Nominations open for Micras awards

A longstanding annual tradition in the Micras community continues this month as a call for nominations has been issued for the 14th installment of the community’s FNORD Awards.

A total of fourteen awards are currently planned to be presented to micronationalists to recognize their achievements in a variety of cultural, political, economic and community-related efforts. Included again this year is the community’s most prestigious award, the Odlum Award for Overall Achievement, which is given to a veteran micronationalist in recognition of their long-term contributions to the community.

This year’s awards are being organized by Ric Lyon, who will chair a judging panel consisting of himself and Micras veterans, Jack de Montfort and Orion Ilios. The awards are scheduled to be presented to recipients on Norton Day (January 8), which celebrates the 19th century micronational pioneer, Joshua Norton (aka. Emperor Norton).

Nominations may be made by any interested person by replying to the designated thread at the Hub.mn community forums.

One-on-One: Jack de Montfort

For our readers who are unfamiliar with you, would you introduce yourself and perhaps provide us with a bit of a history of your participation in micronationalism and what it is you currently do in the community?

Of course. As many of you probably know, I’m a Dutch micronationalist who has been active in the Micras sector for some time now. My first encounter with micronations was an article about Sealand, I believe that I was twelve years old at the time. I was intrigued by this interesting project and it didn’t take long before I started my own micronation: Castrigia.

During this time I explored the micronational world, which was slightly different from what it is now. One of the more substantial things during that time was my discovery of the Kingdom of Batavia, of which I briefly became a citizen, and the Dutch Sector. Unfortunately I then made the decision to take a more secessionist path. During this time I got in contact with the ‘famous’ micronationalists, who were featured in the lovely Lonely Planet guide to micronations, and some lesser known secessionist nations such as Flanderensis, which then had just been founded.

When I was about 16, I quit micronations entirely. My interest in the hobby had declined and I had other things to do with my life. I was a secondary school student after all. So, I took a micronational hiatus from 2009 and 2012. I didn’t intent to return to micronations at all then. However, in 2012 I decided to take a look at the Batavian forums to see what was going on there. Obviously a lot had changed, Batavia had become inactive and Jonas, whom I knew from my brief period of Batavian citizenship, was now part of the Empire of Jingdao and South Batavia. I decided to join this micronation and had quite an amusing time there, developing the autonomous region of Calbion.

One of the most important things in becoming a micronationalist again, and deciding to be a part of the Micras sector, was the IRC. Nowadays it isn’t as active as it used to be, but back then it was very much alive. Because of the people I met at the IRC (mostly fellow Bastionados), I joined other nations. Most importantly Elwynn, that was still independent then. Shireroth followed, and so did many other nations. I was involved in Maraguo, a Batavia revival, and quite a few of my own projects such as the Brettish Isles, Tyrenia and Arasha.

Nowadays I’m mostly active in Shireroth and the Brettish Isles. I’ve been granted the honour to be Kaiser of Shireroth and that is an important part of my micronational life now, but I reckon that there will be some questions about that later ….

There will be! But first, you’re the founder of the Brettish Isles, a Micras micronation that is active within the Bastion Union group. What was your motivation for creating this Victorian-themed micronation and what were your goals for the Isles when you set out? Have these goals been met, in your opinion?

Some of you may know that I have a strong interest in the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. It’s something I’ve been interested in since I read ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ at age 7 or 8. For me, reading the stories and surrounding literature, but also collecting Sherlockiana, is quite an interesting past time. It was only a matter of time, really, before these two interests would come together. I decided to give the ‘Victorian England’ thing a go. I created a map, featuring place names from the Holmes stories, and left plenty of references to the world of Holmes in the nation.

I didn’t have any goals beforehand at all, nor did I have any expectations. My micronational philosophy is that this is first and foremost a hobby. When you feel like doing something, when you want to explore something in micronations, you should do it. We’re in this hobby voluntary and exploring new settings and developing new projects is what micronationalism is also about. So, I didn’t expect this nation to exist much longer than other projects of mine. It did, though. As it happens, more micronationalists have an interest in Victoriana and have since joined the nation. Some of our initial citizens have since left, which is of course fine, and we now have a core group of four citizens.

