I have been reading about fatalism: the belief that all events are predetermined and therefore inevitable. It made me consider designing a fictional civilization based around fatalism, but with the twist that this deterministic attitude would cause people of said civilization to be more willing to take risks and accept any kind of injury or near death experience as simply part of the grand design of fate. Are there any civilizations in history that have functioned on a similar philosophy from their citizens or rulers that I can use for inspiration (functioned in this case meaning lasted at least 150 years while maintaining a fatalistic daredevil attitude throughout this existence)? The closest thing I could find was the Aztecs under the fatalistic Montezuma II, but their civilization collapsing almost immediately afterward his rule due to factors like Spanish conquest and disdain from neighboring tribes, so there is no evidence that Montezuma's fatalistic belief system would have been sustainable in the long run.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The Arabs inflamed by Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, and then under the leadership of the Rightly Guided Caliphs? The Mongols of Genghis Khan and his sons and his grandsons? In both cases you have a rather small and poor people going to war against the entire world. In both cases, the initial berseker rush earned them great success early on, only to be followed by great sorrow as the world recovered from its astonishment and held the grudge for a thousand years. Or, better, the Seljuk Turks who took on the (remnant of the) Roman Empire and won, and are now undisputed masters of Anatolia. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Nov 25, 2020 at 21:14
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Seems like the OP is describing chaos brought about by a single-minded, darn-the-consequences strong, ambitious leader. They misuse the idea of fatalism to sell the idea that they are fated to be the Emperor. Real fatalism means that you can stay home playing with the kids and your empire will come regardless (nobody ambitious really believes that, except my cat). The chaos of the-strong-do-whatever-they-want is not a "fatalistic civilization." It's quite the opposite of a real "civilization" (government, urban development, symbolic communication). So it's not clear to me what you are asking. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Nov 25, 2020 at 21:45
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Why is this in the VTC queue as too story-based? Other than needing the worldbuilding-resources tag, the question is seeking help developing a governing philosophy. That's 100% on-topic. Because the OP is seeking references to help his/her development, it's not opinion-based or too broad. I'm voting to keep the question open. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Nov 26, 2020 at 5:01
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ What about the civilization that produced the Norse Vikings? $\endgroup$
    – NomadMaker
    Nov 26, 2020 at 5:04
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The Empire of Japan during portions of WWII. I highly recommend the podcast "Hardcore history" and the recent episodes "Supernova in the East" which go deeply into the psyche of a military force that had functionally infinite morale $\endgroup$
    – Dragongeek
    Dec 1, 2020 at 20:09

2 Answers 2


There are plenty of examples of fatalism in governments right now.


Saudi Arabia’s top religious leader has said that the Hajj stampede which killed 717 pilgrims was beyond human control, official media reported on the final day of this year’s pilgrimage.

The stampede was the worst disaster in a quarter-century to strike the annual event and drew fierce criticism of the Saudi authorities’ handling of safety, particularly from regional rival Iran.

“As for the things that humans cannot control, you are not blamed for them. Fate and destiny are inevitable,” the sheikh told the prince, who is also minister of interior.


Even with the increasing numbers, South Dakotans shouldn’t expect the messaging around the coronavirus pandemic coming out of the state capitol to change.

That’s because Gov. Kristi Noem, who since March has rejected the idea of forcing people to stay home, closing businesses and requiring that masks be worn in public, said Monday that a rising number of new COVID-19 cases was an expected inevitability.

“I won’t be changing my recommendations that I can see in the near future,” Noem said while speaking at a Sioux Falls Rotary event Monday afternoon at the Washington Pavilion in downtown Sioux Falls. “I think this is where we expected we would be. None of this is a surprise.”

Fatalism is a fine doctrine for governments that do not want to address certain problems - usually for reasons of expense although perhaps sometimes for reasons of sociopolitical solidarity. A disinclination to learn from poor outcomes (both your own and those of others) does not preclude striving to make things better or striving to accomplish new things. It just means it will take more tries to get it right.


As one of the people above mentioned, one civilization that might meet the criteria of 150 years and fatalistic is the Great Seljuq Empire. It lasted for 157 years from 1037 AD to 1194 AD. In 1194, it was replaced by the Khwarezmian Empire. The empire was an important part of the first & second crusade and fought constant battles to conquer eastern Anatolia. The empire expanded and, according to an academic paper called THE POLITICAL FORCES BEHIND SECULARISM AND ISLAMIC CONSERVATISM IN TURKEY: "A Socio-historic Interpretation", said empire imposed fatalism (by adding Islamic fatalistic philosophy into the educational system and having it imposed on those who entered the military) & polygamy upon their citizens. The empire, due to this Islamic fatalism, fought constant wars and played a key role in the first and second crusades. Omar Khayyam, a famous scholar under the empire, even taught a form of "a fatalism based on his fears of mortality and earthly impermanence" according to the Encyclopedia of the Literature of Empire by Mary Ellen Snodgrass.

  • $\begingroup$ I get how you impose polygamy. Just assign everyone three additional wives at birth. But what does "impose fatalism" mean? $\endgroup$
    – Daron
    Dec 1, 2020 at 21:56
  • $\begingroup$ @Daron I mean "impose fatalism" as in it was required of their education no matter what (so I guess it is better to say "impose fatalistic education) $\endgroup$
    – Tyler Mc
    Dec 1, 2020 at 23:09

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .