comparison to the 70.6 million in India.

In his book Resource Abundance and Economic Development, Richard M. Auty, professor of economic geography at Lancaster University, emphasizes that the presence of natural resources in large quantities does not predestine a country to prosperity.

The logic of some seems to predict that if a country has an abundance of natural resources, it should show high levels of development. However, as counterintuitive as it may seem, the performance of a large number of countries abundant in these commodities does not support this hypothesis, and Nigeria is no exception.

In his book Resource Abundance and Economic Development, Richard M. Auty, professor of economic geography at Lancaster University, emphasizes that the presence of natural resources in large quantities does not predestine a country to prosperity. Referring to what he describes as the “resource curse or “paradox of plenty,” he argues that countries with a large abundance of these commodities (such as fossil fuels and certain minerals) tend to have less economic growth, less democracy, and worse development outcomes than countries with fewer natural resources. According to his study, this problem generally tends to radicate in economic decisions regarding the use of revenues from extraction and commercialization of these natural resources. Auty explains that the abundance of revenues from these businesses in undeveloped nations tends to make it easier for politicians and bureaucratic authorities to waste them on unprofitable investments and conspicuous expenditures, which very often leads to corruption. This “voracity effect,” as Auty calls it, almost always ends by causing stagnation in growth through the misuse and abuse of public funds.

Perhaps the unresolved issue for Africans is to open up their economies, embrace globalization, secure the legal framework for investment to flow with guarantees, and establish a genuine rule of law where it is the law that rules—not populism.

In some instances, the African landscape is so bleak it seems impossible that this unfortunate group of countries could ever develop and break the vicious cycle of poverty. While Asian and Latin American countries are gradually abandoning underdevelopment (the former faster than the latter), African politicians have fertilized the region with perpetual backwardness.

But that won’t last forever, and the continent is changing drastically. Poverty in Africa is a global problem that will have to be solved in the coming decades. But sadly, there is a lot of work to be done. Nkrumah-style African socialism failed miserably, as did the mercantilism sponsored by the region’s dictators and bureaucrats over the past twenty years, which has only enriched the elites and chronicled corruption, nepotism, and wars for control of the state apparatus all over the continent.

Of course, the roots of African poverty are probably deeper than what is addressed in this article, but maybe it remains to be proven what catapulted countries like South Korea or Taiwan, which were solemnly poor in the 1950s, into the first world. Perhaps the unresolved issue for Africans is to open up their economies, embrace globalization, secure the legal framework for investment to flow with guarantees, and establish a genuine rule of law where it is the law that rules—not populism.

originally published by:


Natural Elites, Intellectuals, and the State

TAGS World HistoryAustrian Economics OverviewInterventionismOther Schools of ThoughtPolitical Theory

07/20/2005 Hans-Hermann Hoppe

A state is a territorial monopolist of compulsion, an agency which may engage in continual, institutionalized property rights violations and the exploitation of private property owners through expropriation, taxation, and regulation.

But how do states come into existence? There are two theories on the origin of states. One view is associated with names such as Franz Oppenheimer, Alexander Ruestow, and Albert J. Nock, and claims that states originated as the result of the military conquest of one group by another. This is the theory of the exogeneous origin of the state. But this view has been severely criticized on historical as well as theoretical grounds by ethnographers and anthropologists such as Wilhelm Muehlmann. These critics point out that not all States originated from external conquest. Indeed, critics consider the view that the very first states were the result of nomadic herdsmen superimposing themselves on settled farmers as chronologically false. Moreover, this view suffers theoretically from the problem that conquest itself seems to presuppose a state-like organization among the conquerors. Hence, the exogeneous origin of states requires a more fundamental theory of the endogeneous origin of the state.

Such a theory has been presented by Bertrand de Jouvenel. According to his view, states are the outgrowth of natural elites: the natural outcome of voluntary transactions between private property owners is non-egalitarian, hierarchical, and elitist. In every society, a few individuals acquire the status of an elite through talent. Due to superior achievements of wealth, wisdom, and bravery, these individuals come to possess natural authority, and their opinions and judgments enjoy wide-spread respect. Moreover, because of selective mating, marriage, and the laws of civil and genetic inheritance, positions of natural authority are likely to be passed on within a few noble families. It is to the heads of these families with long-established records of superior achievement, farsightedness, and exemplary personal conduct that men turn to with their conflicts and complaints against each other. These leaders of the natural elite act as judges and peacemakers, often free of charge out of a sense of duty expected of a person of authority or out of concern for civil justice as a privately produced “public good.”

The small but decisive step in the transition to a state consists precisely of the monopolization of the function of judge and peacemaker. This occurred once a single member of the voluntarily acknowledged natural elite was able to insist, despite the opposition of other members of the elite, that all conflicts within a specified territory be brought before him. Conflicting parties could no longer choose any other judge or peacemaker.

Origin of Monarchy

Once the origin of a state is seen as the outgrowth of a prior, hierarchically structured order of natural elites, it becomes clear why mankind, insofar as it was subject to government at all, has been under monarchical (rather than democratic) rule for most of its history. There have been exceptions, of course: Athenian democracy, Rome until 31 B.C., the republics of Venice, Florence, and Genoa during the Renaissance, the Swiss cantons since 1291, the United Provinces (the Netherlands) from 1648 until 1673, and England under Cromwell. But these were rare occurrences, and none of them remotely resembled modern, one-man-one-vote democratic systems. Rather, they too were highly elitist. In Athens, for instance, no more than 5% of the population voted and was eligible for positions of rulership. It was not until after the end of World War I that mankind truly left the monarchical age.

Power Monopolized

From the moment when a single member of the natural elite successfully monopolized the function of judge and peacemaker, law and law enforcement became more expensive. Instead of being offered free of charge or in exchange for voluntary payment, it was financed by a compulsory tax. At the same time, the quality of law deteriorated. Rather than upholding ancient private property laws and applying universal and immutable principles of justice, a monopolistic judge, who did not have to fear losing clients as the result of being less than impartial, would pervert the existing law to his own advantage. How was this small yet decisive step of monopolizing law and order by a king, which predictably led to higher prices and a lower quality of justice, possible? Certainly, other members of the natural elite would resist any such attempt. Yet this is why the eventual kings typically aligned themselves with the “people” or the “common man.” Appealing to the always popular sentiment of envy, kings promised the people cheaper and better justice in exchange for and at the expense of taxing—cutting down to size—their own betters (the king’s competitors.) Second, kings enlisted the help of the class of intellectuals.

Role of Intellectuals

The demand for intellectual services could be expected to grow with increasing standards of living. However, most people are concerned with rather earthly and mundane affairs, and have little use for intellectual endeavors. Apart from the Church, the only people with a demand for the services of intellectuals were members of the natural elite—as teachers for their children, personal advisors, secretaries, and librarians. Employment for intellectuals was precarious and payment typically low. Furthermore, while the members of the natural elite were only rarely intellectuals themselves (i.e., people spending all of their time on scholarly pursuits,) but were instead people concerned with the conduct of earthly enterprises, they were typically at least as bright as their intellectual employees, so the esteem for the achievements of ‘their’ intellectuals was only modest.

It is hardly surprising, then, that intellectuals, suffering from a greatly inflated self-image, resented this fact. How unjust that those—the natural elites—who were taught by them were actually their superiors and led a comfortable life while they—the intellectuals—were comparatively poor and dependent. It is also no wonder that intellectuals could be won over easily by a king in his attempt to establish himself as the monopolist of justice. In exchange for their ideological justification of monarchical rule, the king could not only offer them better and higher-status employment, but as royal court intellectuals they finally could pay the natural elites back for their lack of respect.

