Sunday, April 7, 2013

Vatican City

An interesting subject in terms of nations is the entity of Vatican City. Despite a long history with the Catholic Church's head in Rome, Vatican City was only relatively recently formed to its current political appearance in 1929 through the Lateran Treaty with Italy (full text here). When Italy was unified in 1871, what would become Vatican City did not wish to be incorporated into Italy and so sat for almost 60 years in a state of limbo labelled the "Roman Question". Eventually an agreement was made in which Vatican City would be its own legal entity, albeit closely linked to Italy.

Vatican City exists as a nation because of Religion, one of the major reasons in the creation of some nations. Ironically, both Italy and Vatican City, at the time of the Lateran Treaty, held Roman Catholicism as the official religion. The difference was that Italy was becoming a modern nation with many various aspects, while Vatican City focused to a much greater extent on the aspect of religion.

Today the Vatican City is still the head of the Roman Catholic Church, and it is unique among nations in that many modern nations seek to not specify a particular religion, while Vatican City exists only to preach its religion. Vatican City is not a member of the United Nations, but it is still widely recognized as a state separate from any other, meeting the criteria for the constitutive theory of statehood. Vatican city meets all of the criteria for the declarative theory of statehood as well, making it a state by both main definitions. (See the difference between Declarative and Constitutive theories of statehood here).

Vatican City has a major global impact, arguably larger than many states of greater size. This is because although Vatican City has fewer than 1,000 citizens, the Catholic religion is practiced by more than 1 billion people worldwide, meaning that Vatican City has tremendous international influence. It is very rare for a country to have such a strong influence over people who are not citizens of that country, making Vatican City a rather unique nation.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Nations Existing from Prehistory

Many nations which exist today also existed by the same names long ago. Nations such as Britain (timeline here), France (history here), China (timeline of dynasties), and Japan (brief history here) are examples of these. Many of these such nations created empires at their height, expanding their influence across the world. While today, many of these nations are not as powerful as previously in their histories, they still remain as moderately powerful nations, some still growing in power.

These nations existed sometimes unified by a leader (most often a monarch or emperor) and sometimes fractured into much smaller states. However, when these smaller states unified the countries gained their greatest power and influence, and this power has been able to be conserved into modern day. While the borders of these countries have may have changed with time, what has not changed is often the culture, language, and people which make up these nations. Because these factors are largely what identify a nation, for this reason it may be said that these nations have existed as nations for so long.

Some of these nations have official dates for which they identify the beginning of the nation, such as France's beginnings in 843 under the Treaty of Verdun. Other nations with such long history don't necessarily have official dates of inception as countries, but instead exist today as nations because they have history as a nation, not because they have set histories and recognition. 

Some of these historic nations have had more recent transformations as nations, such as China, which became the Democratic People's Republic of China in 1949 (brief history here). This may be considered by some as the creation of a new nation, and it certainly showcases some of the criteria for the creation of a new nation which are outlined in the guide for creating a nation (link to page on this site). On the other hand, transformations such as the one in China may be seen not as the creation of a new nation but as a change and part of the extended history of the nation. Whether such nations have existed since antiquity or are more recent additions, they exemplify the diverse nature of the origin of nations. 

When these nations with long histories have tried to expand , the resulting conflicts have often resulted in the creation of more nations, sometimes immediately and sometimes further along in history. Many of these historic nations have had the benefit of time to build strength and ability to expand. However, upon trying to expand, these nations came into conflict with other nations, often with each other, and these conflicts escalated to wars which would create new nations. Essentially, this system began with imperialism, which divided many territories into what would later become new nations. 

The large and historic nations have great histories themselves as nations, and because they existed before the any attempt was made at defining a nation, they are by default considered such. These had a great effect in the creation of new nations, but they rarely tried to create the new nations; instead they more frequently struggled against insurrections which pitted natives wishing for independence against the imperial powers. These nations with long histories have had a great impact on the creation of nations and the evolution of what it means to be a nation. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

How War Creates Nations

War is an something that has long been present in human society. It has also been a major force in drawing and redrawing lines on maps and in the dirt. Since prehistory humans have been fighting against each other. There have been a great many volumes written on the subject, such as a very famous one by Sun Tzu (The Art of War, click here for full text). It should come as no surprise that wars can be destructive, ending many lives, but they also can be constructive in a more abstract way. That is, wars are consistently good at creating new nations.

