For our readers who are unfamiliar with you, would you introduce yourself and perhaps provide us with a bit of a history of your participation in micronationalism and what it is you currently do in the community?
Of course. As many of you probably know, I’m a Dutch micronationalist who has been active in the Micras sector for some time now. My first encounter with micronations was an article about Sealand, I believe that I was twelve years old at the time. I was intrigued by this interesting project and it didn’t take long before I started my own micronation: Castrigia.
During this time I explored the micronational world, which was slightly different from what it is now. One of the more substantial things during that time was my discovery of the Kingdom of Batavia, of which I briefly became a citizen, and the Dutch Sector. Unfortunately I then made the decision to take a more secessionist path. During this time I got in contact with the ‘famous’ micronationalists, who were featured in the lovely Lonely Planet guide to micronations, and some lesser known secessionist nations such as Flanderensis, which then had just been founded.
When I was about 16, I quit micronations entirely. My interest in the hobby had declined and I had other things to do with my life. I was a secondary school student after all. So, I took a micronational hiatus from 2009 and 2012. I didn’t intent to return to micronations at all then. However, in 2012 I decided to take a look at the Batavian forums to see what was going on there. Obviously a lot had changed, Batavia had become inactive and Jonas, whom I knew from my brief period of Batavian citizenship, was now part of the Empire of Jingdao and South Batavia. I decided to join this micronation and had quite an amusing time there, developing the autonomous region of Calbion.
One of the most important things in becoming a micronationalist again, and deciding to be a part of the Micras sector, was the IRC. Nowadays it isn’t as active as it used to be, but back then it was very much alive. Because of the people I met at the IRC (mostly fellow Bastionados), I joined other nations. Most importantly Elwynn, that was still independent then. Shireroth followed, and so did many other nations. I was involved in Maraguo, a Batavia revival, and quite a few of my own projects such as the Brettish Isles, Tyrenia and Arasha.
Nowadays I’m mostly active in Shireroth and the Brettish Isles. I’ve been granted the honour to be Kaiser of Shireroth and that is an important part of my micronational life now, but I reckon that there will be some questions about that later ….
There will be! But first, you’re the founder of the Brettish Isles, a Micras micronation that is active within the Bastion Union group. What was your motivation for creating this Victorian-themed micronation and what were your goals for the Isles when you set out? Have these goals been met, in your opinion?
Some of you may know that I have a strong interest in the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes. It’s something I’ve been interested in since I read ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ at age 7 or 8. For me, reading the stories and surrounding literature, but also collecting Sherlockiana, is quite an interesting past time. It was only a matter of time, really, before these two interests would come together. I decided to give the ‘Victorian England’ thing a go. I created a map, featuring place names from the Holmes stories, and left plenty of references to the world of Holmes in the nation.
I didn’t have any goals beforehand at all, nor did I have any expectations. My micronational philosophy is that this is first and foremost a hobby. When you feel like doing something, when you want to explore something in micronations, you should do it. We’re in this hobby voluntary and exploring new settings and developing new projects is what micronationalism is also about. So, I didn’t expect this nation to exist much longer than other projects of mine. It did, though. As it happens, more micronationalists have an interest in Victoriana and have since joined the nation. Some of our initial citizens have since left, which is of course fine, and we now have a core group of four citizens.
The Brettish Isles have had a difficult history. Periods of activity were followed by larger periods of inactivity, but we have always managed to stay alive. During the summer of last year, we really had a period of complete inactivity. I didn’t think that the nation would exist much longer. Towards the end of the year, I had drawn up a plan to ‘safe’ the project and to transfer it into a sort of one-man nation; however, it turned out that some Brettish citizens were still interested in the project. We then discussed what route we would take with the nation and this ended with us deciding to continue the project with Lord Amherst becoming Lord Protector.
The Isles appeared to be at risk of political instability in recent weeks, with less-than-enthusiastic interest from citizens to vie for the position of Lord Protector (head of government). The resulting discussion provoked a debate about the need for reforms, with you specifically suggesting Charter and territorial reforms. Would you briefly outline your desired reforms and explain how these would benefit the Isles?
Basically, the Charter reforms that were discussed proved to be a bit far-fetched. I think that, in our attempt to create a Victorianesque nation, we aimed too high and our perception of what would in reality be possible became clouded. That’s why the recent discussions are necessary.
