July 26, 2011
When you move over to the “new world”, you may find yourself a tad disappointed by what you actually find.
In our world, the region touted as being a brand-new, fresh start for everyone to come and enjoy is still thought by many to be America and especially the United States thereof. In Avbaroy, it’s our old pal Arcania. Both of them sort of splintered off of larger conglomerates (The British Empire and the Empire of Mann, respectively), and they have a lot of similar history, but they are also very fundamentally different in that the United States separated after being the American colonies whereas Arcania was just “Arcania”.
For example, economy. When the colonies rebelled against the British and managed to eke out their independence, most of their economy was already in place. They were shipping things out, they were using coinage, all important things that allow them to very quickly create their own economic foundation. Arcania, less so, because rather than being from one conglomerate (Empire of Mann), settlers of Arcania were from everywhere without distinction, and what’s more is that they were literally the first people on the scene, there was no nation there beforehand to set anything up. Arcania had to actually build their economy from scratch, which they initially did with cheap exported goods created with magic, and their new currency quickly earned merit beyond their shores.
And after your financial infrastructure, though many would argue before is better, you have to worry about your physical infrastructure, like buildings, housing, fortifications, etc. Once again, America gets a big bonus from the Empire, because the name of the game before the revolution was expansion and colonisation, so much of the buildings needed to start out as a nation were already there. A few had been blown apart or set on fire, I’ll admit, but the majority were still useful right after Britain left. Arcania, once again, had to build from scratch, and much worse they even had to build under the constant threat of attack, because Arcania was settled right before the revolutionary war started. The initial buildings were quick, simple, and magically-reinforced wherever possible, aided in part by the natural ambient magic on the island.
Then of course there’s the big thing that draws people to these upstart young nations: Politics. In the case of the States, it was representation in government and it was less governmental control over their lives. In the case of Arcania, it was freedom to operate projects and businesses with magic without having to be a perpetual servant of the state. This leads to a situation many of us are perhaps very familiar with today: Politicians keeping election promises.
Because it’s not quite enough to make big promises when you’re trying to acquire power. Once you’ve got a big crowd of people, many of whom are rather heavily armed and trained for combat, you actually need to try and make good on those big promises without compromising on other important aspects of government. For example, you want to make sure people can practise their magic without constant government control, but at the same time you need to try and minimise the number of people shooting fireballs down main street and robbing banks. This is a perennial problem for the United States, whose constitution dictates that each citizen is allowed to own a firearm (in order to overthrow unjust government, a state that led to the American Civil War, among other causes), but as a consequence deaths by firearm are the highest rate in the world there.
Freedoms inevitably lead to dangers and it’s not so much a question of giving them out appropriately as it is balancing them with common sense; you can have your guns but only if you use them to overthrow unjust governments and not the wealthy business owner down the street, for example. Achieving this balance is often what causes young nations to collapse and fall into chaos, because the people that literally fought with their lives to get those promises fulfilled will often feel betrayed as the politics reform afterwards.
For Arcania, the early days were very difficult to manage. Not only did Arcania have the highest populational chunk of spellcrafters in the world at the time, it also had a large non-magical community. As such, they suffered from similar problems as the Empire they broke away from in trying to balance the safety and freedom of both sides.
In the end, Arcania settled for a passage of education. Everyone was tested for magical ability at a young age, and given education on how to properly utilise that ability, with harsh reprimands and punishment for where it was used improperly outside the classroom. This meant that most Arcanian spellcrafters were raised into an environment where they were well aware of the capabilities of their magic and what harm misusing it could result in causing, rather than being strictly and tightly controlled at all times. This isn’t something I’d recommend for the States however, because magical ability is readily disabled without harm by anti-magic effects, whilst guns only stop other guns by killing the people holding them.
So you may then wonder what the actual point is of moving to a brand new nation fresh off the metaphorical printing press. If indeed everything will just end up as Civilisation The Sequelening (Which I submit would be an awesome game), there isn’t all that much reason to leave the one you are already in (besides the aforementioned awesome game). Except for that second adjective: new.
In non-denominational Old Country, you may have a failure of a business, your children may be dying of sickness or famine, your economy may have just exploded (darn those econo-terrorists and their money-fueled bombs…), but in New Nationville, all of those problems don’t exist yet. Sure, they’ll crop up eventually, but if you up sticks and head over, you might actually have a good chance of staking your claim to something big before the problems hit again.
Example: Tobacco. Before the colonies started, you could really only get tobacco from one place on Earth (Cuba and/or China, depending on who you ask), and they fiercely held their stake to it. If you tried to run a Ma & Pa corner-store tobacco operation there, you had little chance of succeeding. But if you moved to New Nationville, Arizona (which would be a terrible place to plant tobacco, by the way) there wouldn’t be any competition, you’d have every opportunity to build it from the ground up without someone else putting the squeeze on your profit margins, including (temporarily) the government.
New nations are attractive because they operate in the uncertain civilisational flux that exists before a formalised government, economy, or community comes into play. Add in the moral and/or ethical motivation of getting one over your existing oppressors, and its no surprise that people sprung to the idea when the British Empire started to wane.