1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

How on earth might this society function?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Tom, Nov 2, 2014.

  1. Zāl Dastān

    Zāl Dastān Dreamer

    20
    6
    3
    Two things are absolutely imperative here: power projection and national identity.

    First, if the central government lacks the capacity to enforce its rule, the society will collapse in short order. What's to stop one of the constituent cities from rebelling? Usually military forces, but then territorial extent and logistics come into play. How big is the realm? If it is large, then an infrastructure at or equivalent to Rome or Persia must be present. If not, you can get away with something more medieval. The easier it is for the core to keep the periphery in line, the more stable the civilization. Facilitators are things like professional military forces (or warrior castes), roads, postal services (the faster the gov't knows about a rebellion the faster they can respond, and spy networks. Conversely, road blocks might be things like feudal armies levies (longer to assemble and therefore to respond), a weak or illegitimate central government, or social tensions within the country as a whole or individual city states.

    tl;dr: If force capacity is insufficient, territory will shrink either through secession or foreign conquest.

    Secondly there is what Ibn Khaldun calls asabiyyah, 'group feeling'. To put it simply, asabiyyah is the degree to which the people and factions which constitute a country (or any organization) acknowledge the authority of said central authority. If group feeling/national identity falls below a certain threshold, the country begins to suffer from a host of problems. Professional armies struggle to find recruits. Feudal lords fail to answer the call of their king. Crime increases and so does internal corruption. This effect more often than not self-perpetuates until ultimately the core is no longer able to keep the system together and at last collapses, either to internal unrest or external pressure. Common religion/civil philosophies, shared tradition, quality of life, and public splendor are boons to group feeling; sectarian tension, corruption, government weakness, and crumbling infrastructure hamper it.

    tl;dr: A system stands only so long as people identify with it and see it as legitimate.

    Hope this helps! :)

    BTW, If you're interested in more of Ibn Khaldun's stuff, look into the his masterpiece the Muqaddimmah. Great stuff IMHO.
     
    Tom likes this.
  2. Tom

    Tom Istar

    2,726
    1,191
    163
    Thanks for the advice, and welcome to the forums!

    I've created a strong infrastructure, and a lot of ties that bind the cities together. It's a little like the feudal system, as you pointed out, with the cities' councils like lords and the council of the capital city the king. The government has solidified a lot in my mind since I posted this thread.

    Can I get that book (won't even attempt to spell it, as I'll probably make hash of it) at a bookstore like Barnes & Noble? Additionally, is it available in an English translation? I'm assuming by the title that it's not written in English, and the only other languages I can read in are Spanish and German.
     
  3. Zāl Dastān

    Zāl Dastān Dreamer

    20
    6
    3
    Thanks for the welcome, Tom!

    As for the Muqaddimmah, I should have a PDF of an English translation on my computer that I can send you. Let me dig around a bit and I'll send it in a PM. Last I checked hard copies can get a bit pricey. The original is in arabic, but as a non-arabic speaker English is all I've got :D
     
    Tom likes this.
  4. Zāl Dastān

    Zāl Dastān Dreamer

    20
    6
    3
    Well, it seems I can't send you a PM and I can't post attachments (presumably due to being new here). You can just send me your e-mail or something and I can shoot you the pdf. Whatever's convenient!
     
  5. Tom

    Tom Istar

    2,726
    1,191
    163
    Oh, sorry, that's my bad. I have my PM inbox set to only accept messages from friends. I'll fix it. Thanks!
     
  6. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

    3,598
    1,518
    163
    I just want to throw a concept of gender equality out there. The Celts were one of the most advanced cultures in the world and many of their societal concepts didn't exist again until very recently.

    One thing that made them particularly interesting was that their penal system was built off fines. Basically, a person lived in a clan and their clan owned common land. Every three years, families would draw lots and that was their land to farm for three years. That way, no one got stuck with the best or worst plots for too long. Well anyways, so wealth was important. heads of cattle, crops, tools, whatever. As a man accumulated items or wealth, he was more important in a way. He could benefit his clan more, I guess. Now they had a whole list of laws, things like "if a poor man and a rich man meet at the same point on a bridge, the poor man is allowed to cross first." They protected the poor, women, children, the elderly, etc. by making laws very noble in spirit. If your rich man shoved the old beggar into the mud and crossed the bridge, he was assessed a fine. A few more angry acts, and that rich man was soon a poor man and then he didn't have any clan status, or the ability to support his family.

    Now to women. Women in this society were protected I believe by one concept more than any other. Any union that resulted in a child, was considered a marriage. So a woman could have several husbands, and a man could have several wives. They didn't necessarily live together, but that's where the concept "Ireland has no bastards" comes from. The English couldn't understand what they were hearing. "What? Which of these men is your husband?" "Oh, that one, and that one, and him over there." Anyways, when a man and woman had a child, the child was raised by the women and supported by the father, like modern child support. When the child was about ten, it would go to foster and leave home, living with uncles or cousins, etc. So women weren't inferior, they were as equal as has ever been in our world. They ran their own families, weren't considered property of their husbands, and chose whom they wanted to marry.

    I think one thing you have to establish, to really deal with the fundamental "equality" of men and women, is establish a really free culture. See, Celtic women were women. They weren't in denial about their female traits or their sexuality, but they had options and the laws supported all members of the society, based on wealth.

    One thing I think you have overlooked is general intelligence of humans. It's fine to have a society that loves art and intellect, but let's face it, most people are less intelligent than German Shepherds and the biggest problem with intelligence as your main societal ideal, is that genes must be passed on in overwhelming majority to create a changed society. So for instance, if you have a pillaging, raping horde of barbarians, who conquer a region and take all the women for themselves...that's your next few generations, violent, brawny, meat-heads. So, to establish a society who are drastically different from the norm, you have to establish how a culture's most successful genes were intelligence, artistry, etc.

    Now, here would be my suggestion...establish a lower class of sorts, those who work the land, your typical peasant class. They're like peasants throughout history, shorter, thinner, bad teeth, kinda smelly, you know the ones. Then you have a sort of nobility, the ones who live in the city, basically off the backs of the lower class. I mean, I just don't see any way around it. In Medieval Europe, it took 50 peasants to support one armored knight. If you have an army, you need a lower class. It isn't so different today. For every person who earns $250k a year, how many earn $25k a year?

    So ideals and equality aren't things that can't happen, but the balance is really that for every notch up higher your cultural hub gets, (like Rome even), you need to widen the pool at the bottom exponentially. For instance, how do people make a living? Your average guy, say a guild member who makes furniture or whatever. Who were his parents? Where did he receive an education? Who paid for it? Who ran the school/ apprenticeship, a guild? SO this guy's pretty well off. good. But who grows his food? How much land is available in the near vicinity for agriculture? Can a carpenter afford meat? Books? Gold jewelry? What limitations are placed upon this carpenter? Is he taxed? Told what he cannot buy, even if he can afford it? Can he marry any woman who loves him or does he have to earn a wife by his wealth/ status/ a certain rite?

    There are a ton of small things to consider when creating a society and it's a bit like a madhouse game of Jenga. It can come crashing down at any moment. No city-state could function without protection. They need resources, which means someone to work in the mines, the fields, etc. and when people aren't happy, crime is inevitable, jails, penal code, outlaws, not to imply you haven't thought of it, but so much of the structure is interwoven, it's hard to "just change a couple things".

    If you want to create a democratic, equal, intelligent society, I think you need to start with wealth and law. Make crimes hold heavy fines, banishment from the city, etc. I mean, that's what the Celts did. if a man committed a crime, he was fined. If he didn't have anything to pay, he'd be exiled. That was pretty much a death sentence.

    Anyways, I hope I gave you some ideas.
     
    Zāl Dastān and Tom like this.
Loading...

Share This Page