Communion of Worlds

Communion of Worlds.
Image from Arik
Communion of Worlds Symbol- The Rose of Souls

The Communion of Worlds - Data Panel

DefinitionEmpath empire
SymbolA highly stylized rose
FoundedThe arrival of the first settlers at Heartland in 2292 AT is commonly regarded as the founding of the Communion of Worlds.
Psyche, Art, CultureMetapsychology: Mixture of standard biont derived individual consciousness, group minds, artificial minds of various architectures and some metasystem consciousnesses. Empathic enhancements and social cognition heavily emphasized in most clades.

Religion/Ideology: Empath philosophies, cladistic syncretism, family, clade and metaclade-oriented altruism, with metaclade unity and conflict avoidance as central tenets.

Culture and Art: Postgenetekker bioaesthetics, cognitive sculpture, facing moodscapes with emphasis on social dramas and collective/individual emergence.

Language: The official language is the Communion Protocol, derived from the ComEmp protocol. Many different languages used by different clades, often as badges of membership.
Territory and PopulationCurrent Territory: An 800 light year diameter region to galactic south of the Inner Sphere.

Important Natural Objects (stars and nebulae): Lambda-2 Sculptoris, Nebula S245

Capital: Heartland.

Representative Systems: Heartland, Elderman's Star, Rergenar, Labeyrie, Vistaa, Vangelis, Third Def8, Blenke Cluster, Nengs, Webistics, Canberra.

Current Core Population: 178 billion entities

Population Breakdown: 19% su/empaths; 35% nearbaseline human; 15% provolves; 8% cyborgs; 8% AI; 6% virtual; 4% vec; 2% aliens; 2% baseline; 2% other. Of these, with empathy enhancement: 57%
Government and AdministrationGovernment: Representative AI-augmented democracy, with a general assembly at Heartland. Each sector elects two representatives for the assembly according to a rotating schedule.

Administrative Divisions: Federation. Clades and regions fulfilling the Communion Orthogonality Requirements Agreement are regarded as sectors of the federation.

National Holidays: None; these are left to different clades. The Vista is commonly celebrated by traditionalist clades in commemoration of the founding of the Vista and the subsequent closure of foundation.

Constitution: Communion of Worlds Manifesto; Minarchic federative structure with emphasis on mutual foreign policy and internal development. Classic empath philosophy is the official metaethic.

Legal System: ComEmp-style total neutral investigation and local social code.
Economics and InfrastructureCurrency: The Communion Federal Credit is the official standard, but different sectors, clades and corporations release their own currencies. And extensive gift economy makes conventional currency of relatively low importance.

Major Industries: Terraforming, hedonic systems, contract arbitration, social dynamics, metamanagement, nanofacture.

Megastructures: Webistics Banks Orbital (JD 66500-1), Canberra Banks Orbital (HIP 2254); Lambda-2 Sculptoris has a major archailect node supporting part of the distributed entity known as Netzach

Major Stargate Nexi: Heartland, Webistics.

Military Expenditures: 0.01% of GDP
Trade and Treaty RelationsImports - Commodities: Exotic matter, amat, biogenes, cultural products, hedonic systems, nanotronics, ISO parts.

Imports - Partners: Non-Coercive Zone 15%, Metasoft 11%, Solar Dominion9%, Independent Inner Sphere worlds 7%, Sagittarius Transcultural Cooperation 6%, Orion Federation 6%, Formalhaut Acquisition Society 5%, Terran Federation 4%, Zoeific Biopolity 4%, Mutual Progress Alliance 4%, Independent Cygexba volume 4%, Sophic League 4%, Negentropy Alliance 2%, Technorapture Hypernation 2%, other 16%.

Exports - Commodities: Software, persona compoids, memetic templates, virches, personality constructs, cultural databases, experience services, diplomatics, management services, hedonic systems, meme design.

