New Attica

General setting idea

Overarching theme: The conflict between people who just want to be rich, and people who want to be richer than others; between those who want to control themselves and be able to do stuff they think is neat, and those who want to control others to make them do stuff the controller thinks is neat.

Major opponent(s): Politicians and lobbyists with vested interests in current international copyright system, who insist that copyright is as fundamental as the right to own a car, and who refuse to accept anything less than New Attica signing onto the current version of the Berne convention (mandating minimum copyrights of authour's death plus 50 years)... and if New Attica fails to do so, are willing to use military force to get their way, even if doing so triggers a MAD-level war.

The offical New Attican response is that, since they're roughly self-sufficient in the necessities, they'll accept if any other nation wishes to embargo them, or otherwise cease to engage with them (as much as possible when talking about habs orbiting above)... but that any force used against them will be retaliated against.

The opponents' responses is based on the premise that the oligarchs in question pretty much just want the New Atticans to just sit down, shut up, and do what they're told: basically, to be a subordinate little banana republic that's not going to upset their position on the top of the heap... and their responses involve all sorts of the various 'interesting' shenanigans that one government can do to another: espionage, attempted sabotage, name-calling, framing for socially-unpalatable crimes, convincing third-parties to do extreme stuff and take the rap if it goes wrong, and generally stirring things up.

New Attican economics


One of the parts of the Earthly oligarchies that the New Atticans are rebelling against is that, in many cases, it's effectively impossible to figure out who actually owns something, due to nested shell companies, shadow investors, and other corporate shenanigans. So there is a federal set of laws which require all property-claims to be registered, or else that property is to considered to be be legally unowned.


Having observed various Earthly corporate shenanigans, the New Atticans are recoiling against the very idea of "limited liability" and are trying to put into place measures to protect themselves against it. While joint ownership of various sorts is entirely legal, the "limited-liability corporation" has no more special privileges than any other company, and the limited-liability provisions of such contracts have been deemed to be unenforceable. Put another way, they've put into place a legal framework where owners have to take individual and personal legal responsibility for whatever they own; and that part of making any ownership claim is an implicit, if not explicit, announcement that you have the power to control the thing you own, and thus the moral responsibility for harm done by that thing.

While there's a certain logic to the idea, it is yet another aspect of New Attica that annoys Earthly megacorps with any interest in space, who have added their economic impetus to Earth's governments trying to bring the New Atticans to heel.


A legal precedent was established quite quickly that pyramid schemes inherently contain an element of fraud, and are thus criminal. The reasoning goes that the final people to join the scheme are, essentially, screwed, since in order to profit they need to not be the last ones - and, thus, anyone promoting the scheme as being beneficial to them could at least plausibly be described as engaging in deceptive fraud. Thus that lower edge of the pyramid could be plausibly interpreted as involving illegal activity. Once that's the case, then once the bottom edge of that pyramid's criminal activities are dealt with, and all the necessary restitutions paid... then, now, the people who used to be one level up are now at the bottom - and the whole process gets run through again, shrinking the potentially-legal part of the scheme until there's nothing left.

Once such a precedent was set, then a similar process was applied to dealing with bank runs, leading to a legal view that banks that can have runs are as illegal as a pyramid scheme - no matter what the interesting economic knock-on effects of that precedent might be. This effectively makes fractional-reserve banking illegal; thus, the only banks available are full-reserve banks, which are merely big, well-secured places to hold money, and to hold money transfers. They don't pay interest, and have to charge their customers fees for their services.

This does create certain limitations on investment, compared to the economic systems used on Earth. However, as the most common New Attican currencies are non-inflationary, individuals don't need to invest their money simply to maintain its value against inflation; they can, instead, evaluate any given investment opportunity's risk/reward ratio and make their decisions without that pressure.


