Yesterday I published an op-ed about historical simulationism in micronationalism where I criticised another micronation’s propaganda, rhetoric, and justification for a political reform. This “pseudo-intellectual” “foreign interference” responded to a domestic trend in Sandum literature on Realism, which since February 2012 has argued fervently against micronational hobbyism and simulationism. I did not define simulationism in yesterday’s article because I thought I did not have to and because there is a wealth of Sandum Realist literature out there already that does that for me.
But just what right do I have to comment on Austenasian cultural revival?
The same right that allows me to be an academic and scholar, to have and to hold opinions, and to publish articles on Veritum Sandus. In this country we call it the “right to expression.” It is part of the category of rights in our constitution known as the “rights of life” because the right of expression, we think, is inalienable from life itself. But it goes by other names colloquially here and elsewhere, too. Some call it “freedom of press,” others “academic freedom.” All these would work.
What gives me that right?
Well, the Founding Law of the State of Sandus, the fundamental law of our micronation. Articles 5 gives, in fact, is the one that gives me this right:
The People of Sandus enjoy the right to life, including the right to work, the right to rest, the right to care in old age and illness, the right to housing, the right to education, the right to culture, the right to expression, the right to conscience, the right to protection from the state and the right to the inviolability of the home. Each citizen is equal before the law.Article 5 of the Founding Law of the State of Sandus
All Sandum citizens are entitled to this right, not just me. And despite the fact that I live in a Buddhist Socialist country, which is apparently somehow incoherent, this is a right that all elements of Sandum society have sought to protect: from the Party to the direct democratic Council to me the Sôgmô.
Now that we know that I do in fact have the right to publish articles, I should also address some of the more substantial arguments made. First, that writing an article is paramount to foreign interference.
For some background, Sagamorial Considerations (the column under which yesterday’s and today’s articles are published) are opinion and thought pieces. They are the Sôgmô’s considerations or considerations for the Sôgmô. This column has previously discussed historical memory with post-Confederate monuments and published articles that theorise and imagine yet unknown Sandum organs and policies. That I would express an opinion on micronationalism is not surprising to anyone who knows me or Sandus.
Clearly some people are upset when I write—which is an awesome power that the written word has, otherwise I would not get the vitriol and accusations of foreign interference for writing op-eds. Apparently my op-eds can destroy whole micronations’ “cultural revivals”! My words can interfere in national suffrage, upend legitimate governments!
Behold the fearsome power of words. They can make you think and feel.
The interference I am familiar with would entail more furtive espionage and more technological prowess than I have, but apparently I have interfered in Austenasia’s government despite my op-eds appearing on Sandus’s website and in a Sandum media outlet. These are some powerful words, if they can take on a life of their own and seep into another micronation so that they do not just sow insurrection—they are the insurrection.
Second, what right to I have to determine what is Austenasian heritage? Well, none, apart the fact that I have known Austenasia since 2009 and I have seen it grow and change. We have been close allies and bitter friends, and I have toured Wrythe with the now-emperor as my guide.
But my argument in my last article was not actually about Austenasia’s heritage so much as it was about that of the Romans.
That is why my apparently “pseudo-intellectual” credentials came in. As a Roman historian, I have spent the last seven years in institutions of higher education learning about and studying those Romans’ tradition and heritage. That has meant hundreds of hours listening to lectures, writing hundreds of pages of papers and theses, learning handfuls of languages, reading Latin and Greek texts without a dictionary, giving my own lectures in the courses I teach and at conferences, and doing countless exams and passing many other daily or extraordinary hurdles that have been put up by other scholars as quality control for my education. Whoever thinks it is easy to do this work should try to get into a program—test yourself. That is the very first hurdle.
And as that neophyte scholar I can tell you that there is no single coherent “Roman tradition” to look for. That Roman tradition stretches from Cato the Elder, who certainly would have found a rex (king) unbearable and intolerable and antithetical to the res publica, to Domitian, who never questioned that there wouldn’t be an emperor. In 133 BCE Scipio Nasica killed the plebeian tribune Tiberius Gracchus apparently, so we are told, because Gracchus was agitating to become a king. (We can question our sources and their veracity here.) In 133 CE, however, the ageing emperor Hadrian did not have to worry much that his adopted successor, Antoninus Pius, would not be emperor. These are diametrically opposed, yet are both part of one “Roman tradition.”
And let us not mention how other elite and non-elite Romans thought and felt over those turbulent 266 years.
Third, what compels me to talk about other micronations? Such an anti-intellectual question! Nothing “compels me,” just as nothing “compels you” to read what I wrote or take it so seriously. I find it amusing how the very people who joke at others’ expense for being “triggered” (a term they would use) or being “trolled” cannot tolerate a thought piece or an op-ed. They don’t appreciate the irony.
I wanted to write because I noticed an interesting trend that, with my prior knowledge, I thought was odd and that I disagreed with. So I wrote about it.
In talking with Emperor Jonathan this morning, I made clear that my focus was on the rhetoric and rationale for the referendum. He assured me that there are other benefits and reasons, and I told him that the rhetoric should focus on those then. References to a made-up Platonic “ideal” of Roman heritage, tradition, or history are open to many holes from professional and armchair historians—and some would have you think those holes are bullet holes from metaphorical guns in some insurrection.
Intellectual debate is productive in this way.
As I said, my argument was not against taking inspiration from Roman history. Quite the opposite. But one does not need a stereotyped history to make a good micronation. Austenasia is not Ancient Rome. Why would it be?
And is that not the point?
No Roman celebrating the Armilustrium was a Buddhist. No consul with real constitutional power was a Christian. Our micronations did not yet exist in Roman times.
But there are Buddhist Sandum citizens who today celebrate our Armilustrium. We don’t have consuls, but two of our Three Grand Officers of State (who do have power) are Christians. Our micronations exist right now, in the present. These are the poetics of micronationalism—nothing more.
That already makes them historical when a moment is past.