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On the Grand Unified Micronational and what plagues it

Article by His Grace Bradley, Duke of Dullahan

This is not a work to discourage micronations from formal association or to harass, attack or demean the GUM. This article is written out of the pure observation of someone who studies public administration and has seen trends that make the governance and maintenance of an organisation structured like the GUM impossibly hard. In this article I try to explain some trends and developments in both the macronational and the micronational world which might explain the hardships organisations like the GUM face.

We must never shy away from taking a good look at the works we joined or constructed. Even the oldest institutions and oldest buildings need mending so now and then. Forgoing a sharp critique of what is in front of you due to prestige and history is ignorance. Should we turn a blind eye to the errors and shy those who wish to aid an organisation then we are no better than the leaders of the OAM, who ignored clear signs even if they were shown by members.

To this end I will write about the history of the GUM, the functions it had and served and what it inspired. But also what difficulties it faces in today’s world. I ask all who take their time to read this to reflect on the GUM and the analysis I put forward and please draw your own conclusions.

The GUM, its history, significance, and prestige

The GUM was an organisation that bound together those who wished to communicate with each other. It became a club of high professionalism, learning and prestige. If you joined it you were of the higher classes of micronations who proved to be serious and stable. The GUM in this solved problems of diplomacy and allowed members to speak about and try and resolve issues in the community better and faster than could be done on the wiki.

For many the GUM was a learning ground. During its refounding it modelled itself like its previous incarnation with the vision of spreading professionalism, aiding in a formal diplomatic venue for micronations and offering a way for faster communication. The shear prestige that the biggest influential nations brought to the organisation in all its incarnations as well as its accomplishments in peacekeeping and development of micronations brought it great success. But here we can see the cracks happening.

What people sometimes forget is that a large part of the community wasn’t on Skype; Skype wasn’t even in the picture yet. The OAM was the biggest forum and organisation; it gave, like the GUM, a platform to communicate and share information with each other, something the Wiki couldn’t do. This was the most relevant and prestigious part of contribution these organisations gave the community.

Changes in activity and the role of conflict

The GUM never drastically evolved or faced the problems it had. Without it people felt there was no place for serious or professional diplomacy and discussions on their micronational development. But in times that it existed the most active days were those with conflict. I do not like to pad myself on my own shoulder but the State of Sandus and the Kingdom of Wyvern’s feud with each other was something that kept the community active, especially the GUM which was once a fighting ground for control between factions that disliked each other. These conflicts, which are not limited to the Wyvern-Sandus conflicts, gave purpose to the organisation. It gave relevance to an organisation that was being out competed by other venues that were less organised.

It was in our community’s culture to have conflicts, fights and arguments over nothing of importance. The admins and the GUM often called for peace and the return to calm micronational development. I once spoke with Emperor Jonathan Augustus of Austenasia regarding this topic. He seemed to notice that when we as a community began to disvalue conflicts and see them as idiotic child’s play on the internet, the inactivity rose sharply. Look at the Ideological conflicts, Black Marches, Yablokogate & the Leadership Scandal. These were the most active periods of time. The ‘’New Era’’ is one of the longest lasting and boring eras, and with it the GUM is faltering ever more.

Old age, no change, relevance issues and commitment

We see that organisation cultures are important. The GUM has a culture in its standards, behaviours and way of doing things. We can all see that it’s difficult to change the GUM and that has always remained the same in how it does things, even if the organisational structure is different. One of the cultural aspects that is the same but hurts it the most is the Chairman. The Chair is seen as the leader of the GUM and is tasked with the administration of the GUM. With this task the members see it as the Chair’s job to set the agenda, to set in motion activities and programs. The commitment of the members is low, it will also never increase. We tried hard, but to avail. Chair after Chair try and fail. We all try to change this, but a culture isn’t easily changed, especially when the ground cause is a world that is different than it was once.

Look around us, the world is faster and micronations on the Skype-part of this community are growing older, more busy. The youngsters do not always have the time either nor do they have the skills that we do. Look at who run the GUM or who guide the GUM from the sidelines. It is us, what these new ones call the Old Guard. If something is wrong with the GUM, Austenasia steps in and takes over to guide the GUM back to stability.

But should we? Isn’t it time that we let the GUM die and reform it into something that was tried once before? You see in the macronational world organisations and governments are having trouble with the governance of society as well. The complexity of the society has increased and the spread of data, information and knowledge is growing every day. Facebook, the Forum and Skype all provide venues where people can converse, enter into debates or share their development and news. In such a world the GUM makes itself obsolete. What relevance does the GUM hold? We have chats on Skype for informal diplomacy and chats/debates. We have the forum, wiki and Facebook for sharing our news and getting information, and we can use Skype for formal discussions as well. Why the need for structure in a society that moves from the traditional structures of hierarchy to complex networks?

