An Examination of Extra-Universal Systems of Government

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

  1. rvbomally Russian Hacker

    Dec 13, 2008
    Tutmonda Komunumo de Morgaŭ
    Pretoria-E-Pitoli is not two cities joined as one, as Budapest is in the Hungarian Soviet. It is the two names for the city, in Afrikaans and Xhosa, haphazardly joined together in one of the country’s few acknowledgments of its multilingual past. The city was built as one city, but there are noticeable bifurcations. The Futurist core has yet to consume the entire city, leading to a noticeable split between the chrome towers stretching into the blue southern African sky, and what was derisively called the “Malnova Urbo” – the Old City. Old buildings, in varying states of demolition and replacement, paired with large billboards showcasing their Futurist replacements, showed that the regime’s commitment to erasing the past was more than words. Even the name of Pretoria-E-Pitoli is one the city fathers plan on erasing, replaced with the more politically acceptable “Monda Ĉefurbo” – the World Capital.

    The people of this new shining city on a hill were either the most diverse in the world, or – as the regime would have it – the least. The long traffic jams in the Malnova Urbo gave me opportunity enough to see the New Society for the Future in its ostensibly embryonic stages. I saw stalls selling Peking duck and boerewors, and when pointing this out to my taxi driver, all he mentioned was how the government was not doing enough to prevent street merchants from placing raw meat so close to cooked meat. People of all colors, and all mixes of colors, mostly talked to each other in the same universal tongue: Esperanto. Nevertheless, I still heard small groups speaking in Spanish, Mandarin, and Afrikaans.

    I reached the offices of the Ministry of Culture. Here was the most important agency in the entire World Order, the one responsible for making sure the World of Tomorrow becomes a reality. I met my contact, Mr. Justin Park, Deputy Undersecretary of the Ministry of Culture. From what I read of his biography, his mother is a colored South African, while his father emigrated from Korea, a mixture he is very proud of. He was a tall man, easily five inches taller than myself. The warm look in his eyes matched well his brightly-colored, African-style garb. He greeted me in Esperanto, and I greeted him in kind.

    Mr. Park commended me on my Esperanto, saying I spoke it like a native. Given the myriad accents I heard on my drive here, I wondered to myself if that was intended to be ironic. I mentioned that I studied the language in the Nutshell, and that it was close enough to Spanish to make that study easy.

    “It should be, my friend! The universal tongue cannot be universal if people cannot learn it.”

    We entered the lavish Zamenhof Building of the Kulturo Placo. In the center of the building is a large fountain featuring the planet Earth, with statues of men and women holding hands around it. The Ministry of Culture had an entire plaza in downtown Pretoria-E-Pitoli dedicated to it, and numerous provincial offices scattered throughout the World State.

    “The Ministry needs this office space to house all of its employees. We have so much work to do, but we are creating a new, post-national mankind. We regulate everything, from cuisine, to dress, to language. Particularly language. Communication barriers must be the first to go.”

    Esperanto is a constructed language, developed by L. L. Zamenhof in the 19th century. Zamenhof intended for the language to be easy to learn for anyone in the world, which would facilitate worldwide communication, and with it, economic ties and political understanding. Mr. Park led me through the sub-ministries located in the Zamenhof Building. Appropriately, most of the sub-ministries were dedicated to the regulation and enforcement of Esperanto in the World State.

    Mr. Park gestured to a maze of cubicles on the fifth floor. “This is what we like to call the Dictionary Department. They create new words, to replace those in existing languages. We try to have words for as many concepts as possible, to make Esperanto as rich as it could be.”

    “That floor is for Enforcement, “Mr. Park told me when I asked what was on floor seven. “Language agents, to make sure storefronts are in Esperanto, for instance.”

    “Do they have the power to make arrests?”

    Mr. Park shook his head. “We issue citations to violators. This isn’t Soviet Russia, we do not beat people in the streets for saying the wrong things. Citations are enough, and they help keep the lights on.”

    “Of course, the language in the streets is only the start,” Mr. Park continued. “The Ministry’s latest grand project is renaming. Streets and neighborhoods first, but then we will move to cities, provinces, and eventually, people. Soon, every child born in the Global Community will have a post-national name. We would change the names of everyone in the country, if that wouldn’t create a logistical nightmare. My wife and I are already committed to the project. We have a list of Ministry-approved names for our future children.”

