Page 1 of 1

About Questers

Posted: Sun Jun 24, 2018 9:08 pm
by Questers
List of topics, plus links to FAQs.

What's different?


Re: About Questers

Posted: Sun Jun 24, 2018 9:25 pm
by Questers
What's different?

It's easy to assume a society without a central government would be radically different in terms of administration, but that's not really true in Questers: people still pay rents, ground leases, mandatory contributions and other payments in order for a central administration, which owns the land on which they live, to effect civilisation: to inoculate people from diseases, to build sewers, and to keep water clean and running. The main difference there is that people can simply leave the lands which the administration owns, and so reduce its value and income. Administration of living space in Questers is competitive, unlike real life: moving to Liverpool from Manchester makes no difference in how well your locale is governed, but in Questers administrators must run their operations according to business rules.

In real life, the constitution of all western countries is a human rights constitution, in which all people are allowed to live, speak, and think however they want. A central law enforcement enforces one standard law to which everyone abides. Questers, however, is polycentric, and it's highly multiethnic. It needs a way for people with different legal systems, different cultures, and different religions to exist without killing each other, and to live alongside one another and prosper, and it needs to do that without one central system of law imposed on everyone equally.

Its answer is also the main and notable difference between IRL life and life in Questers: a highly complex code of manners, ignorance of which would likely lead to social death. Libertarians and Rothbardian anarchists typically assume their ideal society would emerge with ultra strong protections for privacy and a "not my business" social and legal culture, but Questers is the opposite of that. To trust their neighbours, people need signals that they follow a common guiding code of ethics. They must be confident that even though those people use different laws and have different cultural imperatives, they share sufficient common norms that living in the same space is neither dangerous nor expensive. Thus emerges a code of manners, strict and complicated, that people must follow at the risk of being exiled or worse, killed. This code would be the most substantial difference you would notice when transitioning from a constitutional country to Questers.

Re: About Questers

Posted: Mon Jun 25, 2018 5:13 pm
by Questers
What are squatters?

Squatters are people who reside on property without rent or a lease. Most major settlements in Questers are either adjacent to, or surrounded by, illegal shanty towns which would be very dangerous and expensive to remove (although they are from time to time cleared.) Residents of squats range hugely, from migrants and refugees fleeing danger zones, to exiles from other settlements, to professional criminals hiding from the law, to people who are merely poor and trying to work their way into a settlement. Squatters constitute about ten percent of the total population of Questers.

Squatters came from big social upheavals which saw the mass movement of people: war, disease, famine. The sheer number of people simultaneously occupying land, combined with the chaos of social disorder, made it difficult for landowners to protect their land and the result is a giant shanty town. Landowners work with this problem by trying to extract cash from the wealthier businessmen who operate in those slums, but the relationship between city and slum is really a symbiotic one: not least because they’re markets for each other, but also because persons exiled from settlements go to the squats, and sometimes squatters become wealthy enough to move into settlements.

Shanty towns can range from being totally lawless and very dangerous - mini Detroits in their own right - to being relatively prosperous and safe communities. However their essentially illegal status prevents them fully developing. However, living in a shanty town as a squatter makes a person more or less untouchable by higher society, so even if life is tolerable there, the threat of being exiled to a slum is scary for the Questarian middle class.

Re: About Questers

Posted: Mon Jun 25, 2018 10:24 pm
by Questers
Wait, so whose in charge then?

Sure, Questers doesn't have a government - not a central government anyway. What it does have are governments, in the plural: around 15,000 of them, at a guess. I call the system in practice in Questers Estatism, because if you own land in estate, it's your state, for all intents and purposes. Land of course can be held commonly, like a corporation, and most well developed cities in Questers folllow this model. But as I said before, governance is run on business lines, because both the value of your land and the income derived from it depends very much on how much people want to live and do business there. So what does this allow for, and what does it preclude?

Let's play a game. You wake up one morning and a long lost uncle has named you as the inheritor of his will. He owns 500 square miles of land on which nearly 30,000 people live, work, and farm. Those people pay rents to you, or land charges if they lease land, and businesses that operate there pay you a portion of their profits. They follow your rules - like no singing past midnight, and no spitting gum on the streets. In exchange, they may expect you to do a certain number of things: keep the roads free of potholes, vaccinate their children from tuberculosis, and employ heavies to walk the streets to beat up disorderly peasants - chavs, as we know them. And if there's a murder or a rape, they don't mind contributing to the cost of hiring a Wolfhunter-General to hunt the outlaw down so that you can hang him in the town square. And those people will expect that if there's serious disorder, or if there's a threat to the country in general, that you muster all the able bodied boys and march them off to war, either with you at the head of the column, or your first born son if you are too old. Now that's a good business relationship.

So when you arrive, you think about making some changes. You could build schools out of your pocket and you could allow the good citizens of your town to attend them for free. But that's really expensive, and there are already schools. So scratch that. You could redistribute some of their rents, like a form of welfare, but that is quite dangerous. It would attract lots of people who would gain more in welfare than they'd pay in rent, and it would make others, who otherwise return you a tidy profit, leave to the next town. So you stick to spending money on things that make the town a more attractive place to live for people who'll pay you the most money in rents. Yes, you might build a park or two, and you yourself may donate healthily to local charity (not least because it makes you look like a good Christian, or Hindu, or Muslim, or who cares) but you definitely won't be handing out free food or houses and hiking up the rents to pay for it. You have to be really careful, because if you don't make your land an attractive place to live or do business, your personal source of income will shrink until it disappears.

If all this sounds like too much work or too much of a headache, you could just sell the land and pocket a pretty penny. But in Questers, men of means seek to acquire, not sell, land. If people could become Kings in real life, they would. And in Questers, they do.

Of course, you're not a King - not yet, anyway. You're a kid with some land that your uncle left you. If you start calling yourself Emperor, people will laugh at you. Why? Because you're obviously not an Emperor. So what can you do? Your uncle has left you a healthy balance, your rents are all secure, and you want people to take you seriously. You could restore the local Church. You could build a brand new park. That might make the citizens love you, but if you ever want to leave your land and be respected by other landowners, you need to be serious, man. So what do you do? You buy a flight of warplanes, or a troop of tanks, and you donate them to a bigger King than you, a real King with a real Army. Of course, you have to do that anyway. Because if you don't, that real King won't come to your help if some squatters decide to ransack your town, and you'll never get invited to any very exclusive parties, and perhaps more close to home - your sons and daughters will never marry anyone as rich as you. So you sign an agreement to give the King - the Federation - the Company, whatever, a portion of your yearly profits. And if you want to get a title, of course you can buy him a tank or a jet or something. And if you get rich enough you can buy a Regiment and they'll name it after you. And your son can marry a princess and people will throw parades in your honour.

And wouldn't that be cool?

Re: About Questers

Posted: Tue Jun 26, 2018 3:54 pm
by Questers
Keeping the Peace

Questers doesn’t have police. Hold on a minute - your posts and wiki articles abound with references to the civil power, the Kings Men, the authorities, the Yeomanry. What gives?

Woah there kiddo. Let’s rewind.

The Common Law is all about the idea that after you die, your God will sort you out, so in life the best thing is to let people do what they want, because humans are apes and they sure as hell can’t reliably interpret what the creator of the universe thinks about anything. So Questers is a theocracy, then. Sure. Why not.

There are no crimes. There are just scenarios where you wrong someone and so you owe them something in return, so we can level everything out until we die and answer to God. Most people have an insurer who’ll buy their liability from them at a fixed rate if they do something wrong, and then use their lawyers to bargain with the aggrieved party.

So whats the use of a police force? There’s no jails to put anyone in for violating a central concept of crimes against a state. People don’t need to turn up to a court if the purpose of a court is to find out what happened and come to a settlement between an insurer and a plaintiff: the insurer can provide the facts for them.

But then there might still be violent people. If they’re dangerous they might be kicked out of a settlement and sent elsewhere. If they run away and they need to be tracked down then a settlement employs people to do that. The Sultan of the Malays uses the chief of his household troops to catch outlaws on the run. To identify them Questers is guarded by millions of CCTV cameras, neighbourhood watch schemes, private security patrols, and identity photocards for people who move to, or stay in, a particular place. In the case of an ongoing crime most Estatists enforce hue and cry and power of the county (power of the estate!) to force households to cooperate with an appointed Sheriff to catch criminals in violent acts. Your oldest son may be conscripted into capturing the town rapist, so it would br a good idea to teach him how to shoot, and buy him a gun at some point. Sooner rather than later, because “oldest” in Questers invariably means 15 to 16 and not 18 to 21.

If you break someones arm in a fight your insurer will cover the costs and you will owe your insurer. But more than that you’ll probably be kicked out of your home town. You’ll probably lose your job. And of course in the Home Country people can be hanged for murder - but here, local estate authorities routinely hang people for rape or home invasion too, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

Re: About Questers

Posted: Fri Jun 29, 2018 4:15 pm
by Questers
Where’s your God Now?

Soo-oo, Questers is a theocracy. It also has all the religions of the world present, so... what’s the state religion? No, it isn’t Congregationalism, or the common law, put your hand down. Any other answers? No? Okay. The state religion is - Arms.

In America everyone believes in the constitution. Amendments to it are made with huge popular consent. The Army swears allegiance to it. Everyone learns it and constantly references it in politics. You can buy kitschy copies of the originals as tourist crap. Its the state religion of America.

So the state religion of Questers is arms. The person with the most guns can more or less settle all interreligious disputes. Estatists swear allegiance to that man and offer guns as tribute. Even the weirdest religion is more or less protected on its Estate if it pays enough tribute. So when one religion must pay tribute to another, its a vassal. All religions in Questers are vassals to the most pious person: the person with the most guns, the Defender of the Faith.

If you’re not protected by Arms, it becomes easy to dispossess you of your property. A complex legal system is only good for protecting your land if that system can reliably intervene on your behalf. That doesn’t mean that not paying tribute to the Defender of the Faith will result in any old Tom Dick and Harry stealing your stuff. But it does mean you lack a hell of a lot of force majeure that may be needed to enforce decisions that go in your favour. Think twice before apostasising yourself from the state religion.

Re: About Questers

Posted: Sun Jul 01, 2018 11:46 pm
by Questers
The Mutiny, Part One

Where did it all start? The Troubles, probably. A bunch of Praetonians decide that individuals can't own capital. They have a bit of a fight about it, but they lose. Their ideas are old, most likely - but they're really Levellers, they're not Marxists. So after that, there's still industrial unrest in Praetonia, there's rising finance in Questers and North Point, and everyone is looking for a place with no organised labour, good transport links, and lotsa lotsa workers looking to move from farms to factories, a place where inputs cost nothing. Well that's obviously Questers, its the Yamunaland in particular. So by the Fifties, that's where heavy industry has really, really taken hold.

So duh, that doesn't solve the problem, the Syndicalist just move to Questers. They get stronger and stronger, but it's a lot easier to crack skulls in Questers than it is in Praetonia. So they keep things under wraps, for the most part. When these heavy industries start to lose out in the eighties and nineties, things start to get a bit more intense in the Yamunaland and that' where AH Vasudev appears, like a Communist Donald Trump. Lots of strikes and less stability. Fertile ground for big problems.

2010, the Freeholders put Hood in charge of raiding Yehud. His troops go on campaign and permanent border stations for six months. During this time there is more serious unrest and the local Estatists in Yamunaland - they're pretty corrupt, by the way - start pushing the Syndicalised workers too hard. There's no Army to enforce order so the robber-barons hire blackshirts with truncheon to do the job of trained soldiers. There are a lot of killings, on both sides. When the workers start actively taking over factories, the Freeholders bring in troops to quell this insurrection. Oops: the good units are in the Yehud, and these second-line militias are embarrassingly defeated, but not before they kill a lot of innocent people. Enough's enough, says Jesselton, so they order Hood to finish things.

