Monday, July 11, 2016

All People Have a Right to Self-Determination

Richard Ebeling emails:

Dear Bob,

I have a new article on the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) website on “All People Have a Right to Self-Determination.”

The recent vote in the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union has implicitly raised again the issue of the right of self-determination and secession.

The Classical Liberal ideal calls for an individual to be secure in his rights to his life, liberty and property, free to live, work and interact with whomever he chooses for non-fraudulent and peaceful purposes. He should also be free to live under a political authority of his own choice.

The Austrian economist, Ludwig von Mises, suggested that this includes the right of individuals within localities regions and districts, through plebiscite, to select the government or state under which they shall live through such localities, regions or districts remaining in their current state, territorially transferred to another state, or through the creation of a new state reflecting the wishes of the residents.

If such a policy of self-determination had been or applied to the Crimea, for example, rather than compelling all the Russians, Ukrainians and Tatars who reside on the peninsula having to accept jurisdiction under either Ukrainian or Russian citizenship, the individuals in different parts of the Crimea could have chosen the political authority they preferred or even opted for a new separate government, as might have been the desire of the Tatars.

In the more recent case of the UK referendum on EU membership, it was far from a unanimous decision by the voters. Majorities in Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the European Union. The logical implication, given sentiments already express by some since the referendum in these two parts of the United Kingdom, should be plebiscites to determine whether they wish to leave the UK, with new borders reflecting the district, regional and local wishes of the people in these areas.

Such an approach could also serve to minimize discriminatory circumstances under which religious, linguistic, racial minorities, for instance, finding themselves in countries with majorities using the government to benefit themselves at the expense of the minority.


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