Benjamin Pickles

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Benjamin Thomas Pickles

Benjamin Pickles in August 2021.jpg
Pickles in 2021
1st President of Benjastan
Assumed office
30 December 2017
Vice PresidentSha'uri Ellis
Preceded byHimself (as King of the DKB)
1st President of West River
In office
17 October 2020 – 21 October 2021
First MinisterLogan Jack
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Chairman of the Picklist International
Assumed office
4 February 2021
Preceded byOffice established
1st Premier of Florania
Assumed office
3 December 2020
MonarchIsabella I
Preceded byHimself (as President)
Co-leader of the Socialist Labour Party
Assumed office
2 December 2020
Serving with Saionji Kintsune
DeputyRoy Jackson
Arden Zwählen
Preceded byOffice established
5th President of Florania
In office
14 November 2020 – 3 December 2020
Vice PresidentTom Mark
Preceded byEmmeline Marino
Succeeded byHimself (as Premier)
6th Vice President of Florania
In office
28 September 2020 – 14 November 2020
PresidentAddison Dillon (2020 - 2020)
Emmeline Marino (2020 - 2020)
Preceded byTom Mark
Succeeded byTom Mark
Personal details
Born1 May 2007 (2007-05-01) (age 14)
McMaster Children's Hospital, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Citizenship
NationalityBritish-Canadian
Political party
ChildrenRaphaël Olivier (adopted)
ParentsIan Pickles (father)
Karyn Pickles (mother)
RelativesMolly Pickles (sister)
Military service
Allegiance Benjastan
Branch/serviceBenjastanian Army
Years of service2018–2020
RankComandante
Battles/warsFirst Benjastan-Mollyopolis War
Second Benjastan-Mollyopolis War
Shriyak Skirmish

Benjamin Thomas Pickles LH NMH POE (born 1 May 2007) is a British-Canadian micronationalist, politician, activist, diplomat, and statesman who has served as the 1st President of Benjastan since 2017. He was the de-facto leader of the Party for Socialism and Liberty from 2018 until Benjastan's adoption of a non-partisan government in late 2020. Benjastan later returned to a partisan system, following a second referendum, leading Pickles to create the Picklista National Liberation Front. He has also served as the 1st President of West River, since October 2020, which he co-founded with Logan Jack.

He served as the 5th President of Florania from November to December 2020 after the resignation of Emmeline Marino, as the 6th Vice President of Florania, as a member of the National Congress of Georgienstine since July 2020, as the First Secretary of Bryantia since December 2020, as a minister in the Cabinet of Aswington since December 2020, and as the President of the Windovian Chamber of Representatives from September 2020 until December 2020. He is running for president of Georgienstine in the 2021 election.

Macronationally, Pickles is a political and environmental activist. He leads the school strike for climate movement in his hometown. Ideologically, he identifies as a Picklist; a Marxist; and an eco-socialist. He holds British citizenship due to the fact that his father was born in the United Kingdom and was a citizen at the time of Pickles' birth. Pickles lives in southwestern Ontario, Canada.

On 10 May 2021, Pickles announced that he would not seek a third term as president of Benjastan.

Early life

Pickles was born in Hamilton, Ontario to Karyn Pickles, a writer, and Ian Pickles, an insurance sales director. He first learned about micronations from the book How To Build Your Own Country by Valerie Wyatt, which he found in his elementary school library. The evening after he read the book, Pickles founded the Democratic Kingdom of Benjastan.

Micronational career

Benjastan

Pickles founded Benjastan on 16 October 2017. Originally a monarchy, Pickles was the King of Benjastan until 30 December 2017, when the congress voted, at his request, to become the Democratic Republic of Benjastan.[b][1] He was appointed by a unanimous vote of the Congress of Benjastan as the country's first president.

He was a member of the Party for Socialism and Liberty, which was formerly known as the Workers' Party, from 2018 until 2020, when Benjastan adopted a non-partisan government. Throughout his administration, Benjastan has seen rapid growth, especially after the creation of its discord server in January 2020.

2018 - 2019

Pickles, who was visiting family in Germany for Christmas when he became president, returned home in early January. Several of Benjastan's extended territories declared independence in the coming months; including Jackaanadia, and Logastan, which were led by former classmates of Pickles. He, King Miles of Jackaanadia, and President Logan Jack of Logastan, founded the Union of Unrecognized Sovereign States, an economic and military pact.