Hood and a lot of his soldiers have syndicalist sympathies, unfortunately. And on the march to the river Yamuna, they meet a lot of refugees, most of whom claim the local city corporations and big multinationals have been big-time abusing them and so on. And a lot of Hood's soldiers, they're not mercenaries, but they're from the lower orders, and they don't really like the robber barons. So when the Army of the Nampata sees the scale of the carnage, they decide to switch sides. And they totally disarm the Company of Freeholders troops in the area, and they decide that since they are the big dog with the most guns, that they will enforce the decisions of the Industan Workers and Peasants Congress. No, that's not okay, Jesselton says, and it declares war on the Congress. That might have been a mistake, because the Congress had a third of a million trained, equipped and experienced soldiers and the Company had more or less none.

Re: About Questers

Posted: Mon Jul 02, 2018 6:09 pm
by Questers
The Mutiny, Part Two

It took one bullet to kill the Lord Protector of Praetonia and thusly to bring Praetonia into the conflict. That meant that Hood, as head of the Army of the Congress, had to act fast. His objective: the major Freeholder arsenals in Khalistan. He drove his tanks up there and captured the arsenals, enough weapons to arm half an army probably, and the Sikh Yeomen who survived escaped across Lake Pali. Then he split his Army in half and sent the other half far west on the Communist controlled railroads, through the Panchkula pass, the one route through the long mountains that split the country in half. The Malays were still in the fight, and they had the other half of an Army in their arsenals. So Hood would take them too.

Meanwhile, Communist Trump - Vasudev, from now on, please - sacked Jesselton with one half of his Communist militias. Great, but he couldn't get much further up the Mogami valley: the New Senland Yeomanry, and a motley collection of North Point-Estates marines and sailors had blocked the way. New Senland stayed under siege for most of the war. Instead he decided to attack directly into the Malayland, over the Pahang river. Bandar Bakau, the city on the shining river, was in sight of Communist bayonets, and Kuantan, the big old town in the mountain, that's right under Vasudev's guns. Not much long after that, Hood's tank columns worked their way through the Panchkula pass and spilled out into the Malay basin, big red ants storming forth into half a million square miles of rice paddy.

That's big trouble for Abdul. He's the last big man on the Continent who's not a Syndicalist. Hood knew this too, and he offered Abdul a way out: a peace treaty. However, Abdul is not dumb, and he has one big thing on his side: Muslims are more loyal to Islam than Syndicalists are to Syndicalism, and most of the Company of Freeholders gold escaped the fall of Jesselton. Abdul needed to get a hold of that gold and the loyalty of the remaining Estatists, so what did he do? Ignore the peace offer, and fight. The Communists were looking to break into the Malayland at four points. So Abdul rallied his men and in a series of intensive battles, held off the Communists - just barely mind - over the next two months. But his tired Army was on the verge of collapse when Hood's tanks appeared in its rear. Luckily for Abdul, and the good old cause, he was able to hold them off just long enough for Smyth to turn up and rout Hood's southern offensive. The Communist tanks crept under cover of monsoon back through the Panchkula pass.

And that's where things really kicked off. Abdullah Afiz, victorious, announced himself DEFENDER OF THE FAITHS, bullied the Malayan nobility into giving him huge sums of money, and used it to launch a hostile takeover of the Company of Freeholders. Then he liquidated the Company and took the money for himself and invited every Estatist in Questers still loyal to Justice to rally to his side and help him raise a huge Army with which to recapture the continent. Unsurprisingly, they agreed.

