Senior Editor: I joined the Commonwealth of Interland (the Anglophone one) back in August 2001 as my first ever micronation. At the time, I was welcomed by a number of individuals who would become some of the most famous, and infamous, of the Anglophone simulationist community. Names such as Austi Scot, Sean Walker, and Julien Starr come to mind. The latter was one with whom I made an immediate connection..
Julien was one of a select group of micronationalists who were not afraid to create controversy as a means of spurring activity intermicronationally and making the hobby interesting. Many times, as a member of whatever government was affected at the time, I became annoyed by such actions; other times, I joined the rest of the satisfied onlookers. Since this old guard left the simulationist community, things have arguably become far less interesting and dynamic in terms of the relationships between micronations.
It has been many long years since Julien has been a participant in the simulationist community, and I am honoured that he has taken the time to sit down with the Coprieta Standard and offer some candid reflections on his past, present, and future in micronationalism.
CS. Could you tell us about how your participation in micronationalism came about many years ago?
JS: It all began close to a full decade ago with the “Kingdom of Saint Paul,” based upon the French islands in the Indian Ocean. At the time, I was still an active and avid philatelist, which had perked my interest in geography. Always had I been interested in the exotic and obscure – often times in art class I found myself scribbling the outlines of maps and lopping off portions of existing countries. My imagination went wild back then and some would say that has never ceased.
However, back to Saint Paul, I quickly became friends with the King who turned out to live in France and had an AOL address. As a Francophone myself, we quickly bonded over AOL Instant Messenger chats, the likes of which would later become legendary in my career. Hastily, I set up a “Republic” for the expressed purposes of exchanging diplomatic letters with the King of Saint Paul. It consisted of little more than a simple Post Office Box on my end, but nonetheless I did receive a letter from Saint Paul that I have today in my permanent archives located in Florida.
CS: What was it like to participate in the community back at what is essentially the birth and initial development period for what we know today as the Anglophone simulationist micronational community?
JS: The early Anglophone days in the simulationist or as some would call “Apollo Sector” were filled very much with a “Wild West” spirit. Everything was attempted and tried. Amateur behaviour reigned supreme because in large part we were all amateurs posing as professionals. We set the standards back then and I’m proud to say that many of these newer simulationist entities are far superior today, but they’re a bit too “anti-septic” for my taste. A healthy dose of chaos, spontaneity, and tumult makes for more entertaining times.
CS: Interland was always one of your interests while in the simulationist community. Indeed, you were a key player in its union with Tymaria and eventual secession from it. Was Tymaria a good move for Interland, and what prompted the movement to leave the United Republic?
JS: To this day, I have my “Internet Explorer” button renamed as the “Interland Explorer” on my PC. Granted, I’m more of a Firefox/Opera individual nowadays, but I have no plans on changing any time soon. Forever and always I’ll remain an Interlander. It kept me company during harsh New York winters when all I had to keep warm was some awful machine rolled cigar. Many of my “real world” friends were Interlanders.
As to the questions at hand, Interland was a founding member of the United Republic, Tymaria that is. One of the great apexes in my simulationist career was the calling together of the micro-nations for the Constitutional Convention that would give birth to Tymaria. Egos were dropped, big ideas were touted and many hatchets were buried. Did we Interlanders seek to dominate Tymaria? ABSOLUTELY! It is no surprise that we made certain one of our own became the first leader (Editor’s Note: This refers to Austi Scot, who was the first Prime Executive, although his reign in that position slightly predates the official date on which Interland joined Tymaria. Due to the lack of Interland being in Tymaria at the time, Scot had to take up his own Tymarian citizenship to hold the position).
You must understand that Interland for a long time was ran much like the old Parti Quebeçois before it was recently being pummelled in elections. This isn’t to say that there weren’t internal disputes or that everyone was a mind-numb minion. The main motivation for Interland’s secession was loss of control at the federal level. This is a classic tale of a power struggle which we see play out in many “real world” federal systems.
Tymaria might have survived had Interland never been admitted into the United Republic. However, it is doubtful Tymaria would have ever existed in the first place. It took the political machinery and the backdoor deals in smoked filled rooms to get the idea into action. It took very corrupt Interlanders to grease the wheel. Candid enough?
