[SC] Sôgmô: a complicated title

I knew this would happen. More specifically, I knew that I would have to have this conversation.

More than a month ago, around the time Sandus was preparing to celebrate its tenth anniversary, a work colleague (that is, at the university where I work) said to me that some of my other colleagues had been talking about me and my micronation. That is completely normal: it is not uncommon in my life to hear that someone discovered my micronation, was either intrigued or bemused, and had talked to someone else (someone closer to me?) to discuss it. But this was different. They “talked” about it. Behind my back, and in an accusatory way.

These colleagues were talking about my title—sôgmô.


The word comes from the Western Abenaki language, an Algonquin language in the Atlantic Northeast used by an indigenous people from modern-day Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Québec. It has a handful of native speakers these days, but it has seen a resurgence of interest and somewhat of a revival on both sides of the border. In Canada, the Abenaki people are more established and institutionalised. In May 2008, the Canadian TV network CBC visited one of two Abenaki reservations in the province of Québec and highlighted the nation’s culture, and these reservations are historically part of the “Seven Nations of Canada”—a group of seven indigenous nations who were allied with the French in the 18th century.

A private monument marking the site of Norridgewock, an Abenaki settlement destroyed in 1724 during Father Râles’s War

Meanwhile, south of the border, the United States has no Western Abenaki reservations and no Western Abenaki nation has received federal recognition, though there is a movement to recognise the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi, also known as the Sokoki band of the Western Abenaki. On 7 May 2012, the US state of Vermont recognised this band but the US Federal government still does not, so the nation’s sovereignty is all but disputed.

Part of this background are many people, but of particular interest to Anglophones are the Bruchac family. This family has a decades-long involvement with something of an Abenaki renaissance in English-speaking North America. The father, Joseph Bruchac, is a custodian of the language and of traditional mythology, while his son Jesse continues to teach Western Abenaki to interested people in Upstate New York and Vermont and also leads a small but dedicated community of those interested in Abenaki language and culture. See them both in action here, or see this community here. Dr. Margaret Bruchac is another custodian of this national culture as an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, and plays an active role both in museum exhibitions of indigenous Atlantic culture in North America and in Native American studies. Click above for her extensive CV.

But the Western Abenaki are part of a larger culture of peoples in their region and across the continent. First, the Abenaki were historically a member of the Wabanaki Confederacy, also known as the Wôbanakiak (“peoples of the dawnland”), and long rivals of the Haudenosaunee (the Iroquois confederacy). This confederation of five peoples—the [Western] Abenaki, the [Eastern] Abenaki or Penobscot, the Mikmaq, the Passamaquoddy, and the Maliseet—does have some reservations, like the Penobscot reservation in Old Town, Maine, that I visited with my uncle in 2011. But there are, again, no federally-recognised nations of the Western Abenaki.

The Abenaki, too, are part of a larger North American cultural group known as the Algonquians. This group is spread across subarctic northern North America, from the Cheyenne in the Plains to the Ojibwe and Potawatomi in the Great Lakes to the Abenaki in the Northeast and the Powhatan in the Chesapeake region.


Why am I explaining all this? Partially to inform, partially to show that I know what I am talking about. I am not particularly educated in the studies of indigenous peoples, but I am interested and—more importantly—I care. I genuinely care about these people, the Abenaki, and about indigenous peoples generally, and I care that they have their self-determination and sovereignty.

The problem with my title, which I knew I would have to explain, is that it is cultural appropriation. To outsiders of Sandus and, frankly, those who do not know my very well or who do not care enough to talk to me, I am a white man who has appropriated an indigenous term for my micronation.

And they are right. It is cultural appropriation. I am using a term that Abenakis today do not use, on either side of the border, and that is problematic that I am associating myself with their historical culture. But now I would like to change gears and give something of an apology.


Before he emigrated to the United States, my great-grandfather was born in southern Québec in the city of Lac-Mégantic, famous today for a terrible train accident that destroyed much of the city in 2013. But his family was also from Trois-Rivières, on the Saint Lawrence, and across the river from a municipality known as Bécancour. In an enclave of the area is Wôlinak, one of the historic Seven Nations of Canada and an Abenaki reservation. His family has lived in the area since the mid-17th century, and we share a common ancestor with Dominic Desaintes—another micronationalist interested in the history and rights of First Peoples in Canada. I grew up thinking about and being interested in this history. That is why from 2008 to 2012 I travelled repeatedly to the region—from Odanak in Québec to Norridgewock and Lovewell Pond in Maine—to learn more about the Abenaki from whom I thought I was descended.

C. Soergel P. in front of the memorial to Father Sébastian Râles

At the same time as I was travelling, I was becoming more and more of a micronationalist—and, to me, that is an art. That is because, in many ways, micronationalism is an artwork in its entirety. It is a form of expression, and it often goes hand-in-hand with literal art and other artistic and cultural media. Micronations have to think about everything that any other nation-state does and emulate it, all while also (self-reflectively) recognising the artificiality of nation-states. Like many forms of art, micronationalism is critique, and my friend and colleague Adam von Friedeck recently presented a paper at the 10th anniversary conference on how this artwork engages with and responds to historical memory.

In 2011, Sandus formed its current and long-lasting government, the State of Sandus. This would be the last time Sandus would change its constitutions and I had frequently talked with other citizens to see what form of government they wanted. At the time, most Sandum citizens (in a surprising referendum for me) advocated for a monarchy in Sandus, and this lead me to something of an artistic choice: how exactly would I brand Sandus? what artistic form would Sandus take? By this, I of course mean what title would I use as the monarch of my micronation, but the idea was much broader.

I had many options to choose from, of course. Sandus had already previously had two baronies. I could have become a count, to mark a new turn in our historical development, or I could do away with low-level nobility and become either a regnant prince or a king. Or I could do what many micronationalists have done and claim to be an emperor.

But I didn’t want any of that. Not only did I want something unique to set Sandus apart from many other micronations in the world, I also wanted a politically meaningful title. So, I chose the title “sôgmô.”