Just about anything is being used as currency, with digital-certificate notes being traded that can be exchanged for metals, food, water, chickens, alcohol, air, fuel, bullets, energy, computing time, work-hours, babysitting hours, voting or non-voting company shares, or even nothing at all other than the use of the thing as a medium of exchange (ala present-day Bitcoin)... with a thriving and entertaining online exchange market between all of the above, including basket-currencies that pick a little from column A and a little from column B. Certain of these currencies inflate, such as as nitrogen is gradually hauled up from Earth or a new asteroid or comet gets herded into Earth orbit and floods the raw-material market, and some deflate - but with a little bit of nonsentient-AI assistance to take care of the fiddly little details, it mostly all comes out in the wash, unless someone wants to make an issue of the details.

Non-voting shares in the largest index fund have become the common way to denominate prices; these are called "bucks", with the symbol ฿ (shared with the baht, much to Thailand's annoyance), dividable into a thousand "mills", ₥.

Some average/typical sample prices:

Job, Typical Monthly Income
*: Freelance work, highly variable pay
+: May be higher, even much higher

Geimthing flag
Flag of Virtual Canton of Geimthing

New Attican courts and legal system

Every New Attican citizen is a member of a Virtual Canton; each Canton has a set of laws that apply to its members, and a Canton-level judicial system to resolve disputes amongst those members. Many Cantons' laws are similar enough that they have reciprocal agreements to deal with disputes between their members. In those cases where such an agreement does not exist, or the disagreement involves a non-citizen in New Attican territory, or in certain specified other cases, the federal government has its own judiciary.

Part of the New Attican constitution says that it is the chief aim of judicial adjudication to secure restitution for the victim to the fullest degree possible at the expense of the wrongdoer. It says 'chief' aim rather than 'sole' aim to allow some wiggle room in case experience demonstrates that punishment is a necessary role in the judicial system, whether financial, corporal, or simply locking someone up to keep them from causing further harm to others.

This constitutional clause, "Convicted criminals shall not have their liberty restricted except so far as is necessary for the protection of others", allows for such restrictions upon a criminal as /are/ necessary to prevent future harm. If punishment really can deter crime, then it should be possible for such deterrence-punishment to pass the test of being a restriction of liberty 'necessary for the protection of others' - though whether that would stand up to a vote by the Supreme Court is still an open question with all sorts of political and personal complications.

The right to use lethal levels of force in immediate self-defense situations is, of course, a necessity; but after seeing far too many reports of innocents Earthers convicted and sent to death row, the New Attican founders weren't comfortable with a judicial death penalty. At present, their closest equivalent is to stick someone in a cargo container with full life-support and no spacesuit, weld it shut and put it into a different orbit, where they'll be harmless; but if somebody manages to figure out that they were innocent, they can bring 'em back, open it up and let them out again, which can't be done if they were just killed.

New Attican Self-Defense Forces (NA-SDF)

In theory, every citizen is considered part of the 'unorganized militia', and is expected to be ready to be called up for service to act in the common defense at a moment's notice. In practice, this means that everyone's expected to have a weapon on hand at all times. In practice, any country on Earth which has access to a fighter jet and 1980's-level military technology (ie, all of them) can blow up any hab in orbit at any time.

Once you're in orbit, you're halfway to anywhere; so whenever it feels like it, New Attica can start dropping rocks. (And it has enough craft outside of immediate orbit to provide second-strike capability even if all of its habs are destroyed.)

In order to prevent the unpleasantness of Mutually-Assured Destruction, New Attica has an explicit policy of 'armed neutrality' - like Switzerland, they won't attack any other nation, or get involved in any alliance which would require them to do so, but will respond if attacked. (Unofficially, individual Atticans can help out other oppressed peoples however they like.)

Being a new polity, New Attica has the disadvantage of having few experienced military personnel - but also the advantage of not being tied to any particular outmoded doctrines or traditions. This has led to things being a little strange compared to more conventional militaries.

The NA-SDF is, at present, divided up into four main branches, each based around one of the ways a war can be won, and each with its own political support.

The first is fairly simple: plowing right in until the enemy is unable to fight back. This covers most of what is usually thought of as a 'military', including army, navy, air force, strategic weaponry, and the various bits and bobs of hardware for destruction. This branch is supported by the Reds, who find such activities to be highly compatible with their view of personal honour and military merit.

