Weekly links over on the porch
Also, I’ll be filling in again for Mike Church on Thursday, 6-9 AM on Sirius XM Patriot. Tune in. I’ll post guests here when I confirm them.
Weekly links over on the porch
Also, I’ll be filling in again for Mike Church on Thursday, 6-9 AM on Sirius XM Patriot. Tune in. I’ll post guests here when I confirm them.
Claiming a 2.7 square-mile spot of land between Croatia and Serbia, a Czech libertarian has declared the Republic of Liberland as a sovereign micronation. Croatia controls access to the disputed area but apparently does not formally claim it. Straight from Liberland’s snazzy web presence:
Liberland came into existence due to a border dispute between Croatia and Serbia. This area along the west bank of the Danube river is not claimed by Croatia, Serbia or any other country. It was therefore terra nullius, a no man’s land, until Vít Jedlička seized the opportunity and on 13 April 2015 formed a new state in this territory – Liberland. The boundary was defined so as not to interfere with the territory of Croatia or Serbia. Its total area of approximately 7 km² is now the third smallest sovereign state, after the Vatican and Monaco. The motto of Liberland is “To live and let live” because Liberland prides itself on personal and economic freedom of its people, which is guaranteed by the Constitution, which significantly limits the power of politicians so they could not interfere too much in the freedoms of the Liberland nation.
Chris Roth’s piece is a good overview but closes with a warning:
Of all these past attempts, President Jedlička might do well to note the fate of the Republic of Minerva. He chose the Minerva Reefs because they were pieces of “land” that had fallen between the cracks of two established states, Fiji and Tonga, which were not claiming them. But then as soon as the project got rolling, the neighbors changed their minds and wanted in on the project. That ended badly. Imagine how much uglier it could get if Jedlička not only lost his utopia invaded but found himself literally in the middle of a renewed territorial battle between Serbs and Croats. Liberland might be in a pretty spot, but it’s one of the most volatile borders in recent history.
Vice and Quartz also have decent articles out. The story is getting tons of play, with over 300,000 people applying for physical or digital residence. It is getting enough play that perhaps a whole lot of people who have never before really thought about initial land acquisition, homesteading rights, the determinants of a state, the legitimacy of state power, the concept of national exit, and micronations… just did so. No matter what, if anything, comes of Liberland, there is at least that positive. Overall, I was struck by how seriously many outlets took the premise in their articles.
Migrant deaths as Europe’s biggest challenge
More (see last lagniappe) on shared space roads from TAC
Quiz! Name all the six-letter countries. (Who can beat 23?)
Twelve “absurd” communist buildings still standing
Foreign policy hawk biases
China is not loosening its electoral grip on Hong Kong.
Even more on Chinese island-building, micronations, history, & geopolitics all in one short article.
Big news: Largest party in Republika Srpska threatens a referendum on leaving Bosnia.
The Catalan (anti-independence) Ciudadanos party, highlighted on this blog before, might have a silver lining for fans of the market.
Lots of good comments on this Crooked Timber post on the U.K. and the SNP.
Hunger strikes for Corsican autonomy
Novorossiya flags at UEFA qualifying matches
Headwinds in Kurdistan
Very good deep-dive on where Somaliland stands
They’ve built their state now. 24 years and counting, and it’s got everything it should have: rule of law, elections, a basic respect for human rights. But far from being impressed, the international community shows little sign of noticing, let alone caring. Somalilanders are getting the message. And although they’re not yet willing to admit it, they are beginning to lose faith.
Mozambique’s parliament threw out the opposition party’s autonomy proposal, as expected.
The State of Jefferson’s newest enemy: The Keep It California PAC
Caribou, ME is postponing a public hearing on a split
Secessionist billboards in Arkansas
What would the demographics of a South Florida state look like?
Puerto Rican bankruptcy
Iraqi Kurdistan exists, in whatever form, in dangerous and shifting surroundings. But that has been the case since 1991, when it first got extreme autonomy, thanks to the no-fly zone imposed by America and its allies. Since then, it has steadily entrenched itself as the rest of Iraq has fallen apart, especially after IS grabbed a chunk of it. Never before has Turkey been so friendly to Iraq’s Kurds. Never before has the government in Baghdad needed the co-operation of the Kurds in Erbil so badly. Now, surely, is the Kurdish moment.
“If we don’t decentralize, the country will disintegrate.” Iraq.
Quotes from Artur Mas on Catalan independence.
The U.K., Spain, and Gibraltar
Do immigration and demographics put a time limit on Quebec separatism?
More Chinese warnings to Taiwan to stay put
Top Chinese official in Tibet wants temples and monasteries to spout propaganda, raise Chinese flag.
Vice with a great piece on the Yemeni conflict and with a focus on the southern secessionist role to-boot. Recommended. A piece:
This version of events fits into a popular narrative of a war in Yemen made up of two neat coalitions: on one side the Houthis, an Iranian proxy backed by Saleh, who hopes he can use the current conflict to restore his family to power. On the other, Sunni Yemenis from the north and south rallying around Hadi who are backed by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states and intent on restoring Hadi to the presidency. It’s a story that helps make a complex country easier to understand. The problem for the Saudis is that many of those doing the fighting in the south have long shared a single goal — one that Hadi has said, explicitly and repeatedly, he does not endorse: independence from the north.
