by Max Barry

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by The Federation of Lillorainen. . 7 reads.

Siegfried Heiderich - On Lillorainen And Her Role In the World (1982)

    Siegfried Heiderich (1919 - 1986), President of the Federation of Lillorainen,
    Guest Lecture at the University of Toriyama, Shikonjima, on October 17, 1982.
    Recording available to WhoTube.

"So, there we go. Uh, a second, please …" Heiderich adjust his microphone, which causes a round of chuckles. "So, should be better now. So, I probably don't need to introduce myself, but just in case - my name is Siegfried Heiderich, I am sixty-three years old, and I'm the President of the Federation of Lillorainen - a state which, as you might be aware, is one of the youngest countries in the world as we speak, only founded as a unified country on the 9th of March last year. Allow me to thank His Imperial Majesty Yoshita-Shogun for making this little visit possible, and then, thank you all for showing interest in the topics I am going to talk about this day - the most essential one being the question of nationhood. I assume, that you all hear about countries, nations, and polities a lot in your lectures, Shikonjima in particular, of course - but one question remains unanswered, mostly due to its complexity, but also because it always sounds way too banal: What is a nation? And, as it is tremendously relevant as of currently, what is it that makes Lillorainen a nation?
These questions, especially the last one, aren't exactly new. Generations of people whose fellow colleagues you all aspire to be after your graduation have puzzled their heads over this question. There is the Shikonjimajinron, the 'theories about the Shikonjimanese', an entire literature genre dealing with nothing else but the question what constitutes Shikonjima as a nation and people, especially what, aside from geography, history, and religion, tells Shikonjimanese apart from other Japonic peoples such as Nifonese or Yamataians. Similarly, there are the Lillorainische Diskurse - it would probably go by Chiisaishimajinron in these parts -, a term only having popped up only about a century ago, but getting assigned to previous works belatedly. Since I am way more familiar with these works for reasons beyond me …" A round of chuckles. "… I will describe some of the most essential ones of these, before I state my own opinion and allow some questions.
But before that, let's try to go by the working definition of a nation. Commonly spoken, a nation is a community of people within defined boundaries sharing a common language, history, and culture. And this is where it's already becoming a problem when defining Lillorainen as a nation. While Lillorainians, or Lillos for short, quite do share a common history, we're already getting into trouble as soon as we bring language into it. You see, I myself am from the region of Eastern Marrania. When I wish to know what has been going on in State Parliament debates in, say, Rigesöer, or Vedjading, I prefer reading the protocols over watching the recordings, because I cannot understand a damn word, although we are said to speak the same language. In Lillorainen, one can learn five different words for 'meatball' within but a two-hour drive. Most people from Kerkenich can't even ask their way in the Gössning region, even though there are only about fifty kilometers between both places. And we haven't even talked about the prevalence of minority languages. Same goes for culture and traditions - ask five people from different areas how to do a proper Midsummer or Yule celebration, and you will receive five different answers. The famous beer culture? Different everywhere - and don't get me started on how little meaning beer has in regions like Fyleria compared to wine and cider. Food culture? Virtually seems to vary from village to village in Lillorainen. And if you go by the very narrow definition of clearly defined political borders, then, well, you could congratulate us for nationhood and would only be about one and a half year late.
So, how did the leading thinkers of Lillorainen think about this matter?
For starters, the first writer to think of a working definition for a Lillorainian was Olav Saerbeck in the 17th century, long before this question became a general matter of debate all over the world. He wrote, 'Being a Lillorainian presupposes, that one's ancestry roots from the Lillorainian Lands, that one obeys the Will of the Gods, that one knows and tells the myths and legends, and that is at readiness to serve one's duty to one's city, town, village, clan, and family - including the duty of dying, if necessary.' Now, it should go without mentioning, that this definition is of little use in this day and age, as most of these points, probably all of them save for the first one, and even that one can be debated, easily apply to other places as well. It was a start, but nowhere near satisfactory.
Going over to the 19th century, where most places in the world asked themselves similar questions, and where the Lillorainian Territories were way less fragmented than during Saerbeck's lifetime. In 1875, Wendelin Rottard wrote, 'The life and spirit of Lillorainen is inseparably connected to the awareness of the strong and proud Nordic race and the central geographic position of the Lillöer-Archipelago allowing this great, powerful nation to spread the Norse spirit of being, the Teutonic language, as well as the country's enormous cultural and technological achievements to various parts of the world. Wherever people of foreign provenience look for a gargantuan place designed and built by magnificent people, Lillorainen is always a fabulous destination to travel to. Say, can anybody possibly deny, that this place is Aegir's most splendid masterstroke?' Now, this way of verbalization obviously reflects the spirit of the time it comes from. Most of you will know about Rottard's Shikonjimanese contemporaries, who glorify these parts in a not too dissimilar manner, and many of them couldn't seem to ever get tired of stressing the Shikonjimanese nation's age, as opposed to Lillorainen's, where the Colony of Airahan already existed, and ceased to do so, centuries before the Vikings arrived in the Archipelago.
