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a kitten
Aug 5, 2006

In Bruce Sterling's novel Schismatrix there's a ship called the Red Consensus. The ship itself isn't all that exciting: a smallish asteroid mining craft. But it's because it is a mining craft it has lasers and drills and whatnot which is important because it turns out those things make pretty good weapons.

And that last bit is important because they're pirates, and also Red Consensus is the sovereign national territory of the Fortuna Miner's Democracy


But when the ore was gone and Fortuna was a mined-out heap of rubble, they found they had crucially blundered. Their wealth had vanished, and they had failed to pursue technology with the cutthroat desperation of rival cartels. They could not survive on their outmoded expertise or sustain an information economy. Their attempts to do so only hastened their bankruptcy.

The defections began. The nation's best and most ambitious personnel were brain-drained away to richer worlds. Fortuna lost its spacecraft, as defectors decamped with anything not nailed down. The collapse was exponential, and the government devolved upon smaller and smaller numbers of diehards. They got into debt and had to sell their infrastructure to the Mech cartels; they even had to auction off their air. The population dwindled to a handful of knockabout dregs, mostly sundogs who'd meandered to Fortuna out of lack of alternatives.

They were, however, in full legal control of a national government, with its entire apparat of foreign relations and diplomatic protocol. They could grant citizenship, coin money, issue letters of marque, sign treaties, negotiate arms control agreements. There might be only a dozen of them, but that was irrelevant. They still had their House, their Senate, their legal precedents, and their ideology.

They therefore redefined Fortuna, their national territory, as the boundaries of their last surviving spacecraft, the Red Consensus. Thus equipped with a mobile nation, they were able to legally annex other people's property into their national boundaries. This was not theft. Nations are not capable of theft, a legal fact of great convenience to the ideologues of the FMD. Protests were forwarded to the Fortuna legal system, which was computerized and of formidable intricacy.

Lawsuits were the chief source of income for the pirate nation. Most cases were settled out of court. In practice, this was a simple process of bribing the pirates to make them go away. But the pirates were very punctilious about form and took great pride in preserving the niceties.

a kitten fucked around with this message at 20:50 on Apr 24, 2021


a kitten
Aug 5, 2006

Hey man
that's a nice hat

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