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. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

What is Needed to Create a Nation: Declarative vs. Constitutive Theory

The Declarative Theory

The Declarative Theory of defining a country follows the belief that a country declares itself a country or is declared a country once it has achieved certain criteria. The Montevideo Convention of 1933 (link to full text here) (link to explanation here) was signed by 19 countries. Although this is by no means a majority of countries, the guidelines set forth in the convention have served (somewhat) as de facto requirements to become a nation.

These requirements are:
“a ) a permanent population; 
b ) a defined territory; 
c ) government; and 
d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states.”

These requirements seem to make sense; they allow a nation to exist physically and politically. Despite many nations having signed this document, it is by no means a list of necessities set in stone. However, these four points are often sought by prospective countries as goals toward statehood. 

Constitutive Theory

Many nations, particularly those who are members of the United Nations or seek membership there, believe that recognition by current states is necessary before a nation may be considered such. Many of these nations wish to reserve the privilege of nationhood to those nations which gain recognition by other nations, often as political allies. This system would mean that for any nation to become a nation, it would need to be recognized by other nations (though by how many other nations is uncertain). This system would also give power to those nations which already exist over those nations which are young or may not yet hold the title of nation. The real reason for withholding nationhood may be more so because with each new nation, the influence of the old ones lessens, and seemingly no nation would actively reduce its influence. 

Luckily for aspiring nations however, there is no universal agreement on how to become a nation. There exists two main theories: the declarative theory, which follows the guidelines of the Montevideo Convention, and the constitutive theory which follows the idea that recognition is most important for nationhood. 

The fact that there is no agreement means that for new nations (perhaps those that cannot gain all of the requirements enumerated in the declarative theory or the recognition necessary for the constitutive theory) becoming a nation is all in their own beliefs of themselves. That is, a nation becomes a nation when it believes it is a nation, not because of meeting criteria or because others believe it is a nation. Ideally, this means that anyone could create a nation, but doing so may lessen the intended impact of creating a nation. Even so, the definition of a nation is not concrete and is left up to the individual (or collection of individuals) of that country. 

What seems most necessary for the creation of a nation is at least one individual (though more, while not necessary, may add to legitimacy and influence). This individual(s) needs to be willing to further their cause as a nation, whatever that may be. Any other criteria are extra but are generally necessary for the creation of a nation which intends to encompass a large group(s) of people. A leader tends to be beneficial here as well. But as previously mentioned, the final determination of what constitutes a nation resides with the creators of that nation and its citizens, not with anyone else. 

For a further in depth analysis of declarative vs. constitutive theories of statehood, click (here).