Hegemony Rule of Earth

The Hegemony’s government of Earth is sometimes called a “wildlife preserve regime,” or more colloquially, a “zoo state.” Humans, of course, are among the animals in the preserve. Human beings live in restricted spaces; their survival needs are met without any need for them to work; they are prevented from harming themselves, one another, or any non-humans they meet; their reproduction is carefully managed; and they live under almost constant surveillance. However, within these restrictions they are free to engage in “natural” behavior. The khedai manage Earth with the majestic impartiality of zoo-keepers.

Population Distribution and Land Use

Immediately after the Conquest, the khedai began building urban reserves for humanity to live in. These reserves were not strictly cities, in that they did not grow organically due to human activity, but were placed and designed by Hegemony fiat. Each urban reserve was built from the ground up to take advantage of galactic-level technology and infrastructure. A little over two hundred of them were built, and within forty years of the Conquest, 90% of the human population had been relocated into them. The rest resided in small towns and frontier outposts across the planet, and in the “Free Zones” where the firmest dissidents and potential rebels were confined.

Today the average population of an urban reserve on Earth is about 15-16 million. The reserves use high-rise architecture and sophisticated infrastructure to maintain high population densities, normally about 8,000 persons per square kilometer. A typical reserve covers about 1800 square kilometers, or an amorphous area less than 50 kilometers across. At present, urban reserves cover about 0.2% of Earth’s land surface. Urban reserves were significantly larger immediately after the Conquest, but as human numbers declined, buildings and districts were dismantled to return more space to other uses. Similarly, most of Earth’s pre-Conquest cities and towns have been dismantled, their land returned to wilderness.

The boundaries of urban reserves are quite sharp; one can look out from the windows of a high-rise residential building on the edge of a reserve and see nothing but agricultural land or empty wilderness. Humans are not permitted to leave the reserves unless they have specific duties in the land outside, or have permission to visit a wilderness area for recreation. They do have freedom of movement within the reserves, and can use fast-transit methods to travel at will from one reserve to another.

Outside the urban reserves, agricultural land takes up about 10% of the world’s land area, less than one-third of the area used for agriculture before the Conquest. The main difference in agricultural land use is that very little land is set aside as permanent pasture. Humans still eat meat, but meat is manufactured within the urban reserves as a consumer good, rather than produced by catching fish or butchering animals. Farming is almost entirely automated, as is the delivery of food to the urban reserves. A few small towns and frontier settlements are placed in agricultural regions, to support what little human labor is required. Very little resource extraction (drilling, mining, or forestry) is still done on Earth, and what little exists is also done almost entirely by automation.

The so-called “Free Zones” are areas where humans can live free of Hegemony control, but without the benefits of Hegemony society or technology. In the Free Zones, humans are not permitted any tools or weapons they cannot maintain with local resources and low-energy industry. They are also not permitted to reproduce; no children are born in the Free Zones, and their populations are replenished only by dissidents and incorrigible criminals being ejected from Hegemony territory. About 3% of the human population lives in the Free Zones, at a typical population density of about 20 persons per square kilometer. The Free Zones therefore cover about 3% of the planet’s land area.

The remaining 87% or so of Earth’s land area, and almost all the sea area, are designated as wilderness reserves, where a “natural” ecology exists without human interference. There is a wilderness service, in which humans work to rebuild and maintain this “natural” ecology. Members of the wilderness service may live and work for long periods in the outback, but they are not permitted to set up a permanent residence there. Humans from the urban reserves are also permitted to make brief recreational visits to the wilderness areas, but only under close supervision.

Economics

All “hard” economic production on Earth (agriculture, resource extraction, manufacturing, construction, warehousing and transportation) is controlled by the Hegemony, and is almost totally automated. Even the service sectors require far lower levels of human employment than they did before the Conquest. As a result, most human beings are not employed by pre-Conquest definitions.

The largest economic sectors, and their levels of employment within the total population (excluding residents of the Free Zones):

  1. Health care and social assistance (4.0%)
  2. Leisure and hospitality (2.8%)
  3. Hegemony government (1.6%)
  4. General services (1.0%)
  5. Mining, construction, and manufacturing (0.6%)
  6. Educational services (0.5%)
  7. Information technologies (0.4%)
  8. Agriculture, fishing, and forestry (0.1%)

With so few humans employed (no more than about 11%), the connection between employment and survival has been decisively broken. Instead, the Hegemony provides a Citizen’s Allowance to all human citizens in good standing. This allowance is sufficient to provide:

  • Comfortable housing in an urban reserve
  • A nutritious and varied diet, including frequent opportunities to dine out
  • Effective medical care and mental-health services for life
  • Full access to the entire range of education, entertainment, and other information services
  • A small budget for extra services, cultural goods, and other luxuries

In short, every human being on Earth is guaranteed a standard of living roughly comparable to the American, Western European, or Japanese middle class before the pre-Conquest collapse. Citizens who are employed by the Hegemony, or by a human cooperative, earn extra income that can be spent to improve upon this base.

