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Why a 'freedom flag' from Dream's Minecraft server waved over a London anti-vax rally

The flag of L'Manburg.
(Image credit: Wilber Soot.)
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An event called 'The Worldwide Rally For Freedom' was held in London this past weekend, a name in which the word 'freedom' is doing a lot of heavy lifting. The gathering took place in Trafalgar Square and was essentially anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination, with many attendees linking these viewpoints to political figures including, most notably, former US President Donald Trump.

In amongst the usual placards and declarations about 'are rights' was the striking flag at the head of this image. It is the national flag of a fictional Minecraft nation, which existed on a solo multiplayer (SMP) server hosted by the enormously popular Minecraft streamer Dream, before it was invaded and destroyed. Yes: the rally for freedom took place under the proudly waved banner of the fictional country of L'Manburg.

To briefly summarise: streamer Dream operates a huge Minecraft roleplay server, on which many other popular streamers play. The server is a collaborative work where user-created storylines and factions are at the heart, and L'Manburg was one of the most popular breakaway factions in the server's history: it declared independence from the 'Greater Dream SMP' in July 2020, won this independence through a battle against their former faction, and went through various minor brouhahas before being destroyed and permanently disbanded in January 2021.

Despite only existing for six months (opens in new tab) (and god knows this incident will probably see it make a comeback) L'Manburg was taken very seriously by its players, to the extent the nation has not only a flag but a national anthem. You can easily buy unofficial merch of this flag (which may have played the main role in this bizarre incident).

The flag was initially spotted on social media, and because of its relation to several major influencers L'Manburg soon became a trending topic.

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It's possible that this was just a big Minecraft fan, who also happens to think vaccines contain magnets, though a more likely explanation (spotted by The Focus (opens in new tab)) is that the individual involved (who seems to be a middle-aged man, though it's hard to tell) knew they were going to the freedom rally and googled 'freedom flag'. I just did and here's the top of the results.

Google search for Freedom Flag.

(Image credit: Google)

So this could be a Minecraft reference, but it's far more likely to be someone who's bought a cheap flag that isn't what they think (there are various designs of IRL 'Freedom Flags' for different causes, as one might expect).

Of course, the streamers were right on it. The former president of L'Manburg, Tubbo, a vastly successful streamer in his own right, simply tweeted the nation's name at the original photograph and raked-in 22,000 'likes', giving you an idea of the surprising number of folk for whom this is not only instantly recognisable but still meaningful long after disappearing.

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The flag's designer Wilbur Soot is again a very popular streamer, and has previously explained the rationale (opens in new tab) behind the flag's colours and layout. The inspiration is mostly European, because this was a nation of European players, and so incorporates elements of the French tricolor and the crosses representing the flag of Amsterdam (to "symbolise our Dutch citizen" ie Dream). "The blue stands for liberty, the white stands for peace, and the red (the foundation and underlying colour of the flag) stands for the blood the country is built on" while "The yellow and black accentation denote the walls of the nation (A huge black and yellow rampart)."

Dream

(Image credit: Dream (via Instagram))

Dream's only not-a-comment on the affair so far was tagging in the flag's designer (opens in new tab), Wilbur Soot, in a reply to the Youtube main account when all this was happening. There's good reason he's been keeping his head low though: it's only a month ago, following a long investigation, that Dream admitted to "accidentally cheating" while setting world records in the game (opens in new tab) (following multiple attempts to squirm out of it).

So welcome to 2021, where reality continues to outpace fiction and the 5G mob march under banners created by Minecraft streamers. I suppose at least anti-vaxxers and Minecraft fans share one thing: in different ways, they're all blockheads.

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."