Still, the improvement of the position of the intellectual class was only moderate. Under monarchical rule, there was a clear-cut distinction between the ruler (the king) and the ruled, and the ruled knew that they could never become ruler. Accordingly, there was considerable resistance not only by the natural elites but also by the common people against any increase in the king’s power. It was thus extremely difficult for the king to raise taxes, and the employment opportunities for intellectuals remained highly limited. In addition, once safely entrenched, the king did not treat his intellectuals much better than did the natural elites. And given that a king controlled larger territories than natural elites ever did, to fall out of his favor was even more dangerous and made the intellectuals’ position in some ways more capricious.

An inspection of the biographies of leading intellectuals—from Shakespeare to Goethe, from Descartes to Locke, from Marx to Spencer—shows roughly the same pattern: until well into the 19th century, their work was sponsored by private donors, members of the natural elite, princes, or kings. Falling in or out of favor with their sponsors, they frequently changed employment and were geographically highly mobile. While this often meant financial insecurity, it contributed not only to a unique cosmopolitanism of intellectuals (as indicated by their proficiency in numerous languages,) but also to an unusual intellectual independence. If one donor or sponsor no longer supported them, many others existed who would happily fill the gap. Indeed, intellectual and cultural life flourished the most, and the independence of intellectuals was the greatest, where the position of the king or the central government was relatively weak and that of the natural elites had remained relatively strong.

Rise of Democracy

A fundamental change in the relationship between the state, natural elites, and intellectuals only occurred with the transition from monarchical to democratic rule. It was the inflated price of justice and the perversions of ancient law by kings as monopolistic judges and peacekeepers that motivated the historical opposition against monarchy. But confusion as to the causes of this phenomenon prevailed. There were those who recognized correctly that the problem was with monopoly, not with elites or nobility. However, they were far outnumbered by those who erroneously blamed the elitist character of the ruler for the problem, and who advocated maintaining the monopoly of law and law enforcement and merely replacing the king and the highly visible royal pomp with the “people” and the presumed decency of the “common man.” Hence the historic success of democracy. How ironic that monarchism was destroyed by the same social forces that kings had first stimulated and enlisted when they began to exclude competing natural authorities from acting as judges: the envy of the common men against their betters, and the desire of the intellectuals for their allegedly deserved place in society. When the king’s promises of better and cheaper justice turned out to be empty, intellectuals turned the egalitarian sentiments the kings had previously courted against the monarchical rulers themselves. Accordingly, it appeared logical that kings, too, should be brought down and that the egalitarian policies, which monarchs had initiated, should be carried through to their ultimate conclusion: the monopolistic control of the judiciary by the common man. To the intellectuals, this meant by them, as the people’s spokesmen.

As elementary economic theory could predict, with the transition from monarchical to democratic one-man-one-vote rule and the substitution of the people for the king, matters became worse. The price of justice rose astronomically while the quality of law constantly deteriorated. For what this transition boiled down to was a system of private government ownership—a private monopoly—being replaced by a system of public government ownership—a publicly owned monopoly.

A “tragedy of the commons” was created. Everyone, not just the king, was now entitled to try to grab everyone else’s private property. The consequences were more government exploitation (taxation); the deterioration of law to the point where the idea of a body of universal and immutable principles of justice disappeared and was replaced by the idea of law as legislation (made, rather than found and eternally “given” law); and an increase in the social rate of time preference (increased present-orientation.)

A king owned the territory and could hand it on to his son, and thus tried to preserve its value. A democratic ruler was and is a temporary caretaker and thus tries to maximize current government income of all sorts at the expense of capital values, and thus wastes. Here are some of the consequences: during the monarchical age before World War I, government expenditure as a percent of GNP was rarely higher than 5%. Since then it has typically risen to around 50%. Prior to World War I, government employment was typically less than 3% of total employment. Since then it has increased to between 15 and 20%. The monarchical age was characterized by a commodity money (gold) and the purchasing power of money gradually increased. In contrast, the democratic age is the age of paper money whose purchasing power has permanently decreased.

Kings went deeper and deeper into debt, but at least during peacetime they typically reduced their debt load. During the democratic era government debt has increased in war and in peace to incredible heights. Real interest rates during the monarchical age had gradually fallen to somewhere around 2½%. Since then, real interest rates (nominal rates adjusted for inflation) have risen to somewhere around 5%—equal to 15th-century rates. Legislation virtually did not exist until the end of the 19th century. Today, in a single year, tens of thousands of laws and regulations are passed. Savings rates are declining instead of increasing with increasing incomes, and indicators of family disintegration and crime are moving constantly upward.

Fate of Natural Elites

While the state faired much better under democratic rule, and while the “people” have faired much worse since they began to rule “themselves,” what about the natural elites and the intellectuals? As regards the former, democratization has succeeded where kings made only a modest beginning: in the ultimate destruction of the natural elite and nobility. The fortunes of the great families have dissipated through confiscatory taxes, during life and at the time of death. These families’ tradition of economic independence, intellectual farsightedness, and moral and spiritual leadership have been lost and forgotten. Rich men exist today, but frequently than not they owe their fortunes directly or indirectly to the state. Hence, they are often more dependent on the state’s continued favors than many people of far-lesser wealth. They are typically no longer the heads of long-established leading families, but “nouveaux riches.” Their conduct is not characterized by virtue, wisdom, dignity, or taste, but is a reflection of the same proletarian mass-culture of present-orientation, opportunism, and hedonism that the rich and famous now share with everyone else. Consequently—and thank goodness—their opinions carry no more weight in public opinion than most other people’s.

Democracy has achieved what Keynes only dreamt of: the “euthanasia of the rentier class.” Keynes’s statement that “in the long run we are all dead” accurately expresses the democratic spirit of our times: present-oriented hedonism. Although it is perverse not to think beyond one’s own life, such thinking has become typical. Instead of ennobling the proletarians, democracy has proletarianized the elites and has systematically perverted the thinking and judgment of the masses. The Ludwig von Mises Institute | 5

Fate of Intellectuals

On the other hand, while the natural elites were being destroyed, intellectuals assumed a more prominent and powerful position in society. Indeed, to a large extent they have achieved their goal and have become the ruling class, controlling the state and functioning as monopolistic judge.

This is not to say that democratically elected politicians are all intellectuals (although there are certainly more intellectuals nowadays who become president than there were intellectuals who became king.) After all, it requires somewhat different skills and talents to be an intellectual than it does to have mass-appeal and be a successful fundraiser. But even the non-intellectuals are the products of indoctrination by tax-funded schools, universities, and publicly employed intellectuals, and almost all of their advisors are drawn from this pool.

There are almost no economists, philosophers, historians, or social theorists of rank employed privately by members of the natural elite. And those few of the old elite who remain and who might have purchased their services can no longer afford intellectuals financially. Instead, intellectuals are now typically public employees, even if they work for nominally private institutions or foundations. Almost completely protected from the vagaries of consumer demand (“tenured”), their number has dramatically increased and their compensation is on average far above their genuine market value. At the same time the quality of their intellectual output has constantly fallen.

What you will discover is mostly irrelevance and incomprehensibility. Worse, insofar as today’s intellectual output is at all relevant and comprehensible, it is viciously statist. There are exceptions, but if practically all intellectuals are employed in the multiple branches of the State, then it should hardly come as a surprise that most of their ever-more voluminous output will, either by commission or omission, be statist propaganda. There are more propagandists of democratic rule around today than there were ever propagandists of monarchical rule in all of human history.

