EDITOR’S DESK (CS) | A recent discussion started at the MicroWiki Community forums regarding penal systems shows that several individuals have an unrealistic point-of-view when it comes to criminal punishment within their micronations.
The discussion, started by Paulus Aemilius of Trebia, invited other micronationalists to explain the nuances of their respective micronation’s penal code. Trebia, for example, desires a penal system such that a prisoner must perform labor to earn their daily food and cell in the jail. Madrona, meanwhile, would force inmates to grow their own food (in the desolate Canadian north the micronation seeks to claim as its own) and force them to live in conditions worse than those in poverty as living better in prison “encourages people to commit crimes.” Several of the participants also voiced support for imposing the death penalty within their respective micronations.
Whether the logic underlying the respective penal systems is agreeable or not to the reader on a personal level, the question must be asked: why are these micronations even discussing such strong, freedom-depriving, hardship-imposing penalties for individuals?
I can only conclude that those proposing these measures have suffered a complete and utter break from the reality in which their micronations exist. It is clearly unbridled secessionism at work with any semblance of reason conveniently absent. After all, it is wholly improbable that these micronations will ever achieve any sort of sovereignty that actually allows them to command the discretion to impose such penalties.
A micronation – secessionist or simulationist – is ultimately merely an experiment in simulating a real country, as sovereignty is both legally and practically unachievable no matter how hopeful its participants are of that goal. At best, a micronation, organized as a simple association under macronational law, may be permitted to adopt local bylaws regarding its structure and operation, including, perhaps, the imposition of exclusion from the group as its harshest punishment (the old unceremonious “don’t let the door hit you on the way out” approach to dealing with problem members).
But to think that one day your micronation may be able to imprison, or even execute, its participants for committing crimes, no matter how heinous? That is absolutely pure insanity.
A micronation that chooses to operate in a “physical” rather than “virtual” sense and impose physical punishments on its members must recognize that it continues to operate under the laws of its macronation-of-residence, no matter in what reality the ruling junta may prefer to keep their minds regarding its sovereign status. Whether that entails imposing a small fine for breaking a local bylaw, limiting rights of participation, or expelling the violator from the community, it must be done in compliance with the only law that actually exists and is ultimately enforceable – the macronation’s.
To imprison a participant in your micronation, to force one into hard labour or near-starvation, to force one to live worse than those who suffer from an unfortunate poverty, or to kill one for committing treason against the micronation – all of these things are well beyond the authority of the micronation and are in themselves heinous criminal acts under the law of most every macronation. A common citizen, corporation or association in a macronation simply does not have the lawful authority to take such drastic actions against their members, whether the entity in question believes it is its own sovereign country or not.
A micronational government simply cannot murder a person, or lock them in a hole, because he or she violates the rules of the micronation. That’s unreasonable, and it’s downright repugnant that some individuals truly believe that their micronational delusion does, or someday will, afford them such a power. Dangerous is arguably a kind term to use in describing these individuals. It is incredibly fortunate for society that most of these individuals are the only participants in their respective micronations. Hopefully that remains the case for however long their individual micronational aspirations remain.
I must credit Gabriel Pelger of the Republic of USI, a secessionist who is a supporter of a death penalty (for exceptional circumstances), as being somewhat of a bastion of reason in the discussion. Alluding to a micronation as being subject to macronational law ultimately, as its sovereignty is mere fantasy, Pelger noted that “we can’t do much except forfeit rights [of participation], for obvious reasons.” Pelger also cautioned that once a macronation became aware that micronations were imposing imprisonment, the death penalty, and other punishments, under their penal codes, it may lead to the lawful authorities of the land shutting the micronations down.
His latter point is a valid one should the micronationalist take it as a warning to “keep it real” when setting the rules of participation within the micronation; however, if it is taken as a cautionary advisement to keep enforcement of physical punishment under the radar of the authorities, on a cult-like basis, then all hope is lost for that micronation and all those who are unfortunate enough to join it.