Saturday, 22 January, 2022
E-paper

Micronationalism

Shayor

The concept of nationhood is arguably abstract and subjective. It has come about naturally from human desire to form a collective identity with other people on the basis of a combination of shared features. The land and water area that makes up the geographic territory as well as the population within it can vary, with the smallest of such political entities being called microstates. An example of a microstate is Vatican City. It is located wholly within Italy in a land area of 110 acres containing less than 1000 residents yet is a fully recognized distinct territory under the authority of the Holy See, which in turn has ecclesiastical jurisdiction over the worldwide Catholic Church. Italy also has another microstate, San Marino. Europe in total has six microstates, or seven including Luxembourg.

While microstates are usually internationally recognised and official, in contradiction are micronations; self-proclaimed political entities whose members claim to belong to an independent nation but lack legal recognition and overall legitimacy. Micronations are often way smaller than microstates and usually come out from the outgrowth of a single individual. Micronational activities are too trivial to be challenged by the nation whose territory they have claims within and are thus differentiated from true secessionist movements. The concept of a micronation is seemingly silly and sounds only serious as a recreational or educational activity, but micronations and micronationalism has still received media attention in regards to the “roleplay’’ and “political simulation’’.

An example of a micronation determined in its bid for legitimacy and professionalism is the Republic of The Sohnland, located in Warwickshire, England. With a size of only 305 square meters and a population of 10 residents, this Anglo-German “nation’’ began its journey back around 2005 as a mere place of expression of its founder Ethan’s personality and ideals and eventually progressing to model itself as an independent “state’’ with purpose. The Sohnland is a technocracy governed by its benevolent dictator, also Ethan, and claims to follow the principles of Sohnlandic Juche, sharing ideologies such as isolationism, self-sufficiency and nationalism. The Sohnland claims to be in distaste with the Westminister and questions UK’s economic regulations, reallocation of taxes and tariffs, with its inhabitants apparently leaning to right-wing and populist ideals. The Sohnland has also established foreign relations with similar micronations, like Adonia and the Dane Republic.

Although it’s inevitable The Sohnland won’t actually receive any recognition and actual independence, it has designed materials such as passports, stamps, ID cards, flag pins, border signs, banknotes and coins representing the nation, as well as social media accounts and a website that highly details its operations, including citizenship benefits. For a micronation, it has shown self-determination and professionalism to materialize its micronationalism and purpose, even though it’s not as popular as other micronations like Sealand. Micronationalism overall is an interesting way to examine how the evolution and simulation of grassroots political beliefs from the very core of all things looks like to be presented in a modern, established world, it has become a relatively mainstream hobby and developed its own community over the decades. To repeat the point in the beginning; the concept of nationhood really is, arguably, abstract and subjective.

 

The writer is a student of an English medium school