Text in English, donated to the collection of the Imperial and Royal Academy of Geographical and Social Studies.His Imperial and Royal Majesty, the Emperor-King of Karnia-Ruthenia.
The term “micronationalism” emerged in the mid-1990s and it is widely accepted that the author of the term, Robert Ben Madison, created it by literally meaning “small nations”, to refer to the phenomenon of the emergence of small entities organized as unrecognized nation-states, although the expression also included entities created in the 19th century. The counterpart of this expression is “macronation”, which refers to consecrated nations, especially those that are part of the United Nations and that are not confused with microstates, which are internationally recognized States but are small in geographic extension.
Micronations, in summary, are entities that aim, on a varying scale, to replace, appear, mock or coexist with recognized and independent States under the terms of international law. In common, micronational projects can establish the aforementioned organization in the form of a Nation-State, but express territorial complaints, they can develop symbols and account citizens, and the latter aspect naturally varies in terms of acquisition and socio-political experience within the micronational project.
A common criterion for distinguishing micronations from imaginary countries, tribes, clans and other entities is the search for recognition of their sovereignty. It turns out that this definition is, par excellence, very shallow. Now, if a micronation seeks to be a means of artistic activism, for example, the political bias of “independence” is more an artistic act than an act based in international law. If a micronational project envisions satire, but is organized as a Nation-State and detains it in the basic terms of the Montevideo Convention, would it then be able to be recognized?
The Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States in 1933 was an attempt to establish objective criteria for integrating a State into the international community in the best form of international law, although it is not unanimous even though it corresponds to the majority understanding on the subject, even if through customary law, and not by virtue of the convention per se. With regard to micronations, some do claim to be in harmony with the most basic criteria established by the Convention, while the overwhelming majority ignore its requirements.
Over the years, micronational projects have gained a wider range of denominations, in an attempt to classify the wide variety of micronations that have emerged. Some of these new denominations with more common use were cybernations, model country or model nation, new country project, online nation or, to a lesser extent, pseudonations, counternation or ephemeral states. Micropatriology, which is the study of micronational activity, has been seeking since the beginning to classify projects that arise, by analyzing their characteristics and countless criteria have been established and replaced and challenged, which leads to great confusion in understanding micronational activity and, not infrequently, conflict between micronationalists of varied strands.
This text aims to analyze several criteria of micronational practices, their characteristics and demonstrate how broad the expression micronationalism can be.
Micronationalism: a brief history and its evolution
The 17th century saw the rise of the concept expressed by the Treaty of Osnabrück and Münster, known as the Westphalian Peace, which marked the principle of the modern system observed by international law and enshrined as one of the most impressive moments in diplomatic practice of all time, although its interpretation is sometimes challenged.
It was only in the following century that the first entities that can be classified as micronations appeared. Most of these so-called micronational ventures that emerged in the 18th and 19th century were eccentric or ambitious financial ventures with varying success. In this scope, the case of the Kingdom of Sarawak, founded in 1841 and which survived until 1946, emerged as a “parallel state”, becoming effectively sovereign, then a British protectorate and finally integrating Malaysia, a status that remains today. This specific case is what started the tradition of believing that micronational projects, to be so, need to envision independence and recognition.
Contemporary examples of the Kingdom of Sarawak were the disastrous establishments of the Kingdom of Araucania and Patagonia (1860-1862), violently rebuked by the governments of Chile and Argentina but with suitors to the throne until the present day and the Kingdom of Sedang (1888-1890) , whose confused and turbulent history against Vietnam, France and England ended with the death of its founder. From the same period, the Kingdom of Redonda survives to the present; formally a dependency in Antigua and Barbuda, founded in 1865, was unsuccessful in declaring itself independent, but managed to maintain itself as a literary foundation with its own monarchy and aristocracy – and four pretenders to the throne.
Despite these stories of absolute failure or moderate success, there is still a milestone in the definition of micronation, established, to some extent, by Lundy, a British island whose owner in the early 20th century issued his own coins and postage stamps, although they have never declared themselves independent from the United Kingdom despite being commonly mentioned as having been governed as a fiefdom. This example became the precursor to the so-called “territorial micronations” or “derivatists”.
