on developing a system of honors and awards — part the second

on the construction of traditional-style medals

historically, a medal is the most visible and obvious sign of an award given by a government to civilian or military personnel to mark and honor achievement.  typically, it comprises two main components, the medal itself (a small disk, usually metal, often struck with some image) and a ribbon it is suspended from.  medals are usually worn on the chest (by convention, on the left breast), less frequently around the neck or (rarely) on other parts of the body. 

traditionally, medals are constructed of two main parts – the medal itself (a metallic disk or other flat shape), and a ribbon that it’s suspended from.  generally, the whole unit should be about four inches (ten centimeters) in length, although this may be varied for aesthetic reasons, particularly with narrower ribbons.

the ribbon portion is normally a cloth strip of either satin or grosgrain – although it could be other flexible material, such as a strip of leather, or even a piece of fine-link chainmail.  for micro-scale production, we recommend grosgrain ribbon over satin, as it tends to be more forgiving of adhesive seep-through (although care should still be taken to use the adhesive sparingly).  if you use either grosgrain or satin ribbon, the use of a batteryoperated ribbon cutter (which uses a hot wire to melt through the ribbon, cutting and sealing it simultaneously) is highly recommended.

the width of the ribbon should be approximately equal to the width of the medal that will be suspended from it.  ribbons are readily available in crafting stores and the like in several different widths, including 5/8″, 7/8″, and 1.5″, and less commonly in other widths such as 1″ or 2″.  we recommend your system of honours use a standard and easily-obtained width of ribbon, such as 1.5″.  standard NATO military ribbons are 1-3/8″ but we have found this is not as easy to find in the usual shops.

the medal itself (the part that hangs from the ribbon) is normally a disk or other geometric shape, although it can also be some other relevant symbol, such as an eagle.  as noted above, the medal and the ribbon it hangs from should be approximately the same width.  additionally, all decorations you award should normally use the same width of ribbon (for aesthetic reasons when more than one are worn together), meaning all of the medals should also be about the same size.

there are several options for the medal proper – you can look for pendants or medallions of the appropriate size from stores that sell sports trophies (which often allow you to customize the center to some extent), use pendants of the appropriate size from an arts and crafts store, or even design something and have it printed on a 3D printer, an approach we are seeing more and more due to the relatively high degree of flexibility and comparatively low cost (versus having a custom medal cast).

one of our favorite ways to create a custom medal is to obtain a cabochon tray (also called a pendant tray) of diameter equal to the width of our ribbon, together with a glass or plastic cabochon of the appropriate size to nest within the depression in the cabochon tray.  we create circular artwork that can be printed and cut to fit within the tray, glue it into the tray, glue the cabochon over top, and clamp until dry.  (here we must pause to recommend a particular brand, “Judi-Kins Diamond Glaze”, which holds the parts together quite well with little or no bubbling.)  this task is made even easier by the existence of hand-held circle die cutter punches; carefully center the image in a die cutter of the correct size, squeeze it, and you have a ready-cut circle to glue into the tray. 

medal components, together with a 25mm circle die cutter for cutting the inserts

we have also considered acquiring cabochon-cut semi-precious stones of the correct size to fit into the cabochon trays – a variety of coloured stones are available, and you could easily build up a system of awards that corresponded to the different stones.

the medal and the ribbon must be joined into a single unit.  the medal will normally have a metal ring at the top, by which it’s suspended from the ribbon.  often, this is done by carefully folding down the ribbon and feeding it through the suspension ring, but this can be a difficult process to figure out.  we have found a much quicker and more forgiving way to mount medals to their ribbons – by means of a “ribbon clamp”, which is exactly what it sounds like – it is a v-shaped trough of metal with tiny teeth along the edges of the “V”, which clamps onto the end of the ribbon (with the assistance of pliers) and has a small loop that the medal’s suspension ring can latch on to.  ribbon clamps can be found in lengths corresponding to all common ribbon widths.

ribbon clamps, unattached and attached to ribbon, plus soft-jaw pliers to clamp them onto the ribbons

the last thing a medal needs is a way to attach it to the wearer’s clothing.  often this is done with a pin back, which can be found at craft stores.  typically, we fold the top of the ribbon over a small piece of plastic cut to size for the purpose, glue it (and clamp until dry), and then adhere a pin to the back.  for this task we typically use a very strong adhesive called “E6000” (which must be used in a ventilated area due to fumes).  once the adhesive has cured, the medal may be worn or awarded as appropriate.

