The Micronation Builders
You probably can't just up and claim land
I’m going to share some snippets of an article with you.
“At that point, I realised it might be easier to start a new country than change an existing one,” he told Euronews Next.
However, the area Jedlička found along the west bank of the river had not been claimed by either Croatia, Serbia, or any other country and was therefore in a state of terra nullius, in other words, a no man’s land.
That is until Jedlička - the current president of the provisional government - and the other founders of Liberland laid claim to the territory on April 13, 2015.
“We founded Liberland on April 13, 2015, to celebrate the birthday of Thomas Jefferson. We wanted to invoke the spirit of the American Revolution. We also want to combine the best elements of the American republic, Swiss democracy, and the meritocracy of Singapore. We want to put our system on the blockchain so that the government will work in a modern and transparent way”.
By partnering with Zaha Hadid Architects to create a metaverse, Liberland is creating a space for its thousands of citizens to meet without having to travel to that tiny, and as yet, uninhabited piece of land.
There are two things I want to bring to mind in response to this mad scheme.
The first one is the book “A Libertarian Walks into a Bear”, the true story of what happened when a group of radical, meritocratic anarchists moved into a remote city, collectively voted to dissolve the government, and stopped enforcing any kind of rules.
The answer turns out to be “lots of deadly bear attacks”, because - (simplification
inbound) it turns out that it’s often good to collectively agree on some ground rules vis-a-vis the disposal of garbage.
But, of course, they don’t actually have to suffer under the bootheel of “do as you please” - because it’s a libertarian paradise that’s exclusively virtual and will be hosted on servers that… don’t even exist within the borders of their putative “country”.
Yeah, okay, but let’s talk about terra nullius for a second.
This exact scheme was discussed in length in the Ryan North book, “How to Take Over The World”:
Whoa ho! There’s a whole chapter on this! (Which I totally recommend reading in its entirety if you have the time, it’s fun.)
In fact, the book covers using this exact scheme: look, here is some no-man’s land that nobody is willing to claim - because the land is worthless, and claiming it would weaken either country’s claim on a much more desirable section of land:
Historically this was somewhat of an example of the countries cutting the pie into a “good slice” and a “bad slice” saying “each of us gets one” and then both of them going immediately for the good slice.
Given that this dispute leaves both countries officially denying ownership over Bir Tawil in order to bolster their claims to the Halayib Triangle, several individuals have decided hey, if this land is unclaimed, then I hereby officially claim it.
But before you get too excited and set up your own governmental page on a free hosting service, you should know that claims like these are basically fantasy, ignoring the reality that:
There’s more to nation-building than simply posting online, especially from a continent away, that you own Bir Tawil now.
Even if Egypt doesn’t claim ownership of Bir Tawil and keeps it off all official maps, it still administers the land, and has done so since the early 1990s.
Just because both Egypt and Sudan claim the other nation owns Bir Tawil, it certainly doesn’t mean that either is going to accept a third party waltzing in and claiming it, setting up a new country under their noses.
Most critically, all these claims ignore the fact that there are already people living nearby, including the Ababda and Bisharin tribes, who travel across Bir Tawil and even mine the land: while technically unclaimed, this land is neither unused nor uncontrolled.
uh, then the book goes on an extended digression about a superior in theory if-still-entirely-insane plan for making a country and dozens more crazy things, it’s a very fun book.
But it does very much point out the flaws in the plan of just up and declaring some unclaimed land your own and then setting up a cryptocurrency: You can’t actually do that.
Which, uh, the euronews article’s author alludes to with this subtle jab:
Indeed, it might be a much safer option for its would-be citizens as visitors are not then exposed to the threat of possible arrest by Croatian Police.