Benjastan-Mollyopolis Wars

The first test of this union came in April 2018, when Benjastan was hit by an unprovoked attack from the Queendom of Mollyopolis, which was led by Pickles' younger sister, Molly. This led to the First Benjastan-Mollyopolis War, in which the UUSS took the side of Benjastan against the attacking Mollyopolans. UUSS forces pushed back to Mollyopolis, where Queen Molly announced her surrender. The countries signed a peace treaty, which forced Mollyopolis to pay reparations in the form of Benjastanian money and Mollyopolan-made weapons.

Several weeks later, Pickles accused Queen Molly of not following the treaty, as Mollyopolis had not provided any of the reparations. In response, the Queen ripped the treaty apart, and said that she would not follow it. This sparked the Second Benjastan-Mollyopolis War. The UUSS was believed to be winning once again, but the war stopped when the parents of the two leaders threatened "sanctions" if they would not stop the war. They obliged, and peace was established without a treaty.

MicroCon 2019
Pickles with Eric Lis at MicroCon 2019.

Pickles had first expressed interest in attending MicroCon when he learned from a Youtube video that the next one was planned to be in Toronto. In Spring 2019, Pickles signed up to attend the convention with his father Ian on behalf of Benjastan. Pickles met several fellow micronationalists; including Eric Lis, Tovor Kimoyna, and most notably, Kevin Baugh. During MicroCon, Pickles was interviewed by the Youtube channel Not Exactly Normal, and was featured in a video about the event.[2]. This led to Pickles, as well as Benjastan itself, becoming relatively well-known in the micronational community.

Late 2019 - early 2020

In November 2019, Shriyak Kashyap, a classmate of Pickles', declared a coup against the Benjastanian government. In response, Pickles declared war against Kashyap and the coup,[3] leading to what is known as the Shriyak Skirmish. The conflict consisted only of a brief altercation, and hostilies ceased only a few days after the declaration of war. The conflict officially ended several weeks later.

In early 2020, large infrastructure renovations began in mainland Benjastan, which consisted at the time of Pickles' bedroom. Because he was unable to live in Benjastan during this time, Pickles was granted the right to reside in Mollyopolis for the duration of the renovations.

On Earth Day 2020, a summit was held between the leaders of Benjastan and Mollyopolis. During this meeting, Pickles proposed that the two countries merge, with Mollyopolis becoming a state in Benjastan, and that they annex the rest of their house as part of the country. Queen Molly agreed, and Benjastan's territory grew exponentially.

On 11 December 2020, he announced his proposal for a new Benjastanian constitution, which would change the government system to a semi-direct democratic socialist republic governed by workers' councils.[4] The new constitution was ratified by a supermajority vote among the people of Benjastan, and an election for the People's National Council was scheduled for January 2021. In January 2021, a referendum passed which returned the country's partyisan system. Following the vote, Pickles created the Picklista National Liberation Front.

West River

Pickles first discussed the idea of forming a new micronation on 12 September 2020 in a Discord voice call with Logan Jack. Jack, who had recently dissolved his micronation, Logastan, agreed with the idea. They began planning the micronation, and after several weeks, decided on the name "West River Confederation", based on the fact that they lived to the west of the Grand River. Pickles and Jack announced their intention to create the new micronation in Benjastan's Discord server on 10 October 2020.

The constitution, which Pickles wrote, was ratified unanimously on 12 October 2020. Pickles was elected as the country's first president in a landslide in the 17 October presidential election. Pickles' first term has focused on establishing West River as a member of the micronational community, and he is expected to win re-election.

Georgienstine

Benjamin Pickles became a citizen of Georgienstine on 17 June 2020, after he had become friends with its president, Raphaël Olivier. At the time, Georgienstine was still a monarchy known as Syldavia. Pickles joined the Syldavian Workers' United Front, which had been founded the same day by Paris Wright. However, shortly after Pickles joined, Syldavia changed its name to Georgienstine and became a democratic republic, leading to the dissolution the country's political parties. Because of this, Pickles formed the Workers’ and Farmers’ Party of Georgienstine, an agrarian socialist and populist party, under which Pickles was elected the first governor of Augustine.

Logo of Pickles' 2020 presidential campaign.

On 2 July 2020, the Workers' and Farmers' Party merged with the Socialist Democratic Party of Georgienstine to form the new Labour Party. The party won two seats in the July 2020 congressional election, coming in second place behind Olivier's Nationalist Party. Pickles was elected to the National Senate on the same day, where he became the minority leader.

2020 presidential campaign

Immediately after founding the Labour Party, Benjamin Pickles announced that he would run for president of Georgienstine, with Caucasia governor and former SDP leader Gus Rósínśtí as his running mate. To support his campaign, Pickles and Benifecent Party leader Logan Blanc formed the Working Families coalition between their two parties.