This seemingly unstoppable drift toward statism is illustrated by the fate of the so-called Chicago School: Milton Friedman, his predecessors, and his followers. In the 1930s and 1940s, the Chicago School was still considered left-fringe, and justly so, considering that Friedman, for instance, advocated a central bank and paper money instead of a gold standard. He wholeheartedly endorsed the principle of the welfare state with his proposal of a guaranteed minimum income (negative income tax,) on which he could not set a limit. He advocated a progressive income tax to achieve his explicitly egalitarian goals (and he personally helped implement the withholding tax.) Friedman endorsed the idea that the State could impose taxes to fund the production of all goods that had a positive neighborhood effect or which he thought would have such an effect. This implies, of course, that there is almost nothing that the State can not tax-fund!

In addition, Friedman and his followers were proponents of the shallowest of all shallow philosophies: ethical and epistemological relativism. There is no such thing as ultimate moral truths and all of our factual, empirical knowledge is at best only hypothetically true. Yet they never doubted that there must be a state, and that the state must be democratic. Today, half a century later, the Chicago-Friedman school, without having essentially changed any of its positions, is regarded as right-wing and free market. Indeed, the school defines the borderline of respectable opinion on the political right, which only extremists cross. Such is the magnitude of the change in public opinion which public employees have brought about.

Consider further indicators of the statist deformation brought about by the intellectuals. If one takes a look at election statistics, one will by and large find the following picture: the longer a person spends in educational institutions, someone with a Ph.D., for instance, as compared to someone with only a B.A., the more likely it is that this person will be ideologically statist and vote Democratic. Moreover, the higher the amount of taxes used to fund education, the lower SAT scores and similar measurements of intellectual performance will fall, and I suspect even further will the traditional standards of moral behavior and civil conduct decline.

Or consider the following indicator: in 1994 it was called a “revolution” when Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, was called a “revolutionary” when he endorsed the New Deal and Social Security, and praised civil rights legislation, i.e. the affirmative action and forced integration which is responsible for the almost complete destruction of private property rights, and the erosion of freedom of contract, association, and disassociation. What kind of a revolution is it where the revolutionaries have wholeheartedly accepted the statist premises and causes of the present disaster? Obviously, this can only be labeled a revolution in an intellectual environment that is statist to the core.

History & Ideas

The situation appears hopeless, but it is not so. First, it must be recognized that the situation can hardly continue forever. The democratic age can hardly be “the end of history,” as the neo-conservatives want us to believe, for there is also an economic side to the process.

Market interventions will inevitably cause more of the problems they are supposed to cure, which leads to more and more controls and regulations until we finally reach full-blown socialism. If the current trend continues, it can safely be predicted that the democratic welfare state of the West will eventually collapse as did the “people’s republics” of the East in the late 1980s. For decades, real incomes in the West have stagnated or even fallen. Government debt and the cost of the “social insurance” schemes have brought on the prospect of an economic meltdown. At the same time, social conflict has risen to dangerous heights.

Perhaps one will have to wait for an economic collapse before the current statist trend changes. But even in the case of a collapse, something else is necessary. A breakdown would not automatically result in a roll-back of the State. Matters could become worse. In fact, in recent Western history, there are only two clear-cut instances where the powers of the central government were actually reduced, even if only temporarily, as the result of a catastrophe: in West Germany after World War II under Ludwig Erhard, and in Chile under General Pinochet. What is necessary besides a crisis is ideas—correct ideas—and men capable of understanding and implementing them once the opportunity arises.

But if the course of history is not inevitable, and it is not, then a catastrophe is neither necessary nor unavoidable. Ultimately, the course of history is determined by ideas, be they true or false, and by men acting upon and being inspired by true or false ideas. Only so long as false ideas rule is a catastrophe unavoidable. On the other hand, once correct ideas are adopted and prevail in public opinion—and ideas can, in principle, be changed almost instantaneously—a catastrophe will not have to occur at all. Role of Intellectuals

This brings me to the role intellectuals must play in the necessary radical and fundamental change in public opinion, and the role that members of the natural elites, or whatever is left of them, will also have to play. The demands on both sides are high, yet as high as they are, to prevent a catastrophe or to emerge successfully from it, these demands will have to be accepted by both as their natural duty.

Even if most intellectuals have been corrupted and are largely responsible for the present perversities, it is impossible to achieve an ideological revolution without their help. The rule of the public intellectuals can only be broken by anti-intellectual intellectuals. Fortunately, the ideas of individual liberty, private property, freedom of contract and association, personal responsibility and liability, and government power as the primary enemy of liberty and property, will not die out as long as there is a human race, simply because they are true and the truth supports itself. Moreover, the books of past thinkers who expressed these ideas will not disappear. However, it is also necessary that there be living thinkers who read such books and who can remember, restate, reapply, sharpen, and advance these ideas, and who are capable and willing to give them personal expression and openly oppose, attack, and refute their fellow intellectuals.

Of these two requirements—intellectual competency and character—the second is the more important, especially in these times. From a purely intellectual point of view, matters are comparatively easy. Most of the statist arguments that we hear day in and out are easily refuted as moral or economic nonsense. It is also not rare to encounter intellectuals who in private do not believe what they proclaim with great fanfare in public. They do not simply err. They deliberately say and write things they know to be untrue. They do not lack intellect; they lack morals. This in turn implies that one must be prepared not only to fight falsehood but also evil—and this is a much more difficult and daring task. In addition to better knowledge, it requires courage.

As an anti-intellectual intellectual, one can expect bribes to be offered—and it is amazing how easily some people can be corrupted: a few hundred dollars, a nice trip, a photo-op with the mighty and powerful are all too often sufficient to make people sell out. Such temptations must be rejected as contemptible. Moreover, in fighting evil, one must be willing to accept that one will probably never be “successful.” There are no riches in store, no magnificent promotions, no professional prestige. In fact, intellectual “fame” should be regarded with utmost suspicion.

Indeed, not only does one have to accept that he will be marginalized by the academic establishment, but he will have to expect that his colleagues will try almost anything to ruin him. Just look at Ludwig von Mises and Murray N. Rothbard. The two greatest economists and social philosophers of the 20th century were both essentially unacceptable and unemployable by the academic establishment. Yet throughout their lives, they never gave in, not one inch. They never lost their dignity or even succumbed to pessimism. On the contrary, in the face of constant adversity, they remained undaunted and even cheerful, and worked at a mind-boggling level of productivity. They were satisfied in being devoted to the truth and nothing but the truth.

It is here that what is left of the natural elites comes into play. True intellectuals, like Mises and Rothbard, can not do what they need to do without the natural elites. Despite all obstacles, it was possible for Mises and Rothbard to make themselves heard. They were not condemned to silence. They still taught and published. They still addressed audiences and inspired people with their insights and ideas. This would not have been possible without the support of others. Mises had Lawrence Fertig and the William Volker Fund, which paid his salary at NYU, and Rothbard had The Ludwig von Mises Institute, which supported him, helped publish and promote his books, and provided the institutional framework that allowed him to say and write what needed to be said and written, and that can no longer be said and written inside academia and the official, statist establishment media.

Once upon a time, in the pre-democratic age, when the spirit of egalitarianism had not yet destroyed most men of independent wealth and independent minds and judgments, this task of supporting unpopular intellectuals was taken on by individuals. But who can nowadays afford, single-handedly, to employ an intellectual privately, as his personal secretary, advisor, or teacher of his children? And those who still can are more often than not deeply involved in the ever more corrupt big government-big business alliance, and they promote the very same intellectual cretins who dominate statist academia. Just think of Rockefeller and Kissinger, for instance.

