So, three days ago, I was just trying to look up the usage of the phrase “means of production” for a silly joke.
In Asekai, my current monstergame concept, I had a creature named Mass (as in “the Masses”) which could evolve into either a “Wisdom Jack“, a “Grace Loxodont“, or two neutral forms, one being the “Polar Owl“. The joke is, many creatures in monstergames are “mythical creatures”, so Mass’s evos were “mythical creatures” as conceived by American political parties’ stereotypes about the opposite party: a liberal with big-picture wisdom, a conservative with empathy, a Whig that doesn’t pretend to be neutral although different from the two major sides.
Because of the vaguely Undertale-esque game division in Asekai, Mass also had another separate evolution route, where it could become a “Producer Mass” (a proletarian creature kind of like a worker bee) that could become two more mythical creatures called “Benevolent Dictator” (communist) and “Utopic Core” (socialist). For an intermediate stage before (the “Director Mass”), I wanted to make a joke it had “seized the means of production”, so I was just googling to see if that joke made sense or was just stupid*.
And then, just by reading one sentence on Wikipedia, I suddenly had a really huge realisation and ended up spending the rest of the day and next morning writing an entire short essay investigating the basic meaning of capitalism and socialism.
…You can’t make this stuff up.
Anyway, that got me reminded of something I wanted to write.
A while ago, I was just… thinking. Thinking about how, if everyone who ever said the word capitalism contemptuously got their way; if everyone complaining about capitalism never including built-in empathy was finally subsidised; if everyone’s idealistic dreams of a peaceful and efficient world were realised…
How, if we finally had a working “true socialist” state, AND everything was actually going okay
We might tell ourselves radically different cultural myths than under a capitalist system. Most of the myths that were used to justify why socialism was a better system might in fact no longer be the myths told under a socialist system, instead replaced by a new, disorienting set of myths. Decades after the socialist state had become stable, the future might become very confusing as all our underlying assumptions were ripped out from under us and it became clear that suddenly, the goals and beliefs we had before socialism arrived were no longer the goals and beliefs we had now.
I’m not going to write that today, because I ran out of energy after writing this intro.
(To be truly honest, I only added this note and published the post two months later.)
As I was writing the “essay” I described above, I tried to imagine a basic version of what a socialism to replace capitalism might be like. (As in, a system which would—over in imaginary theoryland—get rid of the problems of corporations making bad decisions, job hunting, and living costs, without compromising individual freedom or making things worse.) What I came up with was a system where there were a ton of levels of government, and each one directed transactions within its own sphere. Divisions of comparable size would talk to each other about what resources were had and needed, and have voluntary government “drives” of varying permanence to purchase needed resources from people at the wealthy division, selling the results at the needy division. Some amount of the wealth/resources acquired through this transaction system are simply offset by taxes/charity at the other end, allowing for some wealth to filter back down as a basic income and/or one end of some transactions to be cheaper than the other.
I don’t think the system I imagined was all that realistic or coherent. It was just to make the broad concept of socialism make sense in my head, really. But…
As I was writing that essay and thinking about my imaginary socialist system, I started to realise that it would make a good deal of sense for that to be the system in use in Hinotoria.
Hinotoria was already established as the country of Unity, bound together by this “myth” (truth, but also functioning as a myth) of Da Jinhuang, the Hfenix. Everyone there vaguely regards everyone else as some kind of really extended family. For one, the main ethnicity of Hinotoria are called Huang, but they also call literally anybody who has strongly integrated into the country and become part of it “Huang”, because blood ancestry means less to them than the connection of being part of a single union (actually, most places do this at least somewhat, but Hinotoria does it most strongly). They have a philosophy based on ubuntu and from that I (really tentatively) had this “motto” for them which was “because of you I stand strong“.
So, it seemed really really natural that they would have an economy based on some kind of transactional socialism. The way I imagined their huge and kind of heterogeneous country insisting on functioning as a single unit, as well as the mysterious but all-important “Capital” I knew they had finally started to make sense. The various regions, though different, had been dragged into the central socialist scheme and actively cooperating with the others, and the Capital was probably busy all the time just trying to stay on top of the whole operation.
Beyond the immediate thematic reasons I also really liked the fact that this nicely tied together two things about Kskenghra:
- Hinotoria hates Kskenghra because they are greedy
- Some Sengra are pirates (Sirriparn) that have a weird tendency to steal trucks
When you have a complicated socialist logistics system, somebody’s gotta transport all that stuff, right? And unfortunately, that opens you up to bizarre battles with road pirates.
Enter the Freighter archetype.
Freighters operate various vehicles, often trains but also trucks, aircraft, or others, to transport shipments. Like other people in the Aluma universe, they aren’t without cirque, and in fact sometimes push their skills to slightly risky limits making their vehicles go really fast or going into serious combat with Sirriparn. They’re sort of a Faith archetype. It’s not uncommon, when there’s a threat on a vehicle, for a Freighter to be able to just leave its control to some subordinate and charge back in and apprehend whoever is causing the problem.
(Maybe Flash Karkira got that name from earlier days as one of these guys, as this dude who could deliver stuff in a flash?)
God, I love where some of the stuff in this project is going so much.