There are two reasons why. First, look up the word in any Abenaki-English dictionary and the definition will (without a doubt) say “chief.” But another way to translate the term is “king” or “monarch,” as with the name for the first conflict (1675-1676) between the Wampanoag and English settlers. (That war, King Philip’s War, is named after the Christian name of Metacom, son of the famous Wampanoag king Massasoit.) And language is, after all, political, as I recognise with appropriating this title. The problem with translating sôgmô as “chief” is its racialised overtones that minimise how important and significant these leaders were. In a sense, claiming the title sôgmô is similar claiming the title “prince” or “king” in any other language, and (at the time) that was a political statement of reclaiming respectability for the Abenaki.

Not many people are aware of the Abenaki or their history, and this is a travesty shared by all indigenous peoples in North America and around the world. In fact, I doubt that my colleagues who gossiped about me and my micronation knew anything about the Abenaki before they looked up the title. Therein lies the second reason for why I chose this title. Not only did I want to highlight an often forgotten people, I also wanted to highlight the importance of indigenous peoples’ sovereignty and self-determination, especially in the United States. In other words, in 2011 I wanted to highlight the lives of indigenous peoples, the injustices done and still committed against them, and their humanity and dignity.

One of the bedrock principles of all micronationalism, after all, is that everyone has the human right to self-determination, the highest action of a people’s sovereignty.

But in the United States, this sovereignty is imperfect. Not only are certain nations kept from exercising this sovereignty or having this sovereignty recognised (in the case of the Missisquoi), but the legal category of Native American sovereignty is hardly sovereign at all but, more accurately, suzerain. After all, Native American nations’ governments in the United States only have jurisdiction over their citizens within their territory (reservations), but not over all people in their territory. In other words, a white police officer working for a Native American nation can arrest tribal members (or, as they really should be called, citizens) but they cannot themself be arrested by a Native American nation’s police force. This is imperfect sovereignty.

The artistic purpose why I chose the title “sôgmô,” then, has to do with all of the above. Yes, I recognise that insofar as Abenaki culture exists in the United States—it is after all an object of continued cultural genocide and of wrongs that are only recently being righted on both sides of the border—I am appropriating Abenaki culture. But in doing that, I am not profiting from Abenaki people’s culture but I am highlighting their culture, their history, the commonalities we share thanks to our common humanity, and the continued injustices committed by governments across the Americas against indigenous peoples. While I do not have the lived experiences or histories of indigenous peoples alive today, in this small degree I am an ally—and I will continue to advocate for the sovereignty and self-determination of indigenous peoples around the world.

And I challenge those colleagues and all others like them to do the same.


The discourse on cultural appropriation was not where it is today in 2011, and even today there are people who are absolutists about cultural appropriation. That is, cultural appropriation is bad always absolutely, forever and ever. On the other hand, since cultural appropriation happens all the time and has happened all the time in unconscious and unexamined ways, I prefer to call out cultural appropriation that is (1) mis- or uninformed and (2) exploitative of the appropriated culture.

And my exploitation of the Abenaki? I am not sure. Perhaps some could raise the point that I am deriving prestige from the title, and that is exploitative, but it also goes the other way—that I am both drawing someone’s ire from the political left or (especially in today’s age) someone’s ignorant and racist hatred from the political right. I do not profit from the use of the title (nor does Sandus really “profit” in the capitalist meaning of the word…). In fact, I probably lose much more money and credibility for using it, and that in my opinion is a bigger problem than appropriating the title.

I understand this apology may not be completely satisfactory for some, maybe even for many. But that is too bad. We in Sandus have used this title for more than eight years now, and I think for good reason. It is a form of my artistic expression and it is part of Sandus’s popular sovereignty and self-determination.

And, after all, the state’s not for turning. We’re going to keep on doing what we’re doing.

Long-Awaited Constitution Project issues first edition

The Sôgmô’s Constitution Project has issued the first edition of its literature and graphics on Sandus’s unwritten and republican constitution. The project was planned by the 2016 Philia Plan for the Major Societal Shift, a plan that anticipated the Sôgmô’s departure from Kremlum Sandus for graduate school. Now, a year and four months after þess departure, the project has begun.

Read or download the project’s first instalment here.

The plan explained that the Sôgmô will work “to make an interactive infographic of the structure of the Central People’s Government and of the interconnect web of relations between the constitutional organs of the State of Sandus.” That graphic, the plan continues, should “reconstruct the relationships between the many organs of the State of Sandus, their relative hierarchy, and their powers, duties, and jurisdictions.” The graphic will be made available for all Sandum citizens, applicants for citizenship, and individuals interested in Sandus.

SCP1-1 Our Republic's Three Branches

The first graphic in the project is about the general structure of Sandus’s three branches of government, divided into the Citizens’ Party of Sandus, the Central People’s Government, and the Council. It even includes the hypothetical Senate, an emergency body comprised of necessary leaders from each house of Sandum citizens that was planned for in the 2016 Philia Plan for the Major Societal Shift. The body does not exist.

(Note: the Central People’s Government sometimes refers to only the Sôgmô’s branch and also to all three branches, but never to provincial governments.)

SCP1-2 the CPG & its Division of Powers

Next is the Central People’s Government and its division of powers. All three have some form of legislation in Sandus: the Party (and the Sôgmô) has state planning, the Sôgmô has decrees, and the Council has its decisions (i.e., resolutions) and laws. In turn, these four types of legislation affect the Sôgmô’s branch, as is made clearer with the next slide.

(Economic commands are treated here and in the next slide as specific economic plans.)

SCP1-4 the CPG & the Command Economy

The Sandum command economy, with its coöperatives and workers, falls under the direction of the Sôgmô. Both the Sôgmô and the Party can draft and issue plans and economic commands (both derived from plans and from citizens’ individual or collective needs), which then are sent to coöperatives. Commands flow down the chain of command in coöperatives to individual workers or whole work groups who produce a product that goes to the recipient (an individual, collective, or another coöperative if in an economic chain). That recipient directs CivBanca, Sandus’s bank, to send circulatory persumae to the coöperative to redistribute.

SCP1-3 the CPG & the Heir Election Process

The May 2018 law on succession institutes Sandus’s first law on the succession of the Sôgmô. In it, a process begins with the creation of a caucus of five interreges who are the three top-most Sandum politicians and leaders of the three branches of government (the Party Secretary, the Sôgmô, and the Council’s Facilitator) plus two appointed interreges: one from the Sôgmô and another from both the Party Secretary and the Facilitator.