Hence, the task of supporting and keeping alive the truths of private property, freedom of contract and association and disassociation, personal responsibility, and of fighting falsehoods, lies, and the evil of statism, relativism, moral corruption, and irresponsibility can nowadays only be taken on collectively by pooling resources and supporting organizations like the Mises Institute, an independent organization dedicated to the values underlying Western civilization, uncompromising and far removed even physically from the corridors of power. Its program of scholarships, teaching, publications, and conferences is nothing less than an island of moral and intellectual decency in a sea of perversion.

To be sure, the first obligation of any decent person is to himself and his family. He should— in the free market—make as much money as he possibly can, because the more money he makes, the more beneficial he has been to his fellow man. But that is not enough. An intellectual must be committed to the truth, whether or not it pays off in the short run. Similarly, the natural elite have obligations that extend far beyond themselves and their families.

The more successful they are as businessmen and professionals, and the more others recognize them as successful, the more important it is that they set an example: that they strive to live up to the highest standards of ethical conduct. This means accepting as their duty, indeed as their noble duty, to support openly, proudly, and as generously as they possibly can the values that they have recognized as right and true.

They receive in return intellectual inspiration, nourishment, and strength, as well as the knowledge that their name will live forever as outstanding individuals who rose above the masses and made a lasting contribution to mankind.

The Ludwig von Mises Institute can be a mighty institution, a model for the restoration of genuine learning, and a near university of teaching and scholarship. Even if we do not see our ideas triumph during our lifetime, we will know and be eternally proud that we gave it our all, and that we did what every honest and noble person had to do.

Secession: A Global Phenomenon

from wikipedia

Secession(derived from the Latin term secessio) is the withdrawal of a group from a larger entity, especially a political entity, but also from any organization, union or military alliance. Threats of secession can be a strategy for achieving more limited goals.[1] It is, therefore, a process, which commences once a group proclaims the act of secession (e.g. declaration of independence).[2] It could involve a violent or peaceful process but these do not change the nature of the outcome, which is the creation of a new state or entity independent from the group or territory it seceded from.[3]

Secession theory

There is a great deal of theorizing about secession so that it is difficult to identify a consensus regarding its definition.[3] There is also a claim that this subject has been neglected by political philosophers and that by 1980s – when it finally generated interest – the discourse concentrated on the moral justifications of the unilateral right to secession.[4] It was only in the early 1990s when American philosopher Allen Buchanan offered the first systematic account of the subject and contributed to the normative classification of the literature on secession. In his 1991 book Secession: The Morality of Political Divorce From Fort Sumter to Lithuania and Quebec, Buchanan outlined limited rights to secession under certain circumstances, mostly related to oppression by people of other ethnic or racial groups, and especially those previously conquered by other people.[5]

According to the 2007 book Secession and Security by George Mason political scientist Ahsan Butt, states respond violently to secessionist movements if the potential state would pose a greater threat than a violent secessionist movement would.[6] States perceive future war as likely with a potentially new state if the ethnic group driving the secessionist struggle has deep identity division with the central state, and if the regional neighborhood is violent and unstable.[6]

Justifications for secession

Some theories of secession emphasize a general right of secession for any reason (“Choice Theory”) while others emphasize that secession should be considered only to rectify grave injustices (“Just Cause Theory”).[7] Some theories do both. A list of justifications may be presented supporting the right to secede, as described by Allen Buchanan, Robert McGee, Anthony Birch,[8] Jane Jacobs,[9] Frances Kendall and Leon Louw,[10] Leopold Kohr,[11] Kirkpatrick Sale,[12] and various authors in David Gordon’s “Secession, State and Liberty”, includes:

  • United States President James Buchanan, Fourth Annual Message to Congress on the State of the Union December 3, 1860: “The fact is that our Union rests upon public opinion, and can never be cemented by the blood of its citizens shed in civil war. If it can not live in the affections of the people, it must one day perish. Congress possesses many means of preserving it by conciliation, but the sword was not placed in their hand to preserve it by force.”
  • Former President of the United States Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to William H. CrawfordSecretary of War under President James Madison, on June 20, 1816: “In your letter to Fisk, you have fairly stated the alternatives between which we are to choose : 1, licentious commerce and gambling speculations for a few, with eternal war for the many ; or, 2, restricted commerce, peace, and steady occupations for all. If any State in the Union will declare that it prefers separation with the first alternative, to a continuance in union without it, I have no hesitation in saying, ‘let us separate’. I would rather the States should withdraw, which are for unlimited commerce and war, and confederate with those alone which are for peace and agriculture.”[13]
  • Economic enfranchisement of an economically oppressed class that is regionally concentrated within the scope of a larger national territory.
  • The right to libertyfreedom of association and private property
  • Consent as important democratic principle; will of majority to secede should be recognized
  • Making it easier for states to join with others in an experimental union
  • Dissolving such union when goals for which it was constituted are not achieved
  • Self-defense when larger group presents lethal threat to minority or the government cannot adequately defend an area
  • Self-determination of peoples
  • Preserving culture, language, etc. from assimilation or destruction by a larger or more powerful group
  • Furthering diversity by allowing diverse cultures to keep their identity
  • Rectifying past injustices, especially past conquest by a larger power
  • Escaping “discriminatory redistribution”, i.e., tax schemes, regulatory policies, economic programs, etc. that distribute resources away to another area, especially in an undemocratic fashion
  • Enhanced efficiency when the state or empire becomes too large to administer efficiently
  • Preserving “liberal purity” (or “conservative purity”) by allowing less (or more) liberal regions to secede
  • Providing superior constitutional systems which allow flexibility of secession
  • Keeping political entities small and human scale through right to secession

Aleksander Pavkovic,[14] associate professor at the Department of Politics and International Studies at Macquarie University in Australia and the author of several books on secession describes five justifications for a general right of secession within liberal political theory:[15]

  • Anarcho-Capitalism: individual liberty to form political associations and private property rights together justify right to secede and to create a “viable political order” with like-minded individuals.
  • Democratic Secessionism: the right of secession, as a variant of the right of self-determination, is vested in a “territorial community” which wishes to secede from “their existing political community”; the group wishing to secede then proceeds to delimit “its” territory by the majority.
  • Communitarian Secessionism: any group with a particular “participation-enhancing” identity, concentrated in a particular territory, which desires to improve its members’ political participation has a prima facie right to secede.
  • Cultural Secessionism: any group which was previously in a minority has a right to protect and develop its own culture and distinct national identity through seceding into an independent state.
  • The Secessionism of Threatened Cultures: if a minority culture is threatened within a state that has a majority culture, the minority needs a right to form a state of its own which would protect its culture.

