An Examination of Extra-Universal Systems of Government

Discussion in 'Alternate History Books and Media' started by Ephraim Ben Raphael, May 19, 2011.

  1. Ernak I'll make the Raj look like Utah!

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    Idea: A surviving Islamic State that either, mellows out and adopts post humanistic ideals saying, "Allah's utopia shall be achieved with the future', or a Technocratic-Islamic society?
     
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  2. Mindtraveller Eager Explorer of Alternate Realities

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    I've been thinking, what is the policy in regards to, say, an anarcho-monarchist polity? Do we put it under "Anarchism/Libertarianism", or "Monarchism/Feudalism"? Ditto fpr other governments that combine two or more ideological groupings.
     
  3. rvbomally Russian Hacker

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    I’m trying to keep the entires to seven a chapter. I might make a catch-all chapter to deal with things like fused systems.
     
  4. Gokbay Well-Known Member apparently, huh...

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    That reminds me was there ever a write-up/story or a full munroised world map for this.
     
  5. rvbomally Russian Hacker

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    Not yet.
     
  6. Ephraim Ben Raphael Super Writer Extraordinaire

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    Hey ya'll, I'm back! I love that you've kept this thread going without me, maybe we should start transitioning it into a "public" thread like the Map Thread? Anyway thanks to rvbomalley, kitfist, and everyone else who contributed!
     
  7. krinsbez Well-Known Member

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    Yaaay!

    Hmm, I dunno, I feel like a certain degree of quality control ought to be necessary.
     
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  8. rvbomally Russian Hacker

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    I think it needs a bit more oversight than the Map Thread, because there needs to be a degree of consistency between entries.

    Will you be continuing to make entries?
     
  9. PachPachis Proud bugman

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    I agree, because there's an overarching framework here, and, say, an entry that's wildly inconsistent with Chana's writing style may not fit.
     
  10. rvbomally Russian Hacker

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    I did think of reimagining this as an anthology compiled by multiple in-universe ghost writers using Chana's notes from his interviews, to account for the slight differences in writing style. However, the entries should all stick to the format.
     
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  11. Ephraim Ben Raphael Super Writer Extraordinaire

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    So I'll maintain oversight then, and I'm very open to other people contributing. I have been thinking about a couple of ideas to resume my own contributions- it's been far too long.
     
  12. rvbomally Russian Hacker

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    Great! Can we get an idea of what they are?
     
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  13. Ephraim Ben Raphael Super Writer Extraordinaire

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    Good question.:closedtongue:

    I was thinking about a Georgian state in Africa- from a TL where Georgianism was a political ideology as much as an economic. I also want to do something with theodemocracy, and something with a state that allows "god" to govern by randomly drawing lots.
     
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  14. rvbomally Russian Hacker

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    Hm, Marxism never takes off and Georgism becomes the radical left-wing ideology of the times? You might be interested in my proposal for an Associationist Texas.

    Sounds like something that can be derived from Greco-Roman oracles.
     
  15. Whiteshore Defender of Myrcella Baratheon

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    Sounds like an Islamic version of the futuristic DPRK featured earlier?
     
  16. KuboCaskett Resident Japanophile

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    or rather something similar to OTL's PRC or those kind of scenarios where Nazi Germany moderates decades later; heck the idea of what's almost an Islamic, NGO-ish Nazi Germany speaking up for human rights and utopic stuff sounds very funny to me.
     
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  17. Ephraim Ben Raphael Super Writer Extraordinaire

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    Alright! The next update will be going up tomorrow, it will be a neo-feudal state in North America and will fall under the Monarchism chapter (since we aren't really doing things in order anymore).
     
  18. Ephraim Ben Raphael Super Writer Extraordinaire

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    State of Jefferson

    The town of Big Bend is little more than a handful of streets where widely spaced houses sit side by side with farm fields. Three days ago it had a population of around three hundred, now it has less than a third of that number. This isn’t because of the fighting- the two-dozen-odd local militia fled the moment Big Bend’s current occupiers arrived, but because of people fleeing the fighting that they feared would happen. Other than some agriculture and very little logging, there is no industry here, the importance of this hamlet sitting on a bend in the Sacramento River is entirely due to its strategic location as part of the third attempt in as many decades to encircle Redding. Big Bend has been occupied before and not always as bloodlessly as it was three days ago.

    I’m riding in a pre-1983 pickup truck with crude camouflage painted on the sides and a machine gun mounted in the truck bed. Two soldiers are riding in the back with the gun, a third is sitting next to me and adjusting the volume on the radio as he drives. An instrumental version of “Egyptian Girl” crackles loudly as we pull into the parking lot of the mayor’s residence. Eight other technicals and an ancient school bus share the cracked asphalt.

