Friday, June 19, 2015

Bulgarian Declares Mass of Floating Pumice off New Zealand “Principality of New Atlantis”

It’s being reported this week that a 59-year-old businessman from Bulgaria has declared what he hopes will be the world’s newest independent country: the Principality of New Atlantis (Нова Атлантида).  The businessman, Vladimir Yordanov Balanov, has chosen as New Atlantis’s location a giant mass of floating volcanic pumice in the South Pacific measuring about 26,800 square kilometers—a bit smaller than Haiti or Belgium.  (See the nation’s website here.)

This rocky mass, generated by an underwater volcanic eruption, was first reported in 2012 by New Zealand’s navy, but it is not in that country’s territorial waters.  It is at approximately 168ºW and 38ºS, due east of the country’s large North Island and due south of the self-governing overseas New Zealand territory of Niue.  It even lies significantly outside New Zealand’s exclusive economic zone.

The approximate location of “New Atlantis” in relation to New Zealand’s marine boundaries.
Balanov originally tried to convince his native Republic of Bulgaria to annex it—there are even indications he travelled there to plant a flag—but he got no expressions of interest either from Sofia or from the European Union (E.U.), of which Bulgaria is a member.  (Bulgaria has never had any overseas territories.  The E.U. does not have overseas territories itself other than overseas territories of specific member states.  Some overseas territories of E.U. member states, such as French Guiana and the Canary Islands, are part of the E.U., while others, like Greenland, the Falkland IslandsCuraçao, and French Polynesia, lie outside the union while still being tethered to their mother countries.  Nor has any Eastern European country had overseas colonies, except for one: the Duchy of Courland and Semigallia, a part of modern Latvia which enjoyed quasi-independence from the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries and briefly established colonies on Tobago in the Caribbean—now half of independent Trinidad and Tobago—and on St. Andrews Island off the coast of what is now the Republic of the Gambia.  (St. Andrews has been renamed Kunta Kinteh Island, named for a fictional ancestor of African-Americans in Alex Haley’s 1976 novel Roots, later played on television by LeVar Burton.))

The flag of Liberland
Other citizens of New Atlantis include, in addition to Balanov himself (who, the published constitution implies, will be New Atlantis’s founding hereditary prince), Balanov’s wife Galina, as well as Hristo Radkov, vice-president of the Bulgarian chapter of Mensa, the international organization for high-I.Q. individuals.  Balanov said that he was partly inspired by the establishment in April (reported at the time in this blog) of the tiny libertarian micronation of Liberland, on the border between Serbia and Croatia—a project headed by a Czech but largely, it seems, funded and staffed via Switzerland.

In this map of disputed and unclaimed areas along the Serbian-Croatian border, the green area (“Siga”) is “Liberland,” while “Pocket 1” is the proclaimed territory of the Kingdom of Enclava (see below).
Liberland is situated in a 3-square-mile area consituting one of several no-man’s-lands along the disputed border.  The Liberland project had already inspired one other micronation: a group of tourists from Poland later that month declaredKingdom of Enclava along the border between Croatia and Slovenia.  But the Slovenian foreign ministry quickly pointed out that “Enclava” was not terra nullius but was actually undisputed Slovenian territory, even though admittedly the two states have not finalized the demarcation of their border.  Enclava’s founder, Kamil Wrona, calling himself King Enclav I, then relocated his 134-citizen project to one of the true no-man’s-lands on the Danube River near Liberland (see map above).  But Croatian and Serbian police have consistently done everything they can to shut down Liberland’s publicity stunts and flag-raisings.

The U.K.’s Sun tabloid has covered the Enclava story, since Britain, which has a large Polish population, is home to some who are connected the project.
The Bulgarian founders of “New Atlantis” may yet prove to be making the same mistake that Liberlanders, Enclavans, and many other micronationalists have made—assuming that because a scrap of land is technically unclaimed, no state will interfere with the founding of an independent entity there.  A libertarian Lithuanian-American real estate mogul named Michael Oliver made this mistake in the early 1970s, when he barged tons of sand from Australia to the Minerva Reefs, a set of low seamounts between Fiji and Tonga which did not poke above water for enough of the tidal cycle to be classified under international law as “territory.”  But as soon as the reef was built up enough to pass legal muster, Taufa’ahau Tupou IV, Tonga’s king, claimed it, and sent a naval vessel to eject Oliver and his nascent Republic of Minerva.  (Today, the reefs have eroded away once again to nothingness, but rival claims are still being made by Tonga, Fiji, and one “Prince Calvin,” an American who says he is the “island’s” monarch.)  Oliver’s similar “seasteading” project in Palmyra Atoll, a United States territory near Hawai‘i, got even less far.