Types of secession

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Hashim Thaçi with Declaration of Independence of Kosovo

Secession theorists have described a number of ways in which a political entity (city, county, canton, state) can secede from the larger or original state:[1][15][16]

  • Secession from federation or confederation (political entities with substantial reserved powers which have agreed to join together) versus secession from a unitary state (a state governed as a single unit with few powers reserved to sub-units)
  • Colonial aka “wars of independence” from a “mother country” or imperial state
  • National (seceding entirely from the national state) versus local (seceding from one entity of the national state into another entity of the same state)
  • Central or enclave (seceding entity is completely surrounded by the original state) versus peripheral (along a border of the original state)
  • Secession by contiguous units versus secession by non-contiguous units (exclaves)
  • Separation or partition (although an entity secedes, the rest of the state retains its structure) versus dissolution (all political entities dissolve their ties and create several new states)
  • Irredentism where secession is sought in order to annex the territory to another state because of common ethnicity or prior historical links
  • Minority (a minority of the population or territory secedes) versus majority (a majority of the population or territory secedes)
  • Secession of better off regions versus secession of worse off regions
  • The threat of secession is sometimes used as a strategy to gain greater autonomy within the original state

Arguments against secession

Allen Buchanan, who supports secession under limited circumstances, lists arguments that might be used against secession:[17]

  • “Protecting Legitimate Expectations” of those who now occupy territory claimed by secessionists, even in cases where that land was stolen
  • “Self Defense” if losing part of the state would make it difficult to defend the rest of it
  • “Protecting Majority Rule” and the principle that minorities must abide by them
  • “Minimization of Strategic Bargaining” by making it difficult to secede, such as by imposing an exit tax
  • “Soft Paternalism” because secession will be bad for secessionists or others
  • “Threat of Anarchy” because smaller and smaller entities may choose to secede until there is chaos, although this is not the true meaning of the political and philosophical concept.
  • “Preventing Wrongful Taking” such as the state’s previous investment in infrastructure
  • “Distributive Justice” arguments that wealthier areas cannot secede from poorer ones

Explanations for the 20th century explosion in secessionism

According to University of California, Santa Barbara, political scientist Bridget L. Coggins, there are four potential explanations in the academic literature for the drastic increase in state birth during the 20th century:[18]

  • Ethnonational mobilization – Ethnic minorities have been increasingly mobilized to pursue states of their own.
  • Institutional empowerment – The growing inability of empires and ethnic federations to maintain colonies and member states.
  • Relative strength – Increasingly powerful secessionist movements are more likely to achieve statehood.
  • Negotiated consent – Home states and the international community increasingly consent to secessionist demands.

Secession movements

Movements that work towards political secession may describe themselves as being autonomyseparatistindependenceself-determinationpartitiondevolutiondecentralizationsovereigntyself-governanceor decolonization movements instead of, or in addition to, being secession movements.


During the 19th century, the single British colony in eastern mainland Australia, New South Wales (NSW) was progressively divided up by the British government as new settlements were formed and spread. Victoria (Vic) in 1851 and Queensland (Qld) in 1859.

However, settlers agitated to divide the colonies throughout the later part of the century; particularly in central Queensland (centred in Rockhampton) in the 1860s and 1890s, and in North Queensland (with Bowen as a potential colonial capital) in the 1870s. Other secession (or territorial separation) movements arose and these advocated the secession of New England in northern central New South Wales, Deniliquin in the Riverina district also in NSW, and Mount Gambier in the eastern part of South Australia.

Western Australia

Secession movements have surfaced several times in Western Australia (WA), where a 1933 referendum for secession from the Federation of Australia passed with a two-thirds majority. The referendum had to be ratified by the British Parliament, which declined to act, on the grounds that it would contravene the Australian Constitution.

  • The Principality of Hutt River claims to have seceded from Australia in 1970, although its status is not recognised by Australia or any other country. According to a lexicon on nationalist movements across the world, Macau happened to recognise that Principality.[citation needed]


After being liberated by the Red Army and the U.S. ArmyAustria seceded from Nazi Germany on April 27, 1945. This took place after seven years of Austria’s being part of Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich due to the Anschluss annexation of Austria into Nazi Germany in March 1938, and could not have taken place without the Third Reich being defeated by the Allies.

Belgium and the Netherlands

On August 25, 1830, during the reign of William I, the nationalistic opera La muette de Portici was performed in Brussels. Soon after, the Belgian Revolt occurred, which resulted in the Belgian secession from the Netherlands.


In 1825, soon after the Empire of Brazil managed to defeat the Cortes-Gerais and Portugal in an Independence War, the platinean nationalists in Cisplatina declared independence and joined the United Provinces, which led to a stagnated war between both, as they were both weakened, without manpower and fragile politically. The peace treaty accepted Uruguay independence, reasserted the rule of both nations over their land and some important points like free navigation in the Silver River.

Three rather disorganized secessionist rebellions happened in Grão-Pará, Bahia and Maranhão, where the people were unhappy with the Empire (these provinces were Portuguese bastions in the Independence War). The Malê Revolt, in Bahia, was an Islamic slave revolt. These three rebellions were bloodily crushed by the Empire of Brazil.

The Pernambuco was one of the most nativist of all Brazilian regions, which in five revolts (1645–1654, 1710, 1817, 1824, 1848), the province ousted the Dutch West India Company, tried to secede from the Portuguese Empire and from the Brazilian Empire. In the attempts the rebels were crushed, the leaders shot and its territory divided, nevertheless they kept revolting until its territory was a little fraction of what it was before.

In the Ragamuffin War, the Province of Rio Grande do Sul was undergoing a (at that time common) liberal vs conservative “cold” war. After the Emperor favoured the conservatives, the liberals took the Capital and declared an independent Republic, fighting their way to the Province of Santa Catarina, declaring the Juliana Republic. Eventually they were slowly forced back, and made a reunification peace with the Empire. The war was not a secessionist war, even if it could become if the Empire were defeated, after the Empire agreed to aid its economy by taxing Argentina’s products (like dry meat), the rebels reunited with the Empire and even filled its ranks, as the rebels were very good fighters.

In modern times, the South Region of Brazil has been the centre of a secessionist movement led by an organization called The South is My Country since the 1990s. Reasons cited for South Region Brazil’s secession are taxation due to it being one of the wealthiest regions in the country and political disputes with the northernmost states of Brazil as well as the recent scandal revolving around the Workers Partyfound to be making shady deals with state-owned oil company Petrobras and the impeachment of then-President Dilma Rouseff additionally there is also an ethnic divide as the South Region is predominately European populated primarily by GermansItaliansPortuguese and other European countries in contrast to the rest of Brazil which is a multicultural melting pot “Racial Democracy“. The South Region in 2016 voted in an unofficial referendum called “Plebisul” in which 616,917 (or half a million) voters overwhelming supported secession and the creation of an independent South Region by 95%. Another Brazilian secession movement is based in the state of Sao Paulo which seeks to create to make the state an independent country from the rest of Brazil.


Throughout Canada’s history, there has been tension between English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians. Under the Constitutional Act of 1791, the Quebec colony (including parts of what is today Quebec, Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador) was divided in two: Lower Canada (which retained French law and institutions and is now divided between the provinces of Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador) and Upper Canada (a new colony intended to accommodate the many English-speaking settlers, including the United Empire Loyalists, and now part of Ontario). The intent was to provide each group with its own colony. In 1841, the two Canadas were merged into the Province of Canada. The union proved contentious, however, resulting in a legislative deadlock between English and French legislators. The difficulties of the union led to the adoption of a federal system in Canada, and the Canadian Confederation in 1867. The federal framework did not eliminate all tensions, however, leading to the Quebec sovereignty movement in the latter half of the 20th century.

Other occasional secessionist movements have included anti-Confederation movements in 19th century Atlantic Canada (see Anti-Confederation Party), the North-West Rebellion of 1885, and various small separatism movements in Alberta particularly (see Alberta separatism) and Western Canada generally (see, for example, Western Canada Concept).

Central America

After the 1823 collapse of the First Mexican Empire, the former Captaincy-General of Guatemala was organized into a new Federal Republic of Central America. In 1838 Nicaragua seceded. The Federal Republic was formally dissolved in 1840, all but one of the states having seceded amidst general disorder.



In 1960 the State of Katanga declared independence from the Democratic Republic of the CongoUnited Nations troops crushed it in Operation Grand Slam.

