shoo that Freedom parked on the opposite bank of the river, on the Serbian side, just outside Liberland territory. Passengers disembarked via a makeshift ramp made of planks and a ladder. The others had already arrived. “You haven’t been arrested yet?” said Stern-Vukotić. “Well, the day is young.”
Despite the police presence, the scene was cheerful; It was easy to temporarily forget the strangeness of the situation. Davide’s twins had made a fire on the bank and were toasting food on sticks. On the middle deck of FreedomThe meat was grilled and served with salads and bread. Liberland brand wine made from local grapes was passed around.
After people finished eating, Jedlička drew attention to himself. It was time to give the new citizens their Liberland passports. The group applauded and roared as passports were handed over and the President’s handshake accepted, breaking into the chorus of “Lib, lib, lib, lib, lib, lib!” — a chant that rang out whenever it gave cause for celebration.
for the next month, Freedom remained parked on the opposite side of the river from Liberland, with someone on board to support the settlers coming down the river from Hungary and relaying wifi to anyone who managed to camp inland.
The rest of the group returned to Apatin on the other boats, but not before another attempt was made to reach Liberland. A small boat attempted the crossing but was held off shore by a police boat, whipping water into the hull in sharp turns. On this occasion, the would-be settlers could easily be pushed back.
On the boat On the way home, Rubio, the former priest, wrapped in a blanket to protect himself from the wind, sat brooding. Despite all the celebrations, he was worried about the future of Liberland at the weekend. “Where are all the followers?” he asked.
It was a fair observation. Of the 70 to 80 people who attended the anniversary, few were not directly linked to the Liberland government. After the President and his cabinet, delegates and speakers were counted, Rubio was one of the few “followers” to make the trip. According to Jedlička, only about 300 people have ever set foot on Liberland soil.
Part of the problem, according to Rubio, lies in the emphasis on cryptocurrencies, which threatens to alienate those for whom Liberland is primarily a political endeavor. “I found the idea of Liberland attractive – the romantic idea of freedom and a life of peace. But they focus the message on the technology,” Rubio said. “It’s part of the bones, the skeleton – but you need the heart.” According to Rubio, if Jedlička wants to win the support of libertarians, he should openly preach the new country’s values on social media. After all, nation-building requires activism and careful ramping up of momentum.
But Liberland, like crypto projects before it, may not be able to count on its founder to push it forward forever. Although Jedlička has promised to devote all his energies to Liberland, at least until “things are really on the right track”, he has bigger ambitions. “I’m very excited about space exploration,” he said, “and into the realm of longevity.”
“I think Liberland would survive without me. But of course it would lose momentum,” continued Jedlička. “I will do my best to ensure that Liberland is recognized internationally first.”
As the boats were returning through Serbian waters, they passed the ruins of a larger boat that had been abandoned near the mouth of the Apatin marina. The crashed ship, also owned by the Liberlandians, had caught fire, sunk and been sold for scrap. The wreck lay to one side, the lower deck was almost completely flooded. Rubio pointed to the wreck: “I hope this is not a premonition for Liberland.”
This article will appear in WIRED UK’s September/October 2023 issue.