CS: It’s been almost a year since we last sat down with you. Perhaps the biggest change, in terms of your intermicronational participation, is that you are now the Acting Chairman of GUM. One of the notable initiatives that you’re currently leading is the second 24 Hour Quorum. It’s been five years since it was first held. What do you hope the latest quorum will achieve and why hold it now?
HC: The goal of this Quorum is to, very broadly, bring our community together. The community isn’t as tightly knit as it was five years ago, and while that’s not a problem that can be directly confronted, we can work to improve personal relationships between one another through events such as this. We will also be including several younger micronationalists as temporary delegates so they can gain experience and reputation before applying in their own right. The simplest reason that it is being held now is that the idea was proposed and I liked the idea being front-and-center on my agenda.
CS: Will the quorum again take on a philanthropic approach this time around and if so, are there preferred charities?
HC: Yes. The 24 Hour Quorum is planned as a charity event. We have gauged how many people will be making donations, however have not asked to what charity the delegates will be donating to. For the most part, donation is left up to the individual to decide.
CS: What other initiatives do you have planned for your time as a member of GUM‘s executive?
HC: We’ve already done several other things. We created a GUM email address that I use under firstname.lastname@example.org, we are working on a GUM Portal, and I am working with King Tarik – my nominee for Statistics Secretary who was confirmed recently – to reform the Statistics office, as well as potentially doing the same for the office of the Media Secretary. We are also working on cultural exhibitions that will be published soon. There are a few other things that are in their infancy that I’ll avoid talking about because of this fact.
CS: Can you tell us more about what you want the Statistics Secretary and Media Secretary to accomplish during their mandates?
HC: The main goal of the Statistics Secretary and Media Secretary during my term is to bring the offices back to activity and their regular updates and reports. The Statistics Secretary will provide weekly updates to Quorum and a comprehensive statistical report every three months, just as the Media Secretary will continue to update the Quorum overviews in GUM News. More details on the precise plans will be released once we get the reformations of the offices complete, which should be sometime before the 24 Hour Quorum.
CS: Beyond the intermicronational stage, you’re also the monarch of the Essian Commonwealth, which was refounded back in January. For our readers who are unfamiliar, perhaps you can provide some background on the Commonwealth? Is it a follow-on to your previous project, the Quetican Islands?
HC: The Essian Commonwealth was originally founded in June 2015 as the direct successor to the dissolved Federated States of America. After the dissolution of the Federated States in May 2016 I ventured into other projects – the foremost being the Democratic Republic of the Quetican Islands. The Commonwealth obviously was reformed after the Quetican Islands, but isn’t a legal successor and will not claim to be.
CS: Still on the topic of the Commonwealth, are there any notable or exciting projects you have planned for the micronation for which you’re willing to share some details?
HC: Projects are a central part of development in the Essian Commonwealth. It has had to take a backseat since I’ve taken up my duties in the Grand Unified Micronational, however I am very much still invested in the projects we are doing. I’m doing a lot of cultural projects with music – I’ve actually written a few songs myself – and there’s also some art and other cultural bits that we’ve been engaged in. You’ll be able to see a lot of this on showcase in the GUM International Exhibitions, a project that should be published within the coming weeks.
CS: You’ve also relaunched plans for Micronation Report with Henry Twain, a television program that unfortunately died on the development table in 2016. Can you tell us more about this exciting cultural project?
HC: Yes. The Micronation Report was my plan to make a radio show to fill the void left by RadioMicro. Unfortunately, my two interviews planned for the debut episode – those of Brandon Wu and John Churchill – fell through when they requested me to trash the interview for privacy reasons. How long it’ll take for the reboot, titled Clement!, to actually premier is yet to be determined – I do have many duties which are of higher priority – however I’m hoping for it to be within the next few months.
CS: Much of your participation in the community last year was within the field micronational economics, though you seem to have moved on from this as a focus. Is there a particular reason for the change of heart? Is “Henry Twain the Economist” a thing of the past for good?
HC: At this point – more than anything else – I’m doing whatever I enjoy. Economics was fun, as was the QMSE and the MEG, but now I have much more I can and should be doing. To many people, I’m still ‘the Economist’, but to me, there’s much more ahead.
CS: Mr McCarthy, thank you for sitting down with us again. If I were to contrast the Kit McCarthy who sat down for an interview in 2015 with the one before me today, I think the biggest difference I would see is an intense focus on all-things judiciary in nature. What drives your personal interest in the administration of justice?
It’s not so much the administration of justice, but law that is a great personal interest. To me, it’s an absolute fundamental of any state. Even those without complicated legal systems are all in some way based upon it. I believe a stable, if not especially advanced legal system, is an absolute essential for most micronations. It allows us to regulate ourselves and it can be a fascinating thing to experiment with.
It has to be said that originally law bored me to an extreme. Indeed, it took me over a year to write any legislation for Mcarthia at all. Our original constitution, written by me at the tender age of twelve, gave our citizens only five rights; by comparison, the current constitution lists over forty. Honestly, I’m not sure what changed. The Maelternt, which I adored at the time and now look at with repulsion, was the start of my legal interests. It’s just developed from there, I suppose.
CS: How can a micronation balance the benefits of a judiciary with the rights of the citizen, or with the need to not alienate participation?
A judiciary by nature should not be threatening the rights of its citizens, it should be protecting them. So long as the law is adhered to and due process is followed, there should be no issue with rights being infringed. Indeed, I hope that micronational courts are defending their citizens.
Still, court cases have got a bad name recently and I can see why. They are either utterly meaningless, jurisdictionally questionable, or really just another name for an online flame war. I’m really frustrated by this. I don’t see a functioning legal system and citizen participation as incompatible. It is true that an aggressive legal system, particularly with regards to criminal prosecutions, could be intensely off putting, but it doesn’t have to be like that if we do things sensibly. The state has a responsibility to follow the law to the letter, and the community has a responsibility to recognise that law.
I think we need to particularly counter the culture of civil actions being hostile things. I would like to see a community where pursuing civil actions was regarded not as a personal attack, but just a formal way of resolving an issue. We often forget the nature of a civil action. It doesn’t have to be that we’re accusing someone of being negligent and are demanding compensation. It could just be that we want to push an authority to comply with legislation, for instance. If we could change the anti-court mindset that I think has become predominant in the community, judiciaries would be able to benefit the community far better.
CS: Changing the anti-court mindset is a reasonable goal, but how do we get there is the challenge. Are there some first steps that you’d suggest to start the ball rolling on this cultural change?
First of all, we need to be much more careful in the cases we pursue and how we do so. Frivolous litigation, illegal extraterritorial trials, and so on, are never going to improve the image of court cases. We must only pursue cases that are legal and necessary. If someone is being prosecuted for a criminal offence, there needs to be public legislation stating that it is a crime. We must follow procedural law. We must act in accordance with due process. Courts and law enforcement services must act totally above board. There needs to be trust.
Just as damaging as a dodgy judiciary is a lack of respect for the role of courts. All micronationalists have a role to play in respecting the rule of law. If a case is legal, micronationalists should promptly comply with court orders and sentences, and the proceedings should not be called out as ‘invalid,’ or ‘a show trial.’ The courts must respect the people, and the people must respect the law.
CS: Your “sandbox” for translating your interest into a practical experiment has largely been your micronation of Mcarthia. Would you share with our readers some of Mcarthia’s successes in law and justice, as well as perhaps give a glimpse of planned future projects?
I think our biggest success is simply the establishment of our legal system. I think it fair to call it considerably advanced, and has a lot of legislation structuring it. We’ve so far had four cases: the one lawsuit was eventually dismissed, and the other three have been ‘cases in rem,’ where queries about the meaning of the law were raised.
Having these cases has been fantastic. It is remarkable how much a system can develop through the hearing of a single case, both in terms of procedure and case law. It’s been quite hard to get our heads round the legislation we ourselves wrote! All of these things really just take practise, so the more cases of any kind we can have, the better for our legal development.
With regards to the future, the most important thing to do is keep the judiciary active. While we haven’t had a criminal case yet, it is reasonably likely we will end up with one in the next few months. I anticipate also a number of other civil cases. There’ll be work on the law enforcement side of things as well. The Police and Intelligence Act (2017) established two new subsidiary bodies of the National Police Service: the National Investigations Office and the Mcarthian Intelligence Service. I predict both of these starting to take more of a role.
The major project I am working on at the moment is the codification and monumental expansion of our legislation. The Code of the Republic of Mcarthia, as it is called, is inspired by the masterpiece of legal writing that is the Universal Triumvirate Code, and will certainly rival it in length. So far, it’s 77 pages long, and we’ve barely started on it. It ranges from ethics to select committees, criminal justice social work to task forces, security vetting to the protection of diplomats; it goes on. I am really excited about the completion of the code. If enacted, it will give Mcarthia a good claim to being one of the most legally developed micronations in the community.
A new organisation (dare I say it) has also been mooted, potentially independent of government. Justice Intermicronational, as is the working name, would be a group trying to encourage legal due process and ethics. I cannot say for certain if this proposal will come to anything, but it could be a valuable development if it did.
CS: That sandbox also extends to the international arena, through your efforts at GUM to develop the Secretariat for Conflict Resolution and Intermicronational Law (SCRIL). What motivated you to propose the Secretariat’s creation?
Last December, I made a statement to the Quorum about how I wanted to see the GUM taking an active role in mediation and international law. I thought it particularly disappointing that people had been calling on the GUM to provide conciliation services and it hadn’t been doing anything about it.
The SCRIL provides a formal framework for GUM-led mediations, and I think that already it is starting to prove itself. It served for instance to resolve the Paravia-Dachenia dispute and all parties were very grateful as to the services we provided. It’s also working on a number of legal projects, including an enormous law guide for micronationalists.
I was motivated to create it because I was becoming increasingly frustrated by the GUM‘s stagnation at that time and because I wanted to ensure we were taking an active role in the promotion of community peace. I also wanted international law to become a larger part of our community.
CS: Can you give us a brief insight into what sort of material the law guide will include?
A bit of everything, really. It starts off with basics about statehood, power, and the rule of law, and goes on to deal with different legal systems, motions and orders, extradition, sentencing, criminal records, codification, double jeopardy, impeachments, judicial reviews, the meaning of the letter ‘R’ in case stylings, how to write legislation, ethics, clerking, and even extraordinary rendition. Whether we’ll actually finish it is another thing!
CS: I’m going to play devil’s advocate for a moment. How relevant are micronational courts truly, insofar as any punishment imposed is generally unenforceable or mere inconvenience? For example, fines cannot be enforced, and banishment easily circumvented using available technologies if one wishes.
I think micronational courts are enormously relevant! It’s true that sentencing options can be limited in criminal matters, but that’s not true for civil cases at all. If a body is under a court’s jurisdiction, any number of injunctions can be ordered. Courts are very valuable in resolving conflict, even if in some cases it doesn’t necessarily look like it at first.
Courts aren’t really in micronations to punish lawbreakers because there aren’t that many in our community. Courts are there to make the law meaningful. A lot of time in this community is spent working in legislatures but all this work goes to waste if there is no way of enforcing law (and I mean law generally, not necessarily in the criminal sense).
The role of a judiciary in interpreting law is hugely valuable as well. Honestly, micronational law is rarely as watertight as expertly written macronational legislation, so having someone deciding on how it should be viewed is essential to prevent conflict.
CS: You’ve recently floated an idea of using court-imposed unpaid fines as backing for a national currency. As you said yourself, it’s a strange but unique idea. As I read your proposal, I admittedly felt uneasy, in that I envisioned the commoditization of punishment being fatal to a small, close-knit community such as a micronation. How would you balance the use of the courts as a currency generator with the administration of justice?
I mean, the concept was highly theoretical. I don’t imagine it coming to anything, both for the reasons you mentioned, and also because the very small number of fines that a micronational court would ever impose would unlikely be enough to sustain a currency. I am still quite curious about how the idea might be developed into an ABS – asset backed security. I wouldn’t feel comfortable talking about it too much at this stage, because frankly I haven’t spent a lot of time developing it.
Q: The latest controversy concerning anti-Muslim comments by Markus Abernathy has become a polarizing affair. Can you tell our readers more about your involvement in the controversy and why the Universal Triumvirate has taken to boycotting the MicroWiki community in response?
A: Well, I suppose that Markus has always sort of been very open with his remarks, as people tell me it goes back way before now. When I first arrived in March of this year, I always kept him on the peripheral, but he wasn’t as active during that time of year. Recently in June, I started to gear back up into activity as the Universal Triumvirate neared its summer elections. As we all know, a very tragic event happened just a few short days ago with the Orlando shootings, leading to a plethora of opinions being voiced against Muslims or against homosexuality.
In a thread titled “I am a Muslim so that makes me?”, Markus really came all out with his prejudiced comments by saying that they were a race “tainted by their religion”. Of course, this all tumbled downhill and people began giving him negative reputation for such comments. The last straw for me really was when he said in a round-about way that they were an inferior race. Now, I’ve known Muslims before, and I had a friend who tried to kill herself because people always thought of her as a terrorist, or they would spew racial slurs at her. I began to publicly voice my opinion, calling for a ban on Markus. Eventually, we started boycotting the wiki because I didn’t want to be around Markus and his hate speech.
The last straw really came when I woke up one morning and saw that Jonathon of Austenasia had said to simply ignore Markus. At that point, I realized that I just couldn’t be involved with a website that refused to take action on hate speech or even tell Markus to lower the rhetoric. I respect Jonathon’s opinion, he pays for the website and all, but I felt that he just really dropped the ball with that decision.
Q: The “ignore” option suggested, all the same, might accomplish more by alienating Abernathy’s participation. After all, if he is a troll, one would expect him to move on to whichever website would next provide him a stage and an audience if he is not gaining the attention he seeks at MicroWiki. Is it fair, then, to suggest that MicroWiki’s administration team are condoning hate speech by inaction?
A: Well that’s the thing, he’s found a group of people that indulge him and he knows he can come back at any point to provoke a response. He’s been around for years at this point. I don’t think the whole “ignore” solution is the right avenue because I don’t see him leaving anytime soon.
I don’t know if it’s fair to say they condone hate speech. I’m sure they’re all nice enough and level-headed people; however, when you fail to reprimand someone for hate speech in a place like an Internet forum where you have the distinct ability to ban them, it really shows a big failure to do what is right. I think somewhere near 60% of people polled said they favoured some sort of punishment for Markus, and that’s a clear majority of the community.
Q: Since the announcement of the Universal Triumvirate’s boycott, while several individuals and micronations have followed suit, there has been a backlash from others who feel that the boycott goes too far. What’s your response to those people?
A: To those people, I would like to say this: there is a difference between our movement and the movement of the New Starland government. The New Starland government claimed that the “old guard” were the problem and that she was a “lion” leading the new guard.
I do not believe that. I believed that a sensible approach had to be taken, and one which all of the community could agree on. An example needed to be made that you could not promote hate speech against a certain race and get away with it unscathed.
I closed my embassy to the website in order to avoid Markus – because it’s the internet, I’m not going to stay on a website that hosts someone who advocates that racism – and as it turned out, a few people decided to follow me for various reasons of their own. This is a boycott by a group who collectively believes there should be more action by the part of the site moderators, and until then, we’re going to stick together.
Q: What specifically needs to happen for the Universal Triumvirate to lift the boycott in the immediate term?
A: Simple – an immediate ban of Markus for any period greater than two weeks. I feel like this action would make me come back immediately and praise the action of the forum moderators, and apologize for boycotting MicroWiki. It’s just a simple matter of doing what is right instead of doing what is popular.
Q: You suggest a minimum ban for two weeks, but it seems as though the administration team aren’t open to this option at present. Is there any room for the Universal Triumvirate to be flexible in this demand, are you willing to accept an alternative approach if proposed?
A: Sure, I’m not an unreasonable person and I could accept some form of punishment. The problem seems to be at this point that they are ignoring him and trying to close their eyes to make the problem go away. Any punishment for Markus would give me a strong reason to open back up relations, but continued inactivity and indecisiveness on the moderators’ part seems like their choice of action at this moment.
Q: How can the community, its administrators and participants, work together to prevent a future recurrence of this episode?
A: I don’t think there’s one thing that would immediately solve the problem. The forum has a bad habit of people derailing threads, being loose with curse words and other offensive language, and the occasional troll.
Ironically, the solution that I can think of which would solve the problem has roots in the business we are in: government. I think the moderator team needs to sit down at least once every two weeks in a chat and talk about all of the things they can do to better the website, as well as who should be banned and what new rules need to be made. This team should be unbiased and should really try to work for the betterment of the community in general. I think that the forum can be saved, but we really need a group of people who will devote themselves to keeping the forum clean.
Q: Any final thoughts?
A: I hope that this interview sheds some light on our movement, and hopefully the members of the MicroWiki forum will stop berating us for doing what we think is right. Thank you, Mr. Sinclair.
Q: For those of our readers who are unfamiliar with you, would you introduce yourself and tell us about how you became involved in micronationalism?
A: Well, my full names are Beau Freï Jean-Seraphine Baltazar von Fräähsen zu Lorenzburg and I am the Prince of Lorenzburg and Baron of Valdivia. I trained as a dancer and choreographer at the LABAN conservatoire in London, and I have been working as a freelance artist since 2007. For me, being a Prince is a vocation that combines elements from different disciplines such as teaching, counseling, politics, magic(k), storytelling and art.
I have always been interested in mythology and various non Judeo-Christian spiritual narratives such as shamanism and Buddhism. Especially the Zen and Tibetan traditions. I grew up on a nutritious spiritual and intellectual diet consisting of roleplaying games, fantasy books and a love for history and philosophy. And an interest in the stage arts of course!
I had actually never even heard of micronations until November 2014, when Lorenzburg accidently came into existence. I was writing an application for a grant, and wanted to stress how important my upbringing in the Karlstad city section of Lorensberg was in shaping me as a person and as a professional artist. Lorensberg is a rather unremarkable place (or boring if one is less generous) with villas, semidetached houses and a fair share of woodland areas. But to me it was a place of magic! With the woods literally across the street from my house, I was fortunate to be able to play and imagine and explore in the natural surroundings, together with my friends. Now, as I was writing the application for the grant, my fingers Freudian-slipped on the keyboard and I wrote “Lorenzburg” rather than “Lorensberg”. I didn’t think much of it at the time; I just changed the text and sent the application. Then, a couple of days later I remembered the mistake and realized that it could be the start of something fun. I started a blog and played around with some texts and images, and Lo(!), Lorenzburg was manifesting before my eyes.
I started googling stuff for the blog, and came across the concept of micronations. After some research I found out there is a whole inter-micronational community to interact with. It was the start of a great adventure!
Q: Speaking of the Principality of Lorenzburg, your micronational home, from what I understand, it is partly a community art project, focusing on such things as urban farming, and partly a micronation in the usual sense. It’s certainly an interesting combination of purposes. Can you tell our readers more about why you designed Lorenzburg in this fashion?
A: I suppose, being an artist, making art is what I do. Or rather: being an artist everything I do becomes art. Or rather again: Art is the method by which I live and so it seems the product of living is art. I don’t know, maybe that was a bit unclear…
Anyways, being an artist means that my metaphorical tentacles are sensitive to anything that could be used as material for artistic expression. The birth of Lorenzburg was a singularly powerful invitation to make art with a potential to create change, and it is important for me to try to do good in any way I can.
Also, I think structuring the formation phase of Lorenzburg as a large-scale community art project gives opportunities to engage participants/citizens in a structured and meaningful way. As Prince of Lorenzburg, I am genuinely interested in inviting people to bring to the project their own stories, talents and appetites. I was very fortunate to be given a working grant, by the municipality of Karlstad, in order to carry out a pilot project and to investigate the public interest in participating. I carried out extensive interviews and found that there’s a general consensus that the city section of Lorensberg is considered safe and pleasant but very anonymous and somewhat dull.
I found that my own interests in sustainability and community building coincide with the interests of many of the residents, and so it seemed natural to me to launch the micronation as an artistic project. Also, placing the project under the aegis of “art project” means that I have some possibility to fund the project with public funds, at least in the initial phases.
Another benefit of running the project as a state-funded art project is that it is easier to invite other agents to collaborate. Grants and stipends act as markers of legitimacy, which make the project interesting to interact with. I have already initiated collaborations with Karlstad University, the Regional Government, the Swedish State Church, as well as associations and private entrepreneurs. It is growing into a huge project but I have no hurry to make it happen all at once. I hope the project will grow organically over time, by attracting people and organizations that are interested in the themes and values of Lorenzburg.
Q: A year-and-a-half into its existence, what would you consider the Principality’s major accomplishment to date and what is next for it?
A: I think that creating alliances with both the public and private sectors is a good milestone for Lorenzburg. Of course, having secured some initial funding for the Principality was important for its continued existence; also, I have focused on exposing the project in regional and national media as well as travelling abroad to research conferences in order to present the ongoing work. For example, I am travelling to Cairo, Egypt, in October to present Lorenzburg in an artistic research conference on public art.
The next major waypoint will happen at the start of autumn when the project proper starts as a series of workshop-lectures with the residents in Lorenzburg. On these occasions we will work with themes such as: “Collective storytelling and safe play in the format of a micronation”; “Inventing culture and traditions from scratch”; “The nurturing neighborhood”; “Place and Branding”; “Striving towards an including community”; “Being super local in a global environment”; and, “Urban Agriculture”.
Also, during the next year we will carry out public “performances” and other public events; for example, in October a one-day pilgrimage in silence in honor of “inner majesty”; a public inter-faith St Lucy celebration in December; a spring equinox seeds; a flowers festival in March 2017; and, a medieval “Saint Knut” fair in May.
Q: You’ve used your position as the Prince of Lorenzburg to promote several issues on the micronational stage, such as environmentalism, social justice, and LGBT rights. How important is it, in your opinion, that micronations develop and implement policies in these areas?
A: I think it is vital that we, the micronations, take our responsibility in declaring our stance for the advancement of the sciences, human rights and environmentalism. It seems to me that there is a negative right-wing movement sweeping across large parts of the world presently. In times of change I think we tend to look to “strong leaders” and black-and-white religious narratives for guidance. It is understandable and human, but it is also dangerous!
I, myself, and the Principality that I serve as Prince, will always stand for an ethic that is based on reason and secular humanistic values. Maybe it’s because I grew up in Sweden, one of the most secular countries in the world, but I honestly don’t think that countries whose political structures are based on religious or un-democratic values can ever be safe, free and long-term viable. I would certainly not forbid religion – I absolutely think humans have a need for myth and ritual – but I don’t think that a healthy contemporary country can be run on a religiously-based system. All religion, in my thinking, invites some level of honor culture where people are pressured to conform. State systems, in order to support the safety and freedom of their citizens, must be as neutral and as unbiased as possible in terms of religion, party politics, “race”, sexuality etc. Democracy and secularism is the common ground where all citizens can be treated fairly and equally.
I think that micronations can initiate important movements in these areas. Indeed, the very concept of micronations challenges traditional modes of power distribution, and so I think that we have potential to be good role models and advocates of wholesome democratic values. But for this we need to be taken seriously. By making inter-micronational alliances, and by collaborating around these issues, I do believe that we can, and will, make a difference in the world.
Q: What would you say to the sceptic who believes that micronations aren’t an appropriate stage on which to address macronational issues such as those above?
A: I will point out to them that it took but one Mahatma Gandhi, one Marie Curie, one Martin Luther, one Alfred Nobel, one Harvey Milk, one Joan of Arc and a myriad other known and unknown single heroes, to initiate and uphold important social movements or scientific discoveries. We tend to underestimate the power of that which appears small and insignificant.
Lorenzburg is a very small nation but we have faith in the little things. Indeed, the primary symbol of the Principality is the seemingly unimportant pea. The story of the Princess on the Pea teaches us that it really isn’t the Kings and Queens, the Presidents and the Popes, that wield the real power. Common people, small nations, tiny things like a strategically placed pea may, and will, change history!
Q: World Environment Day recently passed on June 5. The event was commemorated in Lorenzburg with a public call for people to “learn to abstain from the unnecessary” and to protect the environment. Can you tell us more about what Lorenzburg is doing locally to prevent environmental damage and reduce its carbon footprint?
A: We are actually taking measures to do just that. Firstly, we are initiating an urban agriculture movement wherein I hope to replace all public plantings with edible plants and fruits. My vision is that collective farming in all public spaces will bring the community together in a meaningful way. I have also invited residents to take part in a workshop on Urban Agriculture, which may result in the sharing of seeds and plants within the neighborhood. Also there is some initial interest in selling homegrown produce in the local grocery store. Collaborating in this way may eventually reduce the need to import/transport vegetables into the area, thereby lowering CO2 emissions.
I think I mentioned earlier that I hope to bring about a collaboration with the University of Karlstad. Earlier this year, I signed the Alcatraz Environmental Treaty on behalf of Lorenzburg and one of the items in the treaty stipulates that the nation must commit to protect pollinating insects such as bees and bumblebees. Now, I contacted the Innovation and Design Engineering program at the university, asking if I could engage any students in the project and they were very positive. Seeing that we have a need for public art in Lorenzburg, I had the idea that we could make Functional Art, that is, art that is decorative and inspirational as well as having some practical function for the community. It is my hope that collaborating with the design engineering students will result in (at least prototypes) for highly decorative sculptural “bee hotels” that may serve as protective homes for pollinating insects.
A: There isn’t an old saying like “noble is as noble does”, but if there were it would pretty much sum it up: Crowns and robes will never bestow nobility on anyone. Neither will titles the length of a minor essay or being born a bona fide aristocrat.
I think nobility is an inner discipline that must be exercised daily. Being human, some days one doesn’t live up to one’s own ethical standards, but it must be an ongoing practice.
I was, and I wasn’t, born a Prince. I am not of Princely descent, but on some mythical-ethical level of my being, I was born to be the Prince of Lorenzburg. Did I create the nation? Was it a happy Freudian accident that it came into being? Or did I come into existence because one day there was going to be a Principality out there, and it was going to need a Prince?
I’m not a traditionally religious man. I don’t believe in the Divine Right of Kings. I don’t believe that an almighty personal God descends to place His hand on my, or anyone else’s, brow in order to consecrate me to be the sovereign. I do however accept that there are deep mystical strata in the universe. To me the Prince is a healer, shaman, teacher, leader and nurturer all in one. And I accept that all these components must be present in my training as a monarch.
Therefore, I must study history and philosophy and psychology. I must study mythology and politics. I must read the works of classical thinkers such as Spinoza, Voltaire, and Rousseau. I must learn, and practice, the ceremonies of etiquette and Princeship. I must explore shamanistic rituals of mythology and healing and poetry and art. I am developing these themes in my artistic practice and in the “mythos” of Lorenzburg.
It may or may not literally be true, but it is humbling to come to the realization that I was born from the need of a Prince of Lorenzburg in the world. It is a duty and a privilege, and I make an honest effort to be worthy. I practice the contemplative techniques of zen meditation, as well as regularly reflect upon historical and spiritual sources of “wisdom”. I especially recommend The Art of Worldly Wisdom by the 17th century Jesuit Priest Baltazar Gracián for pragmatic advice on living.
For me, being a Prince is a spiritual vocation, not something one can just become by usurping a throne or being born of a King. Nobility manifests in unexpected places, and I urge anyone who wants to serve as monarch to bravely explore if they truly are “noble” in the deeper sense of the word. Finding oneself to be lacking in noble qualities isn’t necessarily a failure, it can rather be the start of a beautiful journey if one truly commits to the discipline of nobility. I guess that Princes, Kings and Empresses who don’t care about ethics really don’t possess the innate mystical anointing spirit, which is necessary to be true royalty.
Q: Thank you for participating in this interview. Do you have any final thoughts to share?
A: I would rather thank you for this opportunity to talk about my beloved Principality of Lorenzburg! I apologize for being longwinded, it happens when I talk about things that matter to me. Having said that: I do hope that my contribution will be of value to someone.
CS: A two-year micronational career has seen you delve into business, journalism, and political office, including the presidency of the former Federated States of America. Can you tell us a bit about what drew you to micronationalism and what you consider your signature contribution to date and why?
HT: For the most part I like to think that my climax in my micronational career is yet to come, however if I had to select my signature contribution to date, it would have to be my journalism at the Daily Micronational. You see, the Federated States of America was fun, but I felt like that was more of a way to get me into the community. My future in micronationalism is, ironically, going to have little to do with being a micronationalist and more of being in the micronational sphere. This means writing articles, reporting on stories, making The Micronation Report, and venturing into the micronational private sector. The Quetican Islands is actually going to do little as a government. It’s mostly there solely for the business venture. I’m focusing on reporting in the future, as I think that’s where I’ve seen myself more proud of my work, while in terms of government I’m mostly retired.
CS: In a news article you authored in the Daily Micronational recently, you stated that “micronational economics have never played a significant role in the makeup of the cheeky hobby,” suggesting that a more white-collar approach is required to see success in the field. What will it generally take to create a white-collar economy in micronationalism and what is your greater vision for micronational economics?
HT: While I don’t mean to be smug about it, I’ve spent much, much time studying economics. Years, in fact. Yet, micronational economics is so, so much different from your average economy because a true micronational economy run as private businesses has never really happened before. What we’re doing in in Quetico is acting as pioneers. The fact is that no nation will truly rise to prominence in this day and age without having an economic staple, while as of this point ninety percent of micronations either don’t have an economy or are a fledgling banana republic. What it will take to create a white-collar economy is isolation, which is why I’ve had to make citizenship mandatory to participate in Quetico Street. If that wasn’t the case, it would simply be a ton of Kings and Presidents running corporations. That’s not a private sector. When we make citizenship mandatory, King Bob of Bobistan becomes Citizen Bob of Quetico in the business venture. So isolation is the very first step. The second step is capitalism. You need a clear capitalist agenda for any economy to flourish, especially in micronationalism. What we’re creating in Quetico is a nice, soft mattress for any business to lay on, a mattress softer than any other. The third step is lots and lots of promotion, which is the phase Kit (McCarthy) and I are in right now. More so, my greater vision for micronational economics is for it to become something that can run without my oversight. After Quetico Street can run without me, I’d say we’ve pretty much changed micronationalism forever.
CS: One specific project that you’ve announced is Quetico Street, which you bill as the “very first true micronational private sector”. It’s an ambitious project, with a detailed plan for start-up that spans from now to January 2017. What would you like our readers to know about the project and how can they get involved?
HT: Quetico Street is a project I’ve launched with the intention of creating a micronational private sector where people can exchange Micronational Dollar. It is very ambitious, however can be done. We are planning to open the Stock Exchange on Wednesday, granted we get the full support of the community. I’ve heard people questioning why micronationalists should do this, and the answer is easy. This is going to change micronationalism forever, make it much more respectable, and even give secessionist micronations a larger chance at independence! It is going to give you a way to spend Micronational Dollar, give you ways to make Micronational Dollar, and give you a Stock Exchange to cooperate with fellow micronationalists on! I think that while we are all concerned about our own micronations, we all also want the best for the general community and we want to have fun doing it. Quetico Street is the way to do it. Anyone can get involved by either starting a business, just buying stock, or doing as little as becoming a citizen and gaining easy access to all the products. This is so easy, and anyone can get really involved or really not involved, there is honestly little reason to not do it.
CS: In order to participate in Quetico Street’s stock exchange, currently a business will need to have its Chief Executive Officer hold citizenship in the Quetican Islands, and those who wish to buy and sell stock will similarly need such citizenship. This news service for one has voiced its concern that this may limit participation in the stock exchange. How do you respond to that concern?
HT: Honestly, it probably will limit participation. But it’s the only way for this to work. As I said earlier, the first step in this is keeping it isolated, at least at first. We need to establish the boundaries of where this economy begins and ends, else it won’t be a private sector, but a group of businesses managed by Kings. I don’t think citizenship should stop people from getting involved, especially when our citizenship process is extremely easy. This is such a new idea being put in play that we have no clue how it’s going to turn out. But we know that it needs to be a private sector, and it needs to be clear that it’s one economy. We are working to establish a private sector economy, not a bunch of sort-of private businesses financially based out of different micronations.
CS: Your latest micronational endeavour is the Democratic Republic of the Quetican Islands, founded on May 10th. So far the micronation is in its developmental infancy, though its clear that economics will play a central theme with Quetico Street. Can you tell our readers about what else you envision the Quetican Islands as being? What immediate steps do you plan for reaching that vision?
HT: Well, I’ve been the founder and co-founder of several micronations in my time, I’ve begun to classify myself as a ‘micronational experimenter.’ All municipalities, provinces or states, and nations all need to have a staple that brings them to their climax. I believe that micronations are, at most, at the economic capacity to operate like a city does. Something that has made New York City great is the huge, diverse economy and the corporate Wall Street and Stock Exchange. Quetico is my way of promoting an agenda for white collar micronationalism. It all starts in Quetico with us building the micronational New York City. If that plan fails, so does Quetico. Immediately, we need to open the Stock Exchange and Quetico Street, and we need to keep the economic plan updated. Most importantly right now is getting involved people, and getting businesses that can actually produce Micronational Dollar.
CS: Touching back on your contributions to the Daily Micronational, I understand that your venture into journalism is a recent one as well. What motivated you to become a journalist?
HT: Well, I’ve gotten really worn out with the bureaucratic efforts for my micronations. After I dissolved the Atlantic Commonwealth, I decided to take a break from government. Of course, when I came up with the idea of Quetico Street the next day I had to establish a micronation to do it, but the micronation was only founded for the economic effort, I’m not that invested in the government. But I’ve just always loved writing, and I wanted to contribute to the micronational community in a constructive way, so I became the second writer for the Daily Micronational. Journalism has been my proudest micronational work so far. In the future, when I am able to resign my post as Overseer of Quetico Street and leave it to someone else, I’m going to turn only to journalism and my new show, The Micronation Report With Henry Twain.
CS: Any final thoughts?
HT: Just two. First, the great thing about a capitalist economy is that it is run by the people. And what we are doing on Quetico Street requires participation. Here, with your enthusiasm, creativity, and participation, we are going to be able to change the way people look at micronationalism. You don’t have to be secessionist to do this, in fact, I myself am not secessionist. But if you want people to look at your micronation and see it as a respectable project, whether secessionist or not, Quetico Street is the way to do it. We are going to build a real micronational economy. Join us today.
CS: A long-winded effort, by most micronational standards, lasting nearly half-a-year, the Secessionists’ Convent of 2015 certainly evolved over time. At the beginning, what were each of your hopes for the Convent’s purpose and, looking back, how satisfied are you by its final outcome?
BM: I saw the Convent as an opportunity to form ties between Covanellis and the other participating nations, as well as to aid us in our nation’s growth and development. I also saw it as a learning opportunity, where the participants could compare and contrast each other’s ideas and perhaps be inspired by another nations plans. Looking at what I had wanted and hoped for the Convent, and what it has achieved, I can honestly say that I am very satisfied with its final outcome.
GP: Indeed, our group dynamics certainly evolved in our numerous months of discussion, and – in retrospect – I suppose that did have quite an impact on our idea of the Convent’s nature throughout. When I conceived the idea in December 2014, I actually only imagined there being one extended meeting. This might have sufficed for my initial intent to have secessionist micronationalists agree on what the qualities of a true secessionist micronation are and create a feeling of unity among secessionist micronations, but would never have let us do justice to the many points on the continually growing agenda we drew up in the weeks before the sessions started. I’m not sure when we decided to have several sessions, but it was certainly necessary as we delegates of our respective nations brought together the various perceptions of what the Convent was supposed to be about. Looking back, it is hard to distinguish (without extensively reviewing our official records) which purposes we imagined individually for the Convent. What I can say with confidence is that when we authored the final report together, we had a collective understanding of what we meant to achieve. As for my satisfaction with what we have produced – I very much believe we have done what we set out to do, and more.
ML: To be honest, I wasn’t completely sure of what to expect. After seeing numerous groups spring up and fold within a month, I just wanted to see the Convent last. The fact it did is very satisfying indeed. The end result was by far better than I expected.
CS: The final report of SC15 suggested that the best opportunity to gain sovereignty is to take advantage of macronational legal loopholes. Given that the most obvious example to follow, Sealand, is no longer feasible, as macronational territorial waters have expanded and exclusive economic zones have been declared, what type of loopholes did SC15 have in mind?
GP: The Convent indeed agreed that legal loopholes could be deemed of the most simple and historically successful ways for secessionist micronations to gain at least de jure sovereignty. Unfortunately, you are correct in stating in that macronations have in many ways become increasingly territorial. In light of this, the lack or insufficiency of secession or sedition law in some macronations, their corrupt governance, disputed borders, or international law were our primary considerations in this instance, I believe.
ML: This is obviously something that could be explored at the next Convent. The easiest option in my eyes would be to discover land that is terra nullis. Some are obvious like Bir Tawil or the pockets of land around the Danube, so it would be better to find something unique. This is not the official policy of the Imperial Grand Duchy of Lundenwic, however.
BM: I would suggest the establishment of state-owned businesses, the utilisation of businesses from nearby macronations in the construction of infrastructure and the timely establishment of a high-quality, compulsory education system. These three points would serve to be immensely important in both the short and long-term. They would establish the beginnings of an economy and provide some much-needed cash-flow in the early years of the new nation’s history, sweeten relations with neighbouring macronations and hopefully lead to better cooperation with them in future, and finally, will produce an educated population capable of growing and diversifying the economy. Of course, there is much more than that which needs to be done to successfully establish a nation, however I see these three as very important for the immediate and long-term issues which might be faced by a new nation.
CS: There are numerous recommendations from SC15 for aspiring secessionist governments on how to implement policy programmes in support of sovereignty and population growth, such as to ensure a competitive standard of living versus macronations or to create an economy feasible of underpinning that standard of living. Let’s assume that a secessionist micronation’s dream of sovereignty has been attained. In your opinion, of all the recommendations made by SC15, what should be the three that are implemented first?
ML: Every nation is different. Each and every nation would have to evaluate what would be best for them to attract settlers, etc. I don’t think I can properly answer this question.
BM: I don’t believe the Convent had any particular loopholes in mind when we suggested their use as a tool for secession, but rather that secessionists should look for them wherever they could be used. As Gabriel states, we also discussed the utilisation of a lack of laws regarding secession and government corruption as aides for secession, among other things.
GP: An excellent question. Of course, my personal recommendation would vary for each individual case – mostly depending on stability, resources, and purpose of such a micronation and upon the geopolitical circumstances. But for a generic micronation first emerging from a mere de facto control of territory and heavy influence and dependence on a host macronation, I would probably prioritize measures to ensure economic autonomy and continued attractiveness to the assets of devoted and skilled citizens. It is more than likely that a host macronation which tolerated the micronation’s sovereignty is either weak, under political pressure, or has a citizenry with a very positive view of the secessionist entity. In the first two cases, the macronation or its allies have an incentive to insidiously undermine the micronation’s independence, authority and identity. Accordingly, the micronation would have to be quite self-sufficient. A supremely important factor is the position of NATO nations (or whichever political blocs develop in the future), as more powerful nations are guaranteed to have an interest in either preserving or destroying the micronation. The satisfaction of citizens and potential to attract citizens from the most powerful bloc (globally or in the region) – without threatening this bloc – could be a major determining factor that must be high up in the consideration of the micronation. As such, I could not possibly be more specific without giving a plethora of hypothetical scenarios undue weight and ballooning this question out of proportion.
CS: Money from foreign investors and the creation of a gambling economy with a government monopoly were identified in the report as two potentially beneficial sources for funding the upstart secessionist micronation. What benefits and drawbacks do each of these sources come with, and in hindsight, are there other funding sources that should be considered?
BM: Looking at gambling, the largest benefit of a government monopoly would be the new ability to identify citizens who have a gambling problem and help them overcome it, which would hopefully reduce bankruptcy rates and poverty related to gambling. Another benefit of a government monopoly is that the government has full control of the profits, which can be significant in that industry. This could provide some very important cash flow while the new country is developing, as well as some useful extra money for the upkeep of infrastructure or welfare programs later on. Regarding drawbacks, crime often follows casinos, however I believe that if comprehensive regulations are in place to prevent citizens from engaging in excessive gambling, this could be lessened. Other drawbacks include foreign competition, which is already well-established, and a dependency on the whims of foreign gamblers.