We need to get to a system that enables us to keep a nation with a political structure that fits our culture, but is also realistic and something that can be handled by the current active group of citizens. I am glad that my fellow Bretts agreed with me on this and it looks like we have reached a consensus so that we are on the way to making our political system truly functional again.
To summarise what we are getting at: Parliament has been very important in our nation, and should remain a very visible institution; however, we are looking to create a government with large executive power. This government, comprising the Lord Protector, the Lord Chancellor and the Secretary of State, will be able to rule the nation without necessary lengthy debates in Parliament. Of course we will keep Parliament and we still try to have some trias politica there, but we need to figure out how Parliament will function and how it will be elected, which is what is under discussion now.
Basically, the benefit to us is that, when these reforms are passed, we will be able to effectively and efficiently govern a nation with a small group of people, something that fits the needs of our time.
Congratulations on your assumption of the Shirithian throne as Kaiser last week following the abdication of Ric Lyon (Kaiser Ayreon III). What are your immediate plans for your Kaisership? Will your reign be defined by a steadying sailing of the Shireroth ship of state, or can we expect to see some relatively “revolutionary” reforms proposed?
Thank you, I am honoured that I have been granted this honour. I stand in a long tradition of Kaisers, some successful and some less successful.
I have to admit that in the past, I have never been interested in the position and even now I think that the actual power of the Kaiser might be a bit overrated. After all, a Kaiser might have some decree power but the Landsraad is still the voice of the citizens, and history has taught us that a Kaiser should always be concerned with the wants of the people. I also think that a micronational power, even as strong as the Imperial Office, is not strong enough to really solve the crucial problems of our age. We see inactivity, disinterest and paranoid protectionism at the moment, which are challenges that need to be solved on an out-of-character level. Having ‘Kaiser’ in front of your name doesn’t change anything then.
As for my rule, I think that I had a bit of a slow start. Perhaps people would have suspected highly controversial decrees or appointments, but I have decided not to do that. I’m not saying that I won’t be issuing decrees that might have some real impact in the future, but for the time being, I’m keeping a steady profile. The primary reason for this is that I have had enough controversy surrounding my decisions in the recent past and that I don’t want to raise tensions higher than they already are.
The most important thing for us as a nation at the moment is the new Charter. I’m very glad that some prominent and respected figures in our community have dedicated their time to writing a very sound proposal. I will oversee the implementation of this Charter, which I hope will have unanimous support of the Landsraad as well.
As for the continuation of policy, I, of course, will continue the good policies set by my predecessor. It is my intent, however, not to continue with the budget as set by the last Kaiser. I believe a nation needs fiscal conservatism. We shouldn’t be spending a lot of money on salaries for government officials, such as myself, who are already wealthy. Instead, we should look to more innovative and effective ways to spend our money. Although I’m sceptical of the actual usefulness of the SCUE, I’m sure that we can do something better than pumping money around.
You caused some controversy when, as Steward of Shireroth, you ordered the direct rule of the Imperial State of Neridia and the dismissal of Janus Eadric as its Prince. The result was his emigration from Shireroth and the eventual dissolution of Neridia by the Landsraad. What caused you to make that fateful decision and, looking back a month later, what are your thoughts in “hindsight” about how the episode unfolded?
My personal opinion is that controversy, although it is always important in micronations as a means to keeping things active and keeping people awake, also can have some unfortunate consequences. Especially with the controversy sparked by my decisions as Steward, we have seen these possible negative outcomes.
Although I am still firmly standing behind my actions, I deeply regret the departure of Janus Eadric as a direct result of my decisions. I realise now that I have made a communicative error here that has probably been crucial in his decision. I firmly believe in taking responsibility, and once I had made this decision, in conclave with then-Kaiser Ayreon, I have stood for it. I do hope that Mr. Eadric and I will find a way to put this unfortunate incident behind us in the future and that we might see a reconciliation.
I do want to protest against the way I was then described, and still am described, by my political opponents. They want to make it seem like I deliberately wanted to fight Janus Eadric, or that I was ruthless by choice, simply because of out-of-character issues. Of course this is blatantly ridiculous. I have always liked Mr. Eadric on a personal level, which makes this case so delicate for me, and if I had known that this would have been the outcome, I might have acted differently. However, I have made a decision. I still don’t think it was a wrong decision and I will stand by my choices and my assessment of the situation.
