QUESTION: Would this system of government be effective, and if so (why) and if not (why)?

What I'm mostly looking for here is a reality-check or improvements / observations on how my proposed skeleton idea for a system of government would/could function (either as I intend (laid out here) or in an alternative way (as you see it in your own mind's eye)) based on historical data, knowledge of social engineering, and any creative hypothesis you'd like to share.

In my MARS colony, I intend to have the government run on a parliament-like/senate-like/republic-like system where the primary decision makers(insert important sounding title here) are members of the four primary entities/factions of the colony.

  1. Science (think STEM) focused group in charge of technological advancement, creation, and implementation.

  2. Mining and Agriculture focused group in charge of procurement and production of natural resources, food, and water.

  3. Military focused group in charge of defense, offense, planetary security (as it applies to war, NOT THE POLICE (thank you Admiral Adama)). The Military also has multiple branches: R&D (similar to and originally a part of STEM but with a distinctly military focus), Marine Corps, and Space Superiority.

  4. MISC (Mars Infrastructure and Service to Citizens) this faction encompasses the largest portion of everything and includes all infrastructure (utilities, mundane construction, waste disposal, police force, emergency services, city planning, political offices, judiciary, medical services (I think you get the idea) etc...)

The governance itself (only talking about the highest level here, I'll deal with the nitty-gritty of city governance and lower at another time) would be composed of a council (think senate) of 14 seats. The Science/A&M/Military factions would each have 3 seats (9 total) with the MISC faction making up the other 5 seats. From there it would operate through Majority Rule.

Seats would be given out differently in each faction.

The Military would be lead by its three highest ranking officers from the R&D, MC, and SS branches.
Service Term: 2 years with no officer being able to serve consecutive terms or more than 6 years total. The military is the only political faction that does not require its seat holders to give up their positions within the faction in order to serve.

The STEM faction would be lead by those three individuals considered to have most benefitted the colony as a whole through scientific research, development, or implementation.
Service Term: Life or until abdication to another equally/near-equally recognized individual.

The A&M faction would consist of the two industry leaders (the most senior/influential leading individual within the mining industry and the agriculture industry (one form each)) with a service term of 4 years and one seat to be filled through random selection of "blue-collar" miners/farmers with a service term of 2 years. Industry leaders must give up their positions within the mining and agricultural industries in order to serve and may not decline service. There is no restriction on any industry leader serving multiple terms (an individual may leave the industry to serve for four years, then re-join the industry upon being replaced, rise to prominence again and be called on to serve again). Random selection will never select the same individual twice.

The MISC would fill three seats through traditional democratic election and campaigning (similar to that done in America by political party candidates) where an electoral college consisting of the top official of each Martian City (of which there are currently 18) casts an equal vote informed by the majority vote of all MISC faction individuals (the majority of the population) in their respective cities.
Service Term: 2 years, once elected to office an encumbent may never again run for election. (maximum of 1 term).
The final two seats would be filled by ordinary citizens chosen at random from all voting MISC faction members (again, the majority of the population). These would have a service term of 2 years and could never be randomly selected again, however, they would have the option of running for election through the electoral process at any time. (Those having been elected through the electoral process cannot be randomly selected for these two seats).

Narrowing the Scope:

For this scenario assume a semi-perfect world in which resources are plentiful, war is scarce, unemployment is non-existent, and the daily needs for food/water/shelter are being met for every productive citizen in a society that values individual improvement, work ethic, and the advancement of the whole as chief ideals (not socialism, but definitely mixed ideologically) where the chief sins are selfishness (benefitting one's self at the expense of the colony), laziness (not benefitting the colony or improving yourself for the sake of leisure, frivolous pursuits, or distaste for work), and uselessness (those unable to work, teach, or continue self improvement due to mental, biological, chronological, or any other reason).

Additionally, not all laws require a vote from all sitting members of this senate-like body. Laws dealing with items internal to the various factions (military training laws (if raised to the highest level of government) are decided on by the three members of the military) are dealt with internally if they rise to this highest level of governance. However, these laws and decisions made at this level (even if they do not require a complete senate vote) are disclosed in full to all seated members of the senate and their staffs. Any decision made by an individual group (such as the military) that any other faction views as impacting them and therefore requiring their say-so can be changed to a full senate or multi-faction vote through a unanimous decision by another or multiple other factions.


