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

Neofeudal society in a hard scifi cyberpunk setting

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Eduardo Letavia, Mar 4, 2021.

  1. Eduardo Letavia

    Eduardo Letavia Troubadour

    102
    82
    28
    I'm working on a hard scifi cyberpunk story, but I'm having some trouble visualizing it. It's set around one hundred years into our future, and I don't want it to be perceived as another Blade Runner/Neuromancer copycat, although it will have (probably unavoidable) resemblances in certain aspects. I think my problem comes from me not figuring out properly the society I want set it into, so please give me your thoughts about a future neofeudal society. Below I'll list some ideas I'm considering for my setting.
    • In a feudal society, there was a need for serfs to tend to the land and to fight in wars. But in an age in which mostly every job or menial task has been automated, where's the need for serfs?
      • One possibility is that common people as a whole could be unofficially treated as a melting pot of sorts from which governments, corporations and NGOs cherry-pick the most talented individuals they identify fitting for certain jobs.
      • I also imagine that it would be unavoidable for governments to pay for social peace with a basic universal income.
    • If the common people is only given a basic income, just enough to keep on living and not much else, how corporations can make any profit?
      • Could be that they profit mainly from the data they extract from monitoring people using their services, so like today but much more intensive and data-extractive.
    • I imagine a world in which nation-states are mostly no more, except for very strong ones (China, USA), and most of them have surrendered their authority to bigger transnationals organizations like the European Union or the African Union, to withstand better the economical and ecological challenges of their time. But this also has implications for their citizens.
      • People could be more inclined to be vassals to corporations rather than being loyal to diffuse public authorities, since corporations are much more present in their lives through services and products.
      • I'm also assuming in this settings that governments have delegated or, rather, surrendered, some of their traditional obligations to corporations and NGOs mainly due to (huge) debt issues.
    • Nowadays the rich and, specially, the ultrarich keep themselves far from the rest of society. But in a truly futuristic neofeudal society, does this still make sense?
      • I see this very possible, since the future neolords will have access to all kind of information about their domains without needing to ever go there in person at all.
      • But since their authority can be felt, in a way, as remote as they physically are, people could tend to switch their loyalty to another neolord more easily, a bit like changing from one social network to another.
    • A curious phenomena that would probably happen is that there will be a noticeable stratification (and even gentifrication!) among the privileged ones too, like in a feudal society had differences among the nobility and their level of wealth.
      • There are no blood or divine rights attached to wealth in the future, so I imagine the social relationships more fluid among the members of the privileged castes. Still, one can assume that any privileged family will protect their wealth and privileges no matter what, making them behave that reminds of nobility.
      • Would it make sense in my setting that some lesser privileged family could swear liege or even fealty to a another more powerful one? In the shape of a corporative contract or something alike I mean. Of course, this could also happen between corporations. Also, bear in mind this wouldn't be like striking some sort of commercial deal, it liege or fealty are more involved notions with strong social repercusions.
      • A very good real example of this stratification/gentifrication phenomenon among the rich happening nowadays can be found in this The Guardian article.

    Assume in my setting all kind of technological progress (from what we have now onwards) like highly advanced nanotech, 3D printing almost on any scale and of almost any material, space settlements, space mining, androids and so on. On the ecological side, the global warming has been going on mostly unabated, which has translated over the years to great disasters, massive population displacement and social strife. On the social stratification side, I imagine a social piramid as follows: plebs making a huge base at the bottom, a quite thin level made up of what we would call now middle-class (plebs chosen/elevated to work on some jobs like in science or tech), an even thinner privileged level and then the tiny pinnacle of the ultraprivileged at the top.

    I left out many other details to avoid making this first explanation too long, but sure there are a lot of them around the neofeudalism (or neomedievalism) concept. I'll try to remember to mention such aspects if the debate seems to leads us towards any of them.
     
