chapter  2
The priority of function over structure
Pages 20

One of the foundational events of modern politics was an act of secession: the American Declaration of Independence. One of the foundational events of the modern political system of the United States of America was the suppression of an act of secession: the Civil War. These two great events manifest the ambiguity of secession, which can be interpreted as self-emancipation from tyranny and as a challenge to the integrity of the polity. On the one hand, tyranny is the paradigm of political injustice, and secession is one solution to the problem of tyranny. On the other hand, a stable polity has commonly been considered to be a great good, an achievement hard won and easily lost. If the polity is a democracy based on the rule of law, constitutional checks and balances, respect for individual human rights, popular sovereignty and majority rule through free and fair elections, secession may appear to be both undemocratic and anarchic.