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I was wondering what gives a group of people the right to form their own country - especially if the new country is supposed to be situated in lands currently owned by an existing country.

In Tibet's case they would be seceding from an autocratic government, only to form a theocracy. Would that be morally justified? Would the same reasoning apply if Texas was to secede from the United States?

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I was wondering what gives a group of people the right to form their own country - especially if the new country is supposed to be situated in lands currently owned by an existing country.

Oppression and any mass violation of individual rights are enough.

In Tibet's case they would be seceding from an autocratic government, only to form a theocracy.

Would such a theocracy be less oppressive than the chinese Communist Party? If so, it would be better for Tibetans to secede, and a step in the right direction.

Would the same reasoning apply if Texas was to secede from the United States?

No. You may think it does given my initial statement, and given that the US government does violate individual rights. But America remains one of the freest countries on Earth, and the government violates individual rights a lot less than most. Therefore if the goal is a free country that doesn't violate individual rights, it would be best to work for such an end within America rather than to secede from America.

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No. You may think it does given my initial statement, and given that the US government does violate individual rights. But America remains one of the freest countries on Earth, and the government violates individual rights a lot less than most. Therefore if the goal is a free country that doesn't violate individual rights, it would be best to work for such an end within America rather than to secede from America.

But doesn't that make your moral standards a relative one rather than an absolute one? Texas for instance could theoretically set up a freer and less oppressive regime than the United States, hence be better off and "a step in the right direction". How do you logically end up with the conclusion that working within America is better than to outright secede?

And why should Tibet not work within China rather than to secede? After all China has been progressively freer over the last couple of decades.

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But doesn't that make your moral standards a relative one rather than an absolute one?

Not at all. The question is always: what's my self-interest?

If you mean a hypothetical Texas, then say so. Because the chances of the actual Texas creating a freer system are between none and "are you kiddin'?" Also if the actual Texas were to secede, you can be sure the Federal government would do something about it, probably something involving troops.

To be sure China would, too, against Tibet. But gaining enough liberty within China is less likely than doing so by leaving China. There is a measure of economic freedom that was absent, yes, but political freedom is not even a joke there yet. It may also be the best action for Tibetans to endure oppression while China inevitably collapses. that would be their decision to make. They wouldn't win an outright war with China.

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I usually look at it this way - China invaded Tibet in 1959, I believe. It was an initiation of force, and is (well, should be considered, just as the initiation of force should be considered) an illegal occupation. The Chinese government has no right to be there and, as such, the Tibetans have a right to secede.

I think D'kian has covered most of the other arguments I would use, so I won't go into those myself.

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If you mean a hypothetical Texas, then say so. Because the chances of the actual Texas creating a freer system are between none and "are you kiddin'?" Also if the actual Texas were to secede, you can be sure the Federal government would do something about it, probably something involving troops.

Yes I meant a hypothetical Texas. It could really be anything -- say a bunch of brilliant Objectivists got together and wanted to create a truly free country.

To be sure China would, too, against Tibet. But gaining enough liberty within China is less likely than doing so by leaving China. There is a measure of economic freedom that was absent, yes, but political freedom is not even a joke there yet. It may also be the best action for Tibetans to endure oppression while China inevitably collapses. that would be their decision to make. They wouldn't win an outright war with China.

I agree that Tibet could not realistically defeat the Chinese army. My question is more specifically about property rights -- what morally entitles you to simply claim a huge area of land as your own. Instead of Texas, if a said group of Objectivists wanted to start their own country, would it be moral for them to just walk into Texas and claim it as theirs?

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I usually look at it this way - China invaded Tibet in 1959, I believe. It was an initiation of force, and is (well, should be considered, just as the initiation of force should be considered) an illegal occupation. The Chinese government has no right to be there and, as such, the Tibetans have a right to secede.

Just about every country in the world invaded someone at one point or another to claim their current territory. You might as well argue that we have no right to occupy the United States because we slaughtered a bunch of indians to get it. Tibet wasn't exactly a free country before it was invaded -- it was a theocracy headed by a "reincarnating" Dalai Lamas. As a matter of two dictatorships attacking one another, legality is not really an issue.

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Just about every country in the world invaded someone at one point or another to claim their current territory. You might as well argue that we have no right to occupy the United States because we slaughtered a bunch of indians to get it. Tibet wasn't exactly a free country before it was invaded -- it was a theocracy headed by a "reincarnating" Dalai Lamas. As a matter of two dictatorships attacking one another, legality is not really an issue.

