Micronations

UFOs and showers of fish and wacky news stories from around the world
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humblebee
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Micronations

Post by humblebee » Fri Apr 10, 2015 10:54 am

MicroCon2015 - a global summit of countries that mostly aren't even real:
http://bigstory.ap.org/article/29e3f331 ... rocon-2015

I love this stuff.

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Re: Micronations

Post by crystalball » Fri Apr 10, 2015 11:15 am

Heh, ace. Also, I thought the first bit of that url said 'bigotry'.

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Re: Micronations

Post by noLooking » Fri Apr 10, 2015 12:03 pm

As long as these places don't annoy the real government too much, they're generally left alone. But not always.
I like the way people are allowed to get away with this stuff so long as no-one takes them seriously. There must be a subversive window where people can do things that would be squashed in the wider context of a nation, but looks more like playacting on this micro-scale. For instance, if you can have your own bank, it's not a big step to have your own currency.

It reminds me a bit of Emperor Norton. Everyone thought he was mad when he declared himself "Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico", but because people found him entertaining and indulged him he could, for example, issue his own currency to pay his debts with and have it accepted locally, an idea that still gets people put in jail today. Though he was often ignored, there are examples of where he used his 'power' to stop rioting in the streets and the like.

Basically, my theory is that so much of power is about not looking like accepted ideas of power, which ultimately means that if we declared a republic of Anorak, where everyone wore pastels coloured cardigans and barrettes and the common currency was candy floss, we'd probably be alright. I wonder if some Anoraks' fascination with the Scottish Isles contains a sublimated version of this idea.

Yeah, I'm rambling.

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Re: Micronations

Post by tonieee » Fri Apr 10, 2015 12:47 pm

At indietracks I have been known to commandeer the fort after the campsite disco on the Sunday in attempt to set up an independent indiepop republic - mainly so I didn't have to go back to work the next day.

Years ago I also had dreams of making Walkley an independent state and using the physics of Escher to eliminate the need for fossil (or any kind of) fuels.

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Re: Micronations

Post by humblebee » Fri Apr 10, 2015 5:01 pm

andyiong wrote:
As long as these places don't annoy the real government too much, they're generally left alone. But not always.
I like the way people are allowed to get away with this stuff so long as no-one takes them seriously. There must be a subversive window where people can do things that would be squashed in the wider context of a nation, but looks more like playacting on this micro-scale. For instance, if you can have your own bank, it's not a big step to have your own currency.

It reminds me a bit of Emperor Norton. Everyone thought he was mad when he declared himself "Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico", but because people found him entertaining and indulged him he could, for example, issue his own currency to pay his debts with and have it accepted locally, an idea that still gets people put in jail today. Though he was often ignored, there are examples of where he used his 'power' to stop rioting in the streets and the like.

Basically, my theory is that so much of power is about not looking like accepted ideas of power, which ultimately means that if we declared a republic of Anorak, where everyone wore pastels coloured cardigans and barrettes and the common currency was candy floss, we'd probably be alright. I wonder if some Anoraks' fascination with the Scottish Isles contains a sublimated version of this idea.

Yeah, I'm rambling.
But rambling delightfully, as ever.

I think I read about Emperor Norton in comic book format once. Or did I dream that?

Is it funny how privately issued currency is massively illegal and the establishment comes down heavy on it, but things like the Bristol pound are just lovely? Yes, I suppose it is funny, because all currency is an abstract representation of a concept without physical form. Like national boundaries, or Top Gear.

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Re: Micronations

Post by tonieee » Fri Apr 10, 2015 6:04 pm

I've never heard of the Bristol Pound before. I've just looked it up and I don't get it. It's the same as a British Pound but you can only spend it in Bristol. So if I go to visit Bristol and get some Bristol Pounds my change I can't spend it when I get home. I can see how it's good for Bristol businesses because if they give a customer some Bristol Pounds they know that the customer is forced to spend it in Bristol which means that they are more likely to get it back when they otherwise may not have done. I can't see any advantage to the customer except maybe as some form of civic pride.

