The Treaty of Luna, constitution of the Empire

AThe destruction of Mayflower in 431 ADT killed two billion Mayflowerites including Tomitomo Eichberger, the leadership of his Foundation, and most¹ of his family, but it left his merchant fleet and the fleet of his Patrol largely intact. The survivors retaliated by destroying Orinoco and then undertook a much more vigorous and forceful approach to suppressing piracy². That offended the populous well-developed colonies that were operating their own interstellar fleets, which led to the Formation Wars. The Formation Wars did immense damage to the wealthy colonies’ space assets; the Eichberger Foundation was left supreme in space but unwilling to use any of the weapons it had that might be useful against planets, and facing slow strangulation because of an embargo by the high-development worlds. Hostilities petered out by about 490 PDT, but were not resolved.

In 495 ADT the Eichberger Foundation managed to convene a peace conference in refurbished facilities in the crater Aristarchus on Earth’s moon Luna, to which it brought not only only representatives of the colonies that were boycotting and resisting it, but also of many of the lower-tech colonies that had been harmed by pirate actions in the Age of Piracy and by anti-Eichbergerite actions during the Formation Wars.

The result was a comprehensive treaty that formally ended the wars and the embargo, constituted the Empire, and guaranteed the independence of the colonies: The Treaty of Luna.

The Treaty of Luna created the Imperial Senate as legislature representing the colonies, the Imperial Council as an executive board self-perpetuating by co-optation, and a system of Imperial Courts, with the Paramount Court to resolve disputes under the Treaty and act as ultimate court of appeal. It guaranteed the independence of the colonies and created safeguards for it. It bestowed a monopoly on the use of force in space on the Empire that it created, and Imperialised the Eichberger Foundation’s space forces, also giving the Empire exclusive jurisdiction to pursue the mission formerly claimed by the Eichberger Foundation. But it did commit the Empire to preventing the use of FTL travel for harmful purposes and preventing mass killings.

The intent of the treaty was very clearly that the Senate was to be the supreme authority, The Senate alone had the power of imposing taxes, the Senate alone had the power of raising loans, the Senate alone had the power of appropriating funds from the the Imperial treasury, and the Senate had a right of veto over the co-optation to the Imperial Council and of promotions to the Paramount Court.

The first Senate met in 499 ADT, debated and passed a raft of basic legislation³ that had been foreshadowed at the conference on Luna, failed to enact any taxes or appropriations, and adjourned.

The Imperial constitution turned out not to work as intended because of the operations and interactions of a number of mistakes and omissions.

  • The Treaty neglected to confiscate or Imperialise the Eichberger Foundation’s merchant fleet and other income-producing assets.
  • Though the Senate could prevent the Empire from paying its expenses from the Imperial Treasure, the Treaty did not prevent the Eichberger Foundation from simply paying the Empire’s expenses without sending the money through the Treasury.
  • To pass the Senate, a resolution needed a majority of the votes exercisable, both as counted as one vote per senator and as counted as one vote per head of population in each senator’s colony. So abstentions counted as noes, and either the mass of small poor worlds or the heavy voting power of big rich ones could defeat a resolution.
  • Any Senate’s veto of promotions and co-optations needed to be passed as a resolution, within a time limit. Senate deadlock, or any effective boycott of Senate voting resulted in the resolution being defeated and the appointment going through.

The result was that when the Senate attempted to starve the Imperial executive and navy by refusing to impose taxes, raise loans, or approve appropriations the executive developed an unintended independence.

¹ A daughter, a son, and a grandson survived, not having been in the Mayflower system.

² They considered all use of Eichberger drives by other parties to be an infringement of Eichberger’s patent.

³ Regulations for the navy and bureaucracy, Imperial Crimes Act, Judicature Act, Evidence Act, Imperial Service Recruitment Act….

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It’s an interesting situation having the high-population worlds also be the rich ones. For much of the twentieth century, the pattern was that developed economies had moderately large populations (the US biggest) while undeveloped economies like China and India had huge ones; and that’s still partially true, though China’s a lot more developed than it used to be. But your patterns more like the internal politics of the United States, where California and New York are both populous, rich, and progressive—California has enough population to tip the popular vote in an election all by itself.

There are some low-dev worlds with billions of population, but there are no high-dev ones with only millions. In my model it’s largely because population constrains division of labour and market size (for economies of scale). That was a tight constraint through the Age of Isolation and the Formation Wars, and even now interstellar trade is too thin to effect rapid convergence (besides which, the usual suspects inhibit it).

You would get the same pattern in a universe generated according to GURPS Space procedures, but there it would be because variations in tech level have a large effect on population carrying capacity and the equilibration of population is rapid. There is some such effect in my model, but it is weaker.

Reasons for high population growth tend to be:

  • high infant mortality
  • high mortality later in life
  • lack of universal support in old age, meaning you need a large family to look after you

A simple explanation may be that while low-dev worlds are primitive by the standards of Greater Civilisation most of them still don’t fall into these particular patterns.

You left out Adam Smith’s classic: high wages.

Also, the recent empirical result: lack of sex education and access to contraception, and disempowerment of women.

Who was granting patents that applied to all worlds? Patents on Earth have been jurisdiction-specific for centuries, although there are now treaties for some degree of trans-national granting.

Patents also have fairly limited durations, usually twenty years at present.

While the Foundation clearly had the military power to enforce their wishes, the claim of patent rights seems very dubious.

It was. Eichberger had had a patent under the laws of Mayflower, but Mayflower had ceased to exist. And even though Mayflower’s patent laws were excessively generous to inventors, they weren’t that bad.

But this was not a legal argument, it was a specious piece of self-justifying bullshit, which Foundation official fell back on when they got challenged. Just as many recent governments have used “terrorist” to mean “opponent”, and back in the day they used “communist” the same way. In Flat Black “pirate” means “anyone with an FTL drive who isn’t working for the Foundation/Empire”. Imperials and Foundation staff who have it pointed out to them that these “pirates” aren’t killing anyone or pillaging anything, nor siezing ships on the high seas and taking them out of the directive control of their owners, say “they are pirating Tom Eichberger’s invention”. It’s just like a government official saying that anyone who wants to overthrow the government is a terrorist.