For my science-fantasy I'm building nation that is governed by guilds,this country is loosely inspired by the concept of Anarcho-syndicalism.

The governing council Is made up of the Grandmasters of the guilds that are the most vital to the nation. However I don't know what industries or service are indispensable to a country.

So I ask that question here... What are most the vital industries and services to a country?

  • $\begingroup$ What is the tech level? Time period? Economy (imports/exports)? It makes a huge difference. First guess, I'd say agriculture, manufacturing, and military, but there would be huge variations. $\endgroup$
    – evankh
    May 22 '15 at 7:02
  • $\begingroup$ Guilds usually start very specialized and grow generic with time. If we're talking about the existence of guilds over a long period of time, every major city would have a charter of its guild and the guild would generally represent a wide variety of skills, for example Engineering would be the guild for carpenters to architects to electricians, etc. $\endgroup$
    – Neil
    May 22 '15 at 7:38
  • $\begingroup$ @knave The world isn't earth so no time period but the tech is about early twentieth century,with bits of magitech and weird-science. $\endgroup$ May 22 '15 at 14:58

I think that you can see it from a need perspective. If there is a need for it, there will be an industry to fill it up. And then it depends on the environment where your nation will be located.

As a starting point, you could look at Maslow's hierarchy of needs,

Maslow's triangle of needs (from Wikipedia)

And then depending on the evolution of your nation, you try to satisfy as many needs as possible.

  • The first industry needed is the food industry. Indeed people need to eat. For that, you have to consider the level of development your nations lives in. You need food production (agriculture/animals/fishing) to provide raw materials. You might consider distribution and trade, to get from the production centres to the consumption. And if you have a larger population, or need larger travel, you might consider the food transformation industry: from basic one: using ice/salt, to industrial ones: cans. Once you are sure that people eat (enough), you can consider other industries.

    They also probably don't want to go around naked. It might be cold, so clothing industry is probably needed to some extend.

    Similarly, they probably won't feel like sleeping outside. If you have cities, you need material production (wood, metal, etc.) as well as building industry (bridges, transportation, houses, etc.).

  • If people are fed and dressed, they want to make sure they will not die just getting out of their home. This require a form of justice and police. Possibly military as well if you fear attacks from outside. The form those take could clearly vary between nowadays (relatively-)safe societies, to a tribe chief and warriors enforcing the decisions of the chief.

    It depends on how far is your society advanced, but maybe a system of health: hospitals, doctors, pharmaceutical companies, etc. could be considered.

With that you probably have the very basic needs covered. You might want to consider a few more services to facilitate the previous ones:

  • Education to get people ready for your industries.
  • Communication to get information from one to the other. It could be a simple postal service, or you could have internet/radio/TV/etc.
  • Entertainment, this has always proven useful to maintain a certain equilibrium (think about Caesar's Bread and Circuses).
  • Banks, well you might want to have a currency system to support the trade of goods. If so, you need to produce said currency, exchange, move it, give it value etc.

If the people are fed, clothed, feel safe, healthy and entertained, they probably won't break everything havoc. So that should probably be enough for a start.

Following up on Jim2B comment below, one has to consider the evolution of the society and/or tech-level. In prehistoric time, food industry were hunters-gatherers, clothes industry was done with at best some animals skins, housing were at best caves. So in early time several of those industries were combined. As time changes different people starts to fill in different roles and further on more specialised on sub-industries. And of course, the different industries become inter-dependent: you need machines to tend your crops, transports for your army, etc. And metal, metal industry and distribution for all of them. So your guilds are inter-dependent.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I am impressed by your answer. At first thought i had assumed it wouldn't be possible to answer that question in any meaningful way without information about the tech level, but you did that very well. $\endgroup$
    – Burki
    May 22 '15 at 11:39
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thanks for your nice comment @Burki. Indeed, it would be much easier to know the technological situation of that nation. But at the end of the day, I think the humans needs haven't evolved much. Just how they are fulfilled. This is what I tried to convey. Of course, the more evolved the society is, the more industries one can add: in prehistoric times they had enough getting food and some sort of shelter. $\endgroup$ May 22 '15 at 11:49
  • $\begingroup$ The tech-level is about early twentieth century,with bits of magitech and weird-science. So there is at least Agri guild,Engineering and Construction,Textile,Medical. Civil services are technically. And that leave entertainment. All of the guilds have their sub-guilds. The only question left is should mages be their own guild or specialist with in the others. $\endgroup$ May 22 '15 at 15:02
  • $\begingroup$ You might also comment that as the technological sophistication goes up, the more different industries & trades rely upon each other. Basic food growth requires all sorts of technological infrastructure to support it now, fuel, parts, seeds, machinery, GPS satellites, etc. People become specialized but supporting our basic needs requires more an more interconnectedness of industries and services. More primitive conditions will be less efficient but also less reliant on that interconnectedness. $\endgroup$
    – Jim2B
    May 22 '15 at 16:26
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Jim2B, I added some discussion on the matter at the bottom of my response. $\endgroup$ May 22 '15 at 19:48

Keep it simple:

The great table had only 10 seats. 9 of the seats had a glittering actuated paining behind it, representative of their Guild's Arms.