I don't think Tibet has the right to secede to form the kind of country most Tibetans would probably like: a return to their feudal theocracy headed by the Lama caste. Ideally, increased liberalization of the PRC will take care of the problem, and make Tibet a free country. Of course, this does not mean that the PRC has the right to occupy Tibet, but I don't think there can be a good resolution to a conflict in which both sides are anti-individual rights. Ideally, perhaps, the ROC would one day have the power to act on its land claims over Tibet.

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I don't think Tibet has the right to secede to form the kind of country most Tibetans would probably like: a return to their feudal theocracy headed by the Lama caste. Ideally, increased liberalization of the PRC will take care of the problem, and make Tibet a free country.

What further complicates the issue is that there are a large number of Han Chinese nationals living in the greater-Tibetan area, each presumably with their own property. I assume that if Tibet indeed secedes they would simply have to give up their land holdings for little or no compensation.

Ideally, perhaps, the ROC would one day have the power to act on its land claims over Tibet.

ROC as in the government that currently resides in Taiwan? That would be an unlikely event to say the least. The difference in population is 23 million vs 1.6 billion. Taiwan can barely hang on to its own sovereignty without constantly being bullied by the PRC, let alone making a claim on Tibet, or any parts of China.

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I think we're forgetting some basic human rights here.

Given that the land is public land and for minimal use by the independent nation, I would say that a group of people could secede under the conditions that their rights were being violated. So in the theoretical "Texas" situation, I would say no unless the group of people wanting to secede could logically prove that their rights to life were being taken away.

But let's allow for a small group of bigots living in Texas wanting to secede. You would need a large enough population, and probably a sucession of court cases proving that US Law violated their right to pursuit happiness in marrying more than one spouse, but then you'd have the challenge that by marrying more than one spouse you'd be depriving multiple people of their freedom.

In the case of Tibet, which I know very little about, if the group of people is large enough to start a small government and operate, that very same government does not violate any human rights, then I would see no reason for China not to allow them a small peice of government property which is owned BY the people so it should be for use OF the same group of people.

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Yes I meant a hypothetical Texas. It could really be anything -- say a bunch of brilliant Objectivists got together and wanted to create a truly free country.

No need for hypotheticals. Read the Declaration of Independence. The document was written to morally justify independence from Britain.

Instead of Texas, if a said group of Objectivists wanted to start their own country, would it be moral for them to just walk into Texas and claim it as theirs?

No. To begin with much of the land in Texas is privately owned. No Objectivist would ever claim another's private property as his own. To continue, if the intent is to create a free state, then such a state would not own land (except perhaps for military facilities and a few other essential functions). Establishing jurisdiction over a land is another matter, but you can't do that without the consent of those who live there (government derives its just powers by the consent of the governed).

So if you intend to declare Texas the Lone Star Free State or womething, you'd better pack a lot of guns, because you'll be met by angry Texans wanting to know why you're taking them out of the USA.

Instead you'd start a political movement favoring secession, or independence, for Texas, gather lots of people, write a declaration or a charter justifying your move, and getting enough Texans on your side. Even then the US may respond with force (that's how most secession and independence attempts are met with), and you should be prepared to fight.

It goes without saying that your objectives for secession must be moral. Otherwise you don't have a right to secede. Think about the reasons the South had for secession. One of them was to preserve slavery. That alone disqualified anything else they might have been hoping to achieve.

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Given that the land is public land and for minimal use by the independent nation, I would say that a group of people could secede under the conditions that their rights were being violated. So in the theoretical "Texas" situation, I would say no unless the group of people wanting to secede could logically prove that their rights to life were being taken away.

Would being taxed at gun point be considered a violation of rights?

But let's allow for a small group of bigots living in Texas wanting to secede. You would need a large enough population, and probably a sucession of court cases proving that US Law violated their right to pursuit happiness in marrying more than one spouse, but then you'd have the challenge that by marrying more than one spouse you'd be depriving multiple people of their freedom.

Whose freedom does polygamy deprive? The spouses'? Because then monogamy would just be "depriving freedom" from one person as supposed to multiple people. Either way it would be immoral. But then again if the marriage is voluntary then I could hardly see how any freedom is being deprived.

In the case of Tibet, which I know very little about, if the group of people is large enough to start a small government and operate, that very same government does not violate any human rights, then I would see no reason for China not to allow them a small peice of government property which is owned BY the people so it should be for use OF the same group of people.