This caucus creates a long list of candidates in the spring of ever fifth year since Sandus’s creation (2019, 2024, and so on). In the summer, the caucus interviews candidates and creates a final short list of three to five candidates, which is sent to the Party Congress in November to review and to select its top two candidates. Both candidates, then, wage campaigns for the Winter Solstice Election, where Sandum citizens with suffrage (i.e., cives and peregrini who meet the requirement) elect the Heir elected.

SCP1-5 the 'real' Office of the Sôgmô

The Office of the Sôgmô, which is the top most office of the Central People’s Government, is divided into three major categories: functionary (or ministerial) government, provincial governments, and cooperatives. This slide shows what bodies do exist alongside the three hypothetical divisions.

In the functionary side of the CPG exist one ministry (Diplomatic Affairs), one independent bureau (the Treasury) with its one division (CivBanca), and a separate body of individual chargé(e)s d’affaires (i.e., bureaucrats with specific charges and duties).

There are four provinces in provincial government. They are technically not part of the Central People’s Government but are under the Office of the Sôgmô since Sandus is a unitary state. There are, however, no praetors—either elected or appointed by the Sôgmô.

At the bottom is the “economic branch” of Sandus’s government, since Sandus has a Socialist command economy. Sandus has three economic coöperatives (Tellus Agrarian, Erganê Artisanal, and State Media Coöperatives) as well as one cultural/religious coöperative (the Collegium Sacerdotum, or the “College of Priests”). Only the Collegium Sacerdotum has internal subdivisons with two work groups (known in the college as “sodalities”) and a chain of command of workers (the Sacer Flamen, the major Flamines like the Bishop of the church, and individual members or sacerdotes).

SCP1-6 Sandum Table of Noble Ranks

The final slide of the project’s first edition is a rehashing of two appendices of the Sandum system of nobility. In the future, when more entitled and enholden barons and baronets exist, the project will include those titles and all the different decorations in the State of Sandus

[SC] Greeting & Addressing the Sôgmô and the Sanôba Consort

Like most heads of state and of government, the Sôgmô has a specific style of address when one greets það, and for the first time the Appartements du Sôgmô (the current seat of sagamorial power) in Sandus’s capital province, Quercus Candida, have clarified the ways to address the Sanôba Consort.

There are no obligatory manners of addressing and greeting the Sôgmô, but there are distinguished and traditional ones which are considered to be respectful if one uses them. In Sandus, however, it is traditionally and (in the case of titles of nobility) legally forbidden to correct another individual if they have mistaken one’s style of address. This means that, while the correct use of our styles of address are appreciated and considered respectful, not using them is not offensive.

Other titles and style of addresses in Sandus, as well as their rules and regulations, can be read about in the Decree on the Sandum System of Nobility.

 

37758471_2066971610229449_1642316646980780032_o-e1533919117374.jpg
© UniCORN, Thibault Plaire

the Honourable Sôgmô Gaius Soergel Publicola

Coat_of_Arms_of_SoergelCoat_of_Arms_of_Sandus

There are no specific physical gestures that must be made to the Sôgmô, and bowing or prostrating is specifically discouraged. The Sôgmô may bow their head slightly and place their right hand over their heart, but the most common action is just to shake hands in the common modern way. If the Sôgmô is meeting with French-speakers, they might perform a bise.

When meeting the Sôgmô, the correct form of address is ‘the Honourable Sôgmô,’ and subsequently either simply ‘Sôgmô’ or ‘Comrade Sôgmô.’ When referring to the Sôgmô in a spoken conversation, the Sôgmô’s pronouns in the third person are ‘he,’ ‘they,’ or—especially when referring to the constitutional office—’það.’

‘Your Excellency’ or, when referring to the Sôgmô, ‘His Excellency’ are not traditional in Sandus, but are still appreciated as tokens of respect. Referring to the Sôgmô as ‘Your’ or ‘His Majesty’ is expressly discouraged.

 

Sanôba Consort Oliver

the Faithful Sanôba Consort Oliver Armstrong

Oliver ArmstrongCoat_of_Arms_of_Sandus

As with the Sôgmô, there is no specific physical gesture that is traditional when meeting the Sanôba Consort, though a simple handshake may be exchanged.

The Appartements du Sôgmô have recently clarified that, when meeting the Sanôba Consort, his style of address is ‘the Faithful Sanôba Consort’ and subsequently ‘Sanôba’ or ‘Sanôba Consort’ afterwards. His third person pronoun is ‘he.’

As a member of Sandus’s gentry according to the Sandum Table of Noble Ranks, he may also be addressed as ‘Mister Armstrong’ and ‘Oliver Esquire.’

 

[SC] It’s a Sandum Life: Ceremonial Alternatives to Life Events

Sandus’s prime focus has long been on culture, and a culture reflecting its philosophical rationale at that. It has long had celebrations for its Socialist leanings, like celebrating the National Day of Socialism on 7 November or Labour Day on 1 May, and for its social liberalism and progressivism, such as this week’s celebration of LGBTQ+ Pride Week. Its holidays come in a variety of different flavours, such as the more cultural Sancta holidays to the rather political and activist “days of recongition.” But apart from a few holiday traditions—the cleaning and lights on the Armilustrium, the little clay knick-knacks (more properly, the sigillaria) for the Saturnalia, or the early-morning/late-night viewing of the parade on Red Square for Remembrance Day—few ceremonies and celebrations have been considered for momentous occasions in an individual’s life. For example, Sandus has never, like St.Charlie, had an occasion like a wedding.

