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In a Dyson sphere world, there is enough space to support a population several orders of magnitude larger than our current population. With such a large population a single government cannot be applied effectively and multiple governments cannot be used without mass segregation and many loopholes. Would Moral Judgment Anarchism work?

The system is effectively Anarchy in that nothing is 'illegal' and anyone can do whatever they want. However, if someone disagrees with the morals or actions of another, they can file a black mark on them, shown on identifying documents. These can be seen by anyone.

When a mark is filed, there are 4 types:

Minor mark - for basic offences like petty theft or failure of payment. This creates a public poll that the first 100 people within 10km are obligated to vote in. This leaves no permanent mark on their identity.

Major mark - for more serious cases like assault and grand theft. A poll is created to decide if they are innocent or guilty or trial is required. This leaves a permanent mark on your identity.

Black marks - for extreme offences like murder, rape or terrorism. They are detained and a poll is created to determine a penalty using a scale from 0-10 (10 being you walk away with a stern warning, 0 being a slow, painful execution).

White marks - awarded over Black marks for acts of heroism and charity. They are seen as a sign of reformation.

Would a system like this be functional?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Ash, Gryphon, RonJohn, Mołot, EveryBitHelps Aug 12 '18 at 21:08

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ "This creates a public poll that the first 100 people within 10km are obligated to vote in." What happens if they refuse to vote? Nothing is illegal so someone would have to file a mark on them. $\endgroup$ – AngelPray Aug 12 '18 at 13:14
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    $\begingroup$ Two things come into my mind: "Anarchist Government" is an oximoron. Secondly, a "government" has a lot of other duties than law enforcement: Who will organize defense against extrasystem attacks? Who will care for the sick and infirm? Who will pay for the maintenance of the swarm? Who will organize the education? $\endgroup$ – b.Lorenz Aug 12 '18 at 13:16
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    $\begingroup$ This is something that you, the creator of the world, needs to explore. It might work, it might not. An answer to this question would fill a book perhaps. If you could perhaps narrow it down to a situation where you have doubts? People then might figure out how to deal with it within this system $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Aug 12 '18 at 13:17
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    $\begingroup$ @zonewolf you might want to shy away from using the term anarchism, because what you describe isn't anarchist, per se, or at least it doesn't seem to be. There are a lot of subschools of anarchism, but part of what defines anarchism is the undesireability of illegitimate, enforced, hierarchy. So, the first issue here is that anarchism is equally concerned with who defines the law, and how it is enforced as it is with rendering judgement. E.g. the first problem is who defines what a violation even is. Who determines what a minor black mark actually is? Does someone lodge one (cont) $\endgroup$ – user49466 Aug 12 '18 at 20:38
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    $\begingroup$ Because they don't like the way someone looked at them? If it can be anything, that just reifies existing social mores and power structures. Maybe in a certain setting women get black marks for operating cars, simply because enough men vote for that. That's certainly not an anarchistic system. And if it's for things that we consider to be crimes, the issue of legality aside...how could I expect anyone in my vicinity to vote on whether the local thief actually robbed me or not? $\endgroup$ – user49466 Aug 12 '18 at 20:41
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Not specially, unless in spite of terrible impracticality people insist on using it because of cultural reasons.

1) People within 10 km vote? So effectively those who are on the same ship / station? Fine. Wouldn't it be simpler for them to just pass some local code of laws? And create usual police and court system? So far the result would be similar with one exception - if there is some written law, then one can know in advance what's consent age or allowed blood alcohol level for piloting a space craft. There is not much point in regressing law system to oral tradition of a tribe.

2) Space is a bad place for doing irresponsible things. Hard vacuum. Nuclear drives. Fragile life support systems. Speeds that dwarf railguns. You really want to have strict safety standards imposed. Any idiot (not mentioning terrorist) has a great potential for destruction. People would really have good reasons to keep potentially dangerous behaviour in check.

3) Space require much higher level of organisation. Either all systems on your ship work really, really well... or you are on straight path to become dead. If someone was whole life taught strict chain of command (with serious meritocratic lean), following procedures to the letter... then it simply becomes second nature for him and good luck in teaching him anarchism.

4) This size is NOT ungovernable. Even if this spreads all over Oort cloud, its still within day for communicate. In age of sail it was possible to build empires with much higher lags in data transfer. Political system would rather lean towards a federal state with heavy autonomy or a bunch of theoretically independent countries, that have no other choice but follow long list of treaties and common standards.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for mentioning communication lag and the ability to manage empires despite it. $\endgroup$ – JBH Aug 12 '18 at 18:15
  • $\begingroup$ A local code of laws would cause segregation. If someone didn't like the laws they would have to move away from where they live. I don't think you know what a Dyson sphere is. It's not open space. I never said anything about flying around at light speed. Dyson spheres are hollow structures that (mostly) encase the sun. I could be writing a medieval Dyson sphere, they wouldn't even have guns. $\endgroup$ – ZoneWolf Aug 12 '18 at 21:01
  • $\begingroup$ @ZoneWolf You'd have this segregation process anyway, just because people like like-minded ones. If 90% of population in some area are religious fundamentalists, then under your system I highly suggest to check what's considered as sinful and do not do it, moreover heretics should better go away // I thought more in line of Dyson swarm. // You're communicating right now using Internet and precluding a similar medium of communication in SF setting??? $\endgroup$ – Shadow1024 Aug 12 '18 at 21:24
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    $\begingroup$ @ZoneWolf a medieval dyson sphere? As in the once technologically advanced civilization had degraded uniformly to that state? If I'm even close to right, you just obviated both answers and very much need to add that fact to your question. It's a critical datapoint. Are there any other critical datapoints that didn't get added? $\endgroup$ – JBH Aug 12 '18 at 22:14
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH I didn't say it was medieval, I was pointing out that this is not necessarily the far future. They assumed that it was, bringing up Spaceships, Nuclear Drives and a Station Network. A Dyson sphere implies futuristic, but they aren't synonymous. I never said the people of this world were any different than us in terms of technology. $\endgroup$ – ZoneWolf Aug 13 '18 at 21:36
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No, an anarchist system as described isn't functional

