This article was published in the Spring 1997 issue of Formulations
by the Free Nation Foundation
Grading System for New Country Projects
by Richard O. Hammer

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Again and again we in FNF hear of schemes to start new little countries. We need a way to sort them out.

Thus far we have refrained, usually, from publishing our judgments of projects. We do not want to seem either too enthusiastic or too critical. Since we want to build the credibility of the free nation movement, we do not want to praise a project which later crashes. On the other hand, since we need all the allies we can get, we do not want to criticize ongoing projects. These projects may yield future collaborators, after a crash which usually seems, to us in FNF, foredoomed.

But because of the increased frequency with which we hear of these projects, and because our supporters look to us for reports upon these projects, it may help to develop and publish a standard for use in future evaluations of projects which come to our attention. Attached you will find a grading system which I propose, modeled on the idea of a report card.

The report card lists 25 requirements which may be graded. These show what I consider most important for a new country project. But I may be overlooking something, so I will appreciate feedback.

As I imagine a new country coming into being, each of these requirements must have a passing grade, D or better. The grade of F in any of the requirements would express to me the opinion that the whole project must fail unless this weakness is remedied. Sometimes of course NA (not applicable) might be assigned, since some of these requirements may not apply to some projects.

The report card also offers space for comments, in which the reviewer might communicate information which cannot be summarized in letter grades.

Another Consideration: Visibility

My grading system may not sufficiently capture the impact of visibility. A highly publicized project might stir the souls of people everywhere, and might therefore provoke hostile reactions from governments. But we should be aware that a whole class of new country projects might pass largely ignored by the mainstream media.

On a tiny scale, for instance, private citizens sometimes purchase autonomy in their homes and businesses by paying bribes to government police. On a larger scale a deal might be struck between an industrial corporation and a government for limited relief from the laws of the government in a zone which the corporation promises to police to some other standard. I assume this happens all the time.

Probably these examples show the existence of a grey zone in size and visibility. New country projects as I usually imagine them fall at the very-visible end of that grey zone. But I believe this is not necessary; the evaluator of a new country project should consider this dimension. D

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Feedback on  "Report Card"
by Spencer H. MacCallum

Dear Rich,

Received your "Report Card for a New Country Project." To think of FNF in a judgmental role is uncomfortable to me. Isn't it beside the point whether you or I "respect" anybody's new-country efforts? Are we playing the role of God?

However, it's important that someone document all new-country attempts, and this would seem a proper role for FNF, whether it publishes the information or just makes it available to members on request. The latter might be the best, since the promoters of some projects want to maintain a low profile. To routinely publish such information could make it difficult or impossible for FNF to learn about or track certain projects because of the sensitivity of the information. In fact, the more substantial the project I'm thinking here of (eventually) anational corporations the less likely the backers would want the information to be publicized, particularly in the formative stages. However, it would reflect credit on FNF if it were able to announce in its literature that one of its services to its members, offered on a confidential basis, is access to a data base on past and present new-country efforts.

It would be entirely appropriate to write one or more brief paragraphs after selected entries. The intent of these paragraphs would be to inform, like an annotated bibliography. The writer of the paragraphs would follow, as a guide, the schedule of points you've developed. These paragraphs would, of course, include some evaluation and in order to be most useful they should but such annotation wouldn't come across as school-teacher-who-knows best grading a child.

Such a data base would fulfill a need. Picture the network of contacts that exists for any given project potential financial backers for this type of thing, leads to technical, managerial, and other expertise, etc., not to mention the always present possibility of learning from other people's mistakes. Also, people who have weathered failed projects can be a mine of specific information not readily obtainable from standard sources information about cultural, political, geographic factors that might be invaluable to future projects. And so on.


Spencer Heath MacCallum

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Project being evaluated __________________________________

Name of person preparing report ___________________________


site: The place in which the new country will be located.

FO: Founding organization. The primary organization working to create the new free nation.

PTP: Principal trading partner. The government of the existing nation which sells or leases the site to FO.

Plan: The plan offered by FO telling how it plans to solve every significant problem which might plausibly arise.

IP: Indigenous population. The people who live on the site and who will thus inevitably be involved.

  grade                 requirement                    remarks


____ habitability (climate, tsetse flies, malarial swamps, etc.)

____ accessibility -- for habitation (ease and expense of travel by humans to get there)

____ accessibility -- for trade (concerning the cost of transport to market of the new nation's major export(s))

____ existing infrastructure for trade (seaport, airport, bridges. Local advantages/disadvantages)

____ amenability of IP (Will indigenous population comply willingly, or start a war?)


____ evident financial strength (Do these people have the financial resources to complete the plan?)

____ stability (How stable does FO appear? Will it last the duration of thelease (assuming a lease is involved) for the site? Does the charter of the organization provide adequately for disasters and death?)

____ credibility (Is FO believable? Do FO and its principle players have records of honesty and fair dealing? Does FO include prominent people whose endorsement gives some assurance?)

____ diplomatic ties -- with PTP (Can the FO communicate successfully with PTP?)

____ diplomatic ties -- with IP (With the IP?)

____ diplomatic ties -- with the rest of the world (with everyone else in the world who possesses power to cripple the plan?)

____ ideology (Is the FO libertarian enough for us?)


____ amenability (to the plan)

____ stability (How stable does PTP appear? Will it last the duration of the lease (assumeing a lease is involved) for the site? Does the constitution of PTP appear able to outlive disasters and death?)

____ credibility (Is PTP beleavable? Do PTP and its principle representatives have records of honesty and fair dealing? Does PTP include prominent people whose endorsement gives some assurance?)

____ relations with neighbors (Does PTP have stable and peaceable relationships with neighboring states?)

____ competence to represent all local powers (Do there exist, within the PTP's nation, malevolent forces which the PTP does not rrepresent and which could defeat the plan?)


____ business startup (Has enough startup capital been committed by businesses or other sources to secure startup of the nation?)

____ safety from immediate attack or collapse (Does it look like the new country will last a month? a year?)

____ practicality of constitution or contract (Does the proposed founding document of the new country appear workable for an indefinite span? 5 years? 50 years?)

____ suitability of constitution or contract (Does the proposed founding document conform to our libertarian ideals?)

____ transition (Does the plan show a path of believable steps which start with the present situation and proceed to a stable country?)

____ initial habitation (Is it evident that the new nation will be populated rapidly enough by people of the sort the country may need to succeed?)

____ technical feasibility (Does the plan require unproven technologies?)

____ ongoing business (Does the plan show believable sources of funds to maintain, for the long term, either the FO or whatever successor organization assumes responsibility to represent and secure the nation?)

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