The Brettish Isles have had a difficult history. Periods of activity were followed by larger periods of inactivity, but we have always managed to stay alive. During the summer of last year, we really had a period of complete inactivity. I didn’t think that the nation would exist much longer. Towards the end of the year, I had drawn up a plan to ‘safe’ the project and to transfer it into a sort of one-man nation; however, it turned out that some Brettish citizens were still interested in the project. We then discussed what route we would take with the nation and this ended with us deciding to continue the project with Lord Amherst becoming Lord Protector.

Babkhan Lessons Ignored By Bastion

To quote the tiresomely over-quoted Mark Twain: “history may not repeat itself, but it often rhymes.”

A little over two months have passed since I was ritually savaged by the Bastion Union’s inner circle in response to an interview I gave for the CS, leading to my unceremonious departure from that community. History being written by the winners, consensus will no doubt record that I fell on my sword for being unable to justify certain allegations made against the Apollonian Confederation in that interview. That would be a misreading of my motivations.

My ultimate reason for leaving was, in fact, quite independent of the dispute’s subject matter and centred on the attitudes and behaviour of certain individuals toward me personally. After some reflection I feel it raises questions about the nature, structure and ultimately the legitimacy of the Bastion Union leadership as well as having implications for micronational communities as a whole. Those reflections I wish to explore in this letter.

The crystallising event in my case came upon the heels of the aforementioned and incredibly heated debate about my interview, during which I fielded attitudes ranging from the mockingly dismissive to the violently contemptuous, with any supportive peers either uninclined or too frightened to stand up for me. It was a lonely day or two which, as happens when one is subjected to sustained vitriol of that calibre, naturally led me to question my presence on Bastion. Nobody is paid to be there, after all.

Around that time Rasmus, seemingly sensing my sentiment, penned a worthy and articulate counterpoint to my article which bordered on the flattering. It was duly published by the CS and did much to reassure me that at least one of my adversaries was intelligent enough to appreciate the merits of civilised conduct in such a situation. Talk beyond that point was of common ground and reassurances, and it would have convinced me to stay had it not been for the next intervention.

Enter Jonas, leader of the Apollonian Confederation and fellow Bastion administrator to Rasmus (their roles being quite unnecessary duplicates). Having doubtlessly familiarised himself with the latest content of the discussion, Jonas decided that very moment – when Rasmus was essentially talking me back from a ledge – it would be quite perfect to launch an unnecessary and highly personal insult in my direction. He would have been aware of the stakes in question, and that driving me off Bastion would be a perfectly acceptable consequence of landing one more punch. This behaviour, coming as it did from a Bastion Union administrator and leader of one of its biggest nations, provided a clear window into Bastion’s future. It was a future I had no wish to be a part of, and after a single profanity of my own I took my leave accordingly.

In the past I have expressed my displeasure – with tiresome frequency – at the handful of administrators, meetup attenders and IRC-goers whose whimsical meanderings dictate the direction of the Bastion Union through strategically-planted citizenships of its many nations large and small. I have nursed a quiet trepidation that this small circle will one day become conscious of the extent of its unaccountability, abandon all pretences of administrative sobriety and conduct the overall leadership of Bastion with the same level of aggression and impulsivity as it does in Bastion’s constituent nations.

The events surrounding my departure have convinced me that this process has well and truly begun. A leader of the community drove out a respected (at least that’s what people tell me) member, apparently deliberately, with no remorse, for the crime of expressing a micronational overview that was unpalatable to him. Moreover he has not faced any apparent censure, nor is any likely to be forthcoming as the only people on Bastion as powerful as himself are those politically aligned to him.

Within a single micronation this is all just so much politics, and is to be expected. The Bastion Union however is a community of micronations – and it seems that, little by little, its leadership have confused the responsibilities of leading a single micronation with those of a multi-micronational community. Gradually the administrative cadre of the Bastion Union has become compromised, with no procedure in place to regulate any excesses it might commit on a community level. As a result it not only tolerates, but affirms and even celebrates behaviour of the kind which caused me to leave, even when it comes from the very top. One might reasonably call it a case study in the failure of self-regulation.

