According to the Pendragon wiki:

Blok began as a small retail store in the city of Rune, seven generations before Bobby Pendragon was born. Its business strategy was to sell its inventory at such low prices that it would quickly outsell its competition. At first the store did poorly, but eventually people began to turn away from other retail stores in favor of Blok's low prices. The store began to raise its prices slightly, though it always kept its prices far lower than any of its competitors. People couldn't resist the low prices, and business was booming.

As Blok grew, it began to move into other industries, starting with manufacturing and design. Blok created its products as quickly and cheaply as possible so as to ensure that it could make a profit and still sell its merchandise at low prices. Later, the corporation began to build schools and hospitals, moving on to more business sectors as it dominated the ones it already worked in.

Before long, Blok faced the challenge of making sure that nobody noticed their rapid takeover of the territory. Their answer was to keep people uninspired and uneducated. Blok schools no longer taught the history of Quillan, and records of past events were gradually erased. Blok even created a monopoly on art, making all sculptures and paintings mass-produced and uninteresting so as not to challenge the minds of their customers.

Gradually, as Blok became the most powerful employer on Quillan, the company began to change its policies. Blok started to mark up its prices and cut its wages and employee benefits. People couldn't do anything about this, because a position with Blok had become the only secure job left on the territory.

Once Blok had established a total monopoly of all economic activity in its country, it began to expand all over Quillan, offering employment in other countries, and spreading its influence far and wide. Before long, Blok was the sole business on Quillan, and controlled all the money and power on the territory.

Cool, right? After I first read this book, I wondered about whether this could actually work in a modern society. Obviously, we have anti-monopoly laws for exactly this reason. For the sake of this hypothetical situation, imagine that there are no anti-monopoly laws, and that this company would originate in a poor, African country, like Somalia or Djibouti. Could this company subtly take over a poor sovereign state over the course of maybe 250 years? Would people notice?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Usually it is the other way around. The country sees the potential for massive wealth within its boarders and creates a monopoly government owned company to exploit it. See the government owned oil companies in Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, the oil barons of Russia or the host of government controlled companies in China. $\endgroup$ Jan 26, 2016 at 23:38
  • $\begingroup$ A company with total control of the economy is hardly going to be small. $\endgroup$
    – Oldcat
    Jan 27, 2016 at 1:34
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    $\begingroup$ How did the company raise funds to buy all this stuff they were selling so cheaply? $\endgroup$
    – Laurence
    Dec 23, 2016 at 14:32

2 Answers 2


Yes, in theory they could, the problem is that someone else is likely to beat them to it.

If you remove all monopoly laws and restrictions, not just one company is going to see the opportunity, making the chances for success small. Also, someone starting from scratch would have a hard time getting up to the same level as the already existing companies, as they would squeeze them out with their new monopoly.

Even today, single companies or groups of people with common economical interests has a large influence on politics, or are even governing the country, many places in the world.

The scenario is not unlikely, it is often the case.

In a rapidly growing branch of the economy, for example related to new technology, a company can earn a gigantic fortune in a short time. Historically, oil and the two World Wars have created very powerful corporations.

Would people notice? Sure, some people would. Let them yell, dictatorships have proven to be a pretty stable form of government through the history.

  • $\begingroup$ great answer! would it take them less than 250 years? maybe in just 40 or 50, they could control most of the government? $\endgroup$
    – fi12
    Jan 26, 2016 at 23:17
  • $\begingroup$ @fi12 That depends, given a new part of the economy that grows fast, I believe it can be done it a few years. 250 years ago is before the French revolution, A lot of things have happened since then. A lot of changes are definitely going to happen in the future too. $\endgroup$ Jan 26, 2016 at 23:21
  • $\begingroup$ Dictatorships are generally the least stable governments, and the most easily divided and overthrown. $\endgroup$ Jan 27, 2016 at 1:09

In classical economics, absent outside factors, the establishment of a monopoly creates the conditions for its demise. Once people see above market rents being extracted for a product or service, they will immediately rush in and attempt to take part of that business and share of the rents. As more people enter the market as suppliers, demand is satisfied and prices come down.

Most monopolies that do exist are there because of, rather than despite governments. In some cases, where infrastructure costs are extremely high but individual benefits are relatively low, it make sense for a government monopoly, such as water or sewer systems. Small, disconnected systems will be inordinately expensive, and people will not get the benefits without paying too great of a price (needed to amortize the high costs), and the State is also left with the bill for healthcare or the effects of having no healthcare system as disease takes its toll on the population.

Other government monopolies are not so obvious, or indeed need not exist. The breakup of the Bell telephone networks in the 1980's is an example, the infrastructure can support multiple carriers. Cellular and internet services are in the same situation. What often happens here is the carriers use lobby power on local and national level politicians to suppress competition. This is usually in the form of raising regulatory conditions to create entry barriers for people and companies with insufficient capital.

So in theory, the story could take place as described, so long as the company is busy using it's influence with the political structure to bar outside entry into their markets. In the real world, this sort of situation will create a series of grey and black markets running in the background to supply goods and services that the monopoly provider cannot or will not. In socialist nations like the former Soviet Union, this became a highly developed art form, but even in nations like Canada, a flourishing underground economy exists to circumvent government monopolies on such products as liquor and tobacco.

  • $\begingroup$ For much the same reason that a monopoly contains the seeds for its own demise, a planned, centrally-managed economy (such as the kind of Total Country Productivity Control Blok described by the OP) will contain a bunch of inefficiencies that lead to the economy getting gradually less efficient. Blok's shooting itself in the foot, really. $\endgroup$
    – user867
    Jan 27, 2016 at 6:41

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