1. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    The Economics of Science Fantasy

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Wreybies, Jul 30, 2009.

    There are two events that are the seed for this thread:

    1) In an attempt to answer my own question (What is you story about?), I have been trying to get to some serious basics in my story these past few weeks.

    2) I am watching Evita right now.

    The story of Evita is about transformation. There are revolutions and transformations happening at every level of this story: personal, social, economic. The complexity of such changes is astonishing and my mind is spinning at the implications of revolution, true revolution.

    Revolutions can happen with purpose and plan, and they can also happen by accident, which brings me (rather convolutedly) to my question.

    When a culture is under construction, is there a procession of economies that is natural and inevitable to occur? And if the culture is one which has attained a very high level of technology and social organization and then backslid for one reason or another, do the same rules apply to the culture's re-ascendance now that the paths are known? And which is the effector and which is the effected? Social structure vs Economy.

    Which creates which?

    Perhaps I am over-thinking the issue, but I believe I have reason to consider it because the question brings into question one of my main characters. In my story, one of my main characters is a great family to which one of my protags and a few other peripheral characters belong. If my story is one where we are coming into a backslid culture that has sprung up from a partially failed interplanetary colony ship, I am forced to ask myself why would this great family have become great? Would the economic dynamics at such an early and precarious point in time of a culture allow for this? Or might it be that the pressures of such a situation would eventually push someone to the top? Would people who understood the implications of different kinds of social structure allow for this kind of situation, this almost feudal system? Would the reason of the group reign, or would it always be overridden by human nature?

    What are your thoughts?
     
  2. seta
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    seta Contributing Member

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    There are several anthropological factors that you must consider:

    1) Necessity. What is (and has been) necessary for this culture to survive?

    In Africa, the climate is rather conducive to human life (hence most people don't wear much clothing) and extensive cooperation is not necessary for survival. This leads to many small independent tribes living off the land.
    However, the further north you go, the more cooperation and planning becomes necessary for survival. Houses need to be better insulated, crops need to be sown more efficiently. Necessity IS the mother of all invention.

    2) What is available?

    In some cultures, they stay very small simply because of no presence of massive amounts of food. Humans need the presence of domesticable animals and cereal crops in order to grow into a fully fledged culture. Other resources (such as iron or oil) can later lead to further revolution.

    3) Living space. Europe is relatively small and has been fought over for millenia. America was huge and had a low population, so organization wasn't ever a big deal (until more recently)
     
  3. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Marxism came to mind (just had a lecture on it, sorry XD).
    Marxist Communism was intended to replace Capitalism which, Marx thought, was bound to collapse, and his theories on what would happen to labour, to technology, with regard to allocation of resources and the ensuing effect on social organisation would flow on naturally from a disintegrated Capitalist structure.
    Obviously Marx was a little off in his expectations, but perhaps more importantly, the countries that adopted a form of Communism derived from his philosophies did not have the preexisting Capitalist organisation in place, and therefore his theories did not apply to those cultures, which is why in the cases we've seen so far, Communism has been doomed to fail.

    I don't think any culture would be expected to reascend via the same route after a collapse. In most democratic countries, there is constant opposition to the decisions made by the people in power - if those power structures were to be subverted by whatever kind of catastrophe it is that drives the culture back, then it's reasonable to assume that a new group of people with a new agenda would install themselves. The physical infrastructure of the society may be quickly rebuilt, but the culture would, I would imagine, redevelop markedly differently.

    Even something like attitudes towards economics could radically change things. If the society goes from one where government intervention in the economy is tolerated and perhaps even seen as necessary, then suddenly, after this shift, becomes a society governed entirely by the free market with zero intervention, you would expect to see a huge shift in the way people live, even if the superficial things stayed relatively similar.
     
  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    This is a large portion of the thinking I had when these questions came into my mind. You would have a group of people who would have some sort of cultural and socioeconomic concept of things, and yet there would be none of the institutions that serve as the infrastructural support system to these concepts.

    So, to refine the question:

    What could one expect in the development, culturally and economically from a people who are not innocent to these concepts, for whom the way has once been trod already, so to speak?


    This was the most important factor that came to mind. My mom is a CPA, what can I say. I thought to myself, “What would be the reason for ascendance for this family? If not economic, then what? And if economic, then how?”

    We are so very much on the same page. Thank you for your response.
     
  5. Kamille
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    Kamille New Member

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    Early tribes and even later "groups" (mormons) adopted polygamous customs out of necessity.It often makes sense for pioneer types to have bigger family units because that means more resources coming in and less conflict of interest. See Heinlien's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.
     
  6. Kirvee
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    Kirvee Contributing Member

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    I attempted to understand what you were asking, so please forgive me if this isn't exactly spot on.

    Since Science Fiction mainly deals with a futuristic timeline, it sounds like you're suggesting that your story had a an advanced system and then through some event lost it and went a step back into a feudal state. (That is what I gleaned from your OP)

    You asked how or what would've made that family great? Well, typically a family of people can gain status and power through a number of different means. Maybe they were able to unify people through the degrading economy and thus became a favorite group among the confused people. Or maybe they knew what strings to pull to get them into that position. They could've gone the honest way into a position of being great or they could've manipulated their way there and have a mask of honesty.

    Typically, I think it tends to be social structure that forms how an economy works. But that's just how I take it, I may be wrong.
     
  7. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    I don't think this is necessarily true. Consider the Industrial Revolution. Suddenly, people with wealth were in a position to set up and operate factories, workers were forced into these new roles that were being created, and Capitalism was born. Then social relationships changed as a result and a new hegemony was negotiated to reflect the shifts in power structures.
     
  8. Deeples
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    Deeples New Member

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    While it occurs in a short period of time, so there is less reconstruction of a culture than what you seem to be thinking of, you might want to look into the Napoleonic period of France, when the government shifted from the First French Republic to the First French Empire. In the Republic, everyone was a citoyen, the emphasis on the citizenry coming from a disdain for the nobility post-Revolution. In the Empire, however, Napoleon was quick to establish his family as kings and his friends as dukes.

    Again, this occurs between 1799 and 1815, not quite enough time to consider the restructuring of cultures in conjunction with modes of production, but I think it might help you out.
     

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