Small and Ours

The British have a saying, “a man’s home is his castle”. Some people take the idea of ‘mine’ a little further. They have claimed everything from office blocks to abandoned military outposts as sovereign nations. These micronations, though never officially identified, can sometimes give everyone else different ideals for living.

To be kicked out of something is to be made to leave, not by your choice. ‘Daniel was kicked out of university because his marks were very low.’

Christiana, an enclave in Copenhagen, must be one of the more successful attempts at mini-statehood, if you measure political success in socially liberal policies. This experiment in urban communal living began in 1971 when squatters moved into an empty army barracks. They announced they were a separate state and created their own rules. Despite its famously liberal policy to soft drugs, Christiania comes closest to existing states. It is a functioning system of government. Decisions are made by a Common Meeting, which any resident can convene. The community lives by a number of laws and if you break these rules you can be kicked out of the community.

Christiania has a collective form of government, but that is rare among miconations. Many are self-styled monarchies. One of the most famous is the Hutt River Province Principality, located in the central region of Western Australia. This self-proclaimed principality, ruled over by Prince Leonard I, fits the stereotype of many micronations. A disgruntled individual makes themselves monarch, prints stamps and even currency and the nation from which they seceded ignores them – or at least refuses to acknowledge their status. But the micronation has been active. It declared war on Australia for a few days over taxes, and continues to issue passports for its approximately 13,000 citizens, most of which do not live in the principality.

Christiania and the Hutt River Province Principality have quite strange relationships with the law. They are a reminder that sovereignty is in some parts based on recognitions both of a larger state and those who claim to be in a different state. Secondly, these micronations become labs for alternative ways of life. The idea of starting your own state is an extreme option but two legitimate states exist – Vatican City and Monaco.

Original article by Ryan Scott – Sydney, Australia. Text edited by The Word’s methodology team

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The British have a saying, “a man’s home is his castle”. Some people take the idea of ‘mine’ a little further. They have claimed everything from office blocks to abandoned military outposts as sovereign nations. These micronations, though never officially identified, can sometimes give everyone else different ideals for living.

To be kicked out of something is to be made to leave, not by your choice. ‘Daniel was kicked out of university because his marks were very low.’

Christiana in Copenhagen, must be one of the more successful attempts at mini-statehood. Christiana began in 1971 when squatters moved into an empty army barracks. They announced they were a separate state and created their own rules. Christiania comes closest to existing states. It is a functioning system of government. Decisions are made by a Common Meeting, which any resident can convene. The community lives by a number of laws and if you break these rules you can be kicked out of the community.

Christiania has a collective form of government, but that is rare among miconations. Many are monarchies. One of the most famous is the Hutt River Province Principality, located in Western Australia. This principality, ruled by Prince Leonard I, fits the stereotype of many micronations. An unhappy person makes themselves monarch, prints stamps and money and the nation from which they seceded ignores them – or at least does not to acknowledge> their status. But the micronation has been active. It declared war on Australia for a few days over taxes, and issues passports for its approximately 13,000 citizens, most of which do not live in the principality.

Christiania and the Hutt River Province Principality are a reminder that sovereignty is based on recognitions both of a larger state and those who claim to be in a different state. Secondly, these micronations become labs for alternative ways of life. The idea of starting your own state is an extreme option but two legitimate states exist – Vatican City and Monaco.

Original article by Ryan Scott – Sydney, Australia. Text edited by The Word’s methodology team

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To run the gamut is to cover a wide range of things.

The British have a saying, “a man’s home is his castle”. Many teenagers like to shut themselves into their rooms and glower at trespassers. Yet these claims to territory are personal. The home-owner and the surly adolescent aren’t setting themselves up as a separate state. Well, not most of the time. A few individuals – running the gamut from pleasantly eccentric to intensely idealistic, have claimed everything from office blocks to abandoned military outposts as sovereign nations. These micronations, though never officially identified, can at times, despite or because of their obstinate refusal to submit, present the rest of us with different ideals for living.

Bikie colours are colours and symbols that a group (in this case motorcycle gangs) wears to identify themselves as being part of the group.

Christiana, an enclave in Copenhagen, must rate as one of the more successful attempts at mini-statehood, if you measure political success in socially liberal policies. This experiment in urban communal living began in 1971 when squatters moved into an abandoned army barracks. They proclaimed themselves a separate state and set about creating their own rules. Despite its famously liberal policy to soft drugs, Christiania comes closest to existing states. It is a functioning system of government. Decisions are made by a Common Meeting, which any resident can convene. The community lives by a number of laws, including the banning of hard drugs, bikie colours and cars. Failure to live by these rules can mean expulsion. The distinctive box-fronted three wheel push bikes are the main form of transport. Nowadays, they are even exporting the idea to the rest of the world.

For people interested in sustainable urban living, Christiania certainly seems like a beacon. However, as a collective form of government, it is a rarity among miconations. The vast majority are self-styled monarchies. One of the most famous, no doubt because the grandeur is offset by the modesty of the location, is the Hutt River Province Principality, located in the central region of Western Australia, about 500 km north of the state capital Perth. This self-proclaimed principality, ruled over by Prince Leonard I, fits the stereotype of many micronations. A disgruntled individual appoints themselves monarch – and it’s usually a monarch – prints stamps and even currency, while the nation from which they seceded blithely ignores them – or at least refuses to acknowledge their status. But the micronation has been active. It declared war on Australia for a few days over taxes, and continues to issue passports for its approximately 13,000 citizens, most of which do not live in the principality.

Real shots were fired in Sealand’s bid for independence. Located on a derelict naval tower, about 10 kilometres from the British coast, the tiny micronation arose when pirate radio operator Paddy Roy Bates ejected other pirate radio operators. Sealand was declared in September 1967 and warning shots were fired across the bow of an approaching navy vessel. In another version the shots were fired at workmen who had come to do repair work. Eleven years later, the miniscule nation was the subject of a coup. The prime minister (of Sealand) Professor AG Achenbach was allegedly angered that Bates – known as Prince Roy – would sell Sealand, so he hired mercenaries to take the platform. Bates’ son Michael was held hostage but Bates managed to gather support and retook Sealand. Achenbach was tried as a traitor and only intervention from Germany brought his release. Achenbach now heads a government in exile called Sealand Rebel Government. Not bad for a territory measuring 450 square metres.

Sealand shows how seriously some people can take the notion of sovereignty, even when that sovereignty is a concrete tower in the middle of the ocean. While many of them seem like harmless cranks, even self-consciously so, they have been gathering more attention in recent years. Christiania, the Hutt River Province Principality and Sealand all have quite peculiar relationships with the law and act as a reminder that sovereignty is in some parts based on recognitions both of a larger state and those who claim to be in a different state. Secondly, these micronations become labs for alternative ways of life. It is hard to imagine that a car-less collective urban community such as Christiania would arise through preexisting political channels. Other micronations can be conceptual experiments. The Empire of Atlantium is another micronation in Australia. Located in a building in central Sydney, it may not operate on the same scale as Christiania, but its mere presence is a symbolic gesture, which can act as a focal point for certain issues, though Emperor George II clearly sees it as more. Lastly, micronations by simply existing make fun, intentionally or not, of the notion of statehood, which can so often bring out the worst in human nature.

Admittedly, the idea of simply starting your own state remains an extreme option, yet two legitimate states exist – Vatican City and Monaco – both which are smaller than New York’s Central Park, showing that states don’t have to be large. They just need the recognition of other states, which remains a problem.

Ryan Scott – Sydney, Australia

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