I've been in a rut for a few weeks while I try to get past the opening chapter stage of "Sublight Frontier: Project Gilgamesh" and into a full fledged novel. And part of it is trying to figure out the themes for the story.
And, of course, when I get stuck in a rut I find myself on Youtube.
In listening to those videos, I started to wonder how I could apply their "fixes" to my designated "Evil Empire", the Krasnovians. When I started putting the story together, I was figuring they would be a great place-holder for the Soviet Union of the Cold War, with ISTO playing the part of NATO.
Of course, this was early in my world building, and I was also trying to work in a spoof/homage to The Hunt for Red October into one of the chapters for the book. I was trying to roll up the Soviet Union, the Nazis, the Empire (from Star Wars), and the Klingons all into one.
But in the end, you still have to ask unfortunate questions that poke holes in the idea that an entire government can be pure, unmitigated, Evil. Or at the very least that the entire world is operated as a military state. Also, if the "bad guys" are really that bad, I have to make the "good guys" that much "gooder". Unless I want to write some grimdark dystopia where EVERYONE is evil.
I plan on having regular interactions between the main characters from ISTO and the Krasnovians. I also plan on writing a few story lines set in Krasnovia, with Krasnovian characters. But the one thing I do not want is something so Disney grade evil that it is stupid.
My writing is intended as an introduction to the classics of Sci-Fi. For the Moon, I am going to build the culture around the influences of Robert A. Heinlein. Their history incorporates the events of The Moon is a Harsh Mistress with a society that eventually devolves into something recognizable as Starship Troopers.
If I take the two books, and kind of smash them together and pick up the parts again, I see a powerful military state protecting a Rational Anarchist society. Actually, having a political state that operates with a different morality than in the civilian state is not completely crazy.
Lunar settlements started cropping up soon after rocketry was invented. Different countries threw up their own settlements haphazardly around the moon. Each nation on Earth looking to harvest some resource for use back home. Many of these settlements were structured around the various space programs of these nations, and most of these space programs were operated in concert, if not directly by, their respective armed forces.
During this time a lot of commercial concerns ran very exploitive operations. Some "Workers" were treated little better than slaves with no means to escape. Often times the only thing keeping the Capitalists in check were the military governors.
This tradition of the military acting as a backstop against selfishness has created an ingrained trust of martial order in Luna society. But this trust is a two way street. Failure to live up to that trust is utterly taboo.
The great war on Earth led to shortages of food and critical spare parts. Workers who were promised a tour of a few months were finding themselves stuck on Luna for years. Especially for the Lunar colonies for the nations that were losing the war. With the most skilled officers called back home, if a military governor was present, he or she was probably hand-picked by the Capitalists. These were really dark days where wartime demands ratcheted up productivity, all running on increasingly exhausted resources.
At some point the Capitalists pushed too hard.
Overnight a revolution began as the workers ceased the means of keeping them and their families alive. Even after ousting the Capitalists from these first colonies, they were the ones with the fewest resources to start with. More prosperous colonies began to overthrow their own Capitalists so they could route humanitarian supplies to their fellow Lunatics.
Over the course of a few months, the entire moon was swept up in a push for independence. The nations of Earth, tied up with the Great War, could not send forces to crack down on the revolution. Most of the business interests were expelled from Luna. Many of them retreated to Earth Crossing Asteroids, where the set up new exploitive industries.
Much like the Soviet Revolution, after battle with outside forces was over, a civil war broke out internally. Eventually a strong man emerged, who ran an autocratic regime. This was a time of both productive rebuilding, and political oppression. People were awed by the great leader's ability to get things done. They were cowed by his regime of terror. I'm imagining this period to be very much like the Soviet Union under Stalin, or China under Mao.
The first ruler died, eventually. His heirs were prone to infighting, and demonstrated in pretty short order that they were impotent or incompetent. Usually both. Within weeks of the Great Leader's death, the military found itself in charge of running the Moon.
For political purposes, the Great leader had not extended his ideological purity regime on Krasnovia's military. People trusted the armed forces, and most of the Admirals and Generals were all heros to the people during the Great War and Revolution. But, since he couldn't dominate the military he largely left it to rot.
This lack of resources caused opportunists to look elsewhere in society for fiefdoms to dominate. The dangers of space, especially in an era of meager resources, meant that most idiots were also absent in the upper rangs. Either expelled because of accidents or killed by their own stupidity.
This left a cadre of very competent officers whose focus was on the well being of the society they had sworn to protect. To be a member of the armed forces was considered a calling. A cult emerged that took oaths to never enrich themselves at the expense of the people. While, yes, evil doers did wind their way through the ranks, accusations of corruption were treated more or less like treason. And prosecuted as such.
A Martial structure of generals, supervising officers, supervising "troops", and serving "Civilians" pervaded through all of society. Every government agency has some sort of rank, and promotions are only given out for meritorious services. And only if there is an opening.
Service (military or civil) guarantees citizenship. Non-citizens are called "residents." While there is officially no discrimination between citizens and residents, if a bureaucrat has to dole out a limited resource, it often goes to a citizen over a resident. Even if the resident is married to a citizen. This has lead to a thriving phenomenon of "reservests". People who devote only part time to military or civilian service, but who get to enjoy the full time benefits of being a citizen.
The Reservest program came about because a lack of job full time openings for either the Military or civilian service. Reservists for the military train and drill once a month or so, and serve for a few weeks every few years. Reservists for the civilian agencies commit to continuing education, sometimes act as seasonal peak staff, or perform some sort of community service. The concept is to foster volunteerism and personal development, while at the same time harnessing what would otherwise be lost productivity.
Lunar society is socialist. If someone is in need, that need is provided. Be it food, health care, housing, or education. Virtually everyone can find some way to contribute to their society and become citizens. Special programs even exist for the handicapped and elderly to be able to contribute.
Schoolchildren are considered citizens, with their studies being their labor contributing to society, as are college students.
In summary, a society structured like that will still have some very powerful idealogical differences with other factions, and old nations on Earth. But they can still be the heros in their own stories. They can also act in ways that serve their own interests (that of Krasnovia) while being at odds with other factions, or citizens in other Factions.
The military officers we encounter can be driven, without being maniacally evil. The scientists can be devoted, often to the point of near madness, because they really do view their work as contributing to society. So much so because their citizenship is contingent on their continued employment. And unemployment can lead to a life as a second-class citizen.