Spidermonkey Island, a floating island off the coast of Brazil invented by Hugh Lofting for the Doctor Dolittle novels, would not qualify as “territory” under international law because, like the New Atlantis pumice patch, it is not anchored to the ocean floor.  Here, some whales under Dolittle’s command help move Spidermonkey Island to a more convenient spot.
The “New Atlantis” mass of pumice stays above water throughout the tidal cycle, but it is not legally “land” either, since it is floating, not anchored.  Whether New Zealand, its nearest neighbor, will tolerate any state-building there remains to be seen.  Certainly, with no source of freshwater and no supply ports anywhere near by, it would be difficult to colonize.  Perhaps Balanov was also inspired by the recent Image Comics series titled Great Pacific, which envisions a do-it-yourself nation called New Texas founded atop an (actual existing, sadly) floating mass of plastic in the northern Pacific Ocean.  The comics series, however, remains silent on many of the insuperable logistical barriers to such a project.

Balanov and compatriots may also want to consider a new name for their principality.  The term New Atlantis may well derive from the use of the name Atlantis in Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel-format libertarian manifesto Atlas Shrugged, in which it, along with Galt’s Gulch, was a label for the hidden mountain refuge in Colorado where the world’s leading industrialists relocated themselves after dropping out of society so that they could live in peace and prosperity while the greedy, lazy “second-handers” bent on the redistribution of wealth suffered the utter implosion of the rest of the world’s now rudderless economy.  (Just to clarify: in Rand’s novel, these industrialists were supposed to be the good guys.)

Vladimir Balanov posing with the Bulgarian and New Atlantean flags
Also, this isn’t even the first use of the name New Atlantis.  In 1964, Ernest Hemingway’s brother Leicester Hemingway founded his Republic of New Atlantis on a bamboo raft lashed to an old Ford engine block floating off the coast of Jamaica.  And in 1624, Sir Francis Bacon published a description of a fictional utopian “New Atlantis” on an island called Bensalem off the coast of Peru.

The flag of Leicester Hemingway’s Republic of New Atlantis (1964)
But the oddest thing about the name is that New Atlantis is not in the Atlantic but in the Pacific.  Why don’t they call it New Lemuria?

The original, original New Atlantis, as envisioned by Sir Francis Bacon
Thanks to Peppino Galiardi of the Kingdom of Cavaleria for alerting me to some sources and information for this article.

[You can read more about the Republic of New Atlantis and many other separatist and new-nation movements, both famous and obscure, in my new book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas just published by Litwin Books under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements and Aspirant Nations, from Abkhazia to Zanzibar.  The book, which contains 46 maps and 554 flags (or, more accurately, 554 flag images), is available for order now on Amazon.  Meanwhile, please “like” the book (even if you haven’t read it yet) on Facebook and see this special announcement for more information on the book.]

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Read an Interview with Chris Roth, Author of “Let’s Split!”, on the “Library Juice” Blog

Read an interview with Chris Roth, author of Let’s Split!, on the “Library Juice” blog ...

Click here for the interview.

Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements and Aspirant Nations, from Abkhazia to Zanzibar is a sort of encyclopedic atlas published by Litwin Books.  Containing 46 maps and 554 flags (or, more accurately, 554 flag images), Let’s Split! is available for order now on Amazon.  Meanwhile, please “like” the book (even if you haven’t read it yet) on Facebook and see this special announcement for more information on the book.]

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Philadelphia Apartment Building Claimed as Sovereign “Moorish” Territory on 30th Anniversary of MOVE Bombing

A new Black nationalist micronation in Philadelphia?
The city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has never healed from the horrific events of May 1985, when police helicopters bombed an urban compound rented by the radical Black nationalist organization MOVE and the mayor ordered firefighters to stand aside while 65 homes burned to the ground, after a siege followed police attempts to evict the group.  MOVE, a (heavily armed) communitarian, back-to-nature movement, had been branded a terrorist organization linked to the killing of a police officer seven years earlier, though in the 1985 eviction case had done little more than torment neighbors with political diatribes delivered through bullhorns.  Last month, media and activists revisited the MOVE siege on its thirtieth anniversary, which came amid a new civil-rights movement across the United States focusing on police brutality against African-Americans.

How Philadelphia police handled an eviction complaint in 1985.
It was in this climate that four African-American activists facing eviction from another Philadelphia apartment building invoked Black nationalism last week and tried to turn a minor court hearing into an international incident.  They say the entire building is a sovereign territory, not part of the United States.

A tenant in the latest dispute being arrested last month
At the June 2nd hearing addressing defiance of an eviction order by the landlord, Francine Beyer, the four tenants of the apartment at 13th and Hamilton identified themselves as “Aboriginal Indigenous Moorish Americans,” refusing to recognize the court’s right to call them or its authority over the building, which they regard as “theirs by birthright,” according to the Philadelphia Daily News, and not subject to U.S., state, or municipal law.

Location of the apartment building on 13th and Hamilton in Philadelphia being claimed as a separate nation.
“Are you aware that the people who you have falsely called defendants,” one defendant, Nanye Amil El (a.k.a. 45-year-old Dante Morris), wearing a maroon fez cap, asked Judge David C. Shuter, “are actually heirs to this land?”  Another defendant, 65-year-old Delilah Passe, waved what the press described as a Moorish flag but was asked to put it away lest it be used as a weapon.  (If a reader can tell me which flag was used, I would be grateful.)

This (in center) may or may not be an example of the type of Moorish flag
displayed by defendants in court last week in Philadelphia.
At this point, students of the history of Black nationalism and readers of this blog will recognize the names and terminology of the tenants as indications that they are part of the Moorish Science Temple movement.  This precursor to modern Black nationalism emerged in the ferment of religious and political ideas in 1920s and ’30s Detroit, Michigan, where Islam, Freemasonry, offbeat anthropological theorizing, and an infatuation with all things Egyptian and occultic gave rise to Marcus Garvey as well as the Nation of Islam’s founder, Elijah Muhammad, among others.  Many Moorish activists claim that African-Americans are actually African-featured “Israelites.”  This is known as the “Paleo-Negroid” hypothesis, which holds, against all evidence, that the Americas were peopled by ancient Africans who are responsible for the monumental architecture of the Midwestern mound-building cultures and others.

Historic photo of Moorish Science Temple of America members
Other offshoots of the group that have been reported on in this blog include the Washitaw Nation in Oklahoma and elsewhere (see an article from this blog) (whose crown is currently claimed by a Trenton, New Jersey, eccentric calling himself “Crown Prince Emperor El Bey Bigbay Bagby-Badger” (see article), the Nuwaubian Nation of Moors (whose 500-acre compound Tama-Re, in Georgia, was demolished by authorities in 2005), and a new splinter group called the United Nuwaupian Nation (see article). Yet another group, the Moorish Divine and National Movement of the World, includes among its followers Pilar Sanders, the estranged wife of the retired football star Deion Sanders, who in court last month tried to void a prenuptial agreement which would cost her millions by saying that she now calls herself Pilar Biggers Sanders Love El-Dey and answers only to the laws of the “Moroccan Empire.”

Moorish Science follower Pilar Sanders as depicted in a graphic by the celebrity gossip website TMZ
One reporter contacted Brother A. Kinard-Bey, of the largest and oldest Moorish group, the Moorish Science Temple of America, Inc., in Washington, D.C., who called the four Philadelphia tenants “impostors” and said his group is the only real Moorish Temple in the U.S.  He added, “We’re seeing a number of people claiming to be of our temple who want to know how to naturalize or how to gain to their sovereignty.  Those are not lessons that the Moorish Science Temple of America teaches.”

Noble Drew Ali, founder of the Moorish Science Temple movement
Indeed, while Moorish Science traditionally is communal and leftish in its orientation, new offshoots like the Washitaw Nation are borrowing concepts and legal strategies from the “individual sovereignty” movement more popular among alienated right-wing white American males.  One of the tenant activists in Philadelphia this month, 38-year-old Rebecca Lyn Harmon, who asked to be referred to as R. Lynn Hatshepsut Ma’atKare El, is also an attorney (under yet a third name, Rhashea Lynn Harmon), who has talked of running for mayor of Philadelphia on the Republican Party ticket.

R. Lynn Hatshepsut Ma’atKare El (a.k.a. Rebecca Harmon),
a defendant in the current eviction case
A formal arraignment will be held for the four tenants on June 23rd.

American and Moroccan flags on display at a charity event hosted by a separate Moorish group in Philadelphia recently.  Note the 48-star flag.
[You can read more about many of these and other separatist and new-nation movements, both famous and obscure, in my new book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas just published by Litwin Books under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements and Aspirant Nations, from Abkhazia to Zanzibar.  The book, which contains 46 maps and 554 flags (or, more accurately, 554 flag images), is available for order now on Amazon.  Meanwhile, please “like” the book (even if you haven’t read it yet) on Facebook and see this special announcement for more information on the book.]

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