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The Breaking Point (Worldbuilding / Invite-Only)

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Reverend Norv
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Founded: Jun 20, 2014
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The Breaking Point (Worldbuilding / Invite-Only)

Postby Reverend Norv » Wed Mar 25, 2020 3:08 pm

Haloran, Province of West Evermark
Colrania
1979


You grew up together.

Children here among the mills where your fathers worked. Playing soldier by the gasyard wall. Dodging university students on their way to class. Going to the same movies, swimming pools, treehouses up in the woods above town. And if you knew the bribes that your parents had to pay to get your schoolbooks, if you understood that the secret police were reading the postcards you sent home from vacations - you didn't know that it could be any other way, and you didn't lose sleep. No one did. I remember. I was there.

You graduated from high school together. Got your draft notices together. Went off to training together, to the war together, to Albren. To the trenches and gas, air raids and artillery bombardments. To the tedium, and the mud, and the horror. I remember. I was there.

I did not come back. I lie, these eighteen months later, cold in that mud. Hundreds of miles from home. Far from the mills and the gasyard, the university and the movie theater, the swimming pool and our old treehouse. I remember. I remember, now, forever.

You went home. You went back to university, remembering the flies buzzing around my eyes. You became those students on their way to class, and the neighborhood kids dodged around you as they played soldier. But you know different now. You know all that you have to look forward to: dead-end jobs in an economy where only bribes let you get ahead. Romance in a country where the government reads your love letters. Family in a country where the government drafts your children, and sends them to Albren to die.

And now, you have reached the breaking point. You are too young to know how hard it is to change the world, and too desperate to care. You are ready to fight.

Revolution is coming to Colrania. This world will never be the same.





Hello, folks! This is, obviously, a bit more informal than the normal Norv RP. It's based on conversations in which it became clear that folks prefer contributing to a shared worldbuilding project, as opposed to digesting thousands of words of background that I wrote. So worldbuilding is what we are going to do.

The Breaking Point is a realistic modern-tech RP set in a fictional authoritarian country (Colrania), within a fictional world, which will both be wholly created by the players. Below, you will find my preliminary outline of this world. Each category includes a few sentences setting the parameters of innovation, and then a whole bunch of prompts for players to contribute their own ideas. This will create the context within which, eventually, our characters start a revolution.

Your job is to write a paragraph or two with any relevant details, to flesh out any details - large or small - that seem plausible. You can use the preliminary questions in the outline below as a starting point. Feel free also to suggest new categories for the outline, which I may well have missed. There are no formal applications here. For big things, like Colrania's system of government, we will all have input into the final version. For small things, like local landmarks in the university town of Haloran, I'll generally accept whatever you give me sight unseen. On acceptance, your work will get included in the outline. And as the outline grows, so will our world.




OUTLINE OF COLRANIA

  1. Government
    • Colrania is an authoritarian country. It is not so brutally tyrannical that dissent is unthinkable; there exists some space for questioning the government, so long as it is done quietly. There are lots of jokes at the expense of the leadership, but you can't make them in public. The best analogy for the level of oppression is likely the Soviet Union in the 1970s. It is a large country, with a population of about 100 million and a wide variety of ecological and climatic zones.
      The Damsean Dispositive

      Also known as The Machine or The Factory, the Dispositive describes the Colranian form of government. If other government forms laud themselves on their idealism, The Dispositive congratulates itself on a ceaseless pursuit of the purely pragmatic. It is a moral-neutral form of government, where there is no room for judgement or personal responsibility.

      In practise, the Dispositive is a giant civil service apparatus. It consists of subdivisions and departments beyond count, all being tasked with one tiny part of the responsibilities of a functioning State. In this, it follows the writings of Hubert Damse, one of the foremost Patrionagio scholars. According to Damse, the biggest threat to society is a government which fails to keep order. During times of civil strife, civilians die and are forced to do unspeakable acts, while the government should keep its citizens safe and free in pursuit of their own morality. Paradoxically, according to Damse, in order to allow for the pursuit of moral perfection of the citizenry, the government should not subject itself to the same rules as civilians, but instead be as efficient, pragmatic, and ruthless as necessary. In his view, the government is the vessel containing society, and if society is to be liquid, the government has to be firm to contain it.

      According to Damse, the idea of ‘civil strife’ is broader than mere civil war or revolution. Any unlawful or immoral act is an act of defiance against society. Any abundance of crime means the State has failed to keep order, which is an argument against its practises. Any government that allows crime to exist has failed, in the eyes of Damsean thinkers.

      Two factors allow for political strife: respect for criminals (which causes ‘personal civil strife’) and coagulated power (which causes ‘political civil strife’).

      1. Respect for criminals is professed by some state in the form of ‘civil rights’, which cannot be abrogated from when the subject has committed heinous acts. This is naïve, since criminals will do everything in their power to subvert these rules. It ties one hand behind your back, while you have a duty to your citizenry to use both hands. Therefore, there should not exist such a thing as criminal procedural law. A Dispositive state does not make arbitrary distinctions between civil, criminal and administrative law. They all exist with the same goal, and when the rules of the written law come to contradict that goal, they should be discarded.
      2. Coagulated power means putting too large amounts of power in the hands of people further down the hierarchy. This is the greatest threat to those in charge, since most governments are destroyed by internal coups. Failed Electoral states put power in the hands of independent judges and parliamentarians, which allowed these institutions to work against the interests of the executive. In the Damsean state, no power should be allowed to coagulate in one person below the executive. There should be plenty of different departments, and these departments should have to work together in order to achieve any goal. This makes it impossible for anyone further down the chain to successfully oppose the executive.

      In practice, Colrania therefore is governed by an unaccountable bureaucracy. The Bureaucrats, or Dispositives, are judge, jury and executioner, with almost unfettered power in an incredibly small sliver of state operations. Traffic cops, for example, are allowed to enter homes without warrant and search your house, but only to establish whether your double-parking was defensible. This, not so much to protect the citizens, but more to protect those above them, as no single person should be allowed to challenge the power of the executive. Whether you are allowed to appeal a decision is entirely dependent on the internal structure of a division within the central government. Some bureaus allow for written appeals, while others only allow for oral pleadings, while others do not allow appeals at all. These appeals are entirely internal, as there exists no such thing as an independent judge. How far you are allowed to appeal is also subject to internal rules. These organisations are under no obligation, however, to follow their own rules, and directors of divisions are free to discard their own rules if it is in the interest of justice and morality.

      Finally, these Dispositives can be anyone. There is no uniformed police in Colrania. The Dispositives are recognisable by their government-issue dark blue suits (earning them the nickname Hollys, after the blue mountain flower), but they can also wear normal civilian clothing. Their power comes from them having a certain position within government, so whether they are recognisable or not does not make a difference for a citizen’s duty to follow their orders. This has created an atmosphere of constant vigilance, where even someone asking for a cigarette can be a Holly, and not giving them one could earn you a beating or a large fine. Even within families, it is not always certain whether someone is a Holly, and what division they belong to. This means many people practice self-censorship, unless they truly trust the person they are talking to. And even then... mistakes have been made.