While Rottard's works only marked the beginning of a long era of Lillorainian Nationalism, he did have contemporaries using a much less glorifying language. Janneke Bruscheid has a long list of publications addressing the same question in a more moderate manner, her most important statement being as follows: 'Lillorainen is a unique nation composed of the Vikings' spirit of fight, Rhenish sociability, Saxon pioneering spirit, Fayoa diligence, Slavic practicality, and a decent mixture of all of these making the true Lillorainian tang up.' As you can already hear, she doesn't only restrain from playing the race card - which, in my humble opinion, is never a good thing to do, anyways, and not only the war rhetoric of these parts twenty years back, but also the one in other countries who have fought wars which were way worse, should give you a decent impression as to how I got to that way of thinking -, but also honors the different cultures and peoples who arrived over the time as well as their contributions to what Lillorainen was back in the day and still is.
We go over to the year 1932 - a time which might feel as history for you, but still feels pretty recent for a guy in my age." Another round of chuckles. "Egon Bürvenich was one of the leading thinkers of the Lillorainian Technocratic Movement, and one of the very few representatives of the movement I used to be a member of myself for the better part of my lifetime who actually did bother to put some effort into some cultural reasoning for his proposal of a state led by scientists and engineers. He wrote, 'It runs like a common thread through the entire history of the Lillorainian Lands, that our nation has undergone a variety of challenges - and mastered them. Be it the Crusades, where we defended our faith and traditions; be it the merger of the trade leagues into the Storöer-Städtebund in order to form a powerful counter-block to The Selkie and their Merchant Guild of Leuda; be it the protection of our trade interests in the seaports of Shamsiyya; be it the defense of Lollerup against the much superior Shikonjimanese fleet; be it the intervention in the Clan Wars in Konjicevo in order to protect our assets; or be it the founding of the Lillorainian Union and the efforts to finally agree to some more common standards aside from calling the sky blue - we can look back to a long history of being challenged. Lillorainen is the rock in the ocean. And as such, it is inevitable to take the next challenge, namely, to acquire and gain use of one of the most valuable assets in this day, and that is technology. And we can only master this challenge, if we, in good old Lillorainian tradition, give the leadership into the hands of those who are most likely to master it.' Now, this is the point when we get to our common history as a factor that defines what constitutes a nation. The common experience all people in the country share as a collective memory; the common experience that is indispensable to gain an understanding of, as it plays a significant role in shaping a nation's culture and mindset.
Now, with these definitions at hand, how would I define Lillorainen as a nation?
All thinkers I have quote in the last couple of minutes do raise some important points. Saerbeck and Rottard mention geography as well as a couple of cultural aspects, Bruscheid mentions the cultural makeup, Bürvenich mentions the shared history. All of these are essential - and while political borders might be an important thing as well, this aspect can barely be applied to Lillorainen for the reasons too obvious to require another mention. I would also be genuinely surprised to find anyone who unironically thinks, that Shikonjima hasn't been a nation during the Clan Wars due to the lack of a unified territory. Not to mention the Selkie and the fact, that the vast majority of Selkie lives outside the Free Lands. No, in my opinion, something else is more essential - namely, the collective awareness of being part of a nation. I might not be able to talk to, say, your average potato farmer from the Gössning in my mother tongue, and we might disagree on how to celebrate a religious festival properly, or what sort of beverage belongs to it - but I cannot reasonably deny, that he isn't any more or less of a Lillo than I am. And as long as we, along with 71 million other people on the Federation's soil and about 20 million in diaspora as we speak, are aware of our shared cultural heritage and nationality, this is precisely what makes us Lillorainian, and what makes Lillorainen a nation."
He pauses to let this information sink.
"Now, with this clarified, the next important point will be the Federation's role in the region and the world, and along with it, the question as to how the Federation considers herself as a subject of international law - and of course, how this is viewed in the first place.
As we speak, the Federation has been diplomatically recognized by 126 countries of the world, tendency rising, which is a very solid number for a country built on the ruins of a civil war and with a longer history of getting barely noticed on the international stage for reasons you better ask a History Professor about, unless you wish to still sit here tomorrow morning. As some of you might also know, no Lillorainian state has been a member of any larger international body since the Rathenian Republic, the Fylerian Free State, and the Free State of Visholm jointly left the League of Nations back in 1927 due to the Lillorainian Union's refusal to abide by disarmament regulations. Well, most of you might not know of that, for Shikonjima never joined in the first place for astonishingly similar reasons … so, now you do. Of couse, as times change and ever will change, nothing is truly engraved in stone once and for all eternity, but in order to understand the reasoning for me and the majority of the Members of the Meritocratic Council to stay out of any regulatory body, one needs to get an idea of how we perceive the principles international law is based on.