Apart from the adventures of the 19th century, it was in the second half of the 20th century that there was the so-called “micronational renaissance”, with countless territorial micronations being founded and laying the foundation for projects that would come in the future, especially those that would arise in English-speaking countries. The most famous example, the great exponent of the micronations founded in this period, is the Principality of Sealand, founded in 1967. The period also observed numerous projects that aspired or carried out the construction of artificial islands. Of these, two were successful in construction, but with their micronational projects attacked and dismantled: the Republic of Rose Island, founded in 1968 and destroyed by the Italian Navy and the Republic of Minerva, founded in 1972 and annexed by Tonga.
In the 1980s, Japan experienced its own micronational phenomenon, with countless villages declaring themselves independent as a way to draw attention to their culture and dialects, having held several micronational meetings and a healthy and profitable tourist industry that brought the urban public to the countryside. The movement cooled with the economic crisis of 1991, when many of the villages that were part of the micronational movement forced to merge with larger cities, dissolving the micronational entities.
Currently, unlike micronational pioneers, with their militarized activities or based on commercial practice, micronationalism has become almost a hobby practiced by young people almost entirely on Internet, in numerous communities with some developments outside the virtual sector. The internet has provided the micronational movement with an unprecedented character of professionalism and visibility, giving rise to hundreds of projects since the early 1990s, but also fragmenting the micronational movement into different types of practices, since, as a social movement, micronationalism is as subject to change as any other social practice. If in the past micronations could snatch hundreds of defenders and citizens with considerable distance between them, now it is absolutely common to find the “one-man nations” or, in a less flattering expression, “Egostan”; projects created purely for their leader’s vanity. Micronational practice is global and plural, but it is especially popular in English-speaking countries.
Of these micronations that benefited from online presence, the Kingdom of Talossa, founded in 1979, but present on the Internet since 1995, and the Royal Republic of Ladonia, which exists as a physical and virtual territory, founded in 1996, stand out.
Classifying micronational projects
With the popularization of the theme, it is natural that micropatriology would also advance. Arousing interest not only in the media, but also in academy, micronations became not only a social phenomenon to be observed, but also to be studied, with a considerable number of academic articles and literary publications dedicated to the subject. One of the focus of study of micropatriologists is the qualification of a micronation; that is, what type of project is that micronation and whether, due to its characteristics, it can be considered as such.
Briefly introducing the subject, let us start with concepts related to the macro-national or, as noted, the “axis of reality”; that is, institutions subject to international law that are widely recognized with sovereign relations to a greater or lesser extent.
“Supranational entities” comprise a set of micronations, which by virtue of a treaty, assume ordinary governmental or administrative functions, and are also maintained by a collective of macronations, having the European Union as the best exponent and example.
In turn, “macronations”, as mentioned above, are sovereign entities in their own territory and have no dependency relationship with other macronations and, by definition, correspond to the principles of the Montevideo Convention and are part of the United Nations; at the very least, with recognition from the international community, such as Spain or Portugal, for example.
“Recognized microstates” are states that have their sovereignty recognized by the international community, but due to their size, they may have a dependency relationship with other macronations, such as Andorra or Nauru. The unrecognized variation of a microstate would be the de facto possession and exercise of sovereignty over a territory without the recognition of macronations.
That said, we entered the classification of micronational projects. Most of the micropatriological literature states that micronations can be categorized by the patterns of “socio-political-economic simulation”, “historical simulation”, “personal entertainment and self-aggrandizement exercises”, “fantasy, fiction or artistic expression”,“ way of promoting the agenda”,“for means of fraud”, “historical anomalies and aspiring States”, “exercise of historical revisionism” and “projects of new countries”.
The micronations of socio-political-economic simulation tend to present themselves in a serious way, with the involvement of mature participants and normally involved in sophisticated and structured activities to emulate operations of a macronation. Under this widely accepted definition, the Freetown Christiania, a micronation or, according to the Danish government, an autonomous community founded in 1971 and the Holy Empire of Reunion, a Brazilian micronation founded in 1997, fit in this definition. They are still differentiated by one being called derivatist and the later, as simulationist; this variation will be dealt with later.
Historical simulations in the form of a micronational project, along the same lines as socio-political-economic simulations, tend to appear serious and professional, but their focus is to emulate past institutions and situations and cultures, usually Greco-Roman or medieval. The highlight of this category is in charge of Nova Roma, founded in 1998 and today, moving away from its micronational bias and being, since 2016, an educational and religious non-profit organization.
By the hundreds, there are micronations devoted to entertainment and self-gratification, which make up most of the micronational projects in force today. This category has different characteristics, mixing characteristics of those mentioned above, however, they are normally limited to exclusively online activity and last a few weeks or months, although it is a category with very notable exceptions that confirm the rule. The most notable exceptions are the Aerican Empire, founded in 1987 under a Pythonesque project and the Republic of Molossia, founded in 1999 and already a mandatory point of interest for tourists in Nevada, United States of America.
The exercises of fantasy, fiction or artistic expression that use micronational practice are deliberately created to express an artistic, fanciful vision and constitute per se works of art, largely ignoring the political aspects that can be verified in micronational projects from other sources. Examples of this category are the Royal Republic of Ladonia, whose territory is a peninsular strip of Sweden where they were created by Lars Vilks in 1996 and the Principality of Lorenzburg, also a Swedish micronation that promotes “paramitocracy”, that is, a micronation that with the help of the municipality of Karlstad, promotes tourism and collective narrative.
In the same way as art can use micronational practice for its promotion, it is common for groups that defend a cause at one time or another to be interested and to organize themselves in a similar way. Micronations created to defend or promote a specific agenda are usually associated with progressive and reformist agendas and aim at media attention to the issue to be defended. The Conch Republic, founded in 1982, was motivated by a blockade and checkpoint of the United States Border Patrol that disturbed residents and tourists and the Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands, created in 2004 in the face of the refusal of the Australian government in recognizing same-sex unions, but dissolved with the change in legislation in 2017.
If, on the one hand, micronational practice is recognized for attracting adventurous artists and activists in the best use of expression, there are also those who dare to use micronational practice for ominous purposes. The example of the Melchizedek Domain, which was founded in 1990 and which allegedly claimed sovereignty over several small islands in the Pacific Ocean in order to become a tax haven, is famous, and whose creators were prosecuted for the practice of various crimes. Another micronation that normally undergoes legal interventions is the Free Republic of Liberland, founded in 2015 and accused of selling citizenship to Syrian refugees in exchange for asylum, which it naturally cannot offer.
Interesting category is made up of aspiring states and historical anomalies. Unlike the others, these micronations are founded with genuine aspirations to become sovereign states and arise from historical anomalies or eccentric interpretations of the law, which make them susceptible to being confused with macronations. Usually, they are located in small and disputed territorial enclaves and with economic activity based on tourism, philately and numismatics. At best, they are tolerated by the macronations that surround them and, at worst, ignored. Examples of this category are the Principality of Seborga, whose foundation dates back to 1963 based on the absence of the region in the Act of Unification of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861 and, therefore, apart from the unification the neighboring macronation and the famous and mediatic Principality of Sealand, founded in 1967 on a British anti-aircraft battery platform from the Second World War period and basing its legitimacy on an interpretation of a British court ruling in 1968, which highlighted that the Roughs Tower, where the micronation was located, was outside the jurisdiction of domestic courts.
Still in relation to historical events, there are projects related to historical revisionism. It is a category with few exemplars and, when they appear, they tend to present themselves as a “government-in-exile”, even though they do not have the support of any political group and their relevance is small, at best. The consecrated and always used example for this category of micronational activity is the Imperial Provisional Government, founded in 1985 and which self-proclaims to represent the government of the German Empire in its pre-1914 borders.
Finally, there are projects from new countries. They usually involve the idea of buying or building an artificial island and founding a nation under the auspices of libertarian or liberal and democratic ideology. Striking examples are the Republic of Minerva, founded in 1971 on an artificial island and invaded and annexed by Tonga the following year and the Principality of Freedonia, officially founded in 1997, tried to obtain land between 2000 and 2001 and clashes over territorial acquisition resulted in death and the dissolution of the project.