  1. At the right of the table, second in command, in the position of honor, sat the Guildmaster Arkan Mavek, from the BP-Shell-Greenpeace-General Electric guild. The painting behind him dynamically depicted the sun being worshiped, the sun caught in pervoskite electric cells, the sun caught by plants and turned into black oil and coal, the sun triumphant.

  2. To his right, sat Guildmaster Belmont Varneil, from the Seers Guild. The image behind him depicted a great eye, with satellites in the sky, insect-sized sensors on the ground, cameras blanketing the large cities, and a great weaving current of analysis sweeping thorough it all. His face seemed permanently shaded, in that it seemed impossible to make out any of his features with any clarity.

  3. To the left, sat the High Mother Fatima III, of the Born Again Disney Islamic Faith. The black and green fluttering flags behind her were superimposed on images of Orney the Horny Badger and indicated her guild's leading role in the realm of Indoctritainment.

  4. Tim Hanks, from the Monsanto and Clearwater guild, sat smugly in his seat, with a background of monstrously large crops, and gigantic meat-growing labs.

  5. Enver Hodgea, of the Albanian Mafia, was next. By him were images of large infrastructure projects, from space elevators to highways and other megastructures.

  6. Vladimir Rogojean sat for the Peacekeepers, whose blue helmets featured prominently in the short videos showing the military forces machine-gunning attempted illegal immigrants and burning enemy villages.

  7. Lataya Merero, of the Blue Crescent, had a background indicating her guild's affiliation with hospitals, nurseries and primary schools.

  8. Proctor Zakharov, of the University, was head of Northern Planetary research and all the higher education efforts, wearing the disturbing implants that were typical of AI-enhanced researchers.

  9. George Grigoropulous was in charge of the Transit Authority, with a fleet of megaships, airdrones, maglevs and zipcars all zooming in the background behind him.

  10. At the head of the table, in the chair of absolute command, sat Ramil Bihnev of Goldman Sachs. There was no background image behind him.


The wants and needs of people are covered by the guilds, but the guilds themselves will need some sorts of mechanisms to define their rights, protect their property and arbitrate disputes between themselves, as well as between guilds and customers. For most societies these have been provided by the State and both classical liberal thought (represented by such thinkers and Edmond Burke and Adam Smith) and modern Minarchist Libertarianism stress the importance of these (Individual liberty, freedom of association and speech; unfettered property rights, and the Rule of Law. Libertarians draw the line there, while other political philosophies try to add to the list, or more ominously, remove them).

Since you are looking at Anarcho-syndicalism (or perhaps the close relative Anarcho-Capitalism), there will be no State to provide protection of these rights. Much of what I have read about this philosophy suggests that there will be competition between private service providers to deliver protection of individuals and their properties, as well as some sort of arbitration service (once again with multiple arbitration companies competing for business). In this world, there would then be a Police and protective services guild (possibly including EMS and fire protection) and an arbitration guild.

In the real world, this would likely resemble Europe during the Dark Ages, where central authority had broken down and local lords competed for power with their own private protection services (aka private armies) and arbitrated disputes on their own land as they saw fit. If my guild can afford to hire a larger and more aggressive "protection service" to advance our aims, and bribe the arbitration guild to settle things our way, then there is little to stop us from doing so.

  • $\begingroup$ One possible solution would be to have the civil services and law enforcement and national defense can be covered by specialized guilds that by their charters server the nation as a whole rather than private clients;the punishments for corruption would have to be sever to combat corruption. $\endgroup$ May 22 '15 at 21:05
  • $\begingroup$ The age old question of "who guards the guardians" still applies. In the end, the Grandmasters of the Protective guild and the Arbitration guild will have essentially created a government structure, and most likely seize power quickly or slowly through these means. $\endgroup$
    – Thucydides
    May 22 '15 at 21:20
  • $\begingroup$ That's one of the criticism that I've seen of anarcho-capitalism, that the private arbitration and defense guilds would collude and become the new state. Well the country is governed by a council composed of the guild masters. So the Protective guild and the Arbitration guild would already be part of system. Would the odds of a cue be that much worse than in a real-world democracy. $\endgroup$ May 24 '15 at 3:38
  • $\begingroup$ Not even a coup is needed. The simple fact that all citizens AND guilds need the services of the Protective services and Arbitration guilds to carry out living in a relatively ordered and peaceful society is what gives those two guilds their pre eminent position. $\endgroup$
    – Thucydides
    May 24 '15 at 21:54
  • $\begingroup$ They also need the Engineers to build, Agriculturalist to produce food stuffs. My idea was for a web of interdependence between the. In order for a their to be justice in a society, the enforcement of laws,the mediation of contracts and grievances,the usage of force must be in the hands of an impartial third party. The Regulators,The Arbitrators and The Militants must outside the regular Guild system. $\endgroup$ May 25 '15 at 17:23

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