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The Sovereign-Union, the morally ambiguous Empire of the Known Worlds.

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Logos&Eidos, Mar 27, 2016.

  1. Logos&Eidos

    Logos&Eidos Sage

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    The Sovereign-Union is the morally ambiguous Empire of the known worlds of my science-fantasy setting.
    The Know worlds have in last few centuries begun to recover from a ten thousand year dark age caused by the slaying of the god of artifice.

    They bring progress and civilization to worlds locked in barbarism and the common folk no longer victim to depots,or dying of famine and plague, are very grateful. Unfortunately the Union is rather imperialistic and in their minds, savage has come to mean anyone not them rather not having progressed to the industrial age. Thus they annex even world that are civilized,brutally quelling resistance and in the most extreme cases reducing particularly defiant populations to more manageable numbers.

    The Sovereign-Union began centuries ago on their home world when an alliance of powerful guilds overthrew their feudal lords. In the place of the monarchy they guilds established a type of republic.

    This republic was governed by a council consisting of the Guild masters and one High-Councilor who was elected from among their ranks and would be the commander and chief, leading the union as a whole. The Union-council collectively controlled the principles, non-commercial pseudo-guilds who's function are essential to the functioning of a nation.

    • The Judiciary.
    • The Military.
    • The Intelligence.
    • The Civics.
    • The Financial.

    The Unions structure was federal consisting of semi-autonomous units loyal to a central authority.. The smallest unite is a city municipality and the largest was a continent,in modern times the largest unite is a planet.
    Life in union is very good as long as you don't step out of line,then the regulators come for you in the night,and your family may or may not see you again. Fines,hard labor(without pay) which if your very unlucky or did something very bad'stupid can include the penal-legion,public corporal punishment (whipping and not in a fun way).

    The most citizen lives in guild dormitories even the very wealthy,land usage is strictly regulated in union. The wealthy citizens just pay to live in better suites. Children are educated until they reach the age of majority at which point they join whichever guild that they happen to qualify for, children tend to join the same guild as their parents.

    The Modern Guilds are...


    • Agricultural Guild.
    • Medical Guild.
    • Entertainment Guild.
    • Engineering Guild.
    • Psionic Guild.

    Each of the guilds has numerous sub-guilds based upon skill specialization.

    Both regional and guild governance are intertwined in a tier system. Ones eligibility to hold government officer is tied directly to tier of guild-branch that one served as the master of. For example one only the master of a Over-chapter of a guild would be able to run for the position of planetary-govern.

    Now for a question...

    So what works,what doesn't and what have I failed to account for?:confused:

    The thing that I know that I haven't done is found a place for those that don't join guild or get kicked out of one;the only thing that i can think of is a form of indenture.:confused:
     
  2. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    The system you describe is just begging for a massive black market in *ALL* manner of goods. In fact, it probably could not function, period, without a black market. This means a whole 'parallel network' that is both supported AND suppressed at the same time by the authorities. It means lots of bribes and lots of people turning blind eyes. It means even high ranking officials deferring to 'unknowns' because of their 'connections.'

    The other issue is this is a system ripe for revolt - too many people ground down too far. Eventually, there WILL be uprisings. Nasty ones that endanger the whole system. Constant suppression isn't going to work long term. Probable solution is 'bread and circuses,' or a variant of the welfare state - maybe 'make work state,' given this type of society - huge numbers of people performing utterly pointless jobs for joke pay, room, and food, with lots of free or almost free concerts/entertainment to keep them occupied. Maybe drugs mixed into the food. If need be, they could be drafted into the militia.
     
  3. Logos&Eidos

    Logos&Eidos Sage

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    Why couldn't it work?
    The basic premises is a guild republic which to my surprise actually existed, the Republic of Florence for example. My initial inspiration was Anarcho-syndicalism and
    corporate-statism. I prefer the flavor that the word guild carriers to the words union or syndicate , so I'm using that.

    The nation ruled by corporation is a common trope in science fiction, guilds occur in sci-fi pretty frequently with the Spacing Guild from Dune being a classic example. Why couldn't a nation that ran similar to an actual real-world country, eventually evolve or devolve depending or your opinion on colonialism/imperialism into a massive empire.
     
  4. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    It can work. Look, if the silly society of The Hunger Games can be believed enough to become a best-seller, then your guild world is golden. There are some things worth considering, though.

    One, you cite Florence, which is fine and is scarcely the only example of a town with guild representation. Florence had a contado, though, and the guild structure did not extend to the countryside. Also, that guild-run format did not last very long. And never did a guild-based political system expand to include even a single nation, still less an empire. That's not to say it cannot work--as you point out, guilds appear in plenty of speculative fiction--but it's worth knowing the historical reality on which you base your fiction, so you know when you are deliberately going further.

    It seemed to me your guild-empire was really only for the home world; that those on other planets were subjugated. Do you envision your guild structure extending to conquered lands? If so, you might want to think how unwieldy that might become.

    Finally, you should feel free to rip out the guts of the historical guild and re-engineer it to make it explicitly political. Spec-fic authors have a long history of doing that sort of thing with modern or with historical institutions of all kinds. WRT the sub-guilds, that language could get a little clumsy. You might consider synonyms, such as brotherhood, company, association, or band. And while many historical guilds were based around a trade or craft, others were based upon a saint; some were actually little more than drinking clubs. Lots of room there for invention.
     
  5. Logos&Eidos

    Logos&Eidos Sage

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    The Gilded Empire does impose its system on conquered territories a bureau of Integration works to see the indigenous people assimilated into the empire,if you join of your own free will then the Integration experience is quite pleasant. If you are brought in by force then...it's more like being in a reducation facility.

    The empire has a federal structure so planets are expected to be able to take care of themselves and only call upon the central authority in case of emergency.


    The main guilds that i listed are all the sectors vital to a nation and they have many,many sub guilds based upon specialization.
    Business are established by master rank guild members.


    What remains as a blank to be is what happens to those who are kicked out of or don't join a guild?

    And how debt and debtors are dealt with, my thought is some form of debt-labor system.
     
  6. This setting does still present ripe opportunities for severe civil unrest. Anyone with an understanding of history will see the incongruities between how the empire used to operate and how it works now when it comes to raising people out of their "barbarism." Further, if any of the people do subjugated had a tradition of sole sovereignty and independent thought they will revolt a lot in principle alone.
     
  7. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    I did not say your system would not work. I said it would automatically come with a massive black market, and given its governing style, would be plagued by revolts unless measures of some sort were taken - aka the 'welfare state.'

    My actual parallel - perhaps not the best, but probably reasonably close - was the old line communist states such as the USSR. Massive corruption was endemic in those systems, and black market connections were essential to just about everything. People tolerated the brutality because the system provided some benefits, like free or nearly free medical care.

    Corporate statism differs from the old line communist systems only in degree. Both revolve around gigantic, incompetent, unfriendly bureaucracies, and their setups encourage large scale theft and smuggling.
     
  8. Logos&Eidos

    Logos&Eidos Sage

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    I wasn't building the Gilded Empire with generating as much potential story-conflict as possible as a goal,it just sort of turned out that. A rebellion is hard to launch on an empty stomach, I realized that the best way to subjugate a large population is to take away what they need to live,food,shelter,medicine. Do this and you won't need send an a military force against every up rising.


    I wasn't building the Gilded Empire with generating as much potential story-conflict as possible as a goal,it just sort of turned out that.
     
  9. Logos&Eidos

    Logos&Eidos Sage

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    What was the theft and smuggling rates in the Republic of Florance or other guild states because those would be the closest to my set up. There is still commerce, you have to be a master rank member of your guild in order to get a business license, so the biggest illicit trade that I see would be journeymen running off the grid shops.

    I'm trying to keep thing tied to the system of apprentice, journeymen,master.
     
  10. You'd be surprised how people would react when having their food taken from them. Violence will be part and parcel to getting their right to live. The government you e set up seems extraordinarily unstable because people would not just fear the coercive force of the government but would outright hate it. A government can survive if it is feared, but it will fall if it is hated by a significant portion of the population. Compound that with the distances between worlds and there will be brush fires all over their intergalactic territory.
     
  11. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

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    In barbarian countries, you break the law. In Sovereign-Union, the law breaks you! :D
     
  12. Logos&Eidos

    Logos&Eidos Sage

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    The deprivation of vital resources like food and medicine are part of the empire's conquest strategies, rather than a domestic security policy. Something that must be kept in mind is that the Guild Empire is technology/psionically superior to most worlds. The empire is space faring DieselPunk, most worlds are early Iron Age to Renaissance in terms of technological development.
     
  13. Logos&Eidos

    Logos&Eidos Sage

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    The accent should be Italian, it was the Republic Of Florance that should be that guild republics can exist.:cool:
     
  14. That's all well and good but you're ignoring logistical challenges of distance, things like force multipliers, and the fact that people will fight if they think they're being given an unreasonable burden by the government. Even if the tech differences are vast, like between Native Americans and Europeans. It doesn't matter if the odds are against them the people will fight. And if taking food from people is a mean or method of war you will find the conquered to have a greater propensity for revolt.
     
  15. Logos&Eidos

    Logos&Eidos Sage

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    I was trying to come with a method of waging planetary war that didn't require or follow the common depiction of large scale invasion. Sending in thousands of troops to fight city by city until a planet was yours, trying to do that on a earth is difficult.

