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Should micronationalists be taken seriously?

Are micronationalists egocentrics dressed as heads of state or do they carry a social, cultural or ecological vision? While some play on humor and fantasy to draw attention to themselves, others strive to give meaning to their actions. We've been interested in how these two trends work together.

HSH, Prince Leonard of Hutt River (1925-2019) was the figurehead of micronationalism in Australia. Although very serious in his micronational approach, he was seen as an original by his Australian neighbors.

How many times have we heard micronationalists take offense at not being taken seriously? It is true that there are many press articles showing derision against the micronationalists. But why is it like this and is it so bad ?

First of all, you have to understand the relationship between micronations and the press. If the micronationalists seek in the press a form of recognition, the press as for it, seeks in the micronations: their originality, their grain of madness and their creativity. Why that? Simply because they are perfect ingredients to tell an entertaining story to their readers. That is to say, a story that will sell.

Let it be said: Micronationalism interests the media because it entertains in the first place. It is perceived first of all as an eccentricity which contrasts with the bad news of everyday life. Therefore, micronationalists seeking to make sense of their micronation will first have to learn to be serious without taking themselves seriously. This is what the pioneers of micronationalism understood well.

Take the example of Leonard Casley, founder and Prince of the Principality of Hutt River. Thanks to his use - with more or less success - of the dress and protocol codes of a Prince, this Sovereign had given himself a sympathetic image in the eyes of the press and the Australian public. He was one of the first to make costume parody a media strike force. A costumed man is more noticeable and more memorable. Since then, the most publicized micronationalists have followed in his footsteps.

President Kevin Baugh (left), Grand Duke Travis of Westarctica (centre) and Prince Jean-Pierre IV of Aigues-Mortes (right) groom their appearance to communicate with the press.

So, would humor and self-mockery make micronations more serious? It is clear that the most famous are those that were created for fun much more than as an objective. Would Ladonia have obtained so many citizens without the incredible jumps in the water of its creator Lars Vilks? Just like Prince Leonard of Hutt River, would President Kevin Baugh have been so hyped without his famous uniform and sunglasses? Would the Principality of Aigues-Mortes have had the support of the inhabitants of the city without its improbable Princess? Examples where humor has been exploited are not lacking. These prove that these micronations, which today enjoy great renown, are also spaces built with self-mockery and humor.

This is why a parodic dictator reigning over a micronation filled with hilarious anecdotes will always have more interest for the press in the face of an emperor investing in a common market project in which a few chicken eggs are traded for jars of jam. Seeking to be taken seriously cannot therefore be the first goal of a micronation, it is better to be passionate and guided by envy and imagination above all else.

This extraordinary abounding creativity is on the one hand the strength of micronationalism, and on the other hand what makes it impossible to define. Indeed, everyone makes their micronation the ideal space according to the culture with which they grew up and according to their convictions, their beliefs, but also their means. We then understand that micronationalism is like the world, a space where all certainties are built to coexist or confront each other.

Living in a bubble is the order of the day, micronationalists obsessed with the lives of their micronations do not suffer from a form of "autism" any more than teenagers addicted to the popularity of their Instagram account. They do no more harm than a video game addict. In short, they do nothing but live their passion in the same way that others live theirs.

The question is therefore not to always or never take them seriously, the question is to love them for what they are and what they reflect of our world. Indeed, if a micronation starts from an imagination, this one finds its bases in the experience and the environment of its creator. This is why micronationalism, whether it is felt serious or not, can be considered as a source of inspiration or revealing of the aspiration of our societies in our time.


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