An Examination of Extra-Universal Systems of Government

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

  1. pattontank12 Better Dead than Red!

    Mar 1, 2015
    Southern Idaho
    So I'm thinking about a scenario where the Continental Army lost the American Revolutionary War with many of the founding fathers and independents fleeing west and Northward. Only for the British Gov and royal family being forced to flee to the colonies after Napoleon conquered the home Islands.

    So I'm wondering what kind of government the British "Continental Empire" would plausibly have.
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  2. Earthallias Who TF keeps liking but not replying?

    Jun 30, 2017
    Has there been any discussion on a Venus project put to practice? Because I want to see what would happen if a utopian society was forced to live in a world where it doesn't exist in a vacuum and has to make pragmatic decisions and compromises to garuntee it's survival
  3. rvbomally Russian Hacker

    Dec 13, 2008
    This thread is chock full of failed utopias.
    halfcoop likes this.
  4. Ephraim Ben Raphael Super Writer Extraordinaire

    Oct 5, 2009
    Somewhere in the Khazar Empire
    I think that you and I both share a belief that there is no such thing as a true Utopia.
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  5. Earthallias Who TF keeps liking but not replying?

    Jun 30, 2017
    The closest one that comes to what I had in mind was your "no obstacle save ignorance" given that it's the only failed utopia that isn't a bumblefuck rogue state, but a major power. Here's what I mean, a lot of these idealists assume everything goes without a hitch and utopia is spread everywhere. I want to see Fresco's vision only succeed in part of the planet and have to compete with "reactionary" powers.
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  6. Worffan101 Ain't done nothing if I ain't been called a Red

    Jun 23, 2015
    Qo'noS, homeworld of the Klingon species
    A utopia is entirely possible. The state just has to recognize that true perfection is impossible to reach but that shouldn't stop them from trying.

    A false utopia says "This is perfection and you are terrible if you don't want it." A real utopia says "These things are generally good, we're trying to make sure everybody has them."
  7. Earthallias Who TF keeps liking but not replying?

    Jun 30, 2017
    That's "a glass half full" unless "unflooded cities" disqualifies them
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  8. Bookmark1995 Bookmark95 Reborn!

    Dec 26, 2016
    My belief is that government should alleviate the material want of people. Thus a real utopia would meet that belief.
  9. Used-to-be Song Chinese 新建伯兼南京兵部尚書兼都察院左都御史

    May 10, 2014
    That, couples with the idea that war is one of the main functions of, also a test of strength of, the state makes a country following this ideology becomes essentially a war machine.
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  10. Miranda Brawner Trans Woman

    Oct 24, 2013
    Savannah, Georgia, USA
    California, the Organic Democracy

    My first worry was that I would be late. My appointment with Jessica Finlay was scheduled for three hours after dawn. Since clocks were among the many things banned in California, I planned to get there with plenty of time to spare, in case my estimation of the time turned out to be wrong. To add to the difficulty, California didn’t use standardized time, so an hour just meant one twelfth of the time between dawn and dusk. It being winter, that interval was shorter than the standard hour used in most places I had visited. When the Californians had revamped their country after the war, they hadn’t taken any half measures.

    My second worry was that I wouldn’t be able to find the place. The streets still had names, but there were no signs or maps of course, so I had to ask for directions. And since I was asking for directions to the San Jose Social Hall, which any local knew by heart, this immediately marked me as a foreigner, or at the very least someone from out of town. And my accent, manner of dress, and clean-shaven face were more than enough to reveal that I was not simply from the next town over. From the way they gawked at me I quickly learned that this world’s California didn’t get many visitors.

    Thirty-five years ago, in the aftermath of a nuclear war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact that left the remnants of the US government largely powerless, the people of California had formed a new country where writing, telephones, computers, and a whole host of other things were banned. I was here to find out why.

    I had been strip-searched upon stepping out of the portal to make sure I wasn’t carrying any contraband. The customs officer had seemed amused that I was visiting his country. He smirked as he recited the list of things I wasn’t allowed to say or do during my stay. At the end he added, “And that’s just what I’ve been told. California’s laws are always changing, so anything I just said may be obsolete. Good luck.” I nodded grimly, thanked him for his help, and began the long walk to the Social Hall to meet Finlay.