    “Professor.” An acne scarred soldier in a crude facsimile of combat fatigues opens the passenger-side door and gives me a crisp salute. “The President is expecting you. Please follow me.”

    He leads me into the mayor’s residence- a former school commandeered three decades ago by virtue of being the largest building in Big Bend suited for governance. I am escorted into what would have served the mayor as his office, once upon a time it would have been the office for a principal or a school administrator. Standing behind the scratched, pre-war desk is the man I have come to interview, paging through an old notebook.

    “Professor Chana!” The Warlord of Chico, and self-declared President of the United States is a short man with a salt-and pepper beard. He dresses like a pre-war politician- his well-maintained business suit and flag pin incongruous here, at the front of a brushfire war. He is a petty dictator and a low-priority target for the RIAM, a despot who rules roughly a million people through institutional torture and a network of informants. He shakes my hand warmly. “Welcome to the front! We don’t get many visitors from the Nutshell here.”


    I keep my manners, and thank him politely. I offer my congratulations for his victory.


    “Not much of a victory.” He waves off my compliment, but his eyes crinkle into a smile. “We’ve taken this town before, maybe this time we’ll keep it. But your letter mentioned you’re doing a study of neo-feudalism?”

    Jefferson seemed like a good example, I tell him.

    “Our enemies to the north.” The warlord nods. “But I can do you one better!”

    He grins and steps around the desk- this one has a sense of drama.

    “I dabbled in neo-feudalism myself when I first got started as a warlord. I can tell you how it works from the inside.”

    I’m surprised to hear a warlord describe himself as… a warlord, and I say so.

    “Who are you going to tell?” This time his smile is wry and strained, and he taps his chest with two fingers. “Leukemia, early stages. I’ve got about two years. By the time you publish anything I’ll have been replaced by Vergara, if I’m not dead already. Why do you think I even agreed to meet you?”

    I’m nonplussed by the admonition and not sure how to respond.

    “No apologies necessary.” He walks back around the desk. “Of course, if you tell anyone before you leave I’ll have shot. But where were we?”

    You dabbled in neo-feudalism.

    “Yes, in the early days.” The dictator’s expression is an unidentifiable mix between nostalgia, and whatever the antithesis of nostalgia is. “’83, ’84, it was chaos. Millions of people out of the greater Bay Area fleeing north, trying to get away from the radiation and the fires. The weather turned cold and it wiped out what crops were in the fields, so the only food was what you could scrounge or hunt. Plenty of people turned took the Donner Party option- I was one on a couple of occasions. Not something anyone likes to talk about now.”

    “People were dying in the millions- I think between the bombs and the famine we lost half the world’s population, most of them in the northern hemisphere. If you could show up, act confident, promise people food and a chance to be the one stomping the boot, instead of the one being stomped on, people would follow you- that was how desperate they were. There must have been a million gang leaders, a million tiny warlords, a million militia captains. I started small, working my way up. At first it was me and a handful of guys I got together for security, selling “food” if you could call it that. Ketchup soup, bark biscuits, that kind of thing. They paid… god, they paid everything they had for food. Jewelry, petrol, sex… Of course, people tried to take it from me, so I recruited and I got stronger, and eventually I was one of the warlords. Traveling around with my own little band, staying on the move, fighting.”

    He pauses to collect himself.

    “The first rule of warlordism is; prey on the weak. Refugees, locals, smaller gangs. You take whatever they have, maybe you recruit, and you move on. Don’t take anything you don’t need, don’t try to recruit too many too quickly. A lot of guys did that, ended up with a couple thousand people that they couldn’t feed, and hungry people will turn on the guy who promises food and doesn’t deliver fast. Then the whole band would splinter into a dozen tiny groups.”

    “The second rule of warlordism is; run from the strong. I ran from any group stronger than my own. If I couldn’t, I tried to make myself look like too much trouble to fight- yeah you’d win, but you’d pay. Note I said “strong” not “big”- there were plenty of big gangs out there that were just a bunch of starving people hoping to pick something up, and they would break the moment you pressed. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, I had victories and I had defeats. But eventually I was strong enough that I could start going after towns.”

    Towns?

    “Towns, small places at first, places like this that barely even appeared on the map.” The Warlord of Chico gestures to indicate the town of Bid Bend. “The key was not to destroy them and take everything they had. A lot of guys never figured that out. What would happen is that I would come to a town, and I would make them an offer; gives us such and such stuff- bullets, food, water, gasoline, maybe an automobile- or we’ll attack. And then the town has a choice; fight or give in. This boiled down to an economic decision.”

    An economic decision?