you may want to consider providing a certificate or other document to the individual being presented with the award, as another memento of the occasion.  additionally, presenting the medal itself in a box is a professional touch that also allows the awardee to safely store it when it’s not being worn.  finally, we would encourage you to consider documenting your creations at the microphalerist archive, MEDALS (microphalerist.com) for others to see.  submission guidelines are available on the website.


author bio

King George 2.0 is the ruler of Slabovia, the chair of MicroCon 2019, and the founder of the Microphalerist Educational Archive and Library of Slabovia (MEDALS).  he resides in Toronto, Canada, with his Queen Consort, the royal mouse-catcher Schroedinger, and the trainee royal mousecatcher Madeline.

about MEDALS

the Microphalerist Educational Archive and Library of Slabovia (MEDALS) was created by royal charter signed in 2018 by His Royal Majesty King George 2.0 of Slabovia.  the archive exists to document, for the public interest, examples of awards, honors, and medals that are awarded by micronations.  the archive can be found online here.

on developing a system of honors and awards — part the first

development of a system of awards

many micronations seek to reward their citizens and others through the development of a system of honors, medals, and decorations, the most obvious of which are medals.  this article will provide guidance to the new micronational on the development of such a system, and provide guidance on pitfalls to avoid.

a representative sample of micronational medals

before we begin, we start with such a pitfall—the use of any macro-world military decorations as part of micronational uniforms, if not awarded to the wearer by the macro-national entity in question, is to be strongly discouraged.  this includes not just medals but qualification badges and other insignia that are obviously attributable to a specific military.  the perception of “stolen valour” in the public eye is something to be avoided, both for the sake of your own micronation and for the others to come after you.  in some jurisdictions, such as Australia, it is acceptable to wear your relative’s war medals during ceremonies of remembrance; otherwise such an action is considered tacky, rude, and sometimes even illegal depending on the jurisdiction.  generally, err on the side of caution—if it wasn’t awarded to you, don’t wear it, and if it was awarded to you by a macronational entity, then you should already be aware of the rules and requirements for displaying or wearing such items.

decorations are awarded for many different reasons, such as:

  • commemoration of an event such as a coronation, royal anniversary, etc.
  • service award for completing a period of service, particularly in a hostile environment
  • campaign medals issued for military endeavors
  • decorations for valor

designing a system of awards should take all of the above potential circumstances into account, and should allow room for growth.  for example, maybe you don’t account for service awards initially, but later on decide that long-serving members of your military should receive such an award.  are you able to easily expand your award set to include such awards?

there is generally a hierarchy to awards.  the most objectively difficult or dangerous awards to win (for valour or bravery, etc.) typically precede service awards, which themselves normally precede commemorative awards.

you should determine and document the criteria for awarding each award, as well as the potential recipients.  for example, if you have an award for bravery, is it only for members of your military, or can your civilian population win it as well?  can your decorations be awarded to both non-citizens and citizens, or only to citizens (or even only to non-citizens)?

finally, what format will your decorations take?  the usual route is what we’ve come to call “medals”, being a commemorative disk hung from a short length of ribbon.  however, you may want to think about “turning things on their head” and suspend the ribbon from the disk, as seen in Slabovia’s “king’s mark of merit” award.  briefly, these are made by creating balls of “Fimo” or other bakeable plastic, using a sealing stamp (like you’d use for sealing wax, note that it should be lightly coated with mineral oil or baby oil to minimize adhesion) to compress the ball into a disk, and then baking it per the manufacture’s instructions.  after it has cooled, a quick rinse removes any residual mineral oil, and then the ridges of the impression are highlighted with a metallic marker.  finally a ribbon is cut to length and glued to the back, and the award is ready—see the picture.

allowing our thoughts to stray further, while medals are normally worn on the chest, that is by no means the only part of the anatomy that could be decorated.  we could, for example, picture an award system founded on lengths of cord of various colours, intricately knotted into lanyards.  of course, if your awards system allows for more than one award per individual, you might want to remember that humans generally have only two arms available (at most) for such a display.


author bio

King George 2.0 is the ruler of Slabovia, the chair of MicroCon 2019, and the founder of the Microphalerist Educational Archive and Library of Slabovia (MEDALS).  he resides in Toronto, Canada, with his Queen Consort, the royal mouse-catcher Schroedinger, and the trainee royal mousecatcher Madeline.

