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Building Antarctica 2: Birth of Governments and Economies

Welcome back to my series about worldbuilding Antarctica! This is a series where I discuss behind-the-scenes worldbuilding details about my series Post-Third Apocalypse (PTA). In my previous article, I discussed the inspiration for PTA and also my purposes for including the three different apocalypses that shook the world. Of course, being a (former) political science major, I couldn’t resist any longer – I just have to talk about the government and economic systems!

Why do I care, though? In a lot of stories, you can get away without ever mentioning governments or even businesses.

Answer: The Challenge.

As mentioned in my previous Building Antarctica article, Pokémon was one of the primary inspirations for PTA, so I wanted to incorporate the idea of kids travelling around and participating in some type of large competition. But how would a competition like that become such a cultural phenomenon? To answer this, I had to figure out what type of governments and economic system might encourage the creation of the Challenge.

The number one thing to remember when designing a world’s government and economy is the historical context. To help me with this, I choose to think of the economic evolution of the PTA world in three different phases: State-Controlled Economies, the Symbionic Wars, and Privatization.

1. State-Controlled Economies

Whenever disasters occur, people tend to turn to the government for help. Now imagine the world has suffered from a nuclear war followed closely by an alien invasion – people are panicking, starving, and fleeing. The governments—both the ones who survived and the ones created from the ashes—will clamp down hard, trying to retain any control they have. Massive migrations of people (such as to Antarctica) also means massive redistribution of resources, which means governments will nationalize vital industries.

In other words, governments will take control of food production, mining, telecommunications, heavy industries, etc. While regulations would begin to ease with the recovery of society, we’re still looking at a highly integrated government-economic complex, likely along the lines of how China is today. But such a deep integration of government and economic interests can lead to trouble….

2. Symbionic Wars

This is where neomedievalism comes into play. My next Building Antarctica post will get into a lot more detail on the Symbionic Wars, but suffice to say that an integrated government-economic complex comes with its own problems. The main issue is this: If the government is in charge of the economy, how do you distinguish vital governmental interests from vital company interests?

The answer: You don’t. Instead, you end up with governments stepping in on behalf of corporate interests to ensure that their companies turned a profit, such as in the Banana Wars of the early 1900s (where the United States attempted to control the fruit industry in Central America). In PTA, due to several trends of modern warfare, including hybridization and difficulty of attribution, these Symbionic Wars got so deadly that countries forcefully took means to ensure they didn’t happen again, including a disarmament treaty and actively separating corporate and government interests by privatizing companies once more.

3. Privatization

Privatization is when a company goes from being held by the government to being held by a private entity (nongovernmental forces). One of the largest examples in modern day occurred after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, where entire industries were privatized in a process marked by corruption and favoritism, leading to the rise of the Russian oligarchs today.

Privatization following the Symbionic Wars was marked by less corruption and the economic system has had longer to relax into a form of state-controlled capitalism, but corporations still tend to be dominated by set individuals who possess undue influence over their respective spheres.

Current State

At the time of book 1, it’s been about 70 years after the Symbionic Wars, meaning that their Symbionic Wars would be like our World War Two. Following the legacy of the apocalypses, governments are primarily socialistic, with the governments in Antarctica much more strict about monitoring their citizens (due to harsh climate conditions) than the ones in Australia. However, the resurgence of capitalism has led to politically-powerful but governmentally-unaligned corporate heads who are willing to play governments off each other in pursuit of their goals. Of course, this results in various corporate intrigue which the characters get drawn into throughout the series.

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So there you go! The thought process behind the government and economic systems in Post-Third Apocalypse. Obviously very little of this information actually gets told outright in PTA, considering it’s a middle grade adventure story, but it does inform me as I write the characters getting into their various shenanigans. What about you? Are their aspects of your stories that are too dry to explain but you must keep in mind as you write? Let me know in the comments below!

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