In Neal Stephenson's novel Snow Crash, the world is described as partly anarcho-capitalist: some places still had nation-states, others collapsed completely due to hyperinflation and became owned by corporations and mafiosos. One character stood out: Raven. He was a sovereign individual. What made him sovereign among other people who depended on their government or private franchises to survive? Nuclear weapons that he always carried with him in his motorcycle buggy, programmed to detonate if he died. So, anywhere he went, people were not just afraid of him, but they did all they could to protect him. Who would want a nuke to detonate in their neighbourhood?

"Liberty"-minded folk are often fascinated with the idea of sovereign individualism, an approach to life that commands complete independence from the status quo or anything that may replace it. You can see James Davidson and William Reese-Mogg's book The Sovereign Individual proudly displayed on the bookshelf behind your average libertarian during a Zoom call. I have one, too. The book has many good ancap ideas and it had even somewhat predicted Bitcoin ten years before Satoshi gave his gift to the world. But its conclusion—the claim that people will become sovereign in the information age—is bogus.

Sovereignty, per Merriam-Webster, is defined as a) supreme power especially over a body politic; b) freedom from external control; c) controlling influence. In all three cases, the sovereign individual is, essentially, a monarch. A king who owns a plot of land, with constituents (his body politic) and a paid army to protect it. He is somewhat free from external control (in the real world, complete freedom from everything and everybody is not possible) and has a controlling influence on his land. Everybody else who lives in the kingdom is not sovereign by definition.

Changing definitions and expanding them to your liking does no good. If you think that just by using bitcoin, having encrypted hardware and software and being able to travel the world without limitations makes you sovereign, think again. As soon as you step on someone else's property (a citadel, a kingdom or a modern nation-state), your sovereignty goes out the window. Sorry, you cannot do this or that here, no matter what kingly thoughts and ambitions you have in your head.

Speaking of the head. You may claim that sovereignty may refer to the sovereignty of thought, freedom from external influence on your mind. "I can be free even in prison!" Sure, nothing wrong with that. But you need to remember that the rest of the world are not like that. Even in the idealist Hoppean ancap world full of citadels, most people will find comfort in following others. Because sovereignty is too much responsibility, too much work, too much sacrifice.

So, unless you are willing to drive around with a nuke in your motorcycle buggy, no, you cannot be a sovereign individual.