Brexit, North Atlantic Union, and Transcendence Geopolitics

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george moromisato
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Fri Jun 24, 2016 6:41 pm

Putting aside your feelings--joy or dread--on the Brexit results, it's clear that we are literally witnessing history in the making. The future history of the world has been irrevocably changed.

Transcendence takes place in a 25th century future; most of it involves sovereigns (and species) that do not currently exist. And yet, future history in Transcendence must inevitably be influenced by current history. My goal is not to accurately predict the future, but rather to have a plausible (and interesting) future history.

This thread is about how the future history of Transcendence will unfold given current geopolitical events. How did the North Atlantic Union form? How did the Eurasian Diarchy form? Feel free to speculate (respectfully, please) on how geopolitics will evolve in the next 100 years or so.

First, some background:

TIMELINE
I've put together a rough timeline of future events. For now, let's consider the following events as "fixed" and speculate on other events around it.

2024: Founding of North Atlantic Union
2024: Lunar colony founded by NAU.
2043: Corporate Hierarchy founded by contract between EI, NAMI, and Pacific Defense.
2049: NEO (asteroid) mining colony founded by EI.
2052: Earth Station construction finished--largest orbiting structure at the time.
2055: Lunar mining colony founded by NAMI.
2056: Asteroid belt mining colony founded by United African States.
2067: Martian colony founded by Asian Pacific Directorate.
2083: First human born in space.
2089: Europa colony founded by Asian Pacific Directorate.
2098: Kuiper anomaly explored by North Atlantic Union; turns out to be stargate to Centauri system.
2100: First mission (by NAU) to Centauri system.
-----------
2103: Humboldt Rebellion suppressed by combined Corporate Hierarchy and NAU forces.
2115: Start of Gene Crisis. Human genetic engineering banned on Earth and all stations. Armed ships sent to enforce laws.
2116: Commonwealth founded in opposition to GE ban; Earth orbiting stations, Lunar colonies, and NEO stations all join Commonwealth.

NORTH ATLANTIC UNION
The Transcendence timeline says that the NAU was formed "after the Korean Incident" as an embryonic union between the USA and the EU. This is much less likely now. Perhaps instead the NAU starts as a free trade area between the USA and the UK (or UK minus Scotland). This could be an expansion of NAFTA, which would bring in Canada and Mexico. Maybe Ireland would join too?

What would such a union be like? How would it evolve? Would it be very federal (each nation keeping its own identity) or would it meld into a single demos?

EURASIAN DIARCHY
The core concept for the Eurasian Diarchy is a union of equals between Russia and Turkey. Originally, I though the EU would be part of NAU, but perhaps some European countries would join the Diarchy. Greece and other Eastern Orthodox nations would be very likely to prefer the Diarchy.

But what would happen to Germany, France, and Poland in this scenario? Would they be on their own? Would they form their own union?

ASIAN PACIFIC DIRECTORATE
Though hard to believe right now, the core of this sovereign is a union between China, Japan, Korea, and other Pacific Rim countries. Though there is much distrust right now, this union is no less likely than the reconciliation of France and Germany after WW2. Perhaps a disastrous conflict also forces these countries to put aside their differences.

What happens to India in this scenario? Is it on its own?

UNITED AFRICAN STATES
The concept for the UAS is a federal system, modeled on the US, bringing together most countries in Africa, from South Africa to Egypt. Of all the sovereigns, this is the most familiar in the sense that it is very much like the US--a strongly bound nation--in contrast to other Earth sovereigns, which are post-national and more loosely bound.

How did the UAS form? What was the impetus? Did it happen quickly or slowly?

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Fri Jun 24, 2016 7:31 pm

One thing I always loved about Transcendence's setting is that it has a very realistic outlook of the future. There's too many science fiction settings where mankind is entirely united, with no internal conflict. But, people have histories and nationalities and identities that aren't going to just dissolve. It makes stories much more interesting when you have the APD fighting against the ED - We on Earth can feel a little connected to it, and understand their conflict much better than some contrived space conflict a hundred lightyears away.

