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.

31 Responses to “The Economist: Why micronational organizations fail”
  1. Wonderfully put! The main focus of Theodia has really always been the development and establishment of Theodia in the community. Although we’ve been largely absent from intermicronational politics up until now, we can agree that there are quite a few unserious micronations out there.
    In response to this post:
    Regardless of whether it is micronationalism, macronationalism, or even a job, it’s never worth anyone’s time just to sit and argue about pointless things.
    I’ve seen some of the complaints against the admins. I understand some, but others are, admittedly, over the top. Sure, Aldrich and Fish and Cajak are our admins, and sure they change this and that and yon, but it is because they do so that we have been blessed with a wiki that’s not an eyesore. All wikis have a set of protocols that must be followed; if you think our admins are dictatorial, go try and post your articles on the real Wikipedia and see what happens. In reality, ours are really somewhat lax compared to the real Wikipedia’s admins. Enjoy it.
    I’ve never heard of claims that the admins are trying to infringe-upon sovereignty, but Theodia hasn’t until recently been very active in intermicronational affairs, so I haven’t read many of the news-stories or forum-posts.
    Perhaps a stricter definition of what “Micronationalism” is is in order?
    ~Kyng Sweyn Bradsson Schroeder I of Theodia

  2. Caro,

    ottimo articolo. Mi trovo perfettamente sulla tua linea d’onda.

    Solo una cosa mi disturba profondamente. Le tue orrende letture xD


    great article. I am perfectly on your line wavelength.

    Only one thing disturbs me deeply. Your horrendous reading xD

  3. Aaron I, Emperor of Eniarku says:

    Finally, someone is on my wavelength. Great article.

  4. Heinrich Schneider says:

    Thank you everyone, it’s good to see there are other people as fed up as me with the current state of affairs in the community.

    @Francesco: Ma no dai! Invece ti devo dire che e’ stato veramente interessante.. Poi a te sarebbe piaciuto: molto sulle societa’ preistoriche, il comunismo primitivo di Marx! XD

  5. Niels of Flandrensis says:

    “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.”
    Add this to your quotes on your MW-page, this is a great statement!

  6. Well, if the group were more democratic & free, then the community probably wouldn’t have this problem. Just to make things clear, the groups mentioned were democratic & free, right?

    • (Homophobic people who denounce the lack of a democratic and free group)

      • Kyng Sweyn I says:

        On a side note, democracy (in the sense of elected officials) isn’t all that great; meritocraticly demarchial sortititon is far less corrupt and, well, just better in general.
        But I’m sure the great Kasbar would have denied, on the grounds of political affiliation, sexuality, and gender-identity, the right to be selected in sortition, too.
        …Not like it ever mattered; it was a one man country.

    • Kyng Sweyn I says:

      And, Mr. Kasbar, since when do you understand the concept of “democratic & free”?

    • Jeremy Oakes says:

      Exactly how do you want to make the OAM “more democratic & free”? Remove more power from the Secretariat? What power?

  7. James Wilary says:

    Aye, Herr Schneider

  8. No, you people don’t understand yet, NPD Istoria withdrew the Homosexuality Act during the June Revolution. BTW, I’m reforming NPD Istoria in order to make a fresh, new Istoria. Here’s a sort of summary for Natlandism.

    • Kyng Sweyn I says:

      Why would you use the same name as before (for both you and your country)? It will be hard to repair your reputation. You should appear to vanish for a week, get a haircut, a suit, and a tie, change your micronational pseudonym (or get one if you never had one), learn something about politics, and start a new country with a new name.

  9. Philip Fish says:

    A very good article, but I must disagree with you most strongly on your points that the OAM is “crumbling” and “disintegrating”. The resignation of only ten member nations out of a total of 85 is not by any stretch of the imagination a decisive blow against the OAM in any way.

    We saw the same predictions of doom when Erusia led a number of other nations in a mass resignation from the OAM in early 2010, with people predicting the downfall of the OAM at the time. However, as we know, this could not have been more wrong, The membership since then almost doubled, reaching a high point of 85.

