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Context:
In my world, society has progressed to 2050-ish, a new nation rose on Greenland led by an aristocratic community called the "Grey".

Numbering at 1000 or so, the grey is a group of highly intelligent, genetically enhanced (with slight improvement in brain power and longevity) religious devotees. Details about their religion is unimportant, but it is not at odds with science/progress, and its overall effect is that, among true believers, this religion inspires a sense of duty, and gives the Grey a condescending attitude towards nearly all outsiders, seeing them as hedonistic, wasteful primitives.

Also, the Grey exercise their power by collecting a small percentage of national tax (which they share among themselves from a common pool), directly controlling the army and hold veto rights over the more "normal" political activity performed by a mostly democratic government.

Problem:
When the Grey replaces dead members, they prefer using their own children (which they produce with calculated care) however, it is possible that the children they raise are not as religious as their parents or are unwilling to act as rulers. This means that either many children have to be produced so that some may suffice for future leadership, and it also generates the problem with the under-performing children, who may become a factor of instability.

If it is necessary to replenish the Grey's members by assimilating outsiders, the group may compromise its ideological/genetic purity and the sense of separation from the rest. It is also difficult to test the new members for their loyalty, more specifically, it's difficult to tell whether the new members are truly assimilated with the Grey's ideology or simply pretending to be so as to secure power.

Proposed solution:
I am thinking that culling the Grey's own children for sufficient replacement will work, and the under-performing children can be put in a sort of "pacified confinement" which is equivalent to a highly comfortable prison where the inmates are stripped of all power and cut-off from communication with the outside world.

Nevertheless, I am not confident that this will completely dispel the inmates' capacity as factors of instability, and perhaps a disproportionate number of Grey's children will voluntarily choose this lifestyle, forming a significant burden on the Grey.

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    $\begingroup$ Well thought out, I'll grant you that. Not sure how to ensure the quality you seek. Perhaps a meritocracy within the ranks? "To succeed me, you must surpass me. Failure is a death sentence." It would put the necessary fire under their butts, so to speak. $\endgroup$ – Fayth85 Jun 3 '17 at 23:54
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    $\begingroup$ If the society lacks upward/downward mobility, it risks becoming politically unstable and overthrown. One of the many reasons for the French Revolution was that smart and rich (but lower-class) merchants got tired of bowing to (hereditary, upper-class) fools. Upward/downward mobility is also a much more humane solution that an upper-class eugenics program. Who wants to kill their own children instead of sending them off to become a merchant or artisan? And how many upper-class parents will simply fake the child's death while secretly fostering them out...to keep their souls? $\endgroup$ – user535733 Jun 3 '17 at 23:57
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    $\begingroup$ How long lived are they? As to children not being ideology pure as their parents why wouldn't they be? They were raised in a closed society, no to little outside influences. Think modern times and many faith based societies produce little worshipers in droves. USA, not so much. Although more of late it would appear. :-/ 1K is barely sufficient for genetic survival, so genetic engineering might be critical. $\endgroup$ – dcy665 Jun 4 '17 at 0:00
  • $\begingroup$ Captive breeding program? Works with polar bears… $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Jun 4 '17 at 1:36
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    $\begingroup$ @user535733 your comment reminds me of an interesting speculative fiction I read about first contact with aliens. This first inquiry received (when translated) was "Hello! We are [alien race]. Do you eat babies too?" Essentially, the evolutionary factors of this civilization meant that the regularly had to engage in culling of their broodlings to keep the population in check. Eating babies became shorthand for being beneficent and self sacrificing for the good of the whole. No reason these Grey might not develop a similar set of behaviors. $\endgroup$ – Isaac Kotlicky Jun 5 '17 at 0:57
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Short version of solution : Mid Ranking Management.

Long version : lots of things I don't like.

In my world, society has progressed to 2050-ish, a new nation rose on Greenland led by an aristocratic community called the "Grey".

Or something more in keeping with the national language and culture, perhaps. "The Grey" seems a rather uninspiring name for a group leading anyone. It conveys no meaning or association with any historically or socially important ideal. It may be the sort of name an author might pick, but it's not going to help get you to power and at some point you have to start not in power and rise to power.

"The Grey" is a dark name and would convey, if anything, a sense that they might be dangerous. It's not an accident that groups tend to go for names like "New Dawn", "Shining Path and so on. Positive spin.