The military wishes to change the minimum entry age for recruiting from 18 years of age (17 years of age with waiver) to 14 years of age (13 years of age with waiver) with special allowances for a child to be designated a military service member at birth and be raised in specialized military environments/schools etc...

Originally this controversial change was passed up the chain to the highest levels of the military and ultimately passed 3-0 by the three sitting members of the senate-like body. It was then passed to the staffs of the other factions who unanimously voted that it be raised to a whole-senate vote. It did not pass with a total vote of 6-8 and was sent back with proposed revisions to be re-worked later.


The A&M faction proposed a new regulatory law that would require all water pipes that pass within 1000 meters of known lithium deposits and/or lithium mining operations to be thickened with an additional outer casing and secondary sealant system in place to prevent potential leakage. After passing this regulation 3-0 it was sent to the other factions' staffs for review.

STEM and MISC both opted to raise it to a partial senate vote while the military chose to abstain. The regulation eventually passed 8-3.

Further Narrowing:

There are also specific rules in place concerning total/partial senate votes.

  • Any Law/Regulation previously passed by a single faction or partial senate vote may at any time by any previously abstaining faction be brought back to the senate for a full (or more full) vote due to new evidence or unintended consequences of this law/regulation coming to light.

  • The military may not vote in any laws/regulations directly dealing with law-enforcement or policing (thank you Admiral Adama).

  • A deadlock may be resolved by bringing in an additional faction for mediation and/or voting purposes. Additionally a full-senate deadlock may be resolved through a planet/colony wide majority vote with 3000 voters chosen at random from each the STEM, A&M, and Military and 5000 voters chosen at random from MISC for a total of 14000 votes with a 70% majority requirement.

  • A sitting member of this senate-like body may not be inpeached, but rather may be accused of laziness (if proved through whatever means (unimportant to the question) results in being removed from the seat and banned from politics for life), selfishness (if proven through whatever means resulting in 10 years hard labor or the death sentence (convict's choice) upon completion of 10 years hard labor may be eligible again for office), or uselessness (the hardest to prove but results are the same as the laziness clause).

* (if your critique revolves around the need for additional rules as opposed to the system as a whole please let me know what they are!)

  • Does this system seem to be self-balancing?

  • Does this system seem to serve the individuals in power, the individual factions, or the colony as a whole?

  • What should/could be changed to re-orient this proposed system more closely around the ideas/sins listed in the above paragraph?

Again, thank you to anyone who takes the time to answer. I can provide additional refinement as needed.

  • $\begingroup$ Who imposes any of this? Say the top military guys decide they want to keep hold of their seats after the two years, who steps in to tell them they can't? $\endgroup$ Apr 24, 2018 at 19:20
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to WorldBuilding Rakashua! That's one extensive first question, well done. I edited your question a bit as we are explicitly not allowing questions asking about opinions. We are trying to build a database of clear question where answers can be (somewhat) objectively rated against each other so that there is one best answer. Opinions are always exactly equally valid. If you have a moment please take the tour and visit the help center to learn more about the site. We have some rules that make us different from other forums. Have fun and good luck with your question! $\endgroup$
    – Secespitus
    Apr 24, 2018 at 19:20
  • $\begingroup$ Hi and welcome! hope you enjoy your time here. I suggest you take the tour in the help centre for any help you may need, but so far you looking good. one point on your sin list. #3 uselessness. if there is nothing the person can do about their situation, I don't think it would be fair to penalise them. however, if they have one of the listed examples and do not take all measures to correct or contribute as much as they can etc, then I think it could be ethical to consider it a sin. $\endgroup$ Apr 24, 2018 at 19:20
  • $\begingroup$ @LioElbammalf That is an excellent question, and one that I will need to address in the worldbuilding bible itself as I go along. That said, for the purposes of this inquiry itself, let's assume that there is a body responsible for this "self" or "governmental" regulation that enforces those terms as described. Thank you! (and yes, I'm definitely looking for a way to tackle this later, and should probably add that as a question elsewhere on the site, but for now I'm trying (really trying) to limit the scope of the question as best I can to help others be able to provide input)). $\endgroup$
    – Rakashua
    Apr 24, 2018 at 19:24
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    $\begingroup$ @EveryBitHelps Soilent Green is people.... Seriously though, no they don't. Like I said, no food/water shortages in the colony due to ... other very reasonable technology that we're about 50 years away from possibly... Processing can result in several things (I haven't nailed it down to just how many) but fertilizer would be an option. Additionally any of your tissue or organs that were in good shape could be re-purposed for transplants and genetic engineering could even revitalize them if you died of old age (to some extent). But yeah... no cannibalism intended. $\endgroup$
    – Rakashua
    Apr 24, 2018 at 19:59

