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Author Topic: Economic realities of the SC universe  (Read 6864 times)
Lukipela
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Economic realities of the SC universe
« on: October 24, 2008, 10:54:54 am »

Seeing as the world economy seems to be a tad unstable nowadays, I started thinking about the economy of the SC universe. In SC2 the economy is quite restricted, which is only natural. But once the Hierarchy is defeated, there must be some level of trade between the starfaring races. And of course the same holds true for before they arrived. It kind of makes me wonder what that system looks like. Some races are quite intimately intertwined, like Utwig&Supox and Yeaht&Shofixti. It seems only logical that their economies ought to be tightly integrated. Do you think they have cross-species stock exchanges in the future? Can a humble Shofixti worker buy stocks in a Yehat company? Or would their system be much more top controlled, with five year plans and such? And what about more advanced species such as the Chhmmr and Arilou. Will they be trading on a “knowledge stock market” with the Melnorme?

The Hierarchy seems to be a much likelier candidate for a heavily regulated economy, I doubt the Ur-Quan have any interest in the finer nuances of warranty trading. But what about member races? Do you think the Hierarchy restructures not only their political, but economical systems as well? Or are they just happy as long as the fallow races keep producing ships. What happens if a fallow race suffers an economic crash, will the Ur-Quan inject more liquid assets, or just provide fusion bolts at a discharged price? The ultimate downsizing?

And of course there is everyone’s favourite, the Kohr-Ah. On the surface their economy seems pretty straightforward. Burn a planet to the ground, scavenge materials for new ships. But is that really all there is to them? I assume the Primat needs some extra resources to keep the government going, so maybe each ship pays some sort of tax? Perhaps eradicating  a species gives you tax credits that can then be traded if you have more than you need?

Of course this is far outside canon, so there are no right or wrong answers. But it is interesting to ponder. and it would make for a very different sequel, renewing the series. Star Control 3: Intergalactic Recession
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Re: Economic realities of the SC universe
« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2008, 01:52:36 pm »

The Druuge and Melnorme notwithstanding, why would you assume that all alien cultures are capitalist?  I mean, interstellar travel is expensive, on the order of requiring the resources of an entire starbase to make fuel for one Precursor tug, but the game fiction hints strongly that all Hierarchy races have generic matter fabrication tech in their starbases.  Which means that physical resources would no longer be scarce, which means folks would no longer have to compete for resources, and there'd be plenty to go around.  With advanced enough tech, you could fabricate robots to do all the manual labor, and noone would need to work at all.

The Ur-Quan could very well have bestowed a communist paradise unto all of their slaves.
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Re: Economic realities of the SC universe
« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2008, 03:13:45 pm »

The Druuge and Melnorme notwithstanding, why would you assume that all alien cultures are capitalist?

Because I've been taught that the free market is the ultimate form of economy, so clearly any superior race would use it Wink I actually don't know very much about different economic models, so I was hoping someone else would come up with alternative explanations.

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The Ur-Quan could very well have bestowed a communist paradise unto all of their slaves.

True, but how well would that work? At least in the case of the Hierarchy we know and love, each race was integrated very quickly. It seems to me that the sudden appearance of limitless resources wouldn't take effect that quickly, you'd need to set up an infrastructure that can handle them. All those kilotonnes of iron out in space don't do much without refining processes. And even if the Ur-Quan have a few thousand spare factories, would a culture adopt easily to this new lifestyle? Or would an artificial sparseness be upheld by the ruling class?

As for the alliance races, that'd be a possibility for the M:bots and Chenjesu (and the Arilou might be physcially happy, but what about on a mental plane and information trading?). But most of the other races don't strike me as so technologically advanced that they've completely mastered resource control to the degree you're implying. The Shofixti were only recently uplifted, the Syreen don't even have a homeworld anymore, and the Yehat don't seem to be that far ahead of mankind. If nothing else, living space might be the limiting factor, leading to an active and overheated real estate market.
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Re: Economic realities of the SC universe
« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2008, 04:43:42 pm »

Before, it's clear that at least the humans' efforts included capitalist efforts (the manual references some company in Detroit, IIRC).

As for the others... hmm. There isn't even a vague basis for speculation, mostly.
The Thraddash have clearly tried every economic style.
The Ilwrath have a command economy dictated by their priests.

