What is the relationship between freedom and equality? After World War II, decolonization and the Cold War wrought dramatic geopolitical changes around the globe. Americans fought over the meaning of democracy, equality, and freedom, pitting those who saw individual liberty and social equality as mutually reinforcing against those who prioritized liberty. Some who prioritized freedom experimented with exiting the nation-state system to establish private sovereign territories in ocean or island spaces, establishing precedents for contemporary aspirations to exit the state system. What do attempts to leave the current state system in favor of privately governed spaces teach us about the future of global equality?
Raymond Craib is the Marie Underhill Noll Professor of American History at Cornell University. He is the author of Cartographic Mexico: A History of State Fixations and Fugitive Landscapes, The Cry of the Renegade: Politics and Poetry in Interwar Chile, and Adventure Capitalism: A History of Libertarian Exit from the Era of Decolonization to the Digital Age (PM Press/Spectre, 2022).
Part of our Winter 2022 lecture series, “Engaging Global Inequality.”