Part I: The Rationale for Change
Micronationalism in general has long relied upon revolutions of the nonviolent sort to further individual nation-projects. The secession of every new state classified as micronational relies on peaceful, although abrupt, changes to the set of law construed by the secessionists as governing a particular territory. The ratification of a constitution or the adoption of a declaration of independence typically produces such a change, which is often long in the making (surely the late Prince Roy of Sealand did not decide overnight to occupy Fort Roughs). Such was the case with the foundation of Überstadt, which had been planned for at least a year before the state’s formal establishment on 6 March 2010. Since then, all major changes in Überstadt have been the result of planned and controlled revolutionary change, with the most successful changes being those truly populist ones which involved the citizenry rather than isolating it. This manner of reform, based upon the key Überstadti values of pragmatism and the consent of the governed, is thus the most powerful force driving the arc of our history.
Überstadt possesses a heritage of democratic revolution. In the United States, anti-establishment action founded on democratic principles is glorified in its past occurrences, despite the efforts of today’s establishment to preserve itself at all costs. Change in the name of the people is a defining part of the American identity, as embodied by the deified heroes of democracy who adorn our halls of power, including such leaders as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, who have both become symbols of the destruction of tyrannical forces. This idea, which American youth are brought up to believe through the public educational system, affects many aspects of political culture. Much as a traditional mistrust of authority contributes to the micronational movement in Australia, the legacy of populist revolution in the United States surely contributes to American micronationalism, if only subconsciously in some nation-projects. The foundation of Überstadt was, just like the foundation of most unrecognized polities, a democratic revolution in itself, but democratic revolution continued throughout its history. The most iconic is the November Revolution, which occurred from late October through early December 2011. The first revolutionary change in Überstadti history, and the only one to ever not involve the people, was the declaration of a dictatorship by the first Chief Judge in an attempt to forcibly bring about reactivation and citizen interest, occurring in August of the same year, and it had failed. The monarchist November Revolution produced the first instance of popularly driven change in Überstadt, bringing about the highest levels of activity and advancement seen since foundation. This change happened quickly, progressing in short succession from the intentionally flawed election of a second dictatorial Chief Judge (conveniently one who could not resist reform as he was unaware of his election) to the acclamation of the new king by the two men who volunteered to form the Royal Army to the adoption of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Überstadt, whose signers included several individuals who had already been citizens under the kritarchy. A parliamentary democracy then fell neatly into place, with the eager formation of political parties and a grand coalition between the monarchist conservatives and centrists, set against the anti-monarchist minority. This was the first democratic revolution in Überstadt, and it illustrates the practice of accelerated reform, which produces a smooth transition between social and political structures without undue delay.
All political changes in Überstadt reflect the state’s developmental needs, especially the times of accelerated reform. The dictatorship was introduced because it was naively believed at the time that bypassing the inactive populace (which had not even elected its Senate more than a full year after law demanded it) to force political change could renew interest in the project. It was learned very quickly that this accomplished nothing, for the people under an authoritarian government had lost their opportunities to participate in their country and as such did not gain renewed interest in doing so. The November Revolution solved this problem, and these two events together produced an effective response to the problem of activity and citizen interest. When it appeared beginning in late 2012 that Überstadt may not survive the diaspora of most of its citizens come their graduation from high school in June, the decision was made instead to preserve the state, but shift its focus away from the high school (the Barony of Terrace) and toward the Royal Residency (the Barony of Rosewood). Since a decrease in citizens would lead to a decrease in Members of Parliament, geography was not the only shift toward the Residency that was made; more political power was vested in the Monarch. This centralization of political power in Rosewood, accompanied by the resulting shift in cultural focus, helped consolidate the Kingdom and make it more effectively governed and increased the potential for further meaningful development. Today, with the need to firmly establish the state gone and the need to firmly establish the nation readily apparent, development must be addressed, and the corresponding revolutionary change to do so is socialism.
Socialism is a revolutionary, but pragmatic, change for Überstadt, being perfectly logical when the Kingdom’s unique conditions are considered. One of the most significant reasons for a new economic system is the fact that market capitalism does not function in Überstadt. The flow of money is inefficient due to the geographical separation of some citizens, the minimal amount of private property devoted to exclusively Überstadti purposes, and a lack of foreign trade. Additionally, in a capitalist system, there are many productive activities that are not incentivized, such as horticulture, raising children, and the sorts of tasks usually relegated to volunteer work. If these activities were incentivized by law, then working in the royal garden, to name one productive activity presently not rewarded economically because the garden’s present owners simply expect residents to tend it without compensation, would actually result in some material gain which would enable the purchase of more domestic goods. Interestingly, this fact actually makes a socialist system easier for the residents of Rosewood, because it is simple to share de jure the property which one already shares de facto. The problem of compensation would be solved by a system of labor vouchers, which would meet multiple needs: rewarding all productive activity without producing inflation, and creating a measure of demand that can be used in economic planning (akin to market capitalism’s dollar votes, but not swayed by existing ill-gotten wealth). These facts together also empower the few nonresident citizens to participate more. The sorts of activities these nonresidents are most useful for tend to involve information and the knowledge economy, which while undoubtedly productive in the sense that these sorts of contributions support cultural and political endeavors and are thus in demand, there is no financial demand from any private entity. Even if public compensation for these contributions was made with the über, such a practice would be unsustainable; inflation would result, and excessive taxation would have to be levied to procure sufficient chocolate to back the money supply in full, as is required by law. The labor vouchers are thus superior to this, for they guarantee that every person contributing to Überstadt receives just compensation without reaching into the public’s pockets for United States dollars, increasing economic autonomy by creating a more participatory system.
The decision that has been made by Überstadti leaders is to take a monarchist approach to the adoption of socialism, described by some as Theodorism. This decision also arises from practicality. In many micronations, there has been throughout their history an individual with more influence than any other, most likely intimately involved in the state’s foundation, without whom the project would collapse. This is not due to a lack of development or interest on the part of the other citizens, but due to the fact that this leader may be the only psychologically “true” micronationalist providing vision. The present King of Überstadt is such a developmental catalyst, there being only a month when he was not head of state (during the unwitting rule of the second Chief Judge in 2011). Monarchy is chosen as a system of governance for many nation-projects because of the integral role of a particular individual in the given nation (although in some cases, as in Florenia or Austenasia prior to the accession of Emperor Jonathan, this particular individual prefers to take the role of the head of government). Because Theodorism requires somewhat of an active, although highly restricted, monarch, it is logical for a state that is presently monarchical, and whose monarchy is supported unanimously by its citizens, but wishes to undergo socialist reform to adopt a philosophy that puts economic power in the hands of the workers while maintaining the cultural role, military command, and political involvement of the monarch. In Überstadt, this results in the simultaneous preservation of important structures and redistribution of power to the equal citizenry. Logical issues aside, Theodorism is, if not a proper ideology, a source of pragmatic ideas for some states.
It is thus seen that Überstadti history is driven by changes based on pragmatic concerns, whether actual or perceived. The needs of the present Kingdom demand a way to empower ordinary citizens in a manner conducive to development, and socialism is the solution to this problem, while a monarchical socialist path provides a reasonable path by which to achieve this goal.
Part II: The Process of Change
As previously discussed, accelerated reform is the type of democratic revolution predominant in Überstadti political culture. This remains the case with the successful adoption of monarchist socialism. The time between the first legal step toward socialism and the ratification of the Theodorist constitution was fewer than six weeks, yet gradual enough to produce successful results.
Arrival at the decision to utilize Theodorist principles took months to accomplish. Übersadti leadership, despite consisting mostly of persons with political views ranging from center to left-wing, believed that capitalist practices were a superior way to bring about economic development along with the other types of development which were expected to logically follow. Owing to the issues with market capitalism earlier discussed, none of this in fact occurred. The re-adoption of the über as a domestic currency, part of the effort to develop a more independent economy, necessitated a means of distributing it to the public and accustoming the populace to its use. It was determined that the most productive way to initiate circulation was to institute a public works program. Activities which contributed to both environmental quality and economic potential were compensated for by the state, which paid one über ($.425) per hour worked. This proved successful in the short term, with extensive cleanup of the northeastern portion of Rosewood resulting in the circulation of several übers, which went on to be used for both consumer purchases from domestic companies as well as the acquisition of capital. The multiplier effect was illustrated in small-scale practice, but the completion of the first projects (which included such tasks as removing toxic waste and controlling the advance of invasive plants) was followed by an abrupt decrease in consumption and investment. While this early public works system demonstrated the potential effectiveness of such a mixed economy in producing a flow of cash, it also showed the limits of such a system when the work considered worthy of monetary compensation was finite. King Adam was the first to consider socialiism in Überstadt, having been influenced by the Theodorist literature that existed at the time. The sharing of these ideas with Prince Aaron, the Prime Minister, produced effective dialogue, with a decision eventually being made to found the Theodorist Party of Überstadt with the King at its head.
The next steps occurred in very quick succession. The Company and Colony Nationalization Act can be considered the first step in a chain of events that would lead to today’s Überstadt. All companies were nationalized and mandated to act not in the interest of profit, but of the welfare of the state. Furthermore, real property possessed by private individuals for business purposes was also acquired by the state (and in the case of Creekbed Colony, re-acquired). One of the newly-public businesses, the Bank of Rosewood, was to become more involved in domestic transactions, preparing citizens for the voucher system that would suspend with banknotes and coins. A second law amending the Nationalization Act directed the collectivization of property associated with the formerly-private businesses.
As all this occurred, the Third Constitution of the Kingdom of Überstadt was being drafted by party leaders. Any legislation that was required during this transitional period was produced by Parliament, royal decrees falling into intentional disuse to allow the people’s elected representative to make all new law in preparation for the new model of Parliament. The Third Constitution was completed, approved on 24 October by a vote of Parliament, and ratified unanimously by a referendum the next day. The labor voucher was adopted, direct democracy in the form of a “Parliament of All Citizens” became the legislative model, and the succession of the monarchy was put firmly in the hands of the people. The new law declared the means of production to be the property of all citizens.
A great deal of legislation to implement the principles of the new constitution is still required. The voucher system must be regulated, the limits of personal property must be defined, the military must be more strictly governed, and a comprehensive legal code must be penned. The Fifth Parliament, which will ideally last until Überstadt’s demise, will meet for the first time this month and begin smoothing out the new legal and political issues. More people are interested in becoming citizens of the Kingdom, and those who already are eagerly anticipate the new system that gives them a direct say in all aspects of the project, from culture to the environment.