Dramatic increase in activity and interest
Robert Sudy, a former “sovereign citizen” who has become a researcher into the movement, said it greatly affected some followers’ personal lives.
“What I’ve seen over the years [is that] different adherents of the ideology — they end up having a lot of problems in the home with family and relationships because it encourages that sort of narcissistic mindset, so it’s pretty damaging for mental health,” he said.
Mr Sudy has tracked the various methods and groups propagating these ideologies for close to a decade and said he has noticed a dramatic increase in activity and interest.
“It’s grown from what it used to be when these concepts were first introduced … [when] it was basically tax evasion strategies and how to get out of different fines, whereas today it’s grown into more of a social phenomena and it’s growing as more people are exposed to it online,” he said.
“Definitely the last couple of years people are looking for solutions and this is offered as a false hope.”
Mr Sudy said the push for sovereign citizenship “provably has no basis in law”.
But he said many people ignored the comprehensive rejection of their legal-sounding arguments by courts — which have ruled that people do not have the right to opt out or disregard the law — because those individuals had often developed a religious-like devotion to the ideology.
“I’ve watched people become radicalised just from very simple needs or legitimate matters they had in their own lives, whether it be paying rates on their property, paying a speeding fine,” he said.
“Anyone who had a difference of opinion or tried to doubt the ideology in any way was shunned – they were called ‘sheeple’ [or] government agents.
“The paranoia was perpetuated.”