Micronations 2017 Survey launched

With the ten-year anniversary of the Coprieta Standard’s successful Micronation 2007 survey fast approaching, we have decided to relaunch the survey to gain insight into the changes over the intervening period.

In 2007, seventy-one (71) micronationalists participated in the survey, sharing demographics, participation statistics and their beliefs on community issues. The data collected provided valuable insight into the nature of the wider micronational community of the day.

We invite each and every micronationalist to take a few minutes to complete the 2017 version of the survey.

No names or email addresses are collected to ensure your privacy, and final reports, which will commence in May, are written in such a way that protects anonymity.

Micronations 2017 Survey launched

Reflecting on 15 years of micronationalism

It was in August 2001 that this author, while searching for new military- and political-themed discussion boards to participant in on the Ezboard network, first came across the concept of micronationalism.

A nondescript black-and-blue coloured board for a micronation known as “Interland” grabbed my attention that day and that micronation quickly became my first “citizenship,” where I participated as Minister of Defence due to my interest in all-things military during my teenaged years. It was the start of a developmental journey that saw me serve in various functions, political and bureaucratic, from lowly civil servant to prime minister of a leading micronation, from historian to businessman, across numerous successful (and unsuccessful) Internet micronations. It was also the start of a role in micronational journalism that continues to this day, over 1,100 articles later.

Like many other micronationalists of my age, where spare time is now a luxury, I look back on my 15 years of participation in this interesting community sometimes with exasperation: how could I waste so much time in my youth on such a “silly” thing, playing with pretend countries?

When I consider the question further, however, I realize that micronationalism wasn’t all that silly. Rather, it was something that has benefited me tremendously in my personal and professional development outside of micronationalism. For I realized that micronationalism, for all the seemingly silly aspects, is primarily one big sandbox which allows its participants, especially during their formative teens and tweens, to expand their knowledge, to refine existing skills, and to develop new ones.

For me, the knowledge that I gained regarding government, law, programming, and many other fields, has been invaluable in my career development outside of micronationalism. I refined or learned many new skills during these years, from improving my critical thinking, planning and organizing, to learning how to write and interpret legislation or create things such as a comprehensive policy papers; all of which have paid dividends in my career. I have also been able to practice certain skills that I learned through my career and formal education and become that much more proficient because I had access to the sandbox of micronationalism. Most importantly, through this community, I have met and “worked” alongside skilled individuals from all over the world, the experience and benefit of which cannot be bought.

Today, my participation in micronationalism is much more limited due to the obligations of life and career; however, I do not regret the time I invested in my early years. That being said, will I ever participate actively in another micronation again? It’s unlikely. As the past couple of years has demonstrated, I may dabble here and there in micronations that I still maintain citizenship with, but not to any notable degree. Micronationalism, as a means of immersing myself in the machinations of a state or government, has passed into the history books, as my career satisfies many of my related interests.

Going forward, micronationalism will continue to be my outlet for engaging in journalism, which is a personal interest of mine that I haven’t the opportunity to practice otherwise. And there is no better place to practice it, I think. Micronationalism is a dynamic community of talented individuals that I have immensely enjoyed reporting on for a decade-and-a-half. It has been, and remains, an eye-opening experience from which I have learned much. It is a great story that we all share in, and one that I have been honoured to be able to write about. It has been a humbling experience.

No reflection on such a long span of time would be completed without some acknowledgements; however, there are too many to list in such a short space! To all of my colleagues in the community, past and present, with whom I have shared in many endeavours, capacities, and experiences, thank you for your camaraderie and counsel, it remains very much valued and appreciated.

Reflecting on 15 years of micronationalism

Crime & Punishment in micronationalism

When one speaks of crime and punishment within the micronational community, this Author is often reminded of that famous Apollo Skyline cartoon from the September 28, 2002, edition (pictured below). The subject of that mocking depiction of micronational justice was Fidel Nico of the long-former Micras micronation of Baracão, who had, in the “in-situ” reality of the community, fled persecution in Babkha and gained asylum in Baracão, only to be extradited back to Babkha to his certain execution. All while sitting comfortably, and quite lively, in his chair at the computer in his macronational abode. What a show it must have been to witness one’s own execution at the hands of the gruesomely violent Babkhan “justice” system.

cartoon37

The Skyline chose to mock an example that was ripe for the picking, some may argue – obviously a micronation can’t really “execute” a person as a true punishment for his or her transgressions against its laws. Such an act is merely the grandest statement of official contempt.

