- Most societies form around compatible mindsets and folkways although divergence is often great and multiple binding factors may exist.
- Multiple cooperating societies form a civilization.
- 1 Description (Specifications)
- 2 History & Background (Dossier)
- 3 References & Contributors (Sources)
How does one define a society? Or many societies grouped into one civilization? What are their binding factors? What keeps them together? What breaks them apart? How can one preserve multiple diverging societies over interstellar distances and maintain a cohesive state? How can a civilization achieve Aeonic Stability?
These questions have faced every sophont society since the beginning of NAFAL interstellar travel. Nearly every extant interstellar state, certainly every one of those of the major races have faced these questions multiple times... and failed. The First Empire, the Ziru Sirka failed, and so did the Second Empire, the Rule of Man... The current Third Imperium is under excessive societal pressures and many fear that it to will break asunder. Can the interstellar civilization of Charted Space survive another Long Night?
Every government of the major races has been studying the questions and come up with potential solutions and strategies to solve these issues. Most of the preliminary research, often conducted over hundreds or thousands of years has started with defining what a society and civilization are. The development and use of Psychohistory is one of the important advancements associated with this research.
Aslan society and particularly the Aslan Hierate is massive example of a society pulling in two different directions, one towards massive change and the other towards stolid traditionalism. Racial pride pushes the Aslan towards "violent monoculturalism" with the Tlaukhu as an example of trying to unify the society. Meanwhile the Aslan Clan institution baked by the Ihatei (salic primogeniture) culture push the Aslan into constant internal and external conflict regularly triggering widespread change. The whole society, while culturally stable to a large degree, is also incredible volatile, with clan conflicts constantly threatening large parts of the society. The Aslan see this as the law of the jungle, that the fittest will survive. Traditions emphasizing limited, ritualized violence and avoidance of weapons of mass destruction have so far kept apocalyptic scenarios at bay and the sophontologists have long kept an eye on this society.
Droyne society is largely a cypher, a mystery. Very little is definitively known about it. Some commonalities seem near universal to all Droyne societies across Charted Space while others can be fantastically different. Technology, for instance, different drone worlds across Charted Space can have very different technologies, sometimes that were clearly not built upon the others. For those that believe the Droyne are related to the Ancients, this is explained by a massive experiment and later civil war, a sort of Final War, between deliberatively experimental Droyne societies. Most academics and researchers believe that one of the key clues to Droyne society lies within the study of psionics which has fallen out of favor within the Third Imperium. The Zhodani, the undisputed masters of psionics within human societies, clearly know more, but they aren't telling.
Hiver society and the Hive Federation are very different from every other major race polity within Charted Space. Hiver governance is extremely loose-ended, open-minded, and unstructured in comparison to the more conventional governments of the other major races. The Hive Federation barely had any permanent structure. Almost all of it is an adhocracy, formed to deal with individual challenges as they are encountered. Hive culture is designed for change and chaos with those being the expectations. The background culture are stable within a certain bounds, but otherwise tolerate a greater range of divergence than any of the other interstellar states. And somehow, despite conventional governmental structure, Hivers repeatedly form consensus and take decisive action in response to matters of interstellar relations. No one but the Hivers and possibly some of their allies has any idea how the system works. But, it does work. Somehow.
The K'kree are such successful societal stewards that even the Droyne and Zhodani sometimes marvel at the level of community and social cohesion that the K'kree achieve. It comes at a cost as does any social mechanism, but the K'kree can marshal resources as no other major race can. K'kree society is predicated upon values of stability (security), gregariousness (sociality), Agoraphilia (Love of openness), and a fierce tradtionalism (Monocultural Herbivory). Once a society has established itself as a friend of the K'kree, it will stay so for life unless it breaks the Laws of Herbivory. Those species breaking the laws are marked for genocide and extinction.
Imperial society is known for its vast diversity. The feudal confederation has a very light hand for any world which pays its taxes and minds the Imperial Navy. A wise world ruler or government has a vast amount of room with which to experiment with various folkways and cultural aspects. The Travel Zone system was created to give a sophont a little warning before visiting dangerous or troublesome worlds.
The Terrans are known for their incredible diversity, aggression, self-confidence, tolerance, and general societal vigor. The Terrans created a civilization with a bewildering number of cultures, languages, and folkways. That is why the intolerance of the Solomani Confederation remains so ironic.
The Vargr have such a love of freedom and independence that their society in the Vargr Extents is widely considered to be the most flexibly tolerant and adaptable of the major race supra-polities. Vargr society is a constantly evolving and experimenting with culture, folkways, and civilization. The Julian Protectorate is a result of this societal pressure cooker that bodes well for the future of interspecies relations.
The Vilani are known for their singleminded dedicated purpose, self-confidence, and incredible productivity. They are an industrious people capable of setting multigenerational goals and keeping them. It is by no coincidence that the first megacorporations were Vilani.
History & Background (Dossier)
Early societies tend to be primarily geographic in nature, often forming city-states. Later societies grow in scope and area forming nation-states. As yet greater range, communication, and transportation capabilities grow, the first world-states form, an entire planet with a fairly unified government capable of forming concensus and taking decisive action to the challenges facing it.