      The diffusion of power has allowed the Dispositive to be responsible for some truly heinous acts, completely outside of the responsibility of its cogs. For example, at the start of the chain, someone might decide that, if a partisan kills a government agent, ten important people within the village it occured in should receive some kind of punishment. A second government agent might then decide, not knowing the contents of the decision of the first, that a punishment should be death. Then, a third might, unaware of the earlier decisions, report a shooting of a government agent in a village. A fourth, against ignorant, will make a list of ten important people in a village, and a fifth agent, without any power to make decisions of his own, will drag out ten people and have them shot. Nobody in this chain is personally responsible for their deaths, and the sixth agent was just following orders. It is a system built to commit horrible atrocities without making any single person guilty.
    • Preliminary questions:
      • Who exactly runs the Dispositive state? Are there internal divisions and tensions? Was there a previous history of democratic activism? (N.B.: one of my ideas is that in this world, democracy has never been successfully tried; a bit like anarchism in our world, it's been attempted now and then, but always collapsed. So our rebels are even more idealistic and radical than they seem.)
      • Within the parameters above, how bad is repression? Is there some independent media, or none at all? Are there elections at the local level, or is everything centrally controlled? Does the government surveil everyone, or just suspected troublemakers? What do our security forces look like? What is prison like?
      • More broadly, how decentralized is Colrania? At the very least, it has provincial and municipal governments, with local administrators and police. But how much independence do these sub-national governments really have?
      • What does education look like?
  2. Economy
    • Colrania is, in practice, a market economy: people have money, they buy things, and exchange rather than rationing is the underlying principle of economic life. But it is massively, dysfunctionally corrupt: government regulation of economic life is intrusive and omnipresent, and only bribes can secure any kind of economic advancement. Higher education is available to everyone who has completed military service, but how much use it is - that's a different question. The standard of living is analogous to Eastern Bloc countries in the 1970s.
    • At the policy level, Colrania aims for self-sufficient autarky by way of semi-capitalistic corporatism. This has created an environment ripe for nepotistic corruption; politically "reliable" businessmen and their affiliates have a dramatic leg up, and economic inequality is becoming increasingly drastic with every passing year. Privatization exists, but is heavily influenced by the state. Smaller "mom-and-pop shops" are gradually being crushed or absorbed by larger corporations, and independent labor unions have been outlawed in favor of a single, state-run union (which, in reality, acts as the economic wing of the secret police). The government has injected Dispositivist principles into every sector of civilian life, from the public education system to the industrial workplace.
      • For example: Radient production in Colrania is handled by Natrak, formerly known as the National Radiant Concern before a privatization campaign a few years before the RP's date. Initially promoted as a public shareholding company, currently Natrak is chaired by businessmen close to the government. In the international stage, it is often accused of questionable market practices, like sudden stops-and-go's while Radient futures are traded on most markets.
    • The Colranian Lire is the sovereign currency of Colrania. The Colranian Central Bank has a low degree of Independence. The Lire is particularly inflated through a combination of low interest rates and extensive stimulus spending to fund the war industry. Colranians are heavily encouraged to purchase state bonds for the war effort, with the promise of lucrative payouts after victory in Albren. The price of living has rose in particular as a result of the war inflation. Nonetheless, Colrania tends to approach "full employment", albeit dysfunctionally. Foreign currency is a common Grey and black market commodity, originating from tourist localities in Colrania.
    • Preliminary questions:
      • How good is the social safety net? Do poor people risk starvation? Is health care a market product or a government program?
      • How much of the economy is directly tied to the public sector? How big is the administrative state? How does corruption operate within it?
      • How much is Colrania beginning to de-industrialize?
      • Is there a black market? A grey market? Organized crime? What is illegal in Colrania, and who makes money on it anyway? How? Why?
  3. History
    • This is a very open book. The war with Albren has been going on for at least a decade, and the current regime has been in power for at least 30-40 years. Beyond that, you should go wild, since history is a necessary component of every other part of the outline. This is mostly just a place to turn that brainstorming into a unified timeline.
    • Colrania and Albren both began as expansionist empires that conquered their neighbors; this gave rise to Colrania's ethnic diversity. In 1905, a massive supervolcano eruption on the far side of the globe plunged both countries into a mini-Ice Age that lasted twenty years, causing crop failures, famine, and anarchy. The Dispositive emerged as a response to this chaos in the mid-1940s and has governed Colrania ever since. The Laborite government in Albren emerged for similar reasons.
    • Shortly thereafter, tensions between the two new regimes about ideology and contested border areas that neither had controlled since 1905 boiled over, beginning a war of attrition that continues to this day.
    • Preliminary questions:
      • How old is Colrania? What were its defining historical events? How did it expand to occupy the ethnically diverse territory that it governs today? Is its rivalry with Albren old or new?
      • How did its current regime come to power? What are the main historical events that our characters and their parents would remember from the last half-century? How did those events change their lives?

  4. Demographics and Religions
    • Colrania is highly ethnically diverse, home to a plethora of different peoples, religions, and cultures. Since Haloran is a prominent university town, and used to be a manufacturing center, all of these groups are represented there. Ethnic groups and religious traditions should be mutually influencing, but other than building on each other's ideas, you are free to come up with anything you want. Colrania is, however, bad at ethnic pluralism: for whatever reason, ethnic hostility is strong within the country.
    • Preliminary questions:
      • What is the dominant ethnic group in Colrania? Is there one? What does it look like?
      • Does your ethnic group have a particular homeland in Colrania? What is it called, and what is it like? What are the distinctive cultural features and traditions of your group? What is its history with Colrania's other peoples? What is its position in modern Colrania?
      • Is your religion ethnically specific, or universalizing? What are its principal doctrines and rituals? How is it regarded by other faiths; has it inspired or been inspired by any of them? What is its status in modern Colrania?
      • Why don't our ethnic groups get along? How does that affect daily life in Colrania? How segregated is society, broadly speaking?

  5. Technology
    • Technology in Colrania is roughly equivalent to the 1960s-1980s. Different fields may be at different levels of advancement within that period; a few may be markedly more or less advanced. But there is no Internet - we are well shy of the information age. Also, for later plot reasons, there is no nuclear power or nuclear weapons. Other than that, it is up to you to decide what exactly you want Colrania's technological development to look like.
    • Radient is a fossil fuel found in both Albren and Colrania. It has much higher fuel efficiency than regular oil, pushing military supply chains to prioritize it. Extraction often takes place through massive drill-pumps boring into the ground to Pierce known reserves of Radient. It is a sludgy, golden liquid. Work conditions in Radient plants are often sketchy. There's also a suggested link about Radient-powered factories and equipment creating noxious exhalations. Some research, often undertalked, links it to cancerous pathologies even when inert. Radient has an unmistakable earthy scent, best savoured while filling up vehicles at the gas station.
    • Preliminary questions:
      • How advanced are various normal household goods? Do most people have washing machines? Microwaves? Are TVs or radios more common?
      • Is there a Colranian space agency? Are we firmly in the jet age, or are prop planes still common? Are electric musical instruments common?

  6. Military and the War
    • The Colranian Ministry of Defense oversees most military matters, and the primary agency for national defense and military power projection is the Armed Forces of Colrania. The AFC is supplied with troops, male and female, primarily by way of conscription, although a quarter of the military is composed of a standing corps of volunteers and re-enlisted conscripts. Operational competency varies from unit to unit. Compounding factors include the long-standing taxation of war, rampant corruption throughout the ranks, the over-centralization of authority and direction in operations, and disorganized and overlapping chains of command. Some of these mechanisms are the work of the powers that be within the regime; designed with the intent to keep the military from being organized enough to stage a coup, but not so disorganized that they couldn't fulfill the national will. Officers' commissions are gained by promotion from the ranks, purchased with bribes, or earned through attendance at a military academy - but in all cases are contingent upon political reliability.
      • Colranian National Army - The primary fighting arm of the AFC, the largest in terms of manpower and equipment, and the oldest branch of service. The CNA is a fairly modernized army, with dozens of divisional-strength units of combined-arms unit (infantry, armor, artillery, etc). Three-quarters of the Army is composed of conscripts and reservists, who are organized into their units based on provincial and municipal residence. Such units are of varying competence, due to the nature of the long-running war. Volunteers are recognized as having political reliability, and often find themselves placed in designated "Guards" units, to denote an elite status. Guards units are primarily classified as mechanized infantry, although several battalions of paratroopers and commandos exist within their ranks. Most soldiers are reasonably equipped, although supply is a serious issue.
      • Colranian Air Force - The aerial warfare branch of the AFC, and the second-largest of the services. The force boasts several wings of fighters, bombers, support aircraft, and helicopters, usually in support of Army operations. Older airframes, cannibalized and modified over the years, plague the Air Force. The pilot corps of the CAF is exclusively made up of officers. Enlisted personnel, primarily in the maintenance and technical fields, are generally loyal to the regime, due to the benefits that come with learning technical skills. Guards Paratrooper units are attached to the CAF, and the force maintains a brigade element of base security troops.
      • Colranian Navy - The maritime fighting force of the CAF, and the smallest of the branches. The Navy is seen as the most tragic of the branches, its admirals still drunk with the promise of a massive re-armament and modernization, long since passed due to the dragging-on of active hostilities. Three battleships, dated from forty years prior, remain in the two fleets of the Navy, along with a number of cruisers and destroyers. While boasting many combat vessels, the Navy sorely lacks in supporting ships, such as minelayers and hospital ships. The Submariner Corps is comprised of forty submarines, although only fifteen of the aged hulks are operational. Subs are commonly employed for reconnaissance and commerce raiding. Shortcomings in force projection are somewhat buoyed by private merchant enterprise. Sailors are generally well-trained and versed in their assigned ratings, but discontent is growing.
      • Patriotic Home Guard - Operating alongside the CAF are paramilitary units of hardline regime loyalists, who operate on the orders of civilian officials as opposed to military officers. The largest of the paramilitary groups is the Patriotic Home Guard, a militia numbering in at twenty-thousand and divided among the major cities into "garrisons." Members are armed and equipped by private initiative, either through their own means or with the help of a benefactor. Home Guard troops primarily conduct interior security operations, often in support of the police. It is also in the purview of the Home Guard to often act as a "press gang," forcibly impressing recruits into the CAF. Security agents are quick to utilize the Home Guard for mass round-ups of dissidents. Home Guard commanders are notoriously corrupt, and are known to engage in various criminal activities.
      • Colranian Dispositive Guard - This is the elite regime guard, and protective force for Colranian elites. Two divisions of the Dispositive Guard exist - both comprised of mechanized infantry and armor. Soldiers are often handpicked from the "Guards" units of the Army, or are noticed in high school for their notable demonstrations of blind loyalty to the state.

    • Albren is a Stalinist far-left state organized along Laborist principles. Despite its claims of proletarian equality, it is mostly dominated by the majority Albra ethnic group. The conflict is based on longstanding animosity, national pride, ideological disputes, and competition for radiant-rich border companies.

    • Preliminary questions:
      • What is the military's role in politics? Does the regime control it? Does it control the regime? Or is the situation more complicated? Are there political officers of some kind? How does the authoritarianism of the regime impact the military's structure and effectiveness? What is its role in maintaining authoritarian rule?
      • What is the Albrish military like?
      • Do we have any other neighbors? What are they like? What is Colrania's relationship with them?

