Questions: Sleep, Implied Contracts, Twinning, Pandeism, Cascading Default, The Drowning, Deals with the Devil, White Elephants, and Stargates

Random thought: Do eldrae sleep?

Yes, except for a few unconventionally modified clades. Specifically, it’s necessary in order to dream – because bio-brains get very unhappy when they don’t get their maintenance downtime. The nowline doesn’t need as much as the baseline (being quite happy to sustain three to four hours a night, or go without for several days if given an extended rest period thereafter), but that’s about where the diminishing returns set in.

The unconventional modifications tend to each come with their own disadvantages.

Do Imperial law and common custom acknowledge the validity of implied contracts, whether implied-in-fact or implied-at-law?

Not as such. The Curial courts have no particular desire to have to invent the terms of contracts and try to parse out the meeting of the minds that may or may not have been.

Instead, to save time, they have form contracts, which are basically library functions in contract law that can be invoked by various things: purchasing over the counter, entering a brawler’s bar, and various other legally defined social rituals. That ensures that the terms are defined, and contracts are always entered into intentionally.

You mentioned that sometimes someone can acquire a backup twin if their incarnation insurer mistakenly believes them to be dead. How is this resolved legally? Is property and assets split evenly? How about debts and obligations? Relationships? Can one arrange in advance what will happen and are there established precedents and norms?

When one person becomes two, the basic legal rule (in the absence of any specific agreements between self and self otherwise) is that various things attaching to them instead attach to the corporate body of both of them. So their property and assets, rather than being split, are jointly owned by both of them; they are jointly and severally liable for all debts and obligations; like any other contracts, they are jointly and severally attached to any relationships they’re in; and so on and so forth.

If it happens accidentally, such that there isn’t any previous agreement, it’s up to the new selves to exchange rights and obligations and buy each other out. Or, y’know, remerge and become one person again.

How are disputes resolved (for those foolish enough not to be able to come to an agreement with themselves).

If all else fails, they can always call on the Curial courts to make a division for them. (This is not recommended; the Curial courts dislike having to referee this sort of thing that reasonable people should be able to work out between themselves, so doing that guarantees that you’ll get a solution that neither of you will like.)

So what would the eldrae make of the idea of pandeism — that the Universe as we know it came about when a Creator of necessarily immense power and knowledge (though explicitly not an omnipotent and omniscient Deity in the classical Abrahamic vein), for whatever reason, ceased to be a unitary consciousness? How compatible would such an idea be with the precepts of the Flamic faith if someone were to make an effort to reconcile the two?

On one level, it has very few compatibility problems – the Flamic faith expends much more time on ethos than cosmos, as evidenced by its existing multiple creation myths which don’t trouble themselves particularly with consistency. And it’s no stranger an idea than many of those creation myths are, particularly in these days of mechanimism and pervasive nanoecologies.

It may, however, somewhat troubled by the pretty clear notion among the Flamics that the creator is a schmuck, for making (or in this case, becoming) such a fundamentally broken universe in the first place. So it would need to be a school of pandeism that can cope with the idea of performing invasive surgery on a blind, idiot, possibly suicidal deity.

And perhaps more interestingly, if said Creator were to have left behind some sort of “last will and testament” (or some other analogous set of injunctions) in the fundamental fabric of the Universe’s structure for its possible beneficiaries to decode and implement, what sort of considerations would the Imperial Curia have to take into account in deciding whether to accept it as a valid and enforceable document?

A contract with only one party is no contract. (Leaving aside the special case of contracts with one’s future self, which is the form many oaths take.) Nor can a creator bind their sophont creations, because they’re independent of will. So between those two alone, it’s not looking good for enforceability.

And the content is going to affect how seriously anyone might take it as advice, even. As mentioned before, the creator is a schmuck. No-one’s going to take the word of the entity responsible for either screwing up and creating entropy, or worse, deliberately creating entropy, as particularly ineffable.

When there are just two parties involved, debt and obligation seem to be pretty straightforward: Once you undertake an obligation, you assume liability for discharging it, and if you default, Bad Things Happen.

However, how do things work out under Imperial law and eldraeic practice when, for instance, A’s default on their obligation to B causes a “domino effect” where B is unable to fulfill their obligations to C as a direct result, causing C to default in turn on their obligations to D, who then has to default against E, etc.? Is each party still responsible solely for its own obligations, or is there some mechanism by which part or all of their liability in this matter can be assigned to A for their role in knocking over the first domino?

“You, and only you, are responsible for yourself,” as the old legal maxim has it.

Contract arrangements delegating risk notwithstanding, you are responsible for all of your obligations. If you choose to subcontract some of your obligations, well then, you’ll want to be confident you have a backup, can cover a potential default yourself, or otherwise hedge  it (using subguard insurance, say, or surety bonds, just like in our system, or guild backing of the subcontractor).

(The courts do have systems to stack cases and process them together for optimal handling in the event of cascading defaults, but that’s merely a convenience feature.)

1. So what’s the “Big Picture” historical view on the Drowning of the People? The “It all happened in seven hours” tale makes for a good yarn to tell around a campfire or kitchen table, but I’m sure that there must have been plenty of preexisting movements, trends, and ideas well before the event itself that all came to a head in that moment.

