On Secession

I note that there are no provisions here for secession of nations. Oversight, deliberate, or covered elsewhere by other provisions and principles?

Ah, secession. Let me explain.

No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

Ultimately, the problem here is ontological. Specifically, while we’re used to (and our nation-states are, in many ways, used to) thinking of themselves as lumps of sovereign territory that happen to have people living on them, the Empire thinks of itself (because of its origin as a union of polities that were themselves outgrowths of overlapping PPLs) as a compact between sophonts that happen to live on huge tracts of land.

To an Earth nation, sovereignty (over territory and all that happens therein) is a Westphalian fundamental. To the Empire, and those others that follow its pattern, sovereignty is a bundle of a few specialized property rights which it acquires, often purchasing, over the territory in which its subscribers are domiciled for the sake of ease of administration. It’s a distinctly secondary matter, enough so that there’s a serious if minority Senate branch (the Disillusionist Tendency) that firmly believes getting into the whole sovereign-rights-management business back when the PPLs transitioned into the Old Empires was a terrible misstep that should be corrected forthwith – and doing so would leave the Empire still there.

A secondary complication is that what makes one an Imperial citizen-shareholder is signing the Imperial Charter and purchasing a citizen-share. That’s it. Something that is both (a) entirely disconnected from where you might happen to be domiciled (permanent non-resident citizenships are a thing, even), and which (b) is an individual contract, not a collective contract.

The combination of these things makes secession a hideously complicated problem. For one thing, it’s easy enough for a nation here to decide to secede, what with collective decision-making and territorial sovereignty, but citizenship there is a matter of individual contract with the Empire, which any would-be secessionist nation, even a former constituent nation entire, has no power to break. And I would deem it very unlikely that the Empire is going to kick out citizen-shareholders who want to remain such, even if it could find a way to weasel that through as “due process of law”, which is itself very doubtful.

So the secessionists are going to end up with a whole bunch of permanent residents with Imperial citizenship scattered through their territory, and all the galaxy knows how the Empire tends to react when someone abuses, expropriates, or otherwise mistreats their citizen-shareholders. (That is, after all, one of the things that makes it a premium citizenship brand.)

And then there’s the question of those sovereign rights, which the Empire technically has paid for, one way or another, and thus owns. And, as a several matter from citizenship, has no particular obligation to sell just because the people who own other property rights over the same volume have changed citizenship; people and volume aren’t tied together.

But even in the best case, when the secession is amicable and the secessionists are more than happy to buy those rights back from the Exchequer: Is the Empire going to sell the sovereign rights of its citizen-shareholders out from underneath them to a governance that obviously wants to do things that the Empire doesn’t approve of (whatever it’s seceding over), technically several or no? I do not think so, somehow – and that’s assuming that there isn’t a held-in-trust clause in there that means they can’t sell them to anyone but the holder of the ownership right anyway.

At which point, whether it keeps them or returns them to the holder of the ownership right, the map of this seceded territory is starting to look downright fractal.

(Bear in mind that with the exception of that extremely circumscribed eminent domain clause, it’s not like the Empire has the power to force anyone to move if they don’t want to. If Citizen Lived-In-This-House-300-Years-And-Dammit-I-Ain’t-Movin’ declines to go voluntarily, then he has just created an Imperial Exclave the size of his yard and there’s not a damn thing anyone can do about it. Short of starting a war.)

So, to sum up my summing up, it’s deliberate in the sense that this was a giant can of worms which everyone greatly preferred not trying to solve, especially at the birth of a new empire of ecumenical ambition.

Besides, why would anyone ever want to leave anyway?


Trope-a-Day: One World Order

One World Order: Averted.  Most species have more than one government.  Even the Empire, huge as it is and prone to casual memetic imperialism and absorption as it also is, has spawned splinters – not just the individual Renunciates and Renegades, but some actual other eldraeic governances created by minority factions that just couldn’t get along with the overall libertist-technepraxic consensus. (Given the predicates of said consensus, Imperial relations with these are usually, albeit not always, remarkably toxic – with the splinters being seen as something between heretics and just plain old bastard-coated bastards with bastard-flavored filling.)

Many governments also include more than one species.  Looked at either way, no-one speaks for all.

Also, even the supposedly all-encompassing Associated Worlds and Conclave of Galactic Polities don’t encompass everything.  The Voniensa Republic prefers to stand aloof from the whole situation, smug gits that they are, and horrified by the sheer lack of control of the whole thing.  There are plenty of still balkanized planets around, whether the countries have come together to create some international body to deal with offworld affairs or are each trying to conduct their own interstellar policy.  And, heck, encouraged by the fact that at least two of the major powers in the setting are functioning libertarianesque polities that shamelessly encourage this sort of thing, there are a lot of independent habitats out there that have taken advantage of the vastness of space to declare themselves the Sovereign Polity of Brad & Janet, pop. 5, or just straight-out sovereign not-owned-by-any-government individuals, m’kay?

Unity is not where it is at, today.