Why Won’t States Allow Secession?

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The typical behavior of states across the world is not to allow secessions to occur within their territories. Why? What are the reasons for this behavior?

The purported reasons that the states give are never persuasive. Typically states say that secession is not legal. States claim that the state and its form of government are perpetual unless altered within the state’s rules. This argument is fatally flawed in its presumption that the state’s rules lawfully or morally or politically apply to everyone within its borders. Claims to legality by the state’s rules do not necessarily mirror what is lawful or right. How can a group of people be held in thrall to a government to which it does not consent? How can a group of people be held in thrall by legalities agreed to (or not) by different people from the past? Why are the state’s legal rules taken as what determines the lawfulness and rightness of secession? How did any state achieve the exalted status by which its rules determine what forms of government may be chosen by those living within that state’s claimed borders, which more often than not, are historical artifacts resulting from conquests, past deals, violence backing up land claims, and other such factors having little or nothing to do with lawfulness or rightness?

So, if the state’s legal rules can’t be formed into a persuasive argument against secession, what are the real reasons why states resist secessions? A common argument is to assert that secession destroys the all-important goal or fact of UNITY. The state is taken at a minimum to be that unifying apparatus, and at a maximum virtually a living entity, that reigns supreme, above and superior to what any groups of people may dispute, and something as essential as air and water. Mystical unity is no argument. And if practical unity cannot persuade those who want to secede, then neither is practical unity a persuasive argument.

A third argument against secession is that the defense of the land demands unity under a single state. This argument fails for several reasons. It doesn’t apply to many secessions. It doesn’t apply, for example, to the South’s secession in America. No foreign country was threatening America at that time. Secondly, federations of states are capable of combining to defend themselves while having separate and autonomous governments.

Why then do states resist secession? The only answer that thrusts upon our consciousness, and the only answer that explains a resistance that appears in all sorts of geopolitical situations in many countries, is that the state doesn’t want to see itself lose the scope of its power, control and dominance over people and/or resources within its existing borders. The state that resists secession is enforcing its possession of persons and property within its borders. It is making a claim of ownership based on force, not on any ordinary homesteading principle based upon the mixing of labor with land. Behind secession resistance by a state is a principle of slavery. The state harvests taxes and homesteads the people within its realm, and it doesn’t want to give them up. The state regards its citizens as a resource to be homesteaded and harvested. The state refuses to give up its “property” (the citizens under its rule), and that’s why it won’t allow secession.

7:42 am on June 7, 2014
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