In 2015, the unclaimed land between Serbia and Croatia became Liberland, a small country, and a tax haven, where the concept of individual freedom is central. Since then, this area, which is part of the current of libertarian thought, has not been recognized by any state, and no one has access to it. Timothée Demeillers and Grégoire Osoha take a closer look at their experience at A trip to Liberland. We spoke with them to try to better understand the content and shape of this so-called microscopic state.
What is Liberland and what does it look like?
It is a microstate project dating back to 2015, with a libertarian ideology. This ideology prioritizes individual ownership and individuality over everything else; It is therefore intended to create as few state services as possible. Liberland may be a country where there is only a police and justice system, but for now it is still in the project stage. In 2015, when people with the idea of creating the state went there to raise the flag, they managed to get in, but the Croatian police quickly prevented them from returning.
Concretely, today’s Liberland is a region inaccessible to anyone. Prior to its establishment, it was a nature and animal reserve within a regional park. It still looks like a piece of nature along the Danube with lots of plants and some animals. It was a place where many ecotourism activities were offered, with some companies or associations specializing in nature discovery. It remains a protected area, but completely closed. The people of Liberland aspire to make it a new Hong Kong or Monaco with buildings and skyscrapers… But we are very far from this project, just as we are very far from the preserved land before.
Who is Witt Jedlica, the head of this microscopic country?
He was born in the 80s in the Czech Republic, when this country was still in the Soviet bloc. His family suffered a lot from communism, and for him, the state plundered his property. He derived from him a rather intense hatred of everything connected with the idea of collectivism. It is more in line with individualist ideology, which makes it so called libertarian. He fell in love with the United States, with the concepts of freedom and liberalism, and then tried to get involved in a small political party that was socially conservative and very liberal economically. He participated in the election campaigns, but soon realized that he could not change society with this party. He believes that changing minds can take other, more creative and contemporary forms. From there came the idea of creating a microscopic state from scratch.
“Vit Jedlica is a follower of Elon Musk. They have a very pronounced taste for money and do not hide it.”
Fet Jedlica is also a disciple of Elon Musk, someone he would like to be like. They both share a love for technology, especially digital technology. They also have a very pronounced taste for money and do not hide it. For them, the quality of a person is estimated by what he has in his bank account. They have an entrepreneurial spirit as a common point: they are two people who are always on the lookout, and their new ventures are the driving force of their lives. They also have a certain taste to provoke. In short, they love rubbing where they sting a little!
Both claim to be big advocates of individual liberties, but they are also very conservative in many ways. It’s strange to say, but Fet Jedlica is a white man of about 40 years old who comes from a fairly good social background and is frankly not receptive to minority questions. There are, for example, very few women on his team. He’s not overtly homophobic, but he doesn’t have very nice words for sexual minorities in general either. All this makes him a rather complex character, because he defends individual freedoms and, at the same time, has a very conservative mentality.
Reading your book, one gets the feeling that Liberland is more of a startup than a country…
completely. We are faced with a Wit Jedlica steeped in modern theories in which belonging to a country is no longer bound at all by culture, tradition, or bloodline, but only by economic interests. Its proponents have the concept of the state to be reduced to a minimum in order to favor the freedom of the individual enterprise in particular. In this, there is a very “startup” mentality in this venture, because those who participate in it are all members or founders of startups. The goal is to start from almost nothing, from a small plot of land, with the aim of making it a very profitable business in a short time.
“The Wit Jedlica has created a state by raising its symbols (flag, chief, stamps, land …), but it completely empties it of its meaning.”
They want to attract investors, especially with Liberland’s number one advantage: no tax. It should be understood that people who frequent Vit Jedlicka, and who admire him, have several passports: one for paying less taxes, the second for the settlement of his work, a third for his vacation stay, etc. This proliferation of passports means that, financially speaking, we are fleeing taxes almost everywhere we are.