Until now. Recent conversations between the Party Secretary and the Sôgmô have focused on filling this gap in Sandus’s cultural repertoire. Of things to consider, the Sôgmô has focused on everything that runs the gamut from birth to adulthood, such as civil baptism or name-giving ceremonies to weddings and even to house-moving parties. Inspired by former East German traditions like the Socialist wedding (Sozialistische Eheschließung), the naming ceremony (Namensweihe, also similar to a baptême républicain), or the youth celebration (Jugendweihe) still celebrated today by German youth as “Jugendfeier,” the Sôgmô has started to consider similar ceremonies and traditions that Sandum citizens can use as alternatives or duplicates to other macronational ceremonies. Here are a few major ceremonies in the course of one’s [Sandum] life:

  • Naming Ceremony: Are you having a baby and want to raise them up in Sandus? Skip the gender reveal fad and have reveal their name instead. At a Sandum naming ceremony, a Sandum official gives a solemn speech and the parents and other guardians (or godparents) solemnly swear or affirm that they will protect and increase the child. The child may then receive a Sandum name and become a Sandum national, though they cannot become a Sandum citizen until the age of majority.
  • Citizenship Ceremony: This coming of age ceremony happens anytime after the age of 14 for Sandum nationals (i.e., those born into Sandus) or for those who are being naturalised as full citizens (cives) and wish to celebrate it. The ceremony may be as elaborate as one wishes, but in its simplest form it is celebrated by swearing or affirming the oath of citizenship.
  • Graduation: Academic achievements are very important in Sandus, a country where more than half of the population is pursuing or has received a college degree. This ceremony is celebrated as one normally celebrates graduation, but with the added benefit of receiving either membership or a promotion in the Honourable Order of Athena Pronoea.
  • Commitment Ceremony: Have a white dress? Add some blue—or some of the other national colours! A Sandum commitment ceremony is the counterpart to the white and regalia of a wedding, and it is a ceremony that officially promulgates a wedding in Sandus. At a Sandum commitment ceremony, a Sandum official gives a solemn speech on the values of marriage, a home, and a shared life in common, and the spouses are welcome to wear whatever they please—though a deep red is recommended (for good luck and love). A commitment ceremony is not necessarily an alternative to a religious or macronational wedding, but it is the ceremony at which Sandum citizens are officially recognised as “married” in the State. It can, like in the St.Charlian example, take place long before any other wedding.

There are expected to be no alternatives to funerals, though one may proudly incorporate their Sandum identity into a funeral.

Of course, these ceremonies can be customised as one wishes, but the important role is to keep these ceremonies as a tradition. The most important element to a Sandum ceremony, however, is to reaffirm the civic values and national philosophy of Sandus.

Up Close: An Image of a Sandum Commitment Ceremony
One way to encourage these alternative ceremonies is, of course, to have examples—either of real events or of ideas for one. Here, let us offer one such example: the Sôgmô’s commitment ceremony.

On a brisk autumn afternoon, during the weekend the royal couple have decided to get married, það and the Sanôba Consort gather together between their wedding ceremony and the dinner in a quiet room in the University of Michigan’s Rackham Building. Both wearing dark blue with white accents, they are joined by a select group of their chosen family who act as witnesses of the ceremony. The Sôgmô’s doktormutter and the Sanôba Consort’s adviser jointly preside over the ceremony, speaking of the times they met one another and both jointly make speeches on the value of sharing one’s house. Þess doktormutter, even, gives a speech in Latin known as a commendatio which finishes as an ovatio.

Finally, at an appointed time considered auspicious, the officiants ask the royal couple if their love is ingenuous and true. When both have answered “yes,” both role models ask the royal couple to exchange vows made specifically for the ceremony that evoke Sandus’s national philosophy. Both may exchange an item, like a gold ring, or they might decide to exchange some other object important to them, like a blue feather. Finally, before the couple are presented to the selected witnesses, the royal couple signs a formal Sandum marriage contract, thereby formally uniting their houses together as a couple in Sandus.

Focus!: A Digression on Sandum Home Altars
In Sandum history, altars have long been an important part of our physical and material cultural expression. In the Office of the Sôgmô at the Palace of State, there were once two altars (since decommissioned), Buddhist and Pagan. The National Buddhist Altar, as it was called, was created in the country’s early history—in 2009—and was renovated in June 2015; the State Polytheist Shrine was dedicated in September 2012. Both were the site of many religious rituals, including the joint focus (with the National Buddhist Altar) of a religious ceremony officiated jointly by the Sôgmô and King Adam I of Überstadt during his state visit in July 2014. An altar for us, however, need not be dedicated to a deity, but is rather a non-profane space where one can present the elements of their philosophy or the most sincere parts of their culture.

This is, in fact, better known perhaps as a focus. The Latin term was originally the term for the hearth or fireplace and, in time, it became a poetic synonym for the family and household. The hearth was the location where many Greek and Roman families would worship domestic gods, such as Hestia or the Lares. The English term, of course, means the centre of one thing, the poignant mental direction or intention of a person, or a central point (such as where light rays merge). The importance here is not the religious attitude of many altars, since many Sandum citizens are not religiously inclined or are atheists, but rather the quality of the space. In a spatial sense, Sandum foci are important as “sacred” space (i.e., not profane), or space which is set apart for reflection, thinking, meditation, and even prayer (if an altar or focus is religious). So, for example, a Sandum focus could also be a shelf of a book shelf where only one’s most important and cherished books are kept and shown off.

Many Sandum citizens already keep altars. The Sôgmô still keeps a Buddhist altar, which has not yet been commissioned as a formal Sandum altar, and það is working on another polytheist altar. Both the Party Secretary and the Facilitator of the Council maintain altars, and frequently pray at them. Several other citizens have altars, as well. In the future, we hope to detail more of such altars or foci, and to encourage more Sandum citizens to own and maintain foci—regardless of their religion or religiosity.

Do Sandum ceremonies replace other ones?
Not necessarily, though they can—and it would represent the meaningfulness and importance of one’s Sandum citizenship if they did. Some Sandum ceremonies could certainly coincide with macronational ceremonies, such as graduation parties, but others represent a slight departure from other macronational ceremonies or from religious ceremonies, such as the Sandum naming ceremony versus a religious baptism. But it need not be an “either-or” decision. One could certainly have duplicate ceremonies—one micronational (Sandum), one macronational or religious—as was the case with the example of þess commitment ceremony. An obvious exception, however, would be the citizenship ceremony. Lest one of us emigrates to a new country, it seems unlikely that many of us will have a citizenship ceremony, though Sandum laws forbid birthright full citizenship.

(Sandum nationals have to become citizens through a process like everyone else. This is to avoid the growth of excessive nationalism.)

