Now is the time to start your own country
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.