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The Evolutionary Perspective
Category Archives: Micronations
Posted: May 24, 2020 at 3:22 pm
A micronation, sometimes referred to as a model country or new country project, is an entity that claims to be an independent nation or state but is not generally recognized by world governments or major international organizations.
Micronations are distinguished from imaginary countries and from other kinds of social groups (such as eco-villages, campuses, tribes, clans, and sects) by expressing a formal and persistent, even if unrecognized, claim of sovereignty over some physical territory. Micronations are also distinct from true secessionist movements; micronations' activities are almost always peaceful enough to be ignored rather than challenged by the established nations whose territory they claim.
Several micronations have issued coins, flags, postage stamps, passports, and other items. These items are rarely accepted outside their own community, but may be sold as novelties to help raise money or collected by enthusiasts.
The earliest known micronations date from the beginning of the 19th century. The advent of the Internet provided the means for people to create many new micronations, whose members are scattered all over the world and interact mostly by electronic means, often calling their nations "nomadic countries". The differences between such Internet micronations, other kinds of social networking groups, and role-playing games are sometimes difficult to define.
The term "micronation" to describe those entities dates at least to the 1970s. The term micropatriology is sometimes used to describe the study of both micronations and microstates by micronationalists, some of whom refer to sovereign nation-states as "macronations."
The term 'micronation' literally means "small nation." It is a neologism originating in the mid-1970s to describe the many thousands of small unrecognised state-like entities that have mostly arisen since that time.
The term has since also come to be used retrospectively to refer to earlier unrecognized entities, some of which date to as far back as the 19th century. Amongst supporters of micronations ("micronationalists") the term "macronation" is in common use to refer to any internationally recognised sovereign nation-state.
Not all micronations are small; some can be rather large, like Westarctica, or those with claims on other planets.
Micronations generally have a number of common features, although these may vary widely. They may have a structure similar to established sovereign states, including territorial claims, government institutions, official symbols and citizens, albeit on a much smaller scale. Micronations are often quite small, in both their claimed territory and claimed populations although there are some exceptions to this rule, with different micronations having different methods of citizenship. Micronations may also issue formal instruments such as postage stamps, coins, banknotes and passports, and bestow honors and titles of nobility.
The Montevideo Convention on the Right and Duties of States was one attempt to create a legal definition distinguishing between states and non-states. Some micronations like Sealand or Hutt River reject the term "micronation" and consider themselves fully sovereign states (feigning ignorance of the political reality of their condition); other micronations like Flandrensis or Molossia have no desire to be recognized as sovereign to the same degree as UN member states.
A small number of micronations are founded based on historical anomalies or on legal anomalies (deriving from disputed interpretations of law). These types of micronations are usually located on small (usually disputed) territorial enclaves, generate limited economic activity founded on[tourism and philatelic and numismatic sales, and are tolerated or ignored by the nations from which they claim to have seceded. This category includes:
The 1960s and 1970s witnessed the foundation of a number of territorial micronations. The first of these, Sealand, was established in 1967 on an abandoned World War II gun platform in the North Sea just off the coast of England, and has survived into the present day. Others were founded on libertarian principles and involved schemes to construct artificial islands, but only a few are known to have had even limited success in realizing that goal.
Micronationalism shed much of its traditionally eccentric anti-establishment mantle and took on a distinctly hobbyist perspective in the mid-1990s, when the emerging popularity of the Internet made it possible to create and promote statelike entities in an entirely electronic medium with relative ease. An early example is the Kingdom of Talossa, a micronation created in 1979 by then-14-year-old Robert Ben Madison, which went online in November 1995, and was reported in the New York Times and other print media in 2000.
The activities of these types of micronations are almost exclusively limited to simulations of diplomatic activity (including the signing of treaties" and participation in inter-micronational organizations such as the League of Micronations) and contribution to wikis. With the introduction of the Internet, many articles on how to create micronations were made available on such wikis, which serve as a hub of online activity for micronations. The most notable wiki for the forum, MicroWiki, was created in 2005.
A number of traditional territorial micronations, including the Hutt River Province, Seborga, and Sealand, maintain websites that serve largely to promote their claims and sell merchandise. In 1999, the MicroFreedom Index, an academic listing of micronations created by Mr. Steven Scharff, went online and has served as a resource for the micronational community for nearly twenty years.
In international law, the Montevideo Convention on the Right and Duties of States sets down the criteria for statehood in article 1.
The state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications:
The first sentence of article 3 of the Montevideo Convention explicitly states that "The political existence of the state is independent of recognition by the other states."
Under these guidelines, any entity which meets all of the criteria set forth in article 1 can be regarded as sovereign under international law, whether or not other states have recognized it.
The Sovereign Military Order of Malta, as an independent subject of international law does not meet all the criteria for recognition as a State (however it does not claim itself a State either), but is and has been recognized as a sovereign nation for centuries.
