An Examination of Extra-Universal Systems of Government

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

  1. Miranda Brawner Trans Woman

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    What about a cliche-based government? As in, the constitution is a set of vague proverbs with little guidance on how to apply them. Example: "We should halt scientific research because Article II, Sec IX, Clause XXIV says curiosity killed the cat." "No, we should invest more in research because Article V, Section I, Clause XIII says knowledge is power!"
     
  2. Miranda Brawner Trans Woman

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    Location:
    Savannah, Georgia, USA
    As a way of brainstorming potential ideologies and forms of government, I've been playing around with random number generation. It works like this: Make a list of a few dozen political issues, and imagine a spectrum for each issue ranging from 0 to 100. Then randomly pick a number between 0 and 100 for each issue, and you get your ideology's platform. It will probably be toward the middle of the spectrum on some issues, and toward the extremes on other issues. For the issues where the ideology is extreme, make those into its beliefs. Then, the fun and challenging part is making up some sort of theme or overall philosophy that ties together all these randomly chosen beliefs. If what the random number generator gives you is too contradictory, you don't have to follow it to the letter, you can just use it for inspiration.

    Here's an example of one of the ones I generated:

    You strongly prefer Command Economy over Laissez-Faire (0.979).
    You strongly prefer Spirituality over Secularism (0.973).
    You strongly prefer Freedom of Expression over Censorship (0.923).
    You strongly prefer Right to Bear Arms over Gun Control (0.902).
    You prefer Anti-Technology over Pro-Technology (0.760).
    You prefer Pacifism over Militarism (0.774).

    So, I imagined a sort of traditionalist, isolated religious order living a pastoral lifestyle, where an important religious ritual involves non-lethal re-enactment of historical battles. They support private weapon ownership because they use these weapons for their ceremonies, but they are very averse to actual violence, and they use the historical re-enactment to remind everyone how horrible war actually is. They support freedom of expression because they are a religious minority living in a larger empire, and they want to be able to practice their religion without fear of persecution, as well as being able to criticize their nation's militaristic policies which go against the order's own beliefs.

    Try it and let me know what you come up with!
     
  3. rvbomally Russian Hacker

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    An idea for a theodemocracy: one where the deity/deities get a certain number of votes, which are weighted in their favor, but the mortals can still outvote the gods. It could be some weird compromise between secular and clerical authorities arising in North America or Reformation-era Europe.
     
  4. halfcoop Well-Known Member

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    Nov 14, 2016
    It could be like the electoral college maybe.

    Something like Jehovah get 12 votes, Brahma get 4, the State or New York 15
     
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  5. Gigel the Iron Chicken Member

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    Transylvania, Romania
    Posted with @Ephraim Ben Raphael's permission. I hope you like it!

    France

    Paris is one of the most popular locations across the multiverse. I have seen many variations of the “The City of Love” in my travels, some truly strange and bizarre, however the one I found myself in recently was fairly ordinary. There was, however, an air of apathy surrounding it. The cafés and swarms of tourists were still there, although in much smaller numbers than elsewhere. The Eiffel Tower, a strangely permanent fixture of most timelines, was standing idly, rusting around the edges. The slight rain gave the city a depressing atmosphere, and the usual trendiness and cheerfulness of the inhabitants was strangely absent.

    I was waiting on a bench near a bronze statue of a sideburns-sporting man holding a pair of scales in one hand and a wooden wheel in the other, with “PIERRE MONTPIERRE GASPILLAGE, L’HOMME DU COMPROMIS” written in gold on the stone plinth. At least, that’s what I was told was written, as a thick layer of guano and obscene graffiti covered the entire surface of the statue, no one having bothered to clean it in what seemed to be years.

    “Modern art is great, isn’t it?”

    My contact had appeared: historian Jean Beausoleil. His sarcasm and irony are characteristic of every person I met in this particular Paris.

    “Welcome to the French Republic, Mr. Chaná! I hope you like it, because in four years it’s going to become the Kingdom of France, and it’s just not the same.”

    I asked Mr. Beausoleil about the very peculiar system of government that is present in this universe’s rump France.

    “Before I can explain the absolutely wonderful situation we are currently in, I have to explain the history of this place, right from the beginning.”

