7.2.1 Isolation from Governance

People can seek a degree of isolation from governance in some dimensions of power by separating themselves from the rest of society.

It is possible to avoid many of the constraints of governance by placing oneself outside its scope, or by making one’s own arrangements, in preference to relying on publicly-provided services.  The degree to which this is possible varies by dimension:

●  Subsistence farming largely avoids the use of money, and thereby escapes tax and economic regulation.  This might be unintended isolation.

●  There are various schemes for tax avoidance (  In one of the most extreme examples, the Barclay brothers bought “Brecqhou, a 74-acre rocky outcrop off the coast of Sark”, by responding to an advertisement in Country Life: “The words ‘Tax Free Status’ were highlighted in bold.”

“The fortress the Barclay Brothers erected on Brecqhou, with its 100ft walls, turrets and crenellated ramparts, was the largest private house built in Britain for 200 years.”

●  People can isolate themselves from moral influence by declaring that other people have no right to influence them and that they don’t care what others think.  Individuals adopting this strategy gain some mental freedom, but they could not then expect any co-operation or support from others.  This is a comparatively rare choice – but there are cases of tight-knit religious groups, such as the Amish for example, choosing to isolate themselves.

●  Generally speaking, people cannot obtain isolation from governance of the laws of the territory which they inhabit – but if they avoid contact with other people they are unlikely to contravene any laws.

●  People can opt out of political involvement, but they cannot be completely isolated from the consequences of some political decisions such as planning controls and the amount of tax they pay.

Such isolation could be regarded as the ultimate expression of individualism.  It undermines social cohesion.


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This page is intended to form part of Edition 4 of the Patterns of Power series of books.  An archived copy of it is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition04/721.htm.