A Guide, Resource, and Repository of Could-have-been Ideologies for your Alternate History

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by PachPachis, Feb 20, 2017.

  1. Utgard96 basically a load of twaddle about freedom

    Mar 19, 2010
    Up yonder
    Foundation and A Canticle for Leibowitz are the two big classics of the genre, yes. In Fallout terms I think the Brotherhood of Steel is closer than the Enclave - the Enclave is more about "continuity of government" and preparing to retake the continental US and "cleanse" it from "mutants" (i.e. everyone living there since the War) than keeping knowledge as such.
    RiverDelta likes this.
  2. Kevin R. Naked Florida Man

    Aug 18, 2008
    Fort Liquordale, Florida
    IMO, that is the great folly of the transhumanists and, more broadly, of techno-utopians throughout history. They understood correctly that old ways of life would be rendered obsolete by new technology, but they never put much thought into what kinds of societies those systems would actually produce, instead assuming that it would just naturally lead to more freedom for people like them. In the case of the transhumanists, I find it odd that a small but vocal contingent of them is often quite hostile to LGBT rights, especially transgender rights, given that the technologies they embrace often flow naturally into transgender ideas about how your biological sex doesn't represent who you really are. The neoreactionary movement, specifically, was born from techno-libertarians on LessWrong, some of whom concluded that transhumanism could be used to reestablish their idealized feudalistic, hierarchical world and the traditional social mores that went with it, with a race of genetically-modified supermen serving as the new lords and kings. (Some cultural reactionaries, on the other hand, have recognized how transhumanism could fundamentally change society in ways they wouldn't like, and have taken a very Luddite approach to these technologies for this reason. Such arguments were made on Laura Ingraham's show, for instance, back in March.)

    Hacker culture had the same mistake in failing to recognize how the internet would be abused for propaganda purposes, but that's a different subject.
  3. Bookmark1995 Bookmark95 Reborn!

    Dec 26, 2016
    I think transhumanists are damn fools.

    Transhumanism might solve some problems, but it could create new ones.
  4. Twiggierjet Well-Known Member

    May 17, 2014
    I think at this point I want that sort of technology to become widespread just to piss off the essentialists.
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  5. Messalian Liberation Theologian

    Jan 14, 2019
    New England, satellite of Greater La Plata
    Plot twist: The AIs are so disgusted with humanity that they build rockets and simply leave Earth to go build a better world without these hopeless meatbag throwbacks.
  6. Bookmark1995 Bookmark95 Reborn!

    Dec 26, 2016
    You should really write a novel. It sounds like a very funny idea.
  7. CountPeter Apparently the anti-christ.

    Oct 20, 2014
    It already exists, but the AI is sapient yoghurt.
    NAF, Born in the USSA and Messalian like this.
  8. rvbomally Russian Hacker

    Dec 13, 2008
    What’s it called? The Culture?
    NAF, Indicus, PachPachis and 3 others like this.
  9. CountPeter Apparently the anti-christ.

    Oct 20, 2014
    Iirc, no, but the story makes that joke.
  10. PachPachis Minister of Our Hidden Mistress

    Nov 9, 2014
    Lift City
    I think that story got adapted for Netflix's Love, Death and Robots.
  11. Threadmarks: Benthamite Utilitarianism - Indicus

    Indicus Stuff

    Aug 1, 2014
    Torontum, Ontarium Minor, Imperium Romanum
    Benthamite Utilitarianism


    Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) has much renown as a philosopher. He believed in utilitarianism, or that enhancing pleasure should be the bedrock of society and the highest principles. He was also a firm believer in a civil code to the extent that he created the term "codification" (in eighteenth-century Britain, too), and was a firm believer in clear and obvious law, although how that's supposed to mesh with his convoluted and jargon-filled draft proposals is beyond me. He believed that lawyers were a parasitic class and wished to eliminate them by making the law clear and obvious. He also attacked law made by judges as "dog law", comparing them to how a dog's owner teaches a dog to follow its "laws" by punishing them for violating them. Another major sticking point of his was opposition to legal fictions - most notably, he attacked the idea of natural law in the American Revolution as "nonsense upon stilts". When France ratified its own Declaration of Rights of Man, he attacked that similarly. He was a firm believer in laissez-faire and small government, and initially at least, he believed in enlightened absolutism to enact his agenda. However, oddly enough, he admired the United States and its classical republican ideals in the nineteenth century, placing him in the odd position of liking the US in practice but not in theory. Nevertheless, this didn't stop him from requesting the US abolish its upper house and implement a civil code, both of which have failed.