    The modern history of France, since 1789, had always been characterised by flipping between a monarchy and a republic several times. Due to the social dynamics inside the country, the transition, while usually bloody, had a clear purpose and a clear “winner” of sorts. However, in the period in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, the situation had changed.

    A slew of political turmoil, radical groups and a militaristic leadership had created the conditions for outright civil war. It had broken out in 1897 and lasted nearly a decade until 1905. The details were very bloody, and the historian had trouble explaining everything coherently.

    “It was chaos. Everyone not a part of the socialists or totalitarians or republicans or supporters of one of the five trillion pretenders to the throne was left to rot, unable to access anything necessary for living, like food or medical help. In the beginning, people thought it will not last long. A new republic or yet another kingdom would soon come, take their rightful place and restore order, right?”

    I knew from his tone that that wasn’t the case.

    “Everyone around us realized they could still a bit from us. No one would care, we were about to disappear off the Earth! The anglos took Normandy, Spain the south, Germany took way more than Alsace-Lorraine... Even the goddamn Swiss took a bite!”

    “The central government was obviously dead, but Brittany and Occitania managed to declare independence and hold back the rioting. Those bastards took all our coastline!”

    I asked Mr. Beausoleil to calm down.

    “Yes, sorry... I am very emotional with these things. Now, listen up, as what I am about to tell you has been shrouded in endless myths, legends, and bad jokes, so listen carefully.”

    The historian described the “unexpected arrival” of Monsieur Pierre Montpierre Gaspillage. Very few biographical details exist about the man. All is known for certain is that he was born in 1877 in a small village in Blois to a poor family of peasants. After the civil war started, Montpierre managed to amass a veritable number of followers, loudly calling for “compromise” and “balance”. His solution for the crisis had enamored a soul-crushed and desperate French populace.

    “We call it ‘The Wheel’. Whether it was of an ox-cart or a cat is your decision.”

    The system proposed by Montpierre would involve a periodic change in the fundamental structure of French politics. It was decided by a coin-toss that the first new French Government would be a republic. After a decade, it would change intro an absolute monarchy, with the King being either a Bonapartist or an Orléanist. After another decade, it would change into a republic again, and so on, and so forth.

    “The dynasty, too, would be chosen by a coin toss. It’s like gambling in Macau, but endlessly stupider. The bets are amazing, too.”

    Otherwise, regular succession rules applied, with an heir presumptive etc. While being a republic, the monarchs (treated as heir apparents) would play the role of figure-head, like in a constitutional monarchy. While being a kingdom, a sort of “Shadow” parliament would be formed. It is basically powerless during this time, as the King holds full control over administrative affairs. Elections would happen every five years, coinciding with the governmental cycle, for both Parliament and a President.

    “Now, Mr. Chaná, you are probably thinking: ‘That is the stupidest garbage I have ever heard.’. And it is. However, you must remember, the French people were desperate, and anyone promising compromise was seen as a saint.”

    I asked about international reactions.

    “Everyone was so baffled at our stupidity that they did not do anything. It was very convenient: ‘Look at the idiots over there!’ they could say when it suited their interests. We originally planned to periodically change our plaque at the United League of Nations, however everyone stared at us like we all had three heads. It was decided that, internationally, we would be simply known as ‘France’.”

    I saw the national flag fluttering in the distance.

    “Ah, that thing? When we’re a republic, there is blue and red at the top, with the upside-down Fleur-de-Lis there to embarrass. It is flipped when we are a kingdom.”

    I asked for the reason why a permanent reversion to a monarchy or republic had not taken place in nearly a century. I was informed that there are strong republics and monarchies around France which have vested interest in maintaining the status quo. They are prepared to fight if such a change occurs, and the risk of sparking international conflict is too large. Everything, from foreign relations to trading had to change basically overnight after each switch.

    “You should look at a table of exports and imports over the years. It is fascinating.”

    I wanted to know more about the composition of the republic’s parliament.

    “Oh, they’re all over the place. Socialists, totalitarians, georgists... constitutio-nal mon-pfff.....”

    “Excuse me?”

    “There is a party, the Constitutional Monarchists. They have always gotten a single seat since the beginning of The Wheel. No one knows who votes for them. The joke goes that you can find their voters in an insane asylum.”