Because there's nothing to function. It would be like a permanent Purge. Keeping records requires organization and making it worth anybody's time requires some form of enforcement/punishment.

The truth is, no large population can exist without government. It's nice to believe that's not true, but you need to coordinate transportation of goods (like food and sewage) and the provision of services (like financial and legal) and that coordination is only possible with a government. It doesn't matter how you try to invent it, what you base it on, or the specifics of its operation, it's a government. And the moment you have one, people want to use it to complain about how loud their next door neighbor's daughter is playing her music.

You obviously had a government because it would take one whomping well organized society just to build the dyson sphere. That government would have set up procedures for mantaining the sphere (maintenance via Clarkean magic is possible, but not believable). Those maintenance services would be a huge catalyst to maintaining a continuing government.

And just as our own planet doesn't simply fall apart when one nation becomes chaotic, your entire dyson sphere population wouldn't become chaotic, either. Justifying a non-government condition with that many people is well beyond my own ability to suspend my disbelief.

Let's take a tangent...

So, just for fun, let's organize the government so we know what could be forced to anarchy.

Because I live here, let's look at the scalability of the United States. City governments work with county governments, which work with state governments, which work with the federal government, which works with the United Nations (the closest thing we have to a planetary government).

It's not perfect, but it works fine. Why wouldn't this work for a gigantic population?

  • Note that a Dyson Sphere can host a breathtaking population. It has 5.5x108 times the surface area of Earth.1 Scaled from today's estimated population, that's 4.2x1018 people. It's a bit crowded for my tastes.

We have national governments on Earth today that manage to deal with 1-billion+ populations (Yo! India & China! WOOO!). They have subdivided governing regions just like the U.S. But, let's assume 1-billion is the practical max for a "national" governing unit. How many levels of government would be required for our megapopulation? Well, I'm back to using the familiar U.S. structure. So...

  • 50 "states" per "nation" leading us to
  • 50 "nations" per "planetary government" (5x1010 people)
  • 50 "system governments" (where are the Goa'uld when you need them? Anyway, 2.5x1012)
  • 50 "cluster governments" (1.25x1014)
  • 50 "sector governments" (6.25x1015)
  • 50 "quadrant governments" (3.1x1017)
  • 13.5 "spiral arm governments" (4.2x1018)
  • 1 "overlord government" aka, "big brother"

It's unlikely that's a galactic population living on the surface of one sphere, but it feels like it. Nevertheless, from city to spiral arm we're talking 11 levels of government.

That's plenty of room for chaos despite enormous organization.


1The surface area of a 1AU sphere divided by the surface area of Earth. Hopefully I got it right. Dang Windows 10....

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  • $\begingroup$ just want to point out that the existence of governing bodies is not what defines anarchism. All real-world anarchist societies and regions have had governing bodies, in part, due to the reasons you provided. Anarchism is about the undesireability of illegitimate, enforced, hierarchy, which identifies nation-states as (at least) morally inferior constructs, but which does not countermand administrative entities. $\endgroup$ – user49466 Aug 12 '18 at 20:45
  • $\begingroup$ @user49466, I'm not saying you're wrong, but that's not within the context of what the OP presented. Having said that, it's a valuable addition. Do you have a citation we can include that points that definition out? I believe it could be quite valuable to the OP. $\endgroup$ – JBH Aug 12 '18 at 22:12
  • $\begingroup$ The Anarchist FAQ is probably one of the best sources: "For this reason, rather than being purely anti-government or anti-state, anarchism is primarily a movement against hierarchy. Why? Because hierarchy is the organisational structure that embodies authority. Since the state is the “highest” form of hierarchy, anarchists are, by definition, anti-state; but this is not a sufficient definition of anarchism. This means that real anarchists are opposed to all forms of hierarchical organisation, not only the state..." (cont) $\endgroup$ – user49466 Aug 12 '18 at 22:53
  • $\begingroup$ theanarchistlibrary.org/library/… I'll try to find something more primary, like from Proudhon or DeJacque $\endgroup$ – user49466 Aug 12 '18 at 22:53
  • $\begingroup$ There's this subsection about Anarchism and organization, generally speaking: theanarchistlibrary.org/library/… as well as this salient quote: "[...] as many anarchists have stressed, it is not government as such that they find objectionable, but the hierarchical forms of government associated with the nation state." Judith Suissa (2006-02-02). Anarchism and Education: A philosophical perspective rebels-library.org/files/anarchismandeducation.pdf $\endgroup$ – user49466 Aug 12 '18 at 23:00

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