Happy 1st of August! For us it is important date because it refers to a historic alliance concluded in 1291 by the three cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden. This marked the beginning of the Swiss Confederation.
For nearly 800 years, the Swiss confederation in various sizes has formed one of the world’s only republics. It has offered citizens a certain level of freedom and constancy not available elsewhere. Even today it retains some freedoms and individuals can vote locally on federal topics from town squares just by raising their hands.
It started, as we have indicated, long ago. The Old Swiss Confederacy was a joint settlement of Alpen communities. The Confederacy helped run trade routes through the Alps. In fact, the Charter was set up between the rural communities of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden in 1291. It is thought to be the first document of its kind; however there may have been alliances before then.
By 1353, the in the confederation made common cause with others, including Glarus and Zug and the Lucerne, Zürich and Bern. They constituted the “Old Confederacy” that continued until late in the 15th century. By 1460, the cantons ran territory west of the Rhine and their power was increased by wins over the Habsburgs and Charles the Bold of Burgundy.
Modern Switzerland has turned out not to be so powerful. It avoided getting enmeshed directly in the EU, but it was sued by the US over banking practices a few years ago and did not stand up for clients. Instead it turned over names and was obviously intimidated by the US and the idea that its banks would be excommunicated by others around the world if they didn’t cooperate.
Additionally back in 2000, it severed the link between gold and the Swiss franc. And later it voted against a proposal to back the franc once again by a certain amount of gold.
Additionally, at the highest levels, Switzerland reflects elements of the European Union, at least informally even though it is not a member.
Switzerland is not the independent country it was before the 21st century. It still has some of its freedoms, however, and is not nearly so intimidated as some countries that are already part of the EU.
But it could be a lot freer than it is, and represents in its compromises, the increased dominance of large regions like the EU and US over countries not part of their various blocks.