Pickles' campaign focused on his support for the Black Lives Matter movement and police reform. He debated Olivier on 15 July,[5] and was perceived by many to have won the debate, as he has been praised as a talented public speaker. The majority of polling throughout the election campaign showed double-digit leads for Olivier, though one Georgienstine News Corporation poll showed Pickles behind by only two points.

Pickles was defeated by Raphaël Olivier in the 16 July presidential election. The results were announced by the Georgienstinian News Corporation on 18 July, which showed that Olivier had won 7 votes and 58.3% to Pickles' 5 votes and 41.7%. Pickles conceded defeat on that day, and pledged to continue working with the Olivier administration.

Post-2020 election

Shortly after the 2020 election, Pickles was appointed by President Olivier as Secretary of Agriculture, becoming the first opposition member of the cabinet. He also announced that he was strongly considering another presidential bid in the next election, which at the time was scheduled for 2022.

Pickles faced a tough re-election as Governor of Augustine in the August 2020 gubernatorial elections. The Nationalist Party candidate, Isaiah Burdette, was removed by the party after he faced criticism for saying Pickles would bring "anarchy" as governor, despite Pickles saying "I am not an anarchist" immediately before. After being removed as the Nationalist candidate and replaced by former secretary Andrew Mountain, Burdette continued running for governor as an independent. Pickles' other opponent was Humanist Party candidate Addison Dillon, who had run a brief campaign for president in the 2020 election.

Labour-Democratic Party and departure from Georgienstine

The Liberal Party of Georgienstinian was founded as a moderate breakaway faction of the Labour Party on 27 July 2020. It saw a surge in support, with members joining from both the Nationalist and Labour parties. Liberal leader Jimmy Foodle agreed to join the Working Families coalition, which also grew to include the Red Dawn Party and Les Populeux, a briefly existing left-wing populist party led by Paris Wright.

Members of the Working Families coalition, which had achieved its highest number of members in history, voted to form a big-tent left political party known as the "Labour-Democratic Party". The party was officially social democratic, but had many ideological factions, ranging from the centre to the far-left. Pickles was elected as the first leader of the largest left-wing party in Georgienstinian history. However, cracks began to form when several centrist members left the party and joined the Nationalists, likely having been promised cabinet positions, most notable of which was the campaign manager for Pickles' 2020 presidential campaign, Tom Mark.

The Labour-Democratic Party was crushed in the August 2020 gubernatorial elections, losing all but one of its governorships. Pickles lost re-election as governor of Augustine to Andrew Mountain. He left Georgienstine for unrelated reasons on 12 August 2020, citing the effect of "toxicity" and the country's right-wing dominance on his mental health.

Return to Georgienstine and creation of the MFS

Pickles rejoined Georgienstine on 26 August 2020 after he was convinced to do so by Raphaël Olivier. He formed a new party with several former Labour members known as the Movement for Socialism. Pickles returned to his position as Secretary of Agriculture, and declared his candidacy for president in the next election. Ten days later, he returned to the National Senate after winning a seat in the September 2020 senatorial election.

MFS was the fasted growing party in Georgienstinian history after its founding, growing to be 12 members strong. It formed a libertarian-unity coalition with Ariel Albert Lederman's Libertarian Party, known as the Georgienstinian Democratic Coalition, for the November 2020 elections. The coalition was unsuccesful in its attempt to take the majority in the newly-unicameral congress. Paris Wright, who had negotiated on behalf of the MFS to found the coalition, left Georgienstine in late-November, dealing a heavy blow to the stability of the coalition. On 2 December 2020, the Libertarian Party withdrew from the coalition, with their leader directly naming "Picklist influence on the party" as the reason he withdrew.

Socialist Labour Party

Logo of the Socialist Labour Party.

Shortly after the Libertarian Party withdrew from the GDC, Addison Dillon, who had joined the Movement for Socialism in October, left the party and announced that she and Lederman would form a big-tent party known as the New Democratic Party of Georgienstine. After this happened, Pickles contacted fellow representative Gaia Grìbhinneach to discuss the possibility of creating a new far-left party, to which Grìbhinneach agreed. The MFS voted to dissolve that afternoon, immediately after which Pickles and Grìbhinneach announced the creation of the Socialist Labour Party.

After this dramatic series of events, Pickles proposed a bill in the National Congress of Georgienstine to hold a snap congressional election that weekend, as a third of congress was now occupied by parties that did not exist during the previous election. The bill passed, but was vetoed by President Olivier because it did not allow a long-enough campaign time in accordance with Georgienstine's election rules. Olivier instead called a snap election on 18 December 2020. The SLP tied with the New Democratic Party with three seats in the election, though with a slightly smaller percentage of the popular vote.

