So you’ve been attacked in the Rim Free Zone…

“So you’ve been attacked in the Free Zone…

“…you had a security provider, right? At least I hope you had a security provider, given the giant ‘THE RIM FREE ZONE TRAVEL FACILITATORS’ ASSOCIATION RECOMMENDS THAT YOU GET A SECURITY PROVIDER’ banner hanging in the starport with maybe a thousand different security provider advertisements stacked fog-thick around it in the augmentality.

“But maybe you didn’t take that advice. Or wanted to save money. Or plain didn’t have the money, or the rep, or anything else worth exchange-value.

“And no-one was around at the time? ‘Cause, I mean, not having a security provider doesn’t mean that no-one’s watching your back – it just means that no-one’s being paid to officially watch your back for you, and what you mostly have to watch out for are con artists and other relatively subtle kinds of fraud. (Well, maybe not that subtle, if you played the shell game with that dude who hangs around by the startown maglev.) But we all believe in non-aggression here on Hopamar, and if someone tried to attack you on the main drag, half the people around’d shoot him on general principles, and the other half’d shoot him for what the judge’d award them once she got done stripping the assets off his bones.

“But maybe some kveth-licker fresh off a ship from the Yaffish Marches got to you in an alley when no-one was around, took your terminal and foldcase away from you, and stabbed you cleanly in the left kidney.

“That’s when you call us.

Triple-G Eleemosynary Redistributionists, Inc.

“We make crime not pay.”

“For now, though… do you consent to emergency medical treatment and agree that payment for it can be added to your legal claim against your assailant?”

– a Triple-G advertisement-drone, to a prospective customer

Trope-a-Day: Sliding Scale of Law Enforcement

Sliding Scale of Law Enforcement: Standards vary acutely, depending on where in the Worlds you are.  The Empire’s Watch Constabulary and the PPLs signatory to the Warden-Bastion Compact occupy the idealistic end of the scale (well, one idealistic end of the scale, since they’re perfectly happy to shoot people who won’t surrender if they’re caught in the middle of their special crime) with their great, great respect for individual rights and people’s lack of guilt until formally convicted, willingness to wade in and help out, and generally go above and beyond.

The other end of the scale is, as usual, Nepscia and its fellow Wretched Hives – where “law enforcement” generally means “the biggest brute squad in the vicinity”.  Various more authoritarian states and less scrupulous PPLs occupy the wide, wide middle ground, here.

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.

Refuge Cities

In today’s random postage, something I just wrote on the worldbuilding mailing list, in response to the following:

Do your worlds have a Peace town [city of refuge], where people can go in order to avoid the law?

Not as such, or at least not officially. (Certainly people, like, say, the Imperial State Security Fourth Directorate – whose explicit mission is tracking down anyone who flees the law and introducing them to the stealth gyroc bullet of justice – wouldn’t bother complying with any such requirement even if there was one.)

If you need to flee from the law in the Worlds, your best chance of doing so is change your name, change your body, and head at once via a suitably circuitous route – changing them another couple of times on the way – to some appropriate wretched hive of scum and villainy like, say, Nepscia, where the locals all have enough dark secrets and dodgy business going on that they tend to look askance at anyone wandering around carrying alethiometers or mindprinting equipment even if they don’t actually look like The Law. Of course, while this can be fairly effective in hiding from even rather competent law enforcers (such as the aforementioned Fourth Directorate), the drawback to fleeing to Nepscia is that you subsequently have to live on Nepscia for the rest of your personal ever, which in many ways is its own punishment.

Depending on if you might have pleased or annoyed the right people, you might be able to find refuge somewhere else, too. If you got into trouble helping their fellows escape, for example, the liberated AIs of the Silicate Tree will offer you sanctuary, because they don’t give a bit for meat intelligences in general, but they do understand gratitude. Or if you can find some way of making yourself more useful to them than any trouble you might bring with you is troublesome, of course, although then you should understand clearly that your sanctuary will last precisely as long as your utility.

The Empire, of course, provides a comfortable retirement for all manner of smugglers, free-thinkers, authors, scientists, philosophers, and transsophontists who got into trouble with assorted restrictionist laws, and even some of the right kind of revolutionary (“the People’s Extropian Front”, “Technicians Against Unnecessary Work”, “Citizens United for Liberty and Immortality! Down with DEATH AND TAXES!”, that sort of thing), because of (a) their steadfast refusal to ever extradite anyone for something that isn’t against Imperial law, and (b) because the modal Imperial citizen-shareholder thinks annoying the sort of people responsible for the laws they got in trouble with is downright hilarious.

The Rim Free Zone also serves in this role quite a bit – after all, they’re actual anarchists, and so there’s no-one there you could ask to extradite someone even if you wanted to. Of course, since there’s also no-one who’s paid to prevent anyone else from turning up and dragging you off in chains, etc., you’d better be able to afford PPL coverage suitable to defend you against whoever wants you if you exercise this option, or at least to make yourself too expensive to come get. This should be unavailable to actual criminals, inasmuch as the Free Zone does hold to a sort of rough-and-ready version of natural rights that PPLs won’t defend you against other people if you violate ’em, but if you have enough money, you can probably find a slash-trading PPL that’s willing to do it anyway.

And, equally of course, you’d better be careful that you don’t commit your special crimes against people in the Free Zone once you get there. To steal a perfectly apposite quotation from Buck Godot – just because there is no law in the Rim Free Zone, that doesn’t mean there are no rules.

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