    S.T. Ockenner likes this.
  2. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Troubadour

    167
    132
    43
    Who's manufacturing the machines that do those menial tasks? Who's mining the raw materials to make them? Who's transporting those materials? Who repairs the machines when they break down?

    Those could be serfs' jobs.

    Automation wouldn't completely eliminate the need for people to tend the land and fight in wars, either, just change how they do it. Factory farms today have harvest machines, but someone has to run them. They have tractors, but someone has to drive them. They have milking machines, but someone has to herd the cows into the barn, attach the milking machine, turn it on, and monitor it. Less of the labor is manual, but it's still labor. Even if those tasks could be done by robots, someone would have to monitor the robots.

    Same with wars. Maybe automated wars would just be each side's robot army shooting at the other side's robot army, but who's going to maintain those robots? Who's going to clean up the debris after the battle? Who's going to repair the damaged robots or make new ones to replace them? What are they going to do with the irreparably damaged robots, and who's going to do it? And who's going to come up with battle strategies? Are the robots that advanced, or do there have to be human brains behind it?

    How do corporations make any profit when 1% of the population owns 40% of the wealth and the bottom 80% only owns 7% of it, not individually but between them? If anything, the common people having a basic income would make corporations more profitable, not less. There would be more money circulating from more people. More to spend on goods and services. As it is, a significant percentage of the population forgoes goods and services, including some basic necessities, because they can't afford it.

    There's a wonderfully hilarious novel based on exactly that premise: Max Barry's Jennifer Government. Corporations are so much everything that everyone's last name is the corporation they work for (the eponymous character works for the government, hence her surname, but she's in the minority. Nearly everyone is employed in the private sector). All formerly public services (except certain strictly governmental tasks such as law enforcement) are privatized. Children's surnames don't come from their parents, but from the corporation that finances the school they attend--and that's public school. Everyone is thoroughly loyal to the company they work for. But that doesn't stop companies from doing their usual nefarious things like, you know, layoffs. The unemployed are really in a pickle: not only do they have no income, they don't even have a last name.

    It's a sendup of contemporary corporate culture, of course, but in a world like you're envisioning, it might not be satire.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2021
    Eduardo Letavia likes this.
  3. Eduardo Letavia

    Eduardo Letavia Troubadour

    102
    82
    28
    Overall, good points Rosemary TeaRosemary Tea . Before I elaborate further over your reply, I want to make clear that I'm not thinking in an uniform world. Some regions will be less developed than others, or keep some particular social order due to some circumstances. Said that, let's keep going.

    Robots with AI. I'm going to take automation to the extreme in my settings, although completely based on technology being currently developed. Yes, machines will be able to design and build other machines, repair them, recycle them, redesign them... And if they can do that, taking care of farming tasks and the like is an understatement. Also, cattle won't be really needed anymore since lab/factory-grown or plant-based meat will be already common and very cheap. In fact, killing an animal for feeding purposes could be seen in this ecologically catastrophic future as barbaric, although there's always the black market for those with the appetite and a big enough purse to pay for it.

    About wars and the military. Yes, there will be need for soldiers, but not of any kind. Special commando units are being increasingly deployed for operations around the world, rather than large and costly armies. And if you combine that with really high tech, you don't really need a very high number of people in the army, since one commando team can be more effective than an entire battalion.

    So, again I reach the same problem here. The jobs available are not only scarce but really highly skilled, so most of the population won't be cut for them. I've also considered a mostly complete digital working life for the "serf" caste: as gamers, influencers, artists, even working just as live NPCs in MMOs. In contrast, the more privileged stratums of society would keep the real jobs, with offices and some other real amenities rather than just being plugged constantly into a virtual world.

    Yes, it could very well be as you say, and automation, combined with 3D printing or similar techniques, could put this society in the economical area of the zero marginal cost. But I'd argue that the serfs income could be just barely enough to live on and need to complement it with digital work (or just by giving away their data to corporations). Why barely enough? Because the crushing debt all governments in the world are still dealing with: they're paying the very costly sins of the past essentially.

    Interesting reference, although I'm not planning to take the corporativism in my settings that far. Governments will still be that, public institutions with real power but with serious problems that corporations will take care/advantage of. Also, I think that corporations may grow some sort of conscience and behave in a different not-so-predatorial way, so they follow and even suggest new ecologic and economic rules which, while being apparently good, will nevertheless give the corporations an edge somehow.

    On the other hand, when talking about corporativism and governments we cannot forget the growing trend towards decentralization that has started with the blockchain ledgers like Bitcoin and the Ethereum platform. Yes, I know, I'm probably trying to grasp too many things at once!
     
    Rosemary Tea likes this.
  4. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Troubadour

    167
    132
    43
    Under the circumstances you describe, not having a job at all would probably be considered desirable. Those who have to work would be looked down on. Those who get to spend their days doing whatever the hell they want would be at the top. Working people would aspire to join the leisure class. Barring that, they'd aspire to get their kids into the leisure class. Maybe by marrying into it. Maybe by going to the right school. But work wouldn't be the way, because if you work, you're just a lowly peasant.

    Perhaps skilled jobs would be considered a step up the ladder. Children born into the serf class would be pushed by their parents to develop those skills so they can move up in the world. If they succeeded, they'd push their kids to move even higher up, to the point of not having to work at all.
     
  5. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Maester

    600
    502
    93
    I think the answer is a lot more simple. Many things have simply become very cheap. And with automation, you sell a lot with a low margin. The government pays for most of it, but the cost per person is low. The government gets its money by taxing everyone who wants to live above the poverty line.

    It's not that hard to justify. Look at houshold spending over the years (first google result gave me How America Spends Money: 100 Years in the Life of the Family Budget )The amount spend on food and apparell decreases, a lot. If you add in almost free energy (see the trend in solar panels today or nuclear fusion which is still "only" 10 years away) and cheap housing and a household will need very little to actually live on. It's the basis of predictions I've seen that in the future there will be 2 categories of people: those who entertain and those who are entertained.

    A couple of other thoughts. You could have corporations actually run countries. It's what the East India Company did in India for a hundred years.

    I also think that the divide between rich and poor would be even bigger than today. Poor means you live of a government handout, with only basic needs and entertainment taken care of. This last one is important. If you don't entertain your poor, then they are likely to rise up and demand to get more. Just look at the romans. And I would assume that if you could get a job then you'd make a lot more money and you could actually afford stuff, like a nice house in a sheltered neighborhood, private transportation and so on.

    Also keep in mind that in such a setting the rich would keep on winning even more than today. If you have no disposable income, you can't pay for the education you need to get a job, you can't invest in a company and have your stocks earn more money and so on.
     
  6. Eduardo Letavia

    Eduardo Letavia Troubadour

    102
    82
    28
    Interesting way of looking at the job aspect, Rosemary TeaRosemary Tea , although I think many people (specially the young ones) will want to do something to give some purpose to their lifes, even if its just something as frivoulous as being a gamer. Yes, they can do whatever they want, but that "whatever" would eventually become a job dependant on some corporation's platform, like it happens now with youtubers, twitchers and so on. So, it doesn't seem to me that having a job will be looked down since it makes you more of a citizen than a peasant.

    This is more in line on how I was imagining it. Since most jobs are highly qualified, they are usually a step up in the privilege ladder. Also, I imagine that some rich and ultrarich people will fancy themselves having real humans as servants, secretaries and so on, rather than androids, as a show of wealth and "generosity" on their part. Yet, of course, that would be a very limited and exclusive job market.

    Yes, Prince of SpiresPrince of Spires , following the automation and tech progress path it seems we'll hit a zero marginal cost economy. I mentioned this in my first reply to Rosemary TeaRosemary Tea , by the way.

    I don't think corporations would ever want to directly rule entire countries, it's just too costly for them and forces them to assume certain obligations that I'm sure they don't want to face at all. Now, I do picture them ruling cities or, at most, particular regions of interest for them like, for instance, locations that still have fresh drinkable water. In fact, I'm imagining some sort of alliance of a bunch of corporations that have this underlying discreet goal of building a new humanity although under their corporativistic views. So, with this alliance that poses as an NGO, they have institutions, campuses, or arcologies in particular cities or regions of interest, or sometimes even build (or just refurbish) entire cities under their guidance. Real examples of this are the Disney city of Celebration or the projected Woven City by Toyota.

    Yes, I know well the "panem et circensem" motto. And regarding the rich-poor divide, that makes me wonder if it becomes so great wouldn't it eventually make people revolt in such a way that they start organizing on their own, ignoring both government and corporations. In this future, the tools and the knowledge it's at hand for anyone who wants to use it, allowing people to create new ways of self-organization and fairer wealth distribution among themselves (maybe even creating technotribes?). In this sense, I also envisioned a movement of people living on the fringes of society who have developed a really intimate and refined relationship with technology, and aspire to use it to empower the common people in general or, at least, help them in their everyday lives.

    Regarding education, I think that it will also be affected by the zero marginal cost thing. Knowledge in general will be open and available for everyone, although mostly in digital form. Only the privileged castes will have easy access to flesh and blood top quality teachers and proper schools. The common people will have to stick with whatever education is offered by their government, although corporations could also have educative institutions or platforms (like they offer nowadays) to find fresh new talent.

    Another aspect that jumps to my mind is that, although it's has been expected that human population will keep on growing till reaching the 10 thousand million mark, a more recent notion is pointing out that natility is falling all over the world, mainly due to economic and environmental reasons (like pollution and other factors seriously degrading human fertility). Does this mean that we'll avoid overpopulating the planet? Probably, although this doesn't rule out overcrowding the metropolis of the world. But it will have other implications in food security, or the protection of the younger generations: governments might try to protect children and families better and boost fertility, hence improving health care for citizens.
     
  7. The Dark One

    The Dark One Auror

    1,015
    443
    83
    If you haven't already read it - read 1984. If you have read it, re-read the section on Goldstein's book. You won't find a more concise description anywhere of the eternal political struggle between all classes.

    My main question is - is there a welfare state? Is it possible to not work and still get by on govt/corporate handouts?

    As said above - only the rich don't have to work - unless a benevolent dictator has achieved free energy to make all commodities effectively free and available to all.
     
  8. Eduardo Letavia

    Eduardo Letavia Troubadour

    102
    82
    28
    Yes I did not long ago, and then I watched the movie. Both a must. Regarding the Goldstein's book, it's mentioned several times but I suppose you're referring to the following excerpt:
    And, more broadly, you're referring to the oligarchical collectivism theory, right? Still, I don't see 1984 and that theory fitting in my setup. Mine could be considered more an updated version of the Brave New World one. In my worldbuilding I have both powerful transnational corporations and strong governments (a fully federally united Europe for instance), although some mechanics regarding population policies, class stratification and social customs could be considered similar to some extent to those found in 1984.

    Yes, there is some sort of welfare in my setup, at least in my future Europe. I mentioned this in my first point within my opening post for this thread:
    I imagine having a job to be something akin to a luxury, since so many tasks have been automated, only certain works (or certain circumstances) are still demanding human resources. Also, rich or ultrarich people could fancy having very well (or barely) paid human servants just to show off how wealthy and powerful they are (alhough they would publicly say something about giving people jobs out of generosity from their part).

    I imagine that in this future, energy won't be really an issue (I'm thinking here in about one hundred years from now). By then we'll probably have good enough fusion reactors and much better renewable energy sources (like more efficient solar panels). The problem will come from the side of resources to build such tech, but by then probably humanity would have started for real (and out of necessity) to develop the space mining business.

    The rich won't work in the sense of getting their hands dirty, of course. Their job is to keep their wealth growing and to manage their high-class social connections that enable them to maintain their status or even improve it. Following this though, I cannot help but envision corporations as some sort of noble houses, (kind of like in Dune, but without the medieval air) managed by certain ultraprivileged individuals,families or, if they're big enough, by alliances of powerful individuals or families (with all the usual strife among them).
     
  9. Chasejxyz

    Chasejxyz Sage

    210
    214
    43
    The reason why that data has any value is that it's the basis for advertising. If McDonald's buys a slot to run an ad on a radio show, it has a vague idea of who would hear it and has no way of knowing if the listener will actually act on it. If McDonald's buys a slot on Facebook, it can target specific people (men, ages 18-25, own an iPhone, likes the "Bacon is Rad" page) and will know for a fact if someone clicks that ad, installs the app and then makes an order. The data they collect from you allows companies to craft custom messaging to target YOU specifically, in ways that are the most likely to convince YOU to do the thing they want you to do (vote for a certain candidate, buy a product, feel a certain way).

    This data could be used by governments/police forces to track people, but then you just run into 1984 and neo-phrenology (this person's face looks distrustful, ergo we must watch them because they'll probably do a crime). This already exists in China and Ecuador, so you can look at those systems for your world building.
     
  10. Eduardo Letavia

    Eduardo Letavia Troubadour

    102
    82
    28
    Yes, I know it: it's known as survelliance capitalism to some scholars. And, in contrast, the chinese version could be called survelliance totalitarism. Two systems running on similar technologies but with very different goals: the first one aims to increase profit for private corporations, the second to improve the government control over their citizens and strengthen their power.

    My problem with my settings it's not there, ChasejxyzChasejxyz . It's more about how the "social contract" is built. If we are talking about a neofeudal society, how loyalties and relationships among the privileged ones are built? How are they kept up? Would they as fluid as they were in the old feudal days? I mean, even if the economy of the future truly becomes a zero marginal cost one and is built around collaboration, there still will be issues of patents, copyrights and "walled gardens" (like Apple for instance). And regarding the common people, the plebs or serfs, what would be the real value of these people for the privileged casts? Of course, beyond the very few talented ones cherry-picked to be scientists or work in any other specialized position. I mean, if most of the wealth is autogenerated, you don't need serfs for anything at all. The funny side of this notion is, if the privileged ones managed to get rid of all the plebs, the lesser rich ones would automatically become the lowest cast in that new social structure.
     
  11. The Dark One

    The Dark One Auror

    1,015
    443
    83
    Sounds like you're talking about a series of hermetic social contracts rather than one general one. Which is fine and probably reflects more or less the reality of proto-feudal Europe.

    The problem is the serfs. The serfs of feudal times were a major part of the wealth base. You need to find a way for these people to generate money for their overlords or they serve no economic purpose and are more like the underclasses of the newly industrialised societies - working poor or criminals with a very harsh penal system to keep them in check.
     
  12. Eduardo Letavia

    Eduardo Letavia Troubadour

    102
    82
    28
    Well, not so hermetic, not at least among the upper castes. Here we're not talking about nobility, they're not such a thing although they'll could show some noble-like behaviours since they're elite (and certain things sure never change, right?). But certainly, and as I've read in articles a few times already, someone that is born nowadays in a poor family, will have a high chance of remain poor all their life, whereas someone else born in wealth will probably keep or even increase their status. Certainly, in my settings, makes sense that the social divide between the haves and have nots will be so great that leaping from one side to the other could be considered nothing sort of miraculous.

    Yes, the poor serfs, what can I do with them in my settings then? Nowadays, most people (and nations) enter into a sort of serfdom with private entities like banks or finance companies (or poweful countries) when they get indebted for some reason or other: you know, the rabbit hole of interest and neverending payments. That's one of the main ways wealth is being built today, truly a clean method of squeezing people. But before thinking about economics, let's think a bit about the intrinsic values of the common people in my worldbuilding.
    • One that is kind of obvious is that without the common people, there wouldn't be much of a human civilization to talk about.
    • There are still governments, and big ones. Therefore there are politicians and bureocrats who get their excuse to be in charge from the common people who vote for them.
    • What would be of corporations and their brands without common people being interested in them? It would be pointless to have any kind of big private transnational organization.
    • Also, what would be the point of space exploration if you don't have settlers to put in your martian cities?
    Those points above, although certainly open to debate, give a good idea about the utility of the serfs in my future Earth. Now, what about the economic value of the serfs in my worldbuilding?
    • The determining economical factor is the climate disaster which humanity is facing in the XXII century. It has forced governments around the globe to incur into heavy debts to apply all sort of measures to protect their territories from extreme weather phenomena, or to somehow ease the effects of such events.
    • As a consequence of the previous point, even with all the high tech available that provides many things to a zero marginal cost, the governments cannot give that much money as basic universal income to the common people, so a lot of the population depending on it are just surviving over the poverty line (better or worse depending on the nation, region or city). To give an idea of living expenditures, clean drinkable water is a luxury in this future, and has a premium price (or just a heavily restricted access) on regions under severe droughts.
    • A possibility that treacherusly jumped into my mind while writing these lines is that corporations could have "association" programs open for eligible poor citizens that ties this people with a corporation. It's a sort of serfdom in which a corporation offers you their services with reduced prices in exchange for handling your basic universal income and complying with certain conditions. For instance, you should only consume certain products or services from that corporation or their partners, or even being forced to do (in exchange of loyalty points or something like that) certain tasks like taking part in market research tests. This certainly sounds very feudal to me, and I think it's already happening with the walled gardens set up by the likes of Apple.
    • Another possibility is that digital life will be where most of the menial jobs will be. For instance, one could have a job as an NPC in one or several MMORPGs or a weapon modder specialized in a certain FPS franchise. Or being a digital artist selling cheap NFT creations.
    • Of course, criminal organizations still exist and have evolved with the times accordingly. They would probably be an attractive career to pursue for many young men looking for making a name for themselves in the underworld.
    So, I think I see more or less clear the possibilities available for the serfs in my worldbuilding. Some good quantity of wealth is still being transferred from them to the upper levels of the privilege pyramid, and the serfs still have their uses beyond pure economics.

    On the other hand, what I still don't see clearly is the neofeudal relationships happening among the members of the upper castes. They are not nobility, there's no divine right: either you have the money and the high-class connections or not. And not all the power will be concentrated around powerful families, but rather in corporative administrative councils and the like. Also, although I'm tempted to think in such way, I don't really see titles like CEO or CTO as a substitutes for nobiliary titles.
     
  13. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Maester

    600
    502
    93
    To me these two points are not related, or only very loosely. The amount of debt a country has, has very little impact on how much money it can spend on things. Only the interest payment matters a bit, since that comes out of the amount of money available to use for a country. But a country like Japan with a 200% debt to GDP ratio has little negative effects of that debt since it pays very little in interest on that debt.

    On the other hand, the size of the universal income would only be determined by the amount of money coming in. As long as the country makes enough in taxes to pay for the income then that is all tha determines the size of the payout.

    As for the debt itself, keep in mind that governments are very different from companies here. A government can't go bankrupt and it usually can print its own money. If debt becomes to big, a country can simply decide to default on the debt and pretend it doesn't exist. It has happened multiple times throughout history in countries all over the world. As a country you simply move the problem to the people holding your debt and wish them good luck with it. Yes, after a default you will pay higher interest rates or need to offer some real collateral to get companies and people to loan you money again. But the world will keep on turning and after a decade or two, people will have moved on again.