about MEDALS

the Microphalerist Educational Archive and Library of Slabovia (MEDALS) was created by royal charter signed in 2018 by His Royal Majesty King George 2.0 of Slabovia.  the archive exists to document, for the public interest, examples of awards, honors, and medals that are awarded by micronations.  the archive can be found online here.

bríet — DINO & on iceland’s æthereal music

icelandic music has long captivated me, just like iceland has long captivated me. an interesting country, iceland reminds me that no matter one’s excuses (being from “the country” versus “the city,” being “isolated,” being from a religious background, being conservative, etc.) you can still have socially liberatory politics. all of those descriptors fit iceland and its history in one way or another, but of course iceland is not so simple. icelanders who fit all of those descriptions—rural, isolated, religious, conservative—can still be supporters of women’s and lgbtq+ rights. many are. of course, as the song i am about to translate below attests to, iceland is all and none of these things: questioning the very dichotomies, i think, that we rely on in how we conceptualise and conceive of our own geography and world.

the intriguing thing to me, which i think goes hand-in-hand with this kind of cultural attitude, is how aethereal icelandic music is. a lot of icelandic indie, a huge genre for such a small country, really highlights the qualities of this that rely on high melodies and an almost whisper-like quality to the sung word. even in icelandic rap and hip hop, one can see this at play.

as a kind of introduction to possibly more examples of the genre, i translate below one of just a dozen or so icelandic songs currently on repeat on my phone and buzzing in my headphones. the song is DINO by bríet, an icelandic egyptian (what isolation?) woman artist, written about the artist’s boyfriend whenever she is stress.

it is this kind of aethereal quality that, even when a song is upsetting, is calming and centring and meditative. this kind of aethereal musical quality, which i do not really have the vocabulary or knowledge to describe about in a nuanced and meaningful way, is not just icelandic, of course. but i have found it in the work of so many icelandic artists.

watch bríet explain her song in icelandic, with english captions:

lyrics

hey
stundum er ég reið þó það sé ekkert að
leita og leita en hverju er ég að leita að?
hey
sometimes I’m angry even though it’s nothing
look and look but what am I looking for?
því ég veit alveg hvernig ég haga mér
hvernig ég læt, þú
ert fyrsta manneskjan sem að ég hringi í þegar ég græt
because I know exactly how to behave
how do I do, you
are the first person that I call when I cry
ég veit alveg hvernig ég haga mér
hvernig ég læt
i know exactly how to behave
how I leave
ég veit
ég ýtti þér í burt og gleymi
þú ert alltaf til staðar
þegar á reynir
i know
i pushed you away and forgot
you are always there
when push comes to shove
sorrý með allt sem að ég segi
ég vil að þú vitir
þú ert bestur í heimi
sorry for everything I say
i want you to know
you are the best in the world
ég vil að þú vitir
þú ert bestur í heimi
i want you to know
you are the best in the world
vildi ég væri meira eins og þú
minna blóððheit og meira þolinmóð
svolítið eins og þú
gæti höndlað mistökin þín eins og þú höndlar mín
meira eins og þú
vísað þér veginn eða af vegaleið
meira eins og þú
alveg eins og þú
i wish I was more like you
less blood pressure and more patience
a little like you
could handle your mistakes as you handle me
more like you
showed you the way or the way out
more like you
just like you
ég veit alveg hvernig ég haga mér
hvernig ég læt, þú
ert fyrsta manneskjan sem að ég hringi í þegar ég græt
i know exactly how to behave
how do I do, you
are the first person that I call when I cry
ég veit alveg hvernig ég haga mér
hvernig ég læt
(hvernig ég læt)
i know exactly how to behave
how I leave
(how I leave)
ég veit
ég ýtti þér í burt og gleymi
þú ert alltaf til staðar
þegar á reynir
i know
i pushed you away and forgot
you are always there
when push comes to shove
sorrý með allt sem að ég segi
ég vil að þú vitir
þú ert bestur í heimi
sorry for everything I say
i want you to know
you are the best in the world
ég vil að þú vitir
þú ert bestur í heimi
þú ert bestur í heimi
i want you to know
you are the best in the world
you are the best in the world
(stundum er ég reið þó það sé ekkert að
leita og leita en hverju er ég að leita að?)
(sometimes I’m angry even though it’s nothing
look and look but what am I looking for?)
ég veit
ég ýtti þér í burt og gleymi
þú ert alltaf til staðar
þegar á reynir
i know
i pushed you away and forgot
you are always there
when push comes to shove
sorrý með allt sem að ég segi
ég vil að þú vitir
þú ert bestur í heimi
sorry for everything I say
i want you to know
you are the best in the world
ég vil að þú vitir
þú ert bestur í heimi
i want you to know
you are the best in the world
ég vil að þú vitir
þú ert bestur í heimi
i want you to know
you are the best in the world

