PART 1 of Threats to individual freedom series:
The modern international state system moved the ancient struggle between vassals/tributaries and lords from national level to the level of the individual. Similar to state vassals of the past, people don't want to pay with tribute or service for the right of personal autonomy.
The 20th century saw a false divide created when it came to the concept of freedom. People endlessly argued over whether it means not being coerced to do an action or whether it means being empowered to do an action. We can now clearly see that these two conceptions are sides of the same coin (like many confusing and false dualities in the modern world: right/left, private/public sphere, government/corporation, etc)
"negative freedom": Not being forced to do what you don't want allows you to do what you want.
"positive freedom" : Being given the resources to do what you want allows you to do what you want.
In the end both supposedly different variants allow you to exert more influence over yourself and your environment. As one of the most observant ancient thinkers, Marcus Cicero, noted, "freedom is participation in power". The more one's thoughts, desires, and action influence the world, the more freedom one has. Of course in the first decade of the 21st century we understand that the person also needs to be autonomous (instead of being told by the clergy or political commissars) in deciding what actions to engage in. The secular internet age increasingly takes away the desire and thought generating powers from the traditional local community and transfers it to the individual. What does it mean to be an autonomous decision maker, to not be constantly coerced by stronger outside forces, and to have enough resources to be able to make your own decisions without perishing? It means to be sovereign. A sovereign entity IS the coin with sides of positive and negative liberty.
Ancient Greeks saw freedom as their city state's ability to do exactly what Kurds, Basques, and Palestinians are fighting for. The international situation has provided us with incredible clarity on the meaning of liberty. Ever since the treaty of Westphalia, each state (regardless of its size or wealth) asserted the sovereign right to do what it wants within its borders as well as ability to interact with other sovereigns as it sees fit. Different countries did not waste time debating whether they're now allowed freedom to or from. The mere fact of multilateral respect and recognition was a large leap.
Considering that countries are made up of multitudes of factions and endless struggles between wills, sovereignty brings a welcome breather by reducing direct foreign influence. Mass energies can thus be used to sort out what the society wants to do and how it will develop. The individual human does not get such a breather unless he/she acquired an inheritance which would then allow time for reflection. A man does not get a full chance to engage in clean wholesome inner struggle and self mastery because other people constantly coerce his thoughts, desires, and mode of action.
It seems like an obvious next step to give subnational (think of sovereign European states within EU) sovereign status to individual human beings. Unlike a state, the individual has far fewer internal battles and conflicting interests/points of view. A man also has simpler system complexity and is much more capable of self governance than say, a complex multi-ethnic society which engages in periods of civil war. The relative unity of the individual (and the corresponding stability) appears to be a greater argument for sovereignty than one made by South Ossetia for instance.
Obviously an individual cannot have same status as the Vatican or Haiti (for legal and national security reasons) but the personal qualities of a human being definitely qualify for greater sovereign status within the nation's borders. If Vatican is able to be a country inside Rome, if Indian nations are able to have varying degrees of autonomy within United States, if consular workers are able to have diplomatic immunity, then we definitely see a framework arise for provision of increased sovereignty to human beings.
Today we find individual human beings in the same position that tiny German principalities were in when they were battling over which mode of religious life to have in the 17th century. Only today instead of the Vatican and powerful protestant empires pushing the conflict, there are political factions using entire populations as their personal war zones. Whichever political faction takes over the reigns of power within a state, seems to think it proper to impose its views (on mode of existence) upon everybody.
People want basic things that countries wanted throughout time.
Every individual desires:
1) ownership of a living space without strings attached
2) sufficient supply of resources to physiologically survive at worst and make use of productively at best
3) and ability to interact with others autonomously and without coercion.
Right away questions bubble up. "who will provide the resources!?" "what structure for resource gathering is needed?!" "everybody can't have a living space just like that! there isn't enough land and the land that's there will need to be rented or paid for!"