Trope-a-Day: Illegal Religion

Illegal Religion: Well, now. While neither the Fundamental Contract nor the Imperial Charter considers freedom of religion a fundamental right (those would all be much more, um, fundamental), it is, in most ways, a strict subset of those which it does recognize. The latter does, however, mention freedom of philosophy in the clause which establishes the state religion:

The above notwithstanding, the freedom of philosophy for the individual shall not be abridged, save when required for the public safety; and the rights of the citizen-shareholder shall not be diminished or enlarged on any philosophical criterion; save that the doctrines of a philosophy may act as an impairment to citizenship when they are considered antithetical to true allegiance or the principles upon which the Empire is founded, and the Senate and Curia have made such determination.

– the Imperial Charter, Section II, Article VIII

Thus, no religion is illegal in the Empire per se.

That said, the Empire is very keen on certain principles, like the ethical equality of all sophonts, their endowment with certain absolute, inalienable, non-derogable rights, that these rights are to life and property, liberty, and the pursuit of eudaimonia, the obligation of contracts, and so on and so forth, and if your religion, philosophy, or culture differs significantly on that point – especially but not necessarily in praxis1that’s what’ll get it on the list of Proscribed Promulgators of Pernicious Irrationality.

But, y’know, it’s not a per se ban, it’s a because you are by your own choice and statement incapable of undertaking the obligations inherent in Imperial citizen-shareholdership ban, which the Senate and Curia will be kind enough to explain the details of to you in the Take Your Religion/Culture/Philosophy and Shove It Act (As Applicable).

(Life is, by and large, a little more pleasant for those civilized henotheists who have no problem coming to a polite and respectful accommodation between their private beliefs and the public – primarily Flamic – ones. Dogmatic monotheism isn’t illegal, mind – its practice just makes you look like a right dick.)


Footnotes:

  1. With regard to the “The religion requires or encourages behavior that is unacceptable to the ruling culture. In this case, the rulers may tolerate abstract belief in the religion as long as the objectionable elements are not practiced.” policy mentioned on the trope page, the Empire has thought about it for all of a second and then dismissed it. Remember that old Minbari saying, “Understanding is not required, only obedience”2? The Imperials prefer to espouse the opposite – especially the acquiescents. All deeds grow from thoughts, after all.
  2. Having that in the doctrines of your religion isn’t banworthy, but it’s certainly a bad sign.

While TV Tropes only asks for Rule of Cautious Editing Judgement where Real Life examples are concerned, I’m going to ask that if anyone has the urge to discuss in the comments, we keep it in the hypothetical mode. I’m sure we can all think of such examples one way or t’other, but I do not want Earthling religious flamewars here, and will be striking down on any that do appear with great vengeance and furious anger, m’kay?

Trope-a-Day: Privately Owned Society

Privately Owned Society: In what is now the Empire, long ago. Or now. Could go either way.

In its purest form, in the years immediately following the Drowning of the People. After deciding that democracy amounted to substituting a parade of replaceable jackasses for the old permanent jackasses on the thrones of tyranny – and subsequently tossing the first candidates for the position off a 400′ waterfall – society was indeed privately owned, there not being anything non-“private” left in the world. Law and contract enforcement was entrusted to for-hire and eleemosynary PPLs, justice and arbitration left in the hands of equally private deemsters, and pretty much every other necessary function that people not familiar with the theory of this sort of thing are now thinking of handled by one or another for-profit, non-profit, or cooperative (yes, kids, an internally syndicalist syndicate is every bit as much a free-market entity as a megacorporation) group.

Things evolved somewhat over the centuries, with various PPLs forming complex coordinating superstructure organizations out of efficiency, evolving towards de facto pseudo-monopoly in some areas, and for similar reasons ending up purchasing sovereign rights – which in Imperial parlance are a very limited subset of the bundle of property rights attached to real property, nowhere near as generous as what we would claim them to be on Earth – from their subscribers. These superstructures were, through evolution, the basis of the Old Empires and other pre-Imperial polities of Eliéra, and eventually for the Empire itself.

But is that a move away from a Privately Owned Society?

Well, the obvious answer is that the citizen-shareholders obviously do own the Empire and all its appurtenances. That’s what the shareholders part means. Hell, they can even dissolve it any time they like.

But a more sophisticated answer would be that the Drowning of the People marked a divergence point from our history in that it pretty much killed off all forms of legitimacy, governmentally speaking, as we use the term. You can look down pretty much every form of legitimacy/legitimate government mentioned in that Wikipedia article, and they’ve got a multi-thousand-year old philosophical tradition explaining how that’s a quaint slaver’s rationalization. You can’t legitimize the coercion of the non-consenting no matter how much bullshit you spread on it.

The only source of “legitimacy”, they would claim, is the free consent and contract of the individual, and that’s what they have. Their Divine Majesties’ Governance derives all of its power from literally every single Imperial citizen-shareholder having contracted its services – in the areas of law and contract enforcement, externality management, and some minor coordination functions – and clicked through to accept the terms and conditions of service – and, as Imperials point out laboriously to those missing the point, it has absolutely no existence apart from the sum of people who follow said service agreement…

(And, okay, the volume in which they own the purchased sovereign rights mentioned above. But even tenuous as they are, there’s an entire political faction – the Dissolutionist Tendency – which exists to argue that they should never have got into volume-management in the first place and should sell said rights right back to the citizen-shareholders.)

