“i’d love it if we made it”: sandum micronationalism as satire and resistance

Sandum micronationalism in the age of moral cowardism, the theme of a colloquium held on 25 May 2019 to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the nation, strikes the chords of moral indignation mixed with the subcultural resistance we embody as micronationalists. taken from a cultural Marxist lens, this resistance can come in many forms, of course, but micronationalism purposefully takes on many mantles at once: we can resist moral cowardism and the retreat from moral responsibility in a variety of ways as micronationalists, as many ways as americans or britons or french citizens can. micronationalism is at a real intersection between politics, culture, society, economy, ecology, geography, and so on. as intersectional as contemporary nation-states are, micronations like Sandus are many times more than that because of how international and pluralist individual micronations are. we reject essentialist nationhood and ardently believe both in popular sovereignty and self-determination, and we also believe—in Sandus—in the role our state has in providing for the common welfare.

the 1975’s song “love it if we made it” is just one song that represents our zeitgeist. the british band from the midlands city of manchester represents our present historical moment with lyrics that can be read both as a narrative and as profound individual statements, like with Billy Joel’s 1989 hit “we didn’t start the fire.” what is striking, however, about this particular song of the times is the almost dark hope and despondency. the song’s melody are uplifting and hopeful, always ending on high notes (literally), but the lyrics juxtapose this hope with the dark reality and with the frequently repeated lines “modernity has failed us, and i’d love it if we made it.” this last line is sung several times over the course of the song on its own, both suggesting the sincere hope that we all will make it in the end but also burdening us with potential future disappointment and the expectation that we won’t.

this kind of juxtaposition is often found in the genre of satire and both serves to give moral or philosophical guidance to the audience while also reinforcing common, shared values to people inside and out of an in-group or subculture. think of Horace’s satires—whose first satires call upon the audience to observe moral moderation in all things—or Juvenal’s satires—like his second satire that both puts effeminate (morally bad) men on stage while also roasting them. or think of contemporary satirists like Jon Stewart or Robert Colbert who both present/ed the moral failings of the american right and, in the case of Colbert, points out their inherent contradictions by applying a persona.

and, in the case of the 1975, there is much to be indignant about. the first stanza focuses on the general theme of communication or, more to the point, miscommunication, especially in the age of social media and the internet. “saying controversial things just for the hell of it” is something close to home for us Sandum micronationalists, let alone for anyone who has heard someone say something without thinking of the potential reality behind their romanticism or controversial language and comments. we can think of the more radical and controversial micronations, like the federal republic of lostisland or the empire of pavlov, micronations that seek to be simulations of ultra-orthodox, traditionalist conservative states like imperial Russia or contemporary presidential dictatorships. or, in the case of emperor Jonathan of Austenasia, that still seek this traditionalist conservative ephémère, although in that reality he would be implicated by his treason, his lowborn status, and his a/sexuality. micronationalists like these do not see how their hoped-for micronations would self-implicate them in destructive and oppressive state- and social-structures. instead, they romanticise the “glory days,” much like the romantic old days contemporary white supremacists make up in their minds, without realising what role they’d play in that kind of reality. (to be clear, we do not support this kind of oppression, but that’s the point! we are realists and historically conscious.)

Realists that we are, we do not appeal to the kind of history that they do. Sandus is decidedly not a simulation, and we do not have any golden oldies to go back to—even collectivised soviet Russia. our vision is for our present, to create a commune of like-minded people to better our lives and those of others, not to become a mighty empire where we’d be hypocrites and moral cowards. we seek to rupture the hold that history places on us while recognising the effects that permeate us. this puts us at odds with these micronations, but puts us closer to those that are trying to do something sincere—like Flandrensis or Westarctica with ecological concerns or Hélianthis or Aigues-Mortes with local culture. big problems, sure, but with limits. let’s move on.

“selling melanin and then suffocate the black men,” in the context of the song, is very similar, about the capitalist commodification of black culture juxtaposed with today’s police brutality and the militarisation of local police forces that literally kill black men and women. in an age of BLM, consumers can enjoy the product of black workers, some who exist as supermodels, but the real black people who perform services and do work on a daily basis for us exist nameless or, even when they do exist, their names are too “exotic” and “hard to pronounce.” in Sandus, while we also live in this contemporary macronational reality, we also try to raise consciousness of black lives in our own minds and those of others. Despite being part of a country that is 79% white, we try to be good allies at the very least and express our own moral indignation and share in black people’s mourning and sadness when black men like Eric Garner or Philando Castile, when black women like Sandra Bland, or even when black children like Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, or Trayvon Martin are murdered in the streets!

i admit, we can do more. we can always do more. but we are doing something with our art. “poetry is in the streets”—and so are micronationalists.

but in late stage capitalism, we are workers ourselves, struggling with falling wages and salaries and with increasing rent, with the expectation of constant profit and busybody-ness; all we can do most of the time is “find out the information / access all the applications / that are hardening positions based on miscommunication.” modernity has failed us, but we seek an education to soften those positions, to humanise those not like us in all regards, and to do what we can in our lives and our livelihoods to foster solidarity and to do political action. Sandus is trying to improve our reality, using our Realism, though we are limited by our means.

the song is also about what can seem like a perfect fit for micronations: failing states. when Belgium had a government crisis from 2007 to 2010, people and the media turned to micronationalists like grand duke Niels of Flandrensis to point out how average people like us can form governments and be better statespeople than people who have been in government for years and even decades! we respond to real life events in the way we know best: by exercising and by demonstrating our self-determination and our popular sovereignty. micronationalists have taken a stance against warfare and today resist aggression between peoples and even between people and the state. and this is not the only stance we can take: we in Sandus have taken many of them, and are more than willing to address them whenever and wherever we are. we use our art and our livelihood—our micronationalism—to talk about them.

micronations are often called satirical, and that is certainly the case with many micronations like Flandrensis and others who stake out positions clearly and loudly. but describing all micronationalism as satirical can sometimes give the connotation that this is humour, and meant to be funny or laughed at. that couldn’t be further from the truth. Some micronations are fun (like Molossia’s ban on walruses, tobacco, and Texans) but beneath the satire is a serious criticism of late stage capitalism and post/modernity. Sandus as a micronation purposefully critiques these ideas, while (in the case of postmodernity) embraces them. We reject neoliberalism while living in a neoliberal reality. like the icelandic band Hatari, we recognise that this makes us “hypocrites”—because we have to work within a system in order to change it. Sandus is avant-garde, it is experimental, in how it changes the world around us. these days, i am increasingly embracing the view that micronationalism is art: but that does not trivialise or compartmentalise micronationalism. instead, like the bauhaus movement of the 1920s and 1930s, it makes everyday life into art, into culture. we represent an art that alters worldviews, that inspires people to organise and to act, that critiques symbols and meanings, and that purposefully and intentionally exists.[1] Sandus as art has its own values, its own purposes, and—especially in this day and age—its own power to resist the trump era.


the Sôgmô presented this paper at the symposium Sandum Micronationalism in the Age of Moral Cowardism held in Quercus Candida (Quer), Sandus, on saturday 25 May 2019 to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the State of Sandus. It has been slightly edited and expanded for publication here.


lyrics

we’re fucking in a car, shooting heroin
saying controversial things just for the hell of it
selling melanin and then suffocate the black men
start with misdemeanours and we’ll make a business out of them
and we can find out the information
access all the applications 
that are hardening positions based on miscommunication
oh Fuck your feelings
truth is only hearsay
we’re just left to decay
modernity has failed us

and I’d love it if we made it
yes, I’d love it if we made it
yes, I’d love it if we made it
yes, I’d love it if we made it

and poison me daddy
i’ve got the jones right through my bones
write it on a piece of stone
a beach of drowning three-year-olds
rest in peace Lil Peep
the poetry is in the streets
jesus save us
modernity has failed us

and I’d love it if we made it
yes, I’d love it if we made it
yes, I’d love it if we made it
yes, I’d love it if we made it
and I’d love it if we made it
and I’d love it if we made it
and I’d love it if we made it
i’d love it if we made it

[“tell me something I didn’t know”]

consultation
degradation
fossil fuelling
masturbation
immigration
liberal kitsch
kneeling on a pitch

“i moved on her like a bitch”
excited to be indicted
unrequited house with seven pools
“thank you Kanye, very cool”
the war has been incited and guess what?
you’re all invited
and you’re famous
modernity has failed us

and I’d love it if we made it
and I’d love it if we made it
and I’d love it if we made it
[“tell me something I didn’t know”]
and I’d love it if we made it
and I’d love it if we made it
and I’d love it if we made it
and I’d love it if we made it


[1] Deborah Ascher Barnstone and Elizabeth Otto, ed., “How Art Resists” in Art and Resistance in Germany (New York, NY, USA: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2019), 7ff.

sandhaus realism: artistic manifesto

Sandus has long known Realism. over the years, this realism has meant many things, from a focus on political realism to social realism, even economic and material realism. today, we sandum people acknowledge a new realism: an artistic/design realism.

this artistic manifesto has its roots in the century-old bauhaus. that movement sought to rupture the present from the past, to achieve the greatest utility for all people, and to combine art and life. driven by the waylessness of life after the great war, bauhaus masters became experts both in their individual materials while also having an eye for the universal. some of these masters were driven by Walter Gropius’s manifesto to make an art and a design of livelihood without class pretensions.

“You saw infrastructure and made it a trellis.”
Adam von Friedeck

these masters played with light and texture, and they cared for material. they played with different media and colours, and they purposefully shattered the conventional disciplines and broke glass (literally and figuratively) to make a new world of art.

their principles of maximised utilitarian design combined with modernist art spread throughout the world, and today they can be found in countries across the globe and not just in germany. designers from the americas to europe, africa, and asia and the pacific have been inspired by their artistic vision. and to have vision, one needs visionaries.

but today bauhaus has given up on its socialist goals. its once-socialist, now modernist/postmodernist bourgeois designs are expensive, far more costly than a worker in an age of falling wages and rising living expenses can afford. what was once a dream and an ideological mission to break revolutionarily from the class-pretentious past has been coöpted, and is now the purview of corporate and class elites. modernity has failed us.

sandhaus realism should be for the people.

bauhaus’s designs may have been the exclusive property and intellectual content of the rich and elite, but it is up to us with middling means to make these designs and this unification of art and life a reality, wherever and however we can.

the school’s rupture with the past was an admirable purpose in the nihilistic age after the great war, and it still is in a world where violence and warfare exist. but we are never free of our pasts. it is idealistic and has run into failure in the real world. even now, bauhaus is the past.
we can never escape it.

we can instead free ourselves by living in the present, mixed between past and future. historicism can rupture the past’s hold on our lives, but with a recognition it still holds sway over our society, our culture, our politics. ourselves. our psyche. this is artistic realism.

the building being the sum of all design in the ideal bauhaus construction, vs.
the nation-state being the sum of all cultural activity in realist micronationalism

adam von friedeck

we encourage realist and class-conscious attitudes toward material. we cannot live beyond our contemporary modernist livelihoods in this age of late stage capitalism. we can, however, work to combine art and utility in our daily life through our own means. we can encourage both light and the use of colour in our lives. these principles have the capacity to change our lives, to encourage us to learn proletarian pragmatism and to raise class-consciousness, while also improving our common and individual weal as the sandum philosophy encourages us to do. they call upon us to reconsider everything sandum, from style to art, from home to national. this design manifesto will change everything from typeface to tabletops, logos to facebook profiles. in this great cultural moment of ours, we have only one thing left to do: break our chains and make a mockery of them.

opinions and critiques welcome

it’s pronounced

prole•nounce is pronounced. we are a group of writers and citizens from the micronation, Sandus. this journal is purposefully avant-garde and proletarian : it represents our interests, our being, and our politics as sandum citizens.

/ pɹoʊlˈnaʊns / is how it is pronounced. it is a portmanteau, obviously, of the words proletarian and pronounce. originally, pronounce in latin was pro + nuntio, or literally to ‘send forth messages.’ we want to share content that is fun and uplifting, but also serious and purposeful. we have no aims except to share messages of our proletarian culture in Sandus.

no missions, no objectives, just pop

State Media Cooperative

why was it pronounced? well, as announced from up-top, the manager of the State Media Cooperative has given us instructions to share whatever we want, however we want, wherever we want—so long as it’s Sandum.

what will we pronounce is never to be expected. we share content of every medium, of every official language without translation, of every genre.

poetry : prose
comedy : satire : tragedy
art : music : video : games

but we especially appreciate content and grammata that reflects who we are as a micronation and what brings us together. we focus on suffering, but also on the personal and social way to overcome it. we want to uplift each other, while also giving each other the space to grow and declare our own liber -ty, -ation, -ality.

we are all Sandum who write consistently and edit this journal, but we also welcome people not from our micronation or who may be interested in our work to drop us a line. that can be done above on the pronounce! page.

there is no editorial board. everything is decided by near consensus and worker’s democracy.
all workers of the SMC who want to take part should let that be known to the manager. those who are not workers of the SMC but want to become one should also use the pronounce! page or email KremlumSandus@gmail.com.