Monday, October 12, 2009

A (Kind-of) Country Within a Country: The Story of an Unknown Modern Day Revolutionary


Tales of freedom fighting are heavily romanticized and idealized by society. The French uprising against the oppressive monarchal rule, men and women opposed to archaic Apartheid laws in South Africa, and our forefathers who fought for freedom against the British are all viewed as inspirational and brave groups. However, some instances in which freedom is sought are viewed in a slightly less reverent light. In this category falls the micronation. A micronation is a modern phrase referring to an entity within an established country that is trying to gain its independence from a government that they disagree with, but are not recognized by the international community. Generally micronations are taken lightly and ridiculed. Although there are many micronations existing in some form throughout the world, a prime example is the Principality of Hutt River, which exists within the country of Australia. The creation of this principality was initiated by Leonard George Casley, who goes by the self-stylized title: his Royal Highness Prince Leonard of Hutt. In a disagreement with the Western Australian government regarding a quota that limited the amount of wheat which he could sell from his farm, Casley and his associates seceded from the Commonwealth of Australia, and his family elected him ruler of the new state. To avoid prosecution for secession, Casley gave himself his present title, so that he was protected by an Australian law that prevented law charges being brought against a monarch. Despite initial conflicts with the Australian government regarding mail delivery and taxes, (which resulted in a Hutt declaration of war against Australia) the two countries have now largely resolved their differences and coexist peacefully, with no taxes levied on the 75 square km principality by the Australian government. Hutt River features various signs that it could be recognized as a real country: it has a capital (called Nain, the country’s lone settlement), boasts national currency, and levies income taxes. As described by the self-proclaimed sovereign state’s website, the economy relies upon “the growing of wheat, white and blue lupins, and barley, as well as fat lamb production, wool and the sale of sheep for export”, as well as wildflower sales and tourism. The existence of a country is an ambiguous concept. Why can one political entity be called a country, and another not? Separations occur in an attempt to redefine and reform the status quo of a society. Movements such as the Great Schism, the southern secession, and even the initial colonization of America by religious separatists have defined our world. Rebellions against oppressive and tyrannical governing bodies are generally perceived reverently. So maybe micronations created in opposition to injustice aren’t such a ridiculous concept after all. But how will (or will) history remember His Royal Highness Leonard of Hutt?


-Brit H., period 7

5 comments:

mattgarrison80 said...

This is interesting. I've watched several shows about the end of the world being in 2012, even about Nostradamus's predictions and i don't remember them once mention that the Mayans said the end of the world was in the 4th millenium.

Marissa said...

Wow, thats really intresting. It really makes you think about what defines a country. Its sad to think although these people accomplished something just as great but they won't be remembered.

Ryan M. said...

Yes, it could be said that this micro-nation could fit the description of a normal country and that there are no official guidelines for defining a nation, but that little "nation" is only 75km squared, which is roughly the size of Roseville. So, no such a small land area, it is somewhat ludicrous to consider this area as a nation

LPraseli said...

This has got to be one of the funniest things i ever heard. Especially when Hutt- the micro nation declared war on Australia. That would have been good to see.

Jeffrey Seyfried said...

I don't think Australia should let them do this -- it's just a ploy to not pay taxes. If they were a country, they would have to really defend themselves (they safe in the middle of Australia) and provide social services (Where do the people in that "country" go to the hospital if they are sick?) Also, since Australia is a country, it should have every right to levy tariffs on the Hutts. It seems that the Principality of Hutt Rivier is just leaching off of the social order created by Australia. That is why I don't think they are a country.