…and they have the seals and signatures on file to prove that, dammit.

All the terminology and practices reflect this. There’s no tax, for example, because the governance literally does not have the power to tax. All it can do is charge a Service Fee, and that service fee is strictly defined in the contract. And if you don’t pay, it’s not some special criminal offense of “tax evasion” with all manner of special investigatory powers and punishments attached; it’s plain old breach of contract.

Privately owned enough for you?

Trope-a-Day: Mega Corp

Mega Corp: Oh, quite a few.  (Well, bearing in mind the cultural, demographic, and technological differences that mean that while an Earthly multinational might hit millions of employees, its Imperial counterpart probably has a couple of dozen executives, a large computronium core, and millions of jobs being done by subcontractors, sub-sub-contractors, etc., or “on-bounty”.)

The canonical list in the Empire and nearby, the “Big 26” starcorporations, are usually given as:

All Good Things, ICC – retailing

Artifice Armaments, ICC – firearms, heavy weapons, military vehicles, and defense technologies

Atalant Materials, ICC – mining, refining, and nanoslurry production

Biogenesis Technologies, ICC – neogenic organisms, biotech products and bioshells

Biolith Chemical Products, ICC – bactries and organochemicals

Bright Shadow, ICC – computers (including expert systems and thinkers), telecommunications equipment, and infotech

Cognitech, ICC – cognitive science, psychedesign, nootropics, and sophotechnology

Consolidated Mutual Mitigation and Surety, ICC – insurance underwriting and ancillary legal services

Crystal Flame, ICC – immortality (noetic backup archiving and insurance)

Databeat, ICC – major cycle brokerage and information furnace rental org

Ecogenetics, ICC – ecopoesis, living systems, environmental services, and bio-architecture

Enjoyment Unbounded, ICC – entertainment and luxury goods

Experia, ICC – entertainment and media (watchvid, InVid, slinky, and virtuality)

Extropa Energy, ICC – energy production and distribution, antimatter production, and fuels

Gilea and Company, ICC – banking, investments, and futures markets

Llyn Standard Manufacturing, ICC – cornucopias and industrial-scale production

Prosperity Nexus, ICC – investment, fund management, and commercial banking

Ring Dynamics, ICC – stargates (construction, maintenance and leasing)

Riverside Eubiosis Foundation, ICC – pharmaceuticals and health and medical services

Service Gate, ICC – contract matching and labor allocation

Stellar Express, ICC – delivery services, interstellar logistics, supply chains, and shipping

Systemic Integrated Technologies, ICC – robotics, automation, and infrastructure technology

Telememe, ICC – news, statistics, demographics, data mining and information research

Traders in Ideation, ICC – information brokerage, rights management services and data warehousing

Ultimate Argument Risk Control, ICC – security services, military contracting, and mercenary brokerage

Vermilion Harvest, ICC – agriculture, silviculture, carniculture, and bioproducts

…but there are several others that compete close to these leagues – exactly which are named depends on who precisely you’re talking to.

Given the nature of the setting, of course, the traditional unremittingly negative portrayal of business in fiction is utterly averted, and the Big 26 receive the respect they deserve as the mighty prosperity-generating engines that they are.  But then, in their home markets, the free market actually is a free market, so they never had the opportunity to discover corrupt business strategies of monopoly, rent-seeking, and regulating the competition out of business, even if they didn’t tend to be run by people who are every bit as ideological as everyone else in the vicinity.

(Well, not that this opinion is shared by everyone.  Gilea & Co. and UARC, in particular, tend to attract some opprobrium elsewhere in the Associated Worlds, particularly in places that don’t appreciate the absolute sacredness of contract in Imperial ethics, Gilea & Co.’s policy of not recognizing any special difference between “states” and its regular commercial customers, and – especially – its willingness to pursue “asset realization” after a sovereign default with however many of UARC’s finest mercs it takes to impress upon the customer that when they do the job, they always get paid.  But that’s not the mainstream opinion at home.)

As a side note, while it is by no means a conventional corporation, the Imperial Charter makes use of much of the traditional structure of a joint-stock corporation in the Imperial government, such as it is – its citizens, for example, are citizen-shareholders in the technical lingo, and the traditional style of the Imperial Couple includes “Chief Executive Officers of the Imperium Incorporate” – so you could make a convincing argument that the Empire is, in quite a few senses, the biggest Mega Corp of them all.

Go Not To The Imperials For Counsel

“The word which is commonly translated as ‘Imperials’, referring to any of the Empire’s citizen-shareholders, is valmiríän in the original Eldraeic; curiously, it is not cognate at all to that nation’s formal name. From its roots, it could have the meaning either of ‘ordered self’ or of ‘self that sets in order’.

When asked if one translation or the other comes closer to the intended meaning, the valmiríän, infuriatingly, always answer ‘Yes’.”

