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A micronation is a political entity that claims to be a sovereign state but is not recognised as such by the wider international community. Micronations are treated as distinct from conventional unrecognised states, although there is no widespread consensus within micropatriology over what exactly constitutes a micronation or distinguishes it from other unrecognised states. Broadly speaking, micronations are created and developed as a hobby, with their claims to sovereignty considered trivial enough to be ignored by the conventional sovereign states whose territory they claim; micronations whose ultimate goal is to receive international recognition as sovereign states are termed secessionist, and micronations without this goal are termed simulationist.
Micronations have existed since the 19th century, with the practice of micronationalism growing immensely in the early 21st century as the creation and maintenance of micronations became a relatively mainstream hobby and the Internet facilitated the emergence of an online micronational community. Some well-known micronations, including Sealand and Liberland, exist outside this online community; others, including Austenasia, and Molossia, regularly attend micronational events and have a developed online presence. The majority of English-speaking micronations are part of the MicroWiki sector, which has existed since 2005, and have not achieved widespread notoriety.
Some distinguish micronations from model countries, reserving the term micronation for those entities which are based on a cultural group. Where this distinction exists, many less developed projects that describe themselves as micronations are defined instead as model countries because they are not based on an organic community that is analogous to a real-life nation. Originating in new secessionism, this distinction became widely but not universally accepted when it was included in the Campbell-McMillan standard.
Most soruces define micronations as, broadly, self-declared countries not recognised by other states or international organisations like the United Nations. Wikipedia and WorldAtlas.com both define a micronation as an "entity that claims to be an independent nation or state but is not recognized by world governments or major international organizations". On its main page, MicroWiki defines micronations as "small and often rather eccentric nations that are unrecognised by the wider international community" and in its article Micronation defines a micronation as a "political entity that claims to be a sovereign state but is not recognised as such by the wider international community".
Interactive geofiction is a hobby centred around the creation of model countries claiming territory on fictional planets. Most interactive geofictionalists consider their activities to be a form of micronationalism, although the present consensus among mainstream micronationalists is that geofiction is not micronationalism. Many interactive geofictionalists part of the Micras Sector have at various points been on the periphery of the MicroWiki community from its foundation in 2005, with the Organisation of Active Micronations spearheading increased links between the communities in 2011; since the second rise of the Grand Unified Micronational in 2012, however, the distinction between micronationalism and geofiction has been more sharply drawn within MicroWiki.
MicrasWiki (the Micras Sector's equivalent to MicroWiki), for example, claims on its main page to be "home to micronationalism". The homepage goes on to define "micronationalism" as a synonym for interactive geofiction. The word 'micronational' is frequently used in the name of organisations in the Micras Sector, with examples including the Micronational Cartography Society (the main governing body of Micras), the First Micronational Bank, and the Royal Institute of Micronational Antiquities. Almost all of the 'nations' claiming territory on Micras self-identify as micronations, and many older nations have articles on MicroWiki dating from the pre-2012 era of closeness between the communities.
In attempting to resolve this contention over whether or not interactive geofiction is micronationalism, some individuals in the Micras Sector have written micropatriological works that classify Micras-based nations as simulationist micronations, whilst arguing that definitions of micronations that exclude geofictional micronations are profoundly secessionist in nature. James Richter, secretary of the Micronational Cartography Society from 2005–07, expressed an early form of this argument in Micronational Theory (September 2006). This essay explains that micronationalism originated out of 'secessionist micronations', who claimed real territory, but that it evolved as 'simulationist micronations' arrived.
After explaining how online micronations are a logical evolution in human communication, Richter then calls Babkha "the first simulationist nation", saying "It created its entire history, and created an entire world for itself. the Seccesionists who were rapidly becomming old and were beggining to vanish from the Micronational scene were outraged by this turn of events. since at that time it was socially unacceptable to make up your own history and exist within the confines of the internet alone". He concludes that "after several years simulationism became larger then seccesionism", and claims that the latter no longer represents the mainstream of micronationalism.
Parallel plane theory
The parallel plane theory is a micropatriological position within new secessionism that states that micronations exist on a separate, parallel plane of sovereignty to macronations, and that their territorial claims are therefore not mutually exclusive. The theory was laid out in the Resolution on Micronational Sovereignty, which was drafted by a joint delegation from nations including the Karno-Ruthenian Empire, and was developed by the joint effort of Tom McMillan and Will Campbell during December 2017 and January 2018. Micronations that endorse the theory include the Karno-Ruthenian Empire, the Commonwealth of Deseret, and the Republic of West Who; it was also briefly endorsed by the Second Republic of Glastieve.