Rethink the name.

Numbering at 1000 or so

So barely enough to populate even the most senior positions in an administration.

, the grey is a group of highly intelligent

In what way ?

Intelligence can take many forms and if they're just randomly intelligent and individual members can funnel their energies into medicine, art, music, literature, games, programming, engineering and so on, that won't really give you many of the 1000 who are actually skilled at the skills of politics and economics that they'll actually desperately need as a small group to survive.

, genetically enhanced (with slight improvement in brain power and longevity)

Slight ? So if I concentrate hard I can out think them ? So the top 1% of the million or more population can match them or better them ?

They'd better be well beyond "slight".

Longevity isn't much use if you're a minority group that can find itself shot against a wall in a revolution.

So you want long lived individuals or a long lived clan ?

religious devotees.

Dogma rears it head.

Dogma is a weakness. Any form of religion is, by definition, a factor that will be considered reactionary by people outside that religion.

All a religion does is make it focus for resentment. "Why are we being led by this minority ?" is going to be followed, eventually by "Hang the Bar Stewards !". History is pretty clear on this point.

If you have a religion and you want to hold power, it must be a religion the ordinary populace are comfortable with.

Which leads us to ...

Details about their religion is unimportant,

Yes, they are. Details of a practically minute nature are responsible for some of the bloodiest and most ruthlessly pursued wars in history. The devil is in the detail.

but it is not at odds with science/progress,

It must be. Religion requires belief without evidence. There will always be a point where this clashes with science, which require no belief unless there's evidence.

There will always be a point of contention, usually many, between these two fundamentally different outlooks.

and its overall effect is that, among true believers,

Question : how do you tell a true believer from someone who just claims they are ? Answer : tell them you'll spare the ones who relinquish their faith and burn the believers are the stake.

A system, I might add, which has been used extensively by humans and, hard as it is to believe, the true believers often will go to the stake and you're left with the cynics to feed.

Another way of viewing this is Who Polices The Police ? Who says you're a true believer and how do you prove it ?

this religion inspires a sense of duty,

One man's duty is another man's holocaust. Dogma is a problem and, again, who decides what's duty and what's unworthy personal obsession ?

and gives the Grey a condescending attitude towards nearly all outsiders, seeing them as hedonistic, wasteful primitives.

Surely they'd start seeing each other that way as well ?

Normal greed, envy, lust and all those other human emotions will lead you to look at not just your servant, but your master, as a waste of space you could be using better. :-)

Also, the Grey exercise their power by collecting a small percentage of national tax (which they share among themselves from a common pool),

Bet that's popular with the vast majority they depend on to not rush teh palace gates !

directly controlling the army

1000 people don't control an army. They control, at best, 1000 people.

The army will be the de facto rulers and, as history proves, if you depend on the army to keep you in power, you're just a moving target.

Something other than a terrible name and a condescending manner is going to be required to stop all these armed and highly trained people from just turning on you.

and hold veto rights over the more "normal" political activity performed by a mostly democratic government.

A mob also holds a veto right. Usually in both hands.

A minority religious caste creaming money off the top and who cannot be democratically removed is, in no way, going to successfully pass itself or it's society off as a "mostly democratic" government.

If it looks like a nobility, acts like a nobility and swims like a nobility in it's private swimming pool, it's a nobility.

When the Grey replaces dead members, they prefer using their own children (which they produce with calculated care) however, it is possible that the children they raise are not as religious as their parents or are unwilling to act as rulers.

So not produced with much calculating care at all.

This means that either many children have to be produced so that some may suffice for future leadership, and it also generates the problem with the under-performing children, who may become a factor of instability.

Actually just the ambition of the ones being groomed for future leadership is sufficient to create a lot more instability than anything else.

The ones who don't have ambition and under-perform are, by definition, no threat at all to the ones who have it and do perform.

They are a non-problem who'll be happy to get by on a basic "better than average" job with enough trappings of power to not need real power. Perfect mid ranking managers could hardly be described better.

If it is necessary to replenish the Grey's members by assimilating outsiders, the group may compromise its ideological/genetic purity and the sense of separation from the rest.

That'd be the same sense of separation that will find them waiting for execution after the revolution, I take it. :-)

It is also difficult to test the new members for their loyalty, more specifically, it's difficult to tell whether the new members are truly assimilated with the Grey's ideology or simply pretending to be so as to secure power.

