Perspective: Dreaming of a different world
THE ultimate fantasy which for all but a very few will never be realised is to start your own country, writes John Adams. The very idea of it is mind-boggling. Where to you begin? And how could you possibly have the time to make all the arrangements? And
THE ultimate fantasy which for all but a very few will never be realised is to start your own country, writes John Adams.
The very idea of it is mind-boggling. Where to you begin? And how could you possibly have the time to make all the arrangements?
And so it remains a romantic dream - except for those who actually do it.
Judging from the history of these things, it seems to be a great help if the person doing it is eccentric or, more plainly put, an oddball, and the odder the better.
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Look at pictures of those who have made a universal declaration of independence and you will find that many have a preference for wearing uniforms of the high flying general type, ermine cloaks, other types of royal garments and crowns.
They declare themselves to be kings, princes, emperors and whatever, and some have their own flags, national anthems, passports and currency. One thing they have in common is that none of them appear on an official map.
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They can be stumbled across all over the world. The Republic of Molossia, for example, can be found occupying six acres of desert near Reno in Nevada, USA while the Principality of Hutt River is in 25 square miles of Western Australia. Its head is a grain farmer who founded it in 1970 after a dispute with bureaucrats over grain quotas. I learn that Prince Leonard once declared war on Australia but officials in Canberra ignored him and he abandoned hostilities after three days.
Nearer home, an ex-British Army major established Sealand in 1967 on a rusting Second World War anti-aircraft gun platform in the North Sea off the coast of Suffolk.
The Gay and Lesbian Kingdom of the Coral Sea Islands began in 2004 on an idyllic group of uninhabited islets on the Great Barrier Reef in protest at the Australian government's refusal to recognise same-sex marriages.
Other micro-nations including scrumptiously titled The Kingdom of North Dumpling Island and the dangerous-sounding Principality of Snake Hill.
More modestly, the independent territory can be confined to a suburban bungalow with the nationhood contained in the creator's head.
But these diverse characters do not like being out on such a long limb, I discover. They got together this week, for the first time, at a conference in Sydney with the aim of discussing the best ways of pushing for recognition.
This could come from the United Nations but more likely would be those attending forming their own global union of micro-states.
One little spot which quite tickles my fancy is the self-declared republic of Seborga. I had not heard of it but I now know it is a village in Italy which traces its independence claims way back to the Holy Roman Empire.
Seborga recently elected a new ruler who is expected to style himself His Tremendousness Giorgio II.
For a title like that, I think I would start my own country.