No Man Is an Artificial Island:

An interview with Mike Oliver,
founder of the short-lived country Minerva

by Jason Torchinsky

While reading through some information about Oceania, I noticed one entry that stayed my gaze like a bag of pudding thrown into a brick wall.

"How can I get in touch with Mike Oliver, founder of the short-lived country Minerva?" and then it gave some phone numbers.

I had to call him. I wasn't sure if he was directly connected with this whole Oceania project, but, hell, he used to have his own country! That's good enough for me! I eagerly called him, but, after chatting with his wife, I learned that he was in Vanuatu, a tiny island off 1000 miles off Australia's coast.

After trying a number she gave me in Vanuatu and steeling myself for a $40 phone call, I was disappointed by not being able to get in touch with him. A few days later, after I gave up hope, my phone rang. It was, of course, Mr.Oliver, nationmaker, (and, I found out later, co-author of the Oceania constitution) and this was, for the most part, ( I paraphrased a bit) our conversation.

(after the requisite phone salutations and shocked thanks that he called me back) So, what was Minerva, anyway? I think I remember Peter Jennings talking about a country on an oil rig- was that you? If you could just tell me what, when, all that.

I cannot say too much about Minerva, really. It's an island reef. I started something there. The king of Tonga had a protest, but that doesn't mean diddly shit...we didn't have any guns, it wasn't worth it...I have other ways of doing this. They're deluding themselves if they think we can't do this. [start my own country]

Okay. Well, why do you want to do this in the first place?

I'm an old 65-year-old Jew.

Oh? I'm Jewish, too, actually.

Yeah. I've been in concentration camps, I've seen fascism and what happens. Here in the USA we have fascism which calls itself liberalism. The government's into everyone's life, and they say that libertarians who have too much power are dangerous. Are you a libertarian?

Um, not really.

Oh. Anyway, people expect the government to do more and more, and they're getting too much power. We need a new country because this one is really screwed.

How so?

Do you know that quote from Isaiah, because of lack of knowledge, people perish? That's how it is. The media is very biased, like you hear lots of lies- such as what they say about solar power being useless, that's bullshit, I'm an engineer, I know. The truth is filtered out. We need a new country.

I see. Are you involved at all with the Oceania project?

We need a new country, but I will not do it with Eric Klien. I want nothing to do with him. He's...he's just a young kid. My wife and my daughter didn't like him from the first time they met him. I should have listened to them. I...I gave him too much credit.

Really? What about his plans don't you ag...

I don't want to talk about it. I don't want to talk about Eric Klien... Okay. Look, there's plenty of other guys working on this out there. Besides, it was Richard King, an Australian, not Eric, who had the Oceania idea-- the sea city idea. King came to him, connected with the best engineers.

Do you think it is feasible to start a new country as an artificial island?

Absolutely. It's not only feasible, it's the best way to do it, artificial cities. From an engineering standpoint, sure it can be done! It's easy! It's the way to go.

Wow. Okay. So, what does it take to get other countries to recognize your new country?

Start with one or two small countries, and give them a few bucks. I know a few who will do it that way. Now, don't quote me saying that I bribe these sons of bitches, that's not my way, that's just how it can be done. They come to me and I go tell them to fly a kite.

Sure, I see. Don't worry. I won't quote that.

When I do it it'll all be straight. If you want to be corrupt, they'll take you in ten places. I'm not that way.

Makes sense. Wha-...

You know this quote: Western civilization is the worst except for everything else. You know who said that? Well, I'm paraphrasing, but you knew that was a quote from Churchill, right?

Uh, yeah. (lying) Is there anything you'd like to say about your new country's plans? Or anything else?

Only that if you think noble savages are so great, go and live with them. Look, write whatever you want, I don't care. The only thing you ask is that you tell the truth.

Okay. Don't worry.

What I'd most like to bring attention to is that in the entire world, Eric Klein and Mike Oliver are by far the only two people with any serious plans for starting entirely new, independent nations, and they can't stand each other. It's beautiful, in a way. You'd think if any two people could manage to get along, this would be them. I wish them both success, and, if possible, neighboring sea-cities, just to make that rivalry even more fun to watch.