2021 presidential campaign

Logo of Pickles' 2021 presidential campaign.

Pickles had withdrawn from the presidential campaign on 2 December, prior to that day's later events, saying that he did not have time to run a campaign at the time; but may unsuspend his campaign closer to the election. On December 5, he announced through Georgienstine's People's Voice newspaper that he would be making an unspecified announcement in a press conference the next day. The next morning, Pickles held the press conference, announcing that he would re-enter the 2021 presidential campaign, with Gaia Grìbhinneach as his running mate. He released his campaign platform later that day.[6]

Pickles defeated Paris Wright in the Socialist Labour Party primary, and will be officially nominated at the party's convention. He has promised to hold a primary for the vice presidential nomination.

Political views

Pickles has often expressed annoyance about his difficulty finding a political ideology that fits his specific views. His political views sit in the libertarian left quadrant of the political compass, with environmentalism and confederalism being important tenants of his beliefs.

Pickles has described his views variously as libertarian socialism, libertarian Marxism, Luxemburgism, agrarian socialism, and Christian socialism. Because his dissatisfaction with established political ideologies, Pickles created Picklism, a political philosophy based on his views. He describes Picklism as "pro-electoral environmentalist libertarian socialist confederalism".

Macronational political affilation

Pickles canvassed for the Green Party in the 2019 Canadian federal election, but expressed dissatisfaction with the party's embrace of centrism. Following the 2020 leadership election, in which centre-left candidate Annamie Paul defeated eco-socialist Dmitri Lascaris, he announced that he was leaving the party and instead supporting the New Democratic Party.[7] Pickles became a registered member of the NDP in 2021 and canvassed for the party in the federal election that year.

He has expressed interest in running for the Canadian Parliament as a member of the New Democratic Party in the first federal election after his eighteenth birthday, which is currently scheduled to be 2025, but would change if the next election is called early. He has also expressed interest in running for mayor of Brant County in 2026, if the current mayor, David Bailey, whom Pickles supports, retires or does not win re-election in 2022.

Endorsements

Election Endorsement Party Winner
Ontario 2018 general election Andrea Horwath NDP Doug Ford
County of Brant.svg Brant 2018 mayoral election David Bailey Non-partisan David Bailey
Toronto 2018 mayoral election Jennifer Keesmat Non-partisan John Tory
Prince Edward Island 2019 general election Peter Bevan Baker Green Dennis King
Canada 2019 federal election Elizabeth May Green Justin Trudeau
United Kingdom 2019 general election Jeremy Corbyn Labour Boris Johnson
United States 2020 Democratic primaries Bernie Sanders Democratic Joe Biden
Bolivia 2020 general election Luis Arce MAS Luis Arce
United States 2020 presidential election Joe Biden Democratic Joe Biden
Flag of Georgia (U.S. state).svg Georgia 2020–21 Senate election Jon Ossoff Democratic Jon Ossoff
Flag of Georgia (U.S. state).svg Georgia 2020–21 Senate special election Raphael Warnock Democratic Raphael Warnock
Portugal 2021 presidential election Marisa Matias Left Bloc Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa
Ecuador 2021 general election Andrés Arauz MRC Guillermo Lasso
Israel 2021 legislative election Nitzan Horowitz Meretz Naftali Bennett
Peru 2021 general election Pedro Castillo Free Peru Pedro Castillo
Norway 2021 parliamentary election Audun Lysbakken Socialist Left Jonas Gahr Støre
Canada 2021 federal election Jagmeet Singh NDP Justin Trudeau
Iceland 2021 parliamentary election Katrín Jakobsdóttir Left-Green TBD
Germany 2021 federal election Katja Kipping
Bernd Riexinger
The Left TBD
Chile 2021 general election Gabriel Boric Social Convergence TBD

Personal life

Pickles suffers from mild autism spectrum disorder, anxiety, and ADHD. His younger sister Molly is the Queen of Kiwia. He intends to study political science and journalism at McGill University, and to later persue a career in electoral politics.

Pickles' family is of English, Scottish, Norwegian, Swedish, and Welsh descent.[8]

Religion

Pickles identifies as a “progressive Christian”, and is a member of the United Church of Canada and the United Church of Benjastan. He supports liberation theology, and believes Christianity is inherently socialist. Pickles identifies strongly with the theological views of Bishop John Shelby Spong, for which Pickles has invented the term “Spongism”.

Notes

  1. Supports but is not a formal member
  2. During its time as a republic, Benjastan has been known by various long-form names, including the "Republic of Benjastan" and the "Democratic Republic of the United Benjastanian States", due to poor record keeping. Its official name is the "Democratic Republic of Benjastan".

References