citizens soergel, dewitt to quest for the best old fashioned

the Sôgmô and citizen jan dewitt, two big fans of old fashioned cocktails, will go on a quest for the best old fashioned in ann arbour, quercus candida. their quest is scheduled for later this month when both will scour the city’s bars and drinking establishments for the best old fashioned cocktail on a single day. they will publish their findings here on prole·nounce, likely after they recover.

a bourbon old fashioned

the cocktail is variously made. the basic form includes a whisky, a splash of bitters, multiple small ice cubes or one large one, and either muddled sugar or simple syrup along with a garnish of a cherry and/or a single citrus peel. typically, the spirit is a scotch, a bourbon, or a rye. each bartender has their own preferred way of making an old fashioned, while citizen soergel prefers a scotch or rye with simple syrup and one big fat block of ice. citizen dewitt prefers bourbon, but also simple syrup instead of muddled sugar.

since there are over a hundred bars in ann arbour alone, both are excluding restaurants that also have bars and instead will quest at primarily drinking establishments only. they will also exclude bars that do not serve old fashioned or spirits primarily, leaving our bars that cater to beer- and wine-imbibing.

during their quest, they will likely meet many characters and stumble around and into some shady places (literally and figuratively). they will have to fend for themselves and each other as they fight the biggest and hardest quest this summer: jan and will’s adventure for ann arbour’s best old fashioned!

please drink responsibly.

activist micronationalism and historical memory

the history-memory distinction is familiar to historians but often erased by members of the public. pierre nora identified in modern society an “equation of memory and history.”[1] as societies with legacies of white supremacy enter this century grappling with how to remember controversial figures and groups like cecil rhodes, christopher columbus, and the confederate states of america, it becomes ever more important to educate the general public on how to distinguish between what happened in the past and how we publicly acknowledge it. these battles are waged over lieux de mémoire, literal and metaphorical places of memory that provide a sort of public liturgy of the past.[2]

micronations like Sandus exist in the context of broader societies with contested histories and typically inherit much of the attendant cultural baggage. many micronations, also including Sandus, extensively allude to the past, draw influence from it, and commemorate it. this makes the historically-conscious micronation its own form of lieu de mémoire, just as the historian becomes one by changing how they and their audience perceive present reality.[3] the memory-micronation necessarily wrestles with questions of what should be remembered and how. this means that beyond creating internal memory, they are also situated to inform historical discourse in the world around them. in an age when the dishonest and the cowardly support oppressive approaches to collective memory or uphold them through ambivalence, the historically-conscious micronation becomes a vehicle for historical activism. this is a role Sandus has embodied in its response to debate over confederate monuments and can continue to develop as inhumane ideologies continue to grow.

people in the united states, the main macronation exercising condominium with Sandus, often have heated debates over historical memory in a diverse, changing society. many of our grand national narratives elevate racist figures or celebrate a violent settler-colonial legacy. consequently, representatives of different cultures and ideologies often disagree over how to commemorate the past. in recent years, tension has been especially high around monuments to the confederate states of america, whose commitment to chattel slavery caused the u.s. civil war.

photo by joe mabel

i recently encountered one such monument at lake view cemetery in seattle, which has attracted local controversy. lake view is de facto the city cemetery, where one can find the graves of founding families, civic leaders, and generations of common seattleites. it adjoins a small cemetery of the grand army of the republic, a fraternity of union veterans of the civil war. near these graves of union soldiers, in what was a union territory during the war, stands a monument erected by the united daughters of the confederacy in 1926. given its sponsors and the year they commissioned it, this monument is plainly part of the early-20th century revisionist effort to rehabilitate the image of the confederacy, less a memorial than propaganda meant to influence popular memory of the civil war. the sponsors and the stone itself have documented connections to the ku klux klan.[4] many seattleites object to the monument’s presence. unidentified vandals have defaced the structure several times, sometimes following prominent acts of racist violence elsewhere in the united states. one example was anti-racist graffiti left after the 2015 charlestown church shooting.[5] after the charlottesville unite the right rally in 2017, then-mayor ed murray spoke in favour of the monument’s removal.[6] since it marks no grave, the cemetery has no great cause to let it stand.