Finally, the list above is by no means conclusive. It and all the information in this brief discussion are a single template, but this work of consideration is a wake-up call and a manifesto for Sandum citizens to think of new ways to incorporate ceremony and sacred space, even in secular and non-religious ways, into our lives. Doing so can make our lives more rewarding and make us all happier.

[SC] Yes, Confederate Statues are Racist

Unless you have been living under a rock, Confederate Statues in the United States have become increasingly politicised over the past several years in the wake of fresh racial wounds and divisions. Opponents to these statues claim that they are racist and deserve no place in public squares and national, state, and communal veneration. Defenders of the statues argue that they represent tangible evidence of the Civil War historical period and that removing them means we will forget our history about the war. Other defenders of the statues recite white supremacist slogans, arguing that removing the statues is tangible white genocide.

Public historians in the past several years have examined the problem and have come up with some interesting analysis of the history and contexts of these statues. I will use a few examples of recent statues taken down in Baltimore, Maryland, from near where Sandus is located.

In April 1861, after several states had seceded, Southern and Eastern Marylanders—those who owned slaves—advocated for Maryland’s secession from the Union. The governor at the time, Thomas H. Hicks, called a special session of the legislature, but it voted overwhelmingly (53-13) to remain in the Union. Later that year, in September, the Federal government declared martial law, disbanded the state government, and withdrew the right of habeas corpus in Maryland—a still controversial and unconstitutional move.

Key to this issue is the debate over memory and history. While memory and history often go hand-in-hand, memory is not the same as history. We remember events differently from how they happened, and tend to make history one-dimensional when, in fact, history is complex and complicated. This seems to have been the case with how contemporary people see the statues. They appear to us as remembrance of the war itself, when they are in fact artistic symbols. They are “receptions” of the war and people’s later memory of the war, not symbols of the war itself. They are realistic idealisations of what the war meant.

bal-bs-md-statues-soldiers-then-bs0056541845-20170816.jpg

Image by Jerry Jackon of the Baltimore Sun, after protesters doused the statue in red paint.

Take, for example, the Spirit of the Confederacy statue, also known as the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument, in Baltimore. The statue depicts the goddess Victory holding up a dying Confederate soldier, the CSA’s battle flag falling toward the ground, and the goddess crowning the soldier with glory. The base of the monument reads Gloria Victis, “Glory to the Vanquished”—I am sure other ancient historians appreciate the irony of the text! They will know that gloria never goes to the vanquished—it is always vae victis, “woe to the vanquished.”

There are many problems with thinking that these statues are the history of the Civil War. First, they are not history of the Civil War. The history of the Civil War involves battles and battlefields, real physical strife, not statues extolling the onlooker’s memory. Second, these statues were not produced during the Civil War or even after.

Many historians have recently pointed out, however, that these statues were constructed and placed in public during the post-Reconstruction period, when segregation and Jim Crow laws were replacing the integration of freedpeople during Reconstruction. They belong to the resurgent, idealised memory of the “Lost Cause of the South” (i.e., white supremacy) and to Plessy v. Ferguson, which made segregation and the legal practice of “separate but equal” the law of the land. They belong, in other words, not to the history of the Civil War, but to the history of a resurgent, pernicious racism in the United States.

Lee-Jackson Monument.

Image by A. Aubrey Bodine, 1948, held by the Maryland Historical Society.

For example, the Lee-Jackson memorial, which was taken down quietly in Baltimore early Wednesday morning, was erected in 1948 by J. Henry Ferguson, whose father was a friend of Confederate president Jefferson Davis. It depicts the two generals, Robert E. Lee and “Stonewall” Jackson riding horses, an art historical tradition reserved for victorious generals.

The Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument, the one mentioned above, was erected in 1902, more than 37 years after the war ended. It was erected by the Maryland Daughters of the Confederacy—a group, like other “Daughters of the Confederacy,” which promoted the “Lost Cause” idealism. Maryland, moreover, a border slave state divided between staying in the Union or seceding and joining the Confederacy, contributed some 30,000 troops to the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia; more than 80,000, however, decided to join the Union army.

Statues are not the only public symbols which were used as tools to further the notion of white supremacy in the segregation period. Before the political debate was about statue, it was about the CSA’s battle flag. This symbol, which is not the flag of the Confederate States of America, saw a resurgence during the Civil Rights movement and the onset of desegregation. Between Reconstruction and up to the 1950s, the battle flag was not a public symbol. But, with cases like Brown v. Board of Education, the flag was out in broad daylight being waved for the first time since the Civil War. As Becky Little has put it, the flag’s popularity and tool as a symbol “has more to do with the Civil Rights Movement than the Civil War.” It was a used then, as now, as a racist symbol against integration and for segregation.

Even phrases and alternative names for the Civil War, like “War of Northern Aggression” and “War between the States,” absolve the South from responsibility for waging a war for slavery. “Northern Aggression” has become a euphemism, when it was in fact the Confederacy which fired the first shot of the war. Some argue that the war was about “states’ rights”—but they forget that it was about states’ rights…to own slaves and to be slave states. Slavery and the preservation of slavery was the key objective and cause for the war.

Some argue that removal of these statues from public veneration will mean that people will forget about the history of the Civil War. That is an interestingly fallacious argument, especially since—even though visible signs of Nazi Germany, Tsarist Russia, or the Roman Empire may remain in ruins or may be utterly destroyed—we still know much about subjects of history which have since “disappeared.” Furthermore, many—especially the protests who advocate for the monuments to be removed—have advocated for their conservation, not their destruction. Current plans for the statues recently removed in Baltimore include donating them to museums, historical societies, and even Confederate cemeteries. These monuments are not necessarily being destroyed: they are being removed to more appropriate public settings, and out of the place of public veneration because of their segregation history. They are being put into museums as testament to the Civil War, of which the monuments sought to venerate and alter memory, and as testament to segregation and racism.

Therefore, if you think that destroying post-Civil War monuments which venerate the “Lost Cause of the South” means we will forget our history, then I would recommend you pick up a book and engage in that history, not its faulty memory. History, historical knowledge, and memory do not fade so instantaneously, but racism lingers.

