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Micronations: The Lonely Planet Guide to Home-Made Nations

1 rating: 3.0
A book by John Ryan

"Sets out all the steps necessary to lay claim to your own sovereign soil." --New York Daily News, September 10, 2006

Tags: Books, Travel Guide, Lonely Planet, Secession, Micronations
Author: John Ryan
Publisher: Lonely Planet
1 review about Micronations: The Lonely Planet Guide to...

A joke, sure, but maybe these people have a point?

  • Dec 11, 2009
This survey of "home-made nations" is an entertaining look at the topic of small-scale secessionist movements. While the subject often provokes joking, and many of the microstate examples here are in fact jokes, the Lonely Planet writers treat the "nations" and their founders with a refreshing degree of respect that makes reading this guide much less tedious that it could have been had the whole thing been doused in irony or contempt. That's one of the key things I noticed about this book, and I appreciated it.

Many of the micronations described here were formed as political protests. But others are, or claim to be, the reassertion of ancient claims (British West Florida, for example), art installations (the Republic of Kugelmugel), or the product of TV shows (Lovely). A few -- like Seborga or Sealand -- could even be said to exist de jure. So while you may be tempted to read this just for fun, and to check out the nuts who declare themselves princes or grand dukes, there are actually some very interesting questions of law and history underlying what's happening here. Certainly, for those of us inclined to accept Ludwig von Mises' argument that "whenever the inhabitants of a particular territory, whether it be a single village, a whole district, or a series of adjacent districts, make it known, by a freely conducted plebiscite, that they no longer wish to remain united to the state to which they belong at the time, but wish either to form an independent state or to attach themselves to some other state, their wishes are to be respected and complied with" (Liberalism, 1927), carrying that principle down to the neighborhood or household level only seems to make sense. (That some of these micronationalists claim large sections of land occupied by other, presumably nonconsenting, "citizens," is more problematic). As founder of the Kingdom of Cascadia, a thought experiment with no pretensions to reality but related to the "Cascadias" here discussed on page 105, it certainly makes sense to me.

All that to say, this is a fun, well-written, and well-documented book that makes for some entertaining browsing. It also shows an impressive level of participation on the part of the micronationalists profiled, which is to Lonely Planet's credit. Maybe it won't turn you into a secessionist, but there are worse things than that.

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