Northern Cyprus


In 1974, the Turkish Army invaded northern Cyprus to protect the interests of the ethnic Turkish minority, who in the following year formed the Turkish Federative State of Cyprus and in 1983 declared independence as the Republic of Northern Cyprus, recognized only by Turkey.

East Timor

September 1999 demonstration for independence from Indonesia

The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (also known as East Timor) has been described as having “seceded” from Indonesia.[19][20][21] After Portuguese sovereignty was terminated in 1975, East Timor was occupied by Indonesia. However the United Nations and the International Court of Justice refused to recognize this incorporation. Therefore, the resulting civil war and eventual 2002 East Timorese vote for complete separation are better described as an independence movement.[22]


Following the 1993 victory of opposition forces against the communist Derg regime during the Ethiopian Civil WarEritrea (formerly known as “Bahri Negash” before being renamed to “Eritrea” by Italian colonizers from 1890–1941) seceded in a United Nations referendum with the blessing of the newly formed Ethiopian government.

European Union

Before the Treaty of Lisbon entered into force on 1 December 2009 no provision in the treaties or law of the European Union outlined the ability of a state to voluntarily withdraw from the EU. The European Constitution did propose such a provision and, after the failure to ratify the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, that provision was then included in the Lisbon Treaty.

The treaty introduces an exit clause for members who wish to withdraw from the Union. This formalises the procedure by stating that a member state may notify the European Council that it wishes to withdraw, upon which withdrawal negotiations begin; if no other agreement is reached the treaty ceases to apply to the withdrawing state two years after such notification.[citation needed]


Finland successfully and peacefully seceded from the newly formed and weak Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic in 1917, the latter led by Lenin who had goodwill towards the Finns due to their having helped in his revolutionary struggle. Unsuccessful attempts at greater autonomy or peaceful secession had already been made during the preceding Russian Empire but had been denied by the Russian emperor.


Gran Colombia

Map showing the shrinking territory of Gran Colombia from 1824 to 1890 (red line). Panama separated from Colombia in 1903.

After a decade of tumultuous federalism, Ecuador and Venezuela seceded from Gran Colombia in 1830, leaving the similarly tumultuous United States of Colombia, now the Republic of Colombia which also lost Panama in 1903.


Pakistan seceded from the British Indian empire in what is known as the Partition. Today, the Constitution of India does not allow Indian states to secede from the Union. The disputed territory of Indian-administered Kashmir has had a violent nationalist movement against Indian annexation mostly in the Valley of Kashmir since 1989, which continues and is supported by Pakistan. Other violent secessionist movements in NagalandAssamManipurPunjab (known as the Khalistan movement), Mizoram and Tripura were also formerly active, while Tamil Nadu had a non-violent movement in the 1960s.[23] While a violent Maoist Naxalite insurgency continues to rage across a wide-swath of eastern rural India, the movement is not considered a secessionist movement because the goal of the Maoists is to overthrow the government of India, although rebel commanders have occasionally called for a Communist republic to be carved out of swaths of India. The Pakistani Armed organizations is a participant in the Kashmir conflict and strives to establish the merger state of Jammu and Kashmir from secular India to Muslim Pakistan.


The Movement for the Independence of Sicily (Movimento Indipendentista Siciliano, MIS) has its roots in the Sicilian Independence Movement of the late 1940s; they have been around for 60 years. Today, the MIS no longer exists, though many other parties have been born. One is Nation Sicily (Sicilia Nazione), which still believes in the idea that Sicily, due to its deeply personal and ancient history, has to be a sovereign country. Moreover, a common ideology shared by all the Sicilian independentist movements is to fight against Cosa Nostra and all the other Mafia organizations, that have a very deep influence over Sicily’s public and private institutions. Also, the Sicilian branch of the Five Star Movement, which is according to the polls Sicily’s most popular party, has publicly expressed the intention to start working for a possible secession from Italy in the case where the central government would not collaborate in shifting the nation’s administrative organization from a unitary country to a federative country. Lega Nord has been seeking the independence of the so-called region of Padania, which includes lands along the Po Valley in northern Italy. Some organizations separately work for the independence of Venetia or Veneto and the secession or reunification of South Tyrol with Austria. Lega Nord governing Lombardy has expressed a will to turning the region into a sovereign country. Also the island of Sardinia is home to a notable nationalist movement. In Southern Italy several movements have expressed a will to secede from Italy. This newborn ideology is so-called neo-Bourbonic, because the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was under the control of the House of Bourbon. The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was created in 1816 after the Congress of Vienna, and it comprised both Sicily and continental Southern Italy. The Kingdom came to an end in 1861, being annexed to the newborn Kingdom of Italy. However, the patriotic feelings shared among the southern Italian population is more ancient, starting in 1130 with the Kingdom of Sicily, which was composed by both the island and south Italy. According to the neo-Bourbonic movements the Italian regions which should secede are SicilyCalabriaBasilicataApuliaMoliseCampaniaAbruzzo, and Latio‘s provinces of RietiLatina and Frosinone. The major movements and parties which believe in this ideology are Unione MediterraneaMo! and Briganti.


Active secession movements include: Iranian AzeriAssyrian independence movement, Bakhtiary lurs movement in 1876, Iranian KurdistanKurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI)Khūzestān ProvinceBalochistan independence movement for free separated Balochistan, (Arab nationalist); Al-Ahwaz Arab People’s Democratic Popular Front, Democratic Solidarity Party of Al-Ahwaz (See Politics of Khūzestān Province: Arab politics and separatism), and Balochistan People’s Party (BPP) supporting Baloch Separatism.[24]


The Ryukyuan (Okinawan) people had their own state historically (Ryukyu Kingdom) and have sought to become independent from Japan since they were annexed by Japan in 1879, and especially after 1972 when the islands were transferred from U.S. rule to Japan.


When racial and partisan strife erupted, Singapore was expelled from the Malaysian federation in 1965. Agitation for secession has since been sporadic on the culturally distinct large island of Borneo in the states of Sabah and Sarawak although these sentiments have been gaining momentum and support in the past few years following the proliferation of social medias and failure of the central government to fulfill conditions of the Malaysia Agreement 1963.


The Territorial evolution of Mexicoafter independence, noting losses to the US (red, white and orange) and the secession of Central America (purple)

New Zealand

Secession movements have surfaced several times in the South Island of New Zealand. A Premier of New Zealand, Sir Julius Vogel, was amongst the first people to make this call, which was voted on by the Parliament of New Zealand as early as 1865. The desire for South Island independence was one of the main factors in moving the capital of New Zealand from Auckland to Wellington in the same year.

The NZ South Island Party with a pro-South agenda, fielded only five candidates (4.2% of electoral seats) candidates in the 1999 General Election but achieved only 0.14% (2622 votes) of the general vote. The reality today is that although “South Islanders” are most proud of their geographic region, secession does not carry any real constituency; the party was not able to field any candidates in the 2008 election due to being unable to enlist 500 paying members, a requirement by the New Zealand Electoral commission. The party is treated more as a “joke” party than any real political force.


A girl during the Nigerian Civil War of the late 1960s. Pictures of the famine caused by Nigerian blockade garnered sympathy for the Biafrans worldwide.

Between 1967 and 1970, the state of Biafra (The Republic of Biafra) seceded from Nigeria and fought a war that ended with the state returning to Nigeria. Later in 1999 at the beginning of a new democratic regime, other secessionist movements emerged, the movement for the Actualization of a Sovereign state of Biafra was formed as a military wing of the Republic of Biafra.