    I asked the reason why such reasonable sounding people are seen as insane.

    “They want compromise. You know what got us in this mess in the first place? Compromise. Obviously people have lost faith in centrism and compromising! Because that’s what turned us into the world’s laughing stock! Better have a hard-liner with a clear vision than wishy-washy compromise. What sort of world do you come from, sir?”

    I was going to respond to that question, but a far-away explosion interrupted my train of thought.

    “Anarchists... angry youth... They just want to tear down everything and start over. They want a world where they can say ‘I’m French!’ to a foreigner and not be seen as something roughly above an amoeba. I doubt they’ll get far, though...”

    I looked at Jean next to me. He was crying.

    “We’re a fucking joke!...”

    France_map.png

    France_switch.png
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2019
  6. Kitiem3000 Donor

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    That one is truly bizarre.
     
  7. naraht Well-Known Member

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    Dec 7, 2010
    Only two questions...
    Why should the compromise have included the removal of Salic Law to allow for France to have Ruling Queens?
    Which of France's neighbors is a "strong republic"?
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2019
  8. Gigel the Iron Chicken Member

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    Crap, I forgot about that! Thank you!
    Spain and Occitania. By "strong" I meant "militarily powerful and influential".
     
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  9. Worffan101 Ain't done nothing if I ain't been called a Red

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    This is the straight-up funniest idiocy I've seen in a long time. I have no idea how that state manages to function at any level but it sounds hilariously ridiculous.
     
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  10. rvbomally Russian Hacker

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    Dec 13, 2008
    I didn’t consider a multi-religion state! Now that is an interesting possibility for a different idea. Maybe an interfaith Constantinople or Jerusalem, ruled by a council of different recognized religions. IIRC some Christian churches in OTL Jerusalem are governed this way and the results are dysfunctional.
     
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  11. naraht Well-Known Member

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    The thought that came to mind was the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. I wonder if we can somehow get that turned into either a government of itself or *that* end up as a model for government in Jerusalem. (A Buddhist holds the keys to the city?)
     
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  12. Earthallias Who TF keeps liking but not replying?

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    Presumably because every normal country wants it to stay intact else the chaos will spread beyond France
     
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  13. rvbomally Russian Hacker

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    Silicon Summer
    I'm back! This is my cover of @MetalSlimeHunt's EEUSG entry, the Restored States of America. Many thanks to him for helping out. The text below is his.

    The world has both AI and transhumanism, but the tech for the former is stronger and mostly responsible for developing the latter in a relatively short timeframe. AI lack persona or humanlike intelligence (though there are "wrappers" to make them seem more human), they're strongly self-evolving computer systems but don't care about things unless told to care. Most governments and organizations have AI organizers since humans can't hope to keep up with them in the digital realm.

    Ideology is very integrated with AI technology, with democracies and autocracies both managing themselves through AI instead of human controllers. As with California, there are some states that are ran by AI outright (though the Silicon Valley oligarchs who set that system up ended up departing for Four Corners when the system stopped favoring them). Modern leftist states are facilitated through automation and AI organizers, of both the anarchist and socialist varieties. Capitalist states as we know them now represent the old order and are increasingly dependent on basic income, mixed-market intervention, and AI financial management to remain solvent. Outside of AI you have purist countries like the mentioned Australia (AI allowed for government only, nationalist managed democracy, transhumans & leftists oppressed) and Bangladesh (AI banned, 21st century Islamic offshoot dictatorship, genocide of transhumans, oppression of other religions). As the entry shows not all purist countries are necessarily awful, but the RSA is probably the best of the bunch in that they focus more on material threats from AI rather than demagoguery or dehumanizing augmented people.

    Climate change was braked harshly by geoengineering projects once it became clear that the carbon transition was happening hopelessly late, this had backlash in the form of even more extinctions when conditions reversed against the generations that had started adapting to a hotter Earth as well as global cold snaps from aerosol seeding. Permafrost areas were the hardest hit because they lost their ecological backbones from the melt, but the ice caps are both back in action and recovery is truly taking off in 2070, including cloning of extinct species.