    My thoughts were shatter infrastructure of the people that you are trying to conqour and focus on denying access to necessities,rather than trying to put out every rebellious fire that crops up, starvation and disease will do a lot of the work for you. I was inspired by the fact many medieval sieges rather than ending in a big Hollywood style battle, involved starving the defenders out.
     
  16. Which is fine at the outset. But it cannot be sustained for long. Eventually smugglers will do their thing, and you can't starve out hundreds of worlds at once. The logistics are too vast. Further, when the siege breaks people will start revolting eventually. No one likes to be ruled by a conqueror. They primarily want to be left alone. And again, if they are starved out they might eventually break, but then they will rise up and fight. It will be a somewhat never ending cycle of death and destruction until either the conqueror calls it quits, gives in to more humane treatment of their subjects, or the entire populace of that world is entirely wiped out.
     
  17. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    If, however, this is fantasy SF, then there might be ways to isolate an individual planet, then cut off or destroy some key aspect of its ecology, rendering it utterly dependent upon the overlord world. Won't work for realistic SF, I agree, but fantasy lets us invoke whole star freighters full of handwavium.
     
  18. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    That is NOT a sure road to success. Witness many real world conflicts, most recently the Iraq War fiasco (Mods, this is for comparative purposes only). The US effectively decimated Iraq's military within weeks. However, hostilities raged for years afterwards, and in the end, the US effectively lost that war.

    This situation has the potential to be repeated ad inifitium on your subject worlds. Yes, the Sovereign Union, through heavy policing, controls some major cities and some patches of the countryside, but to step outside those bounds is playing Russian roulette with most of the chambers loaded. Likewise, 'things happen' even in supposedly secure zones. High tech toys suffer sneak attacks, or fail through lack of parts. And to make things work, Sovereign Union officials cut deals.

    Those deals - absolutely needed to get things done - lead directly to the massive black market I posted about earlier. Eventually, the black market leaders garner enough covert influence to gather starships of their own, essentially forming a parallel network to the guild system. Eventually, guild members of all ranks - including those near the top - come to depend on this alternate network, despite public denials.
     
  19. Logos&Eidos

    Logos&Eidos Sage

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    The subjects live like people in first world today more or less, its the people won't take the offer of surrender that get the boot. Thinking historically again maybe the Union like Mongols, upon arriving at a new world make on offer for the people to join willing,to cast aside their barbarian ways and embrace the first real civilization in ten-thousand years. And those who refuse the offer get the Mongol treatment; orbital bombard meant target major population centers and vital areas. When you are one of the few space faring powers and the worlds that your colonizing are decades to centuries behind you, then you can starve out those worlds. Think carrot and stick treat the people who play ball well and make an example out of those that don't.



    It could work though not as well in a more realistic setting. If the only rapid way into or out of a system is through a Jump Point. Then by occupying it you prevent any advance worlds
    from interfering with your occupation. Orbital bombarded of major agricultural areas cuts off the food supply, surveillance will keep let you keep watch to ensure no replanting.




    The Union is decades to centuries ahead of most of the worlds that they are colonizing.
    How much trouble would a civilization at the tech level of the main races from Mass Effect have with crippling a civilization at the level of modern day earth;not much I would suppose.

    Refining some Ideas and brining in some new ones. I see the Union operating a little like the Mongols, they arrive at a planet give the people the option of surrender and embracing civilization after making some great show of force,like blasting the cap off of a mountain.

    In the case of industrialized worlds they may start with the display of force and wipe the biggest and most militarily powerful nation off the map, then call upon everyone else to surrender. Those nations that won't see reason and go on about national pride and spirit,have their infrastructure shattered and agricultural regions devastated by orbital bombardment; letting disease and starvation do their work.

    Thinking about my own realizations about the nature of space warfare,that you only send down troops to capture something or search for someone,if you wanted something gone you just use orbital bombardment.

    The Union really doesn't need all that much of a military presence on the planet to conquer it and hold it. Most of their forces probably stay in orbit. With a small contingent being sent down to the location of their surface stronghold, which is going to be built like a fortress.
     
  20. I recognize and understand that I do, but that does not mean that all rebellions will subside. It could take a year it could take ten it could take one hundred, but eventually some group of natives will rise up and start fighting off their oppressors. It happens. The rebels will be smart enough to start reverse-engineering the weapons and tools and may be able to start killing their oppressors. Or they'll trade. See Shaka Zulu v. The British Empire. Or the American Indians vs. The British Empire and later the United States.

    I will reiterate this one more time. I am not talking about the initial conflict and occupation. I am talking about the future, several years after the initial occupation, wherein people will be fighting for their own sovereignty. They will fight to determine their own destiny. That will not end. People will cling to their history and fight to restore it. They will rebel until utterly decimated or victory occurs. And if allowed to flourish again they will renew the fight. It is a part of humanity to fight. This could be a generations-long fight. Brush fires will occur over the years in various locations even if initial resistance is broken through the means and methods you outline above.
     

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