Note from the editor: This is an opinion piece and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Adammic Express.
On the 12th of April this year, I, as the 22nd Chairman of the Grand Unified Micronational, presided over what is likely to have been the last ever session of the Quorum of Delegates. This was, of course, the session where the motion was passed to begin the process of shutting down the GUM, leaving behind only the GUM Lounge as a formal chatroom, effectively dissolving the GUM as an organisation. I twice had the privilege of leading the GUM, although perhaps not everybody saw it as a privilege; indeed, amongst many in the older section of the MicroWiki community, the GUM was increasingly being seen as a joke, perhaps a final remnant of the legacy of the infamous Robert Lethler and his incredibly formal approach to diplomacy.
Although the general opinion amongst the older community was negative, there was still an air of sadness as the institutions of the GUM were finally abolished. For many of us in the pre-2014 crowd, the GUM was seen as the last bastion of formal diplomacy in the community, except for perhaps exclusive isolated groups such as the St. Josephsburg Economic Pact. It felt like we were losing much more than just the organisation. This is, no doubt, why Austenasia’s delegation proposed the retaining of the GUM Lounge – we couldn’t bear to leave ourselves without a single formal venue for micronational affairs.
The point is, why should we care about formal diplomacy, and the mantra of “professional” micronationalism that seems to go along with it? Surely formality in diplomacy is simply an act used to dress up the process, when in reality you’re just chatting to some folks on Skype? I’ve already discussed this to an extent in my forum post here, but this opinion piece seeks to expand upon that post.
The modern MicroWiki community is split in half. On one side are the “Old Guard” and the generally more experienced micronationalists from before 2014, who typically use Skype rooms such as the Yellow Bear Micronational. On the other side are the newer members using the Forums. Whilst there is some overlap between these groups, attempts at integration have proven disastrous – one need only look at the bullying of the leader of Nedland when he was added to the YBM. In recent months I have become increasingly critical of the way many in the Skype section of the community conduct themselves – as exemplified by my recent departure from the “Ministry of Marmite”. There was also the recent incident in the new Uberstadt diplomatic lounge. The attitudes I have seen from many in the YBM have left me in the unfortunate situation of only having a few micronationalists who I actually respect: Jonathan Augustus, Richard Hytholoday, Fionnbarra Ó Cathail, and King Adam, amongst others. My point is this: I don’t find the Skype section of the community to be a friendly place. I don’t say that because the predominant political views there often clash with my own, it’s because I know what a friendly community looks like. I was becoming involved with gaming communities almost a year before founding the Empire of Adammia. These communities revolved around Minecraft servers which are now long dead – but the people I met there are my best friends to this day. These are people who I’ve been to conventions with, the people with whom I drank alcohol for the first ever time – they are almost real-life friends. Just like people in the MicroWiki community, many of them have differing political views to me; I may be a member of the Liberal Democrats, but I happen to have a friend who is in fact a member of the Labour Party. There, different beliefs isn’t an issue. In the MicroWiki community, it’s grounds to be called “disgusting” by hordes of people presenting their opinions as fact in a never-ending circlejerk of bigotry.
Of course, I could simply abandon ship and just hang out on the Forums with the younger micronationalists, but to be honest I have no desire to do that either. Not only are most of them inexperienced, but there are a few nutcases over there blathering about Christendom as if we’re still in the Middle Ages. Ultimately, though, I’m not looking for friends – as I’ve said, I have those elsewhere. I just wish it was possible to discuss and collaborate with other micronationalists without descending into the usual “macronation x is better than macronation y” or “ethnicity x is better than ethnicity y”. I’ve heard that enough now and it has no relevance to me. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that informal venues are inherently bad, or that micronationalists should be discouraged from discussing these things. I actually don’t mind just chatting about random things, even political things, with other micronationalists. However, I’m becoming irritated by the fact that this is all I’m seeing from the MicroWiki community. In informal venues, unfriendliness sticks out like a sore thumb compared to in formal venues, and I’m sick of seeing it all the time.
Ideally, I’d like to see far more formal diplomacy between micronations. Venues like the GUM Lounge should foster polite, productive discussion that acts as a springboard for first formal relations, and later collaboration between micronations, which can be as simple as sharing advice or as advanced as actual trade between nations. Currently, the predominance of informality within the community makes this very difficult. The manner of the informal chatrooms has leaked over into one-to-one discussion and has made formal direct messages feel clumsy and awkward in many cases.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to encourage more formal discussion within the community. I intend to soon be resigning as GUM Chairman, allowing Jonathan Augustus to run and take office as my successor. He should have more success in promoting the use of the GUM Lounge than myself. However, I feel that there’s something underpinning all this which will make a resurgence of formality difficult: the current state of professionalism. Most micronations in the Skype section of the community maintain some level of professionalism. If we define “professionalism” in the context of micronationalism as attempting to emulate the procedures of macronational governments – not necessarily politics, but the way in which basic government functions are carried out – we see that most micronations do a good job – they archive their legislation, they have decent state symbols, and so forth. Professionalism is something that most micronations strive to achieve, regardless of whether they are secessionist or simulationist. Rather obviously, micronations tend to get better at it as they get older and more experienced. And yet, acting with proper decorum – surely a part of the professional package – is almost always seen as unnecessary. On the Forum side of the community, the situation is even worse, with micronational leaders actually renouncing professionalism and formal diplomacy. I mean, I get that some micronations just want to have fun, and not worry about doing everything perfectly, but I would say that diplomacy is the one area where professionalism is needed – even though it’s the one area where professionalism is almost always forgotten. Even great micronations like Molossia have their silly laws, but they always take diplomacy seriously. The Molossian model of micronationalism is ideal: you can still have fun with your domestic policy, but whilst taking a professional, serious approach to foreign policy so that you can share ideas easily with other micronations. Can you imagine Molossia hosting all these state visits if President Baugh was only ever informal towards other micronational leaders?
I know that the potential for serious diplomacy is there, because I’ve seen it in action a fair few times: I’ve signed a few treaties, and most nations will, shall we say, sober up a little bit when the time calls for it. In general, however, formality is not given the place it should have within the MicroWiki community. I suppose this has been quite a ramble-y opinion piece, but I’ve had a lot of thoughts lately on the current state of affairs that I wanted to publish.