Civil Wars

There have been many famous civil wars: classic history speaks of the English Civil War, the French Revolution, The American Civil War to name a few- but none of these have successfully started a new country. Some of the belligerents in these wars certainly wished to start a new country but were unsuccessful. There have been other civil wars which have been more successful in creating new nations. For example, the Korean War may be considered a Civil War which created a new nation based on the fact that it was between two factions of a single previous country, and the conflict ended (or stalemated) with two nations. Some might argue however that the fact that other countries such as the United States played a role in this war that the term Civil war does not apply. This is more of a technicality, and the point that a war created a new country remains. There have been many civil wars in Africa, for example the conflict between Sudan and South Sudan (which also may not be called a civil war per se, more so because war may not be the correct term, but the concept still applies) has led to the recent creation of South Sudan as a nation on 9 July 2011. (Official website)

World Wars

World Wars have played an interesting part in creating and destroying nations. Following World War One, the Ottoman Empire was destroyed, losing much territory, while Turkey was created with what remained. Austria and Hungary were also created as separate nations from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire along with two other countries, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. Poland was recreated as a nation following World War One, as well as several Baltic states. Many of these creations of nations were focused on drawing the map to better reflect cultural divisions amongst peoples. The purpose of this was to keep peoples isolated in order to both keep them from fighting one another and keep them from forming alliances with each other. 

Of course, keeping the European peoples from forming alliances did not work. Alliances had been what led to the First World War, and they would have an impact on the Second World War as well. Following the victory of the Allies over the Germany, Germany was divided into zones, which would eventually become two separate countries, East and West Germany. (Although, the German citizens did not have a say in the creation of these two nations because the two halves were administered by the Allies). 

Although war may divide people, these divisions may have the benefit of keeping hostile people apart, creating (admittedly somewhat unsteady) peace. The converse of this may also be argued: separating people may lead them to foster even greater hatred for each other and increase conflict in the future. Generalizations don't work with regards to war and nations, only individual analyses on a case by case basis. War can be as much a constructive as a destructive force with regard to the creation of nations. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Conch Republic

The Conch Republic (link here) is a micronation founded on 23 April 1982. The micronation is rather large as far as micronations go, consisting of several thousand citizens as opposed to the few that many micronations consist of. The nation seceded from the United States in protest of a government border checkpoint which was established on the only road from the Florida Keys to the mainland. This blockade created horrible traffic and damaged the tourist economy. The people seceded as a political demonstration more so than they did for the purpose of creating a true nation, but nonetheless the nation was created for a purpose or reason. The nation followed many of the steps outlined in the page on this website regarding creating a nation (link here).

The Conch Republic is unique among micronations in that it deals with issues in a humorous manner. Their mottos are, "We seceded where others failed" and, "The mitigation of world tension through the exercise of humor". The purpose of creating the micronation was to create a change in the United States more than to create a completely new and self sufficient nation. The primary purpose was achieved, as the checkpoint was removed.

This nation serves as an example of how creating a nation can bring about change, whether it be in the mother or daughter nation. Creating a nation is a powerful statement that change is necessary.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Principality of Hutt River

The Principality of Hutt River or Hutt River Province was created on 21 April 1970 by Prince Leonard Casley because he disliked how the Australian government wanted to control his production of wheat on his own farm. The Principality of Hutt River has many of the same factors as nations much larger including government, population, currency (link), and even economy. For a video and transcript of an interview with Prince Leonard, see this link. To watch another, different video regarding the Principality of the Hutt River, see below. Both give an insight into what it is like creating and maintaining a micronation.

