Every individual is entitled to rule himself, and from this right is derived the right of self-government of groups of people through democratic political compacts. However, when one people rule another people, regardless of the nature of their own government—it is tyranny.

Under Napoleon, France conquered most of continental Europe and half of Russia. In the process she gained nothing but poverty, disgrace, and millions dead. Under Hitler, Germany conquered most of continental Europe and half of Russia, and in the process she gained nothing but poverty, disgrace, and millions dead. Under Stalin, Russia occupied East Germany, Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet republics, and in the process she gained nothing but poverty, disgrace, and millions unborn. Thus it can be seen that there is nothing to be gained by subjugating other people except misery, poverty, disgrace, and the destruction of life. There is no glory, prestige, or honor in subjugating another people.

England finds she cannot conquer America, and America has no wish to conquer England. You are fighting for what you can never obtain, and we defending what we mean never to part with. A few words, therefore, settle the bargain. Let England mind her own business and we will mind ours. Govern yourselves and we will govern ourselves. You may then trade where you please unmolested by us, and we will trade where we please unmolested by you; and such articles as we can purchase off each other better than elsewhere may be mutually done. If it were possible that you could carry on the war for twenty years you must still come to this point at last.

—Thomas Paine. The American Crisis, March 12, 1778.

When one people is ruled by another there will be, at best, sullen discontent, at worst, war. In the end it must always be undone as each country will have its independence.

Artificial states, which take in different nations with different languages and traditions … was tried in the Soviet Union and in Yugoslavia; it is now being attempted in the European Union. Such enterprises cannot work, and generally break down amid acrimony and mutual hatred … . It is therefore wrong to argue, as diplomats are still prone to do, that striving to keep large multinational, multicultural states together by all possible means makes for stability.

—Margaret Thatcher. The Path to Power, 1995.

To live among your own kind, and to pledge to defend them, to be governed by none but them, and have a part in that government, and to know your people will defend or avenge you, is an intrinsic emotional need. Conversely to belong to a world order is to be homeless and adrift. The communists—with their Soviet Union—could not change this intrinsic emotional need, nor will the socialists with their European Union. People love their parents, they love their children, and they love their country; they always will.

Viability of small sovereign states

I did not share the apparently hardheaded, but in fact economically illiterate view, that a state had to have a certain population, or GDP, or range of natural resources to be ‘viable’: it was the spirit of the people and the general economic framework created in order to harness it which would determine such matters.

—Margaret Thatcher. The Downing Street Years, 1993.

Proponents of big government claim that a country must have millions of inhabitants in order to be viable, yet Monaco (population 35,600), Liechtenstein (population 34,000), and San Marino (population 29,000) prove that size is unimportant. Indeed Liechtenstein today has one of the highest standards of living in the world.

If anything, the modern city state is now more viable than ever—due to computer technology. A nation of 1,000 people could easily utilize turn-key software supplied by Google, or some other private software companies, in order to administer its registers, immigration control, taxation and the like. By adopting model laws, or incorporating by reference the laws and courts of other countries, such micro-nations can have sophisticated commercial and legal systems capable of dealing with the largest commercial transactions.

Self determination requires a home

For people to enjoy self-determination they must have a country. When two or more ethnic groups occupy the same land, the solution is not to form multiple enclaves. Rather the populations should be transferred so that each group is allocated its own contiguous zones. The population exchanges between Greece and Turkey in 1923, between India and Pakistan in 1949, and the expulsion of Germans from Polish territory after the Second World War, although carried out in a deplorable fashion, did accomplish their purpose and have prevented ongoing conflict, persecution, war, and misery. There is no reason why such transfers could not occur without suffering. A non-traumatic process, if conducted under the rule of law with special courts determining compensation for immovable property, could achieve its ends without any more suffering than when an individual voluntarily migrates.


A federal structure is not the solution to religious or ethnic antagonism. A federation simply leads to misery, murder, and civil war—as the Yugoslavia experiment proved. This is why the United Nations ‘Annan Plan’ for a federated Cyprus was properly rejected by both sides. It was a foolhardy attempt to implement a socialist fantasy that would have ended thirty years of peace.

Civil war

It is but an act of justice and generosity to assist brave men in the defense of their liberties. Whenever, therefore, matters are carried so far as to produce a civil war, foreign powers may assist that party which appears to them to have justice on its side.

—Emerich de Vattel. The Law of Nations, 1758.

When a civil war erupts, free countries should determine which side has justice on its side. Often both sides will be in the wrong, in which case a declaration should be made as to what modifications of policy will, in the opinion of the free country, make each side’s cause just.