Norway and Sweden

Sweden, having left the Kalmar Union with Denmark and Norway in the 16th century, entered into a loose personal union with Norway in 1814. Following a constitutional crisis, on June 7, 1905 the Norwegian Parliament declared that King Oscar II had failed to fulfill his constitutional duties. He was therefore no longer King of Norway and because the union depended on the two countries sharing a king, it was thus dissolved. After negotiations Sweden agreed to this on October 26 and on April 14.


After the Awami League won the 1970 national elections, negotiations to form a new government floundered, resulting in the Bangladesh Liberation War by which the eastern wing of Pakistan seceded, to become Bangladesh. The Balochistan Liberation Army (also Baloch Liberation Army or Boluchistan Liberation army) (BLA) is a Baloch nationalistmilitant secessionist organization. The stated goals of the organization include the establishment of an independent state of Balochistan free of PakistaniIranian and Afghan Federations . The name Baloch Liberation Army first became public in summer 2000, after the organization claimed credit for a series of bomb attacks in markets and removal of railways lines.[citation needed]

Papua New Guinea

The island of Bougainville has made several efforts to secede from Papua New Guinea.


Somaliland is an autonomous region,[25] which is part of the Federal Republic of Somalia.[26][27] Those who call the area the Republic of Somaliland consider it to be the successor state of the former British Somaliland protectorate. Having established its own local government in Somalia in 1991, the region’s self-declared independence remains unrecognized by any country or international organization.[28][29]

Soviet Union

The Constitution of the Soviet Union guaranteed all SSRs the right to secede from the Union. In practice however, the central government wouldn’t allow an SSR to secede. In 1990, after free elections, the Lithuanian SSR declared independence and other SSRs soon followed. Despite the Soviet central-government’s refusal to recognize the independence of the republics, the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991.

South Africa

In 1910, following the British Empire’s defeat of the Afrikaners in the Boer Wars, four self-governing colonies in the south of Africa were merged into the Union of South Africa. The four regions were the Cape ColonyOrange Free StateNatal and Transvaal. Three other territories, High Commission Territories of Bechuanaland (now Botswana), Basutoland (now Lesotho) and Swaziland later became independent states in the 1960s. Following the election of the Nationalist government in 1948, some English-speaking whites in Natal advocated either secession or a loose federation.[30] There were also calls for secession, with Natal and the eastern part of the Cape Province breaking away.[31] following the referendum in 1960 on establishing a republic, and in 1993, prior to South Africa’s first elections under universal suffrage and the end of apartheid, some Zulu leaders in KwaZulu-Natal[32] considered secession as did some politicians in the Cape Province.[33]

In 2008, a political movement calling for the return to independence of the Cape resurged in the shape of the political organisation, the Cape Party. The Cape Party contested their first elections on 22 April 2009.[34]



A republican mural in Belfast showing solidarity with the Basque nationalism.

Spain (known officially as “the Kingdom of Spain”) was assembled in the 15th and 16th centuries from various component kingdoms, some having lost their secession wars. Spain has several secessionist movements, the most notable being in Catalonia and in the Basque Country.

Sri Lanka

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, operated a de facto independent state for Tamils called Tamil Eelam in eastern and northern Sri Lanka until 2009.

South Sudan 

A referendum took place in Southern Sudan from 9 to 15 January 2011, on whether the region should remain a part of Sudan or become independent. The referendum was one of the consequences of the 2005 Naivasha Agreement between the Khartoum central government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M).

A simultaneous referendum was supposed to be held in Abyei on whether to become part of Southern Sudan but it has been postponed due to conflict over demarcation and residency rights.

On 7 February 2011, the referendum commission published the final results, with 98.83% voting in favour of independence. While the ballots were suspended in 10 of the 79 counties for exceeding 100% of the voter turnout, the number of votes were still well over the requirement of 60% turnout, and the majority vote for secession is not in question.

The predetermined date for the creation of an independent state was 9 July 2011.


In 1847, seven disaffected Catholic cantons formed a separate alliance because of moves to change the cantons of Switzerland from a confederation to a more centralized government federation. This effort was crushed in the Sonderbund War and a new Swiss Federal Constitution was created.[35]


Donetsk status referendum organized by pro-Russian separatists. A line to enter a polling place, 11 May 2014

In the aftermath of the Ukrainian Revolution of 2014, several regions of Ukraine declared independence:

  • In March 2014, the governments of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol declared independence from Ukraine and asked to join the Russian Federation.[36][37]
  • The Donetsk People’s Republic was declared to be independent from Ukraine on 7 April 2014, comprising the territory of the Donetsk Oblast. There have been military confrontations between the Ukrainian Army and the forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic when the Ukrainian Government attempted to reassert control over the oblast.
  • The Lugansk Parliamentary Republic was proclaimed on 27 April 2014.[38] before being succeeded by the Lugansk People’s Republic. The Lugansk forces have successfully occupied vital buildings in Lugansk since 8 April, and controlled the City Council, prosecutor’s office, and police station since 27 April.[39] The Government of the Lugansk Oblast announced its support for a referendum, and granted the governorship to independence leader Valeriy Bolotov.[40]

United Kingdom[edit]

What is now the Republic of Ireland is the only territory that has withdrawn from the United Kingdom proper. Ireland declared independence in 1916 and, as the Irish Free State, gained independence in 1922. Currently the United Kingdom has a number of secession movements:

United States

Discussions and threats of secession often surface in American politics, and secession was declared during the American Civil War. However, in 1869 the United States Supreme Court ruled in Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700 (1869) that unilateral secession was not permitted saying that the union between a state (Texas in the case before the bar) “was as complete, as perpetual, and as indissoluble as the union between the original States. There was no place for reconsideration or revocation, except through revolution or through consent of the States.”[42][43]


North Yemen and South Yemen merged in 1990; tensions led to a 1994 southern secession which was crushed in a civil war.


A destroyed T-34-85 tank in Karlovac, Croatian War of Independence, 1992

On June 25, 1991, Croatia and Slovenia seceded from the Socialist Federal Republic of YugoslaviaBosnia and Herzegovina and Macedonia also declared independence, after which the federation broke up, causing the separation of the remaining two countries Serbia and Montenegro. Several wars ensued between FR Yugoslavia and seceding entities and among other ethnic groups in SloveniaCroatiaBosnia and Herzegovina, and later, KosovoMontenegro peacefully separated from its union with Serbia in 2006.

Kosovo declared de facto independence on February 17, 2008, and was recognized by several dozen countries, but officially remains under United Nationsadministration.

