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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.
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.
New Secessionism is a strand within the secessionist school of micropatrology that holds micronations are fundamentally different in character to conventional sovereign states; some forms of New Secessionism include the parallel plane theory, discussed in greater detail below. The terms micronation and model country are terms of art in New Secessionism and are defined in different ways: a micronation is a small political community of individuals sharing a common cultural tradition who collectively identify as a nation; soveriegn states based on micronations are micronation-states, and self-described micronations not based on organic cultural groups are model countries. Micronations are distinguished from conventional nations by their much smaller sizes, shorter histories, and according to proponents of the parallel plane theory, existence on a distinct 'plane of sovereignty'.
Parallel plane theory
Some forms of New Secessionism endorse the parallel plane theory, which states that micronations exist on a parallel plane of sovereignty to conventional sovereign states that is also occupied by cultural groups, which are seen as the micronational equivalent of stateless societies.
The Resolution on Micronational Sovereignty, which was written by a joint delegation from micronations including Delvera, defines micronations in opposition to conventional sovereign states, and makes reference to the "separate, parallel planes" of sovereignty that are key to New Secessionism:
|“|| 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" (conventional sovereign states), the Resolution fails to explain on what basis micronations do operate, and although it implies that consensus of its citizens is a key part of their basis for "punishments," it does not elaborate on this enough to provide a reasonable basis for a political philosophy. It could also be read as Simulationist in nature, as it directly challenges the idea that micronations should seek to become conventional sovereign states, which is the basis for conventional Secessionism. Finding this interpretation of the Resolution unsatisfying, the Planning Board argued that the line "Micronations which seek macronational status alter their basis of authority" legitimises the implication that micronations had the right to govern themselves with an authority that was separate from that of sovereign states.
Carter argued that this basis was the same as that claimed by the GCA. The GCA defined itself as a non-sovereign entity under international law, operating within the law of the United Kingdom. The GCA's political purpose was to formalise the existing self-determination of Acteriendia: the UK can, and has, exercised de facto rule over the cultural group and its members without restraint, and, by its own legal and constitutional standards, it has exercised such rule de jure; however, the Group, an entity that existed at the time of the GCA's foundation as an unofficial ruling council for the "superstructure" of three linked cultural groups including Acteriendia, also exercised control over the cultural group and its members. This self-determination, argued the GCA, was the result of the distinct culture and traditions of the cultural group which had a tradition of self-rule that was never challenged by the government of the UK. Therefore, it was within the law of the UK to create an organisation that took this legally unofficial but undoubtedly existent power (known in a GCA legal context as the Executive) and use it as the basis for a legal system and bureaucracy, in the same way that the UK's government and law stem from the previously less-defined but always accepted power of the Crown. The GCA initially positioned itself as an organisation using this power in an abstract way in opposition to the Group, but after the April 2017 controversy functioned more like a national government, using the Executive as the basis for a form of legal self-determination that resembled tribal sovereignty in the United States.
Arguing along similar but distinct lines, Campbell compared the Resolution's "basis of authority" to the Confucian concept of li (this comparison is discussed in detail further in the article) and also to the international legal principle of the formalisation of the status quo, which was argued on the basis of a paper released by Chatham House (the Royal Institute of International Affairs in the United Kingdom). He said that cultural groups, including Acteriendia, could be compared to stateless societies or chiefdoms, in that they had a shared culture and set of traditions that formed the basis for the unofficial and fluctuating authority of a leader within that group. He therefore attributed the decline of "the Group," which Carter suggested had been usurped by the GCA, to the collapse of the shared cultural traditions following the April 2017 controversy; without traditions and observances, micronational governments, which like Carter he suggested were an example of this "sovereignty of cultural groups" being channeled via an organised and codified system, were meaningless without being rooted in the culture and traditions of a cultural group. This more Confucian-influenced New Secessionism would go on to be more popular in Glastieve as the new country attempted to distance itself from the GCA's failures whilst preserving continuity.
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).