    “Sure.” He rolled his shoulders. “If you fight- even if you win- is it worth it? Will you lose more in men, in bullets, in damage than you would otherwise pay in… well I called it commandeering, but it was really just tribute. If a town chose to fight, you had to crush it as an example. If it paid up, then you came back later- they rolled over once, they will again. Of course, I had a vested interest in protecting towns that paid from other warlords, anything someone else took was something I couldn’t. Eventually I had a group of towns- maybe they were ruled by other warlords, maybe it was the pre-war authorities still in power, maybe some guy had organized a militia and he was running things- but they were all paying me. I would travel from one to another, collecting food and resources to keep my army going. If someone refused, I’d call all the other towns, tell them to send me troops and they’d get a share of the loot, then we’d crush the town and I’d put one of my lieutenants in charge.”

    And if a town refused to lend soldiers?

    “I’d do the same to them once we were finished. Eventually I set up a permanent headquarters in Paradise- this was ’85- and I would send troops out to collect stuff and bring it back. If another warlord showed up, I’d march out to fight him along with any troops I could get from the towns. If that wasn’t neo-feudalism, then I don’t know what is.”

    But you left neo-feudalism behind?

    “And perhaps that was a mistake.” There is bitterness in the dictator’s laugh. “I got into this for power- not to share authority with a bunch of little pharaohs who would bend over whenever I asked. After I took Chico I felt secure enough to start centralizing power. Of course they all started rebelling, when they realized what I was doing. Two purges and a lot of rebellions later, and I’m the undisputed ruler of my own little United States. Of course it’s smaller than Jefferson, and they nearly finished me off more than once, but we should have an advantage in the… long term.

    This time his laugh is hollow.

    What happened with Jefferson?

    “Henderson happened. He’s from up there- somewhere around Eureka- and he got his start as a militia leader, organizing fighters to protect local communities. Of course, those communities had to pay for the privilege, and payments eventually stopped being voluntary. He’d absorb the gangs of rival warlords he beat, and eventually he took Redding and declared himself “President” of the State of Jefferson. He followed the same pattern- towns and cities paid him taxes, he’d call everyone together if someone said no, or if he had an enemy like me to fight. Eventually he got killed, and his brother took over. He lasted for a few years, and now it’s the son of the original Henderson calling the shots.”

    Can he tell me anything about how Jefferson organizes itself?

    The warlord sighed. “The President controls Redding and Shasta County directly- it’s the largest city and the capital. Each town has a mayor- maybe a warlord, maybe someone Henderson put in charge, maybe an actual mayor or city councilman from before the war. The mayors answer to the governors who run the counties, the governors collect taxes from the mayors and make sure all the towns fall in line when the orders come down from Redding. The president makes sure the governors follow orders. I’m an educated man, I know feudalism when I see it.”

    What about ordinary citizens?

    His laugh is genuine. “Take a look.” He indicates the notebook he had been perusing when I came in, and I read the pages. It’s filled with lists of names and numbers- sums of money. “During the winter Henderson charged people money for food- if they couldn’t pay they went into debt. Henderson passed responsibility for collecting to the mayors, who get a cut off the top. In Jefferson the debts are transferable from parent to child, and the mayors are free to force people to work to pay them off. A little crooked book-keeping and they never pay their debts off- it’s free labor for life. And that’s not mentioning all the human trafficking- say what you will about me, at least I reserve forced labor for criminals and prisoners of war.”

    Surely there are free people outside of the ruling class?

    “There’s a small middle class- most people who didn’t go into debt during the winter did so after. It was part of a deliberate policy, the mayor or the governor pays for medical care or a family funeral and *wham*- you’re in debt. The money in Jefferson is all either gold or silver, and so deflated that even non-debtors have trouble getting their hands on currency.”

    Any thoughts as to the difference between neo-feudalism and paleo-feudalism?

    He answers without hesitation.

    “It’s not hereditary. Sure, they try to keep offices in the family, but none of it’s official. It’s whoever is strong enough to take over when their predecessor dies, or whoever the president appoints. Beyond that? It might as well be a new middle ages up there.” The dictator shakes his head. “Anything else? I have work to do.”

    Do you think you can beat them?

    “Quite frankly, I don’t care.” He taps his chest again, and grins. “This war is more about one last hurrah for me than anything else. Maybe we’ll do it- that’d be quite something to leave for my replacement. I plan to push as far as I can, and then head back to Chico and resign in favor of General Vergara. After that…”

    The eyes of the Warlord of Chico glitter.

    “I have no plans to die slow.”

    [​IMG]
     
  19. Aqua817 The Means of Production

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    Fantastic! Honestly, I've wanted to contribute to this for a while, but I never really had the chance to. I love your scenario, I like how it looked at the concept of warlordism and such from a more realistic perspective, like they've really begun to civilize and form societies but not quite yet.
     
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  20. krinsbez Well-Known Member

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    Huh, I don't think we've ever had one of these entirely from the perspective of the opposition before.

    Anyways, am I misremembering, or is this our first real post-apocalyptic state?
     
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