See also





  1. Jump up to:a b Allen Buchanan“Secession”, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2007.
  2. ^ Pavkovic, Aleksandar; Radan, Peter (2013). The Ashgate Research Companion to Secession. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 3. ISBN 9780754677024.
  3. Jump up to:a b Pavkovic, Aleksandar; Radan, Peter (2007). Creating New States: Theory and Practice of Secession. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing. p. 6. ISBN 9780754671633.
  4. ^ Pavkovic, Aleksandar; Radan, Peter (2008). On the Way to Statehood: Secession and Globalisation. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 133. ISBN 9780754673798.
  5. ^ Allen Buchanan, Secession: The Morality of Political Divorce From Fort Sumter to Lithuania and Quebec, West View Press, 1991.
  6. Jump up to:a b Butt, Ahsan I. (2017-11-15). Secession and Security: Explaining State Strategy against Separatists. Cornell Studies in Security Affairs. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. ISBN 9781501713941.
  7. ^ Allen Buchanan, How can We Construct a Political Theory of Secession?, paper presented October 5, 2006 to the International Studies Association.
  8. ^ Anthony H. Birch, “Another Liberal Theory of Secession”. Political Studies 32, 1984, 596–602.
  9. ^ Jane Jacobs, Cities and the Wealth of Nations, Vintage, 1985.
  10. ^ Frances Kendall and Leon Louw, After Apartheid: The Solution for South Africa, Institute for Contemporary Studies, 1987. One of several popular books they wrote about canton-based constitutional alternatives that include an explicit right to secession.
  11. ^ Leopold KohrThe Breakdown of Nations, Routledge & K. Paul, 1957
  12. ^ Human Scale, Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1980.
  13. ^ “Full text of “The writings of Thomas Jefferson; Retrieved 12 August 2015.
  14. ^ University of Technology, Sydney description of Aleksandar Pavkovic
  15. Jump up to:a b Aleksandar Pavkovic, Secession, Majority Rule and Equal Rights: a Few QuestionsMacquarie University Law Journal, 2003.
  16. ^ Steven Yates, “When Is Political Divorce Justified” in David Gordon, 1998.
  17. ^ Allen Buchanan, Secession: The Morality of Political Divorce From Fort Sumter to Lithuania and Quebec, Chapter 3, pp. 87–123.
  18. ^ Coggins, Bridget (2011-07-01). “Friends in High Places: International Politics and the Emergence of States from Secessionism”International Organization65 (3): 433–467. doi:10.1017/S0020818311000105ISSN 1531-5088.
  19. ^ Santosh C. Saha, Perspectives on contemporary ethnic conflictp. 63, Lexington Books, 2006 ISBN 0-7391-1085-3.
  20. ^ Paul D. Elliot, The East Timor Dispute, The International and Comparative Law Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 1 (Jan., 1978).
  21. ^ James J. Fox, Dionisio Babo Soares, Out of the ashes: destruction and reconstruction of East Timorp. 175, ANU E Press, 2003, ISBN 0-9751229-1-6
  22. ^ Thomas D. Musgrave, Self-determination and national minoritiesp. xiii, Oxford University Press, 2000 ISBN 0-19-829898-6
  23. ^ Linz, Juan; Stepan, Alfred; Yadav, Yogendra (2007). ‘Nation State’ or ‘State Nation’: India in Comparative Perspective. Oxford University Press. pp. 81–82. ISBN 0-19-568368-4
  24. ^ “UNPO: West Balochistan” Retrieved 12 August2015.
  25. ^ No Winner Seen in Somalia’s Battle With Chaos New York Times, June 2, 2009
  26. ^ The Transitional Federal Charter of the Somali RepublicArchived 2009-03-25 at the Wayback Machine.: “The Somali Republic shall have the following boundaries. (a) North; Gulf of Aden. (b) North West; Djibouti. (c) West; Ethiopia. (d) South south-west; Kenya. (e) East; Indian Ocean.”
  27. ^ “The World Factbook” Retrieved 12 August 2015.
  28. ^ The Signs Say Somaliland, but the World Says Somalia
  29. ^ UN in Action: Reforming Somaliland’s Judiciary
  30. ^ SOUTH AFRICA: Cry of Secession TIME, Monday, May 11, 1953
  31. ^ Secession Talked by Some Anti-RepublicansSaskatoon Star-Phoenix, 11 October 1960
  32. ^ Launching Democracy in South Africa: The First Open Election, April 1994R. W. Johnson, Lawrence Schlemmer, Yale University Press, 1996
  33. ^ Party Wants the Cape to Secede”Business Day, December 24, 1993.
  34. ^ Cape Party Website, Monday, May 11, 1953
  35. ^ A Brief Survey of Swiss History, Switzerland Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.
  36. ^ Gavin Hewitt (March 17, 2014). “Crimean parliament formally applies to join Russia”. News. Retrieved April 20, 2014.
  37. ^ “Парламент Крыма принял Декларацию о независимости АРК и г. Севастополя [Crimean parliament adopted the Declaration of Independence of the ARC and Sevastopol]” (in Russian). 11 March 2014. Archived from the original on 13 March 2014. Retrieved 12 March 2014.
  38. ^ “Federalization supporters in Luhansk proclaim people’s republic”TASS: World. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
  39. ^ “Ukraine crisis: Pro-Russia activists take Luhansk offices”. BBC News. 29 April 2014. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  40. ^ “Luhansk regional council backs referendum on region’s status”. Retrieved 6 May 2014.
  41. ^ Smout, Alistair; MacLellan, Kylie; Holton, Kate (September 19, 2014). “Scotland stays in UK, but Britain faces change”Reuters – Special Report. Retrieved September 19, 2014.
  42. ^ Texas v. White, 74 U.S. 700 (1868) at Cornell University Law School Supreme Court collection.
  43. ^ Aleksandar Pavković, Peter Radan, Creating New States: Theory and Practice of Secession, p. 222, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2007.

Further reading

  • Buchanan, Allen, Justice, Legitimacy, and Self-Determination: Moral Foundations for International Law (Oxford Political Theory)Oxford University Press, 2007.
  • Buchanan, Allen, Secession: The Morality Of Political Divorce From Fort Sumter To Lithuania And QuebecWestview Press, 1991.
  • Coppieters, Bruno; Richard Sakwa, Richard (eds.), Contextualizing Secession: Normative Studies in Comparative Perspective, Oxford University Press, USA, 2003
  • Dos Santos, Anne Noronha, Military Intervention and Secession in South Asia: The Cases of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Kashmir, and Punjab (Psi Reports), Praeger Security International, 2007.
  • Gordon, David, Secession, State and Liberty, Transactions Publishers, 1998.
  • Hannum, Hurst, Autonomy, Sovereignty, and Self-Determination: The Accommodation of Conflicting RightsUniversity of Pennsylvania Press, 1996.
  • Hawes, Robert F., One Nation, Indivisible? A Study of Secession and the Constitution, Fultus Corporation, 2006.
  • Jovanovic, Miodrag, Constitutionalizing Secession in Federalized States: A Procedural ApproachAshgate Publishing, 2006.
  • Kohen, Marcelo G. (ed.), Secession: International Law Perspectives, Cambridge University Press, 2006.
  • Kohr, Leopold, The Breakdown of Nations, Routledge & K. Paul, 1957.
  • Lehning, Percy, Theories of SecessionRoutledge, 1998.
  • Norman, Wayne, Negotiating Nationalism: Nation-Building, Federalism, and Secession in the Multinational State, Oxford University Press, USA, 2006.
  • Orlov, DimitryReinventing Collapse, New Society Books, 2008, ISBN 978-0-86571-606-3
  • Pascalev, Mario, “Territory: An Account of the Territorial Authority of States.” Dissertation, Bowling Green State University, VDM, 2009.
  • Sorens, Jason, Secessionism: Identity, Interest, and StrategyMcGill-Queen’s University Press, 2012.
  • Sorens, Jason (2008). “Sessionism”. In Hamowy, RonaldThe Encyclopedia of Libertarianism. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGECato Institute. pp. 455–56. doi:10.4135/9781412965811.n277ISBN 978-1-4129-6580-4LCCN 2008009151OCLC 750831024.
  • Spencer, Metta, Separatism: Democracy and Disintegration, Rowman & Littlefield, 1998.
  • Weller, Marc, Autonomy, Self Governance and Conflict Resolution (Kindle Edition)Taylor & Francis, 2007.
  • Wellman, Christopher Heath, A Theory of Secession, Cambridge University Press, 2005..
  • Secession And International Law: Conflict Avoidance-regional AppraisalsUnited Nations Publications, 2006.
%d bloggers like this: