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Re: CHAT: Phaleran society [was Re: The [+foreign] attribute]

From:Thomas R. Wier <trwier@...>
Date:Sunday, September 8, 2002, 23:12
Quoting Andreas Johansson <and_yo@...>:

> At what technological level does "present-day" Phaleran society > operate on?
Their technological level doesn't readily correspond to anything on earth today. In many theoretical scientific areas, the Phalerans are greatly ahead of us (especially in the mathematics that governs hyperspatial travel, cosmology, and to a certain extent molecular biology), but generally only in the sense that Medieval Scholastics were ahead of 5th century Athens or Rome: they have received from antiquity documents of great sophistication, but few can read these documents, fewer can understand them, and fewer still can make any practical use of them. They have rudimentary handling of nuclear technologies, and more or less regularly communicate with other inhabited worlds in the Upsilon Andromedae system through radio transmissions, but primarily due to insufficient industrial capacity, missions of direct contact and trade with these worlds, much less of conquest, are so exorbitantly expensive as to be out of the question. (Such expense is typically seen as wasteful when not even all of Phalera has been "pacified" under one government.) In the humanities, the studies of history, political science and economics are stultified because they serve the ends of the planet's largely despotic or oligarchical regimes, while anthrophological and linguistic field research are both burgeoning, in part, because they provide the aristocracies with amusing anecdotes ("In Luânsil, they have this funny way of talking...") and ideas to fill their idle pleasures with. Theory, in these fields, again, tends to serve political ends, generally to reinforce the class structure, though different regimes might claim the same data as proof that their culture is in fact superior to all others. Generally, new developments in engineering (or rediscovery of past developments) depend on government or aristocratic patronage, although there are a handful of trading republics (generally city-states) with merchant classes rich enough to endow large institutions of learning. The trade that surports and funds these movements is only beginning to recovery two and a half centuries of depression: C'ali speaking regions successfully split away from Phaleran speaking (Tlaspian) hegemony in a civil war at that time, and the subsequent raising of tariffs to unprecedented levels more or less stopped international and intercontinental trade of goods, which meant prices rose for everyone and most economies underwent a general collapse. (Of course, since knowledge of economics is so primitive, they did not avoid what our world did after the 1928-1929 tariff wars that lead in large part to the Great Depression.) ========================================================================= Thomas Wier "I find it useful to meet my subjects personally, Dept. of Linguistics because our secret police don't get it right University of Chicago half the time." -- octogenarian Sheikh Zayed of 1010 E. 59th Street Abu Dhabi, to a French reporter. Chicago, IL 60637