As I've pointed out, it's just as difficult to tell what's really going on inside the mind of all these condescending, ambitious people.

It's fundamentally impossible to avoid this problem and still have any free will in a group.

Proposed solution:

There is no perfect solution.

You need a system of exams, formal and legally binding (on both sides) to test for ability, inclination and deception.

How do you test for deception : you use good interrogation methods (and that's the talking and listening type, not the idiotic buckets of water nonsense). You use detectives to check things. You use, in fact, a good Intelligence service. The exams just test technical competence and knowledge. You'd probably also test for ability to lead - check out how the military do that, because if there's one sphere of human endeavor that requires a better than average success at finding good leaders, it's the military !

I am thinking that culling the Grey's own children for sufficient replacement will work, and the under-performing children can be put in a sort of "pacified confinement" which is equivalent to a highly comfortable prison where the inmates are stripped of all power and cut-off from communication with the outside world.

I'll say this again : mid ranking managers. Practically the same thing without the weird connotation of "culling" - an unfortunate choice of word.

Nevertheless, I am not confident that this will completely dispel the inmates' capacity as factors of instability, and perhaps a disproportionate number of Grey's children will voluntarily choose this lifestyle, forming a significant burden on the Grey.

Gotta have mid ranking managers with little or no real power. Planet's full of them and while they're a nuisance and get in the way really powerful people (like engineers) they're not going to be able to form and execute any plan, either singly or in a group, that could possibly destabilize anything.

No revolution was ever started by a mid ranking manager. Well, probably.

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    $\begingroup$ Well done, just the right edge of cynicism and information. When I post a world query I will look for your comments. Possibly in several others before I post mine. $\endgroup$ – dcy665 Jun 4 '17 at 3:49
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    $\begingroup$ Mmm. I find myself agreeing with most of what you say, but then a few pesky doubts intrude. The closest analogy I can see in the real world is Saudi Arabia. Run by a large ruling family, bound by religion, and hits most of the buttons you object to, but seems (at least in the short term) fairly stable. $\endgroup$ – WhatRoughBeast Jun 4 '17 at 15:55
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    $\begingroup$ Arabia : Religion - not objected to by population. Basis - long cultural history forms an anchor for population loyalty. Power yielded by spreading the wealth and bribes. Regionally can stay in power because alternatives are worse. Family and extended clan a major support for a feudal system. Army support because the alternative doesn't work well and social structure forms a barrier to opposition. External threats (e.g. Israel, ISIS) actually help a sense of loyalty. Sufficient infighting in royalty to give impression of variety of choice. $\endgroup$ – StephenG Jun 4 '17 at 16:25
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    $\begingroup$ Religion require that you believe in a God without proof (i.e. scientific proof) and requires you accept without questioning some ideas. It's impossible to completely reconcile this with a philosophy that requires you question everything, even the stuff you've already got substantial experimental proof of, and seek experimental proof of your theories. $\endgroup$ – StephenG Jun 4 '17 at 17:06
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    $\begingroup$ No. I'm suggesting you can't take up a position of any kind unless you can demonstrate you have acquired the necessary technical competence. E.g. the head of engineering should be an engineer with substantial practical field experience as one. The same for lawyers, accountants, medical, transport (a former bus driver in charge of transport sounds sensible to me ! :-)). This should be required legally - no caste membership loophole ! This creates a reason why people should respect their leaders - they will actually know what they're talking about and not jsut be political appointees. $\endgroup$ – StephenG Jun 5 '17 at 15:32
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Follow the model of the Hutterites.

They are in many ways like your Grey: a community (a communistic community!) of religious devotees who marry among themselves, and who are possessed with a sense of purpose.

Hutterites have lots of children. Children are baptized into the church. Not all of them are. Some might not want to. Some don't make the cut. They do not have some penal colony for children of Hutterites who do not become part of the church. These kids grow up to be people outside the church: Catholics, or agnostics, or whatever they want to be.

The Grey can do the same as the Hutterites. They have lots of kids. Pay attention to them. Those who are willing and who make the cut can be Grey. The other kids are just regular people. I am sure the population of Greenland is not only the 1000 Grey. There are probably lots of other people doing the things people do. The Grey kids who grow up to be not Grey just mix in with the regular population.

