Secession lagniappe

Apologies for any paywalled links, I’ve tried to double-up sources where that occurs.

Local law enforcement teamed up with the FBI to raid a meeting of The Republic of Texas, a group that believes they never legally joined the union. More here.  And a RT documentary on the group from last year:

 

A group of Southern Tier towns in New York are threatening secession due to their state’s fracking ban.  The Economist picked up the story in its last issue:

The Southern Tier used to be called the “Valley of Opportunity”, with companies like IBM employing thousands. But the area’s big employers left or downsized long ago. The economy is stagnant, with houses for sale everywhere. Windsor cannot afford a police department. Even its funeral homes are long gone. Meanwhile, just yards away in Pennsylvania, Great Bend is thriving. The neighbours have new cars, freshly painted houses and jobs, and all from shale.

In Oregon, a petition to split off East Portland was shot down and “would need to be rewritten.”

*****

Independence movements are alive and well across Europe, according to Peter Geoghegan at The Irish Times:

European borders have shifted only a handful of times over the last two decades: the dissolution of Serbia and Montenegro; Kosovan independence in 2008; Russia’s annexation of Crimea last year. But the boundaries are unlikely to remain so static.

In Belgium, the divide between French-speaking Wallonia and Dutch-speaking Flanders has long stymied attempts to foster national unity. The largest party in the whole of Belgium is the nationalist New Flemish Alliance (N-VA). The N-VA has previously called for the more prosperous Flanders to leave the Francophone south. With the European Commission in Brussels, the break-up would have EU-wide ramifications.

Independence movements are riding high elsewhere on the continent. At nationalist gatherings from Edinburgh to Barcelona over the last 18 months, I have met gaggles of people carrying the Venetian flag. Last year, 89 per cent of Venetians voted for independence in an online petition.

Spain’s highest court ruled that the Catalan vote in November was unconstitutional, not surprisingly.

Elsewhere in Spain, in a negative development for Podemos, the Catalan Ciudadanos party is rising rapidly. The anti-independence party has already polled at over 18% by some tallies.

As the chances of Grexit recede, will Brexit be the new focus for the EU?

Lithuanians are worried Putin will turn his annexing eye to the Baltics next.  A very interesting Foreign Affairs article explains. The government has diversified energy dependency away from Russia and is attempting to bring back conscription.  Here’s a more in-depth take.

Is autonomous Somaliland making any progress towards formal independence?  Officials are looking to capitalize on its relative stability by attracting tourists.

China is staying busy in the South China Sea.

Rand Paul boldly calls for a Kurdish state.

Secessionist support is enough to get you arrested in Malaysia.

Honduran ZEDEs, debated.

*****

Patri Friedman likens progressivism to the second law of thermodynamics, which is not a complement:

One of the things life has taught me this decade is the importance of exclusion and boundaries, which are highly relevant to this metaphor. A thermodynamic system with poor borders (less insulation), will have greater thermal conductivity. It may do more work initially, but it will also move at maximum speed towards that final resting state where all energy is evenly distributed. Such a state is peaceful in precisely the same way as death; for without flows of energy, there can be no life (in vivo or in silico – as no computation is possible). I suppose those who think human extinction is fair or just will consider this the state of ultimate fairness. I don’t particularly care for that final solution.

So if you even care about life existing – let alone the infinite diversity possible therein – then (contra Caplan), boundaries (such as national borders) are an absolute necessity. No differences, no energy flow, no (thermodynamic) work, no life. As in the stars, so on the earth: romance flows from polarity; trade from comparative advantage; thermodynamic work from heat differences; evolution from variation; economic competition from competing alternatives. All progress is driven by differences; so to erase differences is (counter-eponymously) to end progress.

Can devolving more power to major cities save fragile states?  The case of Nigeria.

Will Venezuela be the next Ukraine?

Tyler Cowen on where to head if you’d like to vote with your feet.

Status quo bias as the main barrier to border flexibility.

(Image source)

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