I was under the impression that the North Atlantic Union stemmed from NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization). Although the future of the EU is uncertain, that probably won't have a major impact on individual countries' NATO participation. Bringing NAFTA into the mix makes sense if the EU stays stable as an economic union, although we've already seen how countries like Greece have handled paying debts - losing countries in membership will only hurt that.
But, we don't need complete participation in the NAU. If a trade agreement stems between NAFTA and the remaining EU nations, it would be fine if there are a few countries who do not join in. Would it hurt the agreement immensely for a couple of nations to opt out? Probably not, especially when we're considering European countries. The powerhouses in this agreement would be places like Canada, where there's an abundance of resources but not the infrastructure for high manufacturing. If cheap asian manufacturing becomes unfeasible, due to conflicts or embargoes, then European manufacturing could conceivable really take off.

The Eurasian Diarchy fits into this scheme pretty well. If Russia plays as Canada's counterpart, shipping its resources to the NAU stragglers (those who opted out of the agreement) and Turkey for high manufacturing, then they could be reasonably competitive. Without an ocean seperating countries, they could probably be very self sustaining (and perhaps have a stronger bond than the NAU).
I don't really see a European Union without Germany in it, so maybe they would favour the NAU. But, what would be even better is if there was a split down the middle - Parts of Germany/Poland and France opt in to the ED while the majority joins the NAU. I think this makes for some better tension, and maybe some conflicts, which further facilitates both the NAU and ED seperating into sovereign entities.

As for the APD and India, I think there's even room for yet another player. The Middle East is already unstable in modern times, and if we're seeing massive sovereign entities being formed, there may be enough pressure on some countries to form agreements out of necessity, in order to avoid being part of a land grab; A war between the ED and NAU on Earth would be disastrous, so perhaps claiming some nations in the middle east would be met with appeasement from either side. The idea of this forces India's hand, which forms a conglomerate between several nearby nations to protect their individual sovereignity. They do not need to be a "major power". From this conglomerate stems several smaller factions, like the Abbasid, later down the line. Huge labour forces from India could be formed to develop in some of the smaller players (Since they have enough population for cheap labour) and the resources between the middle east and India's manpower is certainly enough to sustain a space program.
Eventually, later down the line, this conglomerate could form better relations with others while they're in space, but refuse certain relations on Earth to protect their sovereignity.

I'm not too sure what needs to happen to see a UAS, so I'm not going to weigh in too much on that right now.
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Fri Jun 24, 2016 10:59 pm

Very interesting. How would the Republic of New Europa fit into all of this? I'd always thought that it could have been a technocratic, authoritarian quasi - state that offered stability and economic recovery to the people of nations like Greece in the wake of the EU's decline, with the Lumiere being a faction of its political and economic elite pushed into exile by whichever power swept away the remains of their internal power struggle(Either NAU or ED, if I understand correctly).

I like Transcendence's handling of the 'gene crisis'. It's a lot more nuanced than how many other stories handle it, with modification being a neutral extension of evolution rather than an objectively evil corrupting influence. I especially like the reference made by the Sapiens, with the nod towards some religions which consider the human form to be sacred not being all that happy with modification.

For the NAU, I think the Anglosphere's a solid base for it. The American public has high levels of support of both England and of Brexit, so it makes sense that America might step in as a trade partner if the EU ends up becoming less viable as a source of imports and/or a market for exports. While not every state considers itself to have English roots, the broader set of values of America, our political system in particular, is largely based off of England's. The same is true for Canada, with the possible exception of Quebec. There are other Western European nations that may leave the EU, many of which would fit into the NAU nicely. I do agree that it's a foregone conclusion that Scotland will eventually leave the UK, likely entering the EU as a part of that, based on its clear break with the rest of the UK on many issues(Brexit being the most recent). The addition of some Eastern European nations(perhaps Poland) could go well with the NAU's characterization as a mediator/peacekeeper, surrounded by the ED and the ocean. Culturally, Mexico isn't all that similar to America or any European nation(even Spain isn't as close with it as England is with its former colonies). While it does border America, I see geography becoming less important for alliances as time goes on, with navigation becoming easier and cultural interaction between allies becoming more publicized.