Many humans (perhaps another 15% of the population) are self-employed, providing personal services, cultural or religious services, creative works, handicrafts, or other products on their own initiative. This also permits a supplement to the standard of living provided by the basic Citizen’s Allowance.

The standard unit of exchange is called the crown. Since the khedai do not appear to have any kind of monarchy or aristocracy, the connotations of this name are obscure. Standard Citizen’s Allowance for humans is exactly 6,000 crowns per month, although at least half of this is automatically subtracted to cover housing and subsistence costs. As far as humans are concerned, there is no such thing as an institution of finance, and almost all transactions are simple cash-and-carry. For client-species subjects of the Hegemony, the Praxis forbids lending at interest, purchases on credit, or the construction of elaborate instruments of investment.

Law Enforcement and Surveillance

Humans living under Hegemony control are subject to continuous surveillance. Every space inside an urban reserve or satellite settlement is within the field of view of one or more cameras, audio pickups, and other sensors, so that almost no human action goes unseen. Even in open country, the sensor net is designed to follow humans as they go about their business. Only in the Free Zones, or in deep wilderness, is the constant surveillance not in effect.

Surprisingly, most humans have become accustomed to this constant surveillance and are at worst resigned to it. The Hegemony is scrupulously honest about the purposes of surveillance: to prevent violations of the Praxis, to render quick aid to humans in distress, and to permit humans to call on the Hegemony at any time.

Human society has been vastly simplified since the Conquest, and some categories of behavior once considered criminal are of no concern to the Hegemony. Hence, so many categories of crime (fraud, financial insolvency, identity theft, political or religious offenses, possession or use of harmful narcotics, weapons possession, motor vehicle offenses, and so on) are simply no longer relevant. Many of them are no longer even possible. Among humans, almost all violations of the Praxis fall into the following categories:

  • Crimes of violence (assault, battery, torture, mutilation, rape, murder, and so on)
  • Crimes against personal property (theft, sabotage, vandalism)
  • Crimes against freedom of movement or association (harassment or coercive conduct)

Any of these will trigger a response from the surveillance mechanisms. Surveillance is backed by the Hegemony Guard, an institution which serves as a combined military garrison and law-enforcement body, and is posted in every urban reserve.

The Hegemony does not regard itself as having a “justice system” as such, and has no interest in “retributive justice” or “punishment” for violations of the Praxis. Its institutions are designed, first and foremost, to prevent violations of the Praxis.

For example, anywhere within an urban reserve it is in fact quite difficult to commit (e.g.) assault. The surveillance system will detect preparations for such an act, triggering intervention: a verbal command to halt, the application of non-lethal force to stun the offender, the deployment of Guard cybershells or personnel, and so on as appropriate.

If criminal harm does take place, then the Praxis demands restitution where that is possible. Restitution may be carried out by the Hegemony itself rather than by the offender, possibly with the imposition of a fine against the offender’s Citizen’s Allowance.

The Hegemony will also act to prevent the offender from violating the Praxis again in the future. In most cases of a first offense, it will be sufficient for the offender to apologize to his victim (if any) and make a simple verbal commitment to avoid repeating the offense. Further measures may include re-education on the relevant sections of the Praxis, psychological treatment, or a mandatory change of residence. The Hegemony has a very complete and effective model of human psychology and behavior, and usually has little difficulty persuading an offender to avoid recidivism.

In the most difficult cases of repeated criminal offense, the Hegemony may resort to more drastic measures. The offender’s citizenship may be re-evaluated, reducing him to a lower status. This is still not retribution as such, but a recognition that the offender may have intractable biological or psychological problems that make him a poor candidate for reproductive privileges or a position of responsibility. A repeat offender may also be removed from Hegemony society entirely, through exile to a Free Zone.

Citizenship Levels for Humans

The Hegemony imposes strict population control on human beings. Just before the Conquest, the human population of Earth was 9.44 billion, a massive overrun which placed considerable strain on ecosystems around the globe. Even before announcing its presence, the Hegemony deployed a pandemic virus that rendered almost every human being sterile. This sterility was reversible, but only with galactic-level biotechnology.

After the Conquest, the Hegemony permitted human reproduction once again, but only among those humans subject to khedai rule, and only under strict controls. More than any other policy of the Hegemony, this iron-bound law is resented by many humans.

Each human is permitted some number of birthrights. It is possible to hold fractional birthrights, and full or fractional birthrights may be traded on a market managed by the Hegemony. For one child to be born, two humans (not necessarily a male and a female) must each irrevocably contribute one birthright, along with a copy of his or her own genome. Conception can take place using the old-fashioned method with minimal medical intervention, or it can involve in vitro fertilization, genetic screening and manipulation, and ectogenesis.