On the other side, Hood's peace offer, made without Vasudev's consent, angered Vasudev and he launched a purge of the conventional Army. That is the end of Vasudev: weeks later, he disappears, but we know what happened really: Hood had him shot and took over for himself. Hood wasted no time in moving around the flank, re-directing his Army through the Maritimes and straight to Kuala Pahang. The Estates still did not have a big army, the Malays were just about beaten, and the Congressional Army was still big enough to win this war. Game on.

Re: About Questers

Posted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 5:05 pm
by Questers
The Mutiny, Part Three

In driving to Kuala Pahang, Hood encoutered scattere and frankly weak resistance. The movement of Loyalist troops was severely hampered by hordes of refugees and where they decided to fight they were beaten. Within weeks of starting his offensive, Hood was on the outskirts of KP. If he could collapse the Sultan’s war effort, he could consolidate the rest of North Questers without trouble.

The Loyalists had maybe 50 thousand men in the city, bolstered by elements of the Praetonian Parks Division. But their strength elsewhere was growing and Hood had to pull men off to guard his flanks and the many settlements he has sieged but could not reduce. To take KP itself he allocated nearly 110 thousand men.

The Loyalists had almost total air superiority. Day and night, allied jets bombed Hoods logistics lines with impunity. Allied warships suppressed his artillery. And a counterattack by the Congress’ militia south of Lake Pali, intended to link up with Hoods Army, was blunted and reversed with both sides taking intense casualties. For threee weeks Hood battered KP, but it did not break.

And then the Praetonian expeditionary force, in all its might, landed in New Senland, rushed towards Jesselton, and liberated it. Within a week they were poised to cut Hoods Army off from his line of supply. And with no furl or ammo, Hood could not attempt a breakout. He disappeared and his Army, demoralised and starving, surrendered.

Its industries in ruin, her armies defeated on all fronts, and the whole strength of the Commonwealth mobilised against her, the Congress refused to surrender, even as allied armies marched daily on Naugarh from three directions. In the final act, the remainder of the Questarian professional Army that had stayed behind to garrison the Yehud turned on the congress. Naugarh fell after a bloody siege that mirrored Kuala Pahang in intensity. The rebellion was materially over. One more drama remained to be played out.

Re: About Questers

Posted: Sun Jul 22, 2018 8:09 pm
by Questers
When the Company came to Questers, it encountered a political system in which small rulers paid fealty to large rulers. Contemporary continental Questarians viewed power as emanating from the centre, and the further from the centre it was, the weaker it was. This concept was understood as Rajamandala.

The Company didnt care for politics, but it cared for commerce. And using muskets, it demanded its merchants be treated as if they were at home, in Praetonia, under the common law. Over time, local rulers who had disputes with other rulers turned to the Company for arbitration, because it was powerful, and also because it was basically fair. The Company didn’t like this because this was politics. But they had no choice, because if they allowed other rulers to gain power, their trade was threatened.

So the Company forced local rulers in its sphere of influence to accept its arbitrations, and enforced thrm with arms. Is that a state? Thats up to you to decide. At first the Company was reluctant to do this, but eventually it decided to grasp firmly the mantle of leadership. A continent for the taking? Then take it. And that’s how Questers was united and that’s why the Law is supreme everywhere.

As long as local rulers were happy to pay their dues, and as long as its trade flowed, the Company was more or less happy. It intervened in politics only when commerce was threatened and this system survived, even past the Great War. But when the Company collapsed, because nobody believes in it, someone had to take charge.

And that person continued the old system, because it works, but he is more interested in politics. He has an Imperial Military Police. He has firm institutions to hanfle disputes between his vassals. He imposes many more customs charges and land charges. The Company would never have dreamed of this. But the Company is dead.

Is the Sultan a state? Maybe. Can he make everyone quit smoking or be nice to women or send their kids to school? Certainly not. He can adjudicate disputes between rulers and he can make those rulers pay him tribute. In other words - he can effect Rajamandala.

Rajamandala is an ancient reference. It means solve your problems according to the rules of the strongest person near to you. It means the Margrave of Battambang can do as he likes on his land but he has to remember that the biggest power is the Sultan. And the Sultan enforces the Law.