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Safespace is a spherical region of the Milky Way about 1.3672 kiloparsecs in diameter. Its borders have been marked at the places where no extraterrestrial communication has been detected and no species have established colonies. Safespace is organized by the Unified Intergalactic League (UIL or just The League). While some sectors don’t ally with the League, there’s one part of Safespace that is part of the League, but utterly different: the Fringe. Worlds in the Fringe utilize a form of feudalism. Planets are led by marquesses, who cede tracts of land to earls. Earls train militant police called caltrops, who enforce laws onto citizens. The earls also select political officers such as magistrates from citizens who submit applications of merit. This system, just like Earth feudalism, is very much slanted to the rich. However, keep in mind that the League keeps a close eye on the Fringe territories, with hundreds of spies dispersed on every world. So what do you think? Is this system sufficient for an entire planet? Would it incite rebellion?

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    $\begingroup$ Names are not magical. If you call the chief executive of a territory a marquess or a proconsul instead of a president or prime minister, and you call the head of an administrative subdivision an earl or a procurator instead of a prefect or a governor, this does not change anything at all in the nature of the polity. (Ah, and this is a caltrop. Personally, I would be extremely confused by the use of the word to refer to gendarmes.) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Sep 1, 2023 at 12:50
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    $\begingroup$ P.S. Feudalism does not require hereditary ranks; for example, the Eastern Roman Empire, its successor the Ottoman empire, and generally all south-eastern Europe did not have a notion of hereditary ranks, although they were very much feudal in the appropriate historical stage. On the other hand, the existence of hereditary ranks does not necessarily imply a feudal structure; for example, the United Kingdom still uses hereditary ranks although feudalism went away some five hundred years ago. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Sep 1, 2023 at 12:56
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    $\begingroup$ If I recall correctly, Dune, Battletech, Starbound and Warhammer 40K have clear notions of lords and such, sometimes with their own little twist. I bet there are many others, elsewhere ^^. $\endgroup$ Sep 1, 2023 at 13:04
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    $\begingroup$ This question is ambiguous. Are you asking if rebellions will happen in the Fringe or within the League? People may look to the Fringe, believe that a "back to simple" would be better than in the League, and rebel to join the Fringe. $\endgroup$
    – David R
    Sep 1, 2023 at 14:31
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    $\begingroup$ Since you haven't actually told us anything about your pollical system, (your description would cover several vey different systems), or the settings technological level any answer is entirely opinion. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Sep 2, 2023 at 2:21

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Why would it incite a rebellion. Feudalism was fine with most people living under it for nearly 600 years and didn't go out with a bang but a whimper as a combination of the plague, a switch in military from noble warriors to professional soldier class. Nobody "rebelled" against feudalism in Europe. The concept was never named as a political or economic theory at the time of its use. The word was used in the late 18th century to describe the political and economic relations of the period through a historical description as it was on its death knells (In economics, it's not uncommon for economic systems to get named much later after their adoption by society. Adam Smith was one of the first people to use "Feudalism" to refer to the economic system in his famous work "The Wealth of Nations" which described modern Capitalism. Ironically, Smith did not coin the phrase Capitalism. That honor goes to Karl Marx (In "Das Kapital").

Revolutions are dangerous things for the people supporting them, because they ultimately end with suppression, especially if violence is used as a means to cause such a revolution. No revolution started on a full stomach. That is to say if people are by and large enjoying their life, have their needs met (food, water, shelter, medicine) and a few luxury desires fulfilled, nobody cares about the flaws in the system. So long as the job puts food on the table and some extra cash to go watch the local sports ball game, the system works. It's when the system fails to manage changing conditions that people start getting upset and willing to risk their lives because the current system can no longer provide the creature comforts. Loyalty to any system of governance relies on the system providing incentive to be loyal.