    And secondly, if you can print your own money, you can simply print whatever you owe, give that to people and again just move on. Yes, there's a risk of inflation. On the other hand, it is more or less what the world has been doing since 2008, and we're still waiting for that inflation. So in a time of low interest rates and low inflation (or even deflation), this is definitely a viable option for part of your debt. And this was actually a serious option in the US in 2011. Around then, they hit the debt cap (congress usually just moves it further out but it usually takes some arguing and sometimes the government locks down). One of the options to break the stalemate which was discussed was that the treasure would simply mint a trillion dollar coin, use that to pay of part of the debt and move on. It's a perfectly legal way to get rid of debt. (see Trillion-dollar coin - Wikipedia for more).
     
  14. Eduardo Letavia

    Eduardo Letavia Troubadour

    102
    82
    28
    Sorry but no, high public debt has quite the impact on the things a country can spend in. Take for instance my own country, Spain. With debt on the rise, (nowadays I think is around 120% debt to GDP ratio), the renovation of the aging military arsenal is no looking good at all, and the public health care system is getting increasingly worse (something mainly revealed by how nurses and doctors are being treated with underpaid and ephemeral contracts, even during the worst days of the pandemic if I remember correctly). Those are just two very improvised examples off the top of my head, but now let me point you out the particularities of your own two examples.
    • Unlike Spain's debt, Japan's is mostly kept at home. The money they own is to themselves, so to speak. And even better for them, they have their own currency, which is one of the strong (or at least trusted) ones in the planet. All of that makes them quite independent regarding debt issues.
    • USA is getting in such amount of debt because the rest of the world is allowing them to. Why? Because of the dollar itself, since it's the one true global currency nowadays, at least in the financial or trade world, and even the de facto currency for some countries. The dollar is not just currency, is an asset with it's own value that is traded with, something the US has been using in its favor for decades.
    Given how the privileged castes and big companies love to evade taxes, if most of the common people is jobless or with incomes so low that are exent of taxation, where do you get the money?

    Governments can and have gone bankrupt plenty of times in history: here's a good long historical list of sovereign debt crises. On the other hand, the nineteen countries using the Euro depend on what Berlin says about it, for the most part, so they can't print whatever they want. In fact, I've heard that the Euro is just the old german Mark redressed, quite the convenience for Germany to sell their not-so-green diesel cars (and sure other products) in Europe.

    Remember what I said about the dollar, it has an special intrinsic value unlike other currencies. Now, if you start printing it like crazy, as it's happening now, and you flood the market with it, you devaluate the currency. I'm sure that some important people are losing their sleep in the FED and other US financial institutions about that.

    Well, I don't pretend to play economics expert here, I'm quite far of being one. For my setting, I think I have figured out well enough the serfs part. What I'm still missing is a view of how the old feudal customs, the ones observed by members of higher classes, could reappear in some fashion among the privileged ones of a capitalist and corporativist cyberpunk future. Could notions like being knighted, swearing fealty to a lord or arranged political marriages could be adapted to make sense in my setting? Of course, not exactly as they were, but kind of resembling them.
     
  15. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Maester

    600
    502
    93
    Fair enough, there is some relation. But to put it in contrast, from what I can quickly find, Spain pays something like 7 billion in interest each year, which is a lot to be sure. But they spend 60+ billion per year in total, so there is still almost 90% left over for everything else.

    And the reason Spain doesn't default on its debt is political. Because it's part of the Euro they agreed not to do so (since it would impact the whole EU, not just Spain). But that doesn't mean they've never done this. They did so six times in the eighteenth century, and seven times in the nineteenth century. Argentina and Venezuela are recent examples of countries which defaulted this century.

    Yes, it's not a decision you take lightly as a country, but it's not something which is never done. The debt crisis link you gave is not of countries going bankrupt, it's of countries defaulting on their debt. And that's a very different thing. When a company doesn't pay it's debt, you declare it bankrupt. It's then cut up and sold into pieces and whatever money comes out is then used to pay the remaining bills. The company then no longer exists. With countries this is very different. When a country defaults, it simply stops paying debt and there is often very little which can be done about it (not always, since some countries give collateral on their bonds). As an investor in the debt you simply get told "you're not getting any more money. Good day."

    Of course, it's your setting, and if it works for you then by all means use it. Just be aware of the options out there.
     
  16. Eduardo Letavia

    Eduardo Letavia Troubadour

    102
    82
    28
    A rumour has it that Spain's public funds are empty, so most of those spent millions can only come from foreing lenders (of course, mainly from EU but also from other countries). What I mean with this is that a government loses its capability to decide about its own policies since it needs the money of external forces to make them, and if, for instance, a foreign bank holds a good chunk of your debt, they might not recover it, but they'll end telling you what to do in the country if you want their money. In fact, this is what the IMF does.

    Yes, Spain is kind of in life support, since its too big to fail, right? When Spain defaulted in the past it was sovereign on itself. First as an empire dealing with many issues on several fronts (development of the Americas, facing the constant threat of the Ottoman empire and the berberisc piracy in the Mediterranean sea, and the endless northeuropean wars). Then, the XIX century came and sure it was a really jolly time for Spain: invaded by Napoleon first, losing the grip of the Americas as a result, and the cherry on the top were the three civil wars we end having for dynastical and political reasons. So, yeah, a lot of reasons for defaulting back then. Argentina and Venezuela certainly are good examples of how not to do things today in so many levels.

    My mistake, I confused the terms. Still, although a country doesn't dissapear after defaulting, if their public companies and infraestructures become privatized, that exactly the same thing as being cut up and sold into pieces, don't you think? And that leads you to what I've already pointed out before, a government in such situation loses sovereignty over its own country. And as far I've seen in articles and in the news, the wealthy class only cares about making more money no matter what, so it wouldn't be surprising that the so called universal basic income would be as high as the lenders allow it to be. Of course, this depends on the strenght of the country itself in respect of private or foreign lenders.

    Let me give you a better outline of my worldbuilding. I'm imagining that in the XXII century Spain and Portugal are no more, mainly due to a long megadrought that has dried up the southern half of the Iberian peninsula, and similar events have happened in other euromediterranean territories. Hence in Brussels decided to classify certain territories as untenable, since no recovery is possible in them unless the environmental conditions change for the better. Such territories are not economically supported (or just marginally for very particular things) by Europe, since it would be a waste of money as they are, but private investment with little to none oversight is allowed if not encouraged. On the other hand, those untenable territories serve as buffer zones for the massive inmigration waves coming from Africa and Near East.

    Both Spain and Portugal have lost their capitals to the megadrought, and since both cities were also main economical drivers of their countries, their collapse spelled doom for their nations, and the Iberian peninsula has ended being split between the still somewhat humid northen half and the untenable and dried up south. Among other things, in setting up this worldbuilding I've been inspired by the Cape Town water crisis, the environmental problems currently happening in Australia, and also I've taken into account real estimations about the hidrological evolution of Spain in this century. It doesn't look pretty at all. I'm also counting on the fact that in northen europe will have to deal with an increasingly number of extreme weather events and other consequences of the global warming: megafires on forests not used to warmer temperatures, massives floods, sea level rise (Netherlands it's going to have a lot of "fun" with that one).

    To sum up, I'm assuming that the costs of facing the global warming and its consecuences are going to be very or even massively costly, and no matter what kind of economical tricks can some economic experts put "on paper": if you cannot pay, you cannot pay and you'll have to cut more than corners, hence the low universal basic income.

    I appreciate and understand your explanation regarding public debt, but for my worldbuilding I have the feeling that the climate crisis is going to be too much even for the best financial hocus pocus any economic expert could pull out. I mean, here we're not just talking about a bunch of bits changing from 0 to 1, it's about real implications in the human world that will come with a huge pricetag attached... And who knows how long those consequences will last.

    So, leaving behind the question about debts and universal incomes, any idea about old feudal customs being somehow translated among the members of the high class society in my worldbuilding?
     
Loading...

Share This Page