The Economist: Why micronational organizations fail
And why the community needs to grow up
In the past few weeks, the community has witnessed the crumbling of the OAM, the most recent organization that appeared to have established itself as the main micronational organization. Few of the reforms I’d advocated in an earlier article were put in place and the recent Secretary-Generals and their vices have not been able to prevent the organization from disintegrating.
The recent departure of quite a few micronations following a vote of no-confidence against Mr. Fish that was defeated by a single vote has driven yet another nail in the OAM’s coffin, but it is but a proximate factor. More to blame is the stunning drop in activity since the creation of the “MicroWiki Forum” as an alternative for the “Micronational Discussion” section of the OAM forum. What does this show us about the OAM? Simply that it was never truly an organization but a place for people, for the most part, to argue with each other and whinge about the admins.
I have just recently finished reading a book entitled “Gun, Steel and Germs” by Jared Diamond, an excellent read that tries to answer the question “Why did humans evolve so differently on different continents?” Diamond’s answer is based around agriculture, and where it arose. One chapter analysing whether it was up to the people who lived somewhere or the plants that were there that agriculture didn’t spring up is called “Apples or Indians?” The same reasoning can be transported to our community and the failure of micronational organizations: is it the fault of the apples (the organizations themselves) or of the Indians (the members)?
Here is my answer. It may sound very patronizing, but I do not believe the OAM, or any organization for that matter, can function when a substantial part of the community is made up of childish, whining people. The main problem with any organization is that it generally serves as a meeting place instead of a constructive medium for micronational cooperation.
An international organization, such as the UN, has at its core the co-operation between members to achieve, say, international peace, security, the rule of law. Most importantly however, it is “to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of these common ends.” The main problem with any micronational organization is that the actions of nations are not harmonized through common initiatives shared by all members. The most significant resolution passed by OAM is arguably “the July reforms”. Indeed, a common trait shared by micronational organizations is an emphasis on reforming the organization itself rather than positively reforming the community.
Why is this the case? Some have tried to get members to all sign up to common projects that would involve the OAM, but the central problem is the tendency for many micronationalists to start whining about “national sovereignty”. Sure, micronationalism is based on this concept, but no-one is asking for the OAM to become a world government or for it to invade and impose their rule over their nations. People seriously need to grow up and realize that “the admins” or whoever are not trying to take over their nations but to get everyone to work together in the interest of the community. Unfortunately, because of this tendency, micronationalists have shied away from proposing resolutions that would actually have an impact on the community and member micronations, unwilling to take the flak.
This inability to pass voluntary legislation that all members share has been the ultimate cause for micronational organizations becoming, essentially, chat rooms. People went to the OAM forum to argue with each other about socialism and capitalism, about Frederic Bayer and his ban, about the evil admins, about Mr. Fish being a dictator, about Mr. Bralesford being a dictator, about Mr. Lucas being a dictator and so on and so forth, ad nauseam. It is this focus on discussion (oh the euphemism!) and the collective whinge that has brought the OAM to its knees and prevented any organization from effectively helping the community.
With micronationalists concentrated on flame wars and “someone is wrong on the internet!!!” it is inevitable for micronationalism to go down the drain. In a memorable post from Mr. Mejakhansk, he urged people to stop complaining about practically everything and to go back to improving their micronations, to go back to micronationalism. The scarce following the post had and the inability of the OAM to grab the idea and promote itself as a motor for that “micronational spring” goes a long way to show why it was, for the most part, been unable to really benefit its members in a tangible way.
Micronationalists are egocentric, and that’s not something that can’t change. However, attitude can. Micronational organizations are doomed to fail in a community where people are less and less micronationalists and more and more bickering children who whine about almost anything. They will inevitably turn into a chat room and, if this is changed, will collapse due to inactivity. What implications does this have? Most simply that the main thing needing reform is the community itself, its members. A good deal of people must take a good look in a mirror and seriously grow up. I’m sorry if this will result in a lot of hurt feelings, but there’s no point in dancing around things.
As Massimo d’Azeglio, a patriot of Italian unification memorably said: “We’ve made Italy, but we haven’t made the Italians”. Before any “Italy”, any organization, can work, we need to make “the Italians”, the members.