The problems with reforming

Like I said earlier, forming a network out of the GUM in which the institutions are dropped is hard to keep as people desire to rebuild the old and try and give an old concept new life. Besides this it has been tried and then the relevance of the GUM slows down even more as other venues offer the same thing. But is perfect activity in a GUM network or discussion room bad? That is the question we need to ask ourselves.

To me it is simple. I have no time for the GUM and it adds nothing for me. Its surveys are meaningless if nothing is done with it, same goes for the guides. Quorums are barely even followed by half its members and many more wish to leave out of dissatisfaction. The Chair is the only person trying to pull the cart forward but no one pushes to help. Commitment is low and will remain this way. We must see reality. In a changing world where complexity and IT has changed the world of communication so drastically, should there be a GUM?

In conclusion

To recap, the GUM is an old institution that has lost its relevance and has its age-old problems still with it: lack of commitment, inactivity, losing more and more Old Guard and not able to address the lack of relevance for the organisation. With an evolving world of technology and communication we must face the facts that Discord, Facebook and informal Skype venues as well to some degree the Forums offer the same and even more then the GUM does; there are no commitments, people can put in what they like and take what they need at any time without the fear of being thrown out because of inactivity.

My suggestion is to make it a serious professional platform for sharing ideas, discussions and professional diplomacy. The Chair could be its admin, not its leader nor the leader of the executive branch. This might condemn the GUM to more inactivity, but it will solve the issues that are slowly killing it. Hierarchy in an organisation that only functions on the fuels of prestige and not purpose will eventually die.

 

 

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Calsahara conquered by Westarctica!

 

Grand Duke Travis addresses his forces in the Westarctican command tent.

Last Sunday, October 29th, forces of the Grand Duchy of Westarctica invaded and conquered the Realm of Calsahara.

A Westarctican force of seven was led by Grand Duke Travis himself, and met with no opposition as they invaded and secured Calsahara, an area of land bordered by California.

Calsahara was proclaimed a colony of Westarctica, to be administered by a Viceroy and Captain-General, the first land claim of Westarctica outside of the Antarctic continent.

Calsahara was founded in November 2009 by the now Grand Duke Travis, prior to his return to the Westarctican throne. Travis reigned as King Montague until his abdication in favour of his son Nicholas in November 2014.

The former King continued to control Calsahara as head of government until January 2017, when he resigned and relinquished all power to his son.

However, several months of ineffective governance followed, leading Grand Duke Travis to decide that it would be in the best interests of Calsahara for it to be incorporated into Westarctica. The former King Nicholas – also a Prince of Westarctica – now serves as Viceroy of Calsahara.

James von Puchow reports on Catalan referendum

James von Puchow reports on experiences as an accredited international visitor during the Catalan referendum on self-determination; October 1, 2017.

Following an open invitation by the Government of Catalonia – the Generalitat – for members of the international public to observe the planned self-determination referendum in Catalonia on Sunday 1 October 2017, I attended several polling stations on the day of voting across north-eastern Catalonia.

Based in the coastal town of Vilassar de Mar, I was part of a group of people from Scotland who made use of their accreditation to ensure that the vote taking place was conducted according to transparent principles whereby voters were registered, given free access to the ballot box and were not restricted in voting for one of either options available on the ballot paper.

Whilst I am able to confirm that voting took place in the dozen polling places I visited and consulted, and that there were clear contingency plans in place to prevent individuals from having more than one cast vote assigned to their Spanish ID number, I regret the police violence on the day of voting which not only resulted in several hundred voters being injured, but also prevented many others from attending their polling place to vote for fear of being hurt.

It is of course understandable that many on the day will have not turned out due to their principle opposition to the referendum being held, as the Madrid central government did conclude that this poll went against the Spanish constitution and principles of permanent unity of the autonomous communities which make up the state, I did meet voters who turned out to vote against independence – many of whom had decided to camp outside polling places with fellow residents the night before 1 October to make sure there was peaceful resistance to any attempts to shut down the referendum.

Although my sympathies for Catalan independence and a democratic consultation being held are known, my role in Catalonia during the referendum was to act impartially and allow for a vote to take place – be the final result a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to an independent Catalonia in the form of a republic.

It was upsetting however to witness the consequences and aftermath of police action, for example, in the town of Sant Julia de Ramis, where the national police had smashed open glass doors, ripped the shirts of those forming human chains, bruising and cutting those who peacefully resisted the seizing of ballot boxes and voting materials. I maintain that if the Spanish state was authentically steadfast in not recognising the result of any referendum on independence, it would have let the referendum in Catalonia take place as planned and ignore the declared result.

It should be underlined that I am most of all in favour of an accorded referendum being organised between the administrations of Barcelona and Madrid, and am highly worried that any declaration of independence based on the events of 1 October in the coming days will make any attempts of talks near impossible.

This being said, Madrid and the conservative Spanish government appear unwilling to allow any consultation, and the Generalitat is clear in its demands for questions of Catalan independence to be addressed. A current stalemate is not healthy for what I hope to be a modern European democracy, and it is highly unfortunate that any actions by either administration from now on will prevent all voices in Catalonia being heard – be they for independence, federalist, or, in support of continued unity within Spain.

I urge the Austenasian Government to watch events closely as either the birth of a new European nation or a crackdown on the pro-Catalan independence movement forms the narrative of this chapter in the history of Catalonia. Questions regarding Catalans’ rights to self-determination, their right to vote and right to express themselves are not just questions to be addressed within the confines of the Spanish constitution as these are rights we all have as citizens of the modern world. It is ultimately heartbreaking to have watched scenes of extremist pro-Spanish protestors in Barcelona use fascist salutes in defiance of this referendum – as police stand by doing nothing – yet at the same time witness members of the public be attacked in broad daylight for simply holding a ballot paper.

Wildflower Meadows protests against sovereignty infringements

A plastic fence which has been placed around most of the border of Wandleside, blocking off much of the access from the UK.

Princess Hannah of Wildflower Meadows has today sent letters of protest to local British authorities regarding infringements of her country’s sovereignty.

A plastic fence was yesterday erected around Wandleside, one of the principality’s several sovereign claims, blocking most of the border with the UK.

Letters of protest were sent to the London Borough of Sutton Council, which is assumed to be responsible for the erection of the fence, and to the MP responsible for the constituency surrounding Wandleside, Tom Brake.

Princess Hannah has informed the local British authorities that while she is “pleased to note… [their] government’s tacit recognition of the new international border”, she “demand[s] an end to the blockade”.

Earlier in the year, barriers were installed in the road running past Wandleside, restricting vehicular access from the UK, and mere weeks after the land was claimed in November last year, a security camera was set up by the British observing the newly independent territory.

The United Kingdom’s blockade of Wandleside has also been criticised by local British residents on grounds relating to the environment and to traffic safety.

The Principality of Wildflower Meadows is a protected state of Austenasia, and the Emperor has ensured Princess Hannah – who is also his fiancée – that the Principality has the full support of the Empire.

King of the Grove visits Wildflower Meadows

King Calum I shakes hands with Princess Hannah during the former’s state visit to Wildflower Meadows yesterday.

King Calum I, ruler of the Kingdom of the Grove, yesterday met Princess Hannah of Wildflower Meadows in a state visit to Deva Victrix, capital of the Principality.

The two were accompanied by their respective romantic partners, Princess Hannah’s being Emperor Jonathan I, who has known King Calum since high school.

The King and the Princess signed a treaty of mutual recognition and national friendship on behalf of the Grove and Wildflower Meadows.

Calum I had previously met Jonathan I and Princess Hannah in Deva Victrix in December 2016 and March 2017.

New Wildflowerian claim in south London

Forestedge, the newest land claim of Wildflower Meadows.

The Principality of Wildflower Meadows expanded again yesterday with the claim of a grassy area of parkland near Princess Hannah’s residence in the United Kingdom.

The new territory, claimed as the Barony of Forestedge, is uninhabited and measures roughly 53,200 square feet.

Princess Hannah was accompanied yesterday by Emperor Jonathan I and Wildflowerian noble Lady Laura when the land was claimed.

Forestedge joins the Marquessate of Wandleside as one of the only two areas of Wildflower Meadows enclosed by south London, the majority of the Principality’s land being an enclave of Cheshire.

Further expansion for Wildflower Meadows

Maybridge spans the River Dee, and is connected by the Queen’s Park Bridge.

The Principality of Wildflower Meadows annexed yet more land yesterday, following expansions in October and November last year.

A strip of land connecting its three largest territories was claimed by Princess Hannah yesterday afternoon, with the approval of Emperor Jonathan I.

Maybridge, as the new county has been named, consists of two areas of land on either side of the River Dee, connected by the Queen’s Park Bridge.

While the northern area includes historical landmarks such as a Roman amphitheatre and the ruins of the city’s original cathedral, the area south of the river consists mainly of residential properties.

The new land claim connects the county of Grosvenor Park to the two duchies of Deva Victrix and Chester Meadows, the latter two being the original land claim of the Principality.

A map of the three territories now connected by Maybridge (the new claim in red) can be seen here.