Assume the existence of an organized state that spans the entire world known to it, or at least as much of the world as it can interact with. This could be a global empire. It could just as easily be a colony planet cut off by decades of communication time and centuries of travel time, or an island people who have lost the ability to build ocean-going ships. I am not talking about isolationist states - those that have chosen not to interact. I am limiting myself to states that do not border any populated areas, where if there are any other civilizations in existence, it is not technically feasible to trade or make war with them.

What would the internal politics be like of a state with no external relations? How are they affected by, for example, having nobody to compare themselves against? There are no outsiders to demonize, no outside threats you can rally the people against. There are no other states to look at as examples of political systems, so all currents of political thought must come from within the system (that may not be a significant limitation) and there's no way to see how policies work without trying them yourself.

Please do not use this question as a place to dispute the feasibility of "I am the king of all I survey" situations. If you want to do that, ask another question.

I have seen What would happen to a human Galapagos? That question and its answers focus on culture and biology. I'm asking strictly about politics.

What would the impact of a global and unchallenged empire be on world history? is closer, but it focuses too much on an empire (I'm also looking for answers pertaining to non-autocratic states) and on how the government maintains control. I'm assuming that it does and looking beyond that. I'm looking for more subtle things like "What sorts of political parties are more or less likely to form?" "How would the economy of an industrial state be affected by the lack of foreign exchange?"

  • $\begingroup$ There would still be basic supply and demand so in essence, global markets and general left/right party systems would still exist, they would just fly the same flag over it all. Or else you'd have a very StarTrek-like society where everyone magically has everything they need. I haven't thought too deeply into this yet but I'm betting it wouldn't be so different from the world we live in now, just maybe with less fighting. $\endgroup$ – thanby - reinstate Monica Jun 17 '15 at 20:03
  • $\begingroup$ @thanby comments are not for answers! They are to improve or clarify what the post above is for. Please use the "your answer" box below. $\endgroup$ – PipperChip Jun 17 '15 at 20:24
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @TristanKlassen, do you have an nation size in mind? 1 million is significantly different than 100. $\endgroup$ – Green Jun 17 '15 at 20:56
  • $\begingroup$ What's the technology level of this civilization? $\endgroup$ – Green Jun 17 '15 at 21:02
  • $\begingroup$ As @Green ask, it probably a makes a huge difference on the circumstances of that isolation. Maybe you could consider reducing a bit the scope as, clearly, the politics would be very different if you have a 100-people tribe locked away since prehistoric time (The "Human Galapagos" gives some ideas there) or you have a few billions people who achieved a similar or even further evolution than ours BEFORE getting isolated (like a unification of the Earth politics?). $\endgroup$ – clem steredenn Jun 18 '15 at 8:27

You have assumed your world-state is non-autocratic as part of your scenario, but I doubt it would remain truly pluralistic for long. In the absence of any rival state for it to be compared to, politics would be likely to gradually become more rigid and unimaginative. Not only would the people have no chance of literal flight or emigration to another country, they would also have no chance to see how different ideologies work out in practice. After several generations most people might no longer be able to conceive that things could be managed differently. No doubt some division of society on grounds of religion, class, race or language would persist, but the political spectrum would be much narrower.

A cynical government that lacks outsiders to demonize must use some group of its own people for the same purpose. And even a well-intentioned government in the same circumstances is likely to genuinely fear any political experimentation because, as you say, there is "no way to see how policies work without trying them yourself." If they turn out to be disastrous, the whole world suffers. All your eggs are in one basket.

| improve this answer | |

There's no reason that one nation can't implement sub-regions with differing laws.

I think, in much the same way the United States is separated into individual states with differing regulations, and Canada is separated into individual provinces with their own quirks, such a world-state would inevitably create subdivisions into what I shall call "Nolan-states". For reasons of flexibility and experimentation, the state would designate certain communities to be slightly more leftist, some slightly more right, a few of them more regulated, and a few of them more libertarian, while leaving others to remain centrist.

For large-scale implementations, they might lay out some of these communities in the same way as a traditional Nolan Chart, with the laws in each neighboring region gradually leading into the others to serve as less of a shock.

Though I do think that there would certainly be an increase in conspiracy theorists, untrusting of said world-government specifically because it IS a globe-spanning empire...

But I think it would be a good thing, overall, since there would be no more world-wars (just very large civil wars)... No more infighting about the effects of immigration or whether we should build fences to ineffectively keep out foreigners (no foreigners to worry about). No more international espionage or concerns about outsourcing (all money stays in the nation since the nation is everywhere). No more nations owing other nations money; just businesses owing other businesses money.

| improve this answer | |

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.