When looking at the benefits and drawbacks of attaining money from foreign investors, the benefit is that (assuming you can attract them) there is money available for you to fast-track your nation’s development. The two drawbacks are that you have to be able to entice investors, which could be very difficult to do, and you also need to pay the investors back, including any interest. If a large sum of money is invested in your nation, it could take a significant amount of time to pay back these investors, so it is important that a nation has a strong business plan to be able to eliminate its debt burden as quickly as possible.
GP: Ramifications might vary, naturally. A gambling economy would be beholden to a risky economic sector heavily reliant upon the whims of foreign gamblers and in competition with already established international gambling capital – leading to a race to the bottom in terms of financial regulations and environmental protection measures. On the other hand, of course, especially a microstate is suited to sustain itself well by such means, as exemplified by Monaco. As for foreign investment, this would likely be the more viable option – though here also, close attention would have to be paid so as not to cede sovereignty to financial institutions by agreeing to excessive economic or potentially any non-economic obligations. Indonesia, though obviously never a micronation, demonstrates some of the risks of indebting a people, and the economic state of the developing world serves as a reminder of the massive risks of the financial liberalisation that might be necessary to attract investors.
Funding by extraction of natural resources is likely impossible because of the unlikely nature of secession in an area valuable to a host macronation. Development of a stable, democratic micronation of skilled citizenry within a relatively poor host micronation could lead to utilization of previously unusable resources, leading to the sudden growth in population and economy necessary for the establishment of a micronation.
ML: Both Bailey and Gabriel have made excellent points. I would add that with foreign investment you could be leaving your nation open to abuse. You may have to compromise or meet certain conditions to receive funding. As for gambling economies, you need to make sure you are close enough to civilisation to attract customers. No one is going to travel to the middle of nowhere to gamble, when there is already established gambling hotspots. You would probably need to offer better odds. Our own plan involves setting up hotels, shops and restaurants to generate income to further our goals.
CS: SC15 hopes to become a public authority on secessionism according to the final finding in the report. Mentioned is a role for it in the creation of useable templates for laws and treaties and in offering individual advice to secessionist micronations. How involved do you foresee SC15 becoming in this role? Would it create standards in support of its findings – for example, a guide to healthy eating to help micronations implement its recommendation to ensure a healthy population to reduce healthcare costs?
GP: The Secessionists‘ Convent – this year‘s and any in the years to come – does indeed aspire to become a sort of public authority, a center of conference, if you will, by means of which secessionist micronations can cooperate to lighten the burdens of working to establish a fully functioning and independent nation. How involved we become is entirely up to the devoted delegates of the nations taking part. We have yet to see how detailed our planned services to the micronational secessionist become.
ML: That is not something I had foreseen. The idea, to me at least, was to provide to those in the early throws of setting up a nation. It could be something that is done in the future, should there be a consensus for it.
BM: I agree with Mike in that I saw the idea as a way to help new secessionists grow and develop more easily, so that they may attain their goal of secession quicker. I would like to think that the Secessionists’ Convent will become involved in the role of assisting secessionist micronations, but I think that our current goal of helping and guiding is as involved as we should become. If we believe we can do so, I think we should produce a healthy eating guide for secessionist micronations (among other guides and standards), as it would eventually come to benefit them, should it be implemented properly.
CS: Much interest has been voiced by some of the non-participant secessionist micronationalists to become involved in the next Convent. Can you tell our readers what you would consider to be the priority for the next Convent, if one were to be held?
GP: I‘ve made mental notes over the past year concerning this important question. If memory serves, one such note I underlined, so to speak, several times during our discussions regarding the Secessionists‘ Convent of 2016, is economic projections. When our sessions focussed especially on the issues of economics and the cost of living in fall, I remember proposing we focus on this subject more in the SC16, as I was at the time not adquately prepared for the extensive cost estimations central to the accuracy of the results of this phase – since then I have gained a far greater understanding of the process required to arrive at a reliable projection, so I will certainly take initiative to make that a top priority this year. In general, though, revising and fleshing out the SC15‘s findings where it is necessary, and of course building upon the groundwork laid in last year‘s Convent are what I imagine the SC16 will be about.
ML: I think when participates are invited, an agenda will be drawn up so that every member can have topics that are important to them discussed. I believe we could revisit some of the points already in the Final Report. The possibilities are endless really.
BM: In our next convent we have largely agreed that we would like to look more in-depth at our current findings and see what we can deduce from that. There will likely also be more topics discussed, but currently we have not set a definite agenda.
CS: Any final thoughts?
GP: Regrettably, it would be exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, for me to recall and summarize the many thoughts I have had during this interview and in general about the SC15. So, in closing, I would simply like to thank everyone who has participated in or supported the Secessionists‘ Convent – especially the Coprieta Standard, which has given us a wonderful opportunity to provide insights into our efforts of the past year – and I would be remiss not to extend my sincere gratitude towards all who have expressed their interest in partaking of this year‘s Convent (which I expect will begin fairly soon).
ML: I would to encourage people to voice their interest to join the Convent. Although it will be by invitation only, your interest will be noted.
BM: I would also like to encourage people to voice any interest in joining the Convent. As Mike said, your interest will be noted.
CS: Thank you for sitting down and taking the time to answer some questions today. Perhaps for those readers who are unfamiliar with you and Leylandiistan, you could provide an introduction?
Thank you for offering to interview me, it truly is a pleasure to share my views on a subject I really enjoy. I founded Leylandiistan in November 2012 with one of my friends, and established our online presence the following year. We had a bit of a crisis when my co-founder pulled out along with his territory in July 2014, but that August my neighbour and I agreed to merge our two nations to form the Confederation of Leylandiistan & Gurvata. The community is a bit divided these days between “Old” and “New Guard”, our nation seems to be stuck between the two, belonging more to the former perhaps. We seem to have a bit of a reputation as a nation for having green fingers, which naturally I am happy with!
CS: Leylandiistan has positioned itself to be a leading agricultural producer within the micronational sphere. What inspired you to focus on agriculture and what does the future hold for it in your micronation?
I only caught the gardening bug last year, but the great sense of fulfillment I got over the course of the summer of 2014 inspired me to expand my own plot further, and to focus Leylandiistan’s economy on agriculture. Micronations are often stuck for something to produce, but agriculture offers endless possibilities. Apart from the vegetables and fruit themselves (which provide many a wholesome meal) you can make jams, relishes, cordials, juices, seeds, even fibres and tobacco! I expanded my plot from three raised beds in 2014 to nine raised beds this year, plus an additional 4 square metres of open soil for fruit, herbs and artichokes. I am glad you ask of the future, because that is what gets me so excited. I grew some flax this year, which produced heavily even though I had only given it about 15 cm by 15 cm of space. This got me interested in growing grains, so in October I sowed oats and barley to be harvested next spring, and next March I will sow other grains like millet and ancient wheats. This is to investigate which grains are suited to small growers, and perhaps to boast of being a micronational breadbasket! I will also try some curiosity crops like tobacco and tulsi. The nation’s growers, myself included, will identify over the winter what grows well and what doesn’t, so that we can produce more from our limited space next year.