Then again, how effectual is any punishment imposed by the micronational courts? Even banishment from a micronation is ineffectual, insofar as the convicted micronationalist will always be able to find another micronation wanting of new citizens to accept his or her involvement, despite past transgressions (most of which are arguably conflicts of personality rather than reasonable law). The imposition of fines, too, are fraught with enforcement difficulty, as micronational currency is valueless, and any collection of macronational monies is an ultimately hopeless endeavour.

Perhaps it is our desire, as victims – perceived or real – to have justice done that still sees the micronational community engage in the prosecution, or sometimes persecution, of disagreeable individuals in our midst. Perhaps it is simply that the micronational arena is the best hope some have to see justice done, for lack of the financial resources to pursue the Accused macronationally, or simply because the wrong that has been committed is not one likely to be prosecuted – or understood – outside micronationalism. Maybe it is the convergence of the underpinning interest in law and experimentation on which micronationalism is built and the happen-chance transgression that motivates a desire to see the laws and courts we create in action, with the imposition of a punishment merely a sideshow. Or maybe, especially in the case of character-based Simulationist micronations such as those that inhabit the Bastion Union on Micras, it is just a captivating way to write one’s current persona out of the wider narrative.

Regardless of the motivation for seeking out punishment for transgressions in our community, it is nonetheless a reality of it, as it has been since the popularization of micronationalism by the Internet at the turn of the millennium. While each and every micronationalist who has been convicted in a micronational court remains very much alive and with their personal wealth intact, their cases have nonetheless formed an important part of the history and development of the particular micronation, and indeed the wider community, at the time.

This historical significance is one that admittedly should not be diminished by the ultimate futility of micronational justice as so accurately conveyed by the Apollo Skyline, for those contemporary micronationalists involved in each case were truly vested in the matter. After all, many of them used that sandbox to help develop the legal skills and interests that have propelled them, in this Author’s recollection, into the law firms of Belgium, Britain, Canada, and the United States. And that is perhaps the one tangible benefit of micronational justice, much like that of all aspects of micronationalism – it helps us learn skills, explore interests, and develop as individuals and macronational professionals.

Maybe that’s where we need to keep our focus when it comes to micronational justice – that it is a developmental endeavour, rather than one that is meant to be punitive. Cases should not be brought for malice, as alienating any member of an already dwindling populace is ultimately more harmful to the micronation than any crime most are capable of perpetuating. Rather, turn the Courts to administrative matters, such as dissolution proceedings for locally insolvent companies or judicial review. In such proceedings, micronationalists can learn and explore the law, and thereby grow individually, as opposed to needlessly carrying on momentary vendettas caused by frustration and the pouring salt on open wounds by imposing flagrantly unenforceable punishments.

Crime & Punishment in micronationalism

Increasing Shiro-Jingdaoese tension over Aracigrad

EPOLI (JINGDAO) – Relations between Shireroth and Jingdao reached a new low point today after Kaiser Hjalmar of the Imperial Republic of Shireroth committed a faux-pas at the Micronational Cartography Society.

The Kaiser’s objection to the Jingdaoese decision to rename one of its own cities led to a public outcry in Jingdao. The change of Aracigrad, which would be renamed in recognition of Bastion’s overlord Ari, to Zhu Ari Cheng (Jingdaoese for City of Lord Ari), led to official protests of the Shirerithians.

This distasteful protest, which saw to diminish any respect for the great work of Ari Rahikkala, who has hosted the Bastion Union for many years, was quickly pushed aside by Craitman Pellegrino, the Administrator General of the MCS. Pellegrino explained that the city was Jingdao’s property and Jingdao could do with it what it liked.

In a far past the Shirerithians controlled the city of Aracigrad, but it was lost by them when the Kildarians attained independence. The Kildarians promised that they would not change the city’s name, which is part of Shirerithian mythology. Of course, the Jingdaoese who would later conquer Kildare and annex it into their magnificent empire did not care much for that. They were nice enough to inform the Shirerithians of their decision.