The second tries to keep the enemy from knowing how to fight back. Although limited by the fact that there's no such thing as stealth in space, this covers intelligence, counter-intelligence, deception, encryption, network analysis, ECM, ECCM, hacking, and so forth; and draws most of its members from the academics of the Blues.

The third has the least chance of working, but the promise of the best results if it does: convincing the enemy that it doesn't want to fight. Psychologists, sociologists, praxeologists; Propaganda, of course, but also morale to keep their own side knowing that fighting to defend their homes is worth doing, and keeping them on the moral high ground. The ever-hopeful Whites are backing this bunch.

Last, and hopefully least, is the branch based around running away from the fight, surrendering, and otherwise knowing how to lose. How to extract the greatest possible strategic gains from a tactical defeat, making lifepod-evacuation plans in case somebody blows up a hab, calculating how much tribute would be necessary to convince an aggressor not to attack, and generally making backup upon backup upon backup to prepare for not just the worst imaginable scenario, but scenarios that are even worse than can be imagined. Thier support has, somewhat by default, fallen upon the Greens; while not the best fit, the fact that a truly lost war means that all profits will disappear at least gives them motivation, and their financial experience gives them a head-start at calculating how valuable any given plan would be in any given emergency.

The interactions between these four branches, and between them and the citizenry, and them and their opponents, are just starting to evolve, but are already complicated. The Reds think that the other three branches are merely adjuncts to the 'real' military and should be brought under their control, and at the least should all have formal uniforms to help create esprit de corps; the Whites tend to annoy the others by telling them they can't use one tactic or another because it would violate their moral principles; the Greens are getting nicknamed the Blacks for their funereal predictions, and while they tend to think that all the other branches are doomed to failure, are becoming the drivers of logistics and strategic planning; and the Blues have an unfortunate tendency to fall into abstract "You know that I know that you know that..." recursions.


The lunar colonies seem to be taking a somewhat different approach to preventing random people who are having a bad day from blowing up whole habitats: by simply making sure that nobody experiences a mental state such that they would want to kill lots of people. While there is no doubt that, at least so far, this method is effective, it also raises a whole host of concerns amongst both the Earthly oligarchs and the New Atticans.

Fragments from some conversations between DataPacRat and some groundhogs:

Simplicio: "What's up with this ARG thing I keep seeing?"

DPR: "Old spacer's joke. Arg: A, R, G. Atmosphere, Radiation, Gravity. If you don't pay attention to those, it'll be the last thing you say."

DPR: "I see that you've got a thread slightly loose on that button."

"Yeah, so?"

DPR: "It shows one of the big differences between life down here, and life in the Black. If you ignore your clothes long enough for a thread to get loose... at worst, you might get some extra sun-burn or wind-chill - even in a worst-case scenario, it wouldn't make any real difference. If I ignore my clothes long enough for that to happen... then, at some point in the near future, I'll be dead. It'll probably take about a minute. There are consequences to peoples' actions up there that don't exist down here; if something of the sort happens, then the best outcome that can be hoped for is that whoever made the mistake doesn't take anyone else with them. When peoples' lives depend on certain things being the right way all the time, then that leads to certain social differences - differences which may seem weird to you, or pointless, or just some cultural thing of no more import than a local dance, but which are utterly necessary to our survival."

DPR: "I currently own, hm, two nuclear explosive devices outright, and have partial shares of a large number of others."

"What?!? But... but... you could blow up a city!"

DPR: "Well, yes, I suppose I could. But that would be a very inefficient use of them - they're much more valuable as Orion drive propulsion units. Besides, I don't need to use an explosion to destroy a city - with just a few minutes, I could transmit some instructions to my 'bots at home, and have them make arrangements to drop a rock. It would take a little longer, but be just as destructive. Even that would be pretty wasteful - if I knew, oh, ten minutes in advance where someone was going to be, I could have a crowbar dropped on them from orbit, without causing all that messy and expensive collateral damage. And just about anyone in New Attica who wants, can do exactly the same thing."