  7. Mass Culture and Consumer Goods
    • This section of the outline is for those small details that make a setting feel genuinely lived-in. It's less about ancient cultural traditions, and more about what your character's favorite soda is.
    • Preliminary questions:
      • What is music like? How big a cultural role does it play? How much is it like our music in this era? (Is there disco? There should be disco.)
      • What is food like? How different is it in different ethnic groups? Is there fast food? What do poor college students in their early twenties eat?
      • Perhaps more importantly, what do they drink? What does recreational drug use look like? How much of it is legal? Is there a Colranian nightlife scene? What are the general culture's sexual mores? How do they apply to queer folks?
      • What is literature like? How about radio? TV? Movies? Sports? Are athletes or movie stars a big deal? Does Colrania have any pop-culture icons?

  8. Haloran and West Evermark
    • Haloran will be the primary setting of the RP, at least at first. It is a town of about 80,000 in the province of West Evermark. It is one of Colrania's major university towns, and also used to be an important manufacturing center, though its factories have now started to close. The combined attraction of the university and the factory jobs mean that Haloran is highly ethnically diverse: a microcosm of Colrania. All of the player characters grew up here.
    • Haloran is in a beautiful wooded valley.
    • Preliminary questions:
      • What does this town feel like? Are there local festivals? Landmarks? Famous local businesses?
      • Who runs this town? This question interacts with national politics, but is not defined by it. Are there major local political leaders? Police officials? Military leaders? Religious or cultural leaders? Is there a famous athlete or musician from Haloran? Who has the ear of the public?
      • What is the role of the university? What are town-gown relations like?
      • How does Haloran handle its diversity? What are ethnic relations like? Is there a majority group? A plurality? Who thinks the town is "theirs," and why? Is there residential segregation? Has there been past unrest?
      • What did the local factories do? Why are they closing? Was there any kind of organized labor here? How is the town changing, and why?
      • What is crime like in Haloran? How organized is it? What motivates it? Who runs it?
      • What is the larger province of West Evermark like? Are there other cities here? What is the landscape like? The climate? Who lives here? Why is it called West Evermark, besides the fact that Norv ran out of creative juice?
Last edited by Reverend Norv on Thu Mar 26, 2020 6:17 am, edited 7 times in total.
For really, I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he. And therefore truly, Sir, I think it's clear that every man that is to live under a Government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that Government. And I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that Government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under.
Col. Thomas Rainsborough, Putney Debates, 1647

A God who let us prove His existence would be an idol.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Reverend Norv
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Posts: 2657
Founded: Jun 20, 2014
New York Times Democracy

Postby Reverend Norv » Wed Mar 25, 2020 3:09 pm

- reserved -
For really, I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he. And therefore truly, Sir, I think it's clear that every man that is to live under a Government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that Government. And I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that Government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under.
Col. Thomas Rainsborough, Putney Debates, 1647

A God who let us prove His existence would be an idol.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Cylarn
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Posts: 14689
Founded: Nov 25, 2011
Left-Leaning College State

Postby Cylarn » Wed Mar 25, 2020 3:21 pm

As always, an excellent piece of work. Lemme go ahead and get a contribution up. Many more shall follow in the next few hours.

The Colranian military would be divided into different service branches, as with any military. There would be an Army, a Navy, and an Air Force, possibly even a separate Special Operations Command. However, divisional rivalries, corruption in the officer class, and chaotic chains of command should dominate the military, while it simultaneously parades itself as a bastion of order, purity, and national duty. An average soldier, the Colranian conscript, counts the months until their term of service ends. The average officer will count how much hard cash they have made through less-than-kosher means. Units would differ in training, in loyalty, and equipment, and much of this depends upon the connections of the respective commanders to the regime. Those cozy with the autocrats would find themselves well-equipped and left to operate with a degree of operational Independence. Others would be given shock battalions for no other reason than to shore up the body count. At the end of it all, the regime has the final say on military matters.

In the middle of a game, but once it ends, I fully intend to hop on my laptop and get some in-depth writing in.
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Reverend Norv
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Founded: Jun 20, 2014
New York Times Democracy

Postby Reverend Norv » Wed Mar 25, 2020 3:23 pm

Cylarn wrote:As always, an excellent piece of work. Lemme go ahead and get a contribution up. Many more shall follow in the next few hours.

The Colranian military would be divided into different service branches, as with any military. There would be an Army, a Navy, and an Air Force, possibly even a separate Special Operations Command. However, divisional rivalries, corruption in the officer class, and chaotic chains of command should dominate the military, while it simultaneously parades itself as a bastion of order, purity, and national duty. An average soldier, the Colranian conscript, counts the months until their term of service ends. The average officer will count how much hard cash they have made through less-than-kosher means. Units would differ in training, in loyalty, and equipment, and much of this depends upon the connections of the respective commanders to the regime. Those cozy with the autocrats would find themselves well-equipped and left to operate with a degree of operational Independence. Others would be given shock battalions for no other reason than to shore up the body count. At the end of it all, the regime has the final say on military matters.

In the middle of a game, but once it ends, I fully intend to hop on my laptop and get some in-depth writing in.


Sounds great so far, Cy - you clearly have understood the atmosphere I am shooting for. I can't wait to see the details.
For really, I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he. And therefore truly, Sir, I think it's clear that every man that is to live under a Government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that Government. And I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that Government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under.
Col. Thomas Rainsborough, Putney Debates, 1647

A God who let us prove His existence would be an idol.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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Cylarn
Postmaster-General
 
Posts: 14689
Founded: Nov 25, 2011
Left-Leaning College State

Postby Cylarn » Wed Mar 25, 2020 3:25 pm

Reverend Norv wrote:
Cylarn wrote:As always, an excellent piece of work. Lemme go ahead and get a contribution up. Many more shall follow in the next few hours.

The Colranian military would be divided into different service branches, as with any military. There would be an Army, a Navy, and an Air Force, possibly even a separate Special Operations Command. However, divisional rivalries, corruption in the officer class, and chaotic chains of command should dominate the military, while it simultaneously parades itself as a bastion of order, purity, and national duty. An average soldier, the Colranian conscript, counts the months until their term of service ends. The average officer will count how much hard cash they have made through less-than-kosher means. Units would differ in training, in loyalty, and equipment, and much of this depends upon the connections of the respective commanders to the regime. Those cozy with the autocrats would find themselves well-equipped and left to operate with a degree of operational Independence. Others would be given shock battalions for no other reason than to shore up the body count. At the end of it all, the regime has the final say on military matters.

In the middle of a game, but once it ends, I fully intend to hop on my laptop and get some in-depth writing in.


Sounds great so far, Cy - you clearly have understood the atmosphere I am shooting for. I can't wait to see the details.


The Imperial Iranian military is attaining my interest, so expect some good material.
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Rudaslavia
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Founded: Mar 28, 2014
Corporate Police State

Postby Rudaslavia » Wed Mar 25, 2020 5:19 pm

I have so many ideas that I can hardly even begin to organize them. But here's what I'm thinking with regard to Colranian politics, economics, and relations with Albren. I think it could also line up with Cy's model for the Colranian military.

So what if the conflict between Colrania and Albren is rooted in irreconcilable gaps between state ideologies? I envision both Colrania and Albren as being ruled by authoritarian governments of opposite political extremes; it would be reminiscent of the ideological divide that separated fascist countries in Europe from the Soviet Union before WWII. And, given the lack of nuclear technology in this world, the state of never-ending warfare between the two powers since the emergence of their current regimes would make sense. The last few decades of war have become an Orwellian norm.

In the case of this universe, the government of Albren represents the fringe left of the political spectrum -- analogous to the Stalinist regime during its semi-nationalistic phase in WWII. Although the regime's propagandists occasionally harp on ethno-nationalistic sentiments (particularly within the ranks of the military), the Albrenese state professes itself as the embodiment of perpetual revolution. The principles of said revolution are derived from the ideological tenants of [some equivalent of communism in this world that might go by a different name -- "laborism," perhaps?]. On paper, these tenants entail national and/or international unity based on labor, social ownership, rule by the proletariat masses, and progression toward a classless utopia, or "Perfect Laborism." In practice, however, Albren functions as a brutal dictatorship with a command economy and forced collectivization of property.

Although the regime professes equality for all peoples under its rule, the dominant ethnic group of Albren is presently and historically the Alba ethnic group, which is culturally analogous to the Romanians or perhaps the Turks of our world.

Colrania, on the other hand, represents the fringe right of the political spectrum -- analogous to an ideological amalgamation of Nazism, Pétainism, and Francoism. In contrast to the laborist "republic" of Albren, the Colranian regime is a bastion of the counterrevolutionary right. Driven by the ideological tenants of [some equivalent of fascism -- maybe "national integrism?"], the Colranian government seeks to stop, contain, and ultimately destroy laborism (as well as a number of other "social enemies" it deems incongruous with its desired state of "Integration") wherever it emerges. The Colranian government and military are deeply intertwined entities, with the military acting as a model for the rigidly structured, integrated, and corporatist society the state seeks to foster. Perhaps they have a monarch that acts as a figurehead, or maybe a dictatorial strongman that portrays himself/herself as the successor to the absolute monarchs of the country's past, as Hitler did when referencing the Kaiserreich. Unlike the Albrenese government, Colrania's ruling party openly endorses ethno-nationalism as a means of achieving socio-political unity. In fact, it represents a key tenant of national integrism. The regime's proponents are racial supremacists, advocating the political, social, and economic dominance of ethnic Colranians over all other minorities in the country. I envision the Colranians as being culturally analogous to the French of our world.

Economically speaking, Colrania aims for self-sufficient autarky by way of semi-capitalistic corporatism. This has created an environment ripe for nepotistic corruption; party members and their affiliates have a dramatic leg up, and economic inequality is becoming increasingly drastic with every passing year. Privatization exists, but is heavily influenced by the state. Smaller "mom-and-pop shops" are gradually being crushed or absorbed by larger corporations, and independent labor unions have been outlawed in favor of a single, state-run union (which, in reality, acts as the economic wing of the secret police). The government has injected its ideological principles into every sector of civilian life, from the public education system to the industrial workplace.

Maybe the war between Colrania and Albren was exacerbated by a resource conflict? We should think on that.

And maybe Colrania and Albren were once expansive empires in the previous century, thereby explaining the presence of minorities? Perhaps these empires collapsed in the wake of a physical or economic catastrophe, called the "Calamity," which saw the rise of the present regimes in both countries? I don't know. Just tossing ideas around.
Last edited by Rudaslavia on Wed Mar 25, 2020 6:24 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Tayner
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Postby Tayner » Wed Mar 25, 2020 5:53 pm

What is the Colranian Army like? How is it organized? What is its equipment like? Its training? What does it feel like to be a Colranian conscript? Are there active-duty units too? How are they different? How do you become an officer?

I'm thinking it's organized similar to America's organization, with a higherarchal command with each accending level of command, each one having more subordinate units as you go up (like squads are subordinate to platoons which are subordinate to companies, and so on). For equipment, we could see soviet style shit. There could be active duty units consisting of either people who opt into them (i.e. You serve longer than your mandatory conscription for better benefits), or conscripts who finish their tour and re-up into them. I'd also like to think they'd be better equipped and supplied.

Maybe a distinguishing difference could be Active units are composed of people from all over the country, while conscript units are taken from and composed of people from certain regions (i.e., you'd have all your people from Haloran in one unit, like the 5th Haloran Infantry Battalion or whatever)

On becoming an officer, you could have a weird combination of Battlefield promotions, wealthy kids dodging the dangerous part of conscription because their parents bought them a commission, and people who actually graduated a state military college.

Also, Haloran should be woodland and in a valley because that'd be aesthetic as fuck.
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Postby Agritum » Wed Mar 25, 2020 5:56 pm

Radient is a fossil fuel found in both Albren and Colrania. It has much higher fuel efficiency than regular oil, pushing military supply chains to prioritize it. Extraction often takes place through massive drill-pumps boring into the ground to Pierce known reserves of Radient. It is a sludgy, golden liquid. Work conditions in Radient plants are often sketchy. There's also a suggested link about Radient-powered factories and equipment creating noxious exhalations. Some research, often undertalked, links it to cancerous pathologies even when inert.

Radient production in Colrania is handled by Natrak, formerly known as the National Radiant Concern before a privatization campaign a few years before the RP's date. Initially promoted as a public shareholding company, currently Natrak is chaired by businessmen close to the government. In the international stage, it is often accused of questionable market practices, like sudden stops&gos while Radient futures are traded on most markets. Radient has an unmistakable earthy scent, best savoured while filling up vehicles at the gas station.

The Colranian Lire is the sovereign currency of Colrania. The Colranian Central Bank has a low degree of Independence. The Lire is particularly inflated through a combination of low interest rates and extensive stimulus spending to fund the war industry. Colranians are heavily encouraged to purchase state bonds for the war effort, with the promise of lucrative payouts after victory in Albren. The price of living has rose in particular as a result of the war inflation. Nonetheless, Colrania tends to approach "full employment", albeit dysfunctionally. Foreign currency is a common Grey and black market commodity, originating from tourist localities in Colrania.
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Rudaslavia
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Corporate Police State

Postby Rudaslavia » Wed Mar 25, 2020 6:18 pm

Agritum wrote:Radient is a fossil fuel found in both Albren and Colrania. It has much higher fuel efficiency than regular oil, pushing military supply chains to prioritize it. Extraction often takes place through massive drill-pumps boring into the ground to Pierce known reserves of Radient. It is a sludgy, golden liquid. Work conditions in Radient plants are often sketchy. There's also a suggested link about Radient-powered factories and equipment creating noxious exhalations. Some research, often undertalked, links it to cancerous pathologies even when inert.

Radient production in Colrania is handled by Natrak, formerly known as the National Radiant Concern before a privatization campaign a few years before the RP's date. Initially promoted as a public shareholding company, currently Natrak is chaired by businessmen close to the government. In the international stage, it is often accused of questionable market practices, like sudden stops&gos while Radient futures are traded on most markets. Radient has an unmistakable earthy scent, best savoured while filling up vehicles at the gas station.

The Colranian Lire is the sovereign currency of Colrania. The Colranian Central Bank has a low degree of Independence. The Lire is particularly inflated through a combination of low interest rates and extensive stimulus spending to fund the war industry. Colranians are heavily encouraged to purchase state bonds for the war effort, with the promise of lucrative payouts after victory in Albren. The price of living has rose in particular as a result of the war inflation. Nonetheless, Colrania tends to approach "full employment", albeit dysfunctionally. Foreign currency is a common Grey and black market commodity, originating from tourist localities in Colrania.

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Rudaslavia
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Postby Rudaslavia » Wed Mar 25, 2020 6:20 pm

What do y'all think of my ideas regarding the political environments of the regimes in Colrania and Albren? I can write up a preliminary history of the ruling party and its assumption of power if you'd like.
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Cylarn
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Postby Cylarn » Wed Mar 25, 2020 7:01 pm

Tayner wrote:
What is the Colranian Army like? How is it organized? What is its equipment like? Its training? What does it feel like to be a Colranian conscript? Are there active-duty units too? How are they different? How do you become an officer?

I'm thinking it's organized similar to America's organization, with a higherarchal command with each accending level of command, each one having more subordinate units as you go up (like squads are subordinate to platoons which are subordinate to companies, and so on). For equipment, we could see soviet style shit. There could be active duty units consisting of either people who opt into them (i.e. You serve longer than your mandatory conscription for better benefits), or conscripts who finish their tour and re-up into them. I'd also like to think they'd be better equipped and supplied.

Maybe a distinguishing difference could be Active units are composed of people from all over the country, while conscript units are taken from and composed of people from certain regions (i.e., you'd have all your people from Haloran in one unit, like the 5th Haloran Infantry Battalion or whatever)

On becoming an officer, you could have a weird combination of Battlefield promotions, wealthy kids dodging the dangerous part of conscription because their parents bought them a commission, and people who actually graduated a state military college.

Also, Haloran should be woodland and in a valley because that'd be aesthetic as fuck.


Equipment-wise, I could see a neutral blend of Eastern and Western military equipment for the period. Regular soldiers would get issued a semi-auto battle rifle chambered for .308, while rear-echelon troops and SF would be equipped with intermediate-chambered carbines. SMGs would be common among the latter units as well as by reservists and police/militia, but would be in the process of being phased out among the regular front-line units.

As for the distinction between volunteers and conscripts, re-ups and volunteers could filter into the more professional "Guards" units; I.E. "442nd Guards Infantry Battalion." I think political reliability of units would be a factor in supplies and standards of equipment; thus, the volunteer-heavy Guards would receive better grades of equipment and more regular shipments, because they would be seen as more essential to the state than the conscript units, many of which would either be front-line infantry or shitty rear-echelon work. I do like the regional units, in aspect of reserves (if our characters are reservists in some cases).

EDIT: I see the average Colranian infantryman being armed with the following:

  • Primary service weapon; likely something akin to a CETME '56 or a G3.
  • Sidearm; thinking either a Helwan copy, or closer to a Hi-Power.
  • Foldable entrenching tool.
  • Knife bayonet.
  • Gas mask; M17.
  • Harness and pack; 1956 Load-Carrying Equipment.
  • Infantry First Aid Kit; basically just a roll of gauze and nothing else.
  • Two steel canteens for water, along with a dining kit of a steel cup, spork/knife combo, and usually one combat ration pack.
  • Flak jacket.
  • Steel helmet; personally, I opt for M1 helmets, covered with netting. Camo covers optional.

I will contact Insy about camo patterns. I know that he's advised me in the past on different patterns, so he'd be the guy to give us a visual of what pattern to throw on the Colranian uniforms. Would be interesting to see soldiers equipped with a mix of camouflage and a solid color pattern of uniforms.

The Colranian Ministry of Defense oversees most military matters, and the primary agency for national defense and military power projection is the Armed Forces of Colrania (we can always make the name fancier). The AFC is supplied with troops, male and female, primarily by way of conscription, although a quarter of the military is composed of a standing corps of volunteers and re-enlisted conscripts. Operational competency varies from unit to unit. Compounding factors include the long-standing taxation of war, rampant corruption throughout the ranks, the over-centralization of authority and direction in operations, and disorganized and overlapping chains of command. Some of these mechanisms are the work of the powers that be within the regime; designed with the intent to keep the military from being organized enough to stage a coup, but not so disorganized that they couldn't fulfill the national will.