– The Great Powers and Their People, University of Eö Press

Public-Private Partnership

The degree of cooperation which you can expect to receive in the course of your work abroad will usually – not universally – be a function of the local government class.

Our most successful relationships are usually with the many private sovereignties of the Associated Worlds, large or small – the independent habitats and freesoil worlds.  We have made no secret of our national origins in the private-law providers that sprung up after the Drowning of the People, and while the historical processes that caused those PPLs to join together into first the Old Empires, then the Union of Empires, and finally the Empire have led to many changes, we still show the marks of our origin.  The Imperium Incorporate is still exactly that; the rights and obligations of, and the services provided to and fees paid by, our citizen-shareholders are matters of written and individually sealed contract; and in this way, we acknowledge that our sovereignty – our mandate – is delegated to us explicitly, and on an individual basis, by the people.

In short, it’s not too difficult for them to see us as the same type of organization.  Yes, by any standards, we are a hypertrophied PPL, having taken on other functions such as externality management and certain types of service provision; we are a monopoly within the majority of our service area; and so forth.  But we operate in the same essential paradigm, and we govern, inasmuch as we do govern, by the unanimous consent of our citizen-shareholders.

We treat them, moreover, with respect that most archist polities do not.  We are signatories to the inter-PPL Warden-Bastion Compact, and operate according to its strictures where their clients and our citizen-shareholders interact.  Quite simply, we take them seriously as sovereignties and peers, whether in individual negotiations or before the Conclave, or whether they are managed by PPL corporations operating across dozens of worlds and systems, or are a single habitat with a double-digit population, and are accorded courtesy and cooperation in return which those governments which only respect their fellow public-geopolitical sovereignties are not.

Our relationships with the aforesaid public sovereignties, conversely, are considerably more difficult, and for much the same reason.  Our national myth, incorporating both the fall of the korásan and the Drowning of the People, makes our opinion of public sovereignties of both the autocratic and democratic scholia clear, as do frequent public statements from organizational-engineering theorists examining the principles of contract and consent and libertist action groups alike.

And while we are not treated – by virtue of size and Great Power status – with the same degree of public disdain that the major public sovereignties reserve for the small private sovereignties, the Empire’s steadfast support for the principle of individual self-sovereignty and self-determination and consequent willingness to treat with private sovereignties – many of which have seceded from, or whose population is drawn from ex-citizens of, existing public-geopolitical sovereignties – further significantly impairs our ability to maintain cordial relations.

– excerpt from an early training lecture at the Ministry of State and Outlands

Easy Admissions

SO-0004: Imperial Admission Procedures

SO-0004 Rev. 4611.2.5 — UNCLASSIFIED

[

This is an official document produced by the Logarchy of Engraving, Printing and Stationery on behalf of the Office of Foreign Wanderers and the Ministry of State and Outlands.  It is considered public information under the Transparency Act (Revised) (4106), and may be freely copied and redistributed in its present form.

Ambiguities may have been introduced into this document in the process of translation; in case of doubt, reference should be made to the authentic Eldraeic text.

While every effort is made to ensure that the information in this document is kept fully up to date, please refer to the individual ministry or organization for the most current information. All information is correct at the time of printing.

The latest version of this document is permanently available from:

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This is a path-pointing document intended to capture general searches that are not redirected to a more specific document.  Please use the information below to refine your request:

If you are interested in visiting the Empire for any reason, including to take up employment, rather than taking up citizenship, be advised that there is no requirement to obtain an entry visa or other permit before arriving at the port of entry, nor are there any restrictions on length of stay, or a visitor’s ability to work, own property, or engage in other activities while resident.

Visitors are required to place on record a legally binding commitment to abide by the Fundamental Contract and to comply with the equivalent of the Responsibilities of the Citizen in the Imperial Charter (form SO-I-180) upon entry, violation of which agreement renders the visitor liable to deportation.

The Empire does reserve the right to prevent the entry of security threats (including citizens of threat nations), public health risks, criminals, and those previously deported from the Empire.

For further details on these requirements and restrictions, consult document SO-0100 – So, You Want To Visit The Empire?: Entry Requirements.

If you are interested in becoming an Imperial citizen-shareholder, you may do so at any time, after having entered the Empire as a visitor or as part of that process, by renouncing any previous allegiance or sovereign rights-contract, formally signing the Imperial Charter, and purchasing one citizen-share at the current floating market price (ticker: E).  The Empire sets no quotas or other such restrictions on the ability to adopt Imperial citizenship.

For further details on adopting Imperial citizenship, consult document SO-0200 – So, You Want To Be An Imperial?: A Guide For Prospective Citizen-Shareholders.

If you are a head of state, senior government official, leader of a large political party or faction, or owner of a recognized or unrecognized private sovereignty, and wish to join the Empire as a coadunate group and/or sovereign volume, consult document SO-0300 – So, You Want To Join The Empire?: Applying for Admission.

If you are the leader of an freedom-seeking revolutionary group in accord with the Imperial libertist-technepractic consensus, and wish to arrange possible assistance and/or annexation, consult document SO-1463 – So, You Want To Be Liberated?: Requesting Imperial Interventions.