2 Answers 2


This isn't a government, it's merely a council

This organization would only opperate well if an actual government elsewhere was impossing restrictions on their behavior. Most notably, the military obviously has all the physical power, which makes them difficult to stop if they choose to take control. The science branch perhaps has control over security codes, etc., such that the military simply can't take control ... but it's difficult to know how well they can keep that secred with a soldier holding a sig against their temple. The entire Divergent series of books is based on the same basic concept you've proposed, and what happens when the balance of that council is distrupted.

Who is being governed?

You call this a colony, so I assume it has lots of "normal citizens." Janitors and teachers and shop owners and street vendors and secretaries and para legals and nurses and dentists and the many thousands of seemingly less important jobs that are actually the glue that holds a society together. We're tempted to suggest that they're being represented by either M&A or MISC, but the reality is they're not represented by either. M&A is fundamentally a business concern and MISC is a welfare concern. Both are most interested in (a) the procedures involved with their operations (e.g., water access) and (b) securing the resources they need for their success (e.g., water access).

Government is about one of two things: power or people. Medieval monarchies were generally about power. Modern governments are generally about people. Your current structure has no representation for the average person, but enormous representation for the services that control or have power over people. Viva la revolución! In truth, your government looks most like the organization of a corporation where the various divisions and departments all vie for corporate resources to fulfill their mandates.

In an ideal world, representatives represent people, industries and organizations counsel via a cabinet

Organizations have no choice but to see people as a resource. A means of continuing the organization's purposes or facilitating its operations. Anyone who has worked in a large corporation (especially a multi-national corporation) knows exactly what I'm talking about. It doesn't matter if that organizatin is Science, M&A, Military, or MISC (for example). They certainly have needs, and those needs must be addressed for the good of the people — but they cannot be allowed to do it on their own or they will inevitably reduce people to a line item on a balance sheet.

All representative governments, no matter how they are organized, have some form of a popular vote. This is how the people balance their individual needs against the needs of organizations.

You are missing this all-important component of modern government: the representation of the people, not as members of organizations, but individually. To quote a famous document:

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed [source]

And we're missing a means of redressing wrongs, also known as "checks and balances" ... call it a judiciary

Nowhere in your described system does an individual have the ability to bring a complaint against the ruling council. Remember what I said about organizations basically reducing people to line items on a balance sheet? Judiciaries are, in a very generalized way, the means of ensuring that doesn't happen to the detriment of society. Somehow, you need a system that permits people to express the idea, "but that's not fair."1

I could go on, but writing a book isn't what you need. They've already been written.

You might be putting the cart ahead of the horse, which is a common behavior for young authors. You might have created your government before you created (or came to understand) your colony. A ruling council works well with a small organization, where the vast majority of people fit neatly into the organizations represented on the council. Those same people are all professionals, predisposed to work together to achieve a clearly stated goal.

But after you've added a bunch of babies to that mix, and those babies have become teens — bored teens — suddenly you have a bunch of people who don't fit the mold, and the "clearly stated goal" suddenly doesn't apply anymore becuase it isn't their goal. Nor will it be the goal for the bazillions of jobs that spring up to support a couple of generations of bored teenagers.

So, would your ruling council work? For a small enough colony, yes. For a large colony (frankly, anything bigger than 50,000 guaranteed), you need an actual government. To paraphrase another famous document, "that this [colony] shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish." [source]

1Perhaps the biggest reason judiciaries need to exist is because "fair" is always a wholly subjective word. Nothing is ever "fair." It's the judiciary's duty to find the balance between plaintiff and defendant that best suits individual rights vs. social needs. Remember, Satan's basic argument with Eve is that it wasn't fair she couldn't eat that dang apple... and look where we are now.

