Sorry for my bad english.

I have been playing Stellaris for a while, and I found it very interesting to have a pacifist-spiritualist in my sci-fi story.

But I have difficulties in understanding what a 'pacifist-spiritualist' empire would be like in (Let's say) reality.

So, my question will not be narrowed to Stellaris but to the plausibility of that kind of empire.

There are 3 questions

  1. What kind of government is plausible and suitable for them?

  2. What is the way of life for the government and the people?

  3. If the question above is too broad (I'm sorry), what consideration should I pay attention to in order to answer the question?

Again, sorry for my bad english and thanks.

*edit I didn't know for sure yet about the kind of spiritualist. But I'll just say that before FTL/space exploration they have some kind of 'SunCult'. After FTL/space exploration, they believe the sun is just a minion of a higher benevolent being that give lifes to all universe.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Well, you would need to define the "Spiritualist" side a bit at least, it will depend a lot on what they believe. They could range from fanatical Christians to New-Wave hippies or any other number of variations. Also, it would be really useful to know what kind of government they have. $\endgroup$
    – Sasha
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 2:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Sasha you are right, I'll dig my brain and edit the question $\endgroup$
    – iko chomi
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 2:31
  • $\begingroup$ Japan and Iceland could be considered pacifist I guess. $\endgroup$
    – Vincent
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 2:43
  • $\begingroup$ Even as single questions (1) and (2) would be too broad (and probably opinion based). "Pacifist" seems simple (think "quaker" perhaps). "Spiritualist" could mean anything from "Gods and religion central to all" (like ancient Rome) to "Hippie Nirvana" (like San Francisco before the yuppies came :-) ). $\endgroup$ Commented May 3, 2018 at 2:52
  • $\begingroup$ In addition to not asking overly broad (what will it be like...) or opinion based (what do you think I should do...) questions, please ask only one question at a time! $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 3:13

1 Answer 1


Ironically enough, you're talking about a totalitarian theocracy.

It's very hard to maintain a pacifist state per se; after all, there's always some form of competition and someone is always likely to take things too far. There is evidence that democracies are far less likely to engage in warfare because you have to convince the masses as to the rightness of the cause before you invest the resources necessary to engage an enemy, but pacifism is more than a simple avoidance of war. If one takes the true meaning of the term, it's more of an intolerance to anything that impedes a peaceful existence.

This could easily be interpreted as a restriction on competition, and at the state level this means that a free market, capitalistic economy would go against such a concept.

Many religions (especially the 3 Abrahamic ones, Judaism, Christianity and Islam) have a form of socialistic morality baked in. Yes, one could argue that this is because many religions are old, coming from a time before systemic taxation and state based social welfare frameworks, but given that your form of government is spiritual as well as pacific in nature means that even if the state has taken on these reforms before established dogma requiring it is in place, the fact that your state is now in the hands of the religion as well blurs the lines of responsibility in any event.

So; you can expect a socialistic structure and economy, where everyone contributes their efforts to the state who then ensures equitable distribution of the outputs. In order to maintain the pacific trait, this will be a form of meritocracy (promotion based on merit) or geritocracy (promotion based on age) so that there is no real competition. The meritocracy would be preferred as it would lead to a socialistic model instead of a communistic model, which struggles with encouraging and rewarding distinguished personal contribution.

Your people will be obedient to state direction because that is the correct moral course. They will have an efficient organisation of labour that does not have multiple people competing against each other in a specific industry, and standouts will be invited to 'serve' in positions of authority.

That said; dissent will be dealt with harshly. It's not only a crime, it's a sin. As they're pacifists, there's probably no death penalty but they could likely be assigned 'hard labour' tasks under a penal arrangement.

One would hope that the government would be benign, and have the interests of the people at heart. If so, (and assuming adequate resources) the people would likely prosper but this is a fragile structure as it only takes a couple of poor choices close to the top to turn the people against the regime.

Take a look at groups like the Amish for social structures along these lines, and read Plato's The Republic for some idea about how the regime might be structured. The part about Plato's 'Noble Lie' is particularly conducive to a meritocracy and the structure of his Gold, Silver and Wood classes of citizens was likely a strong influence on George Orwell's Inner Party, Outer Party and Proletariat classes in 1984.

Ultimately, as a dystopia this model is going to be far more fragile than it would be as a utopia, and far more likely to descend into Tyranny.

One of the advantages of a strong separation of Church and State is that one is free to voice an opinion about the administration of a country without it reflecting on one's religious leanings. True, we see a lot of overlap because laws and morals can be strongly aligned, and even have similar intents. A spiritual government however will remove that distinction and the population will go one of two ways; either obedience to the state will be seen as piousness and be encouraged, or the changing needs of the populace will force the religious elements of the state to reform and change meaning that dogma changes to reflect the needs of the people.

A spiritual government is more likely to take the latter path if one differentiates it from a religious government, but this is really a matter for you to interpret for your own needs.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Ironically enough, you're talking about a totalitarian theocracy. I don't see this. I think you are making a presumption of an strict (perhaps religious) intolerance, which is not the only interpretation of "spiritualism" by a long shot. Also I don't think a pacifist society needs to have a religious government. You're making this too black and white. $\endgroup$ Commented May 3, 2018 at 6:13
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    $\begingroup$ @StephenG I agree with you that this is one interpretation, but there's a strong argument that spiritualism + organisational structure = religion. I fully support your premise that religion is a very narrow subset of spiritualism, but my interpretation of the question is based on the idea that a purely spiritual people who attempt to organise around that belief would end up creating something similar to a religion in the process, perhaps with laws in lieu of dogma. Happy to see another interpretation if it's put up though. $\endgroup$
    – Tim B II
    Commented May 3, 2018 at 6:46

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