C. Soergel Publicola

This article relied significantly on Cindy Kelly’s Outdoor Sculpture in Baltimore: a historical guide to public art in the Monumental City.

Our Trans* History: from the Transition Policy to the Denton Protocol

On Wednesday 26 July 2017, the American president Donald Trump announced that the United States Armed Forces “will not accept or allow Transgender individuals” to serve in any capacity, citing “the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender (sic) in the military would entail.” The decision comes after months of talking about the costs of transgender people serving in the military and focusing predominantly on healthcare costs, although most estimate that 0.005-0.017% of the military’s healthcare costs of $49.3USD billion would cover transition related costs. Trump’s presidential announcement, as well, marks a clear break from the presidential candidate, who promised to be the “best president for LGBT (sic)” during the campaign season. Instead, his administration has removed protections for transgender students in schools, undone employment nondiscrimination executive orders for federal employees and contractors, and instated this most recent ban on transgender service-people in the US Armed Forces.

The decision to renew a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy for American transgender service-members is starkly different from the State of Sandus, the other condominium partner according to Sandus’s Gradient Sovereign Condominium Theory.

Since 2012, the State of Sandus has offered a policy to help cover the costs of starting one’s transition by covering the cost of chest binders for transgender people up to $50USD. This policy also covers cosmetics and other necessary undergarments and garments for transgender people who have started to transition and need essential clothing for the process. In 2014, the policy was funded by Sandus’s first budget and has been funded again this year by the first annual budget.

TransgenderDayofRemembrance

An official poster for Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Sandus also marks several transgender days of recognition, including Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) and Transgender Day of Visibility. On 23 November 2013, to commemorate Transgender Day of Remembrance, Sande Amici, a Sandum focus group on Second Life, held a discussion “Gender Identity in the Ancient World” on analogues of transgender identities in classical antiquity.

Sandus has drawn criticism from conservative micronations for its out-spoken stance on transgender issues. In March 2014, after months of recurring attacks and slurs against transgender micronationalists, Sandus and Zealandia jointly condemned transphobia in micronationalism, but refused to single out specific micronationalists. Finally, in response to refusing to use transgender micronationalists’ appropriate names, styles of address, and office titles, Sandus promulgated the Denton Protocol in order to exert diplomatic influence on those unnamed micronationalists to address transgender micronationalists correctly. The move drew the ire of conservative micronationalists and the frustration of their more moderate partners, but the Protocol worked: by the end of the year, transgender micronationalists started to be addressed appropriately and the diplomatic crisis was resolved for the time being.

But Sandus has even been ostracised from segments of the intermicronational community for its pro-transgender stance. In July 2016, after Sandus had applied to become a member of the Grand Unified Micronational, the GUM Quorum of Delegates, championed by the then-GUM Chair Shane Cahill and Austenasian Emperor Jonathan, rejected Sandus’s application while citing concerns over Sandus’s adherence to the Denton Protocol, despite assurances that the protocol would be irrelevant to Sandus’s activity in the organisation and despite the fact the protocol had not been used in two years. And, when Sandus applied to observe the GUM again in January 2017, Sandus’s application received the same result: rejection. This time, however, others began to take note of the absurdity of the decision and Sandus received the support of the Lord Spiritual of Mercia, an opponent of the Denton Protocol, who stated that the GUM’s accusations were “baseless and sensational.”

GovermentLogo S8gm8

The Office of the Sôgmô’s logo includes the Sôgmô’s official pronoun, það.

That Sandus should be a strong proponent for the transgender community is obvious given that LGBT people comprise a majority of Sandum citizens. The Sôgmô, who is both bisexual and androgynous, uses the Icelandic neuter pronoun “það” as a gender neutral pronoun for því personally and officially for State business. Some micronations, moreover, have responded more positively and respectfully than others. Exempli gratia, when the Sôgmô visited the Emperor of Angyalistan in Vincennes, France, the Emperor addressed the Sôgmô by þess official pronoun. Sandum citizens, as well, have historically been congratulated by their comrade citizens and by the Sôgmô personally for their bravery in coming out as LGBTQ+, such as with peregrina citizen Artemis Baca.

According to a March 2015 poll held on the occasion of International Women’s Day, a super-majority of Sandum citizens thought that Sandus was a postgender society.

Although a majority stated they believed in traditional gender roles, 67% of Sandum citizens who responded to the poll stated that they thought that Sandus is a postgender society, that Sandus should be a postgender society in their opinion, and that they believe their macronation (the United States) should be more of a postgenderist society. Sandus’s policies towards postgenderism in Sandum society and culture appear to be seen positively by Sandum citizens according to this poll.

Postgenderism is a sociopolitical and cultural movement for the voluntary elimination of gender-based discrimination and of gender in human species through the application of biotechnology and the undoing of socialised psychological gendering. By comparison, 59% of foreign micronationalists responded that their micronation should be a postgender society.

With this history and public opinion in the State of Sandus, it is no wonder that Sandus is a prominent proponent of transgender issues.

13 Reasons to Celebrate in January

January is the beginning of the Gregorian Year, but it is also the beginning of the new Administrative Year in Sandus. But January also has 13 Sandum holidays in it which give even more reason to celebrate, especially as this month is known in Sandus as the “Month of Peace.”

festivals-of-pax-and-concordia

The Collegium Sacerdotum’s annual poster for the festivals of Peace and Concord, which give reason to January’s nickname “the Month of Peace.”

1 January: the Kalends
Every month in the Sancta calendar begins with a Kalends, a remnant of the old Roman calendar. On the Kalends, the Roman pontifex maximus would announce the holidays celebrated in the upcoming month and how many days remained until the next Kalends, or the new month. This day is always dedicated to Juno, the Queen of the Gods, and to Janus, the god of beginnings and of doors. In January, however, Aesculapius is also propitiated for good health in the new year.

5 January: the Nones
Every month also has its own Nones, another remainder from the old Roman calendar, which originally marked the first quarter of the moon. On the Nones, the Lares or the domestic gods are propitiated, but in January the minor god Vica Pota is also propitiated. She is a very archaic Italic goddess equivalent to Victoria, the goddess of victory, and who was the mother of Dis Pater, an early Italic god of the underworld.

