Note from the Editor: The following is an opinion piece which may not necessarily reflect the views of the Adammic Express.
Should the theories of international relations and geopolitics be applied to micronations – and if so, how?
I was recently made aware of the Abeldane Empire’s recent decision to leave the Grand Unified Micronational, something which struck me as inexplicable. Why had Abeldane politicians pushed for such an outcome in the referendum? Analysing the situation objectively, it makes little sense: the GUM does not affect the sovereignty of its member states in any way, nor does it carry with it a harmful reputation (quite the opposite, in fact, considering that Austenasia is a member state). Of course, the positive aspects to GUM membership are slim at the present time, as the organisation is still struggling with inactivity, but at the very least the GUM is still a forum in which micronations can foster positive relations, which Abelden has now isolated itself from.
I have heard it said that the vote was something of an imitation of Brexit, which seems to make sense. However, at least the arguments for Brexit were based on some sort of tangible benefits to leaving (as much as I may personally believe that those reasons were deeply flawed). By leaving the GUM, Abelden will not regain any sovereignty, nor will it save any money or indeed have any kind of economic impact. This has led me to the conclusion that the Abeldane politicians who pushed for a Leave vote did so completely arbitrarily. Although there are few positives to GUM membership, there are clearly no negatives, so based on the net result, rationally the opposite decision should have been made.
Around the same time as this news story broke, my Prime Minister Sir Alex Helliker and the Leader of the Opposition Admiral Ems Simpson were both taking part in a Model UN crisis simulation. In this crisis, the two Adammic politicians assumed the roles of members of the Italian cabinet in 1939, and had to gain an advantage over the UK, France and the Soviet Union in the run-up to the Second World War. In this exercise, it was crucial to take rational decisions, by doing research, gathering intelligence, weighing up pros and cons, and evaluating the probability of success for each option. The interests of virtual Italy were clearly defined and decisions were taken with those interests in mind. It occurred to me how different this was to what had just happened in Abelden. The team had assumed the role of a “rational actor” (or alternatively a “rational agent”), and had to act accordingly.
Abelden’s Leave vote is not an isolated example. Micronationalism, especially in the MicroWiki community, is rife with arbitrary-ness and lacking in rationality. How many times have we seen a country join a federation or empire, only to leave it again a few weeks later? Clearly, both the decision to join and the decision to leave cannot both have been the correct decision – one of them was wrong. Why was the wrong decision not identified beforehand? It’s not as if micronationalism is a particularly complicated business – compared with the vast multi-dimensional web of macronational politics and international relations, it’s like child’s play. Did the people involved not even think, for five minutes, about the implications of these decisions for their interests? Do they even know what their national interests are?
How about another question: does it even matter? Aren’t we just here to have fun? Yes, generally speaking, that is the case. For completely non-serious micronations who are just here to mess about, this stuff doesn’t really matter. However, I do believe that if a micronation wants even an ounce of respect from senior micronationalists and the general public, it has to attempt to behave rationally, especially in the field of foreign policy (domestic policy isn’t so important). My reasoning for this is that it can be extremely frustrating for a serious or semi-serious micronation to conduct diplomacy with an arbitrary nation. If someone comes to me offering their territory to become an Adammic colony, how am I to know that they won’t change their mind six months later and suddenly decide that they want independence, despite the fact that I’ve done almost nothing to infringe on their autonomy? In the space of a year, the territory formerly known as Adammic Columbia, which is now called Hoagland, left Adammia to join the Holy Roman Empire, then re-joined us, then left us again to join Austenasia! All this does is leave me with more legislative paperwork to do. There are even more extreme examples out there: in the past four years or so, the micronation currently known as Breckland has changed its government type no less than twenty times. The fact that we don’t know whether we will be dealing with a liberal democracy or a communist dictatorship in a week’s time is the reason why I have never even entertained the idea of granting diplomatic recognition to Breckland. I understand that Austenasian foreign policy expressly rules out setting up relations with nations that have changed their government type too many times in the past year because of situations like these.
As a micronationalist, you are far more likely to earn the respect of senior members of the community if you behave in a logical, rational manner, as it makes you easier to understand and easier to do business with. A micronation can either be arbitrary in its foreign affairs, or be taken seriously – you cannot have the best of both worlds. A possible solution to this problem for those who want both is to set up two micronations: a “serious” one and a “silly” one which acts more like a sandbox. It’s also worth pointing out that running a micronation seriously can still be just as fun as running a micronation arbitrarily. I can assure readers that the members of my government who took part in the Model UN crisis last weekend thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and the parallels between the crisis simulation and serious micronationalism should be obvious (indeed, we arguably have more in common with the Model UN crowd than we do with the geofiction community).
I’m going to wrap this piece up by talking a bit about what a micronation as a rational actor actually looks like. Firstly, it is important to understand what your interests are – what are your goals as a micronation? For Adammia, the main goal is to gain prestige amongst other micronations and to grow our territory and population; most micronations will have pretty similar goals to these. Every major decision needs to be evaluated in the context of your national interest; this is the basic essence of rational actors. Of course, some entities make better rational actors than others, and the key factor here is knowledge. Better decisions can be made if you understand the underlying theory, and also if you have more research and intelligence relevant to the situation. Adammia is currently trying to improve itself in this area – I am looking at bringing on board some of the people involved in the Model UN exercises as advisors. Virtual Italy performed so well in the crisis simulation because understanding the theory of political science and international relations (especially the field of geopolitics) gives you an advantage, and a number of the team members are Politics and/or IR students at the nearby university. Micronationalists may find it useful to do some cursory reading on Wikipedia on the basics of political science and international relations, whilst taking time to think about how the theory may be different when applied to micronations. Indeed, I believe there is plenty of potential for developing an understanding of micronational PS and IR, which I suspect would be broadly similar to the mainstream theory but with some key differences (perhaps this would be a good topic for discussion within the GUM). Aside from theory, good decision-making also requires a practical understanding of the current situation. Proper record-keeping helps with this, and it is one of the reasons why Adammia maintains extensive archives. MicroWiki itself is also incredibly useful if you need information about another micronation. However, sometimes it will be in a nation’s interests to keep some information secret, whilst it may be in another nation’s interests to obtain that information. Therefore, a basic understanding of intelligence may be useful. Micronations don’t tend to have access to elite hackers or 007-style secret agents, so the main field which is relevant here is human intelligence (HUMINT). Adammia has in the past successfully made classified information which would have been embarrassing to Adammic prestige had it been revealed to the community at the time.
Certainly, I feel that micronationalists have much to learn from our cousins in the Model UN community, and at the end of the day I feel that it is in the interests of all serious micronations to think about how to make more rational decisions.