The Solution to Territorialism in Ukraine

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The prevalent idea throughout the world is that all political activity in a given territory (region) must be organized under a sole (monopolist) government. No matter what the form of such a government is (democracy, monarchy, aristocracy), this means domination by some citizens and suppression of other citizens. There is no general liberty in this idea, and it is not libertarian.

The Ukrainian coup changed some faces but kept the idea of a monopoly government based in Kiev. The anti-Kiev contingents that arose and took over government buildings carried out a referendum. The wording was ““Do you support the act of self-rule for the Donetsk People’s Republic?” This question also presumes a monopoly government; it’s just that its region is smaller. This referendum doesn’t challenge the basic idea of monopoly government; it doesn’t promote the liberty to choose one’s government at the personal level, that is, as a matter of individual choice. If individual people do not have the freedom of association at the individual level, then some will dominate others and liberty will be curtailed.

To see that there is no basic challenge to the idea of monopoly territorial government, imagine that Kiev ran a referendum throughout its current territory. Imagine that the majority of people supported self-rule for the Ukrainian Republic. On what grounds could the Donetsk supporters challenge such a vote when they are engaging in the same kind of vote, albeit on a smaller scale? At best, they can say that the preferences of most of those in their smaller region differ from the preferences of the larger Ukrainian region. But if it is the goal to have preferred government, then why not advocate allowing each person to choose their government, regardless of territory? Why not drop the idea of monopoly territorial government altogether? Why not replace it with the idea that each person has the basic right to choose his or her own non-territorial government? A person might also choose no government at all. In the same way that people choose other organizations to join (or not join) or to associate with (or not), the same can be done with government.

Lacking this basically peaceful idea, two sides are lining up against one another in violent confrontation in eastern Ukraine. They are pro-Kiev and anti-Kiev militias transforming into trained military forces. The downside of territorial government is always the domination of some by others. This entails outright violence to win control over a government and territory, or else the threat of violence if submission is not forthcoming in an already secured territory.

The solution that neither side has in mind, which is the peaceful solution, is for every person to have the freedom to sign up for whatever non-territorial political association he or she prefers, or none at all. This solution is explained here.

Libertarianism cannot ever, as a general matter, endorse government that is territorially based, which by this territory is therefore a monopoly in a region over everyone who happens to live there, whether they consent or not to that government. Libertarianism at its core has to favor the freedom to choose the non-territorial government one wants. Any territorial government of any form (republican, democratic, monarchical, oligarchic, kritarchic, aristocratic, communist, socialist, fascist, minarchic, even “libertarian”) cannot meet with the approval of a libertarian who understands that freedom of political association is essential to liberty. For this reason, a libertarian will neither vote for officers of a territorial government nor have the ultimate aim to alter such a government’s policies to make it libertarian. To vote is to endorse a basic anti-liberty arrangement. To change a territorial government, leaving it territorial while making it libertarian, is still to suppress the freedom of those in that region with non-libertarian political ideas to choose their own style of government. This is why the efforts of the Libertarian Party are mis-directed and also one reason why it cannot win very many elections. If it were to win, many Americans would be very unhappy because they would not be getting the kind of government they prefer.

10:31 am on May 18, 2014