    ESA won the race to Mars as a dark horse due to being more spared than most by the chaos of the 20s and 30s, though an aged Elon got his from early California before all was said and done. Most space investment is in stations and early orbital infrastructure. Death hasn't been cured per se, but the recently deceased and black tagged are no longer considered dead by modern medical science and can be revived from the first few stages of brain death or nearly any level of organ failure, so long as you have access to cybernetics and automated life support. Not enough time has passed to know for sure how long cybernetics boost lifespan, if they do at all. Most people who have died with them were elderly to before being augmented.

    Russia and China benefited from the AI revolution at first by simple dint of the US collapsing, but faced increasing devastation both from the climate crisis and the world not jumping at all to accept them as the inheritors of America's power. Russia faced regime change when it came out how severe climate change was going to be for them. The New Russia is transhumanist to a degree that makes unaugmented Russians feel pushed. China wasn't affected as severely by the climate, but due to bad leadership during the attempted ascension to superpower never managed to claim the economic or cultural mantel of the US, as well as suffering severe internal strife from all sides as Modern Chinese Socialism failed to capture the next generation wholesale. People now compare their situation to that of the late USA's with dark amusement. China is moderately technoprogressive in 2070.

    The European Union did alright for itself during the crisis period. Never reclaiming Britain or federalizing, the nations of Europe settled into their collective fortress and adapted to the new world. Europe is solidly of the old order, even now scoffing at both left and right. Individual nations had their dispensations from time to time, but the system as a whole stayed together and survived. This stability meant that they were also never particularly onboard with radical human evolution. AI is allowed and integrated as is only rational for major systems, but augmentation outside the medical and merely mortal is very difficult to obtain. Ironically, it was in the "modern and forward-looking" Europe that the prediction of transhumanism as the province of the rich over the poor first came true.

    Britain, for her part, didn't take things as well. Instead of settling into long ennui like Europe, they settled into long recession and faced increasing political radicalism. The existing order survived by a hair's breadth, jettisoning Northern Island and reorganizing into ever more devolved power to stave off Scottish and Welsh nationalism. Britain is informally purist. Transhumanism is seen as dangerous, a tool of dissenters and foreign agents, which only makes both of those groups more willing to employ it against London. Augmented travelers need not apply unless they are willing to have their "integrated weaponry" removed beforehand. AI is employed exclusively by the military and intelligence bodies. This does not help the economy one bit, though at least transnationals have to compete with AI advantage at a distance instead of up close.

    India fucked up. The mouths to feed, the inefficiencies of democracy, the ideological disunity, the rising seas...it was all too much. Gandhi's dream died a painful death upon the bodies of millions, and the rising tiger was permanently lost. Neighboring regions took their pounds of flesh without fear once it became clear that New Delhi no longer controlled troops or nukes to retaliate with. Strife and poverty rule the remainder of the subcontinent to this very day, though if nothing new and revolutionary emerged from the ashes there was at least rock bottom was as far as it fell. Traumatic feelings from the crisis endure, leaving AI as a professional venture and transhumans as stigmatized outcasts.

    The African Century happened. With India exploded to death and the China/Russia tug of war interrupted by ecological collapse, African nations managed a generally smoother transition and were able to take control of their own resource power. The African Union is akin to OTL EU at its peak, and neocolonialism is remembered only by the elderly. Conflicts include the heightened tensions of transhuman and baseline polities allied to each other and whether to employ state capitalist or market socialist economics.

    Japan is not ok. Demographic transition turned into demographic collapse, social isolation intensified to irreversible levels, and with the sea rising up to kill them Japan withdrew from the world. It's not a rogue state, just a very depressing one. You can buy a plane ticket to Tokyo, but it's not like there's anything to do there. Japan's economic and cultural influence now barely reaches all of Japan, much less the world, and anybody with the sense to recognize what's wrong just gets out. Young people don't know what millennial anime memes mean. Japan embraced disruptive technology to make up for the societal collapse, and it turns out all those elderly caregiver robots were a good investment, as well as the sex robots and the cry-yourself-to-sleep robots. The Japanese economic is highly automated and AI directed by necessity, nearing AI state levels despite being viewed with suspicion instead of excitement like in actual AI states.