By about 2100, death rates planet-wide had stabilized at almost exactly 8 per year per 1,000 humans, a level they have maintained ever since. By about 2200, the human population of Earth had declined to 3.25 billion, a level the Hegemony considers stable and sustainable in the long term. Since that time, the Hegemony has managed the supply of birthrights to almost balance the death rate, permitting a small overage to provide population for off-world settlement.

The Hegemony classifies humans into several levels of citizenship, defined by the reproductive privileges accorded to each. Every human is evaluated and assigned a citizenship level upon reaching adulthood, usually at sixteen years of age. One can be re-evaluated into a higher (or, on rare occasions, lower) level based on one’s accomplishments in life.

The Hegemony offers a variety of genetic improvements to loyal human citizens who wish to take advantage of them. In general, these packages are designed to improve genetic fitness and remove any inherited physical or antisocial mental disadvantages. Any positive genetic modification available at TL11, which does not count as a species modification, is likely to be widely available. Indeed, most human citizens are required to go through genetic counseling before having children, and may be required to accept germ-line genetic engineering to weed out any significant genetic defects.

Modifications that do count as an alteration to the human species – possibly preventing the recipient from being able to breed true with baseline humans – are much less common. The khedai are very reluctant to permit anything that might shatter humanity into distinct clades.

The following levels of privilege exist. Descriptions include social mechanics from the GURPS role-playing game.

Alpha-Level Privilege (“Crimson Card”)

Reserved for the most valued human members of society, Alpha-level privilege (denoted by a crimson-background ID) grants an unlimited supply of birthrights. The holder is encouraged to have as many children as possible. This brings a +3 reaction from non-human citizens, and humans who hold a green card or higher. Humans with grey or white cards resent red-card holders, reacting to them at -3. Holding a red card is an advantage worth 3 points.

No one earns a red card simply upon reaching adulthood. Humans can only earn this status by performing some remarkable feat of heroism, displaying unusual intellectual achievement, or otherwise proving extraordinarily useful to the Hegemony. About one human in a million holds a red card at any given time.

Beta-Level Privilege (“Gold Card”)

Gold-card citizens constitute the human upper class. The gold card carries five birthrights. This brings a +1 reaction from non-human citizens, and humans who hold a green card or higher. Humans with grey or white cards resent gold-card holders, reacting to them at -1. Holding a gold card is an advantage worth 1 point.

This is the highest level of reproductive privilege that can be assigned when a human reaches adulthood. Citizens who are granted this level of privilege upon reaching adulthood may have no inherited physical or antisocial mental disadvantages, and must be above human average in all four attributes. Green-card or even white-card holders may be elevated to this level of privilege for exemplary service. About one human in 1,000 holds a gold card at any given time.

Gamma-Level Privilege (“Green Card”)

The green card indicates that one is a citizen in good standing. The green card carries three birthrights. Holding a green card carries no point cost.

Citizens who are granted this level of privilege upon reaching adulthood may have no inherited physical or antisocial mental disadvantages. White-card holders are usually elevated to this level of privilege if they hold a position of even modest responsibility within the Hegemony. About one human in five holds a green card at any given time, but green-card holders make up the clear majority of human adventurers. A green card is considered the default for human characters.

Delta-Level Privilege (“White Card”)

A white card indicates that one is a citizen in good standing, but may have one or more significant hereditary defects, and has no history of useful employment within the Hegemony.

A white card carries a variable number of birthrights, determined by a quota set by the Hegemony. For a few years after the Conquest, the white-card quota was set at exactly one birthright, permitting any two white-card humans to combine their birthrights and have a single child. As the human population dropped, the planetary infrastructure improved, and settlement opportunities became available off Earth, the Hegemony adjusted the quota upward. At present a white card carries exactly 1.75 birthrights, not quite enough for two white-card humans to enjoy the privilege of personal replacement.

Non-human citizens of the Hegemony, and humans with green cards or better, react to white-card holders at -1. A white card is a disadvantage worth -4 points. Most humans (a little less than 80%) hold white cards (but most human adventurers will not).

Epsilon-Level Privilege (“Grey Card”)

Grey cards are assigned to humans who exhibit severe antisocial behavior. These include stubborn repeat criminal offenders, Dissidents who have voluntarily accepted life in a Free Zone, and “feral” humans who have somehow managed to avoid Hegemony control entirely. Dissidents and feral humans may be assigned to a higher level of privilege if they choose to re-enter Hegemony society. A grey card carries no birthrights, and the holder is left permanently sterile.

Grey-card holders are a despised minority in Hegemony society, and resent their lot. Non-human citizens, and humans with white cards or better, react to grey-card holders at -3. A grey card (or the equivalent) is a disadvantage worth -12 points. About one human in fifty holds a grey card at any given time.

© 2016 Jon F. Zeigler