LONENBERG – More than seven years after it returned from a three-year hiatus, Gotzborg will again enter an official, indefinite, period of dormancy.
One of Micras’ older micronations, Gotzborg had a history of spurts of activity – first, from its founding in March 2004 until April 2007, when it went on hiatus, and then from 2010 to 2013, upon its return. Since 2013, Gotzborg’s activity waned to the minimal levels it sees today, consisting of at-most a few largely administrative-related forum posts each month.
That lack of cultural and government development and ideas is largely a consequence of the micronation’s demographics. When Gotzborg was first active from 2004 to 2007, its citizens were mostly in university. Those who returned post-hiatus had long since graduated and embarked on their careers, limiting their participation further. The key leaders in recent years – Sinclair and August Charles II, Gotzborg’s founder and king – have also become increasingly busy with their macronational commitments.
To that end, both decided that the upcoming expiration of Gotzborg’s web hosting package was a natural end point for the micronation. While a return in the future is not impossible, no such eventuality is openly expected.
The micronation’s Micras territory, which largely encompasses its constituent realm of Victoria, is planned to be transferred for safekeeping to Stormark, which already protects other Victorian historical entities. Stormark will remain the protector of Gotzborg’s Micras territory until any return to activity.
Work to secure Gotzborg’s archives and facilitate the Micras territory transfer will continue between now and when the web hosting package expires in mid-December.
Editor’s Note: The Coprieta Standard was founded, and named after a city, in Gotzborg; however, it will continue to publish despite its home micronation being inactive, much as it did during Gotzborg’s first hiatus.
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.
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.
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.
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;
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.)
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.
Arecent 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"?
OPINION – The ultimate goal of a micronational university must be to build a better micronation and, in doing so, support its longevity. This requires that it develop local skills and knowledge that help focus the population toward the needs of the micronation, its customs and its environment. Losing sight of this primary purpose will ultimately make the micronational university ineffectual, causing it to eventually languish into oblivion, and robbing its micronation of important local education.
There are three key considerations one must be mindful of in developing a micronational university: it must be aware of its purpose, it must be relevant, and it must not limit access.
Purposefully – and practically – aware
A micronational university will never have the necessary resources – financial or otherwise – to compete with macronational institutions, even if the micronational university somehow accrues the necessary resources to achieve macronational accreditation. There simply is not enough of a population within the micronational community to support such an endeavour, and to focus on achieving such an end will only divert limited resources away from making the educational institution a practical benefit to your micronation.
A micronational university must set its purpose and structure its course offerings with the realization that it is complementary to the macronational educational system. Regurgitating basic skills that micronationalists already learn macronationally, like English or Pure Maths, is senseless as is focusing on highly complex subject areas like engineering or pharmaceuticals that no micronational university’s budget or teaching resources can hope to support the proper and safe instruction thereof.
Make it relevant to your micronation
A micronation’s universities, or other educational institutions, need to support its internal development by offering specialized courses that contributes to the building of a practical local skill base. For example, it can offer courses to help those individuals who enter government within the micronation, either as a civil servant or a minister, learn the local governing processes and procedural jargon, while supporting the development of a specialized skillset, such as legislative or policy writing. It can also offer courses on diplomatic protocols, constructed languages, or micronational history (in general or specific to the micronation itself, or its allied micronations – what a great way to build on those diplomatic protocols just learned when one is made ambassador to an ally!)
That is not to say that taking material from macronational courses is forbidden; but the micronational university that does must adapt such material to the needs or policies of the micronation specifically, as opposed to simply rehashing the same material the instructor learned macronationally. For example, a course in law will undoubtedly have to include background information on Common Law or Civil Law, whichever inspires the micronation’s legal system; but, the bulk of the course content should specifically focus on local examples of law and practices within the micronation rather than discuss the peculiarities of, say, the Common Law practices of the United States versus those of Britain.
Such a requirement is also likely to play out particularly in technical courses – for example, for the micronation that wishes to teach its citizens home gardening, it will have to utilize macronational course material, but the university can teach such techniques with respect to a specific climate of, or crop grown within, the micronation rather than provide a wide-ranging generalized course that loses focus and thus becomes less effective in fostering local development.
Access-limited means limited usefulness
Remember that the primary purpose of founding a university in your micronation is to support its ongoing development, not to act as a revenue stream – major or minor – for your micronation. In a small community where most participants are in their teens or early-twenties, money is always less than freely accessible, as incomes are limited, especially for those who have moved out of their parents’ house.
A micronational university should not charge cold, hard cash as tuition as this will limit access to a sizeable portion of the population – as a result, you cheat your micronation’s internal development by preventing citizens from acquiring relevant skills. Further, the degree that the micronational university grants is worthless paper (as it is macronationally unaccredited, and your micronation is unlikely to be a real country anytime soon), so charging money for it is foolhardy at best. Such a practice will only deter students when in a small community, such as micronationalism, the proliferation of knowledge and skill is of utmost importance.
The provision of courses must allow them be done in such a way that there is open access. A learning management system is the best course of option, as it provides a secure, convenient, environment for registering for courses, reading the associated material, and undertaking any desired examinations. A large number of micronations make use of WordPress for their national websites, and the author has personally found the Namaste! LMS plugin, with its complementary Watu testing plugin, to be very handy – and free – tools. There are many other LMS (learning management systems) available through those with full-service hosting packages, such as Moodle.
Not only will such systems make learning enjoyable for the student, they also reduce the burden that micronational universities have on a micronation’s limited resources, as once the course is programmed into the system the first time, it will not have to be “put together” for future offerings, which reduces the dependency on the instructor being available. As such, long-term access is improved by embracing this technology over less “advanced” methods of emailing course material on predefined schedule.