From China's point of view the land is owned by the 1.6 billion people, not just the relatively small group of ethnic minority. Again if a group of Texans want to set up a small government that does not violate human rights, the United States is not obligated to simply provide them with a piece of land with which to do so.

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There seems to be some misunderstanding of absolute that is bogging this argument down a little. The fact that there is an absolute right answer in every particular context does not mean that one absolute answer applies to all similiar contexts.

What you are essentially asking, moebius, is, "if someone has their rights violated, do they have the moral right to take steps to stop the violation?" The answer, of course, easily is yes. That said, it is necessary to consider each circumstance individually, especially with the level of complexity involved, in order to gauge the most moral course of action for it.

So if I were held up at the point of a gun, would it be morally wrong for me to try to shoot the robber? No, but that might not be the best(most moral from the stand point of my benefit) course of action. Especially if I do not have a gun, or cannot access it. The most moral course of action could very well be to give the man my wallet. Strange as that sounds.

I find it better to not think in these sorts of dichotomies(right or wrong) because most decisions in life are 'opportunity cost' issues(like stock brokers <_< ) more then they are simple questions of good versus evil with only 2 possible courses of action.

This why it might be right for Tibet to secede, but not Texas.

Regarding those issues I do not know enough of either case to hold a strong opinion as to whether the should, but they certainly have the right.

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What you are essentially asking, moebius, is, "if someone has their rights violated, do they have the moral right to take steps to stop the violation?" The answer, of course, easily is yes. That said, it is necessary to consider each circumstance individually, especially with the level of complexity involved, in order to gauge the most moral course of action for it.

It's also necessary to make a distinction of an individual whose rigths are violated, and a group of individuals whose rigths are violated. Each violation is the smae, and each individual has a right to make it stop. But a group does not act as an individual does. The various members of the group need to reach an agreement on how to act, while an individual chooses for himself.

Let's take an actual case, the American Revolution.

To begin with, why did 13 colonies sue for independence? Why not more? In fact more were invited to join, those British colonies in the Caribbean and in Canada. But only the 13 along the eastern seaboard joined the movement for independence. So not all colonies at the time wanted independence. Not all the inhabitants of the 13 colnies want it, either; there were royalists living there as well. These are the kinds fo things and indidual acting for himself does not have to consider.

Eventually a majority of the poeple in the 13 colonies got together and acted, and we know how it went and what the results were. No need to rehash them here. But before any kind of group action you need a consensus from the group's members.

Also the response by the rights violators will be different. Suppose instead of an independence movement int he 13 colonies it had been just Thomas Jefferson declaring Monticello an independent state, installing himslef as president, or king for that matter. Of course the scenario is ridiculous enough to seem satirical. It can't be taken seriously.

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  • 5 weeks later...

Note that before Chinese Occupation, Tibetan government(Buddhist priest noblety) ussually violated people's rights and it is Chinese occupation made Tibetans freeier than in the 'free' Tibet. Before the occupation, 90 percent of Tibet's population were serfs who had no rights and were sold like property, and children for priesthood in monasteries were taken by force from their parents. That's something to take into account. even if Communistic China was bad for Tibet, Theocrasy would have been worse for most Tibetans.

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Sure, those people have a moral right to live in freedom, away from China’s rule.

But it seems to me that it's a horrible idea for tibetans to be seeking independence from China. Any move toward independence is automatically met with force by Beijing, whether in Tibet or other parts of the country. (as we’ve seen when protests erupted in Tibet before the Olympics)

Given the military power of the PRC, fighting them is assured suicide, for an ideal which is in the end collectivist in nature: the nation called Tibet, made up of a specific group of people, solely because of the nationality of these people. Even if we buy into the idea that Tibet would become a free society on its own: the only reason why a “tibetan” would want to live a free life in Tibet, instead of a free life elsewhere in the world ( or even in a future free China), when in fact obtaining the latter would be easier, is because of nationalistic or religious fervor.

I am puzzled though:

Why would an individual commit himself to such an ideal: an independent country (let’s say a free Tibet), rather than his or her happiness, at the end of a journey to the West (which might be dangerous, I don’t know, but not assured suicide, like fighting the Chinese army)?

Maybe a clearer example would be this:

In 1941 Britain was in danger of becoming a nazi colony, while the US remained free and neutral. Why would a moral man(say living in London) put himself in mortal danger by fighting for a cause that’s likely to be lost, rather than just go to America with his family (let’s pretend that trip is less dangerous) and start over? After all, his country did let him down by not stopping Hitler while it was easy to do so.