9 January: Agonalia
An obscure Roman holiday, the Agonalia is celebrated three times per year. The purpose of this festival was obscure even to Romans, but it appears to be dedicated to the gods of state.

10 January: First Policy Projection
This minor State holiday commemorates the first policy projection issued by the Sôgmô on 10 January 2012. Policy projections are one means of holding the Central People’s Government responsible and accountable in the State of Sandus, since the government sets goals for policies to complete in a [hopefully] timely manner.

11-15 January: Carmentalia
Originally two feast days, 11 and 15 January, the Carmentalia is celebrated by Sandus from 11 to 15 January. The goddess Carmenta was known as “Antevorta” and “Postvorta,” meaning she looked both ahead to the future and behind in the past, which is an apt holiday for a country which is so focused on history and academia. The goddess appears to be related to the noun carmen, which can mean both a “spell” or a “poem.” This holiday can certainly be celebrated for Sandus’s close affinity with scholarship, intellectualism, and the academe!

11 January: Festival of Juturna
This holiday is dedicated to Juturna, the spirit of a small spring that once flowed into the Forum Romanum in Rome. It was at this spring that the gods Castor and Pollux supposedly watered their horses after the battle of Lake Regillus, which secured the continued existence of the Roman Republic. In Sandus, this minor festival is known both for environmental and republican connotations.

12 January: Compitalia
The Lares Compitales, or the domestic gods of the neighbourhood and of the crossroads, are celebrated on this day. At each crossroad and in the districts or curiae of Rome, an altar to the Lares Compitales would be set up for members of the borough to worship. In Sandus, this minor holiday is notable for encouraging the awareness of provincial government in the State—from Kremlum Sandus to Sandus Ulterior and Sandus Europai.

13 January: the Ides
The Ides is another monthly Roman holiday which marks the full moon. This holiday is dedicated to Jupiter, the King of the Gods, and to the Lares, the domestic gods.

16 January: Concordalia
The Concordalia is, of course, a holiday dedicated to the goddess of concord. It is one of three holidays in the State of Sandus dedicated to peace in the month of January, which is also known in Sandus as the “Month of Peace.” Concordia is unique in her connotations with peace, since she is more known for harmony between peoples. The Latin adjective concors means to be in agreement or to be of one mind, so this holiday is known for this aspect of peace.

17 January: Festival of Felicitas
Felicitas, or the goddess Felicity, is known for the effects of peace, which are fruitfulness and prosperity. This holiday is one of the three holidays that gives reason to January being known as the “Month of Peace.” Her name comes from felix, which means both to be happy and to be prosperous. She and her festival are to celebrate good fortune, success, fertility, and happiness.

24-27 January: Paganalia & Sementivae
These festivals were not celebrated in Rome but elsewhere in the pagi, or rural districts. They were days of sowing seed, appointed not by the calendar by annually by the magistrate. So, while the two holidays were not fixed in the Roman calendar, they are known in Sandus to be in celebrated later in January on these days when the semen (seed) would be sewn. Perhaps one could draw similarities between this holiday and the Festival of Felicitas?

30 January: the Festival of Pax
The Festival of Pax, or of Peace, closes the month of January this year. The festival gives reason for why the month of January is known as the “Month of Peace” in Sandus and it is during this festival that we celebrate peace in general. So, hang your olive wreathes and let the doves fly—and hope for peace. Happy Festival of Pax!

Some extra reasons:
Since the Collegium Sacerdotum has recently adopted Buddhist holy days onto its Sancta calendar, the holy days are as follows:
5 January: Medicine Buddha Day
7 January: Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) Day
12 January: Amitabha Day
22 January: Dakini Day
26 January: Dharmapala Day
27 January: Shakyamuni Buddha Day

The Council’s First Intercalary Session in the Administrative Year 2017 will end on 12 January. The First [regular] Session of the Council in the Administrative Year 2017 will last from 12 January to 10 February.

[SC] In Defence of Cultural Production

Jacob Barnet’s 31 August Sagamorial Consideration discussed the creation of a new politic called “Matter Realism,” based off of the broader political theories of Realism and Philia. The politic envisions a Sandus which will encourage the creation of physical elements of the State of Sandus. His concern lies primarily with material production and characterises micronations today as “shells of diplomacy with, if we are lucky, a cultural filling.” In his own words, Matter Realism seeks “to create the genuine material condition of nationhood: production.” Though in private Barnet has informed me that this politic does not include cultural or academic production, the text of his Consideration does not preclude those forms of production, invoking material production and “its overlap with more abstract forms of production (such as cultural or intellectual production).” In other words, Barnet is reluctant to include cultural and intellectual production in his new Sandum politic.

Barnet’s suggestion that Sandus refocus its efforts on material production are admirable, but show a decisive break from Sandum policy established at the last CPS Party Congress in November 2015. At that Party Congress, it was decided to scale back Sandus’s economic policies in favour of a restoration of our cultural policies. At the conclusion of the 2015 Economic Goal, Sandus had laid the groundwork for building an economy in the future, without any decisive deadline or timeline. Barnet’s policy encourages us to reconsider the Party’s decision of November 2015.

We should indeed reconsider our policies. There is something Sandum about the self-criticism which we exercise on our own policies and political decisions. In fact, our political system has long been created to encourage dissent and analytical self-criticism. Since the foundation of the State of Sandus in April 2011, every citizen has had the right to petition the government to reevaluate its decisions and its policies: this has translated into a more thoughtful and analytical form of government, from all constitutional organs.

I feel that I must, however, defend our decision reached at that time — and to exercise the soft spot in Barnet’s Matter Realist politic: cultural and intellectual production. This decision was made in November 2015 because those sorts of production in cultural and in academic knowledge by Sandum citizens had stalled by that time. Few treatises had been published in that time, from 2013 to 2015, before the Party decided to reaffirm our intellectual and cultural roots as a micronational project. The Armilustrium, which we hold as our most sacred cultural holiday, was moved in 2015 from the date of its celebration, 19 October. To this day, we markedly celebrate fewer of our holidays in the name of Sandus — though this is slowly changing.