From http://www.hutterites.org

When young people feel ready to make a commitment to baptism, they meet with the senior minister and make a formal request. The minister brings this request to the whole brotherhood and if there are no objections, they are accepted for a probation period. Every Sunday afternoon for 6 to 7 weeks, the baptismal candidates visit each of the witness brothers who provides spiritual and religious teachings ranging in length from ten minutes to over an hour. Hutterites accept all 12 points of the Apostle’s Creed as Truth. All members publicly declare their belief in The Apostle’s Creed upon baptism.

Can a non-Hutterite join a Hutterite colony A question that is often asked is whether or not an outsider can join a Hutterite colony. It has happened that outsiders or non-Hutterites join a Hutterite colony, but it is quite rare. Few Hutterite colony are open to outsider joining, but there are a handful who would consider it, depending on the candidate and the willingness of the candidate to adopt to the Hutterian norms. Over the year’s many people have attempted to become full members of the Hutterite community, but haven’t been successful for a variety of reasons.

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  • $\begingroup$ Good use of a real world counterpart to the question's fictional theocracy. Plus one. $\endgroup$ – a4android Jun 4 '17 at 6:27
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StephenG was quite comprehensive; and I agree. So let me get more prescriptive:

Your strategy is wrong. Your Grey are not being very intelligent if they give themselves all the perks of power as an elite ruling class, that is a recipe (and always has been) for the underclass to revolt out of resentment and slaughter them, assassinate them or their children, particularly when large numbers of the underclass have nothing to lose. Such as at times of great poverty, failed crops or other economic collapse.

Everyone can be overthrown by sufficient force; there is simply no insurance against it. The best fighter on the planet cannot dodge a thousand bullets (or knives or spears). Your Greys must rule by terror (e.g. Hussein, Ghadafi), or rule by love; meaning there are much better ways to make money and have power than being a member of the government.

If you want to filter out opportunists, you must find ways to eliminate monetary reward, so the only rewards are the satisfaction of knowing you have helped others. Who would do that? Altruists. What if a Grey child must take an irreversible vow of average income in order to join the government? They get the average income of their citizens, for life, period. Any more than that due to any reason whatsoever must go to charity, they have no access to their pre-existing property or wealth for life, such pre-existing property or wealth will not increase in value (or all increases will be donated to charities); any cheating is a death sentence; there is zero upward mobility, in money or property, if you choose to enter government. The Greys ensure you will live the average life, period.

To counter megalomania (power hungry, not money or property hungry), use WL Gore corporation's inverted management. Here is a slightly modified version of that:

First, every new Grey must start at the bottom, on a one year probation.

In that time they must apprentice to four task teams in government (a task team being 1 to 20 individuals working on a specific thing); the first is chosen by the candidate, each subsequent one is chosen by the team they just finished with (after 3 months); although the team may consider the candidate's stated preferences for type of work.

At the end of the year, all members of the teams must vote on whether to accept the apprentice or not; all four teams must declare them suitable, within each team 2/3 of members (rounded up) must declare them suitable.

If they do, the lifelong vow of average income begins, with ceremony: This is like joining the military, certain transgressions or betrayals can literally cost your life.

On to countering megalomania: The inverted management idea is that every level of management is chosen by their underlings, and their position can be revoked at any time by their underlings. The first level managers similarly choose amongst themselves for their boss, etc, all the way up.

So, say we manage 1000 Greys by groups of 10: 10 greys choose a group manager; resulting in 100 group managers. These organize in groups of 10, and choose 10 section managers (over 100 Greys each). These 10 section managers elect a President. If at any time they want to overrule a Presidential decision, they can; or they can demote the President back to their own ranks and put somebody else in charge.

Only the level beneath a manager can demote a manager.

To adjust this slightly to address the costs of management; Low level groups are actually self-organized in groups of about 12 to do the work of 10. When they elect a boss (A), it is one of them; If they pull their boss back into their ranks; they put someone else there. Now if their boss (A) is then elected to the next management layer up: They elect a new boss, B, and hire a new employee (or recruit one from another team with more than they need). If boss (A) is ever pulled back from an upper level, he falls all the way back to his original, no-boss-at-all level. He can rejoin his original team, or some other team. If no team will have him, and presuming he has not committed any crime, then he is without work. But he still gets paid.

