Very, Very Small States

“The Microstatic Commission is the Impies’ bad joke at the expense of the rest of us.  You don’t really think they care about thousands of tiny freeholds, do you?  It’s just another means they use to defeat anyone’s attempt to build real institutions and real stability in the Worlds, in the same way as they use the bully pulpit of their Presidium seat to defeat any attempts to give the Conclave some teeth.”

“They encumber the Accord with hundreds, at least, of insignificant delegations – and at the same time, by forcing their recognition and permitting them to equip themselves with military-grade weaponry, they hamstring any actual polity’s attempt to deal with separatist movements, money laundering, tax havens, smuggling, data havens, citizenships-of-convenience, and the other various violations of sophont rights that come along with permitting this promiscuous multiplication of sovereignties by anyone who can get a ship out beyond claimed volumes!”

– Ambassador Sev Mal Criol, League of Meridian

“The Imperials certainly do have their own reasons for propping up the Microstatic Commission and thereby all we free drifts and small freesoil worlds.  I’ve never believed otherwise – for myself, I think they do find us useful in their ideological competition with the centralizing factions in the Accord – and I doubt very much any of my colleagues are naïve enough to do so either.  But they don’t require that we agree with them, vote with them, fight with them, or trade with them – or, indeed, apparently do anything but exist – in exchange for lending the weight of their credence to our sovereignty, and so we don’t really care what those reasons are.”

“As long as they don’t change, anyway.  But for centuries past and for now, it’s helped keep us free and independent of the polities we abandoned and old-school imperialists like Sev Mal’s League, and that’s good enough for me.”

– Ambassador Restal ni Korat an Aiym, Autarchic Habitat of Koesnrat (pop. 47)

“Well, of course we have our own reasons, but they’re hardly as cynical as even Ambassador ni Korat an Aiym implies.  Just because it is a matter of ideology doesn’t mean that it’s not sincere – and I will ask you the same question I would ask any of the challengers of the Microstatic Commission’s members’ rights.  How many does it take to be considered sovereign?  A hundred, a thousand, a million?  A billion?  Why not a trillion, while we’re setting thresholds, and throw quite a few of the loudest complainers out of the Accord?”

“We maintain that this number is one – as our own constitutional arrangements would imply to anyone who studied them – because no larger kind of sovereignty existed until this one, and that one, and those other ones, came together to make them with their own powers.  And should some thousands, or some hundreds, or some tens, or even one alone choose to exercise it themselves, we’ll support them in that.  As a matter of principle.”

– Presiding Minister Calis Corith-ith-Corith, Empire of the Star

“All of these are true.”

– ‘Victoria Diarch’, pseudonymous extranet pundit

The Eldinimieuthunimis Defined

<Yellow-Starred Amethyne Motet in E Flat Minor>, Staff Writer

“A sinister syndicate of crime and corruption, whose deeply-buried tentacles cast a grim shadow across the Associated Worlds.”

– Mach Journalist-I’qar, Vonikar Times

My Voniensan colleague’s taste for assorted alliteration and colorful metaphors aside, it must be admitted that certain of his allegations are true, as are those made more quietly by various other news providers within the Worlds themselves.

From my perspective, of course, as an Imperial citizen-shareholder and resident, the Eldinimieuthunimis is merely a perfectly legitimate trading house.  Their public office tower in Mer Covales is visible from my desk as I write this.  Their openly published corporate accounts and other records are unimpeachable.  (Although the list of outworlders holding 38% of their public nonvoting stock under the shield of Seranth’s labyrinthine banking privacy laws would doubtless make fascinating reading, given the sources of much of the foreign criticism of the organization.)  And no executive or employee of the core organization has ever been indicted, much less convicted, on any issue relating to their corporate operations.

Some of this discrepancy is a matter of location, of course.  The Eldinimieuthunimis locates very few of its operations inside the Empire; as their affable estrev-i-ráyestrev (“overboss”) Calin Sargas-ith-Sarathos Methunimis is happy to explain, there’s very little point in trying to run a syndicate inside the Empire, whose notoriously libertist politics and freewheeling attitude make it reluctant to make most of the traditional money-makers for this type of operation illegal; and thus, makes them unprofitable when the competition is made up of more standard commercial organizations.

Outside the Empire, however, the Eldinimieuthunimis operates very successfully through a number of arms-length sub-syndicates in the fields of smuggling, gray marketeering, arms dealing, information brokerage, and trading in locally illegal technology, immortagens, and hedonic pharmaceuticals, with occasional sidelines in black clinics, gambling, negotiable affection, and snakeheading to freesoil worlds.

The notable thing, of course, about this list of operations – as certain of my colleagues have pointed out – would be the virtual impossibility of convicting someone of any of them in front of a Curial court, given the Charter’s restrictions.  And indeed, the politics and attitude of the Imperial mainstream are such that it is most unlikely that the governments whom they do offend – by treading on their ability to restrict their citizens’ access to weapons, biotechnology (especially immortagens), information and hedonics, or to inject tariffs into private contracts – will find much sympathy in the Court of Public Opinion, either.  The rare occasions on which an attempt has been made to extradite an identified thunimidár (“faded person”; lowest-level employee of the core business, overseeing a particular outworld operation) would appear to bear this out.

Of course one does occasionally see some of their agents from the sub-syndicates hauled up in front of a Curial court and either extradited, or subjected to severe censure; usually in cases where they have been involved in something the Eldinimieuthunimis would consider going too far, such as selling arms to terrorist or violent criminal groups, resorting to sophont trafficking, taking up more traditional organized crime activities such as extortion, or some other such.  It would be the purest paranoia to suggest that the Eldinimieuthunimis has a tacit arrangement with the Watch Constabulary to burn its rogue operations in exchange for providing something for the diplomats to point at by way of action against the Sinister Imperial Mafia.

The same sort of paranoia that might lead this journalist to suggest that the operations of the Eldinimieuthunimis are broadly tolerated by a plurality of Accord governments in order to reduce the market share of much less scrupulous crime syndicates, in fact.

– published in a recent edition of the Accord Infoclast