What roles do cryptocurrencies fill in a world beset by technological advances and massive inequality? It’s a point of contention that rests in the global cryptocurrency community’s collective conscious.
A point of argument: Cryptocurrencies, or at least in the way Satoshi Nakamoto envisioned them in his seminal whitepaper, were meant to challenge the centralized political-economic authority represented by governments and centralized financial institutions.
The fundamental principle of blockchain technology is decentralization, that is, the diffusion of authority and power to a horizontal collective. In terms of decisions, our lives have always been governed by the state. Whichever form of government it takes, it always seeks ways to regulate and undermine individual liberty.
Enter Liberland, a new ‘nation’ resting on a contested piece of land between Croatia and Serbia. Officially declaring itself as the Free Republic of Liberland, the micronation was first proclaimed as an independent entity back in 2015 by Vit Jedlicka, an economist and activist from the Czech Republic.
Liberland occupies some 7 square kilometers of riverside sandbank, and persists under a constitutional republic with a provisional government headed by Jedlicka as president. However, due to constraints placed by the Croatian police, nobody can enter its premises without close inspections, and only a small local community on the Serbian side of the Danube River welcomes visitors to the country.
“The situation on the mainland in Liberland is still difficult as Croatian police illegally persecute all visitors and settlers,” Jedlicka said. “We are waiting for exoneration from the Croatian constitutional court but for now, our settlement has essentially moved to the river, where we host visitors almost on a daily basis.”
What’s so peculiar about this, one may think. Since 2006, similar groups have existed, a noteworthy example of which is the Pirate Party of Sweden launched by cryptocurrency advocate Rick Falkvinge. While Falkvinge has been noted for his criticism of the Lightning Network’s political-economic direction, he has nevertheless been active in the formation of collectives such as the Pirate Party which undermine traditional governments and the way traditional political parties decide on national issues. Liberland is one example of a move to what is outside of the mainstream political spectrum, only this time, it is about to form its own physical territory and jurisdiction.
According to its website, Liberland is now accepting applications for ‘citizenship’. There are certain requirements and conditions for eligibility, including respect for other people and their opinion, respect for private ownership, and no criminal records from a previous country.
Liberland’s economy is run on three of the leading cryptocurrencies today: Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, and legacy Bitcoin (BTC). Due to its transitional state, Liberland is currently funded through donations, with donors receiving a crypto token called ‘Merit’ which will officially launch in April 13, coinciding with its third foundation anniversary. In its website, Liberland also described how it is currently planning to launch its legal system based on blockchain technology and digitally-signed contracts.
The country’s campaign to full independence has since attracted the attention of influential personalities in the crypto world such as Roger Ver. Recent support statements have been given to the country from artists like Patrik Schumacher of Zaha Hadid Architects; academics like Jeffrey Tucker, who works in the area of cryptocurrency research; and Dan Mitchell, a fellow from the think tank Cato Institute.
The country’s motto is “live and let live,” reflecting the desire of its believers to change the way we decide how to live. “Liberland aims to be a basic model for change. People can love it, hate it or ignore it. We don’t care as we are just doing our own thing.” said Jedlicka.