CS: Do you agree with the popular assessment that Tymaria is an experiment best left forgotten?
JS: Tymaria is an excellent success. It shows how absolutely positively creative human beings on message boards and in groups can be on the Internet. The lesson of Tymaria should be studied as a “how to” and a “how not to” but will probably be forgotten as a joke or a scam. The truth is that the United Republic was neither. It started off quite sincerely. It had an underbelly that was less than flattering and failed when the spirit of the Constitutional Convention had been extinguished by the assault of egos.
Tymaria and its concept have not been forgotten at all. Obviously, from what I can tell, the “Grand Commonwealth” of today is basically a Tymaria, so apparently the unification of micro-nations is not dead at all. Even though, by some accounts the “Grand Commonwealth” is dead itself. Mergers are fun and so is secession if the changes are quite visible. Therefore, Tymaria in my eyes is a success.
CS: Could you tell us about what event(s) that you consider to have been major in terms of the history of the simulationist community?
JS: My war with Mr. “Peter Krembs” is one of those events that truly defined the way I did business. In an election that would make Katherine Harris (Florida’s Secretary of State in the 2000 Presidential Election] proud, my “Christian Republic Party” & I won very handsomely in Interland. This prompted Krembs to take one of Interland’s provinces out of Interland, that being Lyrica.
Now in all honesty, Krembs was in Interland before I came onto the scene. Supposedly, it existed prior to Krembs himself, but I often wondered if that was just a legend to give the country a bit of a mythology. So, I can appreciate his “sour grapes” feelings.
Needless to say, I was enraged and felt cheated. Granted, it must be said that everyone knew this at the time as it was a part of the theatre we called Interland. From then on, I took it upon myself to make Interland my personal property, very much like Leopold did the Congo. History was never to repeat itself. Interland was to go on the offensive and this meant many mergers and many wars.
One of the crowning achievements for which I seldom ever get credit is bridging the language gap. It was Interland that joined up with the Empire of Pacifica, a mainly Lusophone micro-nation. We welcomed people of all walks of life and all languages among our ranks. We accepted a non-Anglophone head of state. Edward became a very good friend of mine, a man I do respect quite deeply.
This led to Interland holding high-level discussions with the Reunion, Pasargada and Orange, among other Portuguese speaking nations. It truly boggled my mind why more Anglophones didn’t reach out to some of the great legends out there on the Internet. The ultimate dream was to work on a grand merger between Tymaria and one of the major Lusophones. This was devised even before Tymaria had a name. Imagine how that would have turned out!
CS: You had a close relationship with Sean Walker, a.k.a. Yuri Andropov, a.k.a. the simulationist community “bad-boy” of the early part of this decade. Do you think that his actions deserved to receive such a reputation, and what, if any, effects did this reputation have on you as a close friend of his?
JS: Sean & I remain good friends to this day. In fact we own investment properties in central New York together. Earlier in the year I visited Mr. Walker (that’s not his real name), in the Boston area for several months upon his return from an extended holiday in Eastern Europe.
Overall Sean deserves a gold medal for being one of the great protagonists in micro-nations. Without him, I think activity would have waned and the overall flavour of the realm would have been as bland as bad English cuisine. As for bad reputations, to quote a disciple of Yuri Andropov, “we’ve been ordered to forget the past!” – Conrad Cromien.
CS: Any fond memories of your time in the simulationist community?
JS: My fondest memories of micronationalism would have to include the time that Sean Walker & I met a good number of years ago. It was so incredible to meet someone from off of a message board. To speak about events and people that seemed to only exist in cyberspace.
Other fond memories are very personal, and even though I have been blessed with many friends, I always craved retreating in my layer. A good cigar, a fresh glass of Pepsi and another post begging to be replied to with a witty answer. Oh, there were times I cut school to play. My favourite times were when I was bottled up during a horrendous winter storm back before global warming made it summer all year round. Back then, I’d have Rush Limbaugh on in the background, puffing away on a good smoke and laughing.
In fact, I remember once stepping out on a date to check an Ezboard, and mind you, the girl was a very beautiful blonde. Now that’s dedication or perhaps a bit of madness! In hindsight, I should have blasted some old school Metallica and made some more friends from the boards. Not every pretty blonde is worth your time in life. Good loyal friends can be priceless.
CS: Any negative memories or regrets?
JS: Negative memories or regrets? Sure. I didn’t rock the boat enough, I was too tame and reserved. Perhaps, I should have been more fearless like my friend Sean Walker, or Mr. Thomas Hubert or Robert Silby or any number of these legendary rock stars. Instead, I lived vicariously through them, which was fun but not nearly as fulfilling as doing the deed myself.
This isn’t to say I used these gentlemen, but that I had my limits. Some of my worse memories probably involved the whole nasty fight with Lord Diga from Attera. In the end, Diga and I made up and became friends, but the initial problems between us became extremely personal. The whole affair was much worse than my collision with Krembs or Peter Hickey (a real life lawyer). It was ugly and that was a shame. From my understanding, the Babkhans (Grand Commonwealth) used the ensuring court case that I won in their courts as some kind of law lesson. The bottom line is wherever Diga is (I believe he served in the Middle East), I once again offer my hand of friendship to him.
I had a real life fight with an Interlander who I lived with in Upstate, New York, and we have never spoken since that day. I want to convey that all is forgiven now, even though I lost that fight bad.
CS: What would you consider the most underrated micronation of your simulationist experience? Overrated?
JS: The most underrated micronation would have to be Puritania. This was a completely genuine attempt on my part to get it right. It was truly to be a pure political experiment. It did get hijacked by Babkhans who felt threatened that such a micro-nation could rise so quickly. The idea is still beautiful and simple; open membership, no citizenship and open participation. Maybe one day, someone will get it right.
The most overrated micronation, I need to be careful here, but it would probably be Yardistan. They bit off way more than they could chew. Even I didn’t annex nearly as much as they did. Maybe, Attera toward the end became more “huff & puff” than it really was and Babkha fell into that same trap toward the end. The hardcore Apollo Sector I often found real odd but you know, it’s a matter of taste; I can’t knock the creativity and hard work that was put out over there.
CS: The simulationist community was bustling with activity when you were a member of it, and this editor a mere rookie. There were micronations that people loved, and many that were hated. Some of them are still around to this day, albeit clinging to life in most cases. Was there any particular micronation in your years of participation which you a negative opinion of?
JS: The Babkhans I never really liked at all. Their website was immaculate though. I do remember enjoying some conversations with “Abbas Namvari.” They had a few good men in their ranks. You know there were times when I was a bit of snob and would knock pathetic looking “bug nations.” For any of you that I offended, I’m sorry because those were proactive moves you made. Generally, I was encouraging of people within the hobby, since we were all always looking for “new” and “young” blood.
CS: What would you consider the highlight of your micronational career, and the low-point, in the simulationist community?
JS: The high point of my career probably involves Sean Walker and the low point was when I had a real life fight with that Interlander. I mean I got beat up, I lost, no way around it. It was ugly; it made the whole Krembs or even Diga affair pale. I mean I was out of a home macronationally and on the street. Yeah, I took micronationalism into my personal life. It was overall a good idea even though I did hit that major bump in the road that one time.
CS: You have not been a member of the simulationist community for a number of years now, instead focusing on the macronational-oriented side of micronationalism. Why did you feel it was necessary to move on from that part of micronationalism, and how would you describe the focus of your micronational purpose today?
JS: Basically, I left the simulationist realm, or wing, of micronationalism behind after the real world fight I had a number of years ago. Real life also got in the way. No, not pretty blondes with nice bottoms; instead I was running a collegiate newspaper. I became very involved in academic affairs and did a tremendous amount of moving around. It was also around this time that I discovered micro-nations.com.