Because self-determination is a legitimate aspiration, in most cases separatists will be the legitimate side. It is no answer for an oppressive people to say it is willing to grant ‘regional autonomy’ to separatists. This is because they have no moral basis for keeping even loose chains over another people. However, if the separatists seek an unreasonable share of the divided territory, or if they wish to rule over other people in their newly independent state, this will disqualify them from support based on the rule he who seeks equity must do equity.

The cynical approach adopted by the United States during the Bangladeshi War of Independence, and in relation to the Chinese occupation of Tibet and the Russian occupation of Chechnya, is unethical Realpolitik. Whenever the world appeases a people that holds another people subjugated, only evil can come of it. For example, by placating and encouraging China, America only encourages future generations of Chinese—who in the future will have overwhelming resources at their disposal and be armed with weapons more sophisticated than those wielded by the West—to believe that might makes right. Holding this worldview, future generations of Chinese will inevitably attempt to make conquests that reflect their new-found power. And, believing justice is on their side, they will be indignant, and, like the Japanese in the 1930s, regard as provocative insolence any attempts by the Free World to restrain them.


The genocide and the festering civil wars that plague Africa are a result of national boundaries drawn with little or no regard to ethnic boundaries. Africa should be encouraged to re-draw its borders to reflect its ethnic demography and engage in population transfers. Once the various peoples of Africa no longer feel they are living in a balkanized country, they will care enough to reform their own governments.


A first attempt to recover the right of self-government may fail; so may a 2nd, a 3rd, etc., but as a younger, and more instructed race comes on, the sentiment becomes more and more intuitive, and a 4th, a 5th or some subsequent one of the ever renewed attempts will ultimately succeed. In France the 1st effort was defeated by Robespierre, the 2nd, by Bonaparte, the 3rd, by Louis XVIII and his holy allies; another is yet to come, and all Europe, Russia excepted, has caught the spirit, and all will attain representative government, more or less perfect … . To attain all this however rivers of blood must yet flow, and years of desolation pass over. Yet the object is worth rivers of blood, and years of desolation. For what inheritance so valuable can man leave to his posterity?

—Thomas Jefferson. Letter to John Adams, Monticello, September 4, 1823.

Chechen separatists have been resisting Russian rule for 200 years. They become particularly active when the Russian military is otherwise engaged, such as during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878; during the political unrest of 1905; during the Communist Revolution and the Civil War of 1917–1921; during Stalin’s bloody collectivization drive; during the German invasion of World War II; and most recently, during the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The pattern is always the same: once Russia consolidates its position elsewhere, it applies overwhelming, murderous force against the rebels until the Chechens sullenly back down.

It follows that the Chechens will rise again and again and there will be grievous bloodshed on both sides, over and over again, until they gain their independence. Russian mothers will continue to lose their sons simply so Russia can keep its foot on the Chechen neck. The Chechens never will, nor should they ever, accept Russian rule. Sooner or later the Russian people must accept this. If the Russian people are to become civilized, rather than just imperialist murderers, they must ask themselves why they want to keep another people subjugated in the first place.

They may wish to consider the British experience. For hundreds of years, whenever Britain was sorely pressed, the Irish would rebel against them. Like the Russians, the British would savagely suppress the resistance once they had consolidated their position elsewhere. When Britain finally let go of Ireland, it was not because they lacked the military strength to continue the fight, but rather because they could no longer justify their oppression in light of their evolved moral code. They had become so civilized they asked themselves, “Would we like it if another country did this to us?” Finding the answer was negative, they let Ireland go.
The Free World should stop ignoring Russia’s grotesque behavior simply to placate the bear. The simple fact is that Russians think differently from the civilized world. Placating them only confirms them in their erroneous thinking. Unless they are denounced they will continue to think that might is right. They will continue to think in terms of bullying, and being bullied, rather than embracing comity. They will remain a dreaded outsider to the family of nations.


The principle of self-determination should be permitted for all nations and all demographically defined groups … . This principle is the source of the solution for Iraq. We should suggest and encourage each of the three groups—the Sunnis, the Shiites, and the Kurds to seek self-government.

—Ron Paul. Statement before the U.S. House of Representatives, June 3, 2004.

Iraq was only stable under its violent and murderous dictator Saddam Hussein because the Sunnis brutally repressed the Kurdish and Shiite populations. This included the use of poison gas and bomber aircraft. Iraq’s current so-called sectarian violence is what erupts when people who hate each other are forced to live together. For lasting peace and comity, these peoples need to be separated into their own countries. Once they have their own countries, they can then begin to develop a degree of civility toward each other.


