Now is the time to start your own coun­try

The Review - - OPINION - Jim Smart Of All Things Visit colum­nist Jim Smart’s web­site at jamess­mart­sphiladel­

When I checked to see whether there are any spe­cial ob­ser­vances this month be­side Veter­ans Day and Thanks­giv­ing, one caught my in­ter­est. Nov. 22 will be Na­tional Start Your Own Coun­try Day.

I found that the move­ment, or per­haps it’s a stand­still, be­gan at the New York World’s Fair in 1939 and has been es­cap­ing no­tice an­nu­ally ever since.

If you are a habitué of the com­mu­ni­ca­tion tool Twit­ter, ask it for #StartYourOwnCoun­tryDay and you will find two en­tries. One from about four dozen twits, go­ing as far back as 2011, and an­other with about 24 en­tries will leave you thor­oughly uned­i­fied.

A web­site called World­wide Weird Hol­i­days ex­plores the pos­si­bil­i­ties of the hol­i­day. It warns that there is more to na­tion­start­ing than “not pay­ing taxes and de­sign­ing a fun yet mean­ing­ful flag.”

“The Mon­te­v­ideo Con­ven­tion on the Rights and Du­ties of States,” it re­ports, “de­clared that a na­tion re­quires four things to ex­ist: a per­ma­nent pop­u­la­tion, de­fined ter­ri­tory, gov­ern­ment and a ca­pac­ity to en­ter into re­la­tions with other states.”

That was an in­ter­na­tional agree­ment signed by 19 na­tions at a meet­ing in Uruguay in 1933, which set the rules for any­one who wants his con­ti­nent or back­yard or some­place to be a na­tion.

Per­son­ally, I have never con­sid­ered start­ing my own na­tion and sus­pect that you haven’t, ei­ther. But look­ing into Start Your Own Coun­try Day led me to re­al­ize that it’s an im­por­tant topic.

Ama­zon on­line of­fers seven books ei­ther about self-or­ga­nized coun­tries or how to build your own, in­clud­ing per­haps the most com­pre­hen­sive man­ual, ti­tled “How to Rule the World: A Hand­book for the As­pir­ing Dic­ta­tor.” You can buy that for only $12.25, cheaper than “Mein Kampf.”

A book not avail­able from Ama­zon, so you might have to search for an ac­tual book store (they’re get­ting woe­fully scarce), is “Mi­crona­tions: The Lonely Planet Guide to Home-Made Na­tions,” a guide book to self-ap­pointed na­tions around the globe.

Its ad­ver­tis­ing claims to di­rect the trav­eler to a coun­try where the na­tional an­them is the sound of a rock be­ing dropped into wa­ter and an­other whose na­tional cur­rency ex­change rate is based on the cur­rent value of Pills­bury’s cookie dough.

The whole idea started me imag­in­ing Roxbor­ough and Manayunk se­ced­ing from the United States and be­com­ing an in­de­pen­dent na­tion.

The Demo­cratic Re­pub­lic of Roxbor­ough & Manayunk could con­tract with Philadel­phia, the state and what­ever else to con­tinue the ex­ist­ing in­fra­struc­ture. I tried to imag­ine what laws the in­de­pen­dent na­tion might change, but the only thing I could think of was keep­ing the bars open longer.

And there would be nui­sances such as print­ing pass­ports, postage stamps and money.

An ex­am­ple of the trou­ble that could be caused by declar­ing in­de­pen­dence is on­line: the story of Ed­win Lip­burger, an artist, who built a small glob­u­lar house on a lot in Vi­enna and then an­nounced that he had se­ceded from Aus­tria. His prop­erty was the Re­pub­lic of Kugel­mugel, and he was its pres­i­dent and only cit­i­zen.

The Aus­trian gov­ern­ment didn’t see things his way. He went to jail for not pay­ing taxes, but he got so much sym­pa­thy from the pub­lic that he was par­doned. His now-fa­mous lit­tle house was moved to a park.

Don’t let that cau­tion­ary in­ci­dent pre­vent you from cel­e­brat­ing Na­tional Start Your Own Coun­try Day if you feel moved. But when you think about it, we al­ready have a day to cel­e­brate that: the Fourth of July.

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