Every once in a while, my stockbroker and I have lunch. We don’t necessarily do it to adjust my investments. We get together to solve the world’s financial problems. Right now, the world, according to my broker, looks glum. He’s especially annoyed with Greece for not paying down its debt. He worries that Portugal, Ireland and Spain might follow. To prove his point about the possibility of the European Union breaking up, he points to the former USSR. When the Soviet Union couldn’t pay its debt, the leaders dissolved it. No Union, no debt.
Thinking about what he’d said, he suggested the United States ought to consider doing the same as we, too, are a nation heavily in debt. “Let’s dissolve the Federal government,” he half-jested, “and declare each state a country.” I laughed. Then I thought about Oregon being uncoupled from Texas and began to suspect the idea had merit.
I went home, still chuckling over our discussion, and sat down to read. What fell into my hands was an article about how to create a private kingdom. (“You, too, can be a king,” excerpted from an article in Bloomberg.com in The Week, June 5, 3015, pgs. 40-41.) The idea goes as far back as 1851. That’s when a group of Cambridge literary students gave themselves royal titles and declared themselves followers of Samuel Butler, author of the fictional land of Erewhon, an anagram for nowhere. (Ibid, pg.40.) But there are plenty of examples for the precedent besides literature. In 1968, the Republic of Rose Island came into being, a floating platform in the Adriatic where Italian, Giorgio Rosa, declared himself president and issued stamps for his country. He forgot to notify the Italians, apparently, because when they learned of this new nation, they sent their navy to blow the platform to smithereens. The president, it seems, owed Italy some back taxes. (Ibid, pg 40.)
A few dreamers have tried to carve out a country from within a country. In 1970, Australian farmer Leonard Casley, angry with his government’s wheat quotas, declared his farm The Principality of Hurt River and seceded from Australia. Australia ignored the declaration, however, and went on collecting his taxes. On the bright side, the notoriety made Casley’s farm a tourist attraction, and I sincerely hope, it also earned him a little side money.
The key to living at peace within a larger nation seems to be paying one’s taxes. Kings, queens and presidents of mythical countries that do seemed to be left alone. “Today, about, 98 active micronations litter the globe from Australia to Antarctica. Not surprising, the US State Department is one of the bigger nations that keeps tabs on the ephemeral ones. The Office of the Geographer keeps this information and, I’d be willing to guess, the NSA does, too.
Surprisingly, nationhood can be applied where the population numbers just 1. Carolyn Yagjian has created a virtual nation, called Obsidia where she rules as queen and gets to wear a crown. Her problem is she’s been discovered by the internet and has received 63 “likes.” (Ibid pgs. 40-41) Her worry is what to do if any of these fans apply for citizenship.
I like the idea of having my own kingdom and have measured my apartment as the basis for my claim. All I need s a splashy name. The tiara I already have, a relic of my high school graduation.