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Michel Eleftheriades on ‘Nowheristan’
Michel Eleftheriades has created a nation that does not exist on a map. He tells Aline Sara about his entrepreneurship, his inspiration, and his virtual country.
December 10, 2010 9:29 by kippreport
Last September, Michel Elefteriades celebrated the fifth anniversary of his self-proclaimed Empire of Nowheristan. According to the Beirut-born performer, musician, and entrepreneur, Nowheristan is the first step in reaching Everywheristan, a global and viable system devoid of the world’s most significant social, economic, and political predicaments.
Born in June 1970 to a Greek father and Lebanese mother, Elefteriades is known for unorthodox ideologies, passion for musical fusion, political resistance, and an eccentric wardrobe.
Reactions to his work as an artist, businessman, or philosopher vary from clear-cut disdain to fervent partisanship. Today, Elefteriades’ “Great Empire of Nowheristan,” a virtual nation that does not exist on a map, counts more than 100,000 citizens. To become a Nowheristani, one must log on to the official website, complete an application process and wait a minimum of 45 days for approval.
Although many question such a project, Elefteriades is convinced of his brainchild. “I’ve proposed the model to professors from major academic institutions around the world,” he says, while sipping coffee in his UtopiaNow headquarters, Downtown Beirut. “Sorbonne, Harvard [professors], they’ve all approved of the system, a solution to humanity’s greatest problems of the past 4,000 years of war, famine, poverty, death…”
To accomplish his mission, Elefteriades believes in exterminating the concept of countries, borders, and state armies, creating one universal economy, the ultimate goal being to annihilate any possibility or temptation to resort to corruption. Within such a system, Elefteriades also seeks to rid individuals of any sense of fear and general anxiety.
Although peppered with communist tendencies, the system, Elefteriades asserts, has a critical look on communist regimes from the past. “We learn from communism’s shortcomings, and we’ve avoided them,” he explains; “There’s a reason it was so popular before, so it must have some appealing features.”
The global economy to which he aspires is one where nations, as opposed to individuals, have the same wealth. To him, limiting the individual’s ambition was a major mistake of communism given that each person has their own personality and set of aspirations. Some people are naturally cerebral, others are less; some are active, and others are lazy, he says. This is specifically why one of Nowheristan’s principles is that its rulers will be at least 60 years old. All of them will have made it to 60, without having any record of scandals. They will also have expertise in a variety of different fields, from law, medicine, poetry, to the arts and sciences; 1,200 senators united under the title of the Senate of Elders. As the emperor sees it, “choosing brilliant people with high moral values who will no longer deal with money and the outside world – which manifests itself through social obligations – will help reach an optimal level of objectivity in the decision making process.”