There is a small risk of free-riders in this system; presumably they would be rooted out by the 1-year probation period by one of the four teams that vetted each candidate. But there is little risk of megalomaniacs getting very far, and little risk of corruption due to the limitations on income: The other Greys in the government that are working will ensure that is strictly enforced. You have altruists doing this work because they want to help people, and they don't get any special rewards for doing it.

The vast majority of actual humans are not altruistic to the extent of giving up all future possibility of wealth, and making themselves permanently subordinate to the collective. The Citizens don't want this job; it would be like being jealous of garbage collectors being paid an average wage. A small percentage of citizens might feel that way, but not enough to overthrow the system.

If it is religion that motivates the Grey, fine: The restrictions on what it costs them to help people ensures their religious motivation is not a pretense to cover for self enrichment or satisfying their hunger for power.

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  • $\begingroup$ I like this idea, though there is something you don't seem to have covered which may be a negative (though possibly a positive, depending on how you look at it). If the Grey's get the average income of the nation they 'rule' then it is to their benefit to increase this average to increase their own income. This could be seen as a reward for their altruism (make life better for everyone and your life gets better too) but also a possible in for corruption or power seeking. $\endgroup$ – adaliabooks Jun 5 '17 at 9:32
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    $\begingroup$ @adaliabooks IMO only a few people that need to find fault with everything would feel that way; and more likely they'd attack the "paid for life" aspect: Perfect for slackers! But the point isn't to make the government worker a slave --- It is to make the job an appallingly unattractive prospect for anybody corruptible by greed or power, but not so for altruists, resulting in a very high concentration of altruists. And if non-altruists do make it past all filters; a way for the altruists to sideline them and ensure they do no harm to society. A small price to pay for a servant government. $\endgroup$ – Amadeus-Reinstate-Monica Jun 5 '17 at 10:22
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A religious order of aristocrats would educate their children in a strict way that encourages memorization and conformity. People need two things to be happy: security and love. Deprived the children of parental contact and have them treated warmly by their care-givers only when they follow "the rules". Have the care-givers isolate a child who fails to meet expectations. Allow only the religious doctrine which they are being thought to provide comfort and hope.

Children of inattentive or distant parents grow to seek approval of authority figures or rebel. Those that rebel would do so by the time puberty sets in and could be culled. This would not be a problem if they are never allowed to bond with their parents and vice versa. Since the child has been taken at a young age if not at birth, the parents would simply chose to believe that one of the successful children was theirs and refuse to admit that their genes could have produced one of the bad eggs. Once grown and given social standing and influence, the chances of one of them questioning the status quo would be negligible.

The real problem of socially engineering a caste of people with such rigid prerequisites is that the greys would all lack empathy and social skills. Beyond the completion of their necessary duties, they would be hedonistic robots with an unbalanced view of self. Spoiler (you would just be copying the Vatican and the religious education of the clergy in the middle ages).

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I would divide the country into three groups:

  1. The Grey.
  2. The military/police.
  3. Everyone else.

Children of the Grey become officers in the military or the police. Children of current members of the military or the police may become officers as well, although most would stay in the ranks. Officers are expected to exemplify the ascetic nature of the Grey.

Everyone else can join the military or the police but few slots are available.

When a member of the Grey dies, one of the officers is chosen as a replacement. This might be a child of the Grey, of an officer, or of someone from the ranks.

This keeps the Grey on top. It gives them strong roots in the military and police. It allows for merit-based promotion. It does not allow for quick promotion, such that someone would have to live the ascetic lifestyle for years to reach the Grey. This would be hard for someone to fake for that length of time, particularly as their schooling would also have been monitored by the Grey. So a non-believer would likely be dismissed early.

People in the everyone else category can not themselves join the Grey. They can only join the military or police ranks. Their children can potentially join the Grey.

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So, what you want is the English house of Lords. Those people are not genetically engineered and they still like to live the posh life and get privilege because their grand-grandx24grandfather 600 years ago had a dinner with a king.

Of course, from time to time there is one person who likes to live a common life. Fortunately they usually have more than one child so the emptiness is not permanent.

Oh, and also, they usually go to the army and become important figures in the command chain.

And the sense of duty is derived from a very low place. Cover your ass or communists will take your castles and palaces and money. They learned the lesson when the French part of the family was given a nice view from the guillotine.

Also your problem is only a problem if you NEED them to have exactly 657 members in the body. If you let the number be changeable to suit the able number your problem is non-existent. Source: The House of Lords.

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