The Coprieta Standard had the opportunity to interview veteran micronationalist John Darcy this morning to gauge his views on several issues, including the future of the Geographical Standards Organisation and his current ambitions as King of Novasolum. In addition to being a current micronational King, Darcy is also a significant contributor to the MicroWiki project, and a member of the Micronations.net staff.
CS: From reading your wiki page, I see that you have been blessed with two young daughters. You are one of the few micronationalists whose participation actually increases during the early years of parenthood. How exactly are you able to devote time to micronationalism?
JD: What an excellent question! Yes, it can be an interesting challenge to find the time, but I have plenty of things in my favour. I work close to home, so not much time is wasted on commuting in the morning and evening. I am a late-night person by habit, when my wife and children are asleep, so I don’t inconvenience them during that time. I do have hobbies and pursuits which take me out of the house, but not many and not for long, so nearly every evening I am found at home – and the computer is in the main family room, so even when I am glued to the monitor I am still with my family, accessible to my girls, and able to share in the general goings-on in the household.
CS: As a key founder and leader of the former Republic of Anthelia, it must have been saddening to see it secede its sovereignty to the Royal Kingdom of Gotzborg, and subsequently go into stasis with that micronation. What would you consider the accomplishments and failures of Anthelia?
JD: The failures are easy to quantify: Anthelia did not make any impression on the world outside the confines of the Micronations.net group. Recruitment was almost negligible – not more than about five citizens were ever active together – so the Republic was never able to fulfil its ambition of being an active democracy. We did achieve notable breakthroughs in simulated mapping, banking and in our legislative framework. The other “key founder and leader,” Freddy Warren, was the major contributor in the field of lawmaking, and his influence shows through all the documents. In the areas of diplomacy and a multi-lateral simulated economy, our “accomplishments” can only be said to have been in ideas rather than in results, for other than the strong cooperative relationship with Gotzborg there were almost no other noticeable effects on the activities of other micronations. The Novasolum Treaty, as much as it was a landmark, yielded little in positive outcomes. Natopia and Alexandria, in particular, never had their hearts in it.
CS: Taking advantage of a wandering population from the hiatus of Gotzborg, you founded the Kingdom of Novasolum (not to be confused with the former regional micronational treaty community). What aspirations do you have for this latest undertaking?
JD: Some of my aspirations are the same as three years ago when I founded Anthelia – to generate a community with an internal life and momentum of its own. I would like to be the leader of a micronation which dos not depend on leadership for all its activity. To illustrate that another way: Canadians would still be Canadians even if Ottawa shut itself down for a month. Australians would probably be overjoyed if Canberra shut down for a month! But in almost any micronation you can think of, if the King or President was silent for a month then the nation would grind to a halt and become very hard to resuscitate. My aspiration for the Kingdom of Novasolum is a big, bold, bubbling population which develops a truly distinct culture and character, and makes its own activity.
CS: Novasolum recently gained membership with the historic League of Secessionist States. Why did you seek membership, and what effects do you hope this membership will produce?
JD: As mentioned above, the Republic of Anthelia was virtually unknown outside MNN. The steps taken to obtain membership of the LoSS are just one of the strategies being employed to broaden the advertising base of the Kingdom. It puts the name of Novasolum onto another discussion board, it puts the Kingdom into another Directory, and it increases the search profile of the Kingdom. Ideally, I want to direct people to our website, and from there to our forum. Spreading our name by membership of groups like LoSS is a step in that direction. Plus, in time we may exert an influence in policy and style across the readership of that group.
CS: The Geographical Standards Organisation recently found itself knee-deep in controversy. As a founder of that organization, and the person largely responsible for the creation of the Geiss world map, what are your thoughts on the Organisation? How can it reclaim its credibility and return to the path set for it by the founders?
JD: I have made a number of public statements to that effect in the GSO forum. In brief, the way back to credibility for the Organisation is to put into place leadership that will act in the best interests of the whole, not act for partisan self-benefit. The original bias in favour of realism – both in rendering of terrain and in the use of the simulated land – seems to have been lost. The crucial basis of membership – that of shared participation in a common geophysical simulation – has been largely ignored. Even the well-intentioned efforts of some to bring the mapping process back to life have been riddled with problems, and transparency in the activity of the Board is a joke. You may detect that I am a bit cynical and pessimistic at this time, and you would be right. So much damage has been done, I think that a complete reboot might be necessary – wipe the map clean, begin at the beginning (perhaps with the Giess world back-story which I have published through the Microwiki article) and really really commit to a common, shared, sustainable and realistic world simulation. Otherwise, why share a map at all?
CS: What are some of the hindrances to newly founded micronations and what do you think makes a micronation successful?
JD: The second part of the question is easy: A micronation is successful if it enjoys the loyalty of a core group of committed citizens who actually like what they are doing. On that basis, a 5-man micronation can be just as successful as a 200-man micronation, however the manifestation of that success will look different. Newly founded micronations are automatically handicapped by the lack of that core group of loyalists, particularly if the micronation is founded is a vacuum by a single founder who then puts out an appeal for people to join – more often than not, those who do join are already part of another micronation. Where is the loyalty? The other major hindrance to a new micronation is detail overload, where a micronation of less than a handful of people tries to make their nation look like a new United States, with the whole three-branch checked-and-balanced government apparatus. It is a mistake to copy a constitution and model a small micronation directly on a big macronation, because the small population cannot sustain it. Far better is to accrue that core group and find out what they want and need from their micronational government, and then design the constitution and institutions around those unique ideas. That process, incidentally, will help reveal whether it is a nation that has been founded, or just a chat club.