Autonomist Alliance

The outer system presented an opportunity for people who wanted to set up a way of doing things that was drastically different from the authoritarian politics and sham democracies of Earth and the inner system. Far from the reach of governments and hypercorps, this frontier was populated by political radicals, social dropouts, and people who just wanted to experiment or do their own thing. These initial habitats drew the interests of insurgents from Earth, scientists and technicians who didn’t appreciate being on a corporate leash, indentured vacworkers who sought to escape their oppressive terms of service, and even criminals fleeing hypercorp justice or forcibly expelled from inner system habitats. Their ranks swelled with every act of inner system injustice, though life on the fringe was often harsh and deadly. Despite occasional hostilities with nationstate military units or hypercorp security, the expense of reining in these radicals and expats was too high. To some degree, their presence was useful to the powers-that-be. Breakthroughs with nanofabrication brought these anarchists and fringers the edge they needed to keep their autonomy over the long-term. Once cornucopia machines were widely available, anyone had the means to support and defend themselves without relying on outside or higher authorities. Already an outpost for open source and free culture activists who fought restrictions on ideas, media, and digital content, the outer system became a haven for sharing nanofab designs and circumventing the controls the hypercorps attempted to place on their software and other digital goods.

During the Fall, many outer system habitats opened their doors to refugees from Earth. Distance and the high cost of egocasting curtailed these efforts, however, as did inner system reluctance to send potential recruits to their ideological opponents. Simple overcrowding and lack of resources drove them to push many refugees to the outer system, however, though the hypercorps weeded through their virtual infugee mobs and sent those with the highest risk of criminal tendencies or discontent with inner system life. Though the outer system habitats run the gamut of the socio-political spectrum, four primary tendencies have emerged. The stations and swarms adhering to these ideas have bonded together under a loose autonomist alliance, a mutual aid pact to help each other in times of crisis and present a united front against the inner system powers and Jovian Junta. There is little formal structure to this alliance as an entity unto itself; it primarily exists as an assortment of joint resolutions agreed to by its various member habitats and a few ad hoc task forces dedicated to addressing a particular problem or issue and then dissolving. Delegated ambassadors act as negotiators with outside powers, but these have limited authority and are held strictly accountable.

Political Bloc Anarchists

Anarchists eschew power and hierarchy, promoting horizontal and directly democratic methods of organization. Individual empowerment and collective action are cornerstones of their philosophy, as is economic communism enabled by equal access to cornucopia machines and shared resources. In anarchist stations, private property has been abolished above the level of personal possessions—nobody owns anything, it’s all shared. There are no laws and no one to watch over what you do—reputation networks encourage positive behavior and anti-social acts are likely to draw a response from locals or even the entire populace, with disputes handled through ad hoc community conflict resolution. The mesh and various networking tools are used extensively to strive for group consensus decision-making in realtime. AIs and robots are relied on for most mundane and demeaning tasks. Various self-organized collectives, syndicates, worker’s councils, and affinity groups, often with rotating membership, take on different tasks and services that are important to a habitat’s community, including everything from communications and space traffic control to backup and resleeving services. Participatory militias organize collective defense against external threats.

Among the anarchist stations there are many variations and permutations on how things are organized, as everything is fine-tuned at the local level by whomever is involved. Larger decentralized confederations handle inter-habitat affairs and resource-sharing, even trading with the hypercorps. Though a hypercorp presence is allowed on some habitats, they are treated just like everyone else.

Political Bloc Extropians

Though a smaller tendency, the Extropians are notable because they ride a line between inner and outer system ideologies. Extropians believe in an economic free market with the absence of a binding legal system, so that all relations and transactions are based on individual contracts agreed on by all parties involved or affected. Contrary to the anarchists, the Extropians very much support private property and personal economic wealth; Extropian-owned corporations actively participate in the solar system’s hypercorp economy. Many of these corporations are worker-owned cooperatives, with workplace councils in local offices and an elected cooperative congress handling management. This puts the Extropians in a remarkable position where they interact heavily with both the hypercorps and autonomists but are not fully trusted by either.

In Extropian society, law and security, like everything else, are contracted services. When entering an Extropian habitat, you purchase defense insurance from a local contractor such as Gorgon Defense Systems, who maintains automated drones and freelancers throughout the station who can come to your aid if threatened. Likewise, the only law that exists is what’s put into writing between two contracted parties. In case of disputes, both parties resort to a pre-agreed legal contractor to settle the matter. Some Extropian colonies utilize AGIs for facilitating contracts and legal matters, such as Nomic on Extropia.

Political Bloc Scum

Scum are nomadic space gypsies, traveling from station to station in heavily modi ed barges or swarms of smaller space vessels, mostly former colonial ships. The term “scum” has been gleefully appropriated from its original derogatory usage. Despite their reputation as criminals and scam artists, their temporary presence is often tolerated in many habitats for the entertainment they bring in the way of exotic performances and storytelling, both of which offer change and relief from the isolation of remote habitats and clusters. Their thriving black markets are an open secret but shut down only in the most oppressive regimes, as citizens returning with illegal goods must pass their station’s security anyway.

The scum themselves comes from all manner of backgrounds. They are rejects, anarchists, criminals, societal dropouts, wanderers, artists, eccentrics, and more. As a culture, however, they embrace experimentation and an “everything is permissible” attitude. Many are ardent practitioners of extreme transhuman modifications. Long-time scum are sometimes scarcely recognizable as having once been human. Scum economies are transitional rather than new, due to their constant interaction with other habitats, though among long-term residents an underground new economy often flourishes.

Political Bloc Titanian Commonwealth

Titan was originally settled in the late 21st century by a European academic consortium, making it the only major body in the system colonized primarily by nonhypercorp interests. The social organization of Titan is rooted partly in the Scandinavian social democracies of Earth and partly in the open economy. On one hand, citizens of the Titanian Commonwealth eschew the use of currency for mundane needs, participating in the reputation economy used by much of the outer system. On the other, upon reaching the age of majority, citizens of Titan agree to a literal social contract. A portion of their economic productivity is quantized as social money, which is then tithed to microcorp-administered social projects such as gateless interstellar exploration, physics research, neuroscience, developing mental health memes, defense, public resleeving, and habitat construction. The monetary unit used for this purpose, the Titanian Kroner, is currently pegged to the common market price of a terabyte of qubits.

Unlike old Earth socialist regimes, there are no state monopolies and no central planning. Anyone able to garner enough votes in the Plurality (the Titanian cyberdemocracy) can start a social money-funded microcorp and compete with other microcorps. Microcorps are owned by the Commonwealth, and profits are disposed of by the Plurality. Microcorps are required to be transparent as administrative entities, and the Plurality votes on whether to transfer discoveries to the open source domain. Regulatory matters are handled by AI and AGI bureaucrats (red tape still exists, but it doesn’t slow things down ... much). The main reward for individuals in this system is rep. Titanians who invest a lot of time or resources in a given field gain rep rewards for doing so.