Still on the level of the micronational “axis of reality”, there are some other interesting definitions that deserve our attention. The “protonations”, which are micronations located in the physical territory that they claim, but do not actively seek to assert their sovereignty against a micronation, which is the case declared by the Kingdom of Talossa. Micronations are defined as “metanations” that define having a “spiritual homeland”, whereas they have an active government structure, not necessarily located in that territory and the Holy Empire of Reunion is an example always cited for this case. “Pseudonations” are those created to be simply fantasy or for the role-playing game, whereas “ego-nations” are those that consist of few citizens and whose objective is to attribute pomp and circumstance to their supporters.
After the analysis of the “axis of reality”, that is, of the study of the concept of macronations and micronations, from the points of convergence to those of divergence between the concepts, it is necessary to analyze, then, the “axis of derivatism”, which applies only to micronations, and it is an analysis of similarities between micronational entities, in reference to macronational parallels, being able to accumulate the definitions of this axis with that of the reality axis. In simplified terms, it deals with “more realistic” to “less realistic” micronation.
A so-called “derivatist” micronation is committed to establishing institutions that look and act like micronational institutions, such as currency, defense forces, news, parliament and the like, such as the Principality of Aigues-Mortes. The project that fits the definition of “semi-derivative” is the micronation that, influenced by realism, mixes this commitment with derivatism with institutions more focused on the micronational scope, as is the case of the Republic of West Who.
In the sequence, we can observe the “semi-peculiarist” micronations, which have derivative elements in the sense of appearing professionalism and seriousness and “peculiarism”, which in turn is the micronational project that mirrors the appearance of macro-national institutions, but visualizes them as basis of their cultural expression as micronations. An example of semi-peculiar micronation is the Holy Empire of Reunion, while an example of peculiar micronation could apply to the also Portuguese-speaking micronation of the United Provinces of Mauritia or to the very traditional Republic of Porto Claro. Finally, the “fantastic” or “fantastic” micronations, as suggested, make no effort to emulate macronational institutions, thus constituting pure fantasy.
For purposes of analysis, and still being able to accumulate with the definitions already presented, there is the so-called “thematic micronationalism”. Thematic micronationalism is the concept that micronations base one or more aspects of their project on a particular theme, especially a cultural theme, but can also be applied to economic, political or religious aspects.
This variant of micronationalism is subdivided between the “historical” theme, where the projects use a particular historical era as a theme or, in some cases, with “futuristic” elements and because of this “re-reading” bias, they are usually – and in a way mistaken – confused with historical simulations; the “geographical” variant has its theme around a particular nation or place, while the “religious” variant has its great inspiration in elements of one or more religions, existing or created for micronational purposes. Those of the “political” type have their greatest inspiration on a specific political basis, usually socialist-communist, but with national-socialist examples having also been verified.
To exemplify the above, we cite the Empire of Austenasia and the Kingdom of Imvrassia as micronations of historical theme, replicating Roman-Byzantine and Roman-Greek culture, respectively; the extinct Empire of Pavlov and the Community of Zealand represent the “geographical” modality, whose inspiration was found in Russia and Scandinavia, respectively. In the religious modality, the State of Sandus and its Buddhist inspiration and the Templar Kingdom, which calls itself the “Protestant Vatican”, stand out as major examples. In the political variant, we can use two examples in opposite spectra: the Federal Community of Sirocco, an anti-communist project with elements from the 1950s in its structure (and therefore also historical), and the Brazilian micronation and now extinct Union of Popular Socialist Republics, which aimed to bring together all the Marxist currents in the same micronation.
The parallel plane theory: a new approach
The parallel plan theory emerged in 2017, when the Congress of Colo took place, an intermicronational event that aimed to create standardized procedures for diplomacy, economics, micronational sovereignty and other elements of the State. The largest micronational projects identified as derivatives on the American continent participated in this event, namely: the Great Republic of Delvera, the North American Confederation and the Karno-Ruthenian Empire.
Named as “Resolution on Micronational Sovereignty”, it was written by the participants of the congress, considering that there are micronations and macronations with their established duties and responsibilities, but that do not overlap, and that since micronations would have power to be exercised over the social, cultural and economic spheres, the micronational authority would be based entirely on the consent of the governed and not through the “use of force”, a typical characteristic of the coercive power of the “classic” State.