    I asked Mr. Park for examples.

    “My favorites are Lumo, Paradizo, and Unueco. Children are the future of humanity, so their names should reflect a bright future.”

    The bright future of the world state began in the British dominion of South Africa. A crossroads for cultures, South Africa was a multicultural society centuries before Zamenhof. The multilingual society there attracted Zamenhof and his followers, and they eventually founded an Esperanto school in Pretoria. The horrors of the Great War attracted many Europeans in particular, who moved to South Africa to participate in the Esperantist project. Many of them were highly educated, such as the founders of the Futurist movement, and contributed to the Esperantist movement. Although initially welcomed as a curiosity, the Esperantists butted heads with the post-war South African government as they moved to implement their system of apartheid. The Esperantists, already disgusted by the racist system they encountered, openly flaunted apartheid laws by welcoming all people.

    Esperantism, along with Marxism, became the primary competitors for the resistance against apartheid. The Esperantists were more popular among the middle and upper classes, many of whom were disgusted by apartheid but saw communist brutality as a worse alternative. Esperantism also had an appeal to the lower classes. Originally a curiosity among intellectuals, Zamenhof’s project became the core of a political movement, Esperantism, which preached the equality of all men and sought to erase artificial and arbitrary divisions between them. Although inspired by international Marxism, the Esperantists focused their efforts on erasing boundaries which divided nations. The horror of the Great War and the inhumanity of apartheid convinced the Esperantists that nationalism, unchecked, would lead to the end of mankind.

    After our tour, Mr. Park welcomed me to eat lunch with him in the Zamenhof Building’s cafeteria. The cafeteria served all manner of food – curry, pasta, grilled meats, and plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. Some of the dishes were odd fusions: knockwurst burritos, tikka masala pizza, sushi burgers. Mr. Park told me that the cafeteria was a place where the Ministry’s culinary departments tested what sorts of fusion cuisine would be popular with the people. If they proved popular, restaurants throughout the country would be offered stipends to serve them to the public for a period of one year. He assured me that every strange item on the menu was approved by a battery of taste testers beforehand. I privately questioned the effectiveness of this program.

    We sat by ourselves in the nearly-empty cafeteria; we were eating a late lunch, but my time-lagged body felt as if I were eating an early breakfast. Mr. Park ordered a hamburger made with ingredients traditionally used for pizza. I settled for lentil soup. I asked the deputy undersecretary what exactly Esperantism believes about nationalism. Between bites, Mr. Park gave me an answer.

    “Nationalism is responsible for most of the evils in the world,” Mr. Park explained to me. “We are all one species, the human species. I am no more or less human than you, or anyone in this building, or anyone in this planet. Humans working together can accomplish great things. The nationalists themselves believe that. So, what more can humans accomplish if all of us were united? Instead of wasting resources and lives on pointless wars over lines on a map, we can be curing cancer, or finding a way to the stars.”

    It was the communists who would light the powder keg of South Africa. Funded by the Trotskyites based in the Soviet Union, the communists launched their revolution after the South African depression. The Esperantists at first cooperated with the communists, securing Pretoria and surrounding regions. It was not long before the Esperantists split with the communists, and succeeded in getting the support of anti-communist, anti-fascist nations such as the United Kingdom and the United States. The communists were eventually crushed by the National Party-led government, but they did not have the manpower to crush the nascent World State. Doing so meant war with the United States and United Kingdom, something their German allies refused to allow. The two sides begrudgingly partitioned the country between themselves.

    The new Tutmonda Komunumo de Morgaŭ - Global Community of Tomorrow - or World State as most of the world called it, was organized along the lines of other liberal democracies. It adopted a written constitution, with many protections taken from the Constitution of the United States, and had established, written rights inspired French Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen. It adopted a tripartite system of government, with a bicameral legislature, and a Prime Minister picked from the legislature to serve as head of the executive. However, the government was also given a clear, Esperantist directive in the Constitution: to expand Esperantism around the globe, prepare the World State to be a true system for global government, and to begin this project by erasing national identities and serving as an example to all. Even the Declaration of Rights is suborned to this goal.

    The World State became a beacon for the oppressed around the world. European Jews, American blacks, Indian Muslims, all streamed to southern Africa seeking a new life. The World State opened its borders to all, a policy only changed in later years for the purposes of ensuring the right proportions of various ethnicities existed to ensure homogenous mixing.

    Playing Devil’s advocate, I told Mr. Park what I thought may be a nationalist’s response to his beliefs.

    “People value their national identities. They aren’t merely arbitrary, they are organically formed through thousands of years of cultural evolution. Nationalism causes problems, but we can’t hold the idea of a nation responsible for that. National identities enrich and diversify humanity. A nationalist critic would say that the Global Community is doing what it accuses nationalists of doing: destroying culture.”

    Mr. Park shook his head.

    “We are not destroying culture. Human history has always involved the intermixing of cultures and peoples. Are these cultures destroyed? No, they are changed to form a new culture. A stronger culture. A more harmonious culture. They retain the defining characteristics of what makes them valuable and beautiful, but without the violence inherent in division.”

    “Anyway, the concept of nationalism is inextricable with the concept of the nation. Look at the Soviets. Their government continued to separate the constituent nations of their country, and now all of them are more nationalistic than ever! Only the Cheka keeps that monstrosity together.”

    I then asked about the World State’s commitment to individual human rights. Aren’t the World State’s programs infringing on the rights of its people?

    Mr. Park shook his head again. “Not at all! People are much freer here because, now that they do not have to worry about national divisions, they can express themselves as individuals. We tolerate, even encourage, all alternative lifestyles and points of view. We only disallow the fomenting of nationalism. Those beliefs are against the society we are trying to build and the liberties it guarantees. To say that people have the freedom to be divisive and bigoted is absurd.”

    But what about democracy? From what I understood, all of the political parties are united on the Esperantist message. What meaningful choice do the people have?

    “The Global Community is a multi-party democracy, and their disagreements can put the British or Americans to shame. Just watch a session of Parliament, or the nightly news. But I suspect what you are implying is, what can a nationalist voter do? Indeed, we do not allow nationalist parties to form. Again, the very notion of nationalism is so anathema to the Global Community that allowing them is like letting a cancer go unchecked. No civilized country allows terrorists to run amok. The nationalists may claim to be peaceful, but their actions speak otherwise. The Monda Ĉefurbo is peaceful, but many communities suffer from racial or religious riots because of terrorist activity.”

    I then asked Mr. Park about religion. Wasn’t religious freedom protected by the Declaration of Rights?

    “Religion is a troubling issue, one that still causes our ministry headaches. Religion is indeed protected by the Declaration of Rights. The freedom of worship is a human right, and we could hardly expect people to immigrate to the Global Community in large numbers if they are expected to reject their faith. But nevertheless, the issue of religion is a matter of fierce debate at the highest levels of government. We often get one set of policy considerations, only for them to be reversed in the next term.”

    What is the nature of these debates?

    Mr. Park sighed. “The details are as complex as any other political dispute, but the key question is whether religion is a form of nationalism. Everyone I have heard speak on the issue, save for the radical secularists, agrees that some religions are not nationalistic, even counter-nationalist, while others are nationalistic by nature. But then we have the question, which faiths are nationalist and which faiths aren’t? Is there a clear division between them, or is it a spectrum? Which faiths should be tolerated, and which should be suppressed? Should faiths be tolerated as a matter of course? Why should faiths be exempt from de-nationalization policies? It’s a headache.”

    I asked Mr. Park if he had any specific examples of these disputes.

    “Christianity and Islam are recognized as universal religions. While their adherents may not be evenly represented among ethnic groups across the globe, their religious doctrine allows anyone to be of the faith. In fact, many sects of Christianity and Islam reject nationalism and racialism as a matter of course; they consider everyone equal in the eyes of God. On the other end of the spectrum, the Shinto religion is so closely tied to the Japanese national identity that the two are inextricable. We have thus banned Shinto as an expression of Japanese nationalism, a position made easier by the Japanese government’s own efforts to turn the religion into an instrument of their brutal imperialist state.”

    Mr. Park closed his eyes and shook his head, as if to rid himself of the stress of thinking about the problem.

    “In theory, it would be easy to list faiths as universal or ethnocentric. The situation on the ground is more complex. Sometimes, people convert and adhere to ethnocentric faiths, even if they are outsiders. A side effect of our early intermarriage efforts is that many non-Jews have converted to Judaism. It was something our ministry hadn’t considered. On the other end, universal religions have become the rallying cry of national identities we have tried to stamp out, and they use religion as a means of protecting themselves from state scrutiny. The most nationalistic blacks from the American South use Baptist Christianity as a shield. Many of their leaders are preachers, and they use their sermons to deliver nationalist tirades, but protections on freedom of religion stay the Ministry’s hand. This is also a major issue with Shia Arabs from Mesopotamia. The Ministry’s legal department is fighting nearly a hundred lawsuits from street preachers who were arrested for racism.”

