The Meaning and Reality of Individual Sovereignty

This special Independent Institute event was held on May 2, 2019, in San Francisco. Why has the idea of individual sovereignty been granted such primacy of place in free Western societies? Why were the men who formulated the Declaration of Independence willing to declare: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” and, further, to insist “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Why, as well, are ideas of individual sovereignty, which have proved so successful in guaranteeing freedom and prosperity in the West and, increasingly, around the world, under attack, by those on the left and the right who offer collective identity as an alternative?

I’m introduced by Independent President David J. Theroux. My comments are followed by a conversation with Independent Institute Senior Vice President Mary L.G. Theroux and Executive Director Graham Walker.

A public Q and A session was held a little later in the afternoon, and is available here: You can also watch the additional Q&A session from the event here:

The Independent Institute is a non-profit, non-partisan, public-policy research and educational organization that shapes ideas into profound and lasting impact. The mission of Independent is to boldly advance peaceful, prosperous, and free societies grounded in a commitment to human worth and dignity. Applying independent thinking to issues that matter, the Independent Institute creates transformational ideas for today’s most pressing social and economic challenges. The results of this work are published as books, the quarterly journal, The Independent Review, and other publications and form the basis for numerous conference and media programs. By connecting these ideas with other organizations and networks, Independent seeks to inspire action that can unleash an era of unparalleled human flourishing at home and around the globe.

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