At the moment, Liberland is not recognized by anyone. Officially, it is a company whose articles of incorporation have been filed in Hong Kong. It presents itself as a country, but we can quickly say that the motto “Live and let live” A logo as much as a company logo, the flag is the company logo, of which Vet Jedlica is said to be the CEO. He creates a state by taking its symbols (flag, president, stamps, land …), but he completely empties them of their meaning.
“Cryptocurrency is a completely libertarian currency.”
Why do cryptocurrencies play such an important role?
Cryptocurrencies have a very important role here because they really are the monetary tool for libertarians. Libertarianism is a philosophy in which we want as little control as possible from public authorities and cryptocurrencies, today, are out of control. Decentralized, neither controlled by the state nor central banks. There is almost complete anonymity regarding holding cryptocurrencies, and one can exchange them without being taxed by the state, without having to ask for their permission. It is a currency that is valued only by the strict value it has in the financial exchange markets, and it varies according to the laws of supply and demand. Its value can also be affected by some: We’ve seen it with Elon Musk who, by simply posting a tweet, dramatically raised or lowered the price of bitcoin. It is quite a libertarian currency.
What is a Liberland Citizens Profile?
It is very diverse, although the citizens are mostly male. At first, this project attracted a lot of completely different people, because when you create a state in the name of maximum freedom, it attracts a lot of people. There were people in particular 20-25 years old, coming from all over the world, but all coming from a very privileged world, studying finance or working in the cryptocurrency world.
There are very wealthy people among the citizens of Liberland. Many have made their fortunes in cryptocurrency. There are also less wealthy and more combative people who advocate libertarian ideology. »
Today, the people around Liberland are still into high finance, cryptocurrency, and everything related to tax optimization, but they are much older and come from Western and Eastern European countries. They are between 40 and 50 years old and see an opportunity to do business first and foremost. All these people are anti-state, fond of conspiracy theories and question the official dogmas, words of the press or words conveyed by political figures of established states.
Among them are very wealthy people. Many have made their fortunes in cryptocurrency. There are also less wealthy and more combative people who advocate libertarian ideology. They will try to obtain their citizenship by working for three months full time for the country. Others buy their pass for $5,000.
Finally, Liberland exists primarily in a virtual way, thanks to cryptocurrencies and now in the metaverse, a godsend for the president of this microscopic country…
Yes exactly. At first, there was a desire to give the physical presence of Liberland. But it’s been seven years since Wit Jedlica and his team failed to financially establish the country. Croatian police still deny access to the territory and imprison anyone who tries to settle there. Even if his country did not have a presence in real life, it began to exist on social networks. People who claim to be from this country are convinced of its existence. And only by being on social networks, they give it value.
“My country has 170,000 followers on social media while the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has only 1,200. Who is really on social media? Are they the ones with 1,200 followers or are we the 170,000?”
Long live Jedlica
President of Liberland
Vit Jedlicka always contains this phrase: “My country has 170,000 followers on social media while the Croatian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has only 1,200. Who is really on social media? Are they the ones with 1,200 followers or are we the 170,000?”. This raises questions because, today, on social networks, information is not evaluated because it is real and verifiable, nor for the depth of the theses defending, but simply for the number of likes, views, posts and reposts.
Liberland is much more present on social networks than in real life, as it is not about to see the light of day. Its boss has been trying to research alternative ideas for seven years to continue creating buzz, to get people interested, and to support him in his approach. It is not even known whether Wit Jedlica was really determined today to have a physical country. What interests him is to have a virtual country that will allow him to physically localize the companies.
He recently had this idea to prove himself in the metaverse, a perfect space for him! In the metaverse, his country does not need international recognition, or even diplomatic agreements with other countries. He sees it as an outlet, but at the moment it’s hard to know what she’s going to give him. Let’s say it’s one opportunity among many others.
travel to liberland, By Timothée Demeillers and Grégoire Osoha, Éditions Marchialy, 300 pages, €20.