    I made it with plenty of time to spare. As I waited alone in the conference room for what must have been two hours - two standard hours, that is - I began to dread that I was in the wrong place, or that Finlay had cancelled our appointment. Finally, the door burst open and in walked a tall, heavily tattooed white woman in a pink tank top and tattered denim shorts. Around her stood four bodyguards who carried automatic rifles but to my surprise were similarly casually dressed. “I’m Jessica Finlay,” she said with a cautious half-smile. “And you must be Mr. Aguaribay Chaná.”

    “An honor to meet you,” I said, returning her half-smile. I extended my hand for her to shake, but to my surprise, she pulled me in for a tight hug instead. I hadn’t been briefed on that custom, I thought regretfully. But then again, the reports coming out of California had been so contradictory that perhaps I could be forgiven for not knowing what I would encounter.

    She sat down across from me at the small conference table, while the guards remained standing. “I’m sorry you had to wait for so long. I got interrupted by an assembly on the way over, and I felt like I had to do something, so I helped adjudicate.” I opened my mouth to ask for details about this “assembly” but before I could speak, she asked if I would like anything to drink.

    “Just water, please,” I said. She asked one of the guards to fetch us a water and a beer. Once again, I prepared to ask her about the assembly, but again she preempted me with another question of her own, this time asking about my family. I didn’t like talking about my family, but I knew I would have to humor her desire to make small talk before we could get to the interview proper.

    At last, a gap in the conversation allowed me to ask a question of my own. “So, would you mind telling me some more about this assembly that you adjudicated? I must admit I’m rather ignorant on California politics."

    “Of course,” she replied with a proud smile. “Assemblies are the backbone of California’s organic justice system. Instead of having courtroom trials like other countries do, with all their pedantic rules and rituals, here in California we listen to our hearts when deciding legal matters. When someone is accused of a crime, they typically arrange to meet their accuser at a designated time and place. It has to be a public area, so that anyone who wants to help decide the case can participate. After they decide who’s innocent and who’s guilty, the people carry out the sentence, whether that be probation, imprisonment, or death. All of this is done democratically, without any reliance on mountains of paperwork and executive meddling.”

    “Interesting,” I said. “But as I understand, you helped resolve the case you encountered today. And you are, as I recall, a member of the San Jose city council.”

    “And so why doesn’t that count as executive meddling?” she interrupted, taking the words out of my mouth. “You see, I would have happily let the people resolve the case themselves except for one little thing. As soon as they set eyes on me, they begged me to intervene. It would have been a breach of democracy not to. They were at a deadlock, with the crowd split down the middle and the two sides starting to throw punches when I walked up. If I hadn’t stepped in, we could have had a massacre on our hands.”

    “And did everyone accept your judgment?”

    “Reluctantly. A good compromise leaves everyone unsatisfied, right?”

    “Do these assemblies often escalate to violence?”

    At that, she stopped smiling. “Is governing not an inherently violent art? That is no less true of democratic government than it is of a tyrannical one. A little blood spilled in the name of justice is by far preferable to pacifism in the service of despotism.”

    I wondered if that was what she told the relatives of those killed in California’s street fights. Finlay looked up at one of her bodyguards, who was staring down at me with a menacing look. I sensed I should change the subject.

    “So tell me a little about some of California’s other distinctive policies.”

    “The ban on writing, you mean? That’s the one people always ask about. Well, writing is just one manifestation of a very deep, but very simple problem. Dehumanization. You do know about the war, right?” I nodded. “Good. That war, that wiped out half the planet and left the other half scrambling for food and shelter, happened because people forgot who they were. They gave up their humanity in service of other ideals. Communism, capitalism, liberalism, nationalism, you name it. Those ideals did not save them. Instead, their zeal blinded them so that they forgot the most basic truth. That we are human creatures and must always be treated as such.”

    “And how does writing enter the picture?”