Exports - Partners: Non-Coercive Zone 14%, Metasoft 10%, Solar Dominion 9%, Sagittarius Transcultural Cooperation 8%, Independent Inner Sphere worlds 8%, Orion Federation 8%, Formalhaut Acquisition Society 7%, Independent Cygexba volume 5%, Zoeific Biopolity 4%, Terran Federation 3%, Mutual Progress Alliance 3%, Sophic League 3%, Technorapture Hypernation 2%, Cyberian Network 1%, Keter Domain 1%, other 14%

Treaty Participation: ComEmp Non-Aggression Signatory, anti-Amalgamation Defence and Mutual Aid Organisation, Firmware Good Trading Standards Signatory, Most Favoured Trading Partner (with Orion Federation and Sophic League), Garden World Environmental Protection Signatory, St Andre Convention Signatory, Good Hacking Agreement (with Cyberian Network), Upper Orion Administrative Agreement (with Metasoft, Orion Federation, Solar Dominion and Sophic League), Bonitsa Baseline Protection Treaty, Tipaza Ethics Agreement, Memetic Warfare Limitation Treaty, Mekelon Astrogation Information Exchange Agreement.

Longrunning Interstellar Disputes: None.

The Empaths

One of the most important discoveries in the development of gengineering was that beings with enhanced social and emotional cognition could be created by genetically modifying the so-called 'mirror neurons' in a sophont's brain. This modification was known popularly as the 'empathy gene' (although the tweak involved a very large number of genes and epigenetic processes working in synergy. At first empathic enhancement was used to enhance sympathy and obedience in genetically modified animals — with this modification, presapient splice and tweak species would spontaneously do whatever they thought made their owners happiest.

During the Dark Age another use for the empathy gene complex was found. Many communities decided it was absolutely necessary to retain group cohesion in the face of the often harsh and dangerous conditions, and strong empathy and sympathy helped create people who would work better together, more often behave in an altruistic manner, and obey the laws of the local society. While these enhancements helped many communities to survive, they became a liability when the isolated habitats joined into the First Federation around 900 to 1000 AT. Populations modified with this relatively primitive form of empathic enhancement found themselves far too trusting and emotional to deal with the often alien and aggressive other groups.

Some empath societies went bankrupt, and others reverted to the normal non-empath form. Several empath societies emigrated outwards, hoping to avoid the harsh competition. Others stayed behind, searching for a solution that did not involve giving up their way of life. Just removing the sympathy that made them too eager to please others created sociopaths, and while individual sociopaths could be very successful in their chosen pursuit, it was not possible to create a society of sociopaths. Several empath habitats tried, and perished. One solution was to limit the range of the empathic sensitivity: the empath felt sympathy for their own family/clan/corporation but not for others, retaining the empathic edge without cumbersome sympathy when dealing with outsiders. Another was to create more conscious control over emotions and reactions. As these developments occurred, many empath groups developed various philosophies and psychologies to help manage their emotions; this became the basis for the field of Empath Philosophy.

In 1200 AT, many empath groups had developed useful forms of emotional manipulation combined with internal cohesion, which made them very successful diplomats, managers, marketers, and infiltrators. They were hired as consultants by many organizations. Several empath societies developed into megacorps, exploiting their talents while at the same time remaining warmly empathic internally.

As the megacorps began to expand to the stars, empath consultants were onboard. During the recolonisation era, empaths were often among the contact or diplomatic personnel sent to interact with the original settlers. In the process, they came into contact with their remote relatives, the empaths who had fled outwards. While often sent to find ways of subverting these societies so that the megacorp could use the system, the agents discovered that they experienced at least some fellow feeling with their less developed cousins. Over the 1300's and 1400's, the empath megacorps bought up the rights to the areas where the primitive empaths lived, often keeping them as something like "pets" or nice old relatives.

The Communion of Worlds

By 1500 AT it had become increasingly clear that the empaths had developed their own society within the larger Federation culture. While there was often fierce competition between the consultancies, the empaths in general liked each other but manipulated others. The culture, heavily influenced by the mental philosophies developed in the solar system, became known as Communion Culture, or the Empathic Memesis. This developed in various ways, especially in more isolated communities where the empaths had established enclaves and were not minorities. For some five centuries the Empath Memesis developed as a rich underculture, aesthetic, and metaethic across the increasingly fragmented and cladized remnants of the old Federation, but they were always strongest in the Sol System, where they had the greatest population centers.