  • Colranian National Army - The primary fighting arm of the AFC, the largest in terms of manpower and equipment, and the oldest branch of service. The CNA is a fairly modernized army, with dozens of divisional-strength units of combined-arms unit (infantry, armor, artillery, etc). Three-quarters of the Army is composed of conscripts and reservists, who are organized into their units based on provincial and municipal residence. Such units are of varying competence, due to the nature of the long-running war. Volunteers are recognized as having political reliability, and often find themselves placed in designated "Guards" units, to denote an elite status. Guards units are primarily classified as mechanized infantry, although several battalions of paratroopers and commandos exist within their ranks. Most soldiers are reasonably equipped, although supply is a serious issue.
  • Colranian Air Force - The aerial warfare branch of the AFC, and the second-largest of the services. The force boasts several wings of fighters, bombers, support aircraft, and helicopters, usually in support of Army operations. Older airframes, cannibalized and modified over the years, plague the Air Force. The pilot corps of the CAF is exclusively made up of officers. Enlisted personnel, primarily in the maintenance and technical fields, are generally loyal to the regime, due to the benefits that come with learning technical skills. Guards Paratrooper units are attached to the CAF, and the force maintains a brigade element of base security troops.
  • Colranian Navy - The maritime fighting force of the CAF, and the smallest of the branches. The Navy is seen as the most tragic of the branches, its admirals still drunk with the promise of a massive re-armament and modernization, long since passed due to the dragging-on of active hostilities. Three battleships, dated from forty years prior, remain in the two fleets of the Navy, along with a number of cruisers and destroyers. While boasting many combat vessels, the Navy sorely lacks in supporting ships, such as minelayers and hospital ships. The Submariner Corps is comprised of forty submarines, although only fifteen of the aged hulks are operational. Subs are commonly employed for reconnaissance and commerce raiding. Shortcomings in force projection are somewhat buoyed by private merchant enterprise. Sailors are generally well-trained and versed in their assigned ratings, but discontent is growing.
  • Patriotic Home Guard - Operating alongside the CAF are paramilitary units of hardline regime loyalists, who operate on the orders of civilian officials as opposed to military officers. The largest of the paramilitary groups is the Patriotic Home Guard, a militia numbering in at twenty-thousand and divided among the major cities into "garrisons." Members are armed and equipped by private initiative, either through their own means or with the help of a benefactor. Home Guard troops primarily conduct interior security operations, often in support of the police. It is also in the purview of the Home Guard to often act as a "press gang," forcibly impressing recruits into the CAF. Security agents are quick to utilize the Home Guard for mass round-ups of dissidents. Home Guard commanders are notoriously corrupt, and are known to engage in various criminal activities.

    Colranian Republican Guard - We can definitely change the name to match the supposed state of the government, but the Republican Guard is the "elite" presidential guard, and protective force for Colranian regime elites. Two divisions of the Republican Guard exist - both comprised of mechanized infantry and armor. Soldiers are often handpicked from the "Guards" units of the Army, or are noticed in high school for their notable demonstrations of blind loyalty to the state.
Last edited by Cylarn on Thu Mar 26, 2020 1:33 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Democratic Socialists

Postby Great Confederacy of Commonwealth States » Thu Mar 26, 2020 1:43 am

Right, off to work we’re going?
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Postby Great Confederacy of Commonwealth States » Thu Mar 26, 2020 4:33 am

I have tried to make something of a government form, with some description of its philosophical underpinning. If people are okay with this (or some aspects of this) I'll get to work on more details, like history and specific internal rivalries, and also where its points of failure are.

Just to give an idea: the Dispositive is basically a weaponised bureacracy, where no single cog has enough power to challenge the central government. They are also not bound by any rules of procedure. Many different cogs in the machine have to work together to achieve anything of note, which leads to diffuse power that cannot threaten the central government. Basically, imagine an army of dark blue suits, each contributing a tiny part to the whole, but each being feared by the citizenry because no-one truly knows how the state apparatus functions, and you never know what information ends up where.


The Damsean Dispositive

Also known as The Machine or The Factory, the Dispositive describes the Colranian form of government. If other government forms laud themselves on their idealism, The Dispositive congratulates itself on a ceaseless pursuit of the purely pragmatic. It is a moral-neutral form of government, where there is no room for judgement or personal responsibility.

In practise, the Dispositive is a giant civil service apparatus. It consists of subdivisions and departments beyond count, all being tasked with one tiny part of the responsibilities of a functioning State. In this, it follows the writings of Hubert Damse, one of the foremost Patrionagio scholars. According to Damse, the biggest threat to society is a government which fails to keep order. During times of civil strife, civilians die and are forced to do unspeakable acts, while the government should keep its citizens safe and free in pursuit of their own morality. Paradoxically, according to Damse, in order to allow for the pursuit of moral perfection of the citizenry, the government should not subject itself to the same rules as civilians, but instead be as efficient, pragmatic, and ruthless as necessary. In his view, the government is the vessel containing society, and if society is to be liquid, the government has to be firm to contain it.

According to Damse, the idea of ‘civil strife’ is broader than mere civil war or revolution. Any unlawful or immoral act is an act of defiance against society. Any abundance of crime means the State has failed to keep order, which is an argument against its practises. Any government that allows crime to exist has failed, in the eyes of Damsean thinkers.

Two factors allow for political strife: respect for criminals (which causes ‘personal civil strife’) and coagulated power (which causes ‘political civil strife’).

1. Respect for criminals is professed by some state in the form of ‘civil rights’, which cannot be abrogated from when the subject has committed heinous acts. This is naïve, since criminals will do everything in their power to subvert these rules. It ties one hand behind your back, while you have a duty to your citizenry to use both hands. Therefore, there should not exist such a thing as criminal procedural law. A Dispositive state does not make arbitrary distinctions between civil, criminal and administrative law. They all exist with the same goal, and when the rules of the written law come to contradict that goal, they should be discarded.
2. Coagulated power means putting too large amounts of power in the hands of people further down the hierarchy. This is the greatest threat to those in charge, since most governments are destroyed by internal coups. Failed Electoral states put power in the hands of independent judges and parliamentarians, which allowed these institutions to work against the interests of the executive. In the Damsean state, no power should be allowed to coagulate in one person below the executive. There should be plenty of different departments, and these departments should have to work together in order to achieve any goal. This makes it impossible for anyone further down the chain to successfully oppose the executive.

In practice, Colrania therefore is governed by an unaccountable bureaucracy. The Bureaucrats, or Dispositives, are judge, jury and executioner, with almost unfettered power in an incredibly small sliver of state operations. Traffic cops, for example, are allowed to enter homes without warrant and search your house, but only to establish whether your double-parking was defensible. This, not so much to protect the citizens, but more to protect those above them, as no single person should be allowed to challenge the power of the executive. Whether you are allowed to appeal a decision is entirely dependent on the internal structure of a division within the central government. Some bureaus allow for written appeals, while others only allow for oral pleadings, while others do not allow appeals at all. These appeals are entirely internal, as there exists no such thing as an independent judge. How far you are allowed to appeal is also subject to internal rules. These organisations are under no obligation, however, to follow their own rules, and directors of divisions are free to discard their own rules if it is in the interest of justice and morality.

Finally, these Dispositives can be anyone. There is no uniformed police in Colrania. The Dispositives are recognisable by their government-issue dark blue suits (earning them the nickname Hollys, after the blue mountain flower), but they can also wear normal civilian clothing. Their power comes from them having a certain position within government, so whether they are recognisable or not does not make a difference for a citizen’s duty to follow their orders. This has created an atmosphere of constant vigilance, where even someone asking for a cigarette can be a Holly, and not giving them one could earn you a beating or a large fine. Even within families, it is not always certain whether someone is a Holly, and what division they belong to. This means many people practice self-censorship, unless they truly trust the person they are talking to. And even then... mistakes have been made.

The diffusion of power has allowed the Dispositive to be responsible for some truly heinous acts, completely outside of the responsibility of its cogs. For example, at the start of the chain, someone might decide that, if a partisan kills a government agent, ten important people within the village it occured in should receive some kind of punishment. A second government agent might then decide, not knowing the contents of the decision of the first, that a punishment should be death. Then, a third might, unaware of the earlier decisions, report a shooting of a government agent in a village. A fourth, against ignorant, will make a list of ten important people in a village, and a fifth agent, without any power to make decisions of his own, will drag out ten people and have them shot. Nobody in this chain is personally responsible for their deaths, and the sixth agent was just following orders. It is a system built to commit horrible atrocities without making any single person guilty.
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Reverend Norv
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Postby Reverend Norv » Thu Mar 26, 2020 4:52 am

Okay! Cy, great work on the military. People should feel free to continue expanding on it, but I think that gives us everything we need to move forward. We are in a good position there. Tayner, while I am mostly going to go with Cy on the military, I agree that conscript units should be drawn from specific areas and I agree that officers should be drawn from different sources - though being politically reliable should also be a prerequisite for getting a commission. Finally, I like the idea of Haloran being in a wooded valley.