    “Writing, Mr. Chaná, is one of the oldest forms of dehumanization. It takes the beautiful, organic, and deeply personal human voice and reduces it to something anonymous and mechanistic. Writing is the tool of the coward. When we refuse to communicate face to face, we give up some of our humanity in exchange for convenience. And look where that led us.”

    I nodded and took a deep breath. “I don’t expect to change your position on this, Ms. Finlay, but as a writer myself, I’m inclined to disagree. I think that while there is an inherent danger in writing, it also gives us the opportunity to preserve the knowledge of previous generations. And that is something that can truly save lives, when it comes to medical knowledge.”

    Finlay nodded impatiently. I took it she had heard this argument before. “There are some fruits that, no matter how sweet they may taste, we must abstain from.”

    “Was there much opposition when this policy was first implemented?”

    “There was the usual fear of change,” she shrugged, “But apart from a few misguided folks, the people of California saw what was necessary and made the transition quite amicably.”

    I sensed she wasn’t being honest with me, but I did my best to hide my suspicion lest she decide I was too dangerous to be let out of there alive. I asked a few more questions, and got the same rehearsed speeches as answers, but my mind was already jumping ahead to my meeting with Alicia Jiménez across the border in Mexico City. I thanked Finlay for her time, took a taxi to the airport, and boarded the first available flight.

    Ms. Jiménez had been a philosophy professor at Stanford before the war. When the new California government took over, she stayed in the Bay Area for a few years before migrating to Mexico and writing several books that were sharply critical of California, especially of its writing ban and heavy restrictions on speech. One of the first things I asked her was whether the transition to California’s new regime had been as smooth as Finlay had claimed.

    “It sounds like she told you a whole lot of bullshit,” Jiménez said with a snort. “The takeover of the so-called Organic Democrats was a time of extreme political violence. God help you if you were any sort of intellectual. They only let me live because I had written an essay on dehumanization before the war that they seemed to like. But they knew that I wasn’t really one of them. My days were numbered when I got out of there.”

    Though I already felt pretty confident of the answer, I asked her whether the state run by the Organic Democrats was in fact democratic.

    “Hell no. The whole thing is run by a handful of rich families. This Jessica Finlay you talked to was probably from one of them. They had stocked up on food and weapons before the war, and used that to bully everyone into submission. It was either join them, be shot, or slowly starve to death as the nuclear winter set in.”

    “And why is it you think that they were so intent on abandoning writing, and phones, and photography, and all that?”

    “It started out with the prohibition what they called seditious literature, which they said was an emergency measure to last only until we got back on our feet. But instead of easing up once the population started to recover, the censorship only got more intense. Soon they were banning everything but the state-issued news, and even that was done away with as the party got more and more paranoid. As for radio, television, phones, and all that, they had stopped working when we got bombed, and so the party simply chose not to repair them.”

    “Do you think there is any hope that California will change?”

    “I certainly hope so. They seem to shrug off the trade sanctions placed on them since they aren’t big fans of commerce anyways. And as long as they don’t invade anyone, the rest of the world seems content to let them suffer in their in their miserable little state. But I haven’t given up on the people of California. I’ve started a program here that teaches California refugees how to read and write, in English and Spanish, and helps them get jobs here. Most of the children who come through our program have never seen a book or a TV in their lives. It breaks my heart. And, of course, I continue to write about my experiences and those of other refugees.”

    I wished her good luck and made a donation to her program, and said farewell.

    “Thank you, Mr. Chaná, and good luck to you as well.”

  11. nemo1986 Member of Red Sox Nation

    Sep 4, 2006
    I give it a couple of decades before enough nations are done with their bullshit.
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  12. Earthallias Who TF keeps liking but not replying?

    Jun 30, 2017
    Question, how many of these entries consist of bumblefuck back waters and rogue states to justify their existence?
  13. Bookmark1995 Bookmark95 Reborn!

    Dec 26, 2016
    As good ol' C.S. Lewis said.

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.

    A quick side note:

    I think Aristotle himself thought the written word was dumb. Is that where you got the idea of banning literacy from?
  14. Miranda Brawner Trans Woman

    Oct 24, 2013
    Savannah, Georgia, USA
    I'm not really sure what inspired me. It's an idea I've been wanting to explore for a long time.
  15. Archangel Battery-powered Bureaucrat

    Nov 14, 2007
    It would be interesting to see more of this world.
  16. General Lemarc Communism: the most successful weight-loss program

    Apr 25, 2015
    So, basically that clinically-insane "post-nationalist" South Africa that I can't spell right but with ideologies instead of nationalism? Sounds terrifying. I love it!
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  17. Miranda Brawner Trans Woman

    Oct 24, 2013
    Savannah, Georgia, USA
    I forgot to mention anything about Organic California's monetary system. Let's say they use cigarettes as currency or something along those lines, since they're opposed to currencies that aren't valuable as something other than money (since that would be too artificial, not organic enough). Maybe they initially tried to implement a gift economy with no currency at all, but people started using cigarettes as money and eventually the government began officially recognizing it.
  18. rvbomally Russian Hacker

    Dec 13, 2008
    Bottle caps too on the nose? :p Cigarettes do make sense. There’s a reason they’re core to prison economies.
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  19. KeeCoyote Well-Known Member

    Nov 25, 2010
    Ramen are top money in jail now.
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  20. rvbomally Russian Hacker

    Dec 13, 2008
    The End of Machismo
    This is my cover of the United Provinces of South America EEUSG entry. Many thanks to @Ephraim Ben Raphael for his help.

    • The PoD is the Constitutional Convention of 1787 failing to create a constitution, leading to the continued use of the Articles of Confederation. The Articles were amended to make the federal government a bit stronger, but it also hampered western expansion because the federal government had no power to purchase territory unilaterally.
    • California gained its independence separately. It is a multicultural Great Power with Spanish as its lingua franca. They are aligned with the Americans against the encroachment of the Western Confederacy, which they see as a product of European reactionary monarchies.
    • The Great Sioux Republic has positive relations with the American states. The Canadians drove them south and they were then able to play Britain and France off against each other to retain their independence.
    • The French Revolutionary wars ended differently, with Napoleon remaining on the throne of a weakened and isolated French Empire. His son is overthrown, and a new French republic replaced it. This French republic would side with the Russians and Austrians during the World War, and be defeated.
    • German unification still happened thanks to Prussian machinations, but led to a situation where an alliance between Germany and Austria was pretty much impossible due to the amount of enmity built between them. The monarch of Great Britain remains ceremonially Prince of Hanover and the Kaiser holds some symbolic British titles of his own.
    • China pulled a Meiji after getting rid of the Qing earlier and creating a new Han dynasty. They are a constitutional monarchy and the strongest single country in the world. Ethiopia is its loyal sidekick.
    • The world had only one global war, known as the World War. The sides were the Entente of France, Russia, Austria, Spain, Japan and Mexico, and the Allies of Britain, Germany, China, Canada, America and California. The aftereffects were less severe than either OTL world war, but was notable because there was fighting on every continent save for Australia and Antarctica.
    • The European Allies formed the Confederacy of Western Nations, or the Western Confederacy, after the World War as an EU-style organization. While it is intended to be a union of equal states - it uses a manufactured language that is a fusion of all member states' language as its lingua franca - it's de facto led by the British and Germans. Russia is a recent, reluctant member which joined due to rising Chinese power.
    • Decolonization still happened, but the European powers tried to hold onto their colonies. Communism (same name, different origins from OTL) thus emerges first not through a revolution in a European power, but among rebel armies in colonies across Africa and Asia, locked in a brutal and protracted struggle for independence. The African Popular Republic is the most obvious lasting legacy of these anti-colonial wars, with China filling much of the vacuum in Asia and the other colonies gaining independence through compromise with the Europeans.
    • Bharat is a left-wing social democracy, perhaps the only one that resembles OTL social democracies in this world.
    • Vilne is an independent Jewish city-state, TTL's Zionist movement never got beyond a short-lived state in the Galilee that was defeated by the Arabs and incorporated into Syria.