In 1989-2001 AT a major revival occurred, led by a number of charismatics. These charismatics claimed that the Communion would be destroyed if it could not become independent of the Blind (the empaths' term for non-empaths); now they were a mistrusted minority dependent on the economic needs of the majority; if that ever changed they could be wiped out. In order to prevent this, a large number of empaths emigrated to worlds in the Orion direction, where they set up the Communion of Worlds. Through treaties with the NoCoZo and Metasoft they gained enough safety to set up their own empire.

Within a short period of time, the Communion of Worlds expanded outwards from Heartland, the first frontier empath colony (a G star close to Lambda 2 Sculptoris). In general it spread to the south of the Galactic Plane, keeping out of the way of the emerging Empires. As the NoCoZo, Conver Ambi, and Taurus Nexus expanded, the Communion kept out of their way and remained the "private" zone of the empath networks. The region was largely peaceful, dominated by empaths and sympathetic clades that both had effective domestic and interstellar diplomacy, a low tolerance for conflicts, and strong sympathies for each other.

In order to keep out of trouble, the Communion took a proactive position, declaring itself totally neutral, ensuring that it had strong economic ties to all major powers and quietly making it very unprofitable politically, economically, or socially to even consider attacking it and its interests. During the Consolidation Wars, the Communion benefited from this, acting as a neutral party in peace negotiations and also becoming the home of many refugees from the Conver Ambi cleansings.

The Communion developed into a subtle empire, with very few directly controlled systems (mostly some old colonies in the Inner Sphere or even parts of colonies where empaths lived) but an extensive business network. For over 400 years the Communion mainly existed in the Inner Sphere.

The Imperial Era

During the Empires Era, many Communion groups were developing empath AIs and vecs in order to deal with Metasoft and the emerging AI-gods as well as give the Communion the backing in the AI sphere they felt it lacked. These developments caused serious disagreements between the Communion worlds, as some thought it would lead to empathkind being subjugated by its creations, other empires regarding the Communion as a threat (by now staying out of trouble had become a major ideological tenet), or the replacement of true emotion with memetic engineering. The fears proved relatively unfounded, as the new "empai" turned out to integrate well with the Communion structure. The empai aioids gave the Communion an edge in dealing with Metasoft in the aftermath of the Second Consolidation War, but did not endear the Communion to the Solar Dominion, where such means were regarded as a pale and sinister imitation of the light of the Divine Order. The empai development process led to the emergence of higher toposophic AI that could be viewed as the counterpart of the other imperial AI gods, although these held a noticeably closer relation to their subsingularity "family", not unlike the AIs of the Utopia Sphere.

The ComEmp Period

The Version War was a period of relative isolation and perhaps the high point of the unified Communion culture. As the ComEmp emerged, the synergy between the strong Communion, the reunited empath clades of the Inner Sphere, and the strong need felt by trillions for peace and restoration gave the empaths tremendous influence in forming the ComEmp (as many pointed out, the popular short form of the Commonwealth's name hinted more at empaths than empires). At the same time this was also the end of the Communion’s "golden age", as the now extremely divergent empaths found themselves spread out across a vast political, cladistic, and astrographical landscape. The old internal cohesion, despite massive support from empai, mental disciplines, social gengineering, and automemetics was slowly being diluted. This was most noticeable in relation to the divergent empath clades that had emerged elsewhere, but even within the Communion the limitations of cohesion were beginning to be noticed by empathy analysts. This subtle crisis contributed to the decay of the ComEmp, as the Communion influence began to wane.

The Communion of Worlds Today

In the present era the Communion remains an active political player, still excellent at staying out of trouble and always acting the peacemaker and coordinator. The internal problems have slowly grown. Clades tend to stick together and most empath-derived clades still have an aversion against outright conflicts, but they have fewer inhibitions against manipulation or even hiring third parties as proxies. Factions with ties to Metasoft, the Dominion, various Sophic religions or their own agendas such as expansionism, Sopazism, or Restorationism quietly move against each other, giving other factions the chance to jump in and negotiate.