You were a vocal opponent of former SCUE Administrator Pallisico Sinclair’s attempt to impose a supranational inactivity tax on the memberstates of that organization as a means of promoting trade. Why did you oppose this measure and what alternative means, in your opinion, can achieve the same ends that Sinclair was seeking?
I don’t know if I really care that much about what Sinclair wanted. If people don’t want to trade, but still want to have an account at the SCUE, why not let them? I don’t see the need for the measures that were illegally imposed, and rightly rejected afterwards.
Clearly, the SCUE should only do one thing: serve nations that want to have access to a place with fictional money. Whatever they do with the money afterwards is their problem, not that of the SCUE. The SCUE is not a bank; at least, it shouldn’t be. It’s just a platform that gives a nation the opportunity to participate in a unified fictional economic system, which is a good thing in my opinion.
I think that Sinclair of course did have a point, although the way he went about it was absolutely wrong. There is a problem with intermicronational trading; however, I think the reason for it is simply to be found in the way the market works, or doesn’t work. All markets revolve about supply and demand. It is obvious that the demand is very limited in micronations, since we are a hobby that relies on fiction. There is nothing to be bought that one would need in order to be an active micronationalist. Then there is also a problem on the supply side. It’s really a downward spiral. People realise that it’s not really worth spending time on supplies to sell, since the only thing they will get in return is SCUE, which is basically worthless.
The one who figures out how to change this, will rightfully deserve the Andreas Award. He/She will finally have made micronational economics relevant.
Between the SCUE and the MTO, there’s been a small revival, activity-wise, of these core intermicronational organizations of the Micras community. Is there anything in particular you’d suggest to these organizations that might help them avoid alienating memberstates and thus remain relevant?
I don’t know how relevant these organisations are, especially the MTO. The Brettish Isles aren’t even a member and I have never had the feeling that we are missing out on something. The SCUE of course has relevance, which I basically indicated when I answered your previous question.
I was involved in the creation of one micronational organisation, the Committee for Micronational Progress (CMP). This was an idea that originated with Benkern, which he mentioned during a meetup in London. The basic idea was that the CMP would be mostly out-of-character and would be an actual institution to decide on necessary international issues that cannot adequately or efficiently be handled on a state level – things such as inactivity, but also RecWars. It would also serve as a platform, where new ideas and storylines could be discussed. I supported this idea, but unfortunately it lead to nothing – its sub-forum is now archived and I don’t really hear anyone talking about it.
So, I fear I will have to remain sceptic on these kinds of organisations.
In general, do you think there any hope that any intermicronational organization can avoid becoming a “YAMO” long-term? What would you suggest to a new organization on how to succeed?
Basically, I don’t. There are enough organisations at the moment, I don’t see what could be created that has both relevance and also brings something new to this hobby. A new organisation should only be started when it is really original and innovative. Otherwise, don’t waste your time on it.
Any final thoughts?
Yes, I do wish to say something to all micronationalists, and especially those associated with the Bastion sector. There is a distinct sense of bitterness that has creeped into our hobby. Of course some bitterness is inherent to forums in general and micronations in particular, but it has gone too far. Only today, I was personally attacked in a rather vicious way by a former citizen of Shireroth. I must say that I have also responded to him in an angered way, so I will include myself in this problem I’m describing.
A couple of years ago, when Babkha did something outrageous, or when the Emperor of Jingdao said something ridiculous, even when Kaisers got poisoned and cities got bombed with cabbage, it was all in good spirit. We had fun. We had a platform for friendly conflict that allowed us to expand on cultural, military and historical aspects of our respective nations. Shireroth then was a nation that was much less stamped by paranoia and bitterness than it is today. It’s easy to point fingers, and of course I have a clear opinion on where things went out of hand, but that’s not the point I want to make now.
I fear that there is not that much reason for excitement anymore nowadays. We seem to be too afraid to do something controversial, to say something outrageous or to drop a bombshell (literally or figuratively). There is good reason to be: people have reacted overly emotional and way too personal. There is less room for friendly banter and innocent teasing anymore. Everything is taken too seriously, sceptically and regarded as personal. It’s this mind-set that needs to change.
I believe that this is the core problem with the Bastion Union at the moment and that all other problems such as inactivity are only mere indicators this issue. We need to remind ourselves that we once started out in this hobby because we wanted to have fun, because we wanted to express our creativity and because we wanted to meet an international group of like-minded people to create a very special and unique community. That should still be our objective, every time when we log in to the forums. If that’s the general vibe in micronations, we have found the way up.