The SiV Phonograph has recently been given the opportunity to interview Emperor Jonathan I of Austenasia, who recently rose to power as monarch of the British micronation.
TSIVP: Since your entrance to power, Austenasia has expanded to the point of being present in four continents. What do you think has provoked this?
Emperor Jonathan: We’ve always had a view of eventual expansion in mind, although that was usually expected to be limited to the British Isles in scope. Upon the abdication of our predecessor, he ceded the Wessaxon colony of New South Scotland to the Empire, which became its first Crown Dependency. The legislation passed to incorporate New South Scotland within the Empire while granting it autonomy from the central government served as a useful template to enable us to annex other pieces of land, regardless of where around the globe they may be. After that, it was somewhat of a domino effect – people saw that Austenasia was able and willing to take on more territory and people, and so they applied to join if interested.
TSIVP: Lately, a series of micronations have centered their attention in your rather controversial ideology, Theodorism. Why do you think it is, after a long time of being established in Austenasia, Theodorism is expanding to other nations of the MicroWiki community?
Emperor Jonathan: Well, it’s never actually been established in Austenasia. We have the intention to think about it one day, but it’s mainly a theoretical exercise in what would be the best system of government for a staunchly monarchist but yet very left-wing people. As it happens, many in the MicroWiki Community are both monarchist (or at least like being referred to as His Majesty) and left-wing themselves, so it was only a matter of time after the ideology had been improved by “The Vanguard Monarch” that others would think of adopting it, and giving their own personal tweaks to it.
TSIVP: You have been around in the Community for a long time. What do you think has changed the most since you arrived?
Emperor Jonathan: We all know each other better. We’re not just fellow-users of a website any more, we are – for the most part – friends. The Community has become a social group in its own right; at Polination or at Paris, it didn’t feel like meeting people never met before as we knew each other so well through constant communication over Skype. The very form of communication has changed. “Talk-page diplomacy”, or even Skype-based diplomacy, is for the most part dead. The details of foreign affairs may be worked out over Skype in a formal fashion, with the protocol and the titles, but after that it’s back to calling each other fl0ffy and Ando and Jacopo-senpai. We’re all so much more informal with each other, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but we fear it may sometimes blur the line between personal and diplomatic interaction.
TSIVP: It appears the definition of “micronation” has changed with the time. What is your opinion on the current growth of micronations and “internet micronationalism”?
Emperor Jonathan: It depends on how one defines “internet micronationalism”. Using the internet to showcase one’s micronation is fine, but we do not believe cyberspace can be seen as sovereign territory and so do not accept the claims of so-called “virtual micronations” to be actual micronations. A micronation is an entity which emulates a sovereign state or nation but is generally unrecognised as being so. A website is not an emulation of a sovereign state or nation – it is geofiction at best. A state needs real land and a nation needs real people. A website run by an individual claiming that it is a micronation has neither. It doesn’t exist.
TSIVP: Recently, you’ve entered the University, and I assume you’ll be certainly busier. How do you plan to maintain your classes in line and keeping Austenasia active at the same time?
Emperor Jonathan: Austenasia doesn’t need “keeping active”, it does that by itself. We have a very small population by international standards, so it is not as if there is an issue to deal with every day – most of the time, everyone just gets on with their lives. Even when an issue does arise, the local government is usually able to deal with it by themselves. We make trips back to Wrythe most weekends and visit Thanasia most weeks, our Chief Ambassador is at the same university, and we have all the Empire’s Representatives and our other important officials easily contactible via Skype or e-mail, so we are hardly cut off from Austenasia.
TSIVP: To finalize, where do you see yourself and Austenasia in ten years?
Emperor Jonathan: Austenasia, having just celebrated its fifteenth anniversary, and hopefully somewhat larger. As for our imperial person, we are unsure. We have few plans for the future when it comes to our own personal life and tend to just cross each bridge as we come to it.
TSVIP: Thank you for letting us interview you.