  • $\begingroup$ Ah, so in truth what I need to do is twofold. 1) Restructure the question because what I've described here is a small part of a larger government system and instead of whether it works as a government unto itself, I want to know if it works as a system (council or otherwise) unto itself assuming a judiciary (and other measures) exists. 2) Continue fleshing out my judiciary ideas. I do understand the colony... but it would take a massive amount of room to add everything that I truly feel is relevant to the discussion. I did not narrow the scope enough! or I misused the term "government" $\endgroup$
    – Rakashua
    Apr 24, 2018 at 20:15
  • $\begingroup$ That's cool, this site has many purposes and values. When you do restructure the question, remember that you need to be consise. this is a HUGE question. Make sure the background you provide is absolutely necessary, otherwise you're asking us to read a proverbial book just to get to the question. That's generally a no-no on Stack Exchange sites. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Apr 24, 2018 at 20:19
  • $\begingroup$ Much appreciated, and apparently I should read Divergent? Anyways, since this is my first time utilizing the site, would you suggest I make a completely different question post and attempt to be more concise, or simply edit this one, and make it clear that I'm asking if this council (as written) would work as a branch of government apart from the judiciary? $\endgroup$
    – Rakashua
    Apr 24, 2018 at 20:27
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    $\begingroup$ @Rakashua, we also generally advise you to wait 24 hours to mark an accepted answer. (1) so that users from across the different timezones have a chance (2) some people will not add an answer if you already have a marked answer. Don't worry. If they really want to, they will still add something but it is better to wait a little just incase a better answer would have popped up :) $\endgroup$ Apr 24, 2018 at 21:22
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    $\begingroup$ Having powerful factions does not invalidate the need for government, it just adds a layer of complexity: these groups will attempt to "capture" the government or bureaucracy as a means to further their own ends (think of unions advocating for certain political parties). This is true in virtually every system of government in history, Demagogues tried to sway Athenian juries to vote for certain outcomes, Xi Jinping's "anti corruption" program eliminated potential opponents to his rule. Your backstory will help, an American derived colony will likely have American rules and structures. $\endgroup$
    – Thucydides
    Apr 25, 2018 at 21:27

There are a few problems with the setup you propose.


Unfortunately the structure you have set up is leaderless.

Not that all groups need leaders - like a working-groups to perform small tasks where everyone gets along, however when it comes to any organisation, or groups of people more than a few, especially complex government, leaders become important.

The function of leadership is multifaceted but essentially no work is done by the populace unless they are coordinated and organised. Governments today are complex systems, sometimes convoluted, yet their core purpose is to organise people - with for instance an arm such as an Executive. Without leadership it is easy to have:

  • one part of government doing something contradicting another
  • resource allocation problems (even 'fair' allocations may achieve little)
  • rudderless, meandering government (no long term vision, no cause for people to work)

Although the above problems still occur in modern governments, image how often they will occur if there is no Executive to push an agenda. What you would probably find in your case is your military will be in defacto command, because that is what type of people they are.


Most governmental structures that are in place today (in modern day democratic nations) seem complex, but each element serves a functional role. In your case, the government is organised horizontally, almost like a class or caste system, instead of vertically in a check-and-balance oversight system.

History has shown that societies with large disparities in class don't function well. The artificial divisions in society prevent economic and political growth and end in revolutions, jostling for power or civil war. Instead:

  • An Executive branch to give direction
  • A Senate to check-and-balance the Executive
  • A Judiciary to check-and-balance the Senate and the Executive

ensures the responsibilities of each part is established, not just identifying departments (as in your case).

Civilian Command of the Military

It has taken almost 4 millenia to get this right, but finally human society is dealing with the problem of the relationship between the military and civilians.

The military must be a subset of civilian command, never equal to it.

Most countries in the past (and present) have a constant problem with being overthrown or destabilised by its own military. A major tenant of international peace currently in the world is that decisions are political, diplomatic, economic or social, well before they are even on the radar of the military.

Your military should have no seats on your ruling council, they should be just following your orders.

  • $\begingroup$ This makes good sense and I think the direction this series of answers is leading me towards is a centralized vertical government with at least those three levels (though I'm not going to go straight American with it). Below them the ruling powers (or most influential groups) are the factions I've listed who essentially act as major corporations who lobby for their own political influence within the greater system. I do understand what you're saying about the caste system, but based on how I'd like the colony to run, I am going to make a large focus the trade each citizen is part of. $\endgroup$
    – Rakashua
    Apr 25, 2018 at 20:43
  • $\begingroup$ I do agree whole heartedly with your comments on military and will move them to more of an advisory role. However I am going to give them more power than they should probably have, but that's going to be a flaw or failing of this system that the book will point out, even though the opinions of many will be that it's a flaw they'd prefer to live with as opposed to the alternatives they see around themselves. $\endgroup$
    – Rakashua
    Apr 25, 2018 at 20:44

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