More regions contemplating independence?

The historically great city-state of Venice is contemplating independence from Italy. “Over two million residents,” nearly half of the total population, “of the Veneto region took part in the week-long survey, with 89 percent voting in favour of independence from Italy.” The  Indipendenza Veneta party believes that the centralized Italian government is unable “to stamp out corruption, protect its citizens from a damaging recession and plug waste in the poorer south.” Venice joins Catalonia and, for better or worse, Crimea this year in considering breaking away from it’s central government. Catalonia’s request for an independence referendum denied by the Spanish prime minister while we all know how long Crimean independence lasted.  All is not lost however.

These types of referendum must be celebrated by libertarians throughout the world. The further decentralization of governments is a goal that can directly lead to a freer, more libertarian society and will serve as a siphon weakening governments worldwide. To quote, as I do so often, the great Murray Rothbard:

“Once one concedes that a single world government is not necessary, then where does one logically stop at the permissibility of separate states? If Canada and the United States can be separate nations without being denounced as in a state of impermissible ‘anarchy’, why may not the South secede from the United States? New York State from the Union? New York City from the state? Why may not Manhattan secede? Each neighbourhood? Each block? Each house? Each person?”

Why not indeed.

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4 thoughts on “More regions contemplating independence?

  1. Excellent post, Adam. My understanding of separatist sentiments in Italy is fairly limited, but from what I can tell it is mostly limited to rich regions in the north of the country, which fits in quite nicely with secessionist tendencies throughout the developed West and in Latin America (the underdeveloped West?).

    Here is how this dynamic works: Rich regions come to view themselves as paying for the public services used in poor regions and getting virtually nothing in return. They get angry and threaten to secede if nothing is done to alleviate the costs imposed on these regions by the central government (which is beholden to very different factions than the regional governments).

    Unfortunately, lawmakers have failed to heed the writings of classical liberal/libertarian theorists on the issue of secession and have not incorporated a mechanism into their constitutions to deal with the issues outlined above. I think that as the world becomes more economically integrated it is going to trend in a more politically decentralized direction. This will happen regardless of the institutions in place. If there are no mechanisms to deal with this tendency then I think we are bound to see more problems like that of Russia-Ukraine arise.

    Also, the editor in me would like to piggy back off of your post and remind readers that NOL has about 4 internet pages worth of thoughts on secession. Browsing through ’em might be worth your time if you’re particularly interested in the events of Crimea or in libertarian political theory generally.

  2. “The Indipendenza Veneta party believes that the centralized Italian government is unable “to stamp out corruption, protect its citizens from a damaging recession and plug waste in the poorer south.”

    Hard to dispute.

  3. The Parti Québécois seems to have taken a solid drubbing at the polls today. No secession referendum in Quebec in the near term. More importantly [in my opinion] the PQ Values Charter is now toast.

    • For readers unfamiliar with Canadian politics and especially the Parti Québécois, here is a good summary of the disgusting PQ Values Charter Professor Terry is referring to (it would be interesting to see just how tolerant the left-liberal writer is of, say, American Evangelicals but I am digressing; also interesting to note is that many, if not most, social democratic parties tend to be very authoritarian in the name of ‘secularism’ and ‘democracy’, and they tend to favor a blurring of the lines between corporation and state).

      In general I wouldn’t mind if Quebec became an independent country, but I think the Leftists running PQ would make a mess of things very quickly.

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