Also, verifying that micronational laws are applied through sanctions agreed via consensus ad idem and according to macronational restrictions on violence (since, as previously stated, micronations have no coercive power), micronations do not ignore that their citizens micronationals also have macronational citizenship and, therefore, considering that macronations do not tolerate challenges to their authority in the form of secessionist or separatist movements (and that this does not necessarily need to be the goal of a respectable micronational project), micronational governments that effectively stand as “servants” of the citizens who made themselves available by manifest of will and conscience, they must protect their citizens from unnecessary difficulties and persecutions at the hands of macronations in relation to irresponsible micronationalist movements, with remarkable observation to the so-called “secessionists” projects instead of “derivatives”.
By this logic, so-called micronational sovereignty and macronational sovereignty would not mutually exclude each other, but would coexist and apply where it is possible and, in cases where micronations sought the status of Macronational State, there would be a change in their authority base and, therefore, of its national character.
That said, it would be impossible not to recognize that micronational governments do not maintain the monopoly on the use of force exerted by macronations and that they would be under the jurisdiction of the affected macronation laws and would bear the perhaps mistaken identification as being a movement that sought to usurp the monopoly of macronational force, which would naturally extrapolate the micronational bias of any project. Naturally, the resolution would not apply to the right of self-determination of any person or people, or of their representative government.
The theory reverberated in some micronations. In addition to the micronations that subscribe the resolution, the Community of Deseret, the Republic of West Who, the Empire of Adammia and the Principality of Ermenstein adopted the theory as part of their philosophy and micropatriological awareness.
As expected, there were also criticisms of the new theory, although incipient. The teen micronationalists Tom McMillan and Will Campbell tried to develop the theory between the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018 to support the movement that they themselves sought to stimulate, called in a very short article as “New Secessionism”. It turns out that for his great ambitions, the theory did not fit in because it seemed “simulationist in nature”, ignoring the most basic precepts of the theory: micronations cannot coerce citizens and cannot compete with macronations for the use of force.
For these critics, the resolution directly confronted the idea that micronations should become independent. Despite this argument, it is interesting to note that the micronational project led by these critics had mythological elements and emulated the economy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain, which would bring it the classic classification of semi-peculiar micronation. Despite the irony brought by the facts, the project collapsed, allegedly existing from 2014 to mid-2019.
Another aspect raised by these critics to “improve” the theory or “make it applicable” was the comparison with the principle of tribal sovereignty in the United States. A mistake, of course: although the government treats some indigenous tribes as “domestic dependent nations”, this concept creates authority inherent in the tribes to self-regulate tribal matters only, which can be seen, at best, as limited autonomy.
The parallel plane theory, like all theories, is not an absolute reproduction of the truth and tends to be developed, improved or adapted, but it is undeniable that it corresponds to practice: micronations arise and their governments develop capacity as citizens join the project and they offer government officials the privilege of governing them, which, yes, means delegating power and authority to them, insofar as they accept that power and authority. Otherwise, whether due to an absolute inability to enforce authority or a complete absence of citizens, under these circumstances it no longer relies on its state form, since a basic element to be classified in this way is to have a physical population and control over the region that complains. Without a control force and without a population that accepts this force, there is neither micronation nor macronation.
Common to all areas of human expertise, the understanding of micronational activity is altered by time, space and the perception of how this type of activity influences the two mentioned elements and everything that is verified, with special emphasis on man: changeable by nature, adaptable by situation and non-conformed by instinct.
Micronationalism is, to a certain extent, a living manifestation of the “ideal State” that we would like to insert ourselves, a fact confirmed by the numerous requests for citizenship that micronations receive daily from “nonconformists”. Not that they really think about moving to a micronation, but this acquired citizenship becomes a piece of resistance, a manifestation of principles. And micronationalism is just that.
Despite the fact that there are dozens of possible nomenclatures, the ones mentioned here being potentially predecessors of many others yet to come, the micronational movement can be synthesized as a more or less serious simulation of a State, even though it evokes the goal of constituting a Nation, with greater or lesser success. The way this happens, as well as the differences between peoples, is so particular that it does not seem coherent to call projects with this ethos as “micronational” or “non-micronational”.
Every project can, and to some extent must be classified, but it is undeniable that every system tends to be renewed and adapted through new realities that arise and micronationalism does not escape this rule.
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