It has been some time since I have assessed the important facts of the building of culture in our micronations, some time since I have explicated how certain things are, used my judgement and my logic. However, a particular subject has been on my mind since the creation of the Sandum Minecraft server, the Sandum Second Life Embassy, and other “non-traditional” policies enacted by the Central People’s Government for the building of government. In the past, we criticised these programs because they represented a lack of seriousness, professionalism, and Realism in the work of our micronations. But, in some ways, this is not the complete case: instead, it could simply be unorthodox. I have considered the difference on how Sandus uses its Minecraft server and how Wyvern uses there and a clear difference arises: on the Sandum Minecraft Server for the Philia Advance, players do not build their own states but build regions of “Sandus”, the game also serves a cultural role in building ideal Sandum cities and towns; on the Wyvern Minecraft Server, players do the opposite, they build independent nations that are of no benefit to their states. In sum, on Wyvern’s Minecraft Server, micronationalists use it as a game, whereas the Sandum one is used as a tool for cultural improvement. The same is true of Sandus on Second Life, where our embassy is a cultural entity; for some micronations on Second Life, their authority and their legitimacy does not extend to the real world, much like the world of Micras.
It is in dedication to the Secession of our State of Sandus, sovereign and supreme, and to the Hilaria and its three complementary days, sacred to Cybele as is the Megalesia — on which occasion Cybele the Magna Mater was written, that I author this essay considering the role of culture in government and the practice of utilising first-person “building” games for cultural means.
Cybele — the Magna Mater and the Active Micronational Cultural Development Theory
It is by these political systems, then, that culture can form from politics.
The Magna Mater spoke of culture descending from political systems. It is in this way that the sole culture micronations have are linked to the expression of their governments: what policies it has regarding certain subjects. However, there are indeed other examples of culture creating from a government that are more definite than just these “airs” from government. How, then, can culture form from political systems (i.e., governments)?
There is the aspect spoken of in the Magna Mater, which is culture forming by the sole importance of government work. We see this often in all micronations where national symbols are selected, where primitive cultural ideals and beliefs are founded, and where certain styles of music and art arise. All micronations have these “airs” of culture arising from the simple business of government. This sort of culture-building from government is universal, but is also very weak. This particular aspect is not binding: the leaders of the micronation can certainly change this flimsy aspect of culture not only at their own whim but at the various expressions of governmental power, which is policy itself. How, then, can governments create stronger forms of culture?
First, we must recognise this premise. Our states are created by our will alone. They do not evolve from anything other than what we allow them to. In this way, we supply our own creation; we are the protogenoi of our own world. And, for the most part, we serve dual roles in this creation: we act both as creator through government and through citizenship, and as subject through the changing of our thought and our cultural ways. In governments where our whim is supreme, we create culture through social and governmental means; even in governments with an exchange and sharing of this power, not so much like our State, we see that all parts of the whole still have these two roles. Now, then, we can answer how governments create stronger forms of culture with this premise laid out.
One solution is, as the leader of a state, to create one’s culture by government policy. This can be done by patronising certain music and art, by establishing certain holidays and patronising their celebrations, and other such aspects. A government alone, however, will have hard time dictating to the people how their culture is to be — which is indeed an issue for our State of Sandus.
The second is, as leader of a state, to use one’s powers as a ceremonial and symbolic leader, as font of honour, to establish certain aspects of society and culture under one’s tenure. This has often been the route of Sandum cultural building, as few governmental policies instate cultural aspects. Rather, the philosophy of our country has been created by the honourary function of the founder of our State: the Sôgmô. These practices are also seen in states such as Zealandia, where Håkon Lindström has created culture there, and in Renasia, where Jacob Tierney is currently solidifying the Kenota philosophy. The difficulty here is the same as the one above: it does not attach itself to the lives of the remainder of citizens, simply because the cultural hold by the leaders — both ceremonial and democratic — is not strong enough as in macronations, where the bourgeoisie dictates the aesthetics, values, and beliefs of the society.
The interest will be to see how the national cultures of these states — Sandus, Zealandia, and Renasia — can connect from the ceremonial leader, or ‘the font of honour’, to the common citizen; states will, of course, attract citizens which are interested in these philosophies and cultures, but how will it engage them actively?
The third, then, is utilised by states with more democratic and republican governments. Clearly for this practice, the superiority of an individual founder is actively destroyed and rule is easily given over to an oligarchy or to a democracy. Some micronations — St.Charlie and Amager — share this root of culture. In this way, the collective body of the government can decide specific policy to enact or those in charge can use their ceremonial powers (i.e., a collective “font of honour”) to create culture on their own: these two are the same as the first and second solutions above, save that it is done on a less autocratic note.
Often, these fonts of honour style cultures may originate from the leaders directly or may be exercised by a non-governmental organisation: in Sandus, the Collegio Sacerdae.
