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It can be used to describe a person or persons or a group being able to exercise all of the necessary functions of power without intervention from any authority that they cannot themselves alter. In addition to describing personal autonomy, "self-rule" is also associated with contexts in which there is the end of
absolute government or
monarchy as well as demands for
autonomy by religious, ethnic or geographic regions which perceive themselves as being unrepresented or underrepresented in a national government. It is, therefore, a fundamental tenet of
republican government and
democracy as well as of
Gandhi's term "
swaraj" (see also "
satygraha") is a branch of this self-rule ideology.
This article focuses on the self-governance of professions, industries including unions, and formal or informal political units including ethnic or ethical 'nations' not defined by national borders, and of religious organizations, which have professional and political elements. There are many historical examples of such organizations or groups, and some, e.g. the
Roman Catholic Church, the
Iroquois Confederacy, have histories going back centuries, including vast bodies of precedent and shared culture and knowledge.
A means of self-governance usually comprises at least the following:
A means of ensuring that outside authority does not become involved unless and until these criteria are satisfied, usually a
code of silence regarding the activities of insiders when conversing with outsiders.