Yesterday I put together a blog about Krasnovian Culture. Today I figured it was only fair to give the International Space Treaty Organization (ISTO) the same treatment. And for them I am trying to avoid yet another "United Federation of Planets..."

For starters, the ISTO is less of a "nation" as what would happen if many of the world's nations slapped together a space program. And if that space program morphed into a mutual defense pact. And if that mutual defense pact started to get its own budget for ship construction. And if most of that budget was what it earned from harvesting resources around the Asteroid belt.

It is a massive mess of conflicting goals.

Pre-Krasnovian ISTO

The ISTO came about at the end of the Great Cataclysm. With the Earth on a rebound, and prosperity starting to return, the surviving people on Earth looked to the stars. Some saw dollar signs. Some saw a place to send humanity away to, so the Earth could recover. Some saw a lifeboat because humanity came so very close to nearly extinguishing itself.

Because the lingering effects of the weapons used in the Great War, and the unbridled capitalism that followed, space flights had to be centrally coordinated. The fusion powered ships that can carry people and cargo into Orbit economically emit radiation and nuclear isotopes. This dictates that launches need to take place in areas that are not ecologically sensitive, nor overly inhabited.


the only place left to expand to was the Main asteroid belt. Journeys to the asteroid belt require high-endurance ships. Colonies in the asteroid belt have to be self-sustaining. Shipments from and to Earth have to pass through two potentially hostile powers. The Asteroid belt colonies required a bureaucracy that could tackle ecology, capital projects, and defense.

Founding of ISTO

The Charter for the International Space Treaty Organization was signed on the 26 of June, 1945. The Charter entered into force on 24th of October, 1945. And one of the first reforms (insisted on by Japan) was eliminating the Religious based Gregorian Calendar and adopting Metric Time. Thus, ISTO was technically founded on Stardate 31633 (1st of Taurus, 6680), and the pact went into force on Stardate 31753 (9th of Leo, 6680)

Early Projects

ISTO's first priority was to establish shipyards that could construct it's first colonies and fleet. To save on costs, ISTO contracted with several of the Warlords in the Circle Trigon. Two shipyards were opened. One on Cruithne and another on Eros. With the technology at the time, both asteroids had the virtue of crossing near enough to Earth to make transits taking on supplies and people from Earth economical, and near enough to the Asteroid belt to make boosting the finished colonies also economical. Both planetoids also contained enough metals and other materials to allow the bulk of the mass of the constructed spacecraft to be harvested locally.

The earliest stations thus constructed were a naval staging platform on Earth's L4 and L5 Lagrange point. Another fleet anchorage on Ryugu. And the most important of all, the infrastructure that would allow the colonization of Psyche and Ceres

Along side of the massive "Project Perseus" stations, these yards also built the fleet that would defend these outpost.

The Inner System War

Krasnovia felt threatened by the collaboration of the Circle Trigon and ISTO. Throughout the 1950s they began work on a space-going fleet. However, every time ISTO completed a new station, they also seemed to be adding yet another shipyard, and taking on another few million people from Earth. Their population was exploding, as was their production capacity.

In 1962, Krasnovia realized that their ability to control the Solar System through military force alone was coming to an end. They picked a time before a new batch of battleships and destroyers were ready to be commissioned, and launched a surprise attack.

The fleet anchorages on L4 and L5, Ryugu were destroyed in a matter of hours. They avoided striking Cruithne and Eros for fears of triggering a war with the Circle Trigon. They then assembled the fleet, and set off to raze the new shipyards around Psyche.

Fusion drives were still relatively new, so their fleet was hobbled by the slower chemically based rockets of their larger capital ships. The journey took about 6 weeks. In that time, ISTO slapped a gun or rocket onto any ship that could leave the yard. They also precisely worked out the trajectory of every vessel in the Krasnovian fleet. Using nuclear weapons and a few smaller asteroids, ISTO created a cloud of shrapnel in the path of the Krasnovian fleet. Basic physics prevented the Krasnovians from changing course, and their fleet was wiped out.

The Treaty of Reykjavík

Both sides having had their fleets destroyed sued for peace. Through a series of messy negotiations, a treaty was hammered out to allow Krasnovia to expand on their own terms, ISTO to continue its programs unthreatened, and for the Circle Trigon to avoid being in the middle of any future war. The main impact of the treaty was that ISTO had to abandon its shipyards and facilities inside the orbit of Mars. Planets were considered neutral territory that neither ISTO nor Krasnovia would exert control over. Krasnovia had the exclusive right to develop the natural satellites of Planets. ISTO had the exclusive right to develop any other body in the Solar System. (Basically any astronomical body outside of Mars Orbit and not in orbit of a planet.)

Included in the treaty were a set of arms limitation agreements. These limited the size of each of the fleets of the Superpowers. It also established rules about exclusion radiuses around "controlled space". Having a population on a body constituted control, and the side of the radius was proportional to the population. ISTO naval vessels, under these rules, were basically prohibited from operating around Earth Orbit (given the massive population of Luna), and Krasnovia had wide corridors through the asteroid belt with which to access their colonies around Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Mars's moons are a grey area in the treaty, and the moons of Pluto were not discovered until decades after the treaty were signed.