The doctrine of territorial integrity does not effectively prohibit unilateral secession from established states in international law, per the relevant section from the text of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Final Act, Helsinki Accords or Helsinki Declaration:
IV. Territorial integrity of StatesThe participating States will respect the territorial integrity of each of the participating States.Accordingly, they will refrain from any action inconsistent with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations against the territorial integrity, political independence or the unity of any participating State, and in particular from any such action constituting a threat or use of force.The participating States will likewise refrain from making each other's territory the object of military occupation or other direct or indirect measures of force in contravention of international law, or the object of acquisition by means of such measures or the threat of them. No such occupation or acquisition will be recognized as legal.
In effect, this states that other states (i.e., third parties), may not encourage secession in a state. This does not make any statement as regards persons within a state electing to secede of their own accord.
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 Hutt River, in exploring how some micronations represent grassroots political ideas, and in the creation of role-playing entities for instructional purposes.
Posted: May 6, 2020 at 6:55 am
The absence of tourists on the Pacific islands has plunged the local population into deepening poverty, according to a new report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Thousands of jobs in micronations such as Fiji, Samoa and Tonga are dependent on visitor numbers, which have fallen to zero amid the coronacrisis.
The collapse of global tourism due to the coronavirus epidemic threatens tp plunge masses of people into poverty, especially in small island states across the Pacific.
In its recently-released report, ILO follows a half-yearly forecast by the International Monetary Fund, which slashed global growth projections and predicted a slump unparalleled since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
According to ILO, half the global workforce1.6 billion peopleis in immediate danger of having their livelihoods smashed by the coronacrisis.
Of the total global working population of 3.3 billion, about 2 billion work in the informal economy, often on short-term contracts, freelance or self-employment, and have already suffered a 60 percent collapse in their wages in the first month of the crisis.
The small Pacific economies rely only on the touristic sector, so, thousands of jobs have been lost, with resorts and hotels, and even some airports, closing. Fiji, Palau, Samoa, Vanuatu, Tonga and the Cook Islands are all heavily dependent on travellers.
The ANZ Bank estimates Fiji, where tourism directly employs 150,000 people, will lose about a quarter of all jobs in the country, while Vanuatu will suffer the loss of 40 percent of jobs.
In the Cook Islands, tourism makes up 70 percent of the countrys gross domestic product. According to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), a three-month interruption in travel and trade will mean the Pacific economies contract this year, with Tonga forecast for zero growth.
Taking into account that more than three in four tourism jobs are informal in these countries, thousands of families became just beggars. ILO director-general Guy Rider noted that the economic and social effects of the pandemic discriminate above all against those who are at the bottom end of the world of work, those who dont have protection, those who dont have resources and the basics of what we would call the essentials of a normal life.
According to New Zealand journalist David Robie, many governments in the Pacific, as well as elsewhere, are imposing tough controls under cover of fighting the coronavirus pandemic to strengthen creeping authoritarianism. The moves are no doubt in preparation for growing social unrest.
Concerns have also been raised about Vanuatu, where the government declared it illegal for media outlets to publish reports on coronavirus without government approval, citing the need to prevent the spread of misinformation about the disease.
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Posted: April 8, 2020 at 6:52 am
What is a Micronation?
Micronation is an entity that claims to be a sovereign nation but is not recognized by any other government or major international organization. A micronation formally and persistently agitates for sovereignty over a given territory and is thus differentiated from other social groups.
In modern day, more than 400 existing micronations have been recorded. The world has seen its fair share of presidents and royalty presiding over invented empires. The self-declared entity that is a micronation can either be real, virtual, or imaginary and it is often physically small. The governments of countries in which micronations operate often dismiss the entities as trivial and harmless. Some micronations issue items such as passports, stamps, coins, medals, postage, and flags.
Micronations became gathered further popularity with the invention of the internet. The internet enabled people from all over the world to connect, interact, and trade ideas. These virtual micronations are often referred to as nomadic countries. The term micronation was first used in the 1970s. Legally, the difference between state and non-states is based on the Montevideo Convention of 1933. Some of the entities, however, reject the notion of micronations.
Micronations are formed for many reasons. Some of them are established as hobbies and for personal entertainment, and they do not seek recognition. Other micronations exist to simulate political, economic, and social processes and they boast significant numbers of individuals. These types of entities also do not seek recognition. Some begin as protests. Some self-made entities start as artistic projects, and they balloon into tourist attractions. New country projects seek formal recognition, and they are interested in creating new countries. More often than not, these projects endeavor to create human-made islands and claim them as independent countries. Another type of micronation, the alternative government, recognizes the presence of other authorities. Some micronations are created for fraudulent purposes, especially to exempt themselves out of taxation. Other micronations exploit historical and legal anomalies to declare aspirant states.