To give some historical examples, The U.S. Revolution, The French Revolution, and the Soviet Revolution all resulted from the fact that the current government situation was growing increasingly intolerable to the masses governed by it. In the U.S. Revolution, the Colonial Governments were largely autonomous from the British Parliament but were forced to pay taxes for a war they never had any say in starting, and were stripped of their self-governance when they tried to protest this. In the French Revolution, the inability to increase (and collect) taxes lead to the devaluing of coinage, which resulted in inflation and increased food prices beyond the means of much of the people to pay and the government's mismanagement of the crisis resulted. The Russian Revolution resulted when the inept management of the Empire by the Tsar lead to World War I create high food prices due to inflation of the Ruble along with the high cost of human lives on the Front, being managed by a man who was totally inept at all matters of War. In all cases, those revolting were not certain of the government citation that would arise from the Revolution... but it was worth the gamble that something would change dramatically when the dust settled. And in all cases, the people who did not take part were those who were still benefiting... but those numbers were now in the minority.

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    $\begingroup$ Nobody "rebelled" against feudalism in Europe.... um... you may want to rethink that wording. Peasant rebellions were very very frequent. NOT successful, mind you. But frequent. $\endgroup$
    – user4239
    Sep 2, 2023 at 1:05
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Perhaps 'yes and yes.'

Historically, feudalism was reasonably stable during a period when the main economic activity was agriculture, the main capital asset was real estate, and little changed from generation to generation. Things changed when merchants and industrialists started to overshadow the old agricultural landholding classes and demanded political power. They also changed when kings insisted on absolutist rule over their country, enabled by an administration on the same principles as the large trading houses (bureaucracy, monetarized economy, and so on).

Perhaps you can invent a situation where the feudal nobility manages to 'occupy' trade and indutry as well as land. So the planetary rulers grant not just land but also monopolies or the exploitation of patents to their vassals. There would still need to be a way to co-opt capable commoners into the nobility, both to make use of their skills and to stop them from becoming revolutionaries. But this situation would be unstable if rise-by-merit remains an exception, and also ossified enough to have severe economic drawbacks.

For a 'proper' feudal system, there are not just marquesses and earls. On the scale of a planet, you might have kings, dukes, earls, barons, knights, and perhaps levels in between. Each temporarily loans part of his or her fief to followers in exchange for personal loyalty and support, and the administration of that sub-fief. In theory, it ends with the death of the vassal, and giving the same fief to the same family is not a given. But then all the vassals, together, tend to be more powerful than the liege. If the giving and taking of fiefs seems capricious, there will be a revolt.

Say the agreement between the serf and the local squire, handed down over generations, is 20 man-days during planing season, 20 man-days during harvest, and certain lifestock every year. Works nicely as long as the squire is planting his or her own fields with crops, and eating the meat. But what if the squire wants to set up a factory? The serfs owe labor only during the enumerated times of the year, not year-round on a staggered schedule ...

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It doesn't look like feudalism.

Under feudalism king gave lords territory to control in exchange for protection of this territory and military support in case he needs it. Nobles were military aristocrats. Their main purpose was not to keep the population in submission but to prepare for and participate in king's wars. Kings were not doing it because they wanted to share power and money, it was the only practical way to control the kingdom.

It doesn't make much sense for a state spanning multiple planets. They have modern communication equipment, bureaucracy can control the population. It is easier to keep population content than to force something upon it. The state doesn't need "caltrops", it needs space forces. They have to be centralized - it is cheaper, safer and more efficient than relying on marquises.

Feudal hierarchy just doesn't make much sense at this point of development. It just gobbles resources and creates unnecessary problems.

"The mode of production determines the social, political, and cultural context of a society." (c) Karl Marx.

"This system, just like Earth feudalism, is very much slanted to the rich" - late capitalism is very much slanted to the rich, US is not revolting. People are convinced that capitalism is normal and natural, it all it takes to make them completely ignore their own economic interests. That, and food stamps.

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  • $\begingroup$ Your wrong communication across worlds even with modern tec would be extremely difficult to impossible. So you would need a feudal type structure rather then centralization. $\endgroup$ Sep 1, 2023 at 23:17
  • $\begingroup$ Unified Intergalactic League exists without feudalism, ergo "modern" communication is much more modern than what we have. The level of communication you are talking about implies de facto independence of each world. And decentralisation is very different from feudalism - I mentioned why. $\endgroup$
    – D'Monlord
    Sep 2, 2023 at 9:33
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Short answer yes. Communication across worlds is probably difficult in space empire especially a galaxy spanning one. So some sort of feudalism or decentralization makes sense.

As for a rebellion Why?

Yes it's slated to the rich but so is every society ever. There is no society where the poor is in charge or else they wouldn't be poor.

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