    Only ten days after the ten member nations left recently, we have almost entirely made up the membership numbers, if that is what people think is important. However, as I outlined in a number of statements and articles, the failure or the success of a micronation or organisation should not be measured in how many member nations it does or doesn’t have, but on the effectiveness of achieving its goals. Even if you do measure the success of organisations on their membership numbers, the OAM still remains, by a large margin, the largest intermicronational organisation in history – no small achievement.

    I concede that the OAM has perhaps not been as effective in the past as it could’ve and should’ve been, but I am very pleased to report that in the past month or so, we are finally reaching the stage where we can make more, and more effective contributions across multiple sectors of the Micronational World. We are no longer tightly bound to the MicroWiki Sector as we were before, but are now spread across at least three other sectors, having positive impacts in all of them (if you don’t believe me, go and ask the people in them).

    Lastly, the assertion that the OAM is suffering a “stunning” drop in activity. This may have been true about two or three months ago, but for the past month or so, the OAM has been much more active than and the MicroWiki Forum combined. These activity levels are very probably going to continue rising, as we process and accept more and more membership applications from a wider variety of members than ever before.

  10. I say, yes the OAM is very ineffective however that is because of it’s leadership, so nations including Montosh, Valongrad, New Eruope, and Georgeton and others have formed a new organisation called the OUM.

  11. BTW, who the **** in there right mind would delete my article about Natlandism?

    • Kyng Sweyn I says:

      Probably someone who realized that it was a poorly written stub with little relevance to most micronations and which could and should have easily been introduced via an apositive in the main Istorian article.
      That’s my guess, but maybe there was a different reason.

    • Kyng Sweyn I says:

      And, FYI: it’s not your article; it’s the wiki’s. It’s everyone’s article. You agreed to this the moment you made it.

  12. That doesn’t matter, Sweyn, the admins need to respect articles more; It doesn’t matter how poorly written they are

    P.S. Looks like Theodia & St. Charlie need an Natlandist Revolution or that the Natlandists should win the elections there.

    • Kyng Sweyn I says:

      I definitely agree some articles need to be respected more; I think we’ve all run-into this problem before. If you want to keep the article, go expand it. Go through the history of the movement, the intricate details of its processes — perhaps even make a list of natlandistic countries. If all you’ve got is a little bit of information up there, but you plan to expand it very son, add the {{WIP}} template; most civilized people wouldn’t delete an article with that template (unless the template’s been on there for more than seven days with very little changes).
      And, actually, it does matter how poorly written they are; on the real wikipedia, that article of yours wouldn’t have lasted even a fourth of the time it lasted on Microwiki before being deleted.
      P.S.: We don’t really have elections in Theodia; representation is done through meritocraticly demarchial sortition, a process which is more effective, more truly representative, and less corrupt.

  13. I reformed NPD Istoria so that it could be respected ny gentlemen, not rude jackasses.

  14. Archangel says:

    This was an excellent article- however the OAM is FAR from crumbling. Yes a small handful (8? 10?) walked out when they did not get their way, but since they left, things have run VERY smoothly. And they have been replaced anyway. We get a new member every day and it will not be long before we are over 100 active members.

    Yes, ACTIVE.

    The OAM is the largest, strongest, most active, and most influential of all micronational organizations it isn’t going anywhere.

    Great article!

  15. Heinrich Schneider says:

    Thank you for your comments, Mr Fish. I was not implying that numbers are a decisive factor in the success or failure of a micronational organisation, indeed my thesis is to do more with the “quality”, so to speak, than the “quantity” of members. I can see how I may have used some words that do not truly reflect the current state of the OAM, but I do not think one can deny that the loss of 10 micronations is not something to be merely shaken off without thought.

    Furthermore, my statements regarding activity were not referring to the short term but rather the long term, and in particular the consequences of the MicroWiki forum being creating. Back then, 90% of the discussion moved away from the OAM forum. This being said, I see the OAM as ineffective for the reasons I have made clear, although I am hoping for a more active and stronger organization.

  16. Niels of Flandrensis says:

    I compare the OAM with the current situation of the LoSS, world oldest micronational organisation. Micronations considered the LoSS as THE organization and look to them now… They still exist but there is almost no activity by its members. Maybe this will be the future of the OAM?

  17. nemkhavia says:

    This is a very, very good article. It speaks truths that needs to be spoken, as bluntly as they need to be said. There’s a lot potential for all of us as politicians – we just need to unlock it.

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