People are forced to be born in specific nations. They do not chose to be born in that nation or accept that nation's rules. As the person grows up and comes of age, that person may decide not to follow that nation's rules. But naturally, the person does not have any obligation to leave the nation, because, ... well, why should there be? The idea of leaving a nation because you don't like rules is inherently contradictory, since it implies an acceptance of the rule that says "this geographical region belongs to this country and therefore you should leave", but naturally that rule is also one which this person does not accept and therefore has no obligation to leave.

This person may otherwise be a completely moral being. And yet, because this person does not follow the rules (such as paying taxes or showing up for military draft), the nation will punish that person.

Hence, does it follow that inherently, the idea of a nation is immoral? Since it forced people into a particular system from birth, and if people disagree with that system, they are either punished or forced to leave, neither of which they inherently deserve?

  • 3
    Why do you think that "the idea of a nation" must be moral ? Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 14:45
  • 1
    The basic principle of "society" (i.e. living with other people) is to follow the rules: if you do not follow them you will be persecuted. But if you do not like them, in many cases, you are free to leave and go abroad. Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 14:46
  • You could certainly imagine a nation that agrees exactly with your morality. That nation would be moral by your definition, because the only people it punishes are immoral, by your definition.
    – user935
    Commented Mar 16, 2018 at 17:12
  • Capital flows, good for the capitalist; but labor can be trapped and exploited. If we had a true free market, labor could shift itself quickly. And really not too bad for the capitalist because the new worker to the nation becomes a new consumer as well. There is a cry among some in the USA for school choice. Choose the best school. Well...you see how this could give people ideas. Choose the best nation.
    – Gordon
    Commented Mar 16, 2018 at 21:31

1 Answer 1


At most, people happen to be born in specific nations, they are not forced to be born. They just are born in some nation or other.

You are not strictly talking about nations but about states, nation states maybe but still states : state-organised societies.


If you do choose not to leave then it is still the case, except in seriously imperfect societies, that you receive the benefits of membership - of citizenship - of your nation-state. You receive the 'public goods' which that state provides to all citizens : defence, security, welfare, safety legislation, contract law. If you are a recipient of these benefits, and decline to move to a different state, then it seems a requirement of reciprocal justice that you should keep the rules that enable the state to operate. This includes paying taxes. If you accept the benefits, when you could avoid them by emigrating and the costs of emigration are not disproportionately high compared to the benefits received, then you owe the costs.

In the matter of the military draft, it is not an inherent fact about the state that it imposes a military draft. Not all states have such a draft; and those that do have usually an exemption for conscientious objectors. The United Kingdom, for instance, knew no such thing before 1916. And it recognised conscientious objection when the draft was introduced. There is no draft in the UK now, or the USA, or Canada, or Australia, or France. Do you live in a country with a military draft ?


Conditions are imaginable in which I should live quite happily without the state. I don't see it as an intrinsically benign, permanent fixture of political life. But as things are, if you accept the benefits the state provides when - to repeat from above - you could withdraw from them by emigration and if the costs of emigration are not disproportionately high compared with the benefits you receive, you tacitly consent to pay your dues.

  • it’s a members only club, and if you don’t pay your dues, no more membership ... immoral/moral is moot, its winner takes all and winner gets to make the rules. Sadly.
    – user31089
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 18:41
  • @MrThoughtIKnewItAll. Interesting comment, thank you. Best : GT
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Commented Mar 15, 2018 at 18:43

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