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In the universe that I'm creating, the earth has been destroyed by nuclear wars fought by human kind. Nearly 98% of the population has been wiped out. There exists a society of technologically advanced humans who control the energy on the planet but rely on the uncivilized for labor. The technologically advanced have advanced weapons with which they are able to subjugate the weak, who do not have access to such things.

Could such a society exist? What all things should be kept in mind with regards to this? How could this change be brought about?

I was thinking that due to a energy shortage, this group could concentrate power in their hands and as the commoners retaliated, it would gradually lead to an all out nuclear war which wipe out most of the populace.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is a common theme in sci-fi. For example, 'The Cloud Minders' from Star Trek TOS. $\endgroup$ – GrandmasterB Mar 15 '15 at 5:55
  • $\begingroup$ @GrandmasterB: Thank you, that is a very good example...i hav read the synopsis and does look good...however, i am not sure i can fit the whole 'hey are not developed because they are mentally challenged' thing... $\endgroup$ – Anon546 Mar 15 '15 at 6:24
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    $\begingroup$ We already are. Every time a plane flies over Papua New Guinea, or the Amazon. $\endgroup$ – Serban Tanasa Mar 16 '15 at 23:52
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Yes it does exist in our own little blue planet:

Somalia, destroyed by war

Somalia, destroyed by war

Sweden, human development

Sweden, human development

Its called international division of labour.

international division of labour The specialization of particular countries in distinct branches of production, whether this be in certain products, or in selected parts of the production process. The concept suggests that the spread of markets and production processes world-wide creates (as indeed this same process has done within particular economies) a growing differentiation of economic activity. 1

If people from poor countries migrate to richer coutries, they are accepted as low wage menial labour. So Sweden and Somalia becomes examples:

According to Statistics Sweden, there were 31,734 immigrants from Somalia in 2009. 2

As people fleeing those countries usually lack basic education, they have no choice but to accept menial tasks that europeans refrain from doing, like cleaning latrine. If they stay at their home country they produce low value commodities. Their work is masked by the low value attributed to it. If peoplee verify the usefullness of a work by the price of it, they wont detect all the value of low paid workers, until they have no one to sweep the streets and collect the garbage.

1 - International division of labour

2 - Immigration to Sweden

  • text done via cellphone virtual keyboard
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  • $\begingroup$ while your example is good, you missed a very key statement in my question : 'There exists a society of technologically advanced humans who control the energy on the planet but rely on the uncivilized for labor'...sweden does not rely on somalia for fulfiling its labour needs...also sweden and somalia are not the only two countries in the world...what it should be is a kind of symbiotic relationship with the advanced society gaining more out of it... $\endgroup$ – Anon546 Mar 15 '15 at 5:55
  • $\begingroup$ i can show you tha coutries like sweden depend on coutries like somalia to o low rate labour if i find a pc with keyboard $\endgroup$ – Jorge Aldo Mar 15 '15 at 8:29
  • $\begingroup$ @JorgeAldo thank you for the update! Notice removed. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Mar 15 '15 at 23:02
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Jorge Aldo's example of Somalia is a very good answer to this part of the question:

Could such a society exist?

Yes. In fact it already does, and has for as long as we've had the idea of society.

However, why he uses Sweden as an icon for human development escapes me. Are long lines, toothpaste tubes filled with caviar, and IKEA giving them high marks in HDI?

As far as this part goes:

What all things should be kept in mind with regards to this?

This simply casts too wide a field. Best answer to this is "Life".

How could this change be brought about?

Number one way this is brought about is war.

It might not be exactly PTSD but massive exposure to violence changes a society. If you didn't grow up in one that experienced it you simply don't know.

Living in a place where you don't believe you have to dedicate a significant amount of your time and money to basic personal security is a privilege. That privilege allows a society to accomplish many great things. Those without it are not "backward". Simply not as privileged.

In the universe that I'm creating, the earth has been destroyed by nuclear wars fought by human kind. Nearly 98% of the population has been wiped out.

The point of the post apocalyptic trope is to remind people that losing a war could happen to you as well. 98% of the population is just a statistic. It would be more dramatic to show that now we have to build our own Apple products.

I was thinking that due to a energy shortage, this group could concentrate power in their hands and as the commoners retaliated, it would gradually lead to an all out nuclear war which wipe out most of the populace.

