The word “sovereignty” originally referred to the right of a king to rule his territory as he pleased. Translated into republican terms, it covers the right of the people to similarly control the national territory and, more broadly, to order their life as they see fit.
The above implies that sovereignty is both political and economic. At the time the U.S. Constitution was written, economic sovereignty was a given. The overwhelming majority of goods used for daily life were produced, if not locally, then at least within the national territory.
This remained true, for America at least, through the Industrial Revolution and until the second half of the 20th century. The energy “oil shocks” of the 1970’s were the first public sign that this was no longer the case. At least some of the “necessities of life” were now coming from outside the national territory.
The globalization of the oil market was followed by a similar evolution in many other fields. The U.S. today is deeply enmeshed in trade networks spanning the entire planet, and a host of vital supplies, ranging from drugs to clothing to fertilizer, are no longer produced domestically. This situation of increasing dependence on foreign supply sources is assumed to provide lower costs and greater efficiency. It also implies a loss of economic sovereignty.
Foreign suppliers of goods to U.S. citizens are controlled by their respective governments, be they democratic or not. They are the suppliers, and to that extent they control us. We, as their market, have some control over them. But each side is also dependent on the other, implying for both a loss of freedom and sovereignty.
This loss is amplified by the fact that the terms of trade and exchange are usually set by persons and organizations with no formal responsibility towards the citizenry: multinational corporation executives, international institutions, and the managers of the globalized financial system. All these persons and entities pursue their own interests and are not bound by a popularly approved charter such as the U.S. Constitution.
The essence of democracy is that the people should control the circumstances of their own life, be they political or economic. In the United States, at this time, they do not, in the economic sphere, have such control. While political sovereignty still stands, its economic counterpart is eroding away.
This issue is vital to the maintenance of the United States as a free and sovereign nation.
Born in Poland, Jacek Popiel was educated in Africa, Canada, and the United States. He speaks five languages. His career spans military and international business development in the Soviet Union, Eastern and Western Europe, North America, and Japan. He is currently a freelance writer and political consultant. His book “Viable Energy Now,” grew out of his military and international business experience and his professional involvement with energy issues.