Simplicio: "What's this thing about the rocks I hear you folk keep stealing?"

DPR: "Now that is something worth knowing about. Short answer: counting coup. Want to hear the longer answer? Good. When it comes down to it, it's really just a game. The best sort of game - keeps you strong, keeps you smart. Gives the healthy young males something to do with all their excess energy, and a way to try to impress the girls. But those are all mostly just surface reasons.

"Anyone who wants to play, gets themselves a rock - some perfectly ordinary rock, that has no real value in and of itself, or even any sentimental value, other than being their rock. Maybe put their name on it. This here's my rock. If you want... you can try stealing it away from me.

"Yes, technically, since it's my rock, then taking it from me is a violation of my right to property, and in many forms of libertarian philosophy, I then have the right to use any amount of force in self-defense, including lethal force. But this here is the important part - to find out how people react when their rocks are taken. To test them. Some people are simply incompetent at most everything, even something as simple as keeping a rock from getting stolen, so if it's too easy to take your rock, then other people will be interested in finding that out. On the other paw, if, when your rock is taken, you take it too personally and use too much lethal force, then it's important to know that, too - because while avoiding infringing other peoples' rights is an important basis for a civilized society, it's insufficient in and of itself; if too many people use too much force in self-defense, that'll result in societal collapse just as surely as a kleptocracy, if not quite as quickly or in the same way.

"Long ago, people used to do the same sort of things by hitting each other with special sticks, or raiding each others' cattle, or playing organized sports. Our habs are spread out a bit too thinly to arrange many decent opportunities for stick-poking, what cattle we have are vital parts of the life-support cycles, and we haven't really come up with sports that are popular enough. We don't want to involve anything that's potentially vital to life-support systems - which is pretty much almost everything. So... we steal each other's rocks. Or, at least, try to. And keep our own rocks from getting stolen - or try to.

"We're still hashing out some of the details. Sometimes, the stealer will hold onto the rock so the original owner can try to steal it back. Sometimes, the thief will simply mail it back. Some people say doing one thing implies one thing about what the thief thinks, and the other the other, while others give practical reasons. Some people are suggesting groups get rocks, as well as individuals, others that that'll devalue the whole idea. I doubt any of it'll be settled in my lifetime, but it gives the people who aren't doing any stealing at the moment something to jaw over in the pubs."

Some history

American Empire flag

America has transitioned from Republic to Empire. Specifically: After some competent guerrilla attacks on American soil, and a Wilsonian president whose spectacular failure of a response was to try to appease such people, a Jacksonian president took charge, and implemented a three-phase plan.

Phase one: close America's borders; revoke all visas; clean out any detectable groups inside America planning on making attacks, or conducting foreign espionage. This took a certain amount of time, effort, and intelligence work.

Phase two: go after those external groups who have attacked Americans... and, if the country they're in didn't hand them over, don't bother asking before killing those targets. During this phase, a collection of such groups gathered in Pakistan, planning to take over India; this is when the Americans revealed their new weapons and tactics. Eg, the Flock, whose standard deployment was 50,000 hovering robots that scanned for anyone shooting, and then went and exploded themselves at them; and Proxy-Soldiers, remote-controlled robots that could take the place of live infantry. From India, the American forces pushed into Pakistan... and, really, just kept going, annihilating anything that shot at them. By the time they made it through Iran, individual villages started surrendering, and everyone but true suicidal fanatics got the point by the time they made it into Egypt. (Meanwhile, in response to similar attacks, the rest of the Anglosphere and a few other European countries were attempting a similar response in North Africa. However, lacking the Amis' new weapons, they were pretty much stalled until they were loaned some Flocks.) A second front opened on America's southern border, as its closing led to an economic crisis in Mexico; when, during complicated events, the Mexican army crossed the border, the Amis annihilated that unit, and, again, pretty much just rolled on south to the border with Guatamala. At the end of this phase, the Americans quit from the UN, and kicked out all foreign embassies, consulates, and diplomats, considering them unnecessary now that negotiations could be done with telecommunications).