The Jingdaoese filed their request to the MCS on April the 18th and informed Shireroth the next day. It wasn’t until the 26th that Shireroth responded. Thorgils Tarjeisson, a Landsraadsman, offered a resolution which asked the High Kaiser to clarify his position on the issue. Only then did the Imperial Government spur into action.

As both the Shirerithian Landsraad and the Jingdaoese Imperial Assembly were discussing the problem, terrorist attacks occurred. A deranged Shirerithian national from Elwynn made his way into the Landsraad and splattered the chief legislative organs with his internal organs. Only minutes later was the Shirerithian Ministry of Military Affairs able to execute a similar attack on the Jingdaoese Imperial Assembly. This raises the question if the MoMA knew beforehand if an attack on the Landsraad was going to take place. If they were, why didn’t they try to stop the attack? Indeed it is more likely that both attacks were planned in Shirekeep.

The strange objections against an internal modification at the MCS, the terrorist attacks …. It seems that Shireroth is out of control. Who will stop this madness? The peace loving people of Micras will have to put their faith and loyalty in the hands of the Heavenly Light.

Increasing Shiro-Jingdaoese tension over Aracigrad

Rice: Espionage in the Universal Triumvirate

The recovery of security logs from the previous website used by the Universal Triumvirate, a simulationist micronation, has led to allegations that the Head of the Archive, Emma Amtra, is actually the leader of the Democratic Republic of Cinnamon Creek (DRCC), Dallin Langford, also known as Jackson Cole. Langford has specifically been accused of performing espionage against the Triumvirate on behalf of the DRCC’s Utah-based government, and he is scheduled to stand trial on March 2. 

The Major Executive of the Triumvirate, Lancelot Rice, submitted the following editorial concerning the matter. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, I come to you today with a message that should resonate as clear as I say it: Dallin Langford has committed a serious act against my nation, and I wish to make you aware of the situation.

On February 20, my Joint Command Council uncovered during an operation to recover our previous forum that Langford/Cole had applied previously for citizenship, but was denied by my predecessor Charles Sessions. Looking closer at the list, I noticed an “Emam”, who had the same email as my own Emma Amtra in our Executive Branch. This struck me funny, and I told Jackson Eden to record the security logs while we still had access to the website. He soon confirmed with me the worst – that Langford had the same IP Address as Amtra.

How do we know this is Dallin Langford? We have the IP Address information and to top it off, he released a journal under another confirmed alias, Edward Dickenson, in which he himself confirmed that Emma Amtra was a spy. Due to the laws to protect the XFIA Director’s identity, I would also surmise that Langford is also the XFIA Director as well. Now that he has admitted to the crime, it would be foolish and an utter farce for anyone to believe his innocence.

Why should you care about this, you ask? Well, as a leader of a micronation and wanting the Universal Triumvirate to be respected, I made the same conclusion that you too would want your holdings to feel secure without espionage. Should you feel this way, I do not blame you, and I would go as far as to say it is the completely normal reaction.

As of now, my nation is performing a trial against Dallin Langford on three counts of felonious action which could sum up in banishment for Langford and massive financial reparation for information released. I believe that my nation is justified in this undertaking, and we will go for maximum sentencing to keep Langford from performing this action again in the future. We will not tolerate with this kind of unwarranted act, and I encourage all leaders to refuse the phantom crown of thorns that Dallin Langford tries to push upon our heads.

Thank you for your time, I would like to thank Mr. Liam Sinclair for allowing my editorial to be run, and I would like to offer every single viewer my well wishes going forward.

Rice: Espionage in the Universal Triumvirate

Measuring purchasing power in support of policy

With the rising popularity of agriculture and alternative energy sources in territorial micronations, as they strive for self-sufficiency, a better statistical measure of the related economies becomes important to bureaucrats and politicians alike. At present, save for basic budgetary or financial statements, most of the micronational world’s territorial economies, while burgeoning in potential, lack useful statistical data in support of policy planning.

Often very limited in nature, the budgets of a micronational government can be strained to meet the expectations of its citizens, as well as its leaders. It is partly for this reason that some territorial micronations embark on programmes to reduce reliance on macronational sources of goods or services by undertaking such self-sustaining activities as growing local food crops or installing alternative sources of electricity, such as solar panels.

