I want a society organized similarly to the viking age Iceland. So I want family ties and personal friendships to be crucial, 'owners' who freely choose what chieftain to follow, and councils to handle some legalisation and justice, but no actual government, military and law enforcement.

But I also want it to have advanced technology (spacetravel, computers, modern weapons etc...)

Is this possible?

My primary concern is that in the 10th century one farmstead almost formed a self sufficient economical unit. Central institutions were only needed to dispose of feuds arising and to occassionally decide important questions (like the adoption of Christianity) that touched the whole country. But modern technology relies on the 'web' of technilogical processess and financial and logistical services built on each other, often tens or hundreds of companies contributing to a single product. Could a system so complex work without central regulation like in a modern economy?

And the secondary concern is that the more destructive weapons would make blood feuds so fast and bloody that this society would quickly disintegrate.

How this society would come to be is out of scope, the question is only that could it be stable for a sensible amount of time.

EDIT: Over being duplicate: The other question wants a generally (technologically and socially and spiritually) medieval word to have one (or a few) future tech artefact. I do not want this. I want a thouroughly high tech word, with modern technology understood and produced by its inhabitants, who also happen to live in a chiefly-clanish-executivepowerless political setup similar to old Iceland.

  • $\begingroup$ You need some tens of millions of people in order to begin thinking about sustaining modern technology. As for "central regulation", that depends. Taiwan is one thing, U.S.A. another, the E.U. something else entirely, and the People's Republic of China is completely different. But the main problem is that the society is inconsistent; if farmsteads are self-sufficient then who are those people who built rockets, computers and lasers, who install communication cables, who design web sites? They are obviously not farmers. And whom do they serve, if life is centered on self-contained farms? $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jun 9 '18 at 12:05
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP You misunderstood me. I do not want self-sufficient farmsteads to have modern technology. I want society separated to relatively small units being quite independent - to the point of waging blood feuds and gathering around chieftains - while still having modern technology. So they can be asteroid miners or robot builders, the question is whether they can manage without creating central institutions (all the Allthing can say is that 'Yes, Thorkell dealt unlawfully with you. You are allowed to exact revenge by any means you can) $\endgroup$ – b.Lorenz Jun 9 '18 at 12:24
  • $\begingroup$ Without a centralized law-enforcing state the society will be poor, simply because nobody is going to invest one billion dollars in an integrated circuit fabrication facility when they cannot rely on a stable legal and commercial environment. The entire reason why states exist is to avoid people having to "exact revenge" and to allow small people and large people, brave people and timid people, strong people and weak people to trade as equals. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jun 9 '18 at 12:36
  • $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of Explaining high tech gadgets in an ancient world? $\endgroup$ – JBH Jun 9 '18 at 14:36
  • $\begingroup$ Also a possible duplicate of worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/109900/… $\endgroup$ – JBH Jun 9 '18 at 14:38

Viking age Iceland (and indeed modern-day Iceland) is several orders of magnitude short of having enough people to sustain a high-tech society. There are simply too many specialist areas of knowledge required, with most people necessarily not being specialists but working in other areas that are also needed. Throughout history it’s been true that the smaller the society the lower its tech level, as small societies lose their only expert in a technology and so lose that technology. Figure that our current tech level needs a population of around a billion and you won’t be too far off.

  • $\begingroup$ I did not say that they have to live in Iceland. I said that the political and social setting is to be similar. But I get te point. You say that old icelandic practices dont scale well up (as they largely build in personal relations) $\endgroup$ – b.Lorenz Jun 9 '18 at 12:18

But I also want it to have advanced technology (spacetravel, computers, modern weapons etc...)

Ironically, I think this setup work MUCH better with MORE ADVANCED TECH (and even less people than now?).

Look like you wanna get rid of "central regulation" more than other stuff. Let's get rid of that using:

IA/robots that are the actual form of "goverment", but work quietly in the background and lack political bias. Them just do the job (ie: Allocate/ distribute resource, coordinate large/scale efforts and so on. But let everything else to the local chieftains).

This could also help in how the economy work. Robots/IA do it and are the back-bone of things. Now society work on top and worry about the rest.

BTW Robots/IA not need to be the more advanced ones you imagine. Just slightly better than we have now to complete task is ok.

Second, to make society more autonomous everyone have his own supply of energy (solar? nuclearish but not of the radioactive/explosive kind?), and food production.

Socially, them work like the old greeks, with city-state/like setups (tribe/state?)... but more importantly:

could it be stable for a sensible amount of time.

is based in a shared, strong culture that is somehow enforced to mantain the status quo. This is alike sparta, that make sure it can mantain his slaves on check. Not because it was efficient, but because them like things like this.

This also leads to:

destructive weapons would make blood feuds so fast and bloody that this society would quickly disintegrate

Like greeks, everyone work alone until a serious threat arrive. Then now work together and form a "army" to deal with it.

A council to deal with this stuff is invoked for this kind of situation. So I think in-fighting is possible to keep somehow-in check.

Plus, everyone trade with everyone else.

Plus, everyone, alike greek/spartans/vikings/samurai are well trained in warfare.

Finally, the thing that tied all together:

So I want family ties and personal friendships to be crucial

In the Bible, is explained that members of the same tribe can married among them, but not with other tribes (because land was tied to which tribe you was). This make in-figthing in tribes hard, and other laws make very hard to fight with other tribes.

Now, you society work alike: each tribe/state married among his peers, tied everyone with everyone and forms clusters of people with reason to defend together or share big projects (build a road?) and/or give a hand in case of disasters (volcan eruption?).

And friendship? You have friend in your close tribes/families, right?


No. Jared Diamond's "Guns Germs and Steel" teaches us that you need a certain environment and certain resources to advance in technology (not to mention a certain mindset: Europe had the resources to advance during the middle ages, but it was held in the clutch of religious fundamentalisms). Iceland, or any other ice-ridden landscape, is not the place to go beyond a certain level. Vikings compensated by sailing toward other lands and predating on other societies. And in doing so, they also destroyed many, many acres of forests to build their ships and heat their homes, thus creating a severe ecological imbalance

  • $\begingroup$ You also misunderstood me. But seems that you wrote your answer while I was trying to clarify. I do not want them to live on Iceland, or in the actual middle ages. I want them to have a similar political structure. $\endgroup$ – b.Lorenz Jun 9 '18 at 15:05

This reminds me of Frank Herbert's Dune series. Each world is it's own self regulating fiefdom with very few galactic laws governing overall. People on the planet owe allegiance entirely to ruling family of their world. Feuds are handled with some rather loose rules between the ruling families and the emperor does little more than make sure the loose conventions are upheld. (Early in book 1 of course).

Mutually assured destruction (MAD) controls for weapon use in the question. While feuds are allowed, the use of too powerful of a modern weapon not only assures the other side retaliates but pisses off everyone around who might be indirectly affected (think if one state in the USA nuked another, all the surrounding states get hit by the fall out too, so they are suddenly dragged into the feud and destroy whoever is left of the original two.)

Final point is that you end up with a bunch of guilds that act the same way as a family unit would (think of the spacing guild of Dune). These are where technology comes from and is developed, they don't need government to regulate their commerce because they less sell their products to the other groups than their services. No one buys a space ship, they buy passage on one, sort of thing. Naturally such a guild would incorporate all the necessities for it's job into itself, those 100 companies it takes to build one space ship becoming one self regulated company etc.


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