So people think I am crazy.
They have asked me: Was it really worthy to spend so much money, drive 1,300 km on your own, leave your hobbies and risk arrest because of some stupid piece of paper? Due to a citizenship that has no point whatsoever? To become a citizen of Liberland, a place which you didn’t even want to hear about?
My answer was YES!
I’m pretty sure about it. Yes, because this “piece of paper” means a lot to me and I’m proud of it. It means freedom for me, something I’ve wanted for years. Finding that there are people who have similar dreams and who use their heads to think for themselves, which was a refreshing action for me.
I do not care that Liberland hasn’t yet obtained its own territory. For me, it exists in my head and it will stay there and nobody can remove it from there.
What do you say regarding this question: You don’t mind that some people are doing it for money or to become popular?
No, I don’t mind that. All I want is for them to act honestly, take care of their own matters and not throwing obstacles in your way, as my own country does, also as the EU does and many other individuals around me….
Josef Semera is one of the first citizens of the new state of the Free Republic of Liberland. We met in Prague in a pleasant cafe with a glass of wine, and I asked him a few questions.
Josef is a computer programmer, IT specialist on banking systems. He comes from the Czech Republic; he lives and works in Prague. He has a little daughter; he is devoted to sports, scuba diving. He participated in the first expedition that was despatched to Liberland on the 1st of May 2015. At the site he received the list of honorary citizenship from the president Vit Jedlicka.
- Josef, what does Liberland actually mean to you?
For me it’s a dream. I have always struggled against anybody who wanted to restrict me. This had already been demonstrated to me by the time I was 18 years old, when I was supposed to begin compulsory military service. I clearly argued that nobody has the right to take my free time and force me do things that I don’t wish to do. At that time I was willing to fight for it and go for my vision. Finally I didn’t start in any military service or any alternative civilian service.
If I had to use another metaphor – I love it when people can do what they want and can do it well. Since the moment we entered the European Union, paradoxes have been arising, literally absurd – for example, I like goulash and the European Union with its regulations regarding hygiene banned the traditional one day ripe goulash, because suddenly it can’t be served any longer than three hours after preparation, and since then I have hated the European Union. Of course, this is absurd, but there are lots of examples like that. Therefore, I see Liberland as an opportunity to transfer to a country where the regulations won’t be determined by bureaucrats, I am a person who wants to buy something and on the other side there is someone who is willing to sell it to me. The two of us are then partners, we arrange it and then realise it. The state won’t interfere into what the two of us do. That is what I expect from Liberland.
- Do you believe there’s any chance of having a state based on voluntary taxes? That people will find in themselves such awareness that they will collect for specific projects, for the state apparatus etc.?
I think that Liberland has got a chance. It should be noted that if I live in this state, then I should always pay some money. If there really are only minimal financial needs for the operation of the state, minimum official apparatus and we don’t collect for some social programs, infrastructure and others, then there will be a minimum need for money. On the other hand, the state can make money in other ways. For example – and that’s a topic for a big debate – it can rent land for the long-term. There won’t be a lot of money needed for the actual operation of the state; people today cannot even imagine that.
- How do you imagine the planning of the state of Liberland? Super modern city with huge buildings or something more decent, such as Monaco, where there are not quite as many high-rise buildings?
Well I am hi-tech, so high-tech city. On the other hand, I realise that this will be determined by people who will invest their money there. So it’s up to them.
- You’re now a holder of honorary citizenship. Do you really feel like a citizen of the state of Liberland? Do you perceive any internal change?
I have felt like this for much longer. Liberland is something that has complemented my feelings. It just came and fit into all of my desires.
- Do you have any of your own projects that you would like to develop in Liberland’s territory?
Of course I do, but I’m not really sure if I should mention it at this moment and venture it into the world. I work in the banking sector, it certainly has the potential in Liberland, right from the very first day.
- Can we get specific information?
No, but once Liberland gains recognition, I am going to base a company there and it is going to be in operation within a week.
- Aren’t you worried that the creation of the state of Liberland will be somehow purposefully destroyed, for example by the backdrop of government circles in Croatia? By an oligarchy or something similar? There are pretty strange absurdities, such as confiscating Liberland flags at state border crossings etc.
I don’t think so. I was talking to the Croatian border police and they aren’t sure themselves what attitude to take to all that. They are quite confused. Serbs just prevented us from boarding the ship on the river in places where it isn’t possible. We tried to board the ship at the borders of the state, which really was no good.
- What would you say to other people, people interested in Liberland citizenship?
I wouldn’t tell them anything regarding Liberland, I would just say to all people to think with their own heads! That’s the basic thing that can change the world. Liberland could show the way to everyone.
- Liberland could show the world how it all works and instruct it? Is it real?
Yes, it is. At the same time it’s one of those things which I’m afraid of. Because the moment when we gain recognition and begin to implement our system, a number of people who are now paid from taxes will be affected and obviously they are not going to like it. They won’t like the fact that it’s possible to do it differently without them.
- We monitor print, social networks, discussions. We can see that most people who joined the project and expressed their interest in citizenship, are from the places – we don’t want to offend anyone – less developed in terms of understanding the system of democracy and capitalism. It’s more just a dream for these people to understand liberalism as well. And yet it is the foundation for them to send an application for citizenship because the state of Liberland will not take care of its citizens in a literal sense. Very soon these citizens would find out that they are at the grace of life, to an even worse degree than in their previous state. It’s a problem ranging from specific mentality of nations to their education that should expand their horizons. But what to do now with this problem? What do you think? Could you advise others what they should firstly know, read something, inform themselves?
I definitely wouldn’t like it if people came to Liberland just because there isn’t political freedom in their country. At this moment I don’t know how to categorise those who respect the values, or just run away from something. It’s definitely discriminatory to think like this, but unfortunately we cannot see what’s in anyone’s head. We don’t know their social behaviour, what they honour and what really matters to them. It definitely needs to be sorted through somehow. It will sort itself out, because people who don’t respect our principles won’t find their place in such society.
I would recommend that everyone reads the book Atlas Shrugged of Ayn Rand. Then they can understand what it means to be liberal and live in that way. In particular, I would stress the literally libertarian motto: “I swear by my life and love for it, that I will never live for another person nor ask them to live for me.”
- Finally, let us ask you one more question, how do you think that a family should operate in such an open-minded society? Is the concept of family still important for the libertarian society? Will it be freer, closer-working?
Here it is important to realise one thing – at the point when state won’t take care of anybody, a family will be much more important than ever. The condition in developed countries today is more upside-down and greatly interferes with families. If a state pays a pension for me, takes care of old people, then course I won’t do it myself. The same can be said of the children. If we live in a country where everyone will care only about themselves, then a family will be just a micro-organism and will be much more important and valuable.
Thanks to Josef Semera for his great thoughts.