What again? Sheesh, we never learn.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes...such societies do exist but they do not have a very tight coupling as is required - 'There exists a society of technologically advanced humans who control the energy on the planet but rely on the uncivilized for labor'....advanced race depend on the backwards race for their manual labor needs and the backwards race depends on the former for their energy needs...also, these two societies are the only ones left in that world, its not like they have other options (the major point of difference from the current scenario) $\endgroup$ – Anon546 Mar 15 '15 at 6:01
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    $\begingroup$ @Anon546 I'd love to cite some real world examples of what you're talking about (both historical and modern with plenty coupling) but you're using such derogatory terms (backwards, uncivilized, weak) that I am loath to make such connections. $\endgroup$ – candied_orange Mar 15 '15 at 6:08
  • $\begingroup$ i too cringe at the terms but those seem to be the more apt description...after the major part of the populace was wiped out, the only surviving members are the remote tribes, so,yes they are uncivilized...they are not as advanced as the technological race...so, yes they are backwards and as a consequence weak to defend themselves...i suppose, technologically challenged, would be a more PC term but it would not correctly describe the difference... $\endgroup$ – Anon546 Mar 15 '15 at 6:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Anon546 Look to any imperial/colonist relationship. But, again, backwards and uncivilized most colonies weren't. They were just less powerful. India, the jewel of the British Crown, was easily dominated and exploited by the British, not because India was uncivilized, backwards, or weak, but because of a combination of advantages held by the British: commerce, political power, and better military strength. $\endgroup$ – Nick2253 Mar 16 '15 at 23:30
  • $\begingroup$ @Nick2253 exactly. These terms are most often used by those attempting to justify oppression. Not that I'm some tree loving hippy. War is many terrible things but it is also a driving force for spreading technological advancements. $\endgroup$ – candied_orange Mar 17 '15 at 2:00
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Such situations have been very common. European dominance on Earth has really been a thing for about one century and ended after World War 2. The entire period of 19th century colonialism was based on the European powers having a tremendous advantage in technology over everyone else at that time. The people of Australia and Polynesia were still using technology that was basically stone age when the Europeans took control over the area and that was after the Industrialization in Europe.

(While the colonization of America was several centuries earlier, it was a special case because disease had annihilated almost all of the native population, which allowed European colonists to take control of the region virtually unopposed, even though their technology at the time didn't give them much of an advantage.)

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  • $\begingroup$ I would contest that Europeans didn't have much of a technological advantage over American natives. Guns, sailing ships and horses were a huge advantage and Europeans almost certainly would have dominated the Americas even if disease hadn't been an issue. $\endgroup$ – Tom Anderson Mar 17 '15 at 6:17
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The answer to your question is yes, I'll let others address that issue.

However, I think there may still be a flaw in the concept. Slave labor, or human labor in general, is quite inefficient. The cost in food to keep a human alive and doing labor is quite drastic considering how little a single human can do. There is no reason to need humans as a labor force if your technologically advanced. Look at the US today, we have a job shortage precisely because big companies found the use of automated robots as a far more practical and cost efficient option to laborers. As a civilization grows more advanced the idea of human labor force being optimal or desired becomes increasingly unlikely.

It's quite hard to come up with a system where a country as advanced as ours, or more so, would have use for a manual labor, even today most blue collar jobs are service simply because we like to talk and interact with people over machines. If you wished to have the advanced civ keeping the less advanced one alive and using them as labor the only viable explanation I can think of is that they are keeping the less advanced civ alive for humanitarian reasons primarily (they feel obligated to prevent their deaths. Then, since they are wasting so many resources protecting the less civilized humans anyways, they come up with ways to use them for human labor. The labor is less efficient then robots, but if you got to keep providing food to them you might as well get something out of them. Of course even then the cost of increased food, to make up for energy expended doing hard labor, would likely be more then the cost of using a robot.

Alternatively, and perhaps better, would be to claim that the advanced Civ keep the less advanced civ alive for reasons other then labor. Perhaps the side effect of so much radiation, combined with such a small gene pool, has caused difficulties with reproduction. The less civilized culture may simply be a gene-pool, ore even brood mares, to help the tiny advanced civ to be able to sustain itself. Perhaps they are used for biological resources (harvest kidneys and bone marrow to treat the advanced for radiation poisoning). Maybe the advanced civ keeps them as lab rats to test some new anti-radiation drug or some other important to their survival development. In any case they advanced civ would need something other then labor to benefit at all from keeping the less advanced civ alive.

If you went with one of the above approaches then it is possible the advanced civ is intentionally keeping the other civ from advancing, to keep control of them.

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