Post 1962

Before the war, the ISTO had a clear priority to build warships, the means of building more warships, and the facilities to staff, train, and maintain the people operating the warships. After the war, their priorities shifted to science and capital improvement projects.

The competing goals of defenses, science, and infrastructure are all constrained by manpower. Yes, ISTO has massive vessels for resource collection, material refinement, and manufacturing. But all of these facilties require skilled people to operate them. And it takes skilled people to train unskilled people.

The flipside is that ISTO is very much a post-scarcity economy. Food, housing, medical care, education, etc. are all provided. By law. For the asking. From anyone. (It's baked into the treaty.) ISTO accomplishes material prosperity through economy of scale. The basic infrastructure is built as large as can be produced economically. Entrepreneurs then lease portions of that infrastructure to provide goods and services.

This economy of scale extends to shipping. There are no privately owned vessels in ISTO. There is also no distinction between naval vessels and commercial vessels. Everything ship is built to the most demanding specification (be it commercial or military). The only difference being that commercial vessels replace weapons, magazines, and armor belts with mission equipment. In times of war, commercial vessels can be brought into port and converted into a military ship because all of the mounts the weapons and armor are already installed. Because they use a common reactor, propulsion system, and auxiliary systems, anyone trained in civilian service can immediately work on a naval vessel (and vice verse).

This one-size-fits most approach applies to virtually everything that ISTO builds. Every consumer device and industrial facility is modular. Where practical, components are as multi-purpose as physics permits. You can scavenge parts for a medical scanner from a television set, or repair a robot with a child's toy. Each component in the hardware store finds its way into everything from furniture to life support equipment.

ISTO's ecological directive also pervades society. Waste disposal is a taboo subject. Even poop is described as a "resource". Because every component in every consumer device is built to military spec, they don't break often, and if they do, there are always parts for it. Keeping an old device in service is considered a point of pride. "New" components are presented in the same recycled brown paper as "Reconditioned". "Disposable" items are only permitted when absolutely required for hygiene. Even food wrappers are engineered to be recycled and used again.

This economy of recycling even effects the concept of material ownership. Legally speaking, any resource that is idle is fair game for another person to "reuse". While technically speaking, strategic stockpiles of goods are owned by the state, citizens of the state own the state, so if nobody is looking "yoink". Merchants must put up a notorious defense of their wares for the charge of theft to stick.

Over time, an elaborate system of registrations exists to allow private citizens to mark valuables as private property. This system is integrated into point of sale terminals, making the paperwork as simple as running the serial number for a device over the scanner at time of sale. There is a minuscule fee to maintain this registered ownership. However, in exchange for that fee, the service includes a vigorous defense who will track down stolen goods and prosecute thieves to the fullest extent of the law. And where the law provides no satisfaction, provide it through "other means". This registration system is not run by ISTO itself, but is instead operated by agents of the Circle Trigon.

(Note: failure to pay your "owner fees" simply forfeits the theft insurance. Though, because the Mafia basically runs the system, they also know instantly what goods are up for grabs.)

The net result of this insanity is that there are really two different economies in ISTO.

One is the state run economy that provides all of the basics for survival. The state does not recognize the concept of private property. It does track vessels and people and things, and assigns them to projects. Where scarcity exists, the access to that resource is governed something akin to Whuffie from Cory Doctorow's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. People have a social standing rating. I imagine that this rating is based on promise fulfillment. Do well on small jobs, you earn the right to take on more resource to take on bigger jobs. And as bigger jobs require fancier tools and more people, your rating allows you to "control" more and more.

The other economy is a private economy that is basically operated by the mob. It uses a hard currency as a universal medium of exchange. Most transactions involving off-world goods, or luxuries that are not state provided fall under this. Property is exclusive, but only because the mob economy provides its own enforcement mechanism.

I also imagine there are elaborate protections to shield against artificial scarcity, hoarding, and trying to transfer goods, resources, etc from the collective economy to the private economy. The Mob may be the local cops, but ISTO has a police force the combines the FBI, the IRS, and the Postal police to ensure that state resources went to where they were supposed to, and were utilized in the manner in which the person who allocated them stated in their proposal.

Which gives me an idea for a character in my story. A ship as large as the Paul Cézzane is probably packed with state treasures. There has to be a small police force/auditing team on board to keep tabs on all of that. There is also a local mob who runs the private property system. While they two are not at odds with each other, I suspect there are quite a few tense interactions between them.

The "State" police also enforce safety regulations, and prosecute assaults. (As people are all state resources, injuring someone is technically a theft of a state resources...) This leaves the "mob" police as tracking down stolen goods, and making the thieves "pay" for their crimes. But probably in ways that fall just short of lasting physical injury. I also suspect that the mob has something akin to Omertà. If a mafia enforcer does something to you, you can't report it to the State police, lest you be cut off from any future dealings with the Mafia.

Which, yes, is full of conflicts and grey areas and oh, so perfect for story telling.