If we were to follow stereotypes most strictly, we could suppose that the Yehat have trade guilds, but that's not actually supportable in dialog to the best of my knowledge.
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Re: Economic realities of the SC universe
« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2008, 05:47:18 pm »

I get the general impression that, with the obvious exceptions of the Melnorme and Druuge, most of the races seem to function according to a somewhat socialist system (which is quite common in a great deal of sci fi). This is especially apparent within the Hierarchy, where what we see of fallow races has them entirely dependent on the Ur-Quan for their resources (at least outside of the slave shields), and the Ur-Quan distribute those according to an individual races' needs. Of course, this is to be expected of a master/slave relationship where the slave race is unable to fend for itself. The condition of the Starbase in the beginning of the game is evidence of what happens when that relationship breaks down for any significant length of time.

Battle thralls, while most likely responsible for procuring their own resources, are also expected to place the needs of the Ur-Quan above their own. I expect that this means that they would either function in a socialist economy, or a very tightly regulated capitalist economy (at least as far as anything the Ur-Quan would need is concerned). I would expect that the relationship between the Ur-Quan and a battle thrall race quite likely involves the Ur-Quan setting quotas for materials and ships they require, and the thrall race meeting or exceeding those quotas. Those that fail to do so are likely subject to Spathi-style warnings (and I suppose fusion boltings if things get out of hand for too long). That said, I doubt that the Ur-Quan interfere too much with segments of thrall economies that do not direct directly impact their performance in the Hierarchy, unless said economies do start to disrupt a thrall races' performance of their expected duties.

Unique among spacefaring races is the linked case of the Yehat and Shofixti. I suspect they are huge exceptions to what I've said above as both seem to function according to a Feudal system. This is especially evident in the case of the Yehat, where at the top sits the Queen and the other noble clans, below them are the starship clans, and likely below them are the common folk. The Queen would set tithes on the nobles as is her regal privledge, the nobles would set tithes on the starship clans that they govern in exchange for representing their interests at the royal court, the starship clans would set tithes on the common folk in exchange for protection and provision of new worlds to colonize. Among the commoners, there is likely to be capitalist or pre-capitalist economy, possibly with a dedicated merchant class to allow for trade between the various clans. The entire thing seems very medieval in nature, but is the only system I can envision working so long as the Queen wields genuine power (and it is certainly implied within the game dialog that she does, rather than being simply a figurehead... which seems to be the fate of many monarchs when their economies shift towards capitalism). The Shofixti likely share a similar economic system; the rudiments seem to have been in place when they were first discovered by the Yehat, and once uplifted they were probably not inclined to change, save possibly to emulate the Yehat system even further.

There is some evidence that the Syreen and Spathi each have socialist systems. Both races are working as a whole toward one major goal, and appear to be entirely united toward achieving that goal. In the case of the Syreen (at least before surrendering to the Ur-Quan), their goal was to find and establish themselves on a new homeworld. Any attempt at any system besides a socialist one among their spacefleet would have certainly been doomed to failure; nobody can afford to squabble over resources when they mean the difference between life and death. The Spathi seem to be of a similar mindset. As a whole, the entire race appears to be driven by the desire to eradicate the Evil Ones and return to their homeworld. Once that goal is achieved, they shift their focus entirely toward isolating themselves for the rest of the galaxy by hiding themslves under a slave shield. While it's possible that their economy could be capitalist or somthing else, that depth of racial focus seems to imply socialism (or at least that the Safe Ones wield enough power to enable them to completely motivate their entire race toward achieving a single goal).

The dialog suggests that the Utwig use a capitalist system. I imagine that an unhealthy proportion of their economy is dedicated toward accomodating their mask culture, and the thousands or masks required by it (which brings up another interesting point: where the heck do they keep them all? That many masks would have to take up a great deal of space, and considering that there is one for every subtle nuance of emotion they may feel, it begs the question where they would hide all of the masks they might need during a typical day. Do they have their own personal hammerspace? Alas, another tangent for another day). Being inclined toward imitation of the culture of their closest neighbors, I suspect the Supox would likely imitate the Utwig's economic system as well.

