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.

One-on-One: Kit McCarthy

MICROWIKI – It was back on May 4, 2015, that Kit McCarthy announced his intention to produce a radio news programme for the MicroWiki Community, to become known as RadioMicro. Since that time, through six episodes and an awards show special, McCarthy’s efforts have earned him significant praise – including appointments to various state honours – from numerous MicroWiki micronations and micronationalists.

Each episode, ranging anywhere from approximately ten to twenty-five minutes in length, typically features McCarthy speaking about current events within the MicroWiki Community and a special feature, such as an interview with a prominent community member. Some episodes have also included original programming, under the title of “At Sea”, a radio drama inspired by Sealand according to McCarthy.

The hard work invested by McCarthy behind the scenes is also evident with each episode. For example, the sound editing and musical scoring for RadioMicro has been praised and, in this author’s opinion, is among the best of all the locally-produced radio news programmes to have graced the community since the turn of the millennia. The scripting is also succinctly edited and maintains the listener’s attention without feeling drawn-out.

This past week, McCarthy took a break from his busy production schedule to sit down with the Coprieta Standard for a short interview:

CS: For those who are unfamiliar with who you are, would you tell us a bit about yourself and your micronational involvement?

KM: My name is Kit McCarthy and I am the founder of Mcarthia. I’ve been in the community for around 6 months now, and through projects, such as RadioMicro, I flatter myself to say I’ve done alright. I believe I am age-wise one of the younger members of the community. I started Mcarthia through a long-standing interest in politics and modern studies.

I’ve had many projects in the micronational world: the USM, RadioMicro, the new Bildaut Panel, SkillsShare and the RadioMicro Awards. Out of those, RadioMicro and its awards have been far the most successful.

Doing all these things however led to my leaving the community in June, due to other commitments outwith micronationalism. I returned last month, with the new RadioMicro Awards.

CS: What inspired you to create RadioMicro?

KM: I was inspired to create RadioMicro by Rhys Gregory’s MicronationTV. I felt it was a good area to get involved with, and with my skills in sound editing and composing, I would be able to create something of quite high quality. I decided to make my news agency an audio-only one for several reasons; in particular privacy, the ability to edit footage much more easily, and the ease to make programs reasonably high-quality.

CS: The production of an episode of RadioMicro undoubtedly involves quite a lot of effort. Can you walk us through the typical process you undertake to produce one?

KM: The first step for any episode is to make rough plans. I’ll browse through the forums and the Skype logs looking for good stories and I’ll often ask people on the RadioMicro thread what they’d like to see.

After that, I’ll try and get hold of my scriptwriters for other programs that I don’t write myself. After telling them what I want, I’ll then write the main script. This is the most time consuming part of the operation.

After getting all the scripts together and any other material, such as music, I’ll then start to record. The file I end up with at the end can be over 40 minutes long as I redo lines over and over again. Then, everything is loaded into Audacity and I edit my recording, as well as adding the music and any other effects. It’s exported as a sound file that I attach to a little video and upload it to YouTube.

Publicising is also quite a time consuming step. The new video must go onto the website, the forum, the main MicroWiki page, the RadioMicro MicroWiki page, any relevant Skype room, and be linked into other playlists and videos on YouTube. After that, follows a stage of keeping track of views and comments, before the whole process starts over again.

CS: What impact do you feel you’ve had with RadioMicro on the community and micronational journalism?

KM: From what I’ve heard, RadioMicro has had quite a significant impact on the community, micronational journalism, and Mcarthia. While it’s not necessary to have a news source in micronationalism, it’s enjoyable to listen to, especially as I’m able to get some things on the show (in particular, interviews) that wouldn’t be possible elsewhere. It’s also a nice format – programs like the Micronational Tour of the World present information in a readily accessible format.

I’m not the most qualified to say what kind of impact RadioMicro’s had on micronational journalism, though I hope it’s perhaps promoted good quality work. There’s nothing currently like RadioMicro available, but many other new news agencies were set up after RadioMicro, which I feel may have been due to RadioMicro making it seem like an attractive area.

It’s had a particular impact for Mcarthia and myself – Mcarthia and myself now have moderately high standings in the community, which I’m sure would never have come about so quickly with RadioMicro.

CS: You say it’s not necessary to have a news source in micronationalism. Why do you believe that?

KM: The community is actually very close knit. Everything happens on the forums, with a little bit of secret stuff done on Skype. If you’re on the forum, you know a lot, and it’s not necessary to have me telling them what they already know with some nice music in the background.

News agencies have a much more important role to play in providing information that’s not so commonly known or isn’t part of a main event. This is where RadioMicro programs like the Micronational Tour of the World and How to Start a Country come in. They’re factual programs, not news.

CS: What new initiatives can we expect to see from RadioMicro in the future?

KM: I’ve got lots more planned for RadioMicro! I’m looking at setting up a text based news website, and a new channel, RadioMicro Extra in particular. Give me a year, and we’ll have a new round of RadioMicro Awards as well. I do also have one very special project tucked up my sleeve. I don’t want to give it away, as it may never happen, but if it does… well, it’ll be fun.