The Republic of Molossia was declared in the state of Nevada, in 1999 by self-proclaimed President Kevin Baugh. It occupies an area of 6.3 square acres, and it has created its own currency and postal service. The Principality of Seborga was formed in 1963 in the Italian Province of Imperia. Its citizens claim that the land they occupy was not mentioned in the documents drawn during the unification attempts of Italy in the 1880s. In 1971, a micronation named Freetown Christiania was formed on an abandoned military base in the City of Copenhagen, Denmark. The entity operates as an anarchist community, and it is populated by many squatters, hippies, and anarchists. The community adheres to its set of rules, and the neighborhood is known for its brightly colored buildings and the absence of cars.
Posted: at 6:52 am
Welcome to MicroNations Fandom What is MicroNations Fandom?
MicroNations Fandom is a sister-site to MicroWiki, which uses the MediaWiki software in order to function. Unlike MicroWiki, we use Fandom Wikia to host our plethora of micronational articles.
Before editing on MicroNations Fandom, ask yourself this question: "Am I a micronationalist or a simulationist?". A micronationalist is someone who claims a small land mass that is (in most cases) easily accessible to them, such as their backyard, a local park, their bedroom, or their house. For example, the Republic of Molossia claims their property in Dayton, Nevada.
Micronationalists do not make any false claims about their nation. They do not make ridiculous claims such as having an army of six thousand soldiers and/or several war machines such as battleships or tanks. If those claims were true, it wouldn't be a micronation. If you want to make these claims you know are not true, find a political simulation Wikia. Micronationalism is not a political simulation! Micronationalists might have small military forces, but they are almost always for ceremonial purposes only. Take Molossia's M.S. Wombat as an example, it is an inflatable boat, not a battleship. Micronational war is an extremely rare event. A true armed conflict would have to result in actual injury and utilize actual weapons, whether that be primitive sharpened sticks or a pistol. One of the only (actual) armed micronational conflicts in history is that of the Sealand hostage crisis, where actual weapons were used, an and actual hostage was taken. If you wish to have fictional micronational wars, such as civil wars, video game wars, or wars with nations across the globe from you, consider going to a simulationist Wikia instead.
If you have any questions about micronationalism, simulationism, or the MicroNations Fandom in general, please ask one of the admins, Austenasia or Acorn64.
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Posted: October 31, 2019 at 5:47 am
In the third of his series on geopolitical oddities, Vitali Vitaliev looks at our planets smallest independent nations
It is common knowledge that throughout its 300 years of history, Liechtenstein a tiny, 25km-long, sovereign principality, squeezed between Austria and Switzerland was spared foreign invasions. Like many other commonly accepted stereotypes about the worlds smallest sovereign countries, however, this is not entirely true.
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The principality has no army, and its last military engagement was in 1866, when Prussia declared war on Austria. All 80 Liechtenstein soldiers were deployed on the frontier between Tyrol and Italy for one week, during which time they witnessed a blizzard (in August), but never once set eyes on the enemy. They returned to Liechtenstein safe and sound (even making a new recruit on the way back making them one of the few military forces to return from the front lines of a war with more soldiers than when they left), were welcomed by a band, given refreshments at Vaduz castle and then sent home.
And yet, two episodes in the principalitys 20th century history could indeed qualify as invasions, of sorts. The latest happened in October 1992, when a group of Swiss recruits tried by mistake to set up an observation post in the Liechtenstein village of Triesenberg on the Swiss border. A local country woman, who had never seen a soldier before and was obviously unnerved by their rifles and gas-masks, simply shooed them away across the frontier back into Switzerland, which had to apologise officially for the incident.
The first episode, however, warrants a much more detailed description. On the night of 2 May 1945, 500 fully armed Russian soldiers, under the command of Major General Holmston-Smyslovsky, crossed the Austrian frontier into Liechtenstein near the village of Schellenberg. The Russians, remnants of the First Russian Army of the German Wehrmacht, had entered Liechtenstein in search of political asylum. Unlike two and a half million other Russian soldiers and Cossacks, who fought on the German side and were captured by the Allies only to be handed over to Stalin under the Yalta agreement, these 500 were not extradited and were allowed to stay.
The tiny Ruritanian principality was firmly committed to its status of neutrality during WWII. Near the village of Malbun, there is a church, built in 1950 to thank God for sparing Liechtenstein the terrors of the Second World War. In actual fact, it was thanks not to God but to the political prowess of Prince Franz Joseph II (ironically, the nephew of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose assassination in Sarajevo precipitated the 1914-1918 war), who bravely paid a surprise visit to Berlin in May 1939. As the Prince himself later recalled, Hitler was visibly ill at ease and didnt make any impression at all during their 90 minute meeting in the Reich Chancellery, but since his visit flattered Hitlers ego, the Nazis decided to leave Liechtenstein alone.
