In a stretch of no man's land between Serbia and Croatia, a great libertarian experiment is taking hold. Or not.
On April 13, 2015, 31-year-old Czech politician Vít Jedli?ka announced the founding of The Free Republic of Liberland, a sovereign state with no taxes, no standing army, and all civil services provided on a voluntarist basis. It has a website, a flag, 4.3 square miles of land, a president (Jedli?ka), seven citizens, and hundreds of people signing up for citizenship. You can apply to become a Liberlandian yourself here.
But Jedli?ka, a regional party leader with the Czech Free Citizens Party, is still living in the Czech Republic. No journalists have been permitted to enter Liberland, which is on land controlled by Croatia, (though Croatia doesn't claim the territory as part of the country); the Croatian border patrol has been turning all press away.
"Jedli?ka has a history of outspoken anti-EU activism, so a lot of Europeans have assumed this is an unusually committed stunt," writes Russell Brandom at The Verge. Thousands have applied online for citizenship, but "it's not clear what that actually means." And "since the country aims for minimal government, it's hard to tell if it's not doing anything because it's so libertarian or because it simply doesn't exist."
Brandom notes that "America was once a made-up country, too," adding:
Maybe all countries are fake, and the only borders are the ones in our hearts.
Awww. But touching and possibly true as that may be, it doesn't much matter when your neighboring countries (you know, the ones with border guards and militaries) do believe in borders. Still I, for one, am wishing these crazy kids luck (and signing up online for citizenship, just in case).
In an interview with Czech publication Parliament List, Jedli?ka said the goal with Liberland is to find out "the minimum amount of taxes and regulation" needed to make society work. Jedli?ka was motivated by Jeremiah Heaton, a Virginia man who claimed a remote patch of land between Egypt and Sudan (and claimed by neither) in 2014 so his 7-year-old daughter Emily could be a princess.
Liberland's website describes it as a "constitutional republic with elements of direct democracy." Jedli?ka said Liberland will launch it's own kryptom?ny (crypto-currency) and hold its own elections within half a year. "Parliament will be strictly limited by the Constitution," he added, and politicians cannot "indebt the country" or introduce or raise taxes. Restrictions on citizenship for now are no Communists, Nazis, or people who refuse to respect the motto "live and let live."