Sealand's caretakers

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/07/03/sealands-caretakers.html

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No masks required.

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Sealand: Social Distancing Done Right.

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Transnistria laughs at the idea of Sealand being an unrecognized nation.

It seems like, in recent years, Sealand only continues to pretend to be a nation purely so they can play at being an “offshore” financial and online activities provider - e.g. gambling, data storage - that would otherwise be (maybe borderline) illegal. Despite clearly being well within British waters after 1987, they’re basically just hoping that their activity is not offensive enough that the British government will be bothered to actually expend the effort to do anything about it, and the charade can continue. Meanwhile, they rely on the British government - and coast guard - to save their asses when, for example, fires break out in the structure. Which, when it happened in 2006, seemed like it would destroy the charade, leaving me surprised the whole endeavor is still going on.

I can only guess “Sealand” survives just because everyone finds the drama around the “country” too entertaining to want to interrupt. E.g. the whole “civil war” which lead to a “government in exile”… for a “country” in which none of its “citizens” actually live.

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If I declared myself the legitimate government of Sealand in exile, could I get a little funding to help remove those Manxist-Leninist rebels? (Bitcoin please.)

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I always figured Sealand to be a playground for bored white people with more money than sense.

That’s an apt summary. The whole thing is bureaucracy theater, basically. Let’s push all the rules of nationhood and sovereignty in different directions and see what happens.

I wish there were more technical stories about it. I wanted to read about the deck refurbishment project. Are they winning against rust or is the platform slowly disintegrating? It’s clear the underside is never painted so my guess is yes? They seem to have none of the specialized heavy equipment that would be needed to properly maintain a structure like that, so what can they do and how do they do it?

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This appears to be 3/4s correct. It is a bunch of bored senseless white people, but wealthy they are not. The endeavor is perpetually broke and barely survives on donations from US libertarians and equivalent nutjobs in other countries. The why of the whole thing doesn’t seem very clear either. The founders weren’t extreme libertarians looking for freedom from government or whatever. They were more like high level trolls. Every story I’ve read about them suggests it was a lark more than any grand social statement, same as their original pirate radio station. What’s amazing is that it has somehow kept going, despite any very strong ideological passion behind it. A casual troll that is as expensive and logistically difficult as this should have been abandoned decades ago, yet somehow it keeps puttering along. These days it’s a solution in search of a problem. The data center thing, a few forays into financial shenanigans, etc. As you can tell, I am fascinated by the whole thing, mainly for the level of ludicrousness of it all.

As others have said, as soon as they actually accomplish anything they have tried (such as becoming a hub for shell companies) the UK government will be bothered enough to roll in and tear it down. It is now in their waters, so the only thing stopping them is “why bother”.

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There was an episode of “Danger Man” (or was it “Secret Agent” in the USA?) where Drake is investigating a pirate radio station that’s using it as a cover to send secrets to the enemy.

It takes place on a “wartime offshore sea fort”. The episode aired in 1966. So it was almost current with the original use as a pirate radio station.

The whole point of “pirate radio” on this level was to operate in international waters, where radio laws don’t apply (I can’t remember if there are international radio laws). The BBC had a monopoly on radio, so the only way to legitimately broadcast to the UK was from outside, and the ocean was convenient. (There used to be some very high power AM radio stations on the Mexican border, the target being the US audience. They didn’t have to comply with US laws, such as power limits but also I guess advertising standards.)

So while Sealand doesn’t rate as a separate country, at the time of the initial use for broadcasting, it was beyond UK law.

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It’s interesting how things have changed since the '60s, when this whole idea started. Back then, it was considered to be in international waters, so the situation was quite different - yet they really seem to have leaned harder into the “micronation” thing since '87 when apparently changes to international law put them squarely in British waters. It’s totally theater, now.

I always got the impression they really aren’t doing much to maintain it, and an article from last year affirms that - apparently they still haven’t fixed all the damage from the 2006 fire. They’re looking to raise some money to maintain it, otherwise it’s going to crumble (which sounds like its likely fate). I expect that’s also part of the British reticence to definitively deal with them - they figure the problem will eventually go away on its own.

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It’s a Folly. A tower constructed for no other reason than because.
(Ok, it was constructed for another reason, but it’s kept occupied just for the fun of it).
I mean, when you get down to it, it’s no more ridiculous than our actual monarchy claiming to own the rest of Britain.

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