Phase three: Once both internal and external threats had been dealt with... the Americans now controlled extensive American Protectorates. Significant areas were, essentially, depopulated, with no significant claimants to return them to. The Amis didn't really want to run other countries, but also didn't want to have to go through anything like the Puppet War again, resulting in a rather schizophrenic approach. Instead of reopening its borders, all foreign trade had to go through one of the three major Mexican ports, and an International City was set up in Mexico to allow the sort of negotiations the now-defunct UN was supposed to encourage. In the Mid-East, anyone who appeared to be making preparations to attack was immediately and harshly dealt with - but other than keeping the local resources flowing, the Amis generally kept a hands-off approach, more from its own various oligarchical governmental factions not having any agreements about what to do than as an explicit policy.

While none of the forces which the Flocks, Proxies, and related robots were used against was able to significantly affect them, those weapons platforms aren't invulnerable, and do have their own weaknesses. One is their logistical tail - while not of the same nature as today's armies, they're still energy hogs. This was one of the spurs of the Solar Power Satellite project getting off the ground - the more energy that could be beamed down from space, the less gasoline had to be hauled to generators. Another limit is their communications networking - there's a delay of about a twentieth of a second between a pilot stationed in a safe zone near the battlefield moving and a Proxy responding, which can be compensated for, but the farther the pilot is from the Proxy, the longer the delay, and the more the Proxy has to rely on built-in programming to respond to events, which makes them much less effective when, say, the pilots are on Earth and the Proxies are in orbit. Radio jamming is a particular problem.

American protectorate of Mexico flag

Augmented Reality

An important and integral part of New Attican life. Most people wear some sort of device that combines a camera and a live-display, either through goggles or contact lenses. There are also a large number of cheap privately-owned cameras spread all around, which form a near-ubiquitious sousveillance network.

One of the simplest applications of these technologies combines the above with facial recognition software - whenever someone see a stranger, they can also see a virtual tote-board floating over their head that lists their pertinent stats, such as various measurements of how often they've acted potentially dangerously in the past.

Anonymity while in public view is difficult, but not quite impossible, to achieve, and requires careful effort. To start with, you need a hood and face mask to block the facial-recognition scanners; something like a stone in your shoe to beat gait recognition; something to mess up joint-distance measurements; a scent-disguiser; a voice-distorter; enough friends to pull a shuffle outside camera-view to beat simple traffic analysis; avoid leaving any DNA or fingerprints behind; remove any clothing or gadget that has an RFID chip or other EM identification; and hope that no nearby cameras are good enough to do iris or retinal imaging... and undoing all those preparations afterwards. Down on Earth, in some places anonymity is much easier, while in others it's even more difficult. (An alternate method of being able to accomplish physical tasks without getting caught is to simply remote-pilot a robot body through an anonymizing proxy, one of the future descendants of Tor.)

Another set of AR layers that can be viewed connect to a governmental database in which all property-claims are registered. This can allow someone to know which sousveillance cameras likely observed any given event, and if those records have not already been made public, to contact those cameras' owners asking for that data.


Technology exists to read and write the impulses of motor-control and sensory-nerves. This allows people both to experience any given physical sensation and to control an avatar (virtual or physical) without their real bodies flailing about inside a clumsy VR suit.

The most common application of this is to remote-control drone robots. Such robots can be made up to look, feel, and smell indistinguishable from a live body, to ordinary senses (though any damage will reveal their nature, as will infrared, X-ray, or other exotic sensory apparatus).

A less common use is to remote-pilot a live person's body. One of the most legal applications is to allow couch potatoes to have their bodies piloted through an exercise program that they don't have to physically experience... and there are, of course, a wide variety of less ethical things that can be done.

(And just about every Rule 34 application of piloting a robot or another person has been tried at least once...)

Relevant Tropes

Overall Setting:


New Attica:

Some Available Tech: