GUM activity raises wider concern

MICROWIKI – A decline in activity amongst the membership of the Grand Unified Micronational organization has reignited ongoing concerns of a wider decline in the MicroWiki community.

A trend that had not gone unnoticed by community participants anecdotally was reinforced as fact by the latest quarterly statistics report released by GUM on October 20th.  That report saw a 40% decline in respondents, from 26 member micronations in the 2nd quarter of 2017, to just 16 in the latest quarter ending September 30th.

The decreased activity in GUM, as well as community Skype chat rooms, is a regular topic of discussion in the weeks since then.

One prominent MicroWiki participant, Kit McCarthy, referenced the trend as the primary motivation for taking an indeterminate leave of absence from micronationalism. “I’m spending too much time flicking between windows on my laptop to see if anything’s happening, when, invariably, it’s not,” he said a statement on October 21st.

For John Marshall, the decline is a self-fulfilling prophecy. “When I post stuff and get no responses or replies or feedback, I’m not inclined to continue to post,” he voiced in reply to Suzuki Akihonaomi’s efforts to identify the root of the problem. Others, such as Marka  Mejakhansk, see the situation as part of the natural ebb and flow of Internet micronational activity, a reality since the turn of the millennium regardless of community.

Yet, things may not be as discouraging as perceived. A recently returned member of the community, Akihonaomi, on October 29th, began publishing activity statistics for the MicroWiki forums in a wider effort to address the decline. While the forums only received 228 posts in September, October was more robust in terms of activity, with 377 posts. Comfortingly, the increase was not the direct result of a tunnel-visioned discussion on the activity woes; however, it masked another concern – a largely flat trend in the number of new users and discussion threads.

Meanwhile, unsubstantiated rumour suggests GUM may in part be the cause of the decline. “It would seem that some individuals do not wish to return to the [MicroWiki] forums until the GUM is completely dead … if the GUM dies, several users will return to active status” postulated Akihonaomi while referring to a purported protest movement against the organization.

Such rumour aside, as one of the remaining relevant, active, intermicronational organizations, GUM at the very least is a bellwether for the community’s activity. Regardless of any such protest, the organization continues to draw membership applications, including two that were on yesterday’s Quorum meeting agenda. That it has not passed any substantive resolutions beyond the purely administrative since the end of July is not alarming, given that such periods of uninspiring usage are not uncommon for any intermicronational organization.

As for the MicroWiki forums, versus long-term trends, the perceived drop in activity is not significant, suggesting concerns are misplaced. Post-per-day averages in September and October, based on Akihonaomi’s reported statistics, remained 2- and 4-times the long-term post-per-day average of 3.18, respectively. A cursory view of the forums through November indicate another, relatively, healthy month.

That the bottom of activity in the community is so much below that recently seen appears to validate the natural ebb and flow cycle to which Mejakhansk referred, as opposed to a more concerning structural problem.

Interview: Henry (Twain) Clément

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 gum@micronations.wiki, 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.

GUM to host second 24 hour quorum

The Grand Unified Micronational’s second charity 24 Hour Quorum will be held between May 5 and 7, according to a resolution adopted yesterday.

The event, first held in 2012, originated as a joke that a session of the intermicronational organization’s Quorum (general assembly) could theoretically continue indefinitely if each motion to adjourn was defeated. The joke quickly morphed into a challenge to GUM delegates to maintain the required minimum participants to keep a session active for an uninterrupted period of 24 hours.

The challenge acquired a charity event aspect when several delegates were sponsored to participate. In the end, over forty micronationalists spoke in succession and US$128 was raised for eight charities, including Amnesty International and World Vision.

The specifics of this year’s event have not been published by GUM as of press time.

Interview: Kit McCarthy

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.

Central MicroWiki figure announces step-back

A prominent face of the MicroWiki Community, Kit McCarthy, has announced that he is stepping back from his wide-ranging duties and projects.

“I’m afraid I’m absolutely addicted,” announced McCarthy in an address to the community, reflecting on his one-year involvement in micronationalism. It was during that year that he developed a strong appreciation for the community and its participants, describing a sense of belonging that he latched onto as a result of shared interests. “I love it,” he said of micronationalism and the MicroWiki Community.

With major changes at home and at school, however, McCarthy has decided to invest time in other aspects of his life as a means to achieve a balance. The “multiple hours a day” he has spent in micronationalism, where he has headed up a plethora of projects from journalism to education to economics, was nonetheless without regret. “One year … has taught me more than nine in school,” he admitted, “but I want to put that learning into some sort of real world context.”

McCarthy will not be a stranger to the community moving forward, despite the reduction in his participation. He hopes to continue to attend meetings of the Grand Unified Micronational organization and the Mercian Parliament, as well as to continue his work on some of his more established community projects. “I just won’t be starting a new organization every week,” he commented cheekily.

Comments provoke MicroWiki angst

Controversial comments by New Israel’s Emperor, Markus Abernathy, during religiously-charged conversations on the MicroWiki forum has triggered significant backlash, resulting in some micronations and micronationalists announcing a boycott of the community until he is disciplined.

The controversy began on June 11 when Bradley of Dullahan, in reviving an inactive community discussion on Islam, launched into an emotionally-fuelled tirade against Islam in which he suggested that it was “the single most evil and despicable and destructive [religion] on the planet”, describing its god as an entity who “treats humans as slaves”, and its central prophet as “a pedophilic warlord who caused the destruction of the Roman Empire”.

Bilal Irfan, who practices Islam, issued a measured response to the comments, refuting the content of the tirade; however, this only served to provoke Bradley, an apparently staunch Christian, further. “Your religion is heresy. Why on God’s earth would God send another prophet after the Messiah which is following the Torah and the Bible the LAST prophet and the saviour of mankind!” he charged.

On June 13, the day of the Orlando, Florida, mass-shooting, during which a Muslim killed 49 individuals, the row escalated when Abernathy became involved. Abernathy, both rhetorically and randomly, in response to Irfan’s attempt to explain the meaning of sections of the Quran that had been quoted by Bradley, asked if Irfan “would have been happier had the Mohammedans won in the Battle of Tours … and destroyed Christianity?” Abernathy went on to suggest that Christianity is at war with Islam, by no fault of the former. Irfan took offence to the comment, expressing his belief that Abernathy was insinuating that, because he was a Muslim, this implied that he was either a terrorist, a killer, or a preacher of hate.

The argument subsequently spilled over, with other community members becoming involved in support of Irfan and in opposition to Abernathy and Bradley’s opinions on Islam. Decorum quickly exited the stage as the “your religion is right and pure, yours is wrong and evil” pronouncements of Abernathy in particular triggered strong responses, including from Abernathy’s fellow Christians.

Yesterday, the spat escalated further when Suzuki Akihonaomi called for the community to exclude Abernathy, as well as Bradley, and Paolo Emilio, on the basis that those two individuals were highly thought of by Abernathy. Collectively, she accused the group of “[upsetting] the balance of the micronational community,” and suggested that their actions would serve to cause a permanent split in MicroWiki. Akihonaomi called for the membership to refrain from commenting on any post made by the three individuals, and for the exclusion to be enforced by the recently-revived Grand Unified Micronational intermicronational organization. The exclusion would only cease if the individuals agreed to “end their flame warring and personal attacks”.

A community poll started by Ned Greiner suggested that, as of press time, two-thirds of voters are in favour of taking serious disciplinary action against Abernathy; however, several questioned whether enforced banishment of him from the forums, as suggested by Greiner, was an appropriate response to the situation. “It’s every user’s choice to reply to [Abernathy’s] threads,” said Matthew Cummings. David Sarkozy further opined, “if people just totally ignored [Abernathy’s] comments … situations may not escalate so drastically. Don’t let him bait you into argument with his bombastic comments.” The owner of the MicroWiki website, Jonathan of Austenasia, was equally measured in his response. “I’ve been saying this right from the beginning. If somebody annoys or offends you, ignore them,” he told the membership.