As in the past, the Communion today tries to stay on friendly terms with everyone. Empaths of various kinds exist in most empires, and the Inner Sphere remains the core for their activity (they are the largest genotypic minority on Eden). Many distrust their emotional manipulations, but when meeting one in person this distrust usually evaporates quickly.

There are persistent rumors about the nature of the Communion AIs and that their gestalt is the real manipulator behind the Cyberian Foundation and NoCoZo. Some neohermeticists call it Netzach, the Lady of Beauty, and suggest that a more fitting symbol for the Communion would be a golden apple.

Communion Society

There are many misconceptions about the Communion. The most common is that the inhabitants are all total sensual hedonists or clever manipulators (the archetype of the hedonist-manipulator is well rooted in most primate brains). In reality, empaths make up just 57% of the total population, other groups living within the Communion political system making up the rest. A significant fraction of the population of this area are non-human bionts; particularly notable are members of Clade Eja and the Lionmen of Third Def8.

While several autotopias exist, much of the Communion works very similarly to other advanced empires. The long peace and relative cohesion has helped create an efficient and stable infrastructure, often heavily encrusted with obscure history and references making outsiders feel helpless. The closely-knit "family" society also helps make the Communion impenetrable to outsiders, as they find themselves deflected or manipulated away from what the inhabitants consider their domestic affairs. Being above the galactic plane, somewhat isolated but able to reach out if needed, is viewed as just the right location by the vast majority. Also, since most inhabitants have enhanced social cognition extremely complex rituals, transactions, and social networks can be maintained that are beyond the capacity of non-enhanced bionts and even many aioids.

The ancient Genetekker body aesthetic is still retained in some conservative clades, especially those rare groups directly descended from the original total empathy populations. These "totals" make up an important component of the population as they are seen as the epitome of what the Communion is about. According to the prevalent philosophy in the Communion the fact that they would be unable to fend for themselves without their descendants is a sign that mindkind has not yet autoevolved far enough; hence the empaths have a duty/need/destiny to show others the way toward true community, and the totals are constant reminders of this duty.

Rose (Communion of Worlds)
Image from Steve Bowers

Factions in The Communion

In the Current Era several factions have emerged in the Communion empire. Most common are the Ingroup empaths, also known as 'total' empaths, who use their empathy to bond with other members of their own social group. This allows them to form a highly cohesive society, a kind of tribemind' that doesn't use direct neural interfacing or unityware. On the other hand some or many ingroups might gravitate towards closer neurotechnological linkage, allowing the formation of true tribeminds, group minds or even hive minds.

Also important are the Outgroup empaths, who use their skills to form bonds between different groups. Several kinds exist, such as arbitrators, negotiators, and various kinds of diplomat, ambassador and mediator. A small number of outgroup empaths can bind many disparate ingroups into a unified, but nevertheless diverse society. Outgroup empaths are also used widely throughout the Terragen Sphere. Empai, aioids with enhanced empathic algorithms, often work together with biont empaths in diplomatic roles, or by themselves, but a significant number of clades in the Terragen Sphere prefer to work with biont empaths.

Dissidents and anti-empaths include; the Egregs of Vistaa, who value individualism and isolation from society above social conformity; Mykultura egotheism (self-worship, another form of individualism), and the Phoenix Mantra social simulation school which worked with yet another group of individualists from Yn to create Sopazism, which uses controlled and augmented sociopathy to counter the conformist aspects of empath society.

Sopazism was influenced by the Diphda experiment (in the Beta Ceti system), an investigation into emotional engineering, but the exact details of this relationship are debatable.

Finally there are the Psychoempaths, who relish the suffering they cause other people by empathising with their victims; psychoempaths are therefore both sadistic and masochistic at the same time.

Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg
Amended by Todd Drashner, Stephen Inniss, Steve Bowers
Initially published on 07 July 2000.