The Pavlovian Pravda correspondent has interviewed Sebastian Linden – the Federal Councillor of Francisville and MicroWiki Administrator, a prominent politician usually seen as the Godfather of MicroWiki. Touching upon a range of issues, he discussed topics from his state visit to Wyvern to Robert Lethler’s days, from the construction of micronational artificial languages to usefulness of the Grand Unified Micronational.
PP: Excellency, you are among the most experienced micronationalists in the community and certainly have one of the most interesting micronational careers; looking back at the origins, what inspired you to start with micronationalism?
Sebastian Linden: There’s actually a funny story behind that. It could be said I was brought to micronationalism by Wikipedia. I was looking at articles about small countries, like Luxembourg or the Vatican, and then I stumbled upon the article “micronation”. Of course the article is relatively short, and I was keen to find out more. Being, at the time, obsessed with the “Star Trek” science fiction franchise, I was aware of Wikia through its wiki on Star Trek, “Memory Alpha“. This gave me the idea of searching for a micronations wiki, and of course, I found one. I saw that micronationalism was the sort of creative endeavour I’d enjoy, and since I’d already dabbled in nation-building as a small child (with Playmobil), I decided to create the Empire of Pristinia. The rest is, as they say, history.
PP: A very interesting story indeed, it is always intriguing to learn how a professional of your caliber starts his career. However, like with any other activity, micronational roads are perhaps not always strewn with roses, what could you consider as your best and your worst experience in micronationalism?
Sebastian Linden: My best experience must have been my state visit to Wyvern – meeting micronationalists in real life. Apart from discussing micronational matters in person and signing a treaty, we engaged in an informal intermicronational sports match (bowling) between then-Nemkhavia, Wyvern, and the Dutch micronation of Grezhnia. As for my worst experience, I have to take my dealings with Lethler. The man has a sick talent for manipulating, bullying and deceiving people that was simply disgusting. I was proud to help Mr. Freeman oust him in 2010.
PP: Indeed, unfortunately the community has previously been suffering from manipulators. Talking about MicroWiki, which most notable changes have you observed in it throughout your experience, and are these changes mostly positive or negative?
Sebastian Linden: The frightening thing is, it hasn’t changed too much. The two major things we, as a community, have accomplished, are the delethlerisation and the move to a proper paid host. Apart from that, we still have people bickering and wasting each others time by engaging in pointless fights for “power” and “prestige” – which, let’s face it, are illusions. Pardon the language, but in the end, everyone does whatever the hell they want to anyway, power and prestige aren’t bestowed by some formal position. That’s the good thing, we’ve gotten past rigid power structures, but the sad thing is that so many people still fail to realise this. De facto, reputation in the community is mainly based on activity and accomplishments, not diplomatic powergames. The only reason we still have them going on, is the fact that people are too proud and full-of-themselves to admit that. The GUM is evidence of that fact: some people simply refuse to believe we have progressed past the rigid lethlerism where you earned people’s admiration by being a scheming cunt – again, excuse the language – and that we are now looking for genuine contribution and accomplishments.
PP: You’ve mentioned the GUM, could you comment on its recent crisis with accusations of corruption leveled by one candidate for Chair against another, and the subsequent mass withdrawal from the organization?
Sebastian Linden: I’ve honestly lost interest in following the activities of that anachronistic, useless entity, so I don’t have a very deep understanding of the events that transpired, but whatever they may be it shows to me that the only thing this sorry excuse for an organisation ever manages to accomplish in our community is to create conflict, and waste the time of talented and intelligent people. I find it a shame, and it is honestly completely beyond me how so many intelligent people continue to voluntarily spend their time engaging in mundane and frivolous arguments. It is, I think, quite simply a waste of talent. Rather than bitch-fighting – yes, that is what they are doing – with random people over the internet, how about doing something productive for a change? It’s pitiful.
PP: It is indeed. Putting politics aside, being known as an experienced constructor of artificial languages, could you briefly describe the situation with such languages in micronationalism? Do you think this sphere of micronationalism has big potential or the opposite, it becomes less popular over time?
Sebastian Linden: It depends on the citizens of the micronation in question. Francisville, for one, has many citizens interested in languages in general, and it would not surprise me if, in time, more of our citizens developed a reasonably good understanding of the Francillian language out of pure interest. On the other hand, if your citizens aren’t interested at all in learning another language to any extent, developing a constructed language won’t serve much purpose besides your own entertainment and that of aficionados. Not that that is a bad thing – but it does mean there is then little point in giving this language official status. If most of your active citizens do not speak the language and have no interest in doing so, it obviously won’t develop much within your nation.
PP: Thank you for such a detailed explanation. Now, the final question – which advice could you give to novice micronationalists?
Sebastian Linden: A lot. I guess something I always think of on the spot is thinking about citizens. If you don’t have any shot at obtaining active citizens – don’t try to run your own micronation. I did for years, and it’s not all that entertaining, unless you can lie. Which in our community nowadays, you can’t (and don’t take that as a challenge). It is far more worth your while joining another micronation, even if it is a small one, possibly a federation (like St.Charlie or Francisville) so you can work on your own ideas at the same time as working together with others to create something fantastic. On the other hand, I don’t mean you should give up immediately. Of course no micronation has lots of active citizens after two weeks of existence, but if you’ve seriously tried and after a couple of months, you still can’t get a single active citizen (who isn’t already part of another nation), you should consider becoming part of something larger.
PP: A timely advice indeed, thank you for talking to PP!