Possibility: A new nation—on three square miles?

From The Intelligent Optimist
Summer 2016

Liberland may be the ultimate startup. On April 13 of last year, 31-year-old Czech politician Vit Jedlicka declared a three-square-mile plot on the marshy west bank of the Danube as a new sovereign state and installed himself as president. The vote was 2–0: a college buddy and Jedlicka’s massage therapist girlfriend (and new first lady) voted for him, while he abstained.

Officially known as the Free Republic of Liberland, it’s a contested no-man’s-land between Serbia and Croatia, known to locals as Gornja Siga, but the enterprising, digitally savvy politician envisions it as a haven for personal and economic freedom—and no mandatory taxes. One problem (among many): Jedlicka has not assumed physical control of the barren territory, and attempts to do so have landed him in jail in Croatia twice.

For now, Liberland the nation exists as a website that details the official languages (Czech and English) and form of government (constitutional republic with elements of direct democracy), along with headshots and bios of its ministers and honorary consul. It also offers downloadable versions of its flag, coat of arms, constitution and laws. There’s a motto: “To live and let live.”

Libertarian in nature, the new country would promote the basic principles of respect for private property, individual freedom and tolerance of diversity. Other pillars include minimal government, total privatization of schools and health care and voluntary taxation via crowdfunded state expenditures and cryptocurrency. 

Visitors have described the land as a boar-crossed, mosquito-fogged swampland, but Liberland nevertheless has become an exercise in online political and personal wish fulfillment. A Web-based architecture competition has given the first physical form to the nation, often envisioned as a green micronation. On Liberland’s Facebook page, a Polish artist submitted designs for the country’s soccer uniform.

Significantly, the Liberland website has drawn more than 390,000 applications—40,000 of which were completed—for potential citizenship, with the most coming from those seeking political refuge, including more than 80,000 Egyptians, then people from Turkey, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, the Czech Republic, the United States, Iraq and Jordan. Final citizenship approval rests, so far, with Jedlicka.

The new president’s authority has not gone without its challenges. Danish software engineer Niklas Nikolajsen founded the Liberland Settlement Association shortly after Jedlicka declared Liberland’s establishment and has openly questioned many of his proposed policies. The Serbian government has declared Liberland a “frivolous act,” while Croatia considers it “a joke” and has persistently policed the land and river borders, immediately arresting anyone who sets foot there.

Undeterred, Jedlicka and his growing number of international supporters, vape-puffing assistants and Facebook fans are cheering him on as he aims to become president of a micronation with very big plans. | Valli Herman

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Possibility: A new nation—on three square miles?

From The Intelligent Optimist
Summer 2016

Liberland may be the ultimate startup. On April 13 of last year, 31-year-old Czech politician Vit Jedlicka declared a three-square-mile plot on the marshy west bank of the Danube as a new sovereign state and installed himself as president. The vote was 2–0: a college buddy and Jedlicka’s massage therapist girlfriend (and new first lady) voted for him, while he abstained.

Officially known as the Free Republic of Liberland, it’s a contested no-man’s-land between Serbia and Croatia, known to locals as Gornja Siga, but the enterprising, digitally savvy politician envisions it as a haven for personal and economic freedom—and no mandatory taxes. One problem (among many): Jedlicka has not assumed physical control of the barren territory, and attempts to do so have landed him in jail in Croatia twice.

For now, Liberland the nation exists as a website that details the official languages (Czech and English) and form of government (constitutional republic with elements of direct democracy), along with headshots and bios of its ministers and honorary consul. It also offers downloadable versions of its flag, coat of arms, constitution and laws. There’s a motto: “To live and let live.”

Libertarian in nature, the new country would promote the basic principles of respect for private property, individual freedom and tolerance of diversity. Other pillars include minimal government, total privatization of schools and health care and voluntary taxation via crowdfunded state expenditures and cryptocurrency. 

Visitors have described the land as a boar-crossed, mosquito-fogged swampland, but Liberland nevertheless has become an exercise in online political and personal wish fulfillment. A Web-based architecture competition has given the first physical form to the nation, often envisioned as a green micronation. On Liberland’s Facebook page, a Polish artist submitted designs for the country’s soccer uniform.

Significantly, the Liberland website has drawn more than 390,000 applications—40,000 of which were completed—for potential citizenship, with the most coming from those seeking political refuge, including more than 80,000 Egyptians, then people from Turkey, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, the Czech Republic, the United States, Iraq and Jordan. Final citizenship approval rests, so far, with Jedlicka.

The new president’s authority has not gone without its challenges. Danish software engineer Niklas Nikolajsen founded the Liberland Settlement Association shortly after Jedlicka declared Liberland’s establishment and has openly questioned many of his proposed policies. The Serbian government has declared Liberland a “frivolous act,” while Croatia considers it “a joke” and has persistently policed the land and river borders, immediately arresting anyone who sets foot there.

Undeterred, Jedlicka and his growing number of international supporters, vape-puffing assistants and Facebook fans are cheering him on as he aims to become president of a micronation with very big plans. | Valli Herman

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