A tourist train running through Liechtenstein
SMALL BUT PROUD
The mini (also called micro) state is a rather confusing and ill-defined concept. Unlike the so-called micronations, mini-states are all fully sovereign and self-governing small entities, recognised as such by the UN and other international organisations. According to the succinct definition by Websters College Dictionary, a mini-state is just a small independent nation. The Free Internet Dictionary defines it as: a very small nation that is an internationally-recognised sovereign state. The obvious question here is: how small is small?
Small is a relative concept when applied to countries. The UK is small compared to, say, China or Russia, but Malta is very small in relation to the UK. Or take Iceland relatively small in population (350,000), yet vast in its area (40,000 square miles). What should we take into account: area, population, both? My favourite definition, quoted by geographer Zbigniew Dumienski in his paper Microstates as Modern Protected States, describes a mini-state as being of a size so small as to invite comment.
If we narrow the bracket even further to a maximum of 100,000 population it leaves us with ten amazingly diverse sovereign countries: Nauru, Tuvalu, Palau and Marshall Islands in Oceania, St Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean and San Marino, Monaco, Liechtenstein and Andorra in Europe. Finally there is also Niue (population 1,600) an island nation in the South Pacific, considered an associated state (ie. minor partner) of New Zealand.
(How about the Vatican, by far the worlds smallest state, with the population of under 900 and the area of just 44 hectares? Well, I consciously chose to leave the Papal State out of the above list, for, to me, it did not quite meet the traditional criteria of a state. And not just to me, it appears: writer Thomas Eccardt in his recent book Secrets of the Seven Smallest States of Europereferred to the Vatican as being more similar to the headquarters of international organisations than to a state in its own right. Hopefully, His Holiness will forgive us both!)
Modern Liechtenstein (area 160 square km, population 39,000), with its per capita GDP of over $140,000 is by some estimates the worlds richest country. And not only due to its tax haven status and its countless letterbox companies (their number is higher than that of the principalitys population), but also because of its proportionally extensive infrastructure, with over 1,800 industrial enterprises specialising in electronics, precision engineering, metal finishing, textile and ceramic industries. It explains why it is often called a mini-industrial giant.
Monaco is the tiny home to more than 37,000 people
We find a very different picture in the all-urban, tax-free Monaco (a principality of 37,000 people, with the worlds highest population density of 25,105 people per square km), effectively owned by the Grimaldi family, whose economy apart from banking heavily relies on the services sector and more recently on Prince Alberts determination to develop environmentally friendly small industries. Meanwhile, San Marino (pop. 34,000), the worlds oldest republic, thrives on exporting its wines, souvenirs and highly collectable postage stamps.
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The very existence of the prospering small states is a not-so-small miracle in our immensely globalised world. Researchers Iver Neumann and Sieglinde Gstoni certainly had a point when characterising all surviving mini-states as Lilliputians in Gullivers World in their eponymous paper, published by the University of Iceland in May 2004.
Yet, the mini-states most remarkable feature is their frantic, yet entirely peaceful, clinging to their own sovereignty. Despite their minuscule size, modern mini-states are ruled in a plethora of different ways from parliamentary and constitutional monarchies (Monaco and Liechtestein) to unitary parliamentary republics (Palau, Marshall Islands) to San Marinos peculiar diarchy whereby it is governed jointly by two Captains Regent, nominated by the Grand and General Council.
Andorra, a tiny Catalan-speaking co-principality in the Pyrenees that enjoys the worlds highest life expectancy, and has been independent since 1298, retains a parliamentary democracy run by the Council General (Andorras parliament since 1419), but also preserves an element of diarchy by maintaining its two co-Princes, one of whom is traditionally the incumbent President of France, the other the Bishop of Urgel. Unlike in San Marino, however, their role is largely ceremonial.
In St Kitts and Nevis a unique mini-federation of two island states the same minister can hold several different portfolios both in the local island government and at the federal level. The Rt. Hon. Mark Brantley, Neviss Deputy Premier, holds ten!
San Marino is just one of five diarchies countries jointly ruled by two leaders
Liechtensteins head of state, Prince Hans Adam II, is Europes last remaining full-power monarch. He can single-handedly veto laws, call referenda and dissolve the Diet (parliament), as he did in September 1993. Hans Adam II went on to declare general elections and to reject the no-confidence vote against his then prime minister, Markus Buchel, an event normally associated with the 17th century, not the late 20th.
In 2003, he called a referendum on the expansion of his own powers and threatened to leave the country if the people voted against it. They didnt and refused to curtail them once again in 2012 when an anti-monarchists proposal to do so was resolutely voted down.
Not too democratic, you may say. Yet, as the story with the asylum-seeking Russian soldiers goes on to demonstrate, at times it takes a bit of dictatorial toughness to keep the aggressor at bay.
The First Russian Army of the Wehrmacht was made of Russian migrs and freedom-fighters, most of whom were not even Soviet citizens. Its main objective was not to contribute to Russias occupation, but rather to help it to get rid of Bolshevism, which was seen as the greater of two evils. Hitler never fully trusted the Army, and even had Holmston-Smyslovsky, a former Russian count, imprisoned and his unit disbanded for a couple of years. The army didnt commit any atrocities and its involvement in combat action was minimal.
As soon as the news reached Vaduz of the 500 Russians in German uniforms, with all their arms and equipment, crossing the border, the Prince sent his representatives to Schellenberg. Baron Eduard von Falz-Fein, a long-time Liechtenstein resident of Russian/Ukrainian extraction (who passed away at the venerable age of 106 in November 2018), was asked to act as a translator. The negotiations with Holmston-Smyslovsky took place in the Zum Lowen Inn on the border. It was a curious sight for our peaceful Liechtenstein, the Baron once told me many years later during a meeting. Hundreds of heavily armed men, with their horses and vehicles, camping on the lawn behind the inn. Later we built barracks for them in the town of Ruggel.
Franz Josef II as depicted on the countrys official stamps
Asylum was duly granted to all the Russians, but shortly afterwards Prince Franz Josef II found himself under considerable pressure from the Soviets. Unlike his counterparts in Britain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Finland, Switzerland, Sweden and Norway, all of which had agreed to repatriate the Russian POWs, the ruler of the tiny Liechtenstein firmly resisted all attempts to have the asylum-seekers extradited. Despite strong pressure, and in contrast to the bad example set by other countries, these unfortunate refugees were not handed over to the executioners, the valiant prince wrote in 1980.
The only thing he had to agree to was to allow a Soviet delegation to come to Liechtenstein and interview the asylum-seekers. By stick and carrot, Stalins emissaries managed to dupe 300 into returning to the USSR. Notwithstanding generous guarantees of safety, many of them were executed on arrival and the rest ended up in Gulag.
Most of the remaining 200, including General Holmston-Smyslovsky himself, stayed for two years before moving on, most of them to the safety of Argentina. Thus two hundred human lives were saved by the tiny principalitys faithfulness to its historical and humanitarian principles.
Liechtenstein, Europes only nation, which did not succumb to the Soviets pressure, might be small indeed, but, like many other mini-states, it can teach the modern world an important lesson of true sovereignty and pride. Where some of the worlds greatest democracies effectively capitulated in the face of a gun-brandishing bully, tiny Liechtenstein stayed strong.
The latest edition of Vitali Vitalievs book, Little is the Light: Nostalgic Travels in the Mini-States of Europe, Is published by Thrust Books and is available from: amzn.to/2KZ8wNd
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Posted: October 11, 2019 at 6:46 pm
We are becoming like all the other nations, the queen says in a moment of despair. We have unhappy prisoners, indifferent citizens and the young people refuse to reproduce.
Actually, the nation she rules with her husband, Roy, has just one of each of those things: one prisoner (a recent hostage, good at chess), one citizen (a doofus interested in pyrotechnics) and one young person (the 17-year-old prince, currently away on a mission).
Thats because Terra Firma, as the queen has named it, is a micronation: a self-declared kingdom located on an abandoned 6,000-square-foot antiaircraft platform six miles out to sea. It may not boast much land or populace, but it has a national anthem, a tatty flag, a centralized health service and a constitution if the queen could ever complete it.
Terra Firma, the play by Barbara Hammond about this country, likewise seems in need of more work. Ambitious and smart, it is not yet coherent, at least not in its world premiere, which opened on Thursday at the Baruch Performing Arts Center. Shifting from whimsical comedy to light satire to lumpy allegory, it quickly strips its gears and stops cold.
The whimsy, coming right at the start, proves especially deadly in Shana Coopers staging for a newly founded theater company called the Coop. Mild humor about the micronations pretensions to real statehood seems especially vaporous on the imposing set (by Andrew Boyce) and amid the foreboding ocean roar of Jane Shaws sound design. But at least the absurdity of the premise has a historical precedent: Terra Firma is based on a real place called Sealand, established in the late 1960s off the east coast of England.
The humans seem less precedented. As the citizen (John Keating) and Roy (Gerardo Rodriguez) hoist their hostage (Tom OKeefe) onto the platform and proceed to interrogate him, we might almost be watching a Three Stooges routine, except with less finesse. Clumsily handled as well is the back story: The citizen and Roy, believing that recent nearby explosions are the work of enemies bent on their destruction, are desperate to understand the danger theyre in.
