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Size of Nations

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Size of Nations
Post by Sigs   » Fri Dec 22, 2017 6:11 pm

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I have been wondering for some time as to the maximum size for an effective nation in the honorverse. The League was ineffective from the beginning, and even if it took several hundred years they are getting their rears handed to them and are likely to cease to exists as a nation shortly. Their size and power has led them to believe that they are invincible which has ultimately led to them having an active fleet larger than all others in existence but one that would be helpless against only a fraction of the number of enemy ships.


What is the largest nation that could be led effectively? From 1 system to over 2,000 systems. And another factor would be what form of government would be best suited of leading the largest nations and what form of government would be the least suited to lead large nations?
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Re: Size of Nations
Post by JohnRoth   » Fri Dec 22, 2017 6:55 pm

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Sigs wrote:I have been wondering for some time as to the maximum size for an effective nation in the honorverse. The League was ineffective from the beginning, and even if it took several hundred years they are getting their rears handed to them and are likely to cease to exists as a nation shortly. Their size and power has led them to believe that they are invincible which has ultimately led to them having an active fleet larger than all others in existence but one that would be helpless against only a fraction of the number of enemy ships.


What is the largest nation that could be led effectively? From 1 system to over 2,000 systems. And another factor would be what form of government would be best suited of leading the largest nations and what form of government would be the least suited to lead large nations?


When travel and communication time between systems is at least a couple of days, there's no way to tightly integrate anything. Whoever's running the shop in a system is operating quasi-independently. You can have an empire like the Andermani, one like the SEM, a republic like Haven or a loose federation like the Solarian League, but there's no way for a bureaucrat in the capitol to micro-manage other systems.

Even the Federation of the Hub, which as far as I can tell was located in a globular cluster, was a rather loose federation in most respects.
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Re: Size of Nations
Post by feyhunde   » Sat Dec 23, 2017 12:40 am

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Sigs wrote:I have been wondering for some time as to the maximum size for an effective nation in the honorverse. The League was ineffective from the beginning, and even if it took several hundred years they are getting their rears handed to them and are likely to cease to exists as a nation shortly. Their size and power has led them to believe that they are invincible which has ultimately led to them having an active fleet larger than all others in existence but one that would be helpless against only a fraction of the number of enemy ships.


What is the largest nation that could be led effectively? From 1 system to over 2,000 systems. And another factor would be what form of government would be best suited of leading the largest nations and what form of government would be the least suited to lead large nations?


It's not really the size, its the level of integration versus the level of self government.

It's what, about ~2 years in normal space to cross the majority of human space? We know historically integrated empires can exist that take 3+ months of dedicated transit to cross (London to Cairo using Roman data). First Fleet to Oz took about twice that time, but clipper ships could do 2-3 months.

I feel like in the Honorverse its not quite a perfect model. After all on a planet, you're integrated into a instantaneous network of communications. If you're in system, it's a day or so for round trip messages. 2 days if you're in a binary sun. Similar rules if you're on a wormhole.

But that's still making the mistake and substituting village or town for PLANET. I use the all caps because often the scale gets lost. Manticore is not a nation, its not plucky England holding off the French. It's a whole star system with 3 inhabited planets, with a system population over 3 billion, and experiencing a baby boom (due to the change in demographics prolong is introducing).

One of the bigger issues here is culture. The worlds of the honorverse have been generally colonized for hundreds if not thousands of years, and have unique cultures. Larger polities are rare, and usually involve daughter colonies (like the old RH), imperialism (the old PRH and Andermanni) or were set up more as a confederation of mutual interest/trade (the Solles and Silles).

The Star Empire really can only get so big because of Wormholes placing Manticore much close in effective distance.
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Re: Size of Nations
Post by Fireflair   » Sat Dec 23, 2017 12:42 am

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We've had a previous discussion about this: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=8974

Essentially it seems to boil down to a few things. One, you can't have a micromanaging central government for anything beyond something like the Manticore home system and everything on the other end of it's wormholes. If you try that, you'll end up putting out problems in systems that are days of travel, or more, away. Local conditions have to be considered with every law and custom.

Two, corruption must be kept to a minimum. In a single star system polity corruption could bring down everything, in something spanning hundreds of light years, the corruption ends up with something like OFS or the SL, where it effectively gets things done by violence or the threat of it, but isn't a real working government.

Beyond those two basic ideas, I think you can get as big as you want. Have the president or king or whomever in charge at home. He sets policy. Those beneath him manage the day to day affairs. Have regional governors who over-see large territories and let each planet manage it's local rules and laws within a basic frame work which is provided by central authority.
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Re: Size of Nations
Post by ldwechsler   » Sat Dec 23, 2017 8:45 am

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Fireflair wrote:We've had a previous discussion about this: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=8974

Essentially it seems to boil down to a few things. One, you can't have a micromanaging central government for anything beyond something like the Manticore home system and everything on the other end of it's wormholes. If you try that, you'll end up putting out problems in systems that are days of travel, or more, away. Local conditions have to be considered with every law and custom.

Two, corruption must be kept to a minimum. In a single star system polity corruption could bring down everything, in something spanning hundreds of light years, the corruption ends up with something like OFS or the SL, where it effectively gets things done by violence or the threat of it, but isn't a real working government.