Granted, I had always had my eye on real “new nation” projects, similar to Hutt River, New Utopia and Sealand, but more like Bermuda or Monaco. Simulations were basically a free laboratory – a good way of networking and meeting people. Part of it was escapism and fantasy. So back at micro-nations.com, I met a good man named “Ricky” whom I visited in Colorado and we founded the “Nation of Ambrose” among other ventures, one of which involved a proposed charitable effort in Southern Africa.
We did entertain and receive communications from United Nation member states, but that’s another tale for another time. To make a long story short, we both felt it unwise to continue to participate in simulations while working on the “real deal.” Mainly, for fear of confusion or odd questions being asked. Sure, other names could have been used but it didn’t work out that way.
Today, the fire and passion which drives my desire to create a new country remains. Although, it has largely been tempered with a healthy dose of reality. Chiefly, that it will take an enormous amount of money. Yet another reason why I’ve been focused on enterprises such as real estate.
CS: Can the different micronational communities (e.g. simulationist and secessionist) ever get along in your judgment, or are they completely incompatible?
JS: Secessionists, Simulationists and Sovereigntists are all attempting to forge a new “reality,” for lack of a better analogy. We’re all the same, just some of us are looking to go a few steps further or in different directions. I don’t knock the [Simulationist] nations or the ones that mint coins and have stamps printed up. The ones I admire are those that have left the comfort of their own bedrooms and went out onto the high seas. Those are the modern day pioneers that have the potential to make history.
CS: Are there any notable projects that you have been a member of in your recent micronational experience?
JS: Notable projects … not really. I’ve purposely kept a low profile. There aren’t too many exciting projects out there that could use an old veteran. I did try Atlantium and Minerva recently, but the truth be told, it’s going to take my own innovation to make it happen.
CS: I believe you noted elsewhere that you have had contact with many government officials macronationally regarding micronationalism – is there any hope of micronationalism ever being taken seriously by such governments?
JS: Yes, just look at “Second Life.” It appears that some European countries are considering virtual embassies in cyberspace. The bottom line is necessity. If you had 3% of Belgians that were Tymarian, I think you could see relations being forged out of need not vanity. Beyond it all, for a new nation to be taken seriously, it must truly exist and even then there is no guarantee. Look at Somaliland or even the Republic of China. It takes the ability to deliver the votes and gold to get credibility. Sadly, that’s a very tall order but it’s not a requirement for political freedom.
CS: Reflecting on your past in the wider community, what would you consider the most consistent barrier, or obstacle, to the development of micronations, whether they be simulationist, secessionist, etc?
JS: The great success of the greatest country on Earth, the United States, has to do with one word: investiture. America’s history is one of incorporating more and more people into the United States. From immigrants to ethnic minorities and women. The great open door policy is what has made America so darn large. Mass ownership of capital, companies and land has created the greatest economy ever. The more people involved the better, especially when they have a stake in the system. Puritania ballooned with people under a similar regime, so the biggest obstacle is avoiding “cults of personality.” Tightly knit little communities of cliques or gangs don’t really help since it limits the talent pool.
There are advantages to being small and exclusive but if that’s the purpose it must be clearly articulated. Otherwise, it is a numbers game be it dollars or people or both. This is true of business, life and politics. The alternative is just like spinning your wheels in an empty parking lot. Think big, think outside of your comfort zone and most of all march forward toward victory.
CS: What does the future hold for Julien Starr?
JS: The future hopefully involves more then just waiting for my first pension from the government of Interland. It is my understanding that the Interland Franc is worth slightly less than the Zimbabwe Dollar! Not that drinking hot coloured water, smoking cheap pipe tobacco and listening to old songs from Newfoundland doesn’t appeal, it’s just that I’m only 25!
A tobacco plantation in Central America somewhere is definitely on the radar as well as continued real estate ventures. Right now, I’m determining which adventure to pursue next. Will it involve some exciting and exotic expedition? Probably [not], but I’m sure it will be fun and filled with much prosperity.
CS: Any final reflections?
JS: Final reflections? To enjoy life to the fullest, to act NOW rather than later, to reach for those Stars and put yourself at ease mentally. To quote one of my mentors, the late & great Mr. Harry Browne [Year 2000 Libertarian Presidential candidate], “while we may never meet, I want to let you know that I’m on your side!”