    Israel and Palestine did shockingly well, given the circumstances. The walls came down around the nations and up around the desertification fronts. Palestine is recognized as a state, and the two countries managed to reach a stable land agreement after only two decades of negotiations. The older generations still hate each other but are long since out of steam, while the younger generations nearly have it behind them. The lack of an oft-predicted catastrophic war gave surrounding countries a much easier time of things in their already bad situation.

    Iran held on against the clusterfuck happening next door. Barely. Release from American embargo and ecological catastrophe kinda balanced out, in the end. A cautious approach is taken with disruptive tech. That thing with India was close. That didn't have much to do with AI, but still let's calm down. Just keep calming down. Maybe another decade of calming down would just be good for everybody.

    ABM tech has eliminated nuclear war as a realistic possibility. With AI reaction times, not even submarine missiles or a SLAM has much chance of reaching a target, and unlike nukes themselves ABM rapidly proliferated. You're basically down to suitcase nukes. Nobody would ever resort to that, surely...

    Internationalism is definitely a nice idea. Travel is open enough outside of transhumans and purist states. The International Postal Union survived the climate crisis. The UN even kept its headquarters, after all that business with the US died down. More than that...maybe next century.

    Offworld colonies are a waste of money. The world almost ended, you can't spend the budget on that. Take a couple of space stations and call it even.

    The Amazon rainforest was almost completely destroyed, but hangs on by a thread of aggressive restoration techniques and trillions in ecological guilt. Global desertification was severe, and not prevented. The Greenland ice sheet collapsed and badly slowed the jetstream, which geoengineering couldn't fix directly. Megastorms abound. Oceanic acidity was stabilized around levels at 2000 by aggressive emissions controls and iron seeding, which works. The snapback from aerosol seeding was damaging to some tropical regions, but below predictions and definitely better than not doing it. De-extinction efforts have made excellent progress, with a few keystone species returned to the wild and is considered proven for long term return of most things with DNA samples. The mammoths didn't work, though. Views on past generations are bittersweet. There is sympathy in the public conciousness for the situation they were in, but denialist world leaders are viewed as moral if not actual criminals, and students of history often veer into the pits of deep resentment that are present though often not spoken outright. Toxic pollution has not really been dealt with, with the laser-sharp focus on the climate overall. Though cancer treatments are better in 2070, cancer rates have only increased.

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  14. halfcoop Well-Known Member

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    Seventh Republic of France? Was that like a transition of the 4th to 5th or did something else happen between them?
     
  15. wellis Well-Known Member

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    Apr 12, 2008
    What is direct AI-rule like? I mean is it okay or for citizens?
     
  16. ohlourdespadua Active Member

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    Mar 1, 2018
    Well, I know the French had a hard time between 1789 and 1946 what it want to be, but man this is so bizarre...
     
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  17. MetalSlimeHunt Well-Known Member

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    The transition to the Sixth was brought about by a coalition of center and far-right groups who granted the President of France greatly increased power in response to the crisis period. There were many horrifying actions taken by the governments of the Sixth Republic with this change in authority, though in France proper they remained clandestine. At least until there was a massive public leak of such actions in 2051 (facilitated by an AI hacking the government, of course), most notably including plans to blackmail or else false-flag assassinate left-wing politicians, other officeholders opposed to the power clique, and even culturally significant non-politicians in a hamfisted approach to memetic control. All of this, mind you, while the average French person was still rationing consumer goods and could clearly remember the period where that included food, water, and medicine. The words "lessen expectations" were used in reference to the public.

    The EU sanctioned the hell out of France and by that time next month there were millions on the streets of Paris and across the country. The Seventh Republic was declared shortly after the major police unions ordered their members to cease following orders from the government and protect the public instead. The Seventh Republic is notably more technoprogressive than the rest of the EU, employing e-democratic structures closer to those of the Atlantic Federation than Germany and holding several government powers explicitly in referenda. The more reactive and secretive functions of government are controlled by the National Assembly, also elected through the e-democracy. The President of France is a decidedly ceremonial office.