The Principality of Hutt River is a micronation. Micronations have a very small population, usually only a family or two, and a relatively small territory (although the Hutt River actually has a territory larger than some widely recognized nations). Micronations exist in various levels of legality, some are simply seen as silly games played by zealous individuals, some strive for legal recognition, but a select few ever achieve it to the degree that Prince Leonard has. Prince Leonard has achieved his initial goal and more: he has followed many of the necessary steps found in my guide to creating a nation (link here). Prince Leonard pays no taxes to the country of Australia, and has received recognition by the Australian government as a separate legal entity. What does this mean? That he has effectively and peacefully seceded from the country of Australia and that both countries have recognized this. In this respect, Prince Leonard has gained one highly sought after prize of new nations: recognition by outside nations. It is rare for a macro- (or large) nation to recognize a micronation because the latter are often thought of as nonserious attempts at publicity.

Against a Previous Government

The Principality of Hutt River is a shining example of a successful micronation which has been established for a reason: to combat what Prince Leonard believed were unfair government policies. Leonard was intelligent in his creation of his nation in that he did not try to physically combat a stronger force, but instead stuck to his (and their) morals to win a legal battle.

For Control of One's Own Life and Fate

Another reason often seen in creating nations (both macronations and micronations) is for greater control of the life of the individual. It seems that many humans inherently wish to be free and able to have control over their lives (some also wish to not have this freedom; no judgments are being made). Leonard was smart enough to find the most effective way of controlling his life when he realized it was previously being controlled for him. In a similar manner, many people could learn from Prince Leonard. On a lesser scale, many people could seek to bring about change in their lives and communities by using their influence allowed to them by their government (if they live under a government that allows this). Of course not everyone is lucky enough to be allowed a voice, and many have to struggle for it. For these people, may Leonard be a hero with his creation of a new nation. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Creation of Israel

The nation of Israel existed in antiquity, but in modern times it came to existence on 14 May 1948, following World War Two in which the Jewish people had been heavily discriminated against by Nazi Germany. The Jews in Europe, despite now being free of Hitler's hatred, were scattered throughout Europe and feared future discrimination. For this reason, the state of Israel was created for the purpose of acting as a homeland for the Jewish people.

Links to sites regarding Israel's creation. herehere, and here

The modern creation of Israel reflects some of the reasons why nations are created.

Religion: The state of Israel was created to be a homeland for the Jewish people where they could live safely, free from discrimination in other countries.

War: The state of Israel was created as a result of World War Two. Although the Jewish people were not fighting in the war in the conventional (military) sense, they were fighting discrimination and the very real possibility of death or imprisonment.

Of course the creation of this new nation brought conflict to the region. Almost immediately following Israel's creation, it was attacked by the neighboring Arab countries. These nations were not happy that a new nation had been created, taking land and recognition from Palestine and which also held a religion which came into conflict with their own largely Islamic beliefs.

Israel is a good example of both how a nation could have existed in antiquity (before the current definition of nation existed) and in modernity as well as some of the challenges new nations encounter.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Independence From Colonial Powers

Many nations spent several centuries growing great empires by expanding their colonial powers abroad. In the last few centuries, however, there has been a decline in the number of colonial holdings by large empires and a growth in the number of independent nations. 

There are many great causes of this wave of independence, including increased education, ease of administration by more localized government, differences among peoples (including subjugation of colonials by the empire power). 

Whatever the reason, many varying nations have been established upon gaining their independence from another nation. Many of these newer nations came from the "New World", "Far East", or Africa. 

The idea of independence reflects the human belief that power should be limited. For the citizens of the new nations, often the idea of another country (often one across many miles of ocean) controlling the destinies of the local citizens was absurd. When these people were able to unite, they were able to bring enough force to show the mother countries their belief that determination should be made by the people whom the decisions will affect, not someone half a world away. 

It may sound like the people of the new countries believed in democratic principles as a collective quality, but this is not true for all of the peoples; nor should it be a determining factor or an area for judgement as "good" or "bad". The distance of the leadership from the people (both physical and in doctrine) was more the matter of contention than any particular ideology. 

Ultimately, people realized that they did not need to live under the rule of absent leaders because the people had the power to gain their independence.