Suppose that everyone can fly.
Specifically, at least since prehistory, all humans have a sort of telekinesis which allows them to construct and empower arbitrarily shaped permanent or temporary structures — for this question, particularly including adequately-sized wings.
The energy required for this motion is not magically available (conservation of energy is as we know it); it can be obtained from either the metabolism of the person or from outside sources (often analogously to various types of modern electric power plants), and in either case stored indefinitely for later use.
Other applications of this ability include creating tools and making oneself much stronger and harder to injure. I've worked out the physical rules and consequences of this system in some detail. The design problem I need help with is much fuzzier:
What are the implications for government and society? How do people organize?
Intermediate thoughts so far:
- It is much easier to travel, with all of one's possessions — but you still need to buy/obtain a “plane ticket's worth” of energy to do it.
- Fewer possessions are necessary as much of the tools of everyday living (e.g. most of the non-food contents of a kitchen) can be improvised.
- It is harder to prevent or even observe movement across a border, particularly before relevant sensor/information technology (radar, radio, computers, etc) have been invented.† That is, unless you decide to erect a wall and roof across your entire territory — which is in fact feasible, but still quite a lot of effort, and of course has effects on the interior climate.
- Specific locations are still important even if it were the case that most people are nomadic: farms require land, power plants (other than solar) require their particular natural resources, and of course everyone needs clean fresh water.
- I've spoken of flight, but travel via roads is also easier in the same ways. It's just less of a significant change since roads are obvious fixed routes.
I'm primarily interested in plausible structures of typical governments and other social structures in this world, and also what kinds of “routine problems” might arise — the sort of thing that everyone agrees is bad but people don't coordinate enough to fix once and for all.
Additional constraints and notes:
† In the time period of interest, modern-to-us information technology has been invented — you can assume that almost everyone has free wireless Internet access, loosely speaking, and this of course can result in noteworthy social change.
No dystopias, please. No Gritty Realism. If it's less nice (on average) than reality, then that's not the tone I'm looking for.
More on “arbitrarily shaped structures” — you need enough of suitable materials; you have a sense of touch/temperature throughout the whole thing if you want; and if the material is homogeneous (e.g. glass, metal, plastic) or you don't care about having mush when you're done, then you can mentally reshape it, fine detail requiring either time or both skill and concentration.
(clarifying questions welcome)