Yet for a limited group of members and their micronations, the situation warranted a more severe political response that included a boycott of the MicroWiki community in an attempt to compel Jonathan and the forum’s administration team to discipline Abernathy.

In announcing its boycott of the forums, the Universal Triumvirate described it as a means of protesting “radical hate messages”. Triumvirate Chancellor Lancelot Rice suggested that his, and his micronation’s, continued involvement on the forum would amount to “sponsoring hate messages” and “racist sentiment” unless the administration team took action against Abernathy. Other micronations quickly followed suit, including Cinnamon Creek, Nedland, and Whestcorea. Several micronationalists also joined, such as Greiner, Dallin Langford, Kit McCarthy and Henry Twain.

There are indications that the community is starting to move on from the affair in spite of the limited boycott. Irfan, for his part, continues to participate on the forums, as do most participants, with the offending discussions slowly moving into the past. There is even hope that a key lesson can be learned from the episode – “We need to lighten the atmosphere. Create new threads not for religion, but for culture, diplomacy, economy and so forth,” suggested Nicholas Kaos.

Do you think the Universal Triumvirate led boycott is an overreaction?

  • Yes (64%, 14 Votes)
  • No (23%, 5 Votes)
  • Not Sure (9%, 2 Votes)
  • No Opinion (5%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 22

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New IGO sought for MicroWiki Community

MICROWIKI – Two months following the overwhelmingly supportive vote to cease operation of the Grand Unified Micronational as an active intergovernmental organization, the MicroWiki community is discussing if a replacement is needed.

The re-tasking of GUM, now an Internet chat room, has caused a void in that community’s intergovernmental scene, prompting Zenrax’s leader, Thomas Tiberius, to propose the creation of a new organization, or otherwise a reorganization and reactivation of GUM’s former mandate. “What are we to do about it?” said Tiberius, referring to the negative impact on community solidarity caused by GUM’s re-tasking, suggesting that a replacement was needed to help welcome and orientate new micronations with the community.

Those in favour of Tiberius’ efforts have generally grouped themselves into a movement to create a new unique intergovernmental organization as opposed to seeking to exist under the GUM banner as he proposed.

Kit McCarthy, the President of Mcarthia, suggested that any new organization address the failures of GUM, most notably in his view its inactivity, its lack of organization and specific goals, and its excessive professionalism.

The President of Nedland, Ned Greiner, suggested a comparatively-complex United Nations type organization that would include both secessionists and simulationists, which would make the organization one of the few since the League of Secessionist States and League of Micronations in the early 2000s to cater to both streams of micronationalism. Noting that such an association would be a non-starter to most secessionist micronations, which have a negative view of simulationism, Greiner pointed to the fact that not all United Nations memberstates recognize each other. “Everyone can be in the same organization as long as everyone is cordial, but not everybody has to recognize each other if they don’t feel comfortable,” said Greiner.

Greiner further suggested that any new organization should take a more regulated but varied approach to discussions, with moderated “ultra-casual” chats scheduled, in addition to more formal discussions regarding governance, so that memberstate representatives can build valuable rapport. He cautioned that any moderation of discussions would need to balance seriousness, as he foresaw a risk of turning individuals away if “very serious content and severe regulation” became the norm within the new organization.

There is nonetheless much stated opposition to the creation of a new intermicronational organization, with several individuals suggesting that the inherent failure of GUM indicates that a similar organization will meet the same fate. “The reason (GUM) died was because it was no longer needed, after all,” said Richard of Mercia. Covanellis’ President Bailey McCahon further opined that “micronations are fine to … form treaties and trade agreements independently and don’t need an organization to help them do that.”

Whatever the fate of Tiberius’ initiative, it will not be using the GUM banner, if only because many senior members of the MicroWiki community have made it clear that GUM will continue as the chatroom it has become and that the name will not be lent to any intergovernmental organization that manifests itself from the ongoing discussions.