Would the Mycon even have anything resembling an economy? They seem to be able to grow and mutate anything they might possibly need. By the same token, I find it hard to imagine that the Arilou have much of an economy either, being as insular as they are; nobody was apparently sure they even existed until they joined the Alliance. They seem too preoccupied with their otherdimensional activities and messing with humanity to really care much about trade, and they certainly don't seem to interact with any other races if they can possibly avoid it. Similarly, the Pkunk take a sort of hippie approach to everything else that comes up in discussion, so they would likely have a hippie style economic system (that is to say, none, especially since their ships appear to be spiritual constructs anyway).

The Ilwrath seem to have a capitalistic theocracy, or at least that is what the discussions of their history imply. There is no mention of any ruling class aside from the priesthood, and no sense in charging tithes unless you have an economic system to support them. Of course, the implication is that the priesthood was overthron for charging tithes, so who knows if that system remains in place.

As for everyone else, I can't think of any hints to sway my opinions in any given direction. Which is fine, since speculation is the order of the day anyway. Wink
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Lukipela
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Re: Economic realities of the SC universe
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2008, 06:35:04 pm »

As for the others... hmm. There isn't even a vague basis for speculation, mostly.
The Thraddash have clearly tried every economic style.
The Ilwrath have a command economy dictated by their priests.

Like I said, it's way off canon. But there's no harm in idle speculation, especially if the subject is interesting enough.

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If we were to follow stereotypes most strictly, we could suppose that the Yehat have trade guilds, but that's not actually supportable in dialog to the best of my knowledge.

I like the idea, but I wonder how a guild system would work on a interplanetary scale. Would you have similar guilds competing with eachother, or are the Yehat so centred around their royalty that all guilds are simply an extension of those on their home world? At least some of the starship captains don't feel too warmly about royalty, perhaps they foster competing guilds.

Draxas: How about the relationship between Thrall races? It seems obvious that the Ur-Quan doesn't encourage inter-thrall trade, but we do know they have a bit to do with each other. At the very least they can be stationed at the same places, like with the Ilwrath/Spathi fleet at Sol. I wonder if there'd be any illicit trade in goods through these channels under the noses of their Ur-Quan masters. As for the Thralls normal economic system, what happens if a Thrall economy simply fails?   I agree that Ur-Quan hardly want to interfere more than they have to, but they'd have to watch their thralls quite cosesly to make sure no undue economic stress causes overheating, loss of production capacity and ultimately starvation. And in that case it seems much easier to just wipe a species out than try to go in and micromanage them.

I also disagree on the socialist state of most races. Most races encountered aren't extremely advanced (according to SC standards anyway). Look at the Umgah for instance. They've colonised a few worlds, and they are great with bio stuff. While they probably wont have to worry about producing enough food with those leet bio skills of theirs, I wonder how good they are at more technical stuff. Their ships are slow and bulky, and obviously not biological. It doesn't seem to big a  leap of faith to argue that their technical production facilities are probably of the same (or lower) standard, meaning that while they can add as many arms and legs as they want, they have more trouble mining minerals and building houses. I'd say most races are like this, not advanced enough for perfect communism and not quite disciplined enough for a heavy handed socialist system. Also apologies if I'm misinterpreting what you mean by socialism, it's a tricky definition to nail down.

I'd say the only races that are probably completely removed from any economic development are Mycons and M:bots, since they are constructs. But I just watched WallE, and if the M:bots are as cute they've probably got an emotion based economy or something.

The Utwig might just be very good at waste management, I imagine the mask materials don't wary too much so you'd have very little material loss.
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Re: Economic realities of the SC universe
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2008, 12:04:15 am »

Why is this posted in Starbase Cafe? It's on topic.
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Lukipela
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Re: Economic realities of the SC universe
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2008, 10:59:45 am »

I dunno. I figured that even though it's on topic it's so far off canon that you can't really consider it a SC topic as much as idle speculation. I guess it can be moved if people feel strongly about it.
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Re: Economic realities of the SC universe
« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2008, 02:33:15 pm »

I think it has a topic .

As far as the matter replications goes , there still is a big issue about the resources - From the beginning of the game I understand that radioactives are needed for energy production and the transformer can not produce it . So , either the whole planets use alternative (and thus lower efficiency) energy sources , or the resources are still an issue even with the high technologies .
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Re: Economic realities of the SC universe
« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2008, 09:22:31 pm »

Or maybe you're all morons whose only entertainment is to overthink silly little details of a 14-years old game that no one cares about anymore. It's basically the equivalent of what clucking, mawkish ladies discuss in a hairdresser.