CS: If you were to be approached by a micronation or micronationalist looking to start an agricultural programme, what would be your most important advice on how to go about it? Are there particular resources you would suggest they read?
My most important bit of advice would be not to doubt you or your nation’s ability to produce something. Land is useful, certainly, but if you don’t have this a windowsill will suffice. I encourage all micronationalists to have a go at producing a bit of food, and it really doesn’t matter what scale this is done at. A small container of radishes can go from seed to plate in about 5 weeks on a windowsill. If you do have a bit of unused ground in your capital’s back garden though, I greatly encourage you to use it. As for reading material, I recognise most micronationalists are urban dwellers, so I feel Celia Brooks Brown’s “New Urban Farmer” would offer some useful insights for urban gardeners. Most gardening books though are of the same format, so I would recommend a gardening book published in your neighbouring macronation as the advice given would be more suited to your climate.
CS: A local source of food certainly allows not only for increased self-sufficiency for a micronation, but also for a means by which to develop a popular revenue source. Leylandiistan has sought to do just that through the creation of the Confederation Seeds Company as a seller of seeds from its local crops. What challenges have you encountered in creating this aspect of the economy and how successful has agriculture been in generating revenue for the micronation?
So far agriculture hasn’t necessarily increased revenue, it has instead reduced citizen’s expenditure on food and seeds. As you said, we have set up a state owned seed company in order to create a revenue source from our agricultural sector. The main challenge with this is not producing the seeds, nor packaging them, nor sourcing funds to do this, it is selling the end product. I have made numerous enquiries with many other micronationalists regarding our seeds, and the Confederation Seeds Company has released a seed catalogue. However, the Seed Company has yet to make a sale or a trade arrangement. We are doing our utmost to export our seeds, and I am confident that by the end of winter we will have come to some arrangement with one or more parties. It is simply a little difficult, as I’m sure readers will understand, to establish a functioning micronational export sector. You mentioned self-sufficiency in your question, and I should mention that self-sufficiency is in my view something any nation big or small should strive to. Our agricultural sector hasn’t made us self-sufficient, though aspects of it are indeed self-sufficient. For example, the water needs of all of Leylandiistan’s cultivated land is met entirely by collected rainwater, so we are self-sufficient in our irrigation needs, and we are looking to do the same for our compost needs.
CS: Leylandiistan & Gurvata’s agricultural industry has increased in diversity, with many different crops having been grown and their seeds made available through the Confederation Seeds Company. As biodiversity in the agricultural sector grows, what steps are being taken by Leylandiistan’s government to protect it? Should we expect to see a seed bank created in your micronation?
I visited the Irish Seed Savers Association during the summer, and I was really taken with the great work they are doing to collect, catalogue and preserve Ireland’s old seed varieties. What sets them apart from other seed banks is that they don’t just store seeds, they grow them and produce even more, then sell their surplus to the public to increase the prevalence of older plant varieties. I want Leylandiistan & Gurvata to replicate what the ISSA are doing, albeit on a much smaller scale, by collecting tried and trusted varieties suited to our conditions, and preserving them in a national seed bank. In addition to protecting the genetic diversity of seeds, we want to enhance overall biodiversity. I am discussing with my fellow Co-President a strong set of legislation to designate protected species and areas of conservation. In the case of the former, we will identify native plants and animals which need some extra protection through the law, and in the case of the latter we will set aside areas which these species and others call home, and forbid commercial activity in their boundaries. I think we should also look at actively monitoring species within our boundaries, because we have some interesting native plants, and because some citizens have made very intriguing sightings of animals which we should probably record.
CS: Another means of revenue generation recently announced by your government is through the Municipal Waste Collection Act, which will direct any revenue from waste diversion, such as cashing-in recyclables to macronational agencies one assumes, to Leylandiistan’s coffers. Can you tell us more about what types of waste you hope to divert and the revenue potential of this scheme?
While cashing in valuable recyclables certainly comes to mind, and is addressed by the Municipal Waste Collection Act, revenue for the exchequer is not in fact the aim of said legislation. The main form of waste that is being targeted is in fact compostable materials. The Confederation’s waste services are, like every other micronation, provided by our neighbouring macronation. For example, brown paper is put in the recycling bin, teabags and vegetable waste go in the food waste bin, while bulky vegetation can be put in the landfill bin. All these things I have mentioned can, however, be processed on our own land for our own use, by putting them into compost bins and allowing them to break down into compost. If I had to pick out one import our growers rely on, it would be compost, so rather than discarding valuable compostable materials the government decided to start an official waste collection scheme to redirect such material from macronational waste services to our own compost producing scheme. This compost will then be provided free of charge to growers who need some. We have one composting site operational at An Fheirm, Leylandiistan, and we are identifying sites in Gurvata for a second one. We have looked at paper recycling as well, but this is more complicated. The revenue potential is minimal, but it will mean imports of compost from nearby gardening centres will be reduced, and hopefully eliminated, in the coming years. This scheme also fits into our overall scheme of reducing, bit by bit, our dependence on neighbouring macronations as a nation.
CS: In October, your government began discussion on energy independence through wind and solar generation, and some solar-powered lights were subsequently installed as a first step. What cost was involved in the deployment of those lights, what is the next investment planned by Leylandiistan in this programme, and what time frame are you planning for achieving the final goal of true energy independence?
I will firstly say that we will never achieve full energy independence, what we will do instead is work on making individual districts of the Confederation self-sufficient in energy, and the time frame for this is to make gradual steps every year, with projects funded by the National Contribution Charge which citizens pay every month to the Treasury. I funded the first solar power scheme myself, by purchasing a 5 metre length of solar powered fairy lights for the summerhouse of Orchardstown (which I hope will one day house a national legislature). This cost me €10, and every night since the exterior of the building has been lit up in spectacular fashion. With this success I am now willing to have the National Treasury cover the cost of rolling out this kind of lighting elsewhere in the Confederation, because we can see that small sums go a long way. The government will work towards an independent, self sufficient and where possible carbon neutral energy grid in areas of the Confederation.
CS: Leylandiistan is clearly working towards a carbon-neutral, environmentally responsible, footprint through its recent initiatives, such as those we have discussed, and it has accomplished much in this regard. What further initiatives do you have planned, and what challenges do you foresee in achieving this goal?
In this interview you have brought up our agricultural sector, our electricity scheme and our composting of certain waste products. In the future, our main priority will be to expand these projects. For example, we have set up an organic agriculture regulatory body, and though this has not seen activity this year, we will look to implementing it to bring our agricultural sector to even higher standards using it. Future initiatives would include actively assisting other micronations in agricultural, economic and environmental projects, as well as seeing where else we can apply our fundamental policy as a nation of self sufficiency. We will certainly find other ways in which we can enhance our environment as a nation in the future, and hopefully that will inspire other micronations to do the same.