These activities in theory have the ability to reduce the cost of imports for the micronation; however, without any useful statistical data available, it is difficult to objectively measure the impact of such activities on the purchasing power of the micronation or its population. That is, does the savings related to these local offsetting activities have any significant effect on the long-term costs carried by the micronation’s citizens or government? Are the programmes viable economically, or are they simply beneficial from an ethical or political standpoint?

The fundamental way to collect data in support of answer that question is through the creation of a simple Consumer Price Index within the micronation, based on the concept of a “Basket of Goods”. Not as comprehensive as that used by macronations, the micronational Basket of Goods must be lean in its contents, and the related cost data for each item within the Basket must be collected at regular intervals, such as quarterly (for example). It must be structured such that it contains contents that are regularly consumed by the micronation’s citizens.

The Basket must in its most fundamental state include goods that the residents of territorial micronations commonly purchase and consume, regardless of whether they are locally produced or otherwise imported. It can essentially be thought of as the value of one’s monthly grocery and utility bill, though the contents of the Basket can be expanded as necessary to meet uniquely local circumstances (perhaps a local population has a particular fondness for a specific food crop that other micronations do not, for example).

The Basket must also not contain so many items that inputting the related cost data into the tracking survey becomes burdensome, so as to detract participation, as it is important that the citizen maintain participation across reporting periods for accuracy and usefulness in policy planning. The level of complexity of a macronational Consumer Price Index need not be religiously mimicked, and the use of free services such as Google Forms and Google Sheets can facilitate ease of data collection. By sticking to the basics, one arguably gets only a basic snapshot of purchasing power, but that basic snapshot is nonetheless a ten-fold improvement on the current state of data in micronational economics.

Beyond tracking individual and overall costs for its contents, how can the Basket benefit a micronation’s government? Let’s look at a scenario: in quarters where an item in the Basket was locally produced (such as lettuce, for example), for simplicity, it could be assumed to have no cost. In quarters where one had to buy (import) lettuce as it was out of growing season or locally produced stock exhausted, the cost to purchase it would be recorded in the Basket.

The overall cost of the Basket would then be tracked to determine what, if any, impact the “no cost” instance had on purchasing power for the micronation’s citizens. If growing lettuce locally had no measurable or useful impact on the Basket’s overall inflation, that finding might support the micronation’s government redirecting agricultural efforts to other crops that would have more of an impact.

To be meaningful using the “no cost” assumption, the basket must include imported goods, which is reasonable given that few, if any, territorial micronations produce all the goods that are consumed locally. By including such imported goods, one can see how local production compensates, or doesn’t, for the inflationary costs associated with imports.

Arguably the system described above is noticeably rudimentary and certainly not something that an economics professor would consider adequate, but it is a means of creating a simple Consumer Price Index that is easy to maintain for any micronation, and one which can be used as a basis for further development and refinement by those micronations that desire a more complex snapshot of their citizens’ purchasing power. Most importantly, it provides a starting point by which a government can collect useful economic data in support of its micronation’s development.

A basic example Basket of Goods (track the cost of each item and calculate the sum):
x1 loaf of fresh white bread
x1 litre of milk;
x12 eggs;
x1 kilogram of tomatoes;
x1 head of lettuce;
x1 kilogram of potatoes;
x1 kilogram of onions;
Total unit cost of 1 kwh of electricity (total billed amount divided by total kwh consumed.)

Measuring purchasing power in support of policy

Territorial claims untenable despite spin

A recent discussion started by Connor Stumperth of Mallanor poses the question of whether or not individual micronations recognize so-called “blanket claims” of large swaths of territory that the micronation cannot reasonably exert its influence upon in any meaningful, i.e. sovereign, manner.

One such micronation that makes a significant such territorial claim is Madrona, a secessionist endeavour that lays claim to a wide swath of Canadian territory encompassing approximately 3.3 million square kilometres. The claim is a serious one and Madrona is intent on realizing its fantastic goals for the development of that territory.

