I am designing a world where, after several groups convince others to join their economic terms with negotiation and non-violence, they then decide to create a confederacy. At this state they control about 0.5% of the planet. From this point on, they begin to rapidly expand, converting tribes, villages and towns. Considering they don't take anyone by force, and assuming that close to the entire world (save for a kingdom that has been expanding unnoticed who will not agree to the bargain) agrees with their bargaining, what would be a good estimate in how long that would take?

Here is a draft timeline I made on google docs. It is far from finished. It also has drawings of the world and flags: Timeline of The First Terrestrial Federation.

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    $\begingroup$ It took us 500 years to travel in time from the 1500s to the 2000s... and we still haven't yet gained control of the entire planet. ("We" being the Western European civilization. My nation was taken over in the 1800s.) $\endgroup$ – AlexP Apr 10 '17 at 0:57
  • $\begingroup$ I feel like there are too many factors that will have bearing on this for me to be able to answer it--and if all of them were answered, in detail, this would become too story-based...still let's use religion as an analogy. $\endgroup$ – Erin Thursby Apr 10 '17 at 2:11
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    $\begingroup$ How good of negotiators are they, and what do you define as "control?" Soft control on a global scale like that has never been accomplished by a named entity in real life, as AlexP mentioned, so I'd start with a lower bound of 500 years, and go from there. Of course, at the end of that they'll no longer have a tech level of the 1500s... $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Apr 10 '17 at 2:44
  • $\begingroup$ Its probably impossible since some of those you trade with will take the more advanced tools you produce and try to wage war with them, at which point you either engage them or get conquered. The "bargain" is meaningless if I can follow it and gain power until I decide I am strong enough to take you then ignore it. Even the UN recognizes the need for force at some point. $\endgroup$ – John Apr 10 '17 at 3:28
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP I wouldn't be so sure. You just need to shift your view point from political control to goods control. For example Coca-Cola and Nestle have pretty good control over entire planet. $\endgroup$ – SZCZERZO KŁY Apr 10 '17 at 8:21

Taking a stab at this even though I feel as though there are too many unknowns to answer it correctly. I could not access your link. I can suggest two different models which might get you started on answering the question and what kind of roadblock might stop or prevent--or cause troops to be called in.

First, what exactly does this "confederacy" control? If they are just spreading an ideology and have no real power, that's one thing, but if they are a trade group, that's another. If they "convert" a town which answers to a lord, does that mean the town no longer pays taxes or tribute to that lord? What happens to the people in power ABOVE the mayors and citizens they convert? In the 1500s, everyone paid out to everyone else. It is unrealistic to believe that no one would have noticed. If it in ANY WAY interferes with the flow of money into the pockets of those in power anywhere--troops will be called and there's no way it ends peacefully.

What do you consider "World-wide"? Exploration and other things will mean a culture clash for tribes that might not even think in the same terms as your confederacy. "global empires" that we've had have included Genghis Khan and Alexander the Great. And neither could hold it together for long. Rome is as close as we have come, so I suggest you take a look at their model--allow local custom insofar as it doesn't interfere with tax collection, and be there with military if the need arises.

If this doesn't involve money, AT ALL, in any way, and instead is about a philosophy and cooperation, consider using religion as your model. Christian religion is a good place to start. Notice that it hasn't taken over the world because competing religions and philosophies take hold in different places.

Your confederacy must change to fit the times, and be based on simple, easy to understand principles If an organization like this, which doesn't even really have nationalism going for it, is to survive for hundreds or even thousands of years to take over the whole planet, well...it's going to have to be adaptable and have very easy tenants which can be passed on.

Based on the spread of religion and cultures that I have seen here on earth, nothing actually EVER HAS taken over the whole planet in this way. The closest that I can think of is actually organized religion, but only if you're just talking Europe. It's pretty amazing that Christianity was all over Europe and the flippin' Pope at one point, had power over all the Kings because of the threat of excommunication. This happened by, oh 1300-1400, at the latest and, holy heck, that took what looks like about 1400 years from the crucifixion. Unfortunately, that's the KNOWN world, and that power has been waning.

Problematically you have to discover and conquer things before you can spread your culture effectively...

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for this constructive criticism. I knew there would be a ton left out to explain in this answer and the link i provided. $\endgroup$ – Bco Apr 10 '17 at 2:40
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    $\begingroup$ Science and reason as a whole might fit the description. In which case it hasn't managed it in ~500 years, although it has come closer than anything else, it might manage it after another 500 years. Something that is really easy to demonstrate working helps a lot. $\endgroup$ – John Apr 10 '17 at 3:34
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    $\begingroup$ Another real-world corollary to the question is the spread of agriculture and sedentary societies. As with other examples, it still isn't 100% dominant across the world even today, but it has been mostly dominant for a loooong time (and it probably isn't realistic from a storytelling standpoint for any one practice or ideology to become 100% dominant). Agriculture took at least several thousand years to become widespread across the globe. $\endgroup$ – creeon Apr 10 '17 at 3:56
  • $\begingroup$ "Christian religion is a good place to start." I disagree (and religion as a whole is probably a bad place to start). Look no further than to how the Americas were colonized (taken over) by the Europeans. Sure, religion might not have been the biggest factor in how that played out, but you'd be hard pressed to say that the Christian religion made it better. Or for that matter just look at how Christians have treated other Christians historically, with Protestans vs Catholics being a good example. Turns out that historically, the Christian "love thy neighbor" hasn't always been adhered to. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Apr 10 '17 at 6:42
  • $\begingroup$ Christianity was indeed all over Europe, except of course where it was replaced by Islam, e.g., European Turkey, Albania, Bosnia. The Pope never held sway over all of Europe -- the eastern half of the continent (Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece) is/was Orthodox. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Apr 10 '17 at 8:28

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