It is a common view all over the world to consider International Law an integral part of Natural Law. In almost all countries I can think of now, philosophers have spent millennia on the question of what Natural Law constitutes, including thinkers from Lillorainen; Emmerich Hiltrup and Gustav Thorismund Varreslee come into mind. I will not spend the next hour recapitulating 2500 years of incredibly complex issues such as this one, not only because it isn't necessarily the ideal topic to come up with on parties …" Another round of chuckles. "… but also because there are lots of people around who are better at explaining such philosophical questions and possible answers thereon than I will ever be, but for the understanding on how this is commonly viewed in the state apparatus I've built up - the core tenet of Natural Law is the assumption, that there is a timeless, universal set of rules given by nature which human coexistence inevitably follows. And with the general tendency of humans to organize themselves in states or state-like communities, nations are assumed to follow the same rules. And while I don't intend to dismiss this idea completely, I do have objections.
The most important one is the assumption of Natural Law being timeless and universal in all cases - which, in history, has always had a hard time to be proven such in practical application. Whenever a political system evolved, no matter if feudal-absolutist, democratic, dictatorial, or whatever, its prevalence and existence has almost always been justified with Natural Law. War and peace alike have always been claimed to be natural states of being, based on Natural Law. In many societies, social inequality is said to be in accordance with Natural Law, as much as social equality is in others. The nations of the world still haven't managed to agree on whether or not homosexuality is 'natural' in the sense of Natural Law, and I'm way too old to realistically see this happen. Slavery and other forms of oppression have been said to be in accordance with Natural Law for a long time, just like the lack thereof is now justified by the very same law. And don't get me started on how different religions perceive Nature and Natural Law working, or supposed to work.
In short, the teaching of Natural Law is full of contradictions, and this is usually because the imaginations as to what constitutes Natural Law are severely subject to changes in human society, the zeitgeist, as well as differences between societies built by humans. I shouldn't have to explain why I struggle to see anything universal or timeless about it. As I said, I don't wish to dismiss this concept entirely, but these are points which bother me way too much to subscribe to it as a whole.
The theory of law I consider a way more solid and substantial alternative is the Law of Reason, which is also a core tenet I based my theories on statecraft on. The human endowed with reason is capable of reflecting the needs of society and act according to his or her reflections. And similarly to how rational and moral actions are inevitably necessary for a state apparatus in order to improve on society, reflections of said kind are also necessary for a government in order to improve on the international community. A vital means to bring the Law of Reason into being is the codification - and this is why fundamental pillars of modern International Law, like the Freedom of the Seas, are written down, codified, instead of taken for granted. This is what basically the entire legal tradition in Lillorainen is based on, and this is what makes it special and oftentimes hard to understand for someone from abroad. The aforementioned contradictions, in particular the lack of timelessness, therefore, aren't as much of an issue in this legal theory, as it does actually welcome changes in our understanding of how International Law works - in theory, of course - in order to improve on the world, in lieu of claiming the status quo as being 'natural' and calling it a day.
Now, both theories are theories, and both do have merit - but there is little use of theory, if practice works the opposite way. In fact, the past decades have shown, that not all nations are ready and willing to play along - and this is what will have a tremendous impact on the foreign policy the Federation will necessarily seek for many years to come. It is impossible to force a sovereign nation to accept a certain international agreement, and in fact, Lillorainen is surrounded by nations that are not particularly likely to do so in the foreseeable future. As you might be aware of, the Federation joined the Non-Aligned Movement earlier this year - but this is only one step to assure, that we will be kept out of any possible impact possible shifts or escalations the current World Order might cause. In fact, we have subscribed to what we call the Sasserath Doctrine, established by my Minister of Defense Gundemar Sasserath, which is a doctrine of pure self-defense - and as we firmly believe in national sovereignty, we believe, that any nation has the right to choose whatever means it considers necessary in order to defend its sovereignty. This is the way we consider most effective in order to upkeep peace and stability - you would say 'Harmony' - between the countries of the world, more than any codified, let alone non-codified International Law possibly could; the fairly recent events back in Lillorainen are only one example out of many for the enormous gap between theory and practice. Don't get me wrong, I would be more than happy to see a framework of rules and guidelines all nations accept, adhere to, and abide by - but this is an ideal, and like it is with most, if not all ideals, it is something to strife and wish for, but in the current situation, barely more than that.
So, I hope, that you have gained an impression as to what Lillorainen as a nation is and will stand for in the very near future. I thank you all for your attention and keeping awake …" Another round of chuckles. "… and will now be open for any inquiries anybody of you might have."