While Americans do tend to value their national independence, I think the NAU makes more sense as a combined entity than as a union of multiple states. American culture is becoming increasingly polarized, and I think a large part of the reason we'd consider joining a new international organization would be as an opportunity to release some pressure by transitioning power down towards the local and individual level. As time progresses, it has become harder and harder for one common federal government(or even fifty state governments) to effectively represent the American people on the international stage. As Americans(and the citizens of other NAU member states) sort themselves more effectively into regions that suit their beliefs, desires, and cultures, the common mindsets of these regions could give rise to some of the various CH companies we see in game, each with different values, design principles, and economic strategies.

With regard to the Korean Incident, it would make sense for it to be something that could pull South Korea away from America's sphere of influence to the point where it wouldn't fit into the NAU better than the APD, perhaps catalyzing the APD's creation in the process. It'd take a lot for a change that drastic, but perhaps a nuclear near - miss could unite the region in trying to resolve their differences peacefully.

For the ED, I definitely like the idea of a Russian dominated Europe, as it's almost never seen in science fiction. Turkey is an interesting addition, perhaps forming a partnership with Russia in an attempt by the latter to break away from dependence on its Chinese ally and gain a stronger middle eastern foothold in order to dominate the oil markets. The surge in nuclear energy could be an interesting story for that partnership - how does an oil - age alliance fare when nuclear becomes the new game?

The UAS is interesting. To me, it always seemed like it must have been borne as the result of a wake up call. As asteroid mining becomes popular and oil loses its value, it becomes increasingly clear to the nations of the world that being left behind now could mean never catching up. We've still got to find an explanation for how so many of their ships fell into criminal hands now that they aren't defunct anymore. Perhaps the UAS is like the industrial revolution era USA, facing organized crime borne from the not - quite - dead days of warlords and insurgencies while trying to surge ahead through mass industrialization at any cost.

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Fri Jun 24, 2016 11:17 pm

NAU sort of screams USA and/or Canada (and maybe UK too) in space. I imagine it would be a federation.

Eurasian Diarchy feels like either Soviet Union or Russia in space. If non-Soviet, I do not see Turkey being partnered with much of (current non-Soviet) Russia due to... religious differences (i.e., Christianity vs. Islam). I thought the Diarchy in EP would be Russia and (what's left of) China.

APD (as portrayed in Eternity Port) feels like imperial Japan (that conquered China and the rest of the far east nations) in space that swiped a few Chinese names here and there (e.g., uses yuan instead of yen).

UAS, I kind of draw a blank.

As for the core mind aliens, Domina and Oracus could be the biblical demon powers of the air.


P.S. Don't me started on neo-humans and other possible corruptions that turn humans into space monsters. I have rather unflattering names for them. (e.g., elves for Ringers, Borg for Sung, bug-people for Ferians, etc.) I am rather sympathetic with the plot revealed by the Iocrym archive and (combined with the typical RPG murderhobo behavior) would probably join with the Iocrym if given the option (and make Apotomo's vision come to pass).
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Fri Jun 24, 2016 11:41 pm

PM wrote: Eurasian Diarchy feels like either Soviet Union or Russia in space. If non-Soviet, I do not see Turkey being partnered with much of (current non-Soviet) Russia due to... religious differences (i.e., Christianity vs. Islam).
That's an interesting point. I'd assumed that the Abrahamic religions had merged and fallen to the margins of society(IE the Sapiens) due to the well known presence of seemingly supernatural powers fielded by followers of Domina and Oracus, but it's entirely possible that their deity follows the same rules as The Light of the Huari, being as real as the other deities of the setting, but not as active. It's also possible that, as they have before, Earth's native religions have adapted to fit with the current state of the world, with a more metaphorical spin being put on it. It's also entirely possible that the core minds are treated as nothing more than highly advanced aliens by followers of the Abrahamic religions - powerful, but not divine.

