“I don’t know why I’ve been connected to you, but could you kindly redirect me to Kejor Nreslin?”
“He’s not available. He’s been – reallocated.”
“Then let me talk to whoever has replaced him.”
“Dammit. That’s me. But I can’t talk to you.”
“I can’t talk to you. The Planner doesn’t value what you were working on with Kejor, and the damn fool believed that would change if he finished the deal right up until he lost enough karma to be reallocated. Now I’m bleeding karma from this conversation, and my life-debt’s not secure enough to cover it. So goodbye.”
“Wait! Reallocated where? Can you -”
“Live transplant donation. Goodbye, sir!”
<line cleared by destination>
– recorded at the Hegemony Karmic Virtue Monitoring Center, Spirath V
While they haven’t yet taken much of a part on stage, this little by-request piece illustrates some of the joy that is the Hope Hegemony.
Their governance is an outgrowth of what you might call some of the perversions of scarcity. Spirath V itself was a harsh world, scarce in even basic resources, to which their society adapted through, shall we say, even harsher measures. Even if you might consider that forgivable under the circumstances (even though they are a terrible way to address the problem), it’s certainly somewhat less forgivable now that they’re no longer limited to the resources of said planet.
These measures come in two chief parts:
First, the life-debt, which is similar to the life-debt you may acquire on a primitive habitat – except in the Hegemony, you get a fairly large one when you’re born, for the liabilities against those scarce resources which you’re imposing on the Hegemony by existing, like the need to raise and educate and feed you, and which only continues to climb due to such inconsiderate things you might do like “become ill” (or even worse, “infect others”), “breathe the Hegemony’s oxygen”, and “exude waste products into the Hegemonic biosphere”. Until that life-debt is not only paid down but paid off and kept paid off, the Hegemony owns your ass in a very real and legally-binding way. You must obey and you don’t get to (legally) emigrate.
What it does with said owned ass is determined by the second part of the measures, the karma system, in which work on projects beneficial to the Hegemony and success in them gains you karma, as do things the Hegemony deems to be of social benefit, and just about everything else loses it. Your current karma determines the work options you must choose from allocation to. Which would only be typically totalitarian, except that at the bottom end, your options start becoming things like “recreational services provider” (of the kind you really don’t want to ask about), “toxic waste cleanup”, “life-fire exercise target drone”, “disassembled for spare parts”, or “the protein vats”.
Even Hegemony patriots – and they exist, ’cause there are plenty of people who have firmly convinced themselves that all this is necessary to their survival and prosperity, such as it is, and if a few [which it isn’t] of the underclasses [which it is by no means limited to] end up recycled as Soylent Green, that’s just the way it has to be – are renowned throughout the Worlds as being both very hard-working and utterly terrified.