Agri, I like both Radiant and your broader ideas about the economy. I think the latter align well with GCCS' idea of the Dispositive. I'd love to see you expand on what areas of Colrania might be aimed at tourists, and give us just the names (and currencies) of a few of those foreign countries. Those sorts of details really make the world seem large and lived-in.

Rud: I like the economic explanation for how the Colranian government is pervasively involved in a purportedly free market. I had always personally imagined Colrania as having some sort of all-powerful Party as an explanation for its problems. Likewise, I think the arc of both Colrania and Albren as being from expansionist empires to anarchy to their current, authoritarian/revanchist state makes sense. Shall we say that around 1905, there was a supervolcano eruption somewhere in this world that caused rapid climatic change and starvation? That Calamity knocked everybody flat for several decades, and when countries started pulling themselves back together, it was under new and more authoritarian political systems. That, in turn, led to the Orwellian state of perpetual war.

Now, regarding government: I think the Dispositive is wonderfully creative and Kafka-esque, and represents a plausible response to the Calamity. I also like the fact that it's not a pure recapitulation of our world's left-right conflict - with all due respect to Rud. So I'd rather go forward with that model, at least for Colrania. I think Albren, though, might still be a left-wing state along more traditional Stalinist lines.

But unless it does real violence to your idea, GCCS, I wonder if it might be possible to frame the Dispositives as being the core - actual state employees - of a larger Party, which includes people in the private sector who are nevertheless trusted to know their place in the system, abide by the rules, and not accumulate too much power. In reality, of course, Party membership absolutely allows you to accumulate too much power, which explains the level of corruption in all aspects of Colranian life - both the public sector and the private. Do you think that would be possible?

EDIT: alternatively, since I realize that a "Party" doesn't make a lot of conceptual sense with the Dispositives, maybe it's something more like a system of reliability ratings? The administration grades citizens by their rates of "voluntary compliance," or something like that. Higher grades make it easier to get government permits of various kinds, and make it less likely that you will be prosecuted for wrongdoing. Accordingly, higher-grade Colranians who own businesses in the private sector can parlay their ratings into corrupt dealing: requiring bribes for promotion or hiring within their companies, for example. This creates a functional equivalent of the Party in a communist or fascist system, but expressed in different language and based on different philosophical underpinnings.
Last edited by Reverend Norv on Thu Mar 26, 2020 5:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Reverend Norv » Thu Mar 26, 2020 6:11 am

Outline is tentatively updated with what we've got so far. It's already a lot more detailed, so fantastic work by all!
For really, I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he. And therefore truly, Sir, I think it's clear that every man that is to live under a Government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that Government. And I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that Government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under.
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Father Knows Best State

Postby Wolfenium » Thu Mar 26, 2020 6:48 am

I'll work on the religious aspects, when I have time. For now, it'll draw inspiration from Gothic Christianity/Arianism and Mazdan religions.
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Reverend Norv
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Postby Reverend Norv » Thu Mar 26, 2020 6:59 am

Wolfenium wrote:I'll work on the religious aspects, when I have time. For now, it'll draw inspiration from Gothic Christianity/Arianism and Mazdan religions.


That sounds very interesting! Are you thinking that this will be the majority faith? If so, we should give some thought to what it says about the Colranian ethnic-majority group, and maybe to its relationship with the Dispositive. I look forward to seeing what you come up with!
For really, I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he. And therefore truly, Sir, I think it's clear that every man that is to live under a Government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that Government. And I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that Government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under.
Col. Thomas Rainsborough, Putney Debates, 1647

A God who let us prove His existence would be an idol.
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Agritum
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Anarchy

Postby Agritum » Thu Mar 26, 2020 7:03 am

The southern swamps of Colrania follow the track of rivers outpouring into the scenic fishermen villages of the Derwan Coast, usually constructed in humid natural cays providing shelter from the storms of the Sen Sea The gradual development of aquaculture techniques and the decline of river-shipping after the construction of the region's S-6 "Essix" highway led to a population influx from the north which altered the demographics of the Derwan Coast inevitably. Lack of usable soil often led to the use of wooden (or, more recently, concrete) platforms to extend buildings on piers and artificial islands. Saturation in the fishing industry and the movement of crucial shipping to other ports of the country pushed the development of a tertiary services sector revolved around tourism from both Colrania and outside.

The weather in the region is usually humid and hot in the warm months, rigid and stormy in the cold seasons of the year, often leading to typhoons. Notably the site of several mosquito-borne disease outbreaks in the early 1900s, the Derwan Coast's sanitary situation has markedly improved with the influx of foreign visitors flocking to the hotels of region, which is also an hotbed for legal and illegal gambling, prostitution & narcotics trade.

The Derwan coast is most often a spot for middle-to-upper class tourists from the Wulpine Regency, mass tourism from newly enriched Bay Toianese, and the occasional affluent amir looking for a different hotspot to dock his luxury yacht.

Wulpine thalers are particularly sought after due to their high exchange value, as in many other tourist locales in Colrania.

OOC: the Derwan coast uses proto-Baltic naming, Wulpus uses Gothic naming, Bay Toianese naming follows Austroasiatic conventions, the Amiris are local nobles from an undisclosed locality.
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Great Confederacy of Commonwealth States
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Postby Great Confederacy of Commonwealth States » Thu Mar 26, 2020 7:49 am

Reverend Norv wrote:Okay! Cy, great work on the military. People should feel free to continue expanding on it, but I think that gives us everything we need to move forward. We are in a good position there. Tayner, while I am mostly going to go with Cy on the military, I agree that conscript units should be drawn from specific areas and I agree that officers should be drawn from different sources - though being politically reliable should also be a prerequisite for getting a commission. Finally, I like the idea of Haloran being in a wooded valley.

Agri, I like both Radiant and your broader ideas about the economy. I think the latter align well with GCCS' idea of the Dispositive. I'd love to see you expand on what areas of Colrania might be aimed at tourists, and give us just the names (and currencies) of a few of those foreign countries. Those sorts of details really make the world seem large and lived-in.

Rud: I like the economic explanation for how the Colranian government is pervasively involved in a purportedly free market. I had always personally imagined Colrania as having some sort of all-powerful Party as an explanation for its problems. Likewise, I think the arc of both Colrania and Albren as being from expansionist empires to anarchy to their current, authoritarian/revanchist state makes sense. Shall we say that around 1905, there was a supervolcano eruption somewhere in this world that caused rapid climatic change and starvation? That Calamity knocked everybody flat for several decades, and when countries started pulling themselves back together, it was under new and more authoritarian political systems. That, in turn, led to the Orwellian state of perpetual war.

Now, regarding government: I think the Dispositive is wonderfully creative and Kafka-esque, and represents a plausible response to the Calamity. I also like the fact that it's not a pure recapitulation of our world's left-right conflict - with all due respect to Rud. So I'd rather go forward with that model, at least for Colrania. I think Albren, though, might still be a left-wing state along more traditional Stalinist lines.

But unless it does real violence to your idea, GCCS, I wonder if it might be possible to frame the Dispositives as being the core - actual state employees - of a larger Party, which includes people in the private sector who are nevertheless trusted to know their place in the system, abide by the rules, and not accumulate too much power. In reality, of course, Party membership absolutely allows you to accumulate too much power, which explains the level of corruption in all aspects of Colranian life - both the public sector and the private. Do you think that would be possible?

EDIT: alternatively, since I realize that a "Party" doesn't make a lot of conceptual sense with the Dispositives, maybe it's something more like a system of reliability ratings? The administration grades citizens by their rates of "voluntary compliance," or something like that. Higher grades make it easier to get government permits of various kinds, and make it less likely that you will be prosecuted for wrongdoing. Accordingly, higher-grade Colranians who own businesses in the private sector can parlay their ratings into corrupt dealing: requiring bribes for promotion or hiring within their companies, for example. This creates a functional equivalent of the Party in a communist or fascist system, but expressed in different language and based on different philosophical underpinnings.

Maybe the idea of a reliability rating is a bit too advanced? China is implementing this now, but that is with access to massive computer systems and internet communication. If you want to have a similar system in the 80s, you would have to do it mostly on paper.

What I had in mind: the way the government deals with the corporate sector is a stark departure from the philosophical underpinings. In the ideal world, according to Despositive thinkers, there would be no organisation outside the State. So, all corporations would be taken over by the central state apparatus, to be used to further its goals. However, this was impractical to implement, so the government basically declared business a 'morally-neutral' zone. So, there can exist a very lively corporate world, differentiated from the government world.

It is the existence of this corporate world that actually causes the most corruption. There is a very lively synergy between the top corporate sector and high bureaucrats, where corporations choose to voluntarily follow orders from these top bureaucrats (way beyond what would legally be required), and these top bureaucrats use that authority in a way that further follows business interests. In return, these high civil servants are invited to glamerous parties and galas, forming some sort of upper crust with the corporate world. Knowing the right people is the key to business success, and it's basically the only key to succes. Knowing the right person, as a corporate executive, will land your opponents in jail, while knowing the right people as a bureaucrat means that you can actually exert some power. Like you said, this allows single individuals to accumulate too much power, and in practice means that these corporate fat cats barely get prosecuted at all, as per your idea.