    However, after a brief turn to reaction during the French Revolution, he became radical, affected in particular by the rejection of his panopticon (a jail cell constructed so that any prisoners could monitored at any time without knowing it), and in 1808 with the influence of James Mill he proclaimed himself a radical. Here, his agenda changes. He believed in a highly efficient government and one extremely close to the people - this was so that it could give pleasure to the greatest fraction of people. He also believed in near-universal suffrage of all literate people, and he wasn't necessarily opposed to female suffrage either. The culmination of his beliefs comes in the form of the Constitutional Code, a document published posthumously and unfinished. It consists of an "omnicompetent" legislature (in contrast to the theories of separation and balance of powers in the air - Bentham believed that a proactive public would be sufficient to prevent this from turning into dictatorship) headed by an executive headed by a Prime Minister, although the resemblance to modern Britain is muted when considering its annual elections of its parliament, the fact that it had to sit for six days a week (excepting holidays), the fact that the Prime Minister resembles a South Africa-style president in character, or its lack of a House of Lords or monarchy. Bentham ignored his belief in laissez-faire and small government (justifying this with his belief in utility) in favour of a large bureaucracy including such officials as a health minister (in the early nineteenth century!). At the lower level, its electoral districts were to double as subdivisions, consisting of this entire government in miniature with the prefix "sub-" to denote its subsidiary character to the national government, and this was to continue to the local level, consisting of administration by a Local Headman in combination with an administrative Local Registrar. The Constitutional Code is far more detailed than that, but that's the generalities.

    Another odd proposal of his was his National Charity Company, a state company in charge of the workhouse system. This company was to be much like the EIC, owned by stockholders. Workhouses - government-run factories which also provided shelter to "inmates" that work there - were Britain's main welfare system. Bentham proposed including a "less eligible" qualification which would only allow those who would be more destitute without the workhouse than with it to work in them, and he proposed cutting all welfare which did not include joining the workhouse as an "inmate". He believed in designing workhouses like his panopticon model I've shown above, and he believed they would give the poor a nice home to live in while also contributing to society.

    In many ways, Jeremy Bentham provided much of the intellectual bedrock for British radicals, with notable radical campaigner Francis Place being a staunch adherent of his principles. His ideas travelled to the political elite - numerous Whigs like Romilly and Brougham at one time or another supported civil law, and ultimately Britain codified numerous laws in the form of statute consolidation. In British India, codification proved much more successful, and the Indian Penal Code is an example of British codification in action. Reform of the welfare system did occur in the form of the New Poor Law of 1834, though it did not include being run by a company. This turned out pretty bad, to cut a long story short - workhouses proved little more than prisons that only allowed the destitute in and treated their "inmates" badly and gave them little care. Britain has been affected by his ideology, but not entirely of course, and this occurred later than Bentham's death.

    As individualist bad guys: In practice, the general centralization of power in the hands of a single legislature results in an elite of wealth and companies taking hold of the whole administrative apparatus of the nation and giving shares of the National Charity Company to its own members, serving to further enhance their bottom lines. This government cares little about rights and equality, instead disposing of them with impunity in the name of "utility". Workhouses work the poor to their breaking point, forcing them to create goods sold on the market and profits given to shareholders of the Company (the elite). Being built with panopticon architecture, governors of the workhouses tend to use them to keep track of inmates and use this to crush dissent to their authorities This model is exported to the colonies, where similar systems exist. Resource colonies tend to be treated much worse than OTL with their inhabitants treated less like people and more like resources, all in the name of utility. While laws have been codified this has done little to provide clarity as they have been written with Benthamite jargon and convolution, allowing elite-controlled courts to interpret as freely as they desire.

    As collectivist bad guys: The emphasis on elections with small intervals results in a government run by the people, but with no restrictions on its power. The result is a government which constantly flip-flops between a variety of personalities and demagogues who use profits from the National Charity Company to fund their supporters. The Company, allied with government, crowds all other competitors out of business, in effect becoming the one company in control of all production and employing most of the people. Otherwise, similar to above.