but in a show of moral cowardice mirroring that of many americans in reference to confederate commemoration, the private cemetery’s managers leave the memorial standing, despite vandalism, petitions, and condemnation by politicians. one cemetery worker who spoke to journalists distanced himself from the monument, but also minimised its racist symbolism: “i’m not justifying it, but it’s just a monument.”[7] other locals are more sympathetic with the confederacy; i have found fresh flowers at the shrine each time i visit the cemetery. americans committed to lionising confederate heroes continue to sidestep slavery and white supremacy as truths irrelevant to their favoured narrative. expressing a view common to confederate apologists, one kentucky woman interviewed by public history researchers portrayed activism against confederate symbols as a theft of history perpetrated by northerners.[8]

when the national controversy over confederate commemoration came to baltimore, near the Sandum cultural homeland, the honourable sôgmô’s public response provided a model for micronational response to questions of social justice in a host macronation. það published a sagamorial consideration in 2017 that addressed the critical distinction between history and memory and the racist logic of the southern “lost cause” mythology. the sôgmô concluded this consideration: “if you think that destroying post-civil war monuments which venerate the ‘lost cause of the south’ means we will forget our history, then i would recommend you pick up a book and engage that history, not its faulty memory. history, historical knowledge, and memory do not fade so instantaneously, but racism lingers.”[9] það shared this refutation of the monuments’ defence widely on þess social media and in online meeting spaces of micronationalists. in recent years, certain elements of the online micronational community have taken a rightward turn, putting this article in front of many individuals who might be considered sympathisers of the alt-right, as well as micronationalists with avowed affinity for the confederate states. this document might not have changed any minds, but given Sandus’s identity as a scholarly and an activist nation, it was a way to inject crucial concepts and facts into the discourse of the micronational community.

Sandus has challenged mainstream american memory in other ways, always exposing other, more conservative segments of the population to its philosophy through numerous public holidays and commemorations. one example is the decision to celebrate indigenous peoples’ day partially in protest of columbus day, plus the day of the americas to promote hemispheric solidarity. one micronation alone cannot revise the memory of a nation of hundreds of millions, or even a micronational community of thousands, but as a people, i think we agree with michel-rolph trouillot in saying of the construction of history that “facts are never meaningless.”[10] it is a fact that confederate monuments are rooted in white supremacy, that christopher columbus committed genocide, and that these are repugnant to both the Sandum philosophy of compassion and the liberal values our american neighbours purport to treasure. people pay attention to us in the micronational community because of our reputation as writers and thinkers and in ordinary society because of our unorthodox approach to state, nation, and society. let us keep using our platform as a nation of scholars to influence historical memory in the united states and beyond, injecting facts and compassion in needed measure.

adam camillus von friedeck


[1] Pierre Nora, “Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Mémoire,Representations 26 (Spring 1989): 8, https://www.jstor.org/stable/2928520.

[2] Ibid., passim.

[3] Ibid., 16, 18.

[4] Charlette Report, “Why Seattle’s Confederate Monument with Confederate Flag symbol should come Down,” seattlepi, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 10 July 2015, retrieved 25 May 2019, https://blog.seattlepi.com/capitolhill/2015/07/10/why-seattles-confederate-monument-with-confederate-flag-symbol-should-come-down/.

[5] Zosha Millman, “Report: Capitol Hill’s Confederate memorial vandalized again,” seattlepi, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 29 July 2018, retrieved 25 May 2019, https://www.seattlepi.com/seattlenews/article/Capitol-Hill-s-Confederate-memorial-vandalized-13114801.php#item-85307-tbla-4.

[6] Paige Cornwell, “Mayor Murray expresses concern about Confederate monument in Seattle cemetery,” The Seattle Times, The Seattle Times, 16 August 2017, retrieved 25 May 2019, https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/mayor-murray-expresses-concern-about-confederate-monument-in-seattle-cemetery/.

[7] Christine Clarridge, The Seattle Times, The Seattle Times, 16 August 2017, retrieved 25 May 2019, https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/nation-politics/seattles-own-monument-to-the-confederacy-was-erected-on-capitol-hill-in-1926-and-its-still-there/.

[8] Roy Rosenzweig and David Thelen, The Presence of the Past: Popular Uses of History in American Life, New York: Columbia University Press, 1998, 17-18.

