Breaking Away: The Case for Secession, Radical Decentralization, and Smaller Polities

Ryan McMaken

Breaking Away differs from countless other books on secession and decentralization in that it considers examples and benefits of secession and radical decentralization in a much broader historical, geographical, and theoretical context. This book is for anyone interested in how issues of secession and decentralization come up again and again worldwide as communities of human beings seek self-determination, freedom, and economic prosperity. McMaken also examines small states which are often examples of successful cases of secession and radical decentralization.

The reader will come away with a better understanding of how political decentralization continues to be relevant, useful, and important in the modern world.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Carlo Lottieri
Introduction: Universal Rights, Locally Enforced

Part I: Big States, Small States, and Secession
    1. More Choices, More Freedom, Less Monopoly Power
    2. Political Anarchy Is How the West Got Rich
    3. Why Regimes Prefer Big States and Centralized Power
    4. Why the Classical Liberals Wanted Decentralization
    5. Secession as a Path to Self-Determination
    6. Nationalism as National Liberation: Lessons from the End of the Cold War
    7. A Brief History of Secession Plebiscites in Europe
    8. Why the US Supports Secession for Africans, but Not for Americans
    9. From Taxes to Trade, More Secession Means More Freedom
  10. If California Secedes, What Happens to Locals Who Opposed Secession?
  11. How Small Is Too Small?
  12. When It Comes to National Defense, It’s More than Size that Matters
  13. If America Splits Up, What Happens to the Nukes?

Part II: Decentralization and Democracy
  14. Why “One Man, One Vote” Doesn’t Work
  15. Democracy Doesn’t Work Unless It’s Done Locally

Part III: Lessons from America’s Past, and Strategies for the Future
  16. How Early Americans Decentralized Military Power
  17. Before Roe v. Wade, Abortion Policy was a State and Local Matter
  18. When Immigration Policy Was Decentralized
  19. Why Indian Tribal Sovereignty Is Important
  20. Sovereignty for Cities and Counties: Decentralizing the American States

Postscript:  A Tale of Two Megastates: Why the EU Is Better (In Some Ways) than the US

Breaking Away cover
Meet the Author
Ryan McMaken
Ryan McMaken

Ryan McMaken (@ryanmcmaken) is executive editor at the Mises Institute, a former economist for the State of Colorado, and the author of two books: Breaking Away: The Case of Secession, Radical Decentralization, and Smaller Polities and Commie Cowboys: The Bourgeoisie and the Nation-State in the Western Genre. Ryan has a bachelor’s degree in economics and a master’s degree in public policy, finance, and international relations from the University of Colorado. 

View Ryan McMaken bio and works

By Ryan McMaken
Published 2022 by the Mises Institute
Published under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Mises Institute
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Auburn, Alabama 36832

ISBN: 978-1-61016-758-1