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In 1941 Britain was in danger of becoming a nazi colony, while the US remained free and neutral. Why would a moral man(say living in London) put himself in mortal danger by fighting for a cause that’s likely to be lost, rather than just go to America with his family (let’s pretend that trip is less dangerous) and start over? After all, his country did let him down by not stopping Hitler while it was easy to do so.

Loving one's country is morla if the coutnry is free (or nearly so). That's one reason.

Another is: if no one fights Hitler in Europe, won't he go after America next? And even if he doesn't, do you want to live in the kind of world that contains a victorious Third Reich?

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Loving one's country is morla if the coutnry is free (or nearly so). That's one reason.

Another is: if no one fights Hitler in Europe, won't he go after America next? And even if he doesn't, do you want to live in the kind of world that contains a victorious Third Reich?

Remember, that some people think that the place they live in is their craddles and their graves, so of course they will try to change the place they live in.

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Remember, that some people think that the place they live in is their craddles and their graves, so of course they will try to change the place they live in.

Tibet has been a cauldron for many magic potions. History has been witness to that. So is Kashmir. And several more. I have been there. I live in China at the moment for my business.

There is fear so potent, it hits you in the face. China is a whole new ball game when you see it from inside. The way the mind is destroyed in its formative years - well, those in "power" have made a profession of doing precisely that.

Seeing things in the right perspective makes a difference. I do not think most folks talking here are qualified to comment on it without actually knowing what's going on - you can merely guess!

Edited by funandlearning
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  • 1 month later...
I was wondering what gives a group of people the right to form their own country - especially if the new country is supposed to be situated in lands currently owned by an existing country.

In Tibet's case they would be seceding from an autocratic government, only to form a theocracy. Would that be morally justified?

Does it really matter? We are talking about the lesser of two evils. Thats still evil. There are no other points to consider on the issue really.

I remember watching a Penn and Teller episode about Tibet where they bring up this issue.

Edited by Axiomatic
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Does it really matter? We are talking about the lesser of two evils. Thats still evil. There are no other points to consider on the issue really.

I remember watching a Penn and Teller episode about Tibet where they bring up this issue.

It is astonishing to watch: P&T Bullshit Holier Than Thou Part 1 ( while the highlight has to be Gandhi using the N-word, The Dalai Lama and Mother Theresa are also featured)

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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Does it really matter? We are talking about the lesser of two evils. Thats still evil. There are no other points to consider on the issue really.
You only (rationally) consider an issue if you want to make a choice. Were I a Tibetan, my choices would be more vivid: should I resist the continued imposition of the Red Chinese dictatorship? is the alternative the reinstatement of an equally brutal Tibetan-run religious dictatorship? What in fact were the rights violations of the lamocracy, and how does that compare with the Chinese invasion and subjugation of Tibet. The primary consideration for a Tibetan is -- what is best for my life given reality and the rights violations that I suffer from.

As an American, the outcome of those events does not directly affect me one way or the other, but it matters which thing I advocate. Can I advocate maintaining the Red Chinese dictatorship? Absolutely not. Can I argue that Red China rules Tibet by right? Absolutely not? Do I believe that expelling the occupying forces would result in the imposition of an equally brutal religious dictatorship? Absolutely not. Do I believe that -- with the reds expelled -- Tibet would magically become a rational utopia, superior to America? Absolutely not. What I advocate for Tibet and what Tibetans are actually faced with are quite different things. My choices are not limited to two immoral forms of government. Their choice is rather limited, and it does matter what form of immoral government you actually work to eliminate, knowing what the alternative is.

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It matters to the Tibetans, yes. Certainly it matters to the priestly class who want to take their country back and exploit thier people futher, with muscle and mind. By what right do the Tibetans have to their own land when the history is taken into consideration? The Chinese have built roads, infrastructure and modernized Tibet in many ways. They have also done atrocious things to the indigineous people's. It's a mixed bag and the Chinese had no right to take the land, I agree with you on that.

But, the big question now should be, I think, is it possible in reality for Tibet to be under the control of Tibetans again? Is China ever going to give Tibet back to its people? I think the rational answer given the possibilities is, no. So what can be done by Tibetans for Tibet as it is now? I think Tibetans should be focused on bettering themselves and their own living standards under their current government.

Thats my two cents anyway.

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