P.S. Don't me started on neo-humans and other possible corruptions that turn humans into space monsters. I have rather unflattering names for them. (e.g., elves for Ringers, Borg for Sung, bug-people for Ferians, etc.) I am rather sympathetic with the plot revealed by the Iocrym archive and (combined with the typical RPG murderhobo behavior) would probably join with the Iocrym if given the option (and make Apotomo's vision come to pass).
The Sung are neo - humans?

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Fri Jun 24, 2016 11:59 pm

Religion is - and will always be - a big deal, despite atheists trying to convince the world that God does not exist.

I think Sung are cybernetic humans. There were old posts (from George) that put Transcendence humans into various categories: pure humans, humans with cybernetic enhancements, augmented humans, and neo-humans (and zoanthropes). I do not know if those old posts are still around to reference.
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Sat Jun 25, 2016 12:18 am

PM wrote:There were old posts (from George) that put Transcendence humans into various categories: pure humans, humans with cybernetic enhancements, augmented humans, and neo-humans (and zoanthropes). I do not know if those old posts are still around to reference.
This is going way back to the UTF, but here's his post about it.

The Sung aren't referenced anywhere as being specifically neohuman, as far as I know, so maybe they're just augmented humans.
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Sat Jun 25, 2016 2:27 am

Thanks for the link. It has been a while. Sung seem "augmented" to me (i.e., "other possible corruptions"). Turning a human into a cyborg seems like "...prostheses, and surgical alterations..." to me.
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Sat Jun 25, 2016 3:34 am

Xephyr wrote:As for the APD and India, I think there's even room for yet another player.... The idea of this forces India's hand, which forms a conglomerate between several nearby nations to protect their individual sovereignity.
I think that's a good idea: India as a separate sovereign. India is a diverse and ancient culture, it could easily spawn dozens of smaller sovereigns even without conglomeration with Middle Eastern factions. We can add that in an expansion.

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Sat Jun 25, 2016 3:40 am

JohnBWatson wrote:With regard to the Korean Incident, it would make sense for it to be something that could pull South Korea away from America's sphere of influence to the point where it wouldn't fit into the NAU better than the APD, perhaps catalyzing the APD's creation in the process. It'd take a lot for a change that drastic, but perhaps a nuclear near - miss could unite the region in trying to resolve their differences peacefully.
That's a good idea--I hand't thought of NAU and APD being born out of the same crisis. It makes sense, just as WWI and WWII completely reshuffled the international order.

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Sat Jun 25, 2016 3:52 am

PM wrote:Eurasian Diarchy feels like either Soviet Union or Russia in space. If non-Soviet, I do not see Turkey being partnered with much of (current non-Soviet) Russia due to... religious differences (i.e., Christianity vs. Islam). I thought the Diarchy in EP would be Russia and (what's left of) China.

APD (as portrayed in Eternity Port) feels like imperial Japan (that conquered China and the rest of the far east nations) in space that swiped a few Chinese names here and there (e.g., uses yuan instead of yen).
I'm not sure if I'll go that direction, but I think that's a perfectly plausible scenario. Something happens that causes China to break apart (urban vs. rural, perhaps) and its neighbors pick up the pieces. Russia absorbs the rural/inner part of China, while Japan picks off the wealthy coast to form the APD.

In my scenario, Russia and Turkey ally as a counterweight to Europe and China. I don't see religious differences as a deal-breaker, but I do envision that mistrust on both sides keeps them from uniting under a single organization. Hence the "diarchy": two parallel governments with equal say. At first, both must agree to proceed on anything. Eventually, the arrangement can become more flexible.

