Thursday, August 07, 2008


Another concept that gives me fits of peevishness is "sovereignty". If one is "sovereign", one is in principle answerable to no higher authority. A sovereign nation is free to do what it wills within its own borders and to take action in international affairs according to ts own perceived interests. Of course, nations aren't ever really sovereign; only rulers of nations are. Nations are just ideas; rulers are real actors in the world. Their sovereignty is a matter of degree depending on how powerful the other purported sovereigns are at the moment.

I am supposed to care about the sovereignty of the US government for some reason and to be alrmed when it cedes its sovereignty in international agreements. Remember, though, that sovereign rulers can abrogate any such agreements at any time they please, so they never really give away their sovereignty. I don't get anything out of US government sovereignty since I'm just one of the serfs, and I know that, whatever the rulers may want me to think to the contrary, I have no actual influence on the government such that temporary cessions of sovereignty have no impact on my civil rights or political power. Oh, I'll probably get screwed in the bargain, but that's going to happen no matter what, and the sovereignty argument is not going to get me anywhere.

Powerful governments don't have much use for arguments about sovereignty. They enjoy the benefits of actually having the power to do as they will and find that the concept of sovereignty is just an obstacle to their ambitions.

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