[9] Gaius Soergel Publicola, “Yes, Confederate Statues Are Racist,” Veritum Sandus, State of Sandus, 17 August 2017, retrieved 25 May 2019, https://sandus.org/2017/08/17/sc-yes-confederate-statues-are-racist/.

[10] Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History, Boston: Beacon Press, 1995, 29.

caesar & trump: the paradigm of tyrannicide and moral cowardism

at the start of his campaign for president of the united states, joe biden made the following statement about incumbent president, donald trump. “i believe history will look back on four years of this president and all he embraces as an aberrant moment in time…but if we give donald trump eight years in the white house, he will forever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation — who we are — and I cannot stand by and watch that happen.”[1] this statement, and the narrative of biden’s campaign more broadly, has tried to characterise donald trump as a historical accident, and stands in stark contrast to the narrative that has been put forward by nearly all of biden’s competitors for the democratic nomination, who have universally portrayed donald trump and the alt-right as the historical outcomes of a long history of policy decisions by both democratic and republican elected officials, going as far back as ronald reagan in the 1980s.

under the narrative of biden’s rivals — a more persuasive narrative — republicans pursued a set of policies that deregulated the american economy, defunded important social programs and infrastructure, and buttered up the rich with lavish tax cuts, while democrats at best offered weak resistance, and at worst promoted watered-down versions of those same policies. such policies not only promoted income inequality, but economically hamstrung many heretofore-middle-class people and created a desperate, vulnerable audience for a political ideology that had not been relevant since 1945. surprisingly or not, moreover, the era in which these policies were being created also saw the rise of micronationalism (not counting the first micronation, sealand), as primarily-middle-class individuals in europe and america looked at the policies coming from the political class and began to ask whether they themselves couldn’t do it better, if only as a symbolic gesture of resistance.

that biden wishes to dismiss donald trump as a fluke is unsurprising, given that he himself has been a leading member of both the legislative and executive branches of government since the 1980s, and helped to craft many of the policies that his fellow candidates impugn. biden’s interpretation of events, however, finds significant parallels in the end of the roman republic. while i often groan at the tired old line about learning from history, i do think that the episode i will discuss offers us an unusual opportunity to examine the consequences of the kind of willfully-blind optimism that biden is promoting.

i want to qualify the comparison of trump to caesar that is suggested in my title. this is an equivalence that is drawn frequently in opinion pieces, and usually deployed in order to smear trump as a power-hungry thug running roughshod over the laws and norms of public life. while i wouldn’t necessarily disagree with those characterisations of trump, such a comparison of him to caesar strikes me as intellectually facile. instead, my comparison rests on the idea that the events of both 9 november 2016 and 11 january 49 b.c.e., when caesar crossed the rubicon, were crisis points when political systems that had seemed to be limping along tolerably well revealed themselves to be long-since broken. rome’s crisis was preceded by laughter, as political insiders like cicero joked about dysfunctional negotiations between pompey and caesar. that laughter soon faded into concern and then alarm as the chance of a happy outcome dimmed and war loomed. we can imagine too well, i think, the sense of unreality that followed the war, as business went on more-or-less as usual, meetings went on, debates were held, albeit all under the gaze of the victor, who allowed the system to go on, even as he periodically voiced his contempt for it all.

like our constitutional crisis, the crisis of the roman republic was preceded by decades of growing inequality, as the conquest of the mediterranean made a few wealthy men unimaginably wealthy, while those citizens who were not members of the business class found themselves politically marginalised as the elite blocked, occasionally through violence, the creation of social programs to help them look after their basic needs. the phrase “basket full of deplorables” could almost have been coined by an elite roman. rome’s lower classes, in turn, threw their support behind a series of anti-establishment politicians who, however disruptive they might have been, seemed to recognise that the needs of much of rome’s citizen body were not being met. one of the last in this line of demagogues was caesar, whom the people rewarded for his advancement of popular causes against the will of the senate with command of an army in a war of his own creation, a war in which he would prove phenomenally successful.

some even responded to the dysfunction of the roman state in a way thematically similar to micronationalism. cicero, we know, found comfort in philosophy, and in two of his works, the republic and the laws — both responses to another quasi-micronationalist, the greek philosopher, plato — he sought to imagine his own roman republic, and how he would set up a state, if given the opportunity.