APD in my scenario is China+Japan+others. But the space fleet is mostly Japanese (at least originally), wheres as army land forces (and maybe marines?) are mostly Chinese.

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Sat Jun 25, 2016 4:05 am

JohnBWatson wrote:I'd assumed that the Abrahamic religions had merged and fallen to the margins of society(IE the Sapiens) due to the well known presence of seemingly supernatural powers fielded by followers of Domina and Oracus...
I've purposefully stayed away from the topic because I don't have anything interesting/novel to say about it. I'd rather the player come up with their own ideas on the role of religion. The Transcendence universe should be compatible with any belief, including lack of belief.

If Domina and Oracus were real, I don't think any religion would have a problem incorporating them, either as superpowered (but not supernatural) aliens, or as manifestations of the One True Supreme Being or anything in between. New religions (e.g., the Sisters) are always springing up, and perhaps in Commonwealth space they are very common, but it doesn't necessarily mean that other religions have disappeared.

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Sat Jun 25, 2016 4:21 am

JohnBWatson wrote:How would the Republic of New Europa fit into all of this? I'd always thought that it could have been a technocratic, authoritarian quasi - state that offered stability and economic recovery to the people of nations like Greece in the wake of the EU's decline, with the Lumiere being a faction of its political and economic elite pushed into exile by whichever power swept away the remains of their internal power struggle(Either NAU or ED, if I understand correctly).
New Europa (from CC) happens later. They started in 2256 in the Ungoverned Territories by refugees from Earth after the Syrtis War (the losers on the Martian side ended up founding the Ares Orthodoxy). But "technocratic" is a great description for them. And they definitely offered stability, though in this case from the chaos of interplanetary war.

I forget exactly how much backstory is in CC, but New Europa fell to civil war. In classic technocratic form, their government was essentially "rule by AI", with democratic inputs. But during a crisis (war with the Dwarg) one faction "forks" the AI after a disagreement. Other factions follow, and pretty soon everyone diverges.

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Sat Jun 25, 2016 4:36 am

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Sat Jun 25, 2016 8:58 am

I've generally held the view that any divergence in the earth-based timeline after the game was originally released (2003) is viable. That being said, it's clear there's a bunch of factions we just don't see ingame. This is a great place for modders and regdevs to work. Ultimately though...I think it serves the game better if we don't work out what's going on in Earth. Earth is history. It's where humanity came from....but honestly, it's not that important any more. The Commonwealth has expanded (to the point where it's too big to maintain and defend itself properly), and humanity (and post-human species) have reached almost every corner of the QZ. Some factions even made it out of there before it got sealed up. Past a certain point, things stop being important beyond the broader cultural things they introduced (I mean seriously, who here knows the history of anglo-saxon britain that ultimately lead to a bunch of anglo-US conventions and language without looking it up?)

I would like to see more smaller factions though. Island nations that pooled their budgets into space colonisation when the sea level rose enough to make their old homeworlds unviable (at this point assuming that the world as we're in now is the same as it is in the Transcendence backstory, they'll have had several centuries of continuous sea-level rise as a result of the western ice pack of Antarctica destabilising. To say nothing of the Eastern shelf and greenland. While we don't know how fast coral atolls respond, it's a fair backstory for a faction once increased cyclonic activity gets accounted for, especially before tech levels get high enough that geo-engineering is a major option). Agricultural companies that dealt with the problems of cadmium and copper contamination by claiming asteroids and developing methods of making synthetic soils. Old tribal groups that have invested heavily in space travel in the past, and now form significant local powers here and there (this assumes a source of starting capital. The terrestrial examples I can think of in New Zealand all started from compensation given by the government to various iwi for colonial injustices. Similar things, or entirely different means, could create the 'spark' for space-futuristic stuff). That sort of thing.
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