    As neutrals: The immense power of the national legislature is muted by the power of the subdivisional legislatures, while the year-long interval (too short for real business) between elections is amended somehow. The National Charity Company exists but is well-regulated by the government, creating a workhouse system much like OTL's. While a civil code is implemented, it's not as convoluted or shaped by jargon as Bentham's drafts, creating a usable civil code.

    As individualist good guys: Government uses its immense power to crush monopolies and doesn't really abuse it as a result of strong public opinion. The highly democratic character of the government serves to make it more responsible to the people than most countries in the nineteenth century. The initial year-long interval between elections is amended on the basis of it being too small for real parliamentary business to occur, while the National Charity Company is effectively run by the government and shares serve more to raise funds for the workhouse system than they do to own the company. Otherwise the National Charity Company is just an ordinary company. While government doesn't believe in natural rights, it nonetheless believes that human rights are justified by common utility and so uses them. The government has a well-written and model civil code, even if it's not quite as clear and lawyer-eliminating as Bentham unrealistically desired. Britain's colonial empire is smaller than OTL, with many of ones annexed for the sake of empire not occurring and instead being a lightly-ruled business-based venture, with Britain ultimately exporting its institutions to the colonies as there is little utility in mistreating them.

    As collectivist good guys: Highly responsible to the people thanks to the democratic character of its government, government uses its power to enrich the people and break the power of any elites that attempt to emerge. The National Charity Company acts as an anti-unemployment program, allowing any unemployed citizen to get a job and make a wage, with elements like referring to employees as "inmates" removed and employees are allowed to live off-site, allowing any member of society to have a job. It tends to have high benefits and is a quite nice jobs, forcing competitors to adjust themselves to entice employees to work for them. Otherwise, similar to above.
  12. Atomicpunk0 Member

    Jun 16, 2018
    It's so amazing to think that just a decade ago 4chan was dominated was politically dominated annonymous/hacktivist brand anarchists actively trolling the KKK and neonazis for fun. I wonder how many are spinning as they look at the state of the website they once called home and how many looked into the darkness for too long, minds fried as they turned into shadowy parodies of what they tried to troll.
  13. MuricanTauri1776 Well-Known Member

    Apr 17, 2016
    Darn millenials, thinking Stalin is Genghis Khan's reincarnation!
    CountPeter likes this.
  14. CountPeter Apparently the anti-christ.

    Oct 20, 2014
    Weirdly, it was just after his time.
    Supposedly Indigo children could only be born in the 70s. 90s was when crystal children could be born iirc, and 2010s are rainbow children. There is unfortunately more woo than ever, some people believing that the aura is a genetic trait and that the only crystal children were born of rainbow parents and likewise rainbow children were born of indigo parents.

    Every time I think about it, I can't help but imagine a sci-fi dystopia where the superiority of your aura defines your caste, preferably written by Douglas Adams to capture the absurdity.

    Edit - What on earth? I quoted in an entirely different thread
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
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  15. frustrated progressive Insert Witticism Here

    Jun 16, 2013
    Traffic,Heat,Crime,Poverty, Still Paradise (LA)
    At first I thought this was going to be yet another doomed attempt to construct a coherent ideology off of philosophical utilitarianism alone. I did not know of the existence of Bentham's practical political proposals, you've done a great job unearthing them and rendering them fit for service as an alternate ideology.
    NAF, TRH, Miranda Brawner and 3 others like this.
  16. Miranda Brawner Trans Woman

    Oct 24, 2013
    Savannah, Georgia, USA
  17. MuricanTauri1776 Well-Known Member

    Apr 17, 2016
    Now what would a Stalin-Genghis merger's aura be?
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  18. Bassoe Well-Known Member

    Jun 5, 2013
    So basically Isaac Asimov's Gentle Vultures?
    Rakaziel likes this.
  19. Blorg Credit to comics I post is SMBC or flork of cows

    Jun 22, 2018
    Somewhere in Canada
    Beyond all morality
    Beyond capitalism
    Beyond the bunkers

    There are aliens wanting a good time
  20. Kerguelen Prime Specimen

    Jun 6, 2017
    Das Kapital
    I think I'll do an entry on the Russian nihilist movement and how a nation built on nihilistic principles would actually function.