Actually, that’s more or less accurate for that part of it.

As indicated, the preparations for the revolution took place over years, and the overthrow itself took about a year from start to finish – and afterwards, it took more years to establish the start of what would later be known as the institutions of the Ungoverned Era, to put them on a proper philosophical grounding with the existing ideas floating around (including but not limited to this particular philosopher), and even more time for those to coalesce into the first things resembling a modern Society of Consent…

…but the part where the revolution decided that the democratic faction of their leadership were trying to be the new boss, just like the old boss, and chucked them over a waterfall? That happened pretty much as described.

2. While we’re on the subject of the days of yore, does eldraeic folklore or mythology have any tales in the same vein as the “deal with the devil” plot, where an ambitious yet impatient and shortsighted individual makes some kind of pact with an unsavory sort that (to put it mildly) ends up putting them at a disadvantage, and has to find some sort of loophole to escape their obligation or else risk eternal damnation (or some other equally sordid fate)?

I haven’t written any of them yet, and they are obviously somewhat different inasmuch as most Eldraeic belief systems have/had no adversary/negative-principle personification, merely a negative cosmic force, but it seems quite certain that there are plenty of fairy tales with morals relating to incautious pledges, yes.

(Many of them do probably relate to Úlmiríën, the Necessary Chaos, eikone of rogues, shapeshifters, trickery, epiphanies and unwonted revelations, and sudden paradigm shifts, but hesh’s not a evil deity, but a trickster deity whose bargains, while often painful, teach. Hesh is, after all, the Necessary Chaos.)

Does the Empire have an equivalent of the proverbial “white elephant,” either as an idiom or as an actual “gift”?

The concept exists, as does the social maneuver, although as yet I do not know their names.

After reading that the Empire sends out automated stargate deployment ships, and so there are systems with stargates in them that are otherwise largely unexplored, a thought struck me. How would the Empire respond if they sent a scout through one of these stargates and discovered that there was another non-Imperial, non-Voniensan stargate already in that system? Has that, in fact, ever happened?

By doing SCIENCE to it!

(Carefully and respectfully, of course, certainly. But it’s an obvious scenario that leads to seeking out more of that knowledge and friendship that the Exploratory Service is so keen on.)

And, per below, it has happened…

Also, regarding stargates in the Worlds, the Empire and the Republic are the only folks with the capability to make them, no? I know you’ve said before that Ring Dynamics made most of the stargates in the Worlds, but you never really hinted at anyone else having a weylforge (other than whatever it is that the Republic’s been mining), so I assumed that the non-RD gates were of Imperial manufacture too, just technically by different companies or maybe state-owned.

Ring Dynamics is the only Imperial company in that business, and owns and operates all of the Empire’s gates, under one contract or another, as well as leasing gates and selling gate services elsewhere.

The (rare) non-Ring-Dynamics ones, for the most part and subject to the author’s better-idea privileges, are almost all either rediscovered ancient paleotech relics (many of which are administered by Ring Dynamics under contract because, well, they have people who understand the tech), or belong to local Vingean Powers who figured it out on their own.

 

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: One Nation Under Copyright

One Nation Under Copyright: There are various forms of corporate-style governments found in the Associated Worlds – at least three distinct ones in the Empire alone.

The first of these is the governing corporation – a government which organizes itself along corporate lines. (A distinct feature of this type of corporate government is that the corporation exists solely to be a government, rather than being a corporation focused on something else that happens to govern.) The Empire contains quite a few of these, and indeed, is itself the largest – albeit an impure, the joint-stock corporation itself being in its infancy when it was founded – example of the type, hence the term citizen-shareholder, and the presence in the Imperial Couple’s style of Chief Executive Officers of the Imperium Incorporate.  Another unusual constituent-nation example is the First Distributed Exclavine Republic, a confederation of Imperial exclaves run by a central Board.

(For the libertarians in the audience, one reason for this is that many of these, the Old Empires included, evolved out of PPLs or mutual-PPLs, themselves founded after the fall of the korásan and the Drowning of the People.)

The second of these is the corporate conlegial model, which exists to cover the large number of company-owned (or other privately-owned) but still Imperially-sovereign habitats or other enclaves, in which the responsibility to provide law/contract enforcement and other sovereign services on the Charter model is formally devolved upon the owning corporation’s Infrastructure and Security departments, thus saving a great deal of trouble  where all the thousands of habitat-based office parks and research parks are concerned.   The largest examples, of course, are the jointly-held corporate research planet Wynérias, the privately owned storage depository system Argyran, and the interlocking-collectives-of-Mad-Scientists-owned system Resplendent Exponential Vector.

The third is the corporate colonial model, in which those Imperially-chartered ecopoesis, colonization and development corporations that own entire planets under development are responsible for providing said sovereign services under Charter law on those planets until such time as they’re turned over to their actual final owners.

Variations on these three – essentially benign – models also exist elsewhere in the Worlds, as do some other less benign examples; in the Magen Corporate, for example, non-shareholding citizens are considered corporate assets in the literal sense, and the Chelzan Syndicracy is always fighting corruption in its mutual-conlegial model, but on average, corporate government tends to produce results no worse than any of the other kinds people try and use.