Bruce Thornton over at The Hoover Institution says the European Union’s days are numbered. Among the culprits are demographics, excessive regulation, monolithic monetary policy, welfare statism, secularism, multiculturalism, and rising nationalism, some of which are certainly intertwined. As he correctly points out, this list is mostly well understood – but perhaps the “perfect storm” view of it all is not. Pat Buchanan summarizes the piece as well. Here’s Thornton:
Nor over the last century have the various substitutes for Christianity managed to fill the void. Political religions like communism and fascism failed bloodily, leaving behind mountains of corpses. Nor has secular social democracy, with its utopian ideals, provided people with a transcendent principle that justifies sacrifice for the greater good, or even gives people a reason to reproduce. A shared commitment to leisure, a short workweek, and a generous social safety net is nothing worth killing or dying for. Neither is the vague idea of a transnational E.U. ruled by unaccountable Eurocrats in Brussels and Strasbourg.
More important, from its beginning, the idea of the E.U. depended on the denigration of patriotism and national pride, for these were seen as the road to the exclusionary, blood-and-soil nationalism that fed Nazism and fascism. Yet all peoples are the product of a particular culture, language, mores, histories, traditions, and landscapes. The “postmodern” abstract E.U. ideal of transcending such parochial identities was destined to collide with the real cultural differences between European nations.
Don’t miss Chris Roth’s 10 separatist movements to watch in 2015. It’s quite good. A few excerpts below. On Catalonia (#9):
Don’t let last month’s anticlimactic referendum fool you: Spain is fragmenting, and disappointment over what happened—and especially what didn’t—in November will only deepen the cracks. Catalans are just looking for the next vehicle for their frustration and impatience.
And East Turkestan (#8):
Uyghurs do, if they play it right, have the capacity to make Xinjiang ungovernable. It’s possible a truly general uprising would result in a bloodbath that would make the Tiananmen Square massacre look like nothing. But if it happens in the context of a general unraveling of Chinese unity—with separatist sentiment on the rise in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Tibet as well—then anything can happen.
Go read his Kurdistan (#1) comments for yourself – not to be missed.
Cleanest data yet proving Crimeans are very happy with Russian annexation via the Christian Science Monitor. Putin celebrated the 1-year anniversary by more extensively integrating the separatist South Ossetia region of Georgia. Russia beat back Georgia in 2008 in their defense, recognizes it as an independent state, and shovels it plenty of cash. None of this is lost on their President:
Mr. Tibilov remarked that Wednesday marked a year since Russia annexed Crimea. “We welcomed that step from the first day. South Ossetia welcomes all political steps that Russia’s leadership makes.” (WSJ)
Georgia’s other separatist region, Abkhazia, signed a treaty with Russia a few months ago as well, which this blog linked to at the time. Both come in at #4 in Roth’s 2015 list, where he calls them “puppet states” and says they have both “openly asked to be annexed by Russia.”
Despite its geographic size, South Ossetia only holds about 50,000 people. Here is the wikipedia entry and below is a map of the region as well as their coat of arms.
Related: how nervous does Putin make Estonia?
Why countries that recognize Palestine turn their back on Kosovo. (Hint: It’s America). Interesting read, although I’m not sure how the parties in question don’t also make use of “righteous indignation” in various ways. Anyways, the gist:
This ultimately renders humanitarian appeals for recognition in Kosovo and Palestine (and Abkhazia, and eastern Ukraine, and Kurdistan) rather dishonest. The nations in question, the actual people vying for self-determination, are championed by their respective supporters as suffering nobly under the yoke of amoral oppressors. To the pro-Kosovo faction, big-bad Russia and little-bad Serbia impede international recognition for the sake of being bad. To the pro-Palestine crowd, big-bad America and little-bad Israel deny Palestinian sovereignty within the same, moralistic, black-and-white framework.
All parties seem to use righteous indignation to their political advantage; except, of course, the parties with the most tangible stakes: the Kosovars and Palestinians. They are minimized to little more than chess pieces—pawns, in fact, the most disposable of chess pieces—buffeted between elite players in the great game of 21st century realpolitik. A game that, for these would-be states, offers no discernible prize.
A Robin Hanson reading of this might conclude secession isn’t (always) about independence. Related: Iranian propaganda in Kosovo and Netanyahu backs off his pre-election vow of no Palestinian statehood
A majority (52%) of Germans now want Greece out of the Eurozone. That’s 11 points higher than two weeks earlier.
Is a Scottish exit inevitable?
Icelandic President: “Independence in itself can never be a negative.”
The Dutch government must compensate the families of Indonesian men it summarily executed in that country’s war for independence in the 1940s
Good stats are hard to come by, but violence in Xinjiang / East Turkestan seems to be on the rise.
Hong Kong in disarray
China defending its South China Sea activity
Both Lake and Lassen Counties voted 3-2 to place the State of Jefferson on their general ballots. A dissenting Lassen county supervisor prefers to take aim at a 1964 Supreme Court Decision instead.
Lew Rockwell invokes Lysander Spooner and Frank Chodorov to beat back anti-secessionist “regime libertarians”, and closes with this:
Secession is not a popular idea among the political and media classes in America, to be sure, and regime libertarians may roll their eyes at it, but a recent poll found about a quarter of Americans sympathetic to the idea, despite the ceaseless barrage of nationalist propaganda emitted from all sides. A result like this confirms what we already suspected: that a substantial chunk of the public is willing to entertain unconventional thoughts. And that’s all to the good. Conventional American thoughts are war, centralization, redistribution, and inflation. The most unconventional thought in America today is liberty.
Lengthy City Journal piece on California’s founding that opens with a bang:
The founding of California was an adventure, an epic, a tragicomedy, a conquest, and a window into America’s soul. It was a creation ex nihilo that reveals the roots of society, the establishment of justice, and the very nature of man. “All our brutal passions were here to have full sweep, and all our moral strength, all our courage, our patience, our docility, and our social skill were to contend with these passions,” native son Josiah Royce wrote of his motherland in 1886. Philosophers have long extrapolated from existing states, of whose origins the precise details are lost, just how political life comes into being. In California, there is no need to speculate. It happened only yesterday, every noble act and sordid deed alike recorded.
Came across a recent internet poll asking if Upstate NY should secede. Comment # 8 is worth a look, highlighting the usual rural / urban policy mismatch.
South Miami is looking for help splitting Florida up.
Crying secession in Maine
The Republic of Oregon – 1840-1870
Assimilation is an issue of scale and polycentrism can help. (very relevant to Thornton’s EU piece.)
Alex Tabarrok and private cities. See also his chat with Russ Roberts on this topic.
in the NYT with an op-ed on
Jamshedpur, a private city in India
The Economist is optimistic on the American Latino demographic.
For an open Mexican border, sans citizenship
The marginal cases argument for open immigration
March 16th was Open Borders Day and an Open Borders Manifesto was written up. Here is their link round-up from the day.
Small countries in need of cash are selling rights to citizenship. Programs in Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Malta will have EU-wide ramifications.
Anarcho-capitalists in Cuba
Seasteading might get its own reality show.
(Image sources 1, 2, 3 and 4)