"Now the Chenjesu, do they move by piezoelectric fields or some other means of locomotion?"
 
"Oh, I think they have an E-long-one, those Chenjesu! Very well endowed!"
 
"I heard they are gay!"
 
"Oh, go on!"
 
"What sort of economy do you think the Yehat have?"
 
And so on and so forth with the rest of the insipid rubbish.
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Lukipela
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Re: Economic realities of the SC universe
« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2008, 10:00:37 pm »

I think it has a topic .

Well, if we want to be really anal about it (sorry Shiver), the General Discussion board is technically for "Discussion, questions, and so on about UQM in general.". So any topic that isn't strictly about the game UQM but rather placed in the general SC universe would be off-topic. But that's a pretty pointless distinction, I just didn't think it through before I posted here.

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As far as the matter replications goes , there still is a big issue about the resources - From the beginning of the game I understand that radioactives are needed for energy production and the transformer can not produce it . So , either the whole planets use alternative (and thus lower efficiency) energy sources , or the resources are still an issue even with the high technologies .

Yeah, but that's because the starbase is pretty limited. For fallow races or free races, obtaining matter shouldn't be a problem, they've got countless planets to choose from and far better ways of collecting it than a planetary lander.

Also, I wonder about the Arilou and Pkunk. they seem pretty uninterested in the physical world, but they still have to have some system in place.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2008, 10:02:26 pm by Lukipela » Logged

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Re: Economic realities of the SC universe
« Reply #11 on: October 25, 2008, 10:17:01 pm »

Hello, kettle?  This is pot.  You're black.

There.  I fixed that little self-righteous rant of yours into something more terse and accurate.

Did that lame-assed troll attempt make you feel good?  Isn't it exciting to assert some unfounded sense of superiority over others?  Maybe you popped a little chubby while writing it?

I'm so fucking happy for you.  Now get back under your bridge.
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Re: Economic realities of the SC universe
« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2008, 12:15:29 am »

Well, if we want to be really anal about it (sorry Shiver), the General Discussion board is technically for "Discussion, questions, and so on about UQM in general.". So any topic that isn't strictly about the game UQM but rather placed in the general SC universe would be off-topic. But that's a pretty pointless distinction, I just didn't think it through before I posted here.

General Discussion has been a home for the majority of Star Control trivia threads since UQM first appeared. The moderators would have started shoving trivia threads into Starbase Cafe long ago if you were correct. The way we've been doing things for five years should take precedence over a vague single-sentence description.
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Re: Economic realities of the SC universe
« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2008, 09:45:41 am »

General Discussion has been a home for the majority of Star Control trivia threads since UQM first appeared. The moderators would have started shoving trivia threads into Starbase Cafe long ago if you were correct. The way we've been doing things for five years should take precedence over a vague single-sentence description.

Oh I agree, I'm just giving a technical perspective. Wink

I wonder if one could compare the ZFP to Iceland in the current crisis. Their a small cocky culture (atleast partially), and their technology is probably less advanced than most others. Of course, they don't have any trade agreements pre-Alliance, but who knows what happens afterwards? Their primitive factories might not be able to compete with the superior and cheaper products that major Alliance races export, triggering a colossal recession.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2008, 10:24:18 am by Lukipela » Logged

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Re: Economic realities of the SC universe
« Reply #14 on: October 26, 2008, 11:27:17 am »

Or maybe you're all morons whose only entertainment is to overthink silly little details of a 14-years old game that no one cares about anymore. It's basically the equivalent of what clucking, mawkish ladies discuss in a hairdresser.

"Now the Chenjesu, do they move by piezoelectric fields or some other means of locomotion?"
 
"Oh, I think they have an E-long-one, those Chenjesu! Very well endowed!"
 
"I heard they are gay!"
 
"Oh, go on!"
 
"What sort of economy do you think the Yehat have?"
 
And so on and so forth with the rest of the insipid rubbish.

Was someone forcing you to read this thread through? Don't like it? Bite us. And take your hatred elsewhere. If you don't like to talk and think about good SF, which UQM in its essence is, simply leave or don't participate in. Spreading bad mood around is what makes people morons, not constructive discussion.
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