In our macronational lives, we are told to disdain autocracy and to disdain top-down societies & cultures, ironically from the cultural, political, and social top itself through the media and through education. However, the same is not true of micronations: for the most part, we can not control this behavior, or at least so explains the Activation Energy Theory. Most micronations do not have the potential to democratically build culture, just as most micronations can not sustain democracy or a republic. Indeed, even if a nation is democratic, it is often difficult to build culture; most micronations simply have the primitive “air” culture from political systems. For the most part, too, it must be said that it is unlikely for a democratic system to have an autocratic cultural-building process, just as it is unlikely for an autocracy to have a democratic cultural-building process.
In place, then, we ought to consider the issues and benefits of both autocratic and democratic principles. Of course, there may be indeed many more issues and benefits, but these are a handful:
The benefits of autocratic cultural-building is that the results are quicker and more succinct — boards of people deciding cultural events may not agree on certain things and the greater part of them may be scrapped to appease them, and it is also much longer to decide these sorts of events with a board of people. The issue with this process, however, is that it will be more difficult to connect to a population that predates this cultural building — this is because the citizens before may have joined for different reasons exposed by the building of the culture.
The benefits of democracy is that easy connection to the people and a collective mass of same-minded citizens. The issue, however, is that it is more difficult, just as government is, to have the energy and capacity to build culture in such a legislative way.
The Tools for Cultural Building
Culture ranges across so very many spectra and subjects of aesthetics. Our states, therefore, have many tools for the building of their cultures — cultural tools being defined as specific actions that are cultural expressions of a nation. These tools may be those that are small-scale — such as art, music, et cetera — and those that are more grand — such as architecture or ceremony. Some aspects of culture are far too profound and grand for a nation of just a few people to create culture upon. But, then, what should we do for the creation of our culture? Should we limit our nations to the manageable small-scale only?
This should not be the case. Of course, we do not have the resources to create grand monuments to our nations or the population to create large ceremonies, but we should work to disregard these barriers. Not only so we have the small and large scales of culture, but then we must run into the issue of what is “real” and what is “simulation”. In this regard, this is very different from the Realist or Simulationist governments of our micronation, as we are discussing culture. Rather, these two terms discuss the actual outcome of culture utilised by those tools: does this cultural tool create something that is shared in the ‘real life’ or only by technology?
These real tools would be music, art, literature, or other self-created cultural tools. The issues here that create barriers for architecture or ceremony to become real cultural tools is a lack of resources, such as land, people, or money. Of course, these barriers can be by-passed, but it is difficult. Some tools — though their grandeur is most often large — can be small-scale: for instance, Sandus has small ceremonies and religious rites and Molossia has created its own architecture with shacks and other buildings.
The simulation tools are those that mimic real life, work specifically to create cultural expression, or provide future plans for it. In our modern age, the best example of this would be the role of computer programs: we can utilise specific computer-based programs for the building of ceremonies or of architecture. Here, resources of land, money, and people are not an issue. Such programs can be server-grid programs like Second Life or Minecraft, both of which enable one to create architecture.
In the past, we in Sandus have been against utilising such programs for micronations. While some may ask upon what grounds this change has been made, this change is clearly not so much a change as a further defining of our stance. First, we ought to recall what our stance has been:
In the past, we have said that micronations should not be states on virtual worlds — be they on Second Life, Minecraft, or Micras. This is because states, as according to the 1933 Montevideo Convention — the most widely used convention for micronationalists –, must occupy land. Of course, one may state that they do — on virtual worlds. But that land is so minuscule in size because — where the state is truly being housed in the real world — it is being housed in a computer’s memory. This is why the State of Sandus gives as much credence to those who claim the expanse of the universe, a dot, a single star in the night sky, or any other bizarre and baseless claim as those who claim virtual land on the internet or a computer’s memory drive, id est — none. We too are against real states that house themselves or support virtual worlds by which their government business is clouded in the mystery of amusement.
Our stance is very clear to stand against micronations that are found solely on the internet or virtual worlds and those real micronations that make no intention to utilise virtual worlds for a serious outcome but, instead, for fun. But what of micronations that are real and utilise it with a goal, be it uniting the nation further, diplomacy, or — as is our case — cultural building? Certainly, they are utilising virtual worlds and the internet as a complement to their real states, and not as the states themselves. Indeed some macronations have actual and formal embassies on virtual worlds, such as Estonia on Second Life. However, in this context, it is still a complement to the real diplomacy of a nation. That is what virtual worlds should be utilised for: in complement to a broader, more profound goal than simple amusement. This is why utilising virtual worlds and the internet for cultural advancement — but also diplomacy or nationalism of a nation — is appropriate within the terms of Realism.
– Sôgmô Sörgel