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Re: Micronations

Post by noLooking » Fri Apr 10, 2015 6:26 pm

tonieee wrote:I've never heard of the Bristol Pound before. I've just looked it up and I don't get it. It's the same as a British Pound but you can only spend it in Bristol. So if I go to visit Bristol and get some Bristol Pounds my change I can't spend it when I get home. I can see how it's good for Bristol businesses because if they give a customer some Bristol Pounds they know that the customer is forced to spend it in Bristol which means that they are more likely to get it back when they otherwise may not have done. I can't see any advantage to the customer except maybe as some form of civic pride.
I imagine the reason why Pete likes it (and why I like the idea as well) is that it not only keeps the money in the city, it also keeps it offline, so it ensures that you spend it in face-to-face transactions and encourages people not to buy from tax-dodging discounters.

Thus, it makes the world a more friendly, human-contact, community-minded sort of place, which leaves us less atomised behind computer screens and strikes out at the idea of "economic man" (and he is a man), constantly looking to maximise his economic utility at the expense of, ooooooh, anything good and decent that might fall outside the sphere of having more money and possessions than everyone else and grinding their faces into the dirt. Which isn't a bad start.

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Re: Micronations

Post by tonieee » Fri Apr 10, 2015 6:46 pm

According to Wikipedia it can be paid electronically so it's not completely offline.

Add it is the equivalent to the British Pound it's still pay of the same economic man. I could understand if it was it's own currency with it's own exchange rate then you could untie it from the British economy which might give it some benefits (not sure what though as I don't understand economics).

If you wanted your own money to stay in the city then you could just spend it in the city. So the only purpose is to force people who didn't want to spend their money in the city to do so.

noLooking

Re: Micronations

Post by noLooking » Fri Apr 10, 2015 7:13 pm

They wouldn't give it it's own exchange rate because it'd be in competition with the rest of the UK, which might draw business away from other cities and then everyone'd want one and it would undermine state authority. You can only do that if people think you're mad.

To be honest, I'd only really heard about it from afar and probably made my own assumptions about it. I do remember seeing something about it on TV at the start where they were playing up the community angle though, so all that wasn't entirely pulled out of the air.

I got a bit carried away.

*shame*

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Re: Micronations

Post by tonieee » Fri Apr 10, 2015 7:30 pm

Sorry Andy, I didn't mean to have a go at you or anything. I'm just trying to understand how it can be a good thing for anyone other than the businesses involved.

noLooking

Re: Micronations

Post by noLooking » Fri Apr 10, 2015 7:53 pm

Wasn't taken like that at all, I'd genuinely started going on about something I knew very little about. I had let myself down and your intellectual dominance over me was complete : )

But...

Having looked into it a bit, if you look at the list of shops, it isn't Smiths and M&S or stuff like that at all, it's all the little places scattered about that make the centre of Bristol more diverse and less, y'know, fucking Meadowhall, the kind of places where you might meet enthusiasts and stuff, rather than people asking you if you want fries with that. So what you could argue is that, if you get Bristol Pounds, it makes it more likely that those small shops will survive 'cos people are more likely to spend their money there.

Also, there's a lot of restaurants, galleries, cultural stuff (Arnolfini and the like), so it would encourage you to do that sort of thing locally rather than go out of town, or perhaps do that sort of thing at all, because you had BPs to spend.

So all of that ought to help keep people going into the city centre, ensuring that there is still a centre to go to, making sure it's full of interesting shops and spaces and encouraging all those face-to-face contacts that I was rhapsodising about so ill-informedly a few minutes ago. So that's a bit better.

I do think they've rather ruined the concept by saying that you can pay your council tax with it though.

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Re: Micronations

Post by tonieee » Fri Apr 10, 2015 8:15 pm

I agree it's good to encourage people to spend their money in such places and when you describe it like that it does sound more benign.

Bristol does seem to have a cool city centre from the one day I spent there. Lots of lovely independent shops and encouraging that is a good aim.

But I think it still sounds like forcing people to spend money where they wouldn't otherwise. I definitely would feel peeved if I was there for the day and ended up with a bunch of them in my change near the end of the day.

I don't know, I guess I'd need to see how it works in practise.

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