This kind of regime is not without micronational precedent. During my reflections I have been reminded of the withering downfall of the Kingdom of Babkha – a process which, according to the fearsome Ardashir Khan, began as early as 2003 and saw that realm’s slide into exponential savagery as a result of, among other things, “the inevitable consequence of dissenting voices being thrown under the bus”1. This shrivelling into Rule By Belligerent Cliquery eventually excluded even the Shahdom itself, leading Vilhelm Benkern to complain that the Kingdom was “never able to accept anyone into the inner circle. I was once Shah, for example, and my SAVAK clearance was probably equivalent to a Treesian spy”2. Certainly, by my own recollection, anybody who set foot in the place in those later years risked unprovoked threats and/or summary post deletion for their trouble. Not only did it seem impossible to have a voice in that inner circle, it seemed impossible even to exist alongside it. Of course the legendary “Babkhan welcome” became so intrinsic to the atmosphere of the place that nobody minded much.

Unfortunately however, such a regime proved to be unsustainable in the long term and the Kingdom withered further – until all that remained was Ardy and Hesam parroting profane Aristocrats jokes at each other, whereupon sanity prevailed and the decision was taken to euthanise the place.

Ultimately, how Babkha went about its business was a Babkhan matter and I don’t judge the dynamic which simultaneously glorified and killed the place. I certainly miss it. But the Bastion Union, which appears to be treading a disturbingly similar path toward a disturbingly similar fate, is in my view an inappropriate vehicle for the aggressive machinations of its leadership against its members, and if it continues on its current path that membership will wither away.

Already we have seen the effective annihilation of the Shirerithian Duchy of Goldshire, which until very recently had a near monopoly on Shirerithian Imperial power. In addition to my departure it has said goodbye to Janus Eadric, a.k.a Edgard of Alexandria – a veteran micronationalist who does not flounce lightly – after his lands in Shireroth were subjected to a legal but heavy-handed Imperial annexation by a Steward closely allied to Bastion’s ruling caste. These departures combined have taken their toll on Goldshire’s Duke and rare-retained newcomer to micronationalism, Ryker Everstone; who has communicated to me his own collapse in morale and contemplations on leaving. An empty Goldshire faces the prospect of inactivity annexation by Jack, that same Steward who is now Kaiser of Shireroth. With his love of violent spectacle and personal grievances against the recently departed Goldshirians taken into account one can be forgiven for anticipating that, in the paraphrased words of Winston Churchill, “the whole fury and might of the [Kaiser] must very soon be turned on [Goldshire]”.

As time progresses one might reasonably expect more of Bastion’s subcommunities to be wiped out by a force which seems (with the possible exception of Rasmus) either ignorant or indifferent to the inherent unsustainability of its art and the loss of membership it entails – and will devote great energy to suppressing and dismissing those voices which draw attention to the problem. Whether the more moderate administration of Bastion, or the community at large, has the will to effect the regime change necessary to stop this hideous process remains to be seen, although I consider it doubtful as they may not even agree on its necessity.

Until then it seems the Bastion Union will go the way of Babkha – a micronation which I admired from afar but knew far better than to join. And until Bastion cleans up its act, I will remain at a similar distance.

  1. http://letzianherald.wordpress.com/2013/10/26/an-interview-with-a-micronationalist-2-ardy []
  2. http://www.micronationalnews.com/the-standard-one-on-one-vilhelm-benkern []

Proposed SCUE tax divides micronationalists

HUB.MN — The implementation this month of the Trade Equality Act by SCUE has divided members of the Micras community, with many expressing that the intermicronational organization has no role in taxation.

The Act was introduced as the first measure of newly-appointment SCUE Administrator Pallisico Sinclair as a means of promoting trade and trade equality amongst the organization’s member micronations. To accomplish this goal, a 5% tax is imposed on the total currency reserves of each member that has a bi-monthly Gross Domestic Product (GDP) equal to zero. If the member has a GDP greater than zero, it will be rewarded by being granted a sum from SCUE equivalent to 5% of the value of its total transactions during the bi-monthly period. The first taxes are scheduled for debiting on April 1.

It is the expectation of Sinclair that the tax will spur members that have dormant economies to begin making transactions and increasing economic output to qualify for the reimbursement incentive. “All that is requested in order to avoid a tax is at least one transaction,” said Sinclair in attempting to minimize any opposition to the tax, as one transaction would result in a non-zero GDP.

Despite his attempt to minimize the negative connotations associated with the implementation of a tax, the SCUE Administrator quickly experienced a backlash from several micronationalists who hold accounts with the organization’s bank.

“Are you kidding me? You cannot just steal half of my personal money,” exclaimed Jack de Montfort at the prospect that his holdings in Coria would be taxed due to the micronation’s lack of trade activity. Sinclair rebuked Montfort harshly in the exchange, replying that “Clearly, doing nothing has not encouraged you to participate in any meaningful way.”

Malliki Tosha, the Arbiter of Shireroth’s Imperial Judex, questioned the legality of the measure, noting that the organization was in his reading of its charter treaty only permitted to enforce, not introduce, taxation. “Even if you can interpret it as meaning that [SCUE] can impose taxes, I would still consider the language ambiguous,” he said.

That opinion was echoed by Iain de Vembria and Vilhelm Benkern, the latter of whom angrily pronounced that “SCUE shouldn’t be led by a despot but someone who takes in the views of many members.” Benkern called on SCUE to re-think the implementation of the taxation, calling it counterproductive to economic development. “[The organization] should surely be providing a platform for co-operation between member states and allowing them to flourish themselves, without having to actively ‘encourage’ or penalise certain nations in the way proposed.”

Yet the pronouncements of those in opposition to the tax have failed to sway the opinions of several micronationalists who voiced support for the measure. “… Penalising members for just sitting on piles of money and never spending it seems fair,” Joe Foxon opined with the support of Giles Melang and James-Robert Knight.

Former SCUE Administrator Andreas the Wise, while agreeing with Tosha’s legal interpretation of the treaty, nonetheless expressed his support for the tax and encouraged further discussion on its merits and implementation. “This actually sounds like quite a reasonable plan to me – taxing [inactivity] and rewarding economic activity,” he said.

Despite the ongoing opposition from his detractors, Sinclair appears to remain intent on implementing the tax. “If most aren’t using the currency, then the currency is essentially worthless,” he proclaimed, “It is not in the interest of the bank, or of the members …, for the currency to be essentially worthless. Therefore, it is incumbent on the bank [to] adopt fair measures to promote the usage of the currency, even if it means taxes.”

Nominations underway for 2014 FNORD Awards

HUB.MN (CS) | With the year coming to a close, nominations are being called for the Micras Sector’s 13th annual FNORD Awards, which will be awarded on January 8.

The FNORD Awards were started in 2002 by Scott Alexander and are one of micronationalism’s longest-running community award galas.

This year’s judging committee includes Jack de Montfort, Joe Foxon, and Carl Jackson, who will be responsible for selecting the award winners from nominations across fourteen separate categories. Those categories include awards given for annual achievements in various areas, such as economics, journalism, and best new idea. Also to be awarded is the community’s most prestigious award, the Odlum Award for Overall Achievement, which is given to a veteran micronationalist in recognition of long-term contributions to the community.

Nominations for the various award categories will be received until January 1 and can be posted in the appropriate thread at Hub.mn.

Annual FNORD Awards elicit numerous nominations

HUB.MN (CS) | An abundance of nominations have been made as the premier annual awards ceremony for the Micras Community prepares to enter its twelfth year, with the presentation of the much-envied honours scheduled once again for Emperor Norton Day on January 8.

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Legislature abolition sought in Shireroth

SHIREKEEP (CS) | A controversial proposal tabled by Jack de Montfort in Shireroth’s legislature, the Landsraad, is seeking the abolition of the direct-democracy chamber as dissatisfaction with its relevance permeates through a vocal segment of the micronation’s population.

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