Cultural and intellectual production is historically valued in Sandus, and Barnet — our former closest friend and ally and now a revered comrade citizen — knows this. Of many micronations, Sandus stands in the vanguard as astutely gregarious in its efforts to discuss and to construct Sandum culture through dialectical and didactic means. Many, if not all, of our citizens approve of these methods and of these ends, encourage them, and even use them in labouring to improve Sandus and its weal. This is not just a matter of egotistical self-reflection, to fill us with haughty pride, but it is a matter of public welfare. Barnet conceived material production as the cornerstone of nationhood (paragraphs 3-5), but rather I would argue that a nation — as a sociological and anthropological construct — often is intangible and immaterial. In other words, a nation is conceived more in the intangible and immaterial culture and academic constructs of a people, less so in its material culture. That is not to say that material culture does not show an indication of nationhood, but that is more in the anthropological and archaeological symbolism of that material culture and less so than in the literal and tangible material produced. Consider, for example, the pignae d’esti, an established Sandum material symbol. Furthermore, our citizens enjoy this cultural and intellectual form of production of knowledge in the Foucauldian sense: it consistently and tangibly improves their welfare and their affect. Rather than making Sandus a diplomatic “shell” with some cultural fluff, as Barnet seems to suggest, this work has improved the gross national happiness of Sandus.

This does not mean that I disagree with Matter Realism or with its implementation. I intend to do my part as an ardent worker of both Tellus and Erganê and as a loyal member of the Citizens’ Party of Sandus under this new politic. I encourage Barnet to introduce it formally at the Citizens’ Party of Sandus’s 2016 Party Congress, and to work with and even to antagonise Party Secretary Adam von Friedeck to incorporate it into the Party’s unwritten platform. But I disagree that it should come at the expense of, in opposition to, or as tacit dismissal of Sandus’s policies for cultural production. Rather, I believe both should be encouraged — even if I partially believe cultural production should be encouraged more.

This should spur an interesting dialectical discourse over the focus of the Sandum Nation-State. I look forward to a response from Barnet and also to other considerations from other Sandum citizens.

C. Soergel Publicola

[SC] Matter Realism

Recently, there has been talk in the corridors of Sandus about a new policy, for diplomacy, economy and development. This policy, under the working title Matter Realism, has not been laid out in any kind of detail. So allow me, in this article, to elucidate for both Sandum citizens and for our intermicronational peers what is meant by Matter Realism and how it will shape Sandum policy.

To begin, Matter Realism is an attempt to address something lost in this community in recent years: production. Specifically, material production and its overlap with more abstract forms of production (such as cultural or intellectual production). However, the basis for the production discussed in Matter Realism is material production.

It seems like the times when micronations engaged in major projects of building, creating and producing have been left behind in favour of a period of micronations as shells of diplomacy with, if we are lucky, a cultural filling. The problem with this is that it is easy to maintain such a structure with minimal participation of citizens and effort. This is not reflective of a real nation.

Moreover, it leaves open the easy escape from having to work on complicated issues of state like creating a useable currency, instating rules for internal and external trade and developing a sensible economic policy. For as long as these things are not addressed, a micronation is a caricature of a real nation; a two dimensional simulacrum of what it aspires to be.

Thus Matter Realism is an attempt to create the genuine material conditions of nationhood: production. Be this production the production of necessities, of knowledge or of art, the fact is that a nation without production is still not fully addressing the realities of nationhood. We thus, through Matter Realism, seek to establish production as the true third pillar of micronationalism, alongside the well-established and well-worn pillars of culture and diplomacy.

What this will entail in the coming months is the stimulation of Sandum production; beginning with revitalising the co-operative system and the minting of a set of Persumae coins; from there towards a system of grants to incentivise citizens to create means for their own production; and a drive in diplomacy to develop joint projects in a number of areas.

This interest in joint production development will affect our diplomatic policy in the future: both the establishment of trade and the establishment of projects to improve the production capacity of our nation and her allies will play key roles in Sandum diplomacy. This will not be limited to just the common modes of production (artisanal, horticultural and industrial) but will extend to the more modern means (digital and scientific).

Ultimately, a summation of the policy of Matter Realism in the shortest terms would be this: Matter Realism is a policy which sees production and technological advancement as inseparable from cultural and social development in a micronation. This recognition drives nations who adopt Matter Realism, both individually and collectively, to advance their production in all areas with their cultural and diplomatic development.

[SC] On the Sandum Family

The considerations surrounding the view of Sandum Family reflect the considerations of Sandum nationality and the view which reflects a coming of age based on volition in the Sandum context. In other words, just as a Sandum young adult must decide to become a Sandum citizen even if a Sandum national and if born or raised into the nation, so too one must be a member of a family based on volition. This results in a bifurcated view of the Sandum family: one based on blood and lineal relations, another on close relations between familiars. The result is a family based more on home and household (domus, οἰκία) than one based on innate blood relations (genus, γένος).

This view of the Sandum family is distinguished by the experiences of Sandum citizens due to a variety of lived experiences: from the study of the Classics and the relatively fluid definition of the family, to the postmodern context of LGBTQ+ families. In the Classical tradition and in a heavily legalistic world without effective birth control, ancient Romans were accustomed to adoption and to exposing children in their families. The fluidity of the family became more solidified during the Industrial Revolution, when the nuclear family became both the new ideal and the new mode of family life with only parents and children in the home. Only recently, under postmodernism, due to the rising cost of living and due to a lack of family support and to family disownment, has the model of the family become increasingly fluid.

While many mourn the loss of the nuclear family, namely far-right conservatives, the new moral model of the family provides new benefits and new limits. For one, the home life of the family is now one which should be based on mutual appreciation, communication and agreement, and should stress the equality and self-determination of all participants who are of the age of majority. However, this new model of a family is no light matter, for now it is a matter of quality of life of all involved that agreements are explicitly made and now the division of personal and familial property is brought to the fore. Furthermore, one must take this new model gravely and consider meditatively all those who are to become members of the family and not to remove one from the houseful over a light dispute.

In other words, this model of family requires much more communication and attention, but it means that all might have a loving and supportive family. It rests conclusively on the view of the Sandum nation as one based on volition as a matter of self-determination of both individuals and of the entire community of the nation-state of Sandus.