That danger, we quickly understand from the scripts broad hints, is ecological. When the young prince (Daniel Molina) returns from his reconnaissance mission, he brings with him a sliver of a hedge to decorate the homeland; it is apparently the last piece of greenery left in the world. And when a weather-beaten diplomat (T. Ryder Smith) arrives to negotiate the hostage crisis, we learn that the reason he is the first to heed Terra Firmas calls for help delivered in bottles cast out to sea is that there may be no one else left to answer.
The queen, unwilling to credit such dire suspicions, doubles down on her queenliness. Because she is played by Andrus Nichols the marvelously grave Elinor in Kate Hamills Sense & Sensibility a character that could easily turn camp instead comes across as somehow both deluded and brave. Despite her stained blouse and paste tiara, she practices holding her right arm aloft whenever she appears, as if searching for the perfect salute to comfort a grateful people.
This pathos gets at what the play does best: It understands and in some way forgives human limitation. It fares less well when it attempts a critique of rulers who reject reality even if its a reality they helped create. A parallel is suggested between the characters pride and the disaster now engulfing them, as if Terra Firma were the industrialized West in miniature, unable to steer away from the brink of climate change. In an authors note, Hammond writes that she saw in the story of the real Sealand a metaphor for the human predicament.
But that comparison is under-drawn and illogical; a few people stuck on a massive steel life raft for several decades cannot have much to do with rising sea levels and whatever else is eating the rest of the world. The Terra Firmans arent nuclear physicists who built faulty reactors like the characters in Lucy Kirkwoods The Children, a much more sophisticated treatment of the same theme. Theyre refugees.
So, in a way, are the members of the Coop, recently formed as a kind of breakaway republic from another theater company, Bedlam. Terra Firma, the Coops inaugural production, matches its mission to stage plays that resonate with timeless themes and universal truths, but in this case resonance isnt enough.
Thats a problem built into the bloated mash-up of genres: Comedy is based on particularizing human behavior, but allegory is based on generalizing it. In trying to be both, and an ecological tragedy as well, Terra Firma pulls in too many directions. Though the cast especially Nichols, OKeefe and Smith is strong, and Cooper makes lovely stage pictures on the rusty platform, theres something thin and self-defeating about the resulting circular logic. Like most life raft stories, Terra Firma doesnt hold water.
Tickets Through Nov. 10 at Baruch Performing Arts Center, Manhattan; 212-352-3101, thecoopnyc.org. Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes.
Posted: August 14, 2017 at 12:34 pm
A micronation is an attempt to start a new nation from scratch. This often takes novel forms, such as plans to create new artificial islands in international waters, occupying an existing abandoned structure in international waters, establishing a colony on Antarctica, declaring that one's personal ranch or property has seceded from its parent nation and is now an independent country, and "virtual" micronations which exist over the Internet.
Micronations are not to be confused with genuine small countries which have real residents and international recognition as nations, such as Andorra, Monaco, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Vanuatu, Singapore, the Vatican City, the Pitcairn Islands, Mauritius, etc. these countries are properly referred to as "microstates." They are also not to be confused with publicity stunts such as the "Conch Republic," a tongue-in-cheek "secession" of Key West, Florida from the United States in 1982 declared by the Key West city council to drum up tourism and protest U.S. Border Patrol activity in the Florida Keys. ("If you're going to treat us like a banana republic, by golly we'll become one!")
Micronations exist for a bunch of reasons, quite a few of them overlapping:
Most micronations have no more actual residents than you can count on one hand. None of them has ever gained legitimate international recognition as a sovereign nation, although a British court ruled in 1968 that the Principality of Sealand was outside of British jurisdiction.
An abandoned British anti-aircraft platform located in international waters near the U.K., and occupied and claimed as an independent nation since 1967. Has the dubious distinction of having undergone a forcible attempted coup.
A long-running Internet community, created in 1979 by a 14-year-old, that is often credited as the origin of the micronation fad. Its motivation appears to be mostly for lighthearted and humorous purposes, but its residents take it seriously enough to synthesize an entire culture, complete with its own conlang which has a claimed vocabulary of 35,000 words and even its own ISO 639 code, "tzl".
A farm in Australia whose owner declared it an independent nation in 1970 after a dispute over wheat quotas with the Australian government. Hutt River is unique among micronations in that it actually does function as a de facto independent state instead of merely claiming to be one; although it lacks a standing army and depends on Australia for military protection, it is otherwise self-sufficient. It lacks international recognition and has few residents, but the fact that none of the residents pay taxes to Australia and the insanely low 0.5% income tax rate in the principality itself have caused it to gain popularity as a tax haven.
A long-running virtual micronation considered by law enforcement to be a mail-order passport and banking fraud scheme. It was founded by an American, Mark Pedley (aka Branch Vinedresser), in 1990, and named after a priest from the Book of Genesis. Through the 1990s it sold fake licences for people wishing to establish companies, including banks; Pedley was changed with parole violations over his actions, while other people have been jailed for using fake checks on banks in Melchizedek; Roger Rosemont set up a Ponzi scheme with a Melchizedek business licence which conned 1400 people into investing a total of $4m.
