Micronations/History of micronationalism

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The Old Light of Lundy, a former micronation in England.

The first recorded micronations appeared in the 1800s. These were generally founded by eccentric adventurers or business speculators, many of who were remarkably successful with their micronations (such as John Clunies-Ross, who founded the Kingdom of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, and whose family ruled the islands until 1978, when King Ross V was forced to sell the islands to Australia for £2.5m ($4.75m).) Unfortunately, many others were not so successful, and their micronations (such as the Republic of Indian Stream) quickly foundered.[citation needed]

Early History & Evolution[edit]

Martin Coles Harman, owner of the British island of Lundy in the early decades of the 20th century, declared himself King and issued private coinage and postage stamps for local use. Although the island was ruled as a virtual fiefdom, its owner never claimed to be independent of the United Kingdom, so Lundy can at best be described as a precursor to later territorial micronations. Another example is the Principality of Outer Baldonia, a 16-acre (65,000 m2) rocky island off the coast of Nova Scotia, founded by Russell Arundel, chairman of the Pepsi Cola Company (later: PepsiCo), in 1945 and comprising a population of 69 fishermen.[citation needed]

History During 1960 to 1980[edit]

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 East Anglian coast of England, and still survives. Others were founded on libertarian principles and involved schemes to construct artificial islands, but only three are known to have had even limited success in realizing that goal.[citation needed]

The Republic of Rose Island was a 400 m2 (4,300 sq ft) platform built in 1968 in Italian national waters in the Adriatic Sea,7 miles (11 km) off the Italian town of Rimini. It is known to have issued stamps, and to have declared Esperanto to be its official language. Shortly after completion, however, it was seized and destroyed by the Italian Navy for failing to pay state taxes.[1]

In the late 1960s, Leicester Hemingway, brother of author Ernest, was involved in another such project—a small timber platform in international waters off the west coast of Jamaica. This territory, consisting of an 8-foot (2.4 m) by 30-foot (9.1 m) barge, he called "New Atlantis". Hemingway was an honorary citizen and President; however, the structure was damaged by storms and finally pillaged by Mexican fishermen. In 1973, Hemingway was reported to have moved on from New Atlantis to promoting a 1,000 sq yd (840 m2) platform near the Bahamas. The new country was called "Tierra del Mar" (Land of the Sea). (Ernest Hemingway's adopted hometown of Key West was later itself part of another micronation; see Conch Republic.)[citation needed]

The Republic of Minerva was set up in 1972 as a libertarian new-country project by Nevada businessman Michael Oliver. Oliver's group conducted dredging operations at the Minerva Reefs, a shoal located in the Pacific Ocean south of Fiji. They succeeded in creating a small artificial island, but their efforts at securing international recognition met with little success, and near-neighbour Tonga sent a military force to the area and annexed it.[citation needed]

On April 1, 1977, bibliophile Richard Booth declared the Welsh town of Hay-on-Wye an independent kingdom with himself as its monarch. The town subsequently developed a healthy tourism industry based on literary interests, and "King Richard" (whose sceptre was a recycled toilet plunger) awarded Hay-on-Wye peerages and honours to anyone prepared to pay for them.[2]

Japanese Micronations in the 1980s[edit]

In 1981, drawing on a news report about Leicester Hemingway's "New Atlantis", novelist Hisashi Inoue wrote a 700-page work of magic realism, Kirikirijin, about a village that secedes from Japan and proclaims its bumpkinish, marginalized dialect its national language, and its subsequent war of independence. This single-handedly inspired a large number of Japanese villages, mostly in the northern regions, to "declare independence", generally as a move to raise awareness of their unique culture and crafts for urban Japanese who saw village life as backwards and uncultured. These micronations even held "international summits" from 1983 to 1985, and some of them formed confederations. Throughout the 1980s there was a "micronation boom" in Japan that brought many urban tourists to these wayward villages. But the harsh economic impact of the Japanese asset price bubble in 1991 ended the boom. Many of the villages were forced to merge with larger cities, and the micronations and confederations were generally dissolved.[3]

Australian & New Zealand Development[edit]

Micronational developments that occurred in New Zealand and Australia in the final three decades of the 20th century included:

  • The Principality of Hutt River was founded in 1970, when Leonard Casley declared his property independent after a dispute over wheat quotas.[4][5]
  • In Victoria, a long-running dispute over flood damage to farm properties led to the creation of the Independent State of Rainbow Creek in 1979.[5]
  • An anti-taxation campaigner founded the Grand Duchy of Avram in western Tasmania in the 1980s; "His Grace the Duke of Avram" was later elected to the Tasmanian Parliament.[5]
  • The Empire of Atlantium was established in Sydney, in 1981 as a non-territorial global government.[5]
  • The Republic of Whangamomona was established in 1989.[5]

Effects of the Internet[edit]

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.[6] As a result, the number of exclusively online, fantasy or simulation-based micronations expanded dramatically.[citation needed] The micronation Ladonia coexists as both a physical territory and as a large and active online community that resembles a third place, distinguishing itself from other micronations, which are either active online communities or claim small physical territories.[7]

The activities of these types of micronations are almost exclusively limited to simulations of diplomatic activity (including the signing of "treaties" and participation in "supra-micronational" forums 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,[8] was created in 2005[9] and is currently administered by Jonathan Austen, the leader of Austenasia.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]


References[edit]

  1. "Riemerge l'isola dell'Utopia - Corriere della Sera". www.corriere.it (in Italian). Retrieved 2018-05-19.
  2. "Mid Wales Arts—Richard Booth". BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/mid/halloffame/arts/richard_booth.shtml. Retrieved 2010-09-24. 
  3. Shigeru Inoue, Nippon Matchidukuri Jiten, pp. 407–409, 2010, ISBN 4-621-08194-2
  4. Bicudo de Castro, Vicente; Kober, Ralph (2018-04-18). "The Principality Of Hutt River: A Territory Marooned in the Western Australian Outback". Shima: The International Journal of Research into Island Cultures 12 (1). doi:10.21463/shima.12.1.13. ISSN 1834-6057. 
  5. a b c d e Sellars, John Ryan, George Dunford, Simon (2006). Micronations : [the Lonely Planet guide to home-made nations]. London: Lonely Planet Publications. pp. 28–33. ISBN 978-1-74104-730-1.
  6. Mimh, Stephen (May 25, 2000). "Utopian Rulers, and Spoofs, Stake Out Territory Online". The New York Times. 
  7. Bicudo de Castro, Vicente; Kober, Ralph (2019-04-15). "The Royal Republic of Ladonia: A Micronation built of Driftwood, Concrete and Bytes". Shima: The International Journal of Research into Island Cultures. doi:10.21463/shima.13.1.10. https://shimajournal.org/issues/v13n1/10.-Bicudo-de-Castro-and-Kober-Shima-v13n1.pdf. 
  8. MicroWiki. https://micronations.wiki/wiki/Main_Page. Retrieved October 14, 2016
  9. History of the MicroWiki Community. MicroWiki. https://micronations.wiki/wiki/History_of_the_MicroWiki_Community. Retrieved October 14, 2016