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Interview with Lord Kit McCarthy of Amerdansk

Lord Kit McCarthy is Baron and Governor of the newly annexed Austenasian territory of Amerdansk,  and last year founded the RadioMicro media group and the micronation of Mcarthia (his house in Scotland). He is known for his public criticism of Lord Admiral Joseph Kennedy – most recently supporting concerns raised over the Prime Minister’s mandate – and is a prominent figure amongst the newer members of the MicroWiki community. The Austenasian Times has conducted an interview with Lord McCarthy:

Tell us a bit about Amerdansk. What’s it like; what interesting features does it have?

Amerdansk is a patch of land next to Mcarthia’s east border, sitting directly north of Government House – indeed, the President’s Office overlooks it. Mcarthia’s two free range chickens are frequently seen there, along with Mcarthia’s two cats.

The land is accessed by a short narrow path through a wooden frame with various plants growing over it.
Much of the territory is actually covered in thick moss, which in summer gets extremely warm. In fact, two years ago, it got so that residents could see a little steam coming off!

Amerdansk: the Territory governed by Lord Kit McCarthy.

Why did you decide to offer Amerdansk to the Empire?

Mcarthia greatly respects the Empire’s position as a community leader, and on our first anniversary we wished to make something of a contribution. Therefore, the Mcarthian Parliament unanimously agreed to cede the land of Amerdansk to the Empire.

We also hoped that after the – ahem – ‘Austenasian Election Affair,’ relations could be improved between the two nations.

There have in the past been tensions between yourself and the Prime Minister, Lord Admiral Kennedy. Can you see this being a problem for your position in the Empire?

I would be lying if I said I approved of all the Prime Minister’s actions, and that is common knowledge. At times, I have found the Prime Minister to be offensive, and believe that some of his actions have been inappropriate for someone of his position.

However, he has been democratically elected, and no matter what issues I may have with him, if the electorate trusts him, I will of course support his position.

I have no desire to fight further, and hope that we can respect each other – accepting, but not dwelling on past events. So long as he is also prepared to accept that, I hope there will not be any further problems between us.

You’ve recently advocated for the Grand Unified Micronational to return to being a full-blown intergovernmental organisation. Could you tell us a bit about your reasons for this, and what you think it would take to be a success?

The GUM was fairly undeniably the most successful of all the micronational organisations, even considering its eventual demise. I have been discussing with a senior member of the community the possibility of the GUM once again becoming active in its previous style.

The community, I have long believed, needs some kind of focal point. Even disasters such as the MNTO brought the community together, and created activity (even if it wasn’t always the activity we wanted…). Despite their bad name, organisations are a good way of encouraging participation in the community, and helping us stay attractive to new and younger members.

I think that with genuine careful planning, and the support of major micronations, the GUM has a hope of becoming a ‘real’ organisation.

It is an unfortunate fact that most, if not all, organised micronational activity does not last forever. I suppose the essential reason for this is that micronationalism is for many a hobby, and is not essential to people’s lives. So what if an organisation collapses? However, this puts many off founding organisations.

We have to accept that there is perfectly good chance that the GUM would not survive again. However, I don’t think this should put us off. If it doesn’t work, it’s not the end of the world. It’ll have given us all something to do!

Any efforts however would face a dilemma – the GUM survived while it did primarily because it was full of extremely experienced, respected nations. However, in my discussions with others, it is clear that many would see a new GUM primarily as a project for newer nations. Concerns have been raised that younger micronationalists have no role model, if you will. People see a need, and I think I agree, for an organisation that would mentor MicroWiki’s younger members, and give them valuable political and professional experience.

But then, there is a problem. If an organisation is focused towards younger nations, many of the more experienced nations might not be so interested in joining. And if we don’t have the experienced members, long term success would prove much harder. A very careful balance would need to be struck.

Absolutely meticulous planning would be required, probably months’ worth, and all of the essential technical and legal infrastructure would have to be in place before the organisation began again. One of the major problems the Nollandish Confederacy suffered was a lack of this. All our activities revolved around self-management because the system wasn’t effectively working when the organisation began. Work was divided into two categories – elections (taking 80-90% of our time), and attempting to pass legislation relating to governance and management. We were inflated by unimaginable amounts of bureaucracy.

What should be happening ideally is that the members of an organisation shouldn’t have to bother with this. Administration should, as much as possible, be taken care of behind the scenes.

We couldn’t afford this in a new organisation. Elections would have to take less than no time, and the Constitution should mean that self-governing legislation shouldn’t be necessary. A new organisation would have to hit the ground running.

What happened with the Confederacy was that a complete lack of anything useful being done meant that no one bothered to even vote on all the pointless legislation. No one cared. What others and myself were trying to do later in the Confederacy’s life was introduce some kind of projects – there was a guide for new micronationalists, for instance, or a Confederal games. It was too late.

A new organisation would have to be kept simple. A simple electoral system would be a key example. I have found that organisation designers are somewhat in awe of very complicated electoral systems that might produce a decent result but are absolutely impossible to run. They were the death of the Confederacy, I am fairly sure.

So then, to sum up (and I apologise for a very long answer): a new organisation would have to have confidence, experienced members, a very wide support base, a balance between providing for experienced members and younger members, extremely careful planning, a pre-prepared infrastructure, and a simple governance system. Heaven knows that’s not all, but it’s a start, and if we can get that, I think we’d have a decent chance.

Thank you for your time.

Micronational book club: King Nicholas and the Copeman Empire – Book review and interview with the former king

51mkbd0jnkl-_sx310_bo1204203200_Article by Evren Filgert, Duchess of Dumnonia – originally at Porthbokon News

Part micronational memoir and part ballsy fictionalised tale, ‘King Nicholas and the Copeman Empire’ is a story of a man with a Hyacinth Bucket-esque talent for self delusion with a wit that makes all the ludicrous events described excusable. Most of the facts about the author’s life are completely made up, but it’s told with such a straight face that you can’t help but play along – something that fits with the subject matter of the yarn itself.

Peppered with documentation of the Copeman Empire’s rise (something I was very thankful for, since any actual micronational information seemed to have disappeared from the web) and obsessively detailed accounts of local fast food establishments, this book works as both an entertaining, dryly humorous tale and a micronational account, like an explorer’s journal. As someone who immediately put his micronation into the ‘real world’, so to speak, going about town in micronational dress, becoming the gossip of his town and issuing royal warrants, Copeman gets quite a bit further than many of his micronational readers have before.

With a national religion based on the ‘Order of the Zinger’, a KFC burger, headed by the ‘Archbishop of Fantaberry’, a royal signet ring made out of a cannibalised pound coin and a Throne Room which is actually a caravan’s bathroom, it reminds one of the Kingdom of Lovely documentary quite a lot, and it’s just as entertaining and hard to put down.

I read it obsessively at work, during snatched breaks, because it was so engaging, and it gave a micronational zeal that’s sadly hard to regain sometimes when reading an endless barrage of internet micronationalism. Though the story is about a man’s dramatic, flourishing failure at life, in terms of micronationalism – and having a good time – Nicholas gets things done, whether it be outfitting a static caravan into a lushly kitsch palace or gatecrashing a  regional society ball in his kingly persona.

I contacted the former King (now just plain Nick Copeman), who was polite and accommodating when speaking about the former micronation, despite it having been defunct for nearly a decade. He put up an archived version of the Copeman Empire’s site, a very well-designed and funny example of a micronational web presence, complete with custom headers featuring the king and his inspirational quotes and a parodical citizenship qualification list:

  • 1. Get hold of a copy of King Nicholas and the Copeman Empire
  • 2. Read it
  • 3. Give it to a friend/enemy/stranger
  • 4. Tell them to read it
  • 5. Buy a Zinger Tower burger from KFC
  • 6. Eat it, while listening to Zadoc the Priest on your iPod
  • 7. Buy a Zinger Tower Burger for a friend/enemy/stranger
  • 8. Watch them eat it while they listen to Zadoc the Priest on their iPod
  • 9. Get a £1 coin and bore the middle out
  • 10. Stick it on your finger
  • 11. Change your name by Deed Poll to something snazzy-sounding
  • 12. Eat a 10p bag of spicy Transform-a-Snacks
  • 13. Email me

Which gives you a clue as to the nature of the micronation (I’m at no. 4, planning to complete 5-8 this weekend!).

Nick also agreed to an interview about the book, his life, and his former micronation, but unfortunately some of it might not make sense to those who haven’t read it. All the more reason to buy a copy! They’re a couple of quid on Amazon.

Evren: The book is told with this very straight-faced dry wit as if Adrian Mole were the heir to Grand Fenwick, but a lot of the events described seem very fantastical. Are any of the people or events in the book exaggerated or did everything really play out like that? 

Nick: Yes, everything is distorted and screwed up. All the characters are 100% real but some had their names changed so they wouldn’t beat me up, and certain episodes are slightly Walter Mitty.

I think there is a term for it .. something along the lines of “unreliable author”, where one isn’t clear whether the narrator is telling the truth, deluded, outright lying, or a mixture of all three.

But one thing is totally true: I became King Nicholas. I walked this earth for some time — not as a mere mortal — but as God’s anointed one.

The ending to the whole tale, on the other hand, is quite sobering, a sharp turn away from stuff like having lobster on a bed of pot noodles and riding around town on a horse. Did everything work out all right in the end?

I can’t stand happy endings. They just don’t happen. Life is bitter-sweet. The problem is that consumerist society wants you to believe that if you buy a certain fragrance, then you’ll attract an aspirational partner, get a free upgrade to business class, whitened teeth, and generally live the dream.

Becoming “King” was escapism and wanting to feel good about doing badly in life, but it was a doomed dynasty from the start. That was the whole point really. To be an epic failure, rather than just a meek, downtrodden and apologetic failure

Coming from a small seaside town myself, I know how much people like to gossip. It seems like the whole endeavour had a big effect on the residents of Sheringham. If you still live there, do people still talk about it? Is the Copeman Empire alive in the hearts of Norfolk (or, some of Norfolk’s hearts)?

One interesting thing about living on the coast is that there is one less direction to run in if some yobos happen to be chasing you, and also your community is much denser, simply because it can’t dissipate out in one direction — everyone’s crowded around the waterfront.

So yes, people did gossip about me and my empire: most people were just perplexed by it, some thought I was acting above my station and a minority was outright hostile.

But some people loved it. The sort of can-do people I admire.

I still reminisce about the Empire with Roy Boy occasionally (the owner of the truckstop cafe who had my Royal Warrant proudly displayed on the side of his trailer).

In fact, I’d take Roy as a prime example. Since the book came out he made the move from the layby into the town, opened a cafe, and later extended it — the guy is an absolute legend, fully deserving of an MBE in addition to the MCE I awarded him.

And my official barber has since opened a newer and bigger shop, yet he still comes out to cut my elderly dad’s hair at home as a favour. All the people who were positive and self-motivated at the time of my empire were the people who supported me then and they’re all still going strong now.

Leading on from that, do you regret anything about the whole business, or was it just a strange chapter in your life? 

I don’t regret any of it all! It made perfect sense at the time and it still makes perfect sense now.

For example, I stopped wearing my one pound coin ring when I abdicated. But I came across it in a box of trinkets the other day. I’d had a few months of people turning down my current project and I just decided to try it on again, like it was “The Precious” off the Lord of the Rings or something. And as soon as I put it on, I suddenly felt all my regal powers coming back — not in a cocky way, just I felt the legacy was alive again. I’m wearing it as I type.

The book is really interesting to me and other younger micronationalists, because it resonates with a lot of us now but actually happened in this time where the internet was a totally different, younger, place, and things like BT broadband installation and floppy disks. What do you think would happened if you’d had the idea in 2014? Would you have been too busy watching Countdown on iPlayer or would you have gotten really into it, like micronations such as the Federal Republic of St.Charlie or Molossia?

I think if I’d had the idea now, not much would have changed. I’m not on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and all that. I still believe that meaningful interactions are what count. Face-to-face, ideally.

You had to do a fair bit of digging around to get hold of me. Not that that makes me special or anything. But I think doing a bit of legwork means you care about the interaction, rather than just liking someone on Facebook to boost your network of so-called friends.

Thanks for answering all my questions! Last one: what’s so bad about drinking pink gin in the navy? [at a Naval officer interview, Nick orders a pink gin, a traditional naval drink, and instead of camaraderie is met with coughs and muttered ‘w***er’s.]  

Pink Gin was a popular naval drink, in the nineteenth century I believe, up until the days of David Niven or thereabouts (1940s-ish). I think angostura bitters were added to gin in the Caribbean or there abouts as some kind of health thing, perhaps to do with sea sickness or warding off tropical illnesses.

It was still a popular drink when my uncle was a naval officer, hence him teaching me how to make it.

But fast-forward to my appearance at the Admiralty Interview Board, and no one drank cocktails anymore. Most of them now drink bloody lager!

So when I ordered a Pink Gin (thinking myself the pinnacle of sophistication), they assumed I was taking the p*ss.

Incidentally, I currently favour a Gin ‘n’ Mixed Vermouth on occasion.

Take a Martini glass and fill with five shots of gin (Plymouth/Tanqueray/Beefeater) followed by 1 shot of Extra Dry Martini and 1 shot of Rosso Martini and garnished with a maraschino cherry on a cocktail stick.

———

So, there you have it. Hopefully this has inspired you to read the book, given a new lease to your real-world micronationalism or at least, inspiration for any new gin-based cocktails. I think I’ll mix myself one in honour of the Copeman Empire.

Interview with King Astrid of Zealandia

Their Majesty King Astrid (a.k.a. Anna Lindstrom) at a rally in March.

Their Majesty King Astrid, known outside of Zealandia as Anna Lindstrom and formerly known as Haakon, is King of Zealandia and Governing Commissioner of the Austenasian Crown Dependency of New South Scotland.

King Astrid changed her name from Haakon after announcing earlier this year that she was female, and is the first openly transgender monarch known to have ruled in the modern era. The Austenasian Times has conducted an interview with the King:

Austenasian Times: After adopting the name Haakon a few years ago, you have recently asked to be known instead by the name of Anna. Could you tell us about your reasons behind that decision?

Yes, I changed my name to reflect my gender identification pretty much after coming out. I feel it reflects my gender more better.

You’ve previously identified as “genderqueer” – now, however, you identify as female, correct?

Yes, it was a process of working through what was inside my head.

The right to change the gender by which one is identified is included under Article XII of the Austenasian Constitution – what laws does Zealandia have regarding transgender rights?

Zealandia has a whole suite of laws for recognition of a person’s gender identity and the right to change gender and name, and to protect from discrimination, including the basic protections given in the constitution and the Gender Recognition Act 2014, which also allows a person to change their documents free of charge.

You’re the first openly transgender monarch in modern history, and your change of identity seems to have been readily accepted by many of those in the MicroWiki community. What do you think this says?

It says that the MicroWiki community is far more progressive and accepting of people than the communities outside of micronationalism. Of course there are exceptions such as Trace Fleeman, but fascists and their opinions have never mattered much to me.

Have you had much opposition to your change of identity?

Yes, both from within my family and from the wider Australian community.  Members of my family have had a hard time understanding my identity, and pronouns are always a problem for them; as for the wider community, I have when dressed in feminine clothing I have been threatened with violence and had transphobic slurs hurled my way.

Do you have any plans to undergo surgery to change your appearance?

Unfortunately Medicare doesn’t cover any form of GRS [gender-reassignment surgery], so despite wanting to fix my appearance there is no way that I could afford it at the moment or for a long time. However it is important to note that surgery doesn’t make the woman or man.

Finally, as well as King of Zealandia you also serve as Governing Commissioner of New South Scotland. You recently made Swedish an official language of the Crown Dependency – is there anything else planned for New South Scotland in the near future?

With winter coming in the southern hemisphere, things are starting to get fairly quiet but no doubt I’ll come up with some exciting plans for both the Commonwealth of Zealandia and New South Scotland.

Thank you for your time, your Majesty.

Exclusive interview with new St.Charlian President, Sir Alexander Reinhardt

Sir Alexander Reinhardt: left in 2008 as Vice-Secretary of the National Party, right in 2014 as President.

Sir Alexander Reinhardt is a founding citizen of the Federal Republic of St.Charlie, who helped to lead the revolution in November 2008 that overthrew the old Kingdom.

Prime Minister from 2009 to 2011, and then again from 2012 to 2013, Reinhardt was recently elected the fourth President of St.Charlie, taking office on 8 March.

The Empire and St.Charlie have engaged in formal diplomacy since August 2009, signing a treaty of mutual friendship and co-operation in December later that year. The Austenasian Times has conducted an exclusive interview with the new president:

Austenasian Times: First things first: how did your inauguration ceremony go? We’ve seen a photograph uploaded to Facebook, but who was present and what took place?

Reinhardt: It was pretty good, I guess! First Judge Michele Vicentini was there, then we had President Lunam with Deputy PM Nicolò Alvisi and two other citizens who came directly from Tor Pendente, one of them was an Observer journalist. The Secretary of the FUCM [a St.Charlian trade union] was also there. We had the swearing, then I signed the official documents and we had dinner together. The inauguration was followed by a party, but some of us don’t remember all of it, to be fair.

Haha, sounds fun. Now, for the sake of those who are not aware, what are your functions in St.Charlie as President?

St.Charlie is a federal parliamentary republic. As such, my duty as President is not only to nominate the Government, and protect the Constitution, but also to represent the nation and its unity. While it could be seen a very ceremonial figure, the President is literally the physical representation of St.Charlie in the micronational sphere.

Some observers have regarded St.Charlie as recently being on the decline in terms of governmental activity and international influence. What would your response to them be?

We’ve all grown up a bit, which led to a decline in terms of online presence, so it is true that there is a difference with the past years. However, this doesn’t mean that we’re not as active as before internally, which I think is the most important thing to preserve in a micronation. We’ve become a bit like our long-time friend and ally, Flandrensis: we exist, we do things as usual, but we don’t publish it much, and many see it as a decline in internal activity. It’s more complicated than what it looks like.

It’s good to know we’re not in any danger of losing you all! PoliNation 2014 in Italy is only a few months away, an event which you are helping to organise. What else do we have to look forward to during your term of office?

My predecessor, James Lunam, did a wonderful job in preserving the identity of our nation. However, he was mostly seen in the Italophone sector. For instance, he recently set up a journalism award for Italian micronationalists named after Nick Maggiore. I am planning to continue his policy, but increase my presence in the English sector too.

Finally, you have been with the modern St.Charlie right from the beginning, when you took part in the movement that transitioned the old Kingdom into the current Federal Republic. Over five years have passed – are you pleased with how St.Charlie has grown in that time?

Yes, I am very pleased with what we have now. Most micronations die with their founders, and we have reached the point where even those who weren’t there in 2008 are political leaders and active citizens. So far, it’s probably the thing I am most proud of.

Good luck for your term, your excellency, and thank you for your time.

Thanks a lot!