Participating in the discussion, its head of state, Shamus, suggested that while it was not reasonable for a micronation to claim Europe or all of Russia, it was nonetheless reasonable for a micronation to make a more limited claim, such as Madrona’s. “I would not recognize someone’s efforts if all they did was claim Europe and Russia and claim it as their own, that is a bit silly … I am working to break away [where] there are some three-hundred thousand registered residents living within, and they do not have a high average standard of living,” qualified Shamus. “It would be like me trying to claim all of Canada as my micronation, it just wouldn’t work.”

The story behind Madrona is one of great creativity, with Shamus having developed a detailed plan that will ultimately prove unimplementable, both legally and practically. The dream that is the Madrona territorial claim is no less silly than the very suggestion that Shamus makes regarding those who claim Europe or Russia, no matter how much more time he has invested into “thinking it out” or how much he attempts to spin the claim as “serious”.

The idea that Madrona will somehow be granted sovereign control over such a significant amount of Canadian territory, even if it isn’t “all” of Canada, is a non-starter. In order to gain sovereign control over its claim, Madrona would have to successfully negotiate the transfer of land title from six Crowns to itself (in Canada, there is a federal Crown, and then each Province is a sovereign Crown onto itself, and all collectively own the overwhelming area of territory within the Madrona claim). This is not a reasonable outcome, given that it would be political suicide for any of the leaders of these respective governments to surrender such territory (the economic loss of the territory, which composes much of the resource-rich Canadian Shield, would leave the affected Provincial Crowns, especially, largely economically insolvent). Further, neither Crown would seriously entertain Madrona, so any planned independence from Canada, or sovereignty over their land claim, by their planned July 7, 2016 date, or any date in the future, is but a pipe-dream.

That Madrona could never obtain lawful ownership of its territorial claim, one of the fundamental characteristics of a sovereign nation, meaning that its more-limited claim is no more less silly than if it claimed all of Canada.

The ultimate inability to exercise sovereign control over the territory is also a reality that applies across the board to all territorial claims, no matter how big or small. John Houston of Loquntia more accurately states in his reply to the discussion that “claiming [an] entire state, or even property owned by someone else in another country is beyond unrecognizable”.

I would argue that Houston’s treatment with respect to the recognition of territorial claims should be expanded. Based on legal realities, I would suggest a more accurate treatment would be “claiming an entire state, property owned by someone else, or even your own property, in any country is beyond unrecognizable.”

The tenant that a micronation cannot enforce a claim on property its participants do not own is self-explanatory, I would hope, to most. That it cannot enforce sovereignty on property its participants do own – that is a reality that may provoke angry replies, but it is a reality nonetheless.

Regardless of whether one thinks they can claim sovereignty over their privately-held land, the reality is that one cannot. That land and any improvements (ex. structures) can never be claimed as sovereign territory exempt from the authority of the sovereign state in which it is located. If Madrona were a bedroom that had a sign posted that claimed its international border existed at the door, it would still not be protected from incursion by the agents of the sovereign state in which the bedroom was physically located.

Generally, the law in any given sovereign state at best grants privacy of privately-held land (especially dwelling-houses) to the occupants, but the state nonetheless retains lawful authority to invade that privacy as circumstances permit (which would, for example, involve investigating an allegation that the occupant of the property was in contravention of the state’s laws). Further, in many states, privately-held land can be expropriated by the state in particular situations in exchange for reasonable monetary compensation to the title holder (reasonable to the market or the State; rarely reasonable to the title holder).

Short of raising a military (directly or through allies) that rivals that of the state in which it is physically located, and would therefore serve to deter agents of that state from entering onto its territory, it is impossible for any territorial micronation to ultimately exercise sovereignty. Of course, beyond access to small arms, a micronation would never be able to acquire or retain the larger arms or vehicles necessary to create such an environment of deterrence.

In my opinion, based on territorial legalities alone, to qualify one territorial claim as “silly” versus another is therefore hypocritical. Any territorial claim, and the related claim of sovereignty over it, by a micronation is “silly”. The time and effort put into perpetuating such claims by some micronationalists would arguably be more efficiently, and effectively, applied to other endeavours.

Do you think territorial claims by micronations are "silly"?

  • Yes (61%, 14 Votes)
  • No (30%, 7 Votes)
  • Undecided (9%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 23

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Territorial claims untenable despite spin