MCS policy faces new scrutiny

HUB.MN – It has been almost three years to the day since the MCS adopted its last major systemic reforms; however, change may again be on the horizon for the nearly-seventeen year-old intermicronational organization.

The increasingly-dominant presence of large micronations such as Shireroth, Stormark, Natopia and Alexandria, as well as the division of the community into two major alliances motivated Giles Melang to put forward a proposal that, if adopted, would limit the total Micras territory any one micronation can hold. The proposal is unique in that MCS Charter reforms are usually driven by the opposite desire to reduce minimum requirements so that micronations can retain their assigned territory longer through bouts of low or inactivity.

“We live in an age of, well, empires … through cleverness or sheer brute force (and popularity) [some can] extend their reach across the majority of Micras,” suggested Melang. Such a scenario unfolding, in his mind, would impede the progress of the smaller micronations, though admittedly he does not foresee it as an impending or given event. Rather, his proposal is meant to guard against the mere possibility in the future. To that end, his suggested territory limit on any one individual micronation is a generous one-half of the Micras map.

The proposal has generated wider discussion. “On Micras, anyone with a sufficiently narcissistic approach to the narrative development of their subject realms is free to bloat their holdings across the plant without reference to the inherently finite or cyclical nature of colonial power,” Krasniy Yastreb observed, proposing that the limitation instead apply to individuals than micronations.

Such an application is seen as a way to prevent one person from creating or controlling a majority of the Micras micronations, and therefore its territory, as their personal fiefdom. In such a lopsided situation, Yastreb worries that the amount of claimable land would run short for other participants and newcomers.”What is acquired is acquired forever, subject to the ruler’s activity level,” he suggested, referring to current policy governing forced territory reduction/removal by the MCS Administrative Council. Under that policy, the subject micronation’s population must maintain a minimum average of one post per two days, or similar wiki activity; failing to do so for three consecutive months may result in territory reduction or complete removal.

Like Melang, the current situation on Micras does not suggest that Yastreb’s worries are likely to become reality in the near future. Such a view is held by Barnaby Hands, a key member of the Administrative Council. “We’re far from reaching that problem yet,” said Hands, indicating his preference that the Administrative Council simply say to any person or micronation starting to dominate the map, “hey, leave some room”.

Other key members of the Administrative Council, including Chairman Craitman Pellegrino, have not voiced an opinion on the matter as of press time.

2015 FNORD Awards bestowed

A much-muted version of the FNORD Awards culminated yesterday with only eight of fourteen categories being awarded to deserving candidates, the result of a comparatively tepid two-week nomination period versus previous years.

That nomination period had a rough opening when two citizens of Jingdao – Jezza Rasmus and Jonas Windsor – suggesting that the awards were no longer relevant. The former described the awards as “embarrassing” while the latter suggested that the process should receive the lighthearted “’Tis but a Flesh Wound,” inspired by the Monty Python Black Knight.

The sentiments of Rasmus and Windsor failed to garner popularity, though much of the nomination period was spent by the community discussing how to make the awards, which have celebrated individual achievement within the Micras community annually since 2002, more relevant. Most proposals involved paring down the number of categories for future iterations of the awards, and making those that remained more relevant to the current make-up of the community.

The overshadowing discussion on reform aside, several micronationalists nonetheless participated in the nominating process, though not all categories received nominations this year, nor did the judging panel commit to naming a recipient for each regardless.

In the end, eight of the categories were awarded, with the most prestigious award, the Odlum Award for Overall Achievement, being given to Emperor Edgard II of Alexandria. “Emperor Edgard II has steered Alexandria through almost a decade and a half, and made Alexandria a country of repute and with a unique cultural identity and history,” said Ric Lyon, the chair of the judging panel, in bestowing the honour.

The Award for Cultural Development went to Gerald Ruze, who has invested considerable time and effort into expanding Gerenia’s presence on the MicrasWiki in recent months with a wealth of information on its political and cultural identity.

Nathan Waffel-Paine received the Award for Leadership for his role in two of Micras’ oldest micronations – Shireroth and Natopia. In Shireroth, his reign was recognized for pulling the micronation back from the brink of failure due to inactivity. He was also recognized for his various initiatives to lead Natopia, a micronation he founded in 2002, into a period of renaissance.

Entering into his fifteen year of reporting on micronational news, Liam Sinclair was recognized with the Award for Journalism, “for never ceasing to give us articles from all over the microworld, insight on matters we had no idea about, and interviews with people from all parts of Micras and beyond,” said Lyon. “We are forever grateful for his contributions to journalism.”

Rounding out the awards were Hallbjörn Haraldson and Waffel-Paine, receiving the Award for History and the Award for Literature, respectively, while the Award for Sport went to James-Robert Knight. The afore-mentioned “‘Tis but a Flesh Wound” Award went to Krasniy Yastreb, in recognition of his return to micronationalism this year after a bitter personal disagreement with several local micronationalists.

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 []

2014 FNORD Award recipients announced

HUB.MN –- Following a week of sequestering, the judging panel for the 2014 FNORD Awards have announced the winners from across the Micras community.

In the three-way race for the community’s most prestigious award, the Odlum Award for Overall Achievement, Harald Thorstein edged out fellow nominees Edgard Carrillo and Jezza Rasmus, joining the group of a dozen previous recipients of the award.

Thorstein’s micronation of Stormark also jointly received the Beard Award for Conflict Resolution, along with Natopia, for their role in convening the ongoing Tapfer Conference that seeks to define a new relationship between the two micronations, as well as the Empire of the Alexandrians, all of whom hold territory on that continent of Micras.

The Coprieta Standard was also honoured with the Iain Jacobson Award for Micronational Journalism, marking the third consecutive year that it has received that Award. The Standard faced stiff competition this year with the upstart Micras Observer having garnered much attention and praise for its unique editorial content.

The awards for Best New Idea and Most Promising New Micronation were not named this year, as the judging panel was unable to come to a consensus on the nominees in each category.

This also marked the first year that a historic award was renamed, with the Tony Au Award for Economics, named for the Micras’ community’s founding economist, being renamed in honour of its most recent prodigy in the field, Andreas the Wise.

The full list of this year’s recipients is as follows:

The Shane Odlum Award for Overall Achievement Harald Thorstein
The Liam conToketi Award for Most Promising New Micronationalist James Knight
The Iain Jacobson Award for Journalism The Coprieta Standard
The Erik Mortis Award for Leadership Nathan Waffel-Paine
The Jeremy Bellamy Award for Literature Shyriath Bukolos
The Bill Dusch Award for Cultural Development The Apollonian Confederation
The Charles Beard Award for Conflict Resolution The Governments of Natopia and Stormark
The Rebecca Panks Award for the Graphic Artz Bjorn Olsen
The RIMA Award For Micronational History Krasniy Yastreb
The Craitman Pellegrino Award for Sport Barnaby Hands
The Andreas the Wise Award for Economics Pallisico Sinclair
'Tis But a Flesh Wound Award for Refusing to Give Up in the Face of Failure Ryker Everstone

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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