Part One- Envisoning Sociocultural Independence
Assume you can live in any society you could imagine with no rules, no limits, and no politically correct finger waggers to dictate anything or get in your way. You don’t have to share it with us, but I want you to really think about this.
Consider the big issues and questions of our day. How would your society define marriage or the family? What kind of economic system would you have? What would your rules be in public behavior or decency? What about things like drugs, prostitution, and the such?
Now, I want you to think in terms of social mores, not laws. Even if you might oppose laws against certain things, the question is do you want to be a part of a society that approves and praises those things and expects you to also approve of them? This is a social question that is separate from the political question. The political question is, “how many of these social norms do you want government to enforce?”
For social conservatives, the present society is increaisngly using government and economic blackmail to force us to approve of practices we do not agree with or want to be associated with in any way. Sure, some social conservatives would like the state to impose our mores on society, but most of us don’t think it is wise to use force to impose matters of conscience and free association.
A society of my own choosing would not be so vulgar, wouldn’t have public displays of sexual promiscuity, would promote fidelity and marriage between a man and a woman and family rooted in the marital bonds of father and mother, and would be a color-blind society governed by a nobility of merit with equal opportunity for all to prosper. There are, I am sure, tens of millions of people in America who would consider such a society to be the right fit for them, and these people today probably include folks from all the ethnicities represented in America and from both the major parties or independents and members of minor parties.
Socially conservative African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans would both desire socially conservative mores and an emphasis on equality of opportunity and treatment for all persons. White Americans who are Republicans might also emphasize free market liberties and a strict adherence to the Bill of Rights. White Americans who are Democrats might be more focused on helping the poor and needy, leaving nobody behind, and fighting against racism and other forms of bigotry. But in the broad strokes, all these groups of people would find a place in a social setting such as I have described, especially if they agree that politics is not the answer or the means to having such a society between and among us.
There is strong institutional resistance to the idea of leaving the shaping of our societies to the agency of free association. The trend today is to use politics to impose a monoculture controlled by the people at the top, and mostly for their own advantage. The idea that we could have one country with groups of people belonging to their own societies that use the agency of free association to set their mores and rules for social conduct absolutely terrifies the holders of power. The idea that we could choose the kind of society we want to be part of without being forced into social mores we do not agree with is totally empowering to you and me, but it really neuters the power of the people at the top who rely on politics and their control of national institions to impose their vision for society on us, whether we like it or not.
Why shouldn’t YOU be able to CHOOSE the social norms and rules that govern your relationships and associations with other people, and why shouldn’t you be able to decide what people, groups, and communities you will associate with? The arguments against this, that some might abuse such broad powers of free association to promote their own bigotry and hate, seem to ignore the manyfold abuses already perpetrated by the state! Of course there will be abuses, and every other society of people will shun any group or community that acts in a hostile way toward other groups. But when the abuser is the state, there is no escape!
This is a bold, new idea. It is a direct challenge to the whole concept of a nation of people expressing their sovereignty through the agency of a political government. The 17th century invention of the nation-state up-ended thousands of years where kings and emperors held what we call political power but left most other matters to institions that were independent of the royal or imperial authority.
The boundaries of kingdoms, empires, and republics in the ancient of days were not fixed based on the ethnicity of the populations, but were the holdings of the royal or imperial families, or of the families who controlled the republic. The boundaries of national peoples, whose social and even economic institions were largely outside the direct control of the “sovereigns”, were also not fixed but basically included areas where groups and communities who were of that nation gathered. After the 17th century the aim was for every socio-ethnic group, or “nation”, to have a fixed border controlled by its own state through which it set political, social, civic, civil, economic, and even, in some cases, religious policies, rules, and norms.
That promise has led to around 200 states as recognized by the unfortunately named United Nations. These states have assumed all the powers and authorities of both nation and state with fixed borders, but almost every nation of people in the world lacks a political state that exclusively or even primarily represents its interests and reflects its beliefs and values.
There are calculated to be between 9,000 and 12,000 nations of people on this earth. But there are only around 200 states and in most all of them national peoples are not represented politically. Nor are there recognized institutions outside political control through which these nations can express their “regency”, their inherent right of self-determination. The U.N. gives lip service to this right, without actually doing anything concrete to uphold such right. Indeed, the U.N. itself has no mechanism for nations to be represented but gives decision-making powers only to around 200 states.
But this is the 21st century, and after 400 years we can see three things:
1. The nation-state has never even come close to its promise that national peoples would all have their own state and fixed national borders
2. In the 21st century we can establish virtual connections for national peoples that allow them to create their own sociocultural and economic regency
3. Political states claim all the “regency” (or self-determination) of nations, including the sociocultural and economic, and even religious, self-determination of nations (their regency), while not serving nations or giving them political representation
I am not proposing that every nation have its own state. I am proposing that national peoples should all have their own international and domestic institions that stand outside state control and that political states give political representation to the national peoples within their borders.
What does this have to do with choosing your own society? The answer is simple: at the macro-level the nation of people is the progenitor and guarantor of sociocultural independence. If you want to be able to choose the social norms and rules that govern your life, ultimately, at the macro level, this must involve the agency of a nation of people with its own regency that is independent of the political state.
So what do you do if you have no such nation you can be connected to? The short answer can be found in the burgeoning micronation movement. In essence, these unofficial entities, mostly formed online, represent what we could call “intentional nations.” The founders envision a certain kind of society and attract people who want to be part of such a society. Today, it may amount to little more than imagining, creative writing, and role-playing, but this is how concrete new structures often emerge: first, they are imagined!
Right now it is early days, and most micronations are modeled on the 17th century invention of the nation-state, but, of necessity, they generally seek an accommodation with political states and have citizens in numerous political states. But, having said all that, it may be that as people grow frustrated with existing political states which impose culture and don’t respect nations, that micronations will grow in size. As more people connect and invent ways to express their national life through their own institutions, it may be that micronations gain economic and political clout which compells political states and the U.N. to give them official standing. In other words, people who imagine, creatively write about, and role play their own society through online micronations will seek ways to move into ways to act in this vision, forming structures that meet real needs.
When you decouple culture from political control you actually decrease political tensions because the prize of winning social control through the state is gone. Nations of people would be more like private societies who must provide benefits to and serve members or lose them to other providers. So, bigoted and hateful nations would likely fail to attract or keep members, the free market of trade and ideas remains the best check against such abuse.
The future may be determined by the online-connected micronations movement. Indeed, existing national peoples may begin to create their own micronations online as a vehicle for gathering members and pooling both economic resources and political clout. This is usually how new instutions emerge, at first unofficial and unrecognized by the powers that be, but eventually gaining so much support, economic power, and political clout that official recognition and standing can no longer be avoided.
Coming next, Part Two: The Unilateral Creation of Intentional Nations