Let’s consider the typical setting of 20th-century science fiction writers, both Western and Communist. Namely:
- Transportation within planets is cheap, quick, and is not significantly restricted;
- Transportation between planets (in vicinity of the same star) is ubiquitous and (in civilized systems at peace) relatively safe;
- Interstellar travel is possible, although they are expensive or dangerous, usually both to some extent, in any case significantly more difficult than circumstellar travels;
- There exist several (possibly many) essentially different civilized races living in different physical conditions.
Which political structure can be sufficiently stable in such conditions? Very likely, a typical developed planet or other astronomical object will not have significant pieces belonging to more than one sovereign state (that does not preclude some states to extend authority to several planets), and, in most situations in outer space, a state will maintain its sovereignty over its spaceships. I.e., a situation similar to modern Earth with planets/moons instead of islands (divided planets will become an anomalous condition), and spaceships instead of vessels.
On one hand, different planets in a stellar system typically have different physical conditions (most notable, temperature), and we can expect that their populace will differ (remember several civilized races) as well, both biologically and culturally. On another hand, some central authorities will probably exist in circumstellar spaces. But how the two could be related in cases of heterogeneous populace in vicinity of one star? Some possible formations are:
- A violent agent that is stronger economically or militarily, or enjoys an external (interstellar) support, subjugates its neighbourhood, depriving planets of any external sovereignty, and (in case of a victorious government) possibly annexes and colonizes them outright.
- Some combination of planetary (domestic) sovereignty and a centralized “interstellar superpower” controlling outer space and space trade, likely by space navy, but restraining from conquest and extortion of developed planets in its space (think various “great unions of planets” in fiction).
- A confederacy of racially diverse and economically rivalling states seeking primarily to deter wars, to protect their common outer space from piracy and invaders, and to resist a blatant external interference in general (think Iroquois League, with a correction for racial diversity).
- An advanced interstellar system of relations, based on numerous treaties, maintains a complicated political balance and legal space in a large volume of physical space (along the lines of United Nations and Earth’s superpowers, or other known systems of international relations).
- A huge democracy effects a (nominally) undivided sovereignty over a large volume of space.
- An oligarchy of industrial or merchant corporations, with their space fleets, suppresses and subordinates weak territorial- and/or racial-based governments (popular or else).
- Some novel form of government based on a powerful conscious agent: specially designed governing computer (likely distributed), collective consciousness of individuals, or some mental power we now can’t explicate. Makes the problem of “sovereignty” moot.
- No stable structure at all: persistent wars, coups, rebellions, alliances and infightings, ever expanding and fragmenting empires and dictatorships.
Please, give assessments of my types of formations from different perspectives: humanistic, liberal, Realpolitik, and economical. Which transition scenarios between different formations can be envisaged? Which scenarios of clashes between such formations (both of similar or dissimilar structure) will be plausible?