The parallel plane theory in micropatriology began in 2017 with the Resolution on Micronational Sovereignty, which was written by a joint delegation from micronations including the Consulate of Delvera and the Karno-Ruthenian Empire, and attempted to define micronations in opposition to macronations by making reference to the idea that they "exist on separate, parallel planes":
Whereas micronations and macronations exist on separate, parallel planes whereby their duties and responsibilities do not overlap; and
Whereas micronations have sovereign power which is exerted in the social, cultural, and economic realms; and
Whereas micronational authority is entirely based on the consent of the governed rather than a monopoly on force; and
Whereas micronational laws are enforced through the implementation of punishments agreed to via consensus ad idem and pursuant to macronational restrictions on violence; and
Whereas all micronational citizens hold macronational citizenship; and
Whereas macronations generally do not tolerate challenges to their authority in the manner of true secessionism or separatism; and
Whereas micronational governments, as true servants of the people, should protect their citizens from unnecessary hardship and persecution at the hands of macronations in relation to movements of secession;
Therefore, micronational sovereignty and macronational sovereignty do not preclude one another; and
Micronations which seek macronational status alter their basis of authority, and therefore their national character; and
Micronational governments do not hold a monopoly on force to the exclusion of separate, macronational authorities where such authorities claim jurisdiction in a given case; and
Micronations should not identify as a movement which seeks to usurp the macronational monopoly of force.
However, despite defining the ways in which micronations are not macronations, the Resolution failed to expand upon its practical observations about the nature of micronational governments to provide a theoretical basis for micronational sovereignty. It could also be read as simulationist in nature, as it directly challenged the idea that micronations should seek to become macronations, which is the basis for conventional secessionism. Finding this interpretation of the Resolution unsatisfying, in December 2017 and January 2018, Tom McMillan and Will Campbell developed the parallel plane theory within the theoretical framework of new secessionism. McMillan advanced a theory that applied the principle of tribal sovereignty in the United States to the sovereignty that new secessionism assigns to cultural groups, while Campbell aimed to ground the parallel plane theory in Confucian ethics and international law.
Both later renounced the theory as contrary to secessionism, but it was adopted later in 2018 by the Commonwealth of Deseret and the Republic of West Who. Deseret, which had existed since 2012, declared in a 2018 amendment to its constitution that it "existed imperium in imperio within the United States" (imperium in imperio is Latin for "a state within a state"). West Who used the same theory developed and later renounced by McMillan, writing on MicroWiki that "the Republic of West Who refers to itself as a "domestic dependent nation," claiming status similar to a Native American tribal nation in the USA".
There has been a small but growing amount of attention paid to the micronation phenomenon in recent years. Most interest in academic circles has been concerned with studying the apparently anomalous legal situations affecting such entities as Sealand and the Hutt River Province, in exploring how some micronations represent grassroots political ideas, and in the creation of role-playing entities for instructional purposes.
In 2000, Professor Fabrice O'Driscoll, of the Aix-Marseille University, published a book about micronations: Ils ne siègent pas à l'ONU ("They are not in the United Nations"), with more than 300 pages dedicated to the subject.
Several recent publications have dealt with the subject of particular historic micronations, including Republic of Indian Stream (University Press), by Dartmouth College geographer Daniel Doan, The Land that Never Was, about Gregor MacGregor, and the Principality of Poyais, by David Sinclair (ISBN 0-7553-1080-2).
In May 2000, an article in the New York Times entitled "Utopian Rulers, and Spoofs, Stake Out Territory Online" brought the phenomenon to a wider audience for the first time. Similar articles were published by newspapers such as the French Liberation, the Italian La Repubblica, the Greek "Ta Nea", by O Estado de São Paulo in Brazil, and Portugal's Visão at around the same time.
The Democratic Empire of Sunda, which claims to be the Government of the Kingdom of Sunda (an ancient kingdom, in present-day Indonesia) in exile in Switzerland, made media headlines when two so-called princesses, Lamia Roro Wiranatadikusumah Siliwangi Al Misri, 21, and Fathia Reza Wiranatadikusumah Siliwangi Al Misiri, 23, were detained by Malaysian authorities at the border with Brunei, on 13 July 2007, and are charged for entering the country without a valid pass.
Conferences, summits, exhibitions and meetings
In August 2003 a Summit of Micronations took place in Helsinki at Finlandia Hall, the site of the Conference for Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE). The summit was attended by delegations such as the Principality of Sealand, Neue Slowenische Kunst|NSK, Ladonia, the Transnational Republic, and by scholars from various academic institutions.
From 7 November through 17 December 2004, the Reg Vardy Gallery at the University of Sunderland hosted an exhibition on the subject of micronational group identity and symbolism. The exhibition focused on numismatic, philatelic and vexillological artefacts, as well as other symbols and instruments created and used by a number of micronations from the 1950s through to the present day. A summit of micronations conducted as part of this exhibition was attended by representatives of Sealand, Elgaland-Vargaland, New Utopia, Atlantium, Frestonia and Fusa. The exhibition was reprised at the Andrew Kreps Gallery in New York City from 24 June–29 July of the following year. Another exhibition about micronations opened at Paris' Palais de Tokyo in early 2007.
The Sunderland summit was later featured in a 5-part BBC light entertainment television series called "How to Start Your Own Country" presented by Danny Wallace. The series told the story of Wallace's experience of founding a micronation, Lovely, located in his London flat. It screened in the UK in August 2005. Similar programs have also aired on television networks in other parts of Europe.
On 9 September 2006, The Guardian newspaper reported that the travel guide company Lonely Planet had published the world's first travel guide devoted to micronations, the Lonely Planet Guide to Home-Made Nations (ISBN 1741047307).