The Kurdish people have a nation to call their own—Kurdistan. This region encompasses northern Iraq, northwestern Iran, part of northern Syria, and large parts of eastern Turkey. The Kurds were originally enslaved as part of the Ottoman Empire but, upon its break-up, they found their country still occupied by these four countries. They have suffered horrific persecution, particularly at the hands of the Turks and Saddam Hussein.

Ever since America and Britain instituted a no-fly zone in northern Iraq in 1993, the Iraqi Kurds have enjoyed relief from persecution and a degree of autonomy. They should now become independent, but such a step is opposed by American leaders who, with Kissinger-style Realpolitik, fear it would ‘upset’ Turkey. The fear is justified—but in fact, upsetting Turkey is the right thing to do, just as it was right to upset the American south when it refused to end slavery, and just as it was right to upset Hitler over his invasion of Poland. Freedom is the birthright of all people—not just Americans. The Turks have cruelly oppressed, murdered, raped, and tortured dozens of foreign nations over the last 700 years. Now it is time for this last vestige of the Ottoman Empire to be done away with.


In our relationships with the mainland of China we should always remember that … the realities of freedom exist to an infinitely greater degree with our Chinese friends in Taiwan. We can never go wrong if we do what is morally right, and the moral way, the honorable way, is to keep our commitment, our solemn promise to the people of Taiwan.

—Ronald Reagan. Speech to Fourth Annual Conservative Political Action Conference, February 6, 1977.

The Taiwanese people do not want to be part of China. If the mainland Chinese dismantle communism and introduce the institutions of liberty, that attitude may change. The mainland Chinese have no property in the Taiwanese Chinese—no people can own another people. China’s ominous threats towards Taiwan are unacceptable. They are reminiscent of a brutal thug who stalks his ex-wife and vows she will never find happiness away from him—even if he has to stab her to death. The Free World should treat China, in this regard, in the same way the police would treat brutal ex-husbands. First, make it clear such threats amount to assault and are unacceptable, and second, make clear that a resort to violence will invite a lethal response.

The Free World should remember that vacillation, ambiguity, and partial backing down in the face of immoral demands caused World War II. No country should have any compunction in recognizing Taiwan as a sovereign nation. This is the surest way to send a clear signal to China that invasion means war, just as the invasion of any other sovereign country by an aggressor should always mean war with the Free World. By dancing around the issue with Chamberlain-like sensitivity, the United States is encouraging China to believe that it will be unwilling to defend Taiwan once China’s military becomes sufficiently powerful—the precise signal that Britain and France gave to Nazi Germany in the lead-up to the invasion of Poland.


Tibet was invaded by the Chinese in 1959. Ever since, the Tibetan people have been held in abject subjugation in the same way the people of occupied Europe were subjugated by the Nazis. Instead of financing the subjugation of the Tibetans through the World Bank, the Free World should be supporting a low-level guerrilla war of independence in Tibet. They should air-drop man-portable anti-aircraft, anti-tank and anti-personnel missiles into Tibet and provide the Tibetan insurgencies with communications, satellite intelligence and micro-reconnaissance drones.

If the Chinese army experiences what the Soviets experienced in Afghanistan, and are forced to withdraw after a decade or two of defeats, humiliations and casualties, it will be an act of charity by teaching the Chinese to respect the freedom of other peoples. It will be no different from when the Romans were beaten out of Germany, the British were beaten out of America, the French were beaten out of Russia, the Germans were beaten out of Russia, the Japanese were beaten out of China. These episodes are part of a learning process whereby cultures learn to reject the use brute force to oppress in favor of respecting the freedom and self-determination others (at first sullenly and eventually wholeheartedly).

The Balkans

The conflict in Yugoslavia, the communal conflicts in Armenia and Azerbaijan, the ethnic feuding which pervades the old Soviet empire—these things are the consequences of Marxism and of attempting to crush, ignore and override legitimate national feelings in pursuit of an artificial bureaucratic supranationalism with no real roots and precious little freedom.

—Margaret Thatcher. First Clare Boothe Luce Lecture, Washington D.C., September 23, 1991.

To end the incessant conflicts that plague the Balkans, clear national boundaries need to be delineated for each ethnic group, then gradual population transfers should take place to ensure that each group lives in its own homeland. The precise location of the boundaries is unimportant; experience shows that festering ethnic tensions and outbreaks of murderous violence are not caused by the position of borders, but rather by mixing together of peoples who hate one another.

This article is an extract from the book ‘Principles of Good Government’ by Matthew Bransgrove