The Economist: The idiocy of war
A dissection and critique of micronational conflict
Those of you who know me will also certainly know that I prefer to be direct about things rather than joust around them. So please, consider this article and its tone in this light.
I have never particularly liked micronational war, although I am by no means a committed macronationalist pacifist. Recently, however, the surge of petty conflicts has contributed to furthering my main belief: micronational war is mental masturbation at its height. And please don’t be offended by this if you’re a serious belligerent nation, although I am relatively sure such a nation still does not exist.
Before writing this, I did a bit of research and tried to identify the most “important”, strictly in inverted commas, wars that our community has had the pleasure to witness in the past two years. I have found: the New Europe-Erusia war, the Sandus-Pristinia war and the Austenasian Civil War. These three conflicts are good examples of the different strands of micronational war.
The first strand is the bitch fight, such as the New Europe-Erusia War. This usually seems to occur when two nations simply cannot stand each other and resort to declaring war on each other. What follows is the two nations shouting at each other, which then involves the rest of the community, ad nauseam; that is, until one of the two gets fed up.
The second, even more annoying, strand is the bandwagon war. This usually starts as a civil war, such as the case of Austenasia, and then degenerates into a massive conflict, where there is potential for nations to fight each other even when the original belligerent is at peace. What usually happens is that a fake civil war is conjured up to receive some attention, and then other nations decide that they would like to have a few extra medals on their chest and think: “why not join in?” This escalates into various nations declaring their military support to one contestant or the other, without the initial belligerents ever requesting their help (although in some cases, such as Atlantis, they are actually as idiotic as to ask for intervention)
The third, most worrying, strand is the “mummy-and-daddy-don’t-give-me-enough-attention-so-I’ll-act-like-a-dick-on-the-internet-so-maybe-someone-will-realise-I-exist” conflict, and its variations such as the “I’m-an-immature-brat-and-want-some-attention” wars. I suppose the Sandus-Pristinia War falls into this category, as dear old Mark Dresner (or William Danforth, or Frederic – depending on whether you are bothered to keep up with the aliases) admitted in a video posted just the other day.
The problem with so many young and new micronations is that they feel compelled to do something rash and visible in order to gain the attention of “the big boys”. The fundamental issue that lies to the base of this behaviour is that new micronations are seemingly too restless to let their peaceful and innovative actions speak for themselves. Indeed, starting a war is going to give you attention, albeit the wrong one, which is easily summarised as people thinking you’re a nuisance and then simply deleting your newsfeed comments.
An excellent example of how a young micronation should behave is Yabloko. It was founded barely 3 months ago, yet is has become quite respected and has developed into a very decent micronation. This is because it works hard and well. They invest time and effort in improving their nation by passing new laws as well as designing their Micro Wiki page to very high standards. Indeed, they should be held up as an example to younger micronations.
Now that the three types of conflict are down, I felt it was necessary to take a look at how a war actually develops, which should strike any normal human being as insanely idiotic at the very least. After the declaration of war, the conflict then proceeds into a serially petulant exchange of emails and posts, where mud-slinging competitions are rife. When the two belligerents start to lapse into pure name-calling; someone stands up to say “shut up”, only be violently rebuked. In most cases, a miriad of annoying nations jump in and offer their military support to the belligerents. Then follows a flooding of the wiki page of the war by numerous editors, who seem to prefer this activity to contributing constructively. Eventually, we enter a “cold war” phase, where veiled threats and insinuations persist, before everything quiets down.
A simple question should now arise… Have I not just described an internet flame discussion? I seem to remember wars had something to do with fighting. Indeed, if I check my English dictionary it says: “a conflict carried on by the force of arms”. Unfortunately, it looks like micronational war is better explained by definition nine: “a battle”; or rather by the word describing that entry: “archaic”. Is it therefore antiquate to think about war in the context of battles, blood and deaths? If so, I suggest you tell Mr Obama and the Taliban, because they seem to be behind.
The most obvious argument against micronational war is that it is simply not a war. Nations cannot travel across the globe to fight others, so saying “we pledge military support” is nothing but a joke. To call a snow-ball fight or the tossing of a firecracker a battle is what really makes me think: this is why people say I’m an idiot when I talk about micronationalism. When heads of state stand up and enunciate: “there is real fighting going on, POWs have been taken” my first thought is they should be perma-banned for their display of an intelligence 7 times lower that of the chair I am sitting on.
Another argument is that wars are a pathetic and exhausting attempt to boost a nation’s popularity. When a nation declares “a season of war” and randomly starts to attack nations on the basis of “eeny, meeny, miny, mo”, it is not surprising if other nations get pissed off. I believe this should be made clear to all nations thinking of entering a war: it doesn’t work. You’re simply going to be considered a pest and you won’t be believed if you say there is actual fighting going on.
While we’re on this topic, I thought I’d drop my opinions on civil wars, such as the Austenasian or Atlantis ones. Nothing will ever convince me that there is an actual civil war going on. There is no such thing as a “break-away state”, or if there is, this “state” is usually one guy in the nation saying “I don’t agree” to something, and then branded as a traitor. Nor will I ever be convinced that civil wars are anything but a seriously annoying scheme to gain micronational attention. An example? Nobody gave a damn about the Republic of Atlantis before that petty, imaginary conflict which they call a “civil war”. Now, the war’s microwiki page is swamped in edits, filled with abhorrent “walls of text” and cluttered by pointless images. It is honestly a pain to open up Recent Changes and see “Atlantis Civil War – 44 changes”.
As I bring this article to a conclusion, I would like to launch an appeal to all nations. Please immediately stop engaging in any conflict and avoid doing so in the future. Not only is it a waste of everyone’s time and effort, but it also the most pathetic aspect of micronationalism. Indeed, it gives micronationalism a bad name. Because of the flawed yet prevalent concept of generalisation, the actions of a few nations acting like 5-year-old attention-whores are taken by outsiders to be a representation of what micronationalism is.
The most annoying thing I can think of is people who are interested being repulsed by this childish behaviour. I came into micronationalism because I saw it as an incredible idea. Micronationalism enables people to experiment politically, to be innovative, to be creative and to build societies that are unfortunately too good to exist macronationally; and I’m sure that is why most of you are here, reading this article. So for micronationalism’s sake, let’s keep current society’s worst component out of our community.