By the time of a more mature interstellar era, true multi-system interstellar societies and nations have formed. The first of these early states are now known as pocket empires, but at the time, they weren't small or pocket-sized. In their time, they were considered colossal polities over vast distances. But over times, as ever, power generation, communication, and transportation technologies advanced. What was once large became small again as vistas expanded.
Today's largest interstellar states are known as hyperpowers or supra-polities and dwarf the old pocket empires. The challenge of maintaining such a state is to preserve commonality of purpose, prevent excessive cultural drift, and all of this with communications limited to the speed of travel. Additional complicating factors have emerged that culture changes more quickly than ever, especially in high tech societies. Ultimately many societies have a goal of establishing Aeonic Stability.
How can one maintain a stable society in the face of advanced technology over interstellar distances?
Healthy Societal Growth
Healthy societies grow, evolve, and eventually diverge from their parent groupings. Sophonts, as a generality, tend to adapt to changing conditions at different rates, creating splinter groups. Healthier societies are able to affect tolerance and inclusivity of a fairly large spectrum of divergence.
Unhealthy Societal Deterioration
Unhealthy societies are unable to successfully adapt to changing conditions. Failures lead to increasing parts of the society not having their needs met, leading to deterioration. Increasing deterioration leads to societal collapse. Societal collapse can be expressed in many different manners: revolution, chaos, extinction, etc.
Standard Sequence of Societal Development
- 1. Proto-Society: Synonymous with Proto-Civilization. TL-0
- A. Proto-sophontdom: The evolution of a species to develop various kinds of basic technologies, endo-technologies called "internal technologies," such as language, advanced intraspecies cooperation, and biological adaptations free of external technologies such as tools or fire. Some think of these endo-technologies as strictly evolutionary, while other feel that this is the point at which a lifeform stops being a creature and starts being a sophont, as in past biological evolutionary development, the beginnings of non-tool-based technology. The exact point of departure or hallmarks are highly disputed by sophontologists.
- B. The Rise of Technology: At this stage, a species develops basic technologies, exo-technologies called "external technologies," such as tools and fire. Of course, such "external technologies" are highly dependent on the environment and species themselves. Jovionoids, for instance, often exist in environments where fire is not possible. Other species may exist on fluid worlds with vastly different environments and environmental limitations than the typical terrestrial planet with a Terra-norm environment.
- 2. Band Society: TL:0-3
- The first non-herd groupings by society form and generally take on hunter or gatherer roles, and often a mix of the two for omnivores. These are nomadic groups, for the most part, and show real signs of cooperative behavior and society-building. The key identifier for a band society is the presence of both external and internal technologies including tools and sophisticated social organization or hierarchy.
- 3. Chiefdoms: TL:1-3
- Most chiefdoms require a more hierarchical leadership as agricultural or other food-producing technologies are developed. These groups build the first villages and even cities. The key identifier for a chiefdom is that permanent or semipermanent facilities have been established. Band societies are overwhelmingly mobile or nomadic.
- 4. City-states: TL:1-6
- Eventually chiefdoms grow into modern polities, various kind of monarchies, despotisms, democracies, and the modern polity designation codes. A key structure of modern politics is the city-state, an urbanized area and its associated dependent areas.
- 5. Nation-states: TL:4-9
- Collection of city-states form larger polities called nation-states, which often possess many commonalities: ideology, religion, race, etc. These nation-states quarrel and gradually grow into the next step...
- 6. World-states: TL:10-27
- Eventually, one nation-state achieves dominance and slowly absorbs the smaller polities at which point a planetary or world government is formed. Some world-states are not true world-states, they still have balkanized governments and cannot form a unified world policy. They still function in effect as unified world-states but lack the political power or negotiating power to deal with larger interstellar entities effectively.
- 7. Smaller Interstellar States (Pocket Empires) TL:10-27
- Pocket Empires grow slowly but surely as a polity learns how to build colony ships, rally populations, and spread out amongst the stars. Every budding interstellar polity experiences the limitations of communication over distance, and the gradual drift of colonies from the homeworld.
- 8. Larger Interstellar States (Hyperpowers) TL:10-27
- The more organized states with higher levels of control or dedications from the population keep growing. The smaller states remain as pocket empires. When the larger states start encountering other polities, militaries come into action and the more powerful conquerors tend to prevail.
- 9. Final States (Ascendents & Transcendants) TL:28-33
- Far into the future Imperial scientists have hypothesized that sophont species will reach technological mastery rivalling the Ancients. As greater and greater mastery of the universe is achieved, the ascendant and transcendent societies will strive to reach the singularity, a level of omnipotent mastery of the universe that transcend technology itself.
- 10. Singularity Post Technological Period
- The Singularity is a very nebulous term for both black holes and a hypothetical condition of life beyond technology, civilization, and life itself as confusing as that may sound. Some call it the afterlife while others call it the Post-Technological Period. Some even think that it is a future stage of life when sophont and machine merge. There is scant evidence for it, but many thinkers hypothesize that it exists.
References & Contributors (Sources)
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