With regards to corruption, I was thinking something of the following:

Corruption goes two ways. There is a lot of bottom-up corruption, where Hollys will skim some money off the top of their fines before moving it on up the ladder, with every step of the ladder doing the same until only a small part of the fine actually goes into the State coffers. The top-down corruption comes from the aforementioned business contacts of high bureaucrats getting bribes and other advantages from the corporate sector. This means that the only way to get rich in this system is either to climb up in corporate (which requires the right connections) or to become a corrupt bureaucrat (selling your principles out for a quick buck).

Or, as your third option: you can join the army.
The name's James. James Usari. Well, my name is not actually James Usari, so don't bother actually looking it up, but it'll do for now.

Lack of a real name means compensation through a real face. My debt is settled


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Postby Reverend Norv » Thu Mar 26, 2020 8:24 am

Great Confederacy of Commonwealth States wrote:
Reverend Norv wrote:Okay! Cy, great work on the military. People should feel free to continue expanding on it, but I think that gives us everything we need to move forward. We are in a good position there. Tayner, while I am mostly going to go with Cy on the military, I agree that conscript units should be drawn from specific areas and I agree that officers should be drawn from different sources - though being politically reliable should also be a prerequisite for getting a commission. Finally, I like the idea of Haloran being in a wooded valley.

Agri, I like both Radiant and your broader ideas about the economy. I think the latter align well with GCCS' idea of the Dispositive. I'd love to see you expand on what areas of Colrania might be aimed at tourists, and give us just the names (and currencies) of a few of those foreign countries. Those sorts of details really make the world seem large and lived-in.

Rud: I like the economic explanation for how the Colranian government is pervasively involved in a purportedly free market. I had always personally imagined Colrania as having some sort of all-powerful Party as an explanation for its problems. Likewise, I think the arc of both Colrania and Albren as being from expansionist empires to anarchy to their current, authoritarian/revanchist state makes sense. Shall we say that around 1905, there was a supervolcano eruption somewhere in this world that caused rapid climatic change and starvation? That Calamity knocked everybody flat for several decades, and when countries started pulling themselves back together, it was under new and more authoritarian political systems. That, in turn, led to the Orwellian state of perpetual war.

Now, regarding government: I think the Dispositive is wonderfully creative and Kafka-esque, and represents a plausible response to the Calamity. I also like the fact that it's not a pure recapitulation of our world's left-right conflict - with all due respect to Rud. So I'd rather go forward with that model, at least for Colrania. I think Albren, though, might still be a left-wing state along more traditional Stalinist lines.

But unless it does real violence to your idea, GCCS, I wonder if it might be possible to frame the Dispositives as being the core - actual state employees - of a larger Party, which includes people in the private sector who are nevertheless trusted to know their place in the system, abide by the rules, and not accumulate too much power. In reality, of course, Party membership absolutely allows you to accumulate too much power, which explains the level of corruption in all aspects of Colranian life - both the public sector and the private. Do you think that would be possible?

EDIT: alternatively, since I realize that a "Party" doesn't make a lot of conceptual sense with the Dispositives, maybe it's something more like a system of reliability ratings? The administration grades citizens by their rates of "voluntary compliance," or something like that. Higher grades make it easier to get government permits of various kinds, and make it less likely that you will be prosecuted for wrongdoing. Accordingly, higher-grade Colranians who own businesses in the private sector can parlay their ratings into corrupt dealing: requiring bribes for promotion or hiring within their companies, for example. This creates a functional equivalent of the Party in a communist or fascist system, but expressed in different language and based on different philosophical underpinnings.

Maybe the idea of a reliability rating is a bit too advanced? China is implementing this now, but that is with access to massive computer systems and internet communication. If you want to have a similar system in the 80s, you would have to do it mostly on paper.

What I had in mind: the way the government deals with the corporate sector is a stark departure from the philosophical underpinings. In the ideal world, according to Despositive thinkers, there would be no organisation outside the State. So, all corporations would be taken over by the central state apparatus, to be used to further its goals. However, this was impractical to implement, so the government basically declared business a 'morally-neutral' zone. So, there can exist a very lively corporate world, differentiated from the government world.

It is the existence of this corporate world that actually causes the most corruption. There is a very lively synergy between the top corporate sector and high bureaucrats, where corporations choose to voluntarily follow orders from these top bureaucrats (way beyond what would legally be required), and these top bureaucrats use that authority in a way that further follows business interests. In return, these high civil servants are invited to glamerous parties and galas, forming some sort of upper crust with the corporate world. Knowing the right people is the key to business success, and it's basically the only key to succes. Knowing the right person, as a corporate executive, will land your opponents in jail, while knowing the right people as a bureaucrat means that you can actually exert some power. Like you said, this allows single individuals to accumulate too much power, and in practice means that these corporate fat cats barely get prosecuted at all, as per your idea.

With regards to corruption, I was thinking something of the following:

Corruption goes two ways. There is a lot of bottom-up corruption, where Hollys will skim some money off the top of their fines before moving it on up the ladder, with every step of the ladder doing the same until only a small part of the fine actually goes into the State coffers. The top-down corruption comes from the aforementioned business contacts of high bureaucrats getting bribes and other advantages from the corporate sector. This means that the only way to get rich in this system is either to climb up in corporate (which requires the right connections) or to become a corrupt bureaucrat (selling your principles out for a quick buck).

Or, as your third option: you can join the army.


That works for me. We should have some sort of unofficial name for that politically-connected corporate elite, though, analogous to "Hollys" for government officers. That helps to establish the dynamic that I'm looking for - the manus-manum-lavat feeling that the economic elite is of a piece with the regime, and that their corruption is mutually constitutive.

I also have two major questions about the Dispositive that are not answered so far. First, who actually runs it? Who is at the top of this system, and how do they get there? Second, what's the status of local governments in this system? It's important for the plot that there be at least some municipal administration and police that's staffed by local people, but how much real independence would these folks have in this system?

Agritum wrote:The southern swamps of Colrania follow the track of rivers outpouring into the scenic fishermen villages of the Derwan Coast, usually constructed in humid natural cays providing shelter from the storms of the Sen Sea The gradual development of aquaculture techniques and the decline of river-shipping after the construction of the region's S-6 "Essix" highway led to a population influx from the north which altered the demographics of the Derwan Coast inevitably. Lack of usable soil often led to the use of wooden (or, more recently, concrete) platforms to extend buildings on piers and artificial islands. Saturation in the fishing industry and the movement of crucial shipping to other ports of the country pushed the development of a tertiary services sector revolved around tourism from both Colrania and outside.

The weather in the region is usually humid and hot in the warm months, rigid and stormy in the cold seasons of the year, often leading to typhoons. Notably the site of several mosquito-borne disease outbreaks in the early 1900s, the Derwan Coast's sanitary situation has markedly improved with the influx of foreign visitors flocking to the hotels of region, which is also an hotbed for legal and illegal gambling, prostitution & narcotics trade.

The Derwan coast is most often a spot for middle-to-upper class tourists from the Wulpine Regency, mass tourism from newly enriched Bay Toianese, and the occasional affluent amir looking for a different hotspot to dock his luxury yacht.

Wulpine thalers are particularly sought after due to their high exchange value, as in many other tourist locales in Colrania.

OOC: the Derwan coast uses proto-Baltic naming, Wulpus uses Gothic naming, Bay Toianese naming follows Austroasiatic conventions, the Amiris are local nobles from an undisclosed locality.


Looks great, Agri. Do you feel like expanding on the ethnic group/culture of the Derwan Coast fishermen for the demographic section? Fine if not - this already gives plenty for me to incorporate into various sections of the outline.

Also: Cy, I know you take an interest in law enforcement and criminology. If you want to take a stab at what the underworld looks like in Colrania, I think you should go for it. We've started to touch on it in the economy section and in Agri's regional description, so it might be good to flesh it out.

Now that we have fairly well fleshed-out government and military sections, I'll also do some brainstorming about how the two relate - the issue to which GCCS alluded at the end of his post.
Last edited by Reverend Norv on Thu Mar 26, 2020 8:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
For really, I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he. And therefore truly, Sir, I think it's clear that every man that is to live under a Government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that Government. And I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that Government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under.
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Postby Rudaslavia » Thu Mar 26, 2020 10:34 am

So here's some ideas on the history of this world and how Colranian scholars explicate and catalog the past.

History in Colrania has, like most other academic fields, been subjected to thorough revision, simplification, and surveillance by the Dispositive. The Dispositive jettisons the notion of conflicting historical interpretations; such a diversity of opinion is thought to contribute to ideological pluralism -- a quintessential stepping stone to political civil strife. Given the importance of history to identity-building, it was among the first of academic disciplines to undergo the process of "Intellectual Rectification" with the rise of the Dispositive government. Intellectual Rectification entails the realignment (or "correction," in the political terms of the Dispositives) of scholarly principles, methods, goals, and conclusions to suit the pragmatic lines of Dispositive philosophy. The forefathers of the Rectification propounded an "unrelenting pursuit" by all academic fields of three fundamental underpinnings: Truth, Functionalism, and Understanding. A more paradoxical set of values there never was. In practice, Intellectual Rectification represents an unremitting, everlasting means of academic surveillance by the regime.

In accordance with the Rectification, world history has been drastically simplified and reinterpreted as a linear framework of socio-political progression (in which the Dispositive represents mankind's highest intellectual and political achievement). The Dispositive has categorized the last 100,000 years of human history into six "epochs," with a further distinction being drawn between the "Pre-Civilized" (P.C.) and "Civilized" (C.) "eons:"

  • The Pre-Civilized Eon (100,000 PC - 1 PC)

    • The Benighted Epoch (100,000 PC - 5000 PC): Coequally referred to as the "Prehistoric Epoch," the Benighted Epoch represents mankind's primitive stone age. The Dispositive portrays the Benighted Epoch as the first phase of civilizational evolution -- one of apish ignorance, violence, and animalistic strife.
    • The Classical Epoch (5000 PC - 1 PC): The Classical Epoch represents the rise of the first cities and city-states, and saw to the development of humanity's first social, political, and governmental philosophies. The Classical Epoch was initially marked by a general transition from hunting and gathering to permanent agricultural settlement. This transition was made possible by the domestication of horses and cattle, in addition to important inventions such as the wheel and the written alphabet.
  • The Civilized Eon (0 C - Present)

    • The Feudal Epoch (0 C - 1199 C): Also known as the "Pandemonium," the Feudal Epoch represents the first period of "civilized" history -- a period defined by chaos and violent warfare between the many kingdoms and principalities born out of the late Classical Epoch. Though one may be tempted to interpret the competitive nature of the Pandemonium as antithetical to the Dispositive's narrative, the Dispositive paradoxically views the epoch as a gradual process of unification and nation-building; while the Classical Epoch represented humanity's first step toward civilization, it also produced an innumerable amount of "contradictive" kingdoms and city-states, each driven by their own philosophies and ambitions. It was a world dominated by personal and political civil strife. The wars of the Feudal Epoch were a necessary correction of this hazardous error. And from the ashes of said wars, the great empires of the Imperial Epoch emerged.
    • The Imperial Epoch (1200 C - 1799 C): Sometimes referred to as the "Age of Empires," the Imperial Epoch was marked by the emergence of the Colranian and Albrenese empires as the two dominant geopolitical powers of the post-feudal age. Both empires began as minor kingdoms during the Feudal Epoch, rapidly expanding their borders and spheres of influence through warfare. Emmanuel I, High King of Vischia (the future capital of Colrania) and head of the noble House of Vischel, crowned himself Imperator of the Colranian Empire in 1202. Likewise, the Grand Prince Dorin Aurelescu of Albren, archrival of the Vischellian House, was declared Înaltul Împărat of the Albrenese Empire in 1231. Expansionism, political centralization, colonialism, and the concept of the unified nation-state became the defining characteristics of the Imperial Epoch.
    • The Scientific Epoch (1800 C - 1904 C): Coequally referred to by Damsean scholars as the "Age of Industry;" the "Age of Reason;" and the "Early-Modern Epoch;" the Scientific Epoch represents a transition from post-feudal imperialism to the age of technology and "pragmatic rationality." Driven by groundbreaking discoveries such as fossil fuels and steam power, the Colranian and Albrenese empires underwent a massive process of industrialization over the course of the 19th century. From the Scientific Epoch came the invention of railroads, steamships, and factories. Said factories allowed for the mass-production of goods, revolutionizing the nature of the market. These trends led to the development of new philosophies and ideals that challenged the authority of the Vischel and Aurelescu dynasties (as well as religious traditions that had existed since the Classical Epoch). The tenants of Damsean Dispositivism and Laborism -- which would later define the state ideologies of modern Colrania and Albren, respectively -- were born out of the late Scientific Epoch in response to the challenges of industrialization.
    • The Modern Epoch (1905 C - Present): The Modern Epoch began with a series of natural and societal disasters collectively referred to as the "Calamity." I will leave the events of this epoch vague, as we aren't finished fleshing out the details of this modern world. Essentially, the Modern Epoch is portrayed by the Dispositives as the final piece of the human puzzle. On one hand, the Colranian Dispositives, which represent order, rationality, and truth. On the other hand, the Albrenese Laborites, which represent disorder, naivety, and the utopian falsehoods of Laborism.
Last edited by Rudaslavia on Thu Mar 26, 2020 12:22 pm, edited 7 times in total.
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Postby Rudaslavia » Thu Mar 26, 2020 10:45 am

I think it goes without saying that the Dispositive actively hides and/or destroys any historical evidence that contradicts its linear narrative of the past.
Last edited by Rudaslavia on Thu Mar 26, 2020 10:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Great Confederacy of Commonwealth States » Thu Mar 26, 2020 10:52 am

The Crown Council

The Crown Council, or Crown Executive, forms the pinnacle of the Colranian government, fulfilling the position that Damse calls ‘the Executive’ in his works on the subject. The Crown Council, or simply ‘The Crown’, decides on the internal regulation of the Dispositive, and therefore, the laws and regulations within Colrania. These regulations can be public, but publication is not necessary for them to achieve power of law. There is a whole body of secret regulation churning in the background, on matters as diffuse as appeals, how to handle job openings and which prison to send what prisoner to. Within the workings of the government there is a myriad of difficult rules, which can if necessary be changed on a dime.

The Crown Council consists of anywhere between fifteen and fifty members, depending on internal regulations made by the Crown Council itself. Within the Council, power can shift quite rapidly, owing to how many friends within the business world one can accumulate, so one can never speak of one leader of the Council. Just within the past twenty years, power within the Crown Council has been described as ‘decision by unanimous committee’, ‘democratic’, ‘a triumvirate’, ‘a dictatorship’ or ‘an anarchy’. This system, while utterly confusing to the outsider, has created a system which can react very elastically to the ever-changing power structure of the upper echelons of the government.

At the moment, the Crown Council consists of thirty-eight members, serving under a five man Praesidium. The Praesidium makes generalised policy decisions, which the other Crown Councillors have to translate into actual guidelines for their bureaucrats. These Crown Councillors have the power to appoint people to lower positions to act in their stead, which is a system that continues down the line until you reach the actual agents in the street, and this power to appoint and sack people is what gives these Councillors most power. The Praesidium has recently been granted the sole power to nominate people for Councillorship, as well as the ability to nominate a sitting Councillor for termination. Within the Praesidium, more and more power has begun to shift towards the Council Chair, which has allowed her to gain ever-more business friends. There has even been talk of abolishing the Praesidium and giving all relevant powers to the Chair directly, although this has not yet been implemented.


Provincial governments

Officially, the whole government is a hierarchical structure flowing down from the Crown Council up to the individual civil servants. In such a system, there should not be a place for local governance. However, in practice, local governance has actually flourished. Government agents are not subject to hierarchical structures based on geography, but rather on theme. For example, all traffic wardens fall under a hierarchy, and murder investigators operate under an entirely different hierarchy. As such, a traffic warden and a murder investigator in the same town might not share a boss. And that boss will have such a geographically diffuse group of agents to look after that they cannot possible manage them all in detail.

This system has led to the rise of unofficial local compacts between agents. While theoretically separate, Hollys will often work together if they are working in the same rough geographical area. It helps that Hollys are locally sourced, meaning many people working in the field have known each other for years. While in big cities, the official hierarchy is easier maintained because of the larger government presence, in small towns this has lead to all kinds of localised forms of government coming about. Some towns have some form of elected city council, or an unofficial mayor, or some other body that takes care of business. In principle, their power stems from the same source as much of the government’s, mainly business contacts, but localised it’s much more about face-to-face contact with people you have known your whole life.

The government tolerates this kind of behaviour, as long as it does not occur in towns that are too large, and as long as no overtly political point is made. The government, though a lumbering, unyielding hulk, but if there’s one thing it can react well to, it’s uppity peasants. Any challenges to the moral, philosophical and legal authority of the government is met with swift retribution. The penal system within Colrania is so complex that even the people who arrested and sentences individuals often don’t know where they will end up. Some people are just lost in the bureaucracy and never heard from again, others just turn up one day, changed to the bone. But as long as local governance keeps to itself, the government generally allows it as a cost-saving measure.
The name's James. James Usari. Well, my name is not actually James Usari, so don't bother actually looking it up, but it'll do for now.

Lack of a real name means compensation through a real face. My debt is settled


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Rudaslavia
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Postby Rudaslavia » Thu Mar 26, 2020 10:57 am

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Postby Reverend Norv » Thu Mar 26, 2020 11:14 am

This all looks outstanding. I will do another round of updates to the outline tonight. And I may make some additions of my own: details of the Cataclysm, of unofficial town governance in Haloran, of the history of democracy ("Failed Electorism"), of civil-military relations.

At the level of reflection: I think that what makes Dispositivism so interesting as an idea, and what both GCCS and Rud have now done a great job of illustrating, is the purity of its authoritarianism. Far more than most real-world equivalents, it is not claiming to be exercising absolute authority for the sake of some transcendent ideal: the purity of the nation, the liberation of the workers, etc. It is committed to authority for authority's own sake; its amorality, its relativism, leaves power itself as the only true good. It embodies Kafka's critique more purely and with less hypocrisy than any government in the real world ever has.
For really, I think that the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he. And therefore truly, Sir, I think it's clear that every man that is to live under a Government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that Government. And I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that Government that he hath not had a voice to put himself under.
Col. Thomas Rainsborough, Putney Debates, 1647

A God who let us prove His existence would be an idol.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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