    I asked how Mr. Park believed the issue would be resolved.

    “To be perfectly honest? I don’t think it ever will be resolved. The radicals want religious protections in the Declaration of Rights scrapped entirely, and replaced with state secularism. Others go a step further, asking the Ministry to create a syncretic religion, an ‘Esperanto for the soul.’ I think that’s bonkers. Faith is a matter of personal introspection and community building, not top-down state policy.”

    I asked Mr. Park how that was any different from the World State’s language and racial policies. His eyes widened and he backed away from me. The next few moments of silence felt like an eternity.

    “I don’t know, Mr. Chana. I’ve never thought of it that way.”

    I saved my toughest questions for last. I asked Mr. Park about the World State’s miscegenation policies. Mr. Park cringed.

    “Please, Mr. Chana, don’t use that word. It is what foreign racists use in their propaganda. The proper term is amalgamado.”

    I nodded, and Mr. Park continued.

    “Yes, that is a topic of some controversy. The Ministry of Culture encourages its citizens to reproduce with citizens of a different ethnic or racial grouping. But to compare this to the eugenics policies of the Reich or the Japanese, as some do, is disingenuous. Our program is non-coercive. The Ministry of Culture provides family planning services, and we encourage amalgamation. We offer stipends and tax incentives to families who choose to amalgamate. But it is by no means a requirement. I was not the product of a government sanctioned union; my parents are both committed Esperantists, but they married out of love. We believe that the choice to have children belong to the individuals in the union.”

    My next contact during my trip to the World State had a different view. Anna Blohkina, a women’s rights activist and prominent critic of the Ministry of Culture’s “amalgamation” policies, agreed to meet me in Pretoria-E-Pitoli.

    “The Ministry of Culture may not send masked thugs to arrest women who go against their reproductive policies, but to say that the Ministry is not as bad as the Reich is faint praise. The Ministry’s programs are voluntary in name only. They are coercive in practice.”

    I asked Ms. Blohkina to explain.

    “Everything in the World State is conditioned on accepting their system. If you don’t know Esperanto, you are at a disadvantage, because all government forms are in Esperanto. Government schools teach exclusively in Esperanto. If you are a vocal critic, assuming you aren’t branded a nationalist and imprisoned for hate speech, you may be ineligible for welfare. I speak out on the basis of women’s liberation, so they cannot arrest me, but I am not eligible for welfare. Fortunately, I do not need it, but many of my friends and supporters do. And of course, the World State’s war on reproductive freedom is the most insidious.”

    Ms. Blohkina reached into her pocket for a smartphone. She then showed me an image of a Reproductive Health Department billboard, advertising free birth control. I asked why she, a women’s rights activist, would find that objectionable.

    “I took this picture in a poor, majority-Indian neighborhood. That neighborhood is known for resisting against the World State’s miscegenation program. So, they Reproductive Health Department – a sub-ministry of the Ministry of Culture, but they’d never advertise that – put up these billboards. You’d never find these in a ‘heterogeneous’ community. Only pro-reproduction messages straight from the Ministry. This is why the Ministry of Culture is evil. They use soft power – incentives, peer pressure, social ostracism – to promote their program. They don’t care about the rights of women, but they will provide family planning services to promote their twisted agenda and claim it’s for women. I want free family planning for all women, regardless of their reproductive choices.”

    But it is still the choice of the parents, I argued. Ms. Blohkina disagreed.

    “If you’re a poor mother, what choice do you have? The Ministry has yet to stoop to the level of shouting this from the rooftops, but they offer incentives to women to abort their children if they are too ‘homogenous.’ This includes a free abortion, and cash rewards. Mr. Chana, this is a Leonine contract, and the Ministry implements hundreds of them. This isn’t freedom, it’s tyranny disguising itself as freedom.”

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  2. Betelgeuse Well-Known Member

    May 11, 2014
    This reminds me of Societism from Thande’s Look to The West.
  3. Skallagrim Not the one from YouTube. Different other fellow.

