Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Looking for a country

A few weeks ago the proprietor of the entertaining Southpaw Punch blog suggested a novel path to the creation of a new socialist society. He called it 'the Liechtenstein option':

Liechtenstein has a population of only 33,000. That’s including kids, of course and, as some adults don’t vote, perhaps only 15,000 to 20,000 cast a ballot in elections there?

You see where this is going, don’t you? Reds move everyone there. Register to vote. Take power.

It should be as simple as that. Certainly EU citizens living anywhere else in the EU can vote in local and EU elections. But niceties aside, like Liechtenstein not being in the EU, if a block booking with is made for 50,000 and they all turn up in the country at the same time - no one is going to stop them doing anything, such as putting names on the electoral register.

If Liechtenstein is too far to travel, or 10,000 or so reds are too many to muster, Southpaw and his mates might want to think about another, even smaller, European principality. Prince Michael of Sealand is putting his modestly-sized realm up for sale. A five hundred and fifty square metre platform balanced on concrete towers eleven kilometres off the coast of Essex, Sealand was built during World War Two by the British navy. Michael's father took the place over without much of a fight:

Former British army major Paddy Roy Bates began occupying the island with his family in 1967, declared it a state in international waters and dubbed himself prince. Britain's Royal Navy tried to evict him but was unsuccessful. As its forces entered territorial waters, Roy of Sealand fired warning shots from the former fort.

A judge then ruled in his favour that Sealand was outside British government control as it was beyond the three-mile (4.8km) limit of the country's waters. In 1974, Roy of Sealand introduced a constitution. A flag, national anthem, currency -- the gold and silver Sealand dollar -- and passports have followed.

Southpaw and his comrades will need to have a whip around, though, before they float out the dinghy and raise the red flag (or perhaps a purple and green flag?). Prince Michael is asking for $877,000,000 for his principality. That's quite a few paper sales, isn't it?

If Sealand is too expensive, we could all go and live in Venezuela, which is, after all, a good deal roomier. Hugo Chavez's claim that Venezuela is a 'socialist republic' and his calls for wholesale nationalisation at the swearing-in of his new Cabinet this week have reverberated around the world, causing outrage in the US media and jitters on Wall Street. I blogged about Chavez's remarks yesterday, but didn't really do them justice. You can find a better summary of what he said here, at the excellent Venezuelanalysis site. notes that plans to take back power and telecommunications companies will directly affect a number of big US companies.

On the Marxmail e list Joaquin Bustelo has an optimistic analysis of the new measures, believing that they may come to 'mark the day when Venezuela began to pull the plug on capitalism'. Bustelo notes that Chavez's speech included a pledge to build a new 'revolutionary state' out of the Communal Councils which have been established across Venezuela. The Revolutionary Marxist Current, a Venezuelan Trotskyist outfit which has been calling for wholesale nationalisations, has a translated statement on the new developments here.
Is Venezuela's huge steel industry next in line for nationalisation?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

That figure for Sealand sounds like a lot for a bit of former military junk nestling in the English Channel.

Much better the suggestion by someone, made on the original post, that taking over one of the micro islands in the Caribbean first might be more fun but perhaps you know of some Pacific possibilities?

Interesting news in Venezuela. I presumed Chavez would just pay for his nationalisations but seem comment he may just seize them - which would make things a lot more interesting.

2:10 pm  

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