Also known as The Embassy of the Kingdom of Heaven, an exceptionally odd example in Oregon, which claims to be independent of the United States, but does not claim sovereignty, instead claiming to be an enclave of God's Kingdom of Heaven on Earth. Because they do not recognize any "worldly governments" and proclaim themselves to be literal citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, they issue their own identity documents and license plates. They used to have a compound outside of Stayton, Oregon, but it was seized in 1997 for non-payment of property taxes, despite their claims that it was exempt because it was a "foreign embassy."
Located in Copenhagen, this is a rare example of an urban micronation. This hippie commune was founded by squatters and anarchists in a disused army barracks in 1971, and declared itself an independent free town. This legal status is not formally recognised by the Danish government, but the commune's existence has largely been tolerated, and the government has turned a blind eye to the open cultivation and trade of marijuana within its boundaries, until a crackdown in recent years. The closest it has had to any recognition was from the local bus service that added a stop near the old barracks gates, and a listing on the official Copenhagen tourist website.
Located in the Czech Republic, this was a resort for submissive male and dominant female BDSM practitioners which opened to visitors in 1997. It was styled as an absolute matriarchal monarchy, with a currency, national anthem and a queen in the form of the resort's owner, Patricia, but of course neither the Czech Republic nor any other entity recognized its sovereignty. As of recent years, the resort has closed and the land put up for sale in 2008. There seems to be a rumor circulating around that the owner was somehow entangled with the Russian mafia.
Founded in 1949 by James Thomas Mangan, also known as Celestia, claiming all of outer space to ensure no nation established political hegemony there, and banned all atmospheric nuclear tests. Largely ignored by the superpowers, the project's surviving legacy are a number of gold and silver coins that fetch high prices on the collector's market.
Built by Italian engineer Georgio Rosa in 1967, also known as Insulo de la Rozoj, it was an off-shore platform 7 miles (11 km) from Italy's Rimini province, established partly as an engineering experiment and partly as a tax-free drinking den. Complete with several businesses (a bar, restaurant, night club, post office, and souvenir shop), its own currency (but no coinage or notes), and the official language Esperanto, Rosa declared independence in 1968. It was raided by Italian authorities that same year, dynamited by military engineers, and the remains sunk into the Adriatic Sea during a storm.
Created in 2015 as the brainchild of libertarian Vt Jedlika, who has appointed several ministers of it, it's a small (around 3 square miles of surface) territory in dispute between Croatia and Serbia. The Croatian police have threatened to arrest anyone who lands on it, although Croatia doesn't actually claim the area because accepting it would also require accepting other aspects of the disputed border with Serbia. Its currency is inevitably Bitcoins. Substantially subsidised by Bitcoin advocate Roger Ver.
Established in the terra nullius of Bir Tawil between Egypt and Sudan (similar to the situation of Liberland, neither Egypt or Sudan accept the border settlement between the two, and both fear that claiming the territory will be viewed as implicit acceptance of the entire border). It was declared in 2014 by American man Jeremiah Heaton who wanted to create his own country so his daughter could be a princess. Its status as an independent country has been questioned by experts on international law, and although Heaton travelled there in June 2014 to stake his claim, he does not appear to have been back since.
Also known as Enen Kio, it claims sovereignty over Wake Island, part of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific. It sells citizenship for sums from $500 to $10,000, and is judged to be a fraud by anti-fraud website Quatloos.com.
Founded in 1984 as a conceptual art project by the Slovenian industrial rock band Laibach, also known as New Slovene Art, since 1991 this organisation has functioned as a virtual online state, with its own passports, currency, and flag. The NSK state is described by NSK itself as "an abstract organism, a suprematist body, installed in a real social and political space as a sculpture comprising the concrete body warmth, spirit and work of its members". "Passports" are available online for a fee of 24 Euro.
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Posted: August 4, 2017 at 1:31 pm
Apple has indicated it plans to launch Apple Pay in a number of new territories before the start of 2018, a feat that would see it catch up to and overtake current digital wallet frontrunner Samsung.
Speaking at the companys earnings call yesterday, Apple CFO Luca Maestri says that the reach, usage, and functionality of Apple Pay continued to grow.
He claims that Apple Pay is by far the number one NFC payment service on mobile devices, with nearly 90 percent of all transactions globally. Momentum is strongest in international markets, where the infrastructure for mobile payments has developed faster than in the US.
In fact, three out of four Apple Pay transactions happen outside of the US. With the launch of iOS 11 in the fall, our users in the US will be able to make and receive person-to-person payments quickly, easily, and securely.
Maestri also confirmed that the company plans to have Apple Pay live in the UAE, Denmark, Finland, and Sweden before the end of this calendar year.
If Apple can follow through on this promise, itll see them retake the top spot from Samsung Pay when it comes to the amount of regions supporting the service.
As of now, Apple Pay is available in 16 countries (depending on whether or not you count micronations like Vatican City and the Isle of Mann).
In comparison, Samsung Pay operates in 19 countries and Googles Android Pay boasts only 14 regions.
Posted: at 1:31 pm
Molossia. Slobovia. The Aerican Empire. If you dont remember any of these countries from geography class, youre not alone. They are all micronations, self-declared sovereign states not formally recognized by any official authority (other than each other). This summer, representatives from 27 of these would-be fiefdoms gathered for a summit in Dunwoody, Georgia. While several of these micronations claim that they are their own autonomous countries, many are created as a political protest, for artistic reasons or as a social experiment.
MicroCon 2017 was hosted by Veronica Boritz, who also identifies as Queen Anastasia von Elphberg of Ruritania. The event, which lasted four days, included multiple outings for the micronational leaders, a symposium with speeches on subjectslike Micronational post system and Women in micronations: Starting your own or supporting your dictator husband.
This segment originally aired August 2, 2017, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.
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Posted: July 29, 2017 at 7:30 pm
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As the founder and Executive Director of Social Evolution, Max Borders is relentlessly seeking to liberate people and resolve social problems through innovation. Much of what drives him has been informed by his work as co-founder of the Voice & Exit event and as the former editor at the libertarian non-profit Foundation for Economic Education (FEE). Max is a futurist, a theorist, a published author and an entrepreneur.
Through his work with Social Evolution, Max is championing the following beliefs:
Here at BTCManager, we had a chance to interview Max about his aims and visions around todays emerging world of decentralization.
I started Social Evolution for two basic reasons.
First, I was frustrated with politics; how acrimonious it makes people, as well as the fact that most people think elections, legislatures and bureaucracies are the only means of making social change. I know there is a community out there that agrees that politics is a big, destructive illusion.
Second, and relatedly, I know there is a group of people out there already building new protocols for peaceful human interaction; systems that are decidedly less centralized and hierarchical. Social Evolution: the digital hub (forthcoming publication) will be an intellectual and spiritual home for this group. I want to unite and galvanize them.
I had been editor of FEE.org for years, and it was probably the best job I ever had. But I knew at some point I needed to create something different. I needed not to get too comfortable. I decided to build a media organization, a digital hub, that lies at the intersection of innovation and culture. I am in the process of building that hub; Social Evolution.
Sure. Decentralization has a certain inevitability to it. Just as I believe the technological singularity is coming, I also believe the social singularity will emerge as well. Thats not to say there wont be conflict. There will be convulsive wars between the old and new structures. Hostile state actors will be saboteurs, where possible, and there will be a lot of fallout. But decentralization is going to continue.
The blockchain is not just about decentralization. Its about disintermediation. And that means removing middlemen. And by middlemen, I dont just mean bankers. I mean all the great hierarchical mediating structures operating today; in media, government, corporations, and education. These structures are already showing their cracks.
But as they collapse there will be a great displacement. The middlemen will kick and scream on their way out because these obsolete structures butter their bread. They will have to transition. But first, they will try to reinsert themselves through various means, including attempts to ban or regulate the very technologies supplanting them.
Great question! A lot of people hear legal technologies and think there is some kind of app for dispute resolution or contracts. Im sure those are in development. But the law itself is a kind of technology because it involves a set of protocols or rulesets. And some of these rulesets are better than other when it comes to creating incentives to be productive. In countries with corrupt legal systems, the incentives are predatory. In countries with less corrupt legal systems, the incentives are to be productive. We can see this when you look at the difference between Venezuela and Hong Kong, for example. And put more cheekily, the US itself runs on DOS (Democratic Operating System). Isnt it time for a better social operating system?
So one of the more interesting developments in recent history are special economic zones (SEZs). These can be ports or territorial carve-outs, like Dubai or Shenzhen. A decade from now, it might be more speculative micronations, such as seasteads. As new SEZs come online, they can adopt new legal technologies, which is simply to say novel forms of law, which might be implemented with the help of bits and bytes. But given the corruptibility of people, one can imagine that the most competitive SEZs will use the blockchain for as much as they can because the most competitive and attractive SEZs for investment will be the least corrupt.
I believe well see five things. They are:
Social Evolution is for subversive innovators, those prepared to create systems of human interaction that have never before been possible. Our culture will coevolve with those systems. Social Evolution can be a standard bearer for a movement dedicated to liberating people and solving social problems through innovation (not politics).
My great hope is that we can be a major catalyst for peaceful social change. One day I want to get an email every day that reads: Because I read article X on Social Evolution, I started working on project Y that has revolutionized Z. Without the inspiration you provided, wed still be doing things the old way.
The geeks will inherit the earth.
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