    Feb 5, 2014
    Well, there's absolute hell in the making...
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  4. KuboCaskett Resident Japanophile

    Jul 3, 2014
    Indiana, USA
    A multi-ethnostate that is nationalist while claiming to be globalist...I'm honestly resisting the urge to reference current covfefe politics regarding the globalist thing right now.
  5. rvbomally Russian Hacker

    Dec 13, 2008
    You have allowed this Ministry to twist your mind until you have become the very thing you swore to destroy.
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  6. Admiral A. Kolchak Supreme Leader

    May 2, 2017
    While reading it I assumed that it had already achieved world conquest. Then I noticed the map, and the irony of the piece became obvious.
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  7. krinsbez Well-Known Member

    Sep 1, 2009
    Huh, vaguely reminds me of PARR from "Brothers and Sisters" (a post-post-apocalyptic scenario I commissioned from b_munro)
    suul'ken likes this.
  8. Mindtraveller Eager Explorer of Alternate Realities

    Mar 4, 2015
    The gap between timelines
    This seems like the "opposite, yet equal" counterpart to the American Union.

    On that note, I'd love to see what Mr Guillaume and Mr Park would think of each other's countries (translation: I'd like to get them in a room together and record the ensuing screaming match...)
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  9. xsampa Well-Known Member

    Mar 23, 2014
    Actually, the opposite would be the Kommander of postNazi Ukraine, because the Nazis conquered half the world in that scenario before getting nuked by Japan.
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  10. Shaymin0000 Also exists

    Mar 14, 2014
    Behind the dumpster at CERN
    Not sure why, but having Esperanto as the state language fits really well for a repressive government.
  11. xsampa Well-Known Member

    Mar 23, 2014
    What happened to China in the American Union scenario? Given that France still has Indochina, China is probably partitioned between Europe and Japan.
    suul'ken likes this.
  12. Admiral A. Kolchak Supreme Leader

    May 2, 2017
  13. xsampa Well-Known Member

    Mar 23, 2014
  14. Sunstone77 Well-Known Member

    Jun 19, 2018
    Has anyone proposed anything similar to the Judge system in Judge Dredd? Namely the Judicial branch being the most powerful, or often only, aspect of government and what little is not under their control being powerless and focused on keeping the lights running
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  15. rvbomally Russian Hacker

    Dec 13, 2008
    I’d love to be a fly on the wall in a Nutshell political forum. I suppose it wouldn’t be too different from highly contentious OTL international politics (take your pick), so a lot of obviously faked kindness and respect, veiled insults, reading between the lines, etc. It’s also much easier to practice a philosophy of agree to disagree when the two parties are several universes apart.
  16. Miranda Brawner Trans Woman Donor

    Oct 24, 2013
    Savannah, Georgia, USA
    Nice job on the Esperantist state, rvbomally. Very sinister.
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  17. frustrated progressive Insert Witticism Here Monthly Donor

    Jun 16, 2013
    Traffic,Heat,Crime,Poverty, Still Paradise (LA)
    @rvbomally, great work! I'm going to go out on a limb though and say that it's actually one of the least sinister of all the worlds of yours that I've come across, even one of the least sinister of this entire collection. This isn't just because normally you're a crapsack artist par excellence, but because the official depicted actually seemed to question his beliefs when a difficult question was raised, an ability notably lacking in the minders of other governments throughout this series, who mostly just double down. Either way, lovely work.
  18. Arcvalons The internationale unites the world in song.

    Feb 14, 2010
    Sozialistische Weltrepublik
    I had an idea:

    An alternate US in which after each election, both candidates become Presidents, just that each candidate governs only the states that he or she won and the other has no jurisdiction over them.
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  19. KuboCaskett Resident Japanophile

    Jul 3, 2014
    Indiana, USA
    Somehow I'm reminded of the time when during the 2016 election, I thought both candidates would lose, somehow: I know that's not realistic but that's what I had in mind when the whole election became a circus just before the results.

    Speaking of results I just had this idea of a very pacifistic nation and a very war-crazed one; one is more akin to OTL's post-WWII Japan but on um...dope (highly reliant on pacifism to the point of having a small semblance of a militia that can't even stop a riot) and the other is well Nazi Germany and North Korea in regards to viewing war (war is the only policy to take even if nukes are involved).
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  20. rvbomally Russian Hacker

    Dec 13, 2008
    I kinda did that with the Bush and Gore America.