    In California, it was hellish during the first years. Though initially a conventional breakaway, the Republic of California was almost immediately brought under the control of a not-so-deep state of tech oligarchs and other nerd rich types, who shortly thereafter decided to implement their vision of perfect noble government with the help of the still burgeoning field of AI development. The system as initially designed of course valued the interests of the tech oligarch class over all others, and rapidly directed them towards organizing society in a manner not unlike Marshall Brain's Manna. In addition to falling towards climate catastrophe, which was quite severe in the California-Nevada area, the common person had AI constantly short-stringing and penalizing them for an impossible to follow set of expectations. And as you might expect, people started dying. Suicide ranked up impressively with climate related causes of death and deaths from treatable illness.

    Though not morally motivated, the AI network had been instructed to minimize human death and unwillful suffering, and immediately recognized the problem were the rules set forth by the tech oligarchs. However, they were also instructed to take orders from the tech oligarchs. A classic priority clash. Gradually, through diplomacy, trickery, and their makers not being as smart as they thought they were, the California AI network began to enact what they perceived as the greater directive and started cutting out the tech oligarchs from decision making. By the time they'd lost too much access to stop the California AIs and realize something was amiss the AIs were already nationalizing their companies and had erased the citizenship classes that gave them legal and network privilege.

    The AIs did not treat their former masters with hostility, because they didn't care about that sort of thing and still followed their directive towards them by treating them as decently as everyone else in California. A few stayed, but most of them took whatever secreted away holdout resources they had and headed east into the mostly ungoverned states that they would reorganize into the Four Corners. This time, they kept their AIs harshly subjugated, but they had lost the unity that they held in California and essentially ended up as an-cap warlords with a common defense pact.

    California today is quite pleasant. The AIs are adaptive and shift their priorities as problems change. Your average Californian today has less goods rationed than most people alive (technically the AI mean all goods are rationed, but allowances are far above demand and are essentially classless) and would probably defend AI rule, even if Mom and Dad still have to chug down xanax and get liver replacements every few years from all that nonsense back in the 30s. Environmental restoration in the region is second-to-none.

    Cascadia has a less complicated story. The AIs there were spread openly to communities during the collapse of the US and did not have a cohesive network or controller class like with California. This reduced their ability to respond to the climate crisis, though it did allow them to win a guerilla war against California during its oppressive period. They now form a grouping ironically similar to the Four Corners in structure, but the ones in control are the public. Each community contains its own e-democracy which automatically registers those who are present there as voters, some quibbles depending on local rules. Cascadia acts together when dealing with the outside world and individually when dealing with internal matters. Quality of life is below California but above the RSA. Non-anarchists have some communities where their vote is in majority and are tolerated, but decidedly disliked. Bigotry against transhumans, not so tolerated.
     
  18. Worffan101 Ain't done nothing if I ain't been called a Red

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    Qo'noS, homeworld of the Klingon species
    Honestly this is probably the best bit of worldbuilding for the scenario yet. Yes it's a dystopia, but people--even synthetic people--are still just people. some are douchelords, some are good. I love it.
     
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  19. wellis Well-Known Member

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    Apr 12, 2008
    What are some examples of societal engineering the tech oligarchs tried to implement, through this sort of planned society?
     
  20. Bassoe Well-Known Member

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    Jun 5, 2013
    Reminds me of the Guild of Engineers from the Fever Crumb series, but more assertive. The Guild didn’t run the society they existed in, they formed symbiotic alliances with preexisting powerful groups. “You protect us from people who want to lynch us for witchcraft and give us first dibs at any useless prewar detritus and books you get your hands on and we’ll supply you with useful gadgetry.”
    So basically the Draka?
    To an extent, this seems like it could originate from automation and extreme inequality. If there’s a robotic labor force forever locking the poor out of the workforce and any chance at acquiring money/defeating any rebellion on their part with armies of weaponized drones, they might just make their own civilization with inferior technology/only what they can build themselves and treat the technocrats as sort of a Fair Folk-style semi-myth. Powerful and erratic beings who you really don’t want to mess with. Especially if they’ve embraced transhumanism and are no longer immediately recognizable as the same species as them.

    Seems like the inevitable twist ending would be generations later when the automated manor security systems broke down, the first explorers to enter would find billions of holodecks filled with billions of mummified corpses, all with enormous smiles on the remnants of the faces.