Beyond those two basic ideas, I think you can get as big as you want. Have the president or king or whomever in charge at home. He sets policy. Those beneath him manage the day to day affairs. Have regional governors who over-see large territories and let each planet manage it's local rules and laws within a basic frame work which is provided by central authority.


It is probably impossible to get too large because of differences in culture. The US could pull together during the Revolution because those opposing the Brits knew they would be hanged if they didn't. And it still took a civil war a few generations later to formalize the process and more than a hundred years afterwards to sort of get a sort of consensus that still does not exist.

Look at the European Union. They are torn apart. Eastern Europe wants one thing and Germany/France want another. Spain has several regional movements wanting separation and Belgium is a group of separate "nations" incorporated into a state.

So the EU is a mess as a government. And, well, the UN? Really!!! Love watching Iran and North Korea condemning human rights violations in Israel while the rest of the world seems just to nod.

So, having a lot of different worlds involved for the League never had a chance. They were kept together by a large, almost useless navy and the fact that most could simply run themselves. Also, the rich could really abuse a lot of poor people on other planets.
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Re: Size of Nations
Post by Brigade XO   » Sat Dec 23, 2017 9:04 am

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The most effective ways seems to depend on the ability of the central government to sucessfully manage things through a functioning and essentialy honest bureaucracy. Stability of leadership is also key. It does't have to be the same person or network of persons, it is that the people doing the job are both consistent in applying the laws (and makeing/changing them) and are all working from the same basic framework of what and how things should be done. That can and probably must change as situations change.
Change is always going to happen, the question is usually what the pressures are and why they are happening. That people are sometimes going to take advantage of things or abuse positions of trust/power are nothing new. How that is delt with is the important thing for a culture in the long run. We are presented with both the SL and the Legislariate version of Haven plus all those systems run by local tyrants or OFS bosses. Like Rome' disintegration into seemingly endless civil wars and inability to manage crisis on it's boarders (from whatever causes) the system fails when the leaders and population get too far apart on what needs or should happen.
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Re: Size of Nations
Post by ldwechsler   » Sun Dec 24, 2017 9:04 am

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Brigade XO wrote:The most effective ways seems to depend on the ability of the central government to sucessfully manage things through a functioning and essentialy honest bureaucracy. Stability of leadership is also key. It does't have to be the same person or network of persons, it is that the people doing the job are both consistent in applying the laws (and makeing/changing them) and are all working from the same basic framework of what and how things should be done. That can and probably must change as situations change.
Change is always going to happen, the question is usually what the pressures are and why they are happening. That people are sometimes going to take advantage of things or abuse positions of trust/power are nothing new. How that is delt with is the important thing for a culture in the long run. We are presented with both the SL and the Legislariate version of Haven plus all those systems run by local tyrants or OFS bosses. Like Rome' disintegration into seemingly endless civil wars and inability to manage crisis on it's boarders (from whatever causes) the system fails when the leaders and population get too far apart on what needs or should happen.


The real problem is that "functioning and essentially honest" bureaucracy. Where, pray tell, do we find that?

In the US, a real lot of agencies have had major scandals. Right now, the FBI is being shown to be a player in a plot against the Republicans. How corrupt some of the leadership is might eventually be known.

And just about every other agency and bureau has mission creep. People who have ditches find out that somehow they come under regulations about flowing water...until stopped years and millions of dollars later by courts.

The bureaucracy of the EU has been criticized even more fiercely. The UN has caused almost as many disasters as it's stopped.

A group the size of the Solarian League can only be governed if each planet can essentially do as it wants while the League helps on problems between planets. And we've seen it expand the League and be incredibly corrupt. I would guess some of the bureaucrats, particularly those with real connections, will stay on even when the reason for their being hired no longer exists.
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Re: Size of Nations
Post by quite possibly a cat   » Sun Dec 24, 2017 7:42 pm

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ldwechsler wrote:Right now, the FBI is being shown to be a player in a plot against the Republicans. How corrupt some of the leadership is might eventually be known.
Umm... no. Just no.
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Re: Size of Nations
Post by Fireflair   » Mon Dec 25, 2017 5:15 am

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Keep the discussion on topic and not about politics, please. Opinions about political parties, leadership, FBI, etc belong in the political forum.
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Re: Size of Nations
Post by ldwechsler   » Mon Dec 25, 2017 7:49 am

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Fireflair wrote:Keep the discussion on topic and not about politics, please. Opinions about political parties, leadership, FBI, etc belong in the political forum.



OK, but when we discuss bureaucracy we are now essentially dealing with politics. And we have seen a real lot of it in the Honorverse, generally in the subject populations but also in the leadership of the Solarian League.

Haven at one point was suffering greatly from bureaucracy...note the problems with education and poverty that were discussed.

On the other hand, we have seen remarkably little of that in Manticore.

I think RFC IS making a point here.

Also, note that the Talbott Cluster is being kept at a slight (very slight) political distance from the rest of Manticore. Saint Martin was brought into the fold completely once the High Ridge government was gone. It looks more like the Talbott planets will be more like the British Commonwealth (hopefully without the worse elements of imperialism).
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