which brings us at long last to the parallel for biden’s kind of thinking: caesar’s assassins, the self-proclaimed liberatores. much ink has been spilled trying to examine such questions as the philosophy behind tyrannicide, and why a mixed group of caesar’s supporters and opponents from the civil war were united around this one issue, but what strikes me as interesting and important is how little thought they put into the aftermath of the murder. they had made no plans to take control of the city or prevent future riots, and had no plan for what a post-caesar government would look like. perhaps most significantly, they made the humane choice to confine their violence to caesar himself, which had the unfortunate consequence of leaving many of caesar’s most important supporters and allies in power. like joe biden, caesar’s assassins saw their opponent not as the symptom of deeper systemic problems, but as the problem itself. they genuinely, even naively, seemed to believe that the world would go back to what it once was, if only they could get rid of him. it uhh…didn’t work out that way. what followed instead were more civil wars, the death of much of rome’s political class, and the emergence of a monarchy that only became more absolute with time.

my point here is not to predict the future, and i don’t think that biden’s viewpoint, should it prevail, would spell the end of american democracy. like rome, however, america’s troubles are the product not of one decision, but of decades of decisions that have prioritised the needs of the political class and the business class over the needs of the people that vote. seeking to reduce the problem down to one man is an abnegation of shared responsibility and will do little to heal a divided society.

jan dewitt


[1] https://www.vox.com/2019/5/13/18535239/joe-biden-trump-aberrant-aberration

new lgbtq+ pride poster honours movement, progress

with pride month already upon us, making a new Sandum lgbtq+ pride banner has always proven to be a challenging task. each sandum banner has meant having to think about the current state of lgbtq+ politics and life. how can one poster capture such a diverse community and movement, with no leaders or figureheads?

it can’t.

Sandum lgbtq+ pride posters have often focused on velocity. they give a sense of movement, meaning that they come to focus on abstract shapes or even lines. the pride flags themselves become lines focusing the audience on a direction, whether up or down, read left to right. over the years, i have produced a lot of different posters on behalf of Sandus–some more successful than other.

the focus changes year after year. but this year is a little special. in 2018, i experimented for the first time trying to make the lgbtq+ pride poster feature something typically Sandum: an abstract skyscape. i did the same this year, except instead i wanted to choose something that fits more with the artistic / design revolution that we are advocating for.

the 2019 Sandum lgbtq+ pride week poster

still an abstract background, but now more simplicity. first, the base image is free. technically, most backgrounds for our posters are free. often, i take them, or i find copyright-free images. but this image is in the public domain and is free. (affordability being a major part of sandhaus’s tenets.) what i like about this year’s poster is that the paint strokes not just include our national colours (blue and white), they also include pantone’s colour of the year: coral. the colours are as much about Sandus as about this year in particular.

2019 is a momentous occasion. of course we know this: it marks 10 years of Sandus. but it also marks 50 years of the stonewall revolution, a momentous occasion that stirred lgbtq+ peoples to advocate for their freedom and to launch the gay liberation front (glf). we honour their work and all lgbtq+ peoples’ work with this poster, its colours and its devises.

the movement of the paint strokes signifies, to me, movement that can be found at pride parades. if you’ve ever been to one, you know what i am talking about: people are dancing in the streets, bystanders are flailing and hollering, folks are walking up and down all around. people permeate your every sense. like the human movement, these paint strokes are ecstatic.

next we have the flags. the new Sandum lgbtq+ pride flag just recasts its white with its component rainbow light rays, inspired by party secretary adam von friedeck’s recommendation that “the white of our flag is really just a rainbow.” normally, the flags take pride of place, but this year they are relegated to the right hand side of the poster. again, we have movement. the Sandum lgbtq+ pride flag moves from the bottom-left to the top-right and literally makes an upwards-facing arrow with the corner of the poster. the same is true of a larger pride flag at the very bottom.

the fonts are sans serif to maximise their utility for those with dyslexia. more and more recently, Sandus has been using more sans serif fonts in posters and public graphics versus our traditional serif garamond fonts. garamond is still used in written documents, but less so in public media. this is in order to be compliant and usable for those who have difficulty reading serif fonts.

this poster may not seem like much. in fact, it does not differ from the style of many contemporary Sandum posters. but, in my opinion, it does reflect what we are trying to do in Sandus today: to revolutionise our art and our design in this centenary year of bauhaus. the poster reflects and commemorates the movement and the progress of the lgbtq+ movement over the last 50 years, and it does that in its own uniquely Sandum way.