Mike Gibson thinks technology will render governance models optional in the future:
The next 15 years will not pit the Washington Consensus against the Beijing Consensus — or other authoritarian models — but both of these against the Nakamoto Consensus. The diffusion of the smartphone, strong crytpography, and peer-to-peer decentralized public ledgers will weld individuals, networks and voluntary hierarchies into single units of sovereign power capable of opt-out and opt-in governance without precedent
Thiel’s comments on peaking globalization from his conversation with Tyler Cowen:
If you want a long/short blue-state trade you want to be long California, short New York. The long/short red-state trade by the way is you want to be long Texas and short Virginia… Both Texas and California are actually sort of very inward-focused places. California, both the Hollywood version and the Silicon Valley version are sort of very focused in on themselves and Texas is also a very inward-focused place. And what D.C. and New York City have in common is they are centers of globalization. Finance is sort of an industry that is fundamentally leveraged to globalization and D.C. is fundamentally leveraged to international geopolitics. I would bet on globalization sort of slowly being in abeyance. With the benefit of hindsight I think we will realize that 2007 was not just the peak year of the finance boom but also the peak year of globalization.
Arnold Kling on Thiel. The Economist weighed in last December. Trade as a % of world GDP has indeed stalled at 60% the last five years or so, although this has occurred a few other times in the post-war era. Here is a chart I made using World Bank data.
Charles Murray’s new book thinks rolling back federal power through traditional means is futile and advocates civil disobedience and legal defense funds to litigate legislation to death.
Speculative thoughts on shareholder cities
Check out the Voice & Exit conference in Austin, TX in June
Musings on nations and national identity
Spontaneous order and traffic lights. Video on the town of Poynton implementing a shared space intersection, as mentioned in the article:
How socialist were the Incas?
Anti-immigrant attacks are spreading in South Africa.
Newsflash: The Southern states are still distinct.
Libertarian defenses of Confederate secession are incoherent.
“Liberty Cities” in Texas
Tiny Caribou, Maine is making progress on a split
Your weekend links and tunes, over on the porch.
Yemen has been home to secessionist sentiment ever since its reunification following the Cold War in 1990. See Chris Roth for more background here and here. Now it is deteriorating. The Shia Houthi rebels of the north have made large gains in the last few weeks, claiming most of Taiz, the country’s third largest city. Saudi Arabia has entered the fray, leading a sizable coalition of states and raining airstrikes down all over the place in an effort to slow the Houthis and their Iranian influence. The U.S, a Saudi ally and supporter of the besieged Yemeni government is contributing logistics and surveillance for the strikes, so perhaps it’s not surprising that the civilian death toll is spiking. Houthi rebels have nonetheless seized the presidential palace in Aden despite this. The Saudis are now airdropping in weapons to anti-Houthi forces, which may or may not turn them back from Yemen’s second-largest hub. Speculation on Saudi ground troops is running rampant. Plus, the NYT is debating if “Yemen is America’s Fight“, so you know things have gotten bad enough that we can start to contemplate another unwinnable drawn out world-police war.
It’s worth noting that the Islamic State, previously thought to be inactive here, also came into the picture when suicide bombings that killed over 140 people in Houthi-dominated areas were claimed by an I.S. loyal group. So to the extent the U.S. gets involved in Yemen, it will be cooperating with Saudi Arabia (explicitly) and Islamic State (implicitly) against Houthi rebels (explicitly) and Iran (implicitly) while simultaneously cooperating with Iran against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Do I have that right? A confusing region is getting more confusing. Cue all the updated “The Middle East Explained in XYZ # of Chart” infographics. Better yet, don’t.
Iraq is claiming victory in Tikrit over Islamic State
Did the promise of more power to Scotland affect their referendum?
Moldova’s autonomous region elected a pro-Russian governor.
Brief look at Novorossiya’s role in Ukraine
The Chechen proxy war in Ukraine
Trouble between Armenia and Azerbaijan over a disputed separatist region
Singapore‘s independence “accident.”
Data visualization: % of global population living under various polities over time
Barlow’s 846-word text, published online in February 1996, begins with a bold rebuke of traditional sovereign powers: “Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.”
Micronations in pictures
Arctic private cities & implications for other-planet colonization
During their chat, Tyler Cowen and Peter Thiel were asked about private cities.
Thiel: If you could give me a convincing way it could work for $50 million instead of $50 billion, I’d be interested. & Cowen: I tend to favor larger political units and to think that human freedom will be found by the wealth and diversity within larger political units, giving people pockets. I’m not sure we will ever have a bottom-down creation of a lot of micro-units which compete very intensely and, through exit, give people true liberty. I’m more optimistic about the larger political unit vision.
Georgism and proprietary cities
Decentralization as free-market federalism
NYT Magazine article for open borders
Should Alberta ditch Canada for the U.S.?
Alberta as an independent country doesn’t solve a huge number of problems. If it left Canada, its currency goes through the roof because all it has is oil exports, and that would drive agriculture out of business. It would be a one-horse economy in a very short time.
Seceding to the U.S. becomes the only political and economic option. If you do that, the inflation issue goes away, the tax problem goes away, the security problem goes away. Alberta gets everything it says it wants out of Canada within the first year of joining the U.S.
On Hawaiian sovereignty.
L.A. Times overview of the Southern Tier N.Y. secession threat over fracking: “It’s hard for them to accept that the line on the map makes such a huge difference“
Short and sweet: The time has come for 51
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.
China defending its South China Sea activity
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.
Assimilation is an issue of scale and polycentrism can help. (very relevant to Thornton’s EU piece.)
The Economist is optimistic on the American Latino demographic.
For an open Mexican border, sans citizenship
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.