Bringing Forth a New Nation

John Trumbull's 19th-century oil-on-canvas painting, Declaration of Independence

I've been playing NationStates off and on for maybe twelve years or so.  The English Wikipedia calls NationStates a multiplayer government-simulation browser game, and that's pretty accurate and descriptive.  In a nutshell, NationStates allows you to create your own… wait for it… nation state.  You start out with some basic decisions about the country, and then, over time, choose amongst options offered for how to resolve issues that are facing the nation.

I've decided to start a new nation today, and I'm going to respond to offered issues as best I can based on my own desires, morals, ethics, hopes, dreams, and shoe size.  I'm going to do my best not to metagame the issues and options, which will likely result in some unexpected outcomes.  If none of the offered solutions to an issue appeal to me, and I can live with the status quo, I'll just dismiss the issue.  Lastly, I've decided I'm bringing all [three] of you along for the [slow, sociopolitical, and probably uninteresting] ride!  Let's-a go!

So, starting out the game, I get to choose my nation's initial political and social philosophy (anarchic, libertarian, capitalist, liberal, centrist, conservative, socialist, authoritarian, or tyrannical), and then answer a few questions to add nuance to my choice.  I'm starting with "centrist".  I think I personally pull from all over the spectrum, so this feels like a good first step; I'll let my answers to questions and issues dictate where it goes from here.

Q1. A country should be judged by how it treats its worst-off citizens.
Yeah, of course.  I went with "agree" rather than "strongly agree" because I don't want my nation to be judged solely or primarily by that metric, but yes, some judging should definitely rest on our social philanthropy.  Right off the bat, this gives my nation upward bumps in welfare, education, income equality, and inclusiveness.

Q2. Corporations are good for society.
Hm.  I don't know whether it means corporations explicitly (as opposed to a mom-and-pop like Butt Drugs) or just business in general.  Are they 'good'?  I, uh, I don't know.  Good for society?  I would say: not intrinsically.  They can accomplish good, but it is not their driving force.  I'll choose "disagree", but not "strongly".  For such, I gain trends in income equality, business subsidization, and authoritarianism, while economic freedom heads downward.

Q3. Marijuana should be legal.
Nope.  "Strong" nope.  (a) Nobody should be exposed to psychoactive agents without their consent.  Illegality hasn't stopped me from encountering marijuana smokers and their clouds, and legality would increase those incidents.  (b) We already sell one category of legal potent intoxicant that kills non-partakers (on and off the road), we needn't another.  This gives my nacent nation rises in law enforcement, authoritarianism, social conservatism, safety, and compliance, while recreational drug use and civil rights took a hit.

Q4. The world needs to rediscover its spirituality.
Needs to?  No, not if they don't want to.  I really wish there were a "neutral" option for this one, because whether individuals wish to be "spiritual" or not is no concern of the government's whatsoever.  It's not the government's place to care about religion at all, or if it does, only as much as it cares about model rocketry and seashell-collecting.  "Disagree"ing made secularism and scientific advancement rise, while spirituality (obviously) went down.

Q5. Young people should perform a year's compulsory military service.
I instinctively start at the word "compulsory" in connection to anything governmental, but this and voting are the only places where I sorta might be okay with it.  I'm going to choose "agree" not because of any rampant gun-lust on my part, but because I see how helpful it was for me.  Also, many real-world nations have a period of mandatory service (Israel comes to mind), and if it's not the military, some allow service-time to be spent in other ways.  I think that, so long as the lessons learned and experiences gained are akin to or better than mine, such service is phenominally beneficial.  So, an "agree" raised my authoritarianism (again‽), defense forces, law enforcement, and social conservatism, while lowering political freedom (not an expected result) and youth rebelliousness.

Q6. Capitalism is on the way out.
Ehhh, probably not?  I don't see any evidence to assume one way or another, so I'm going with my gut and choosing "disagree".  That means that economic output, information technology, book publishing (!), and retail are all lifted.

Q7. Without democracy, a country has nothing.
Oof, "nothing" is such an absolutist word.  North Korea has no democracy, and they have nuclear weapons.  Now, I'm wary of choosing "strongly disagree" because I really don't know what that'll do to my nation, but here goes: authoritarianism, law enforcement, and ideological radicality all saw jumps, and unfortunately political freedom took another dive.

Q8. It's better to deter criminals than rehabilitate them.
24601 wasn't deterred.  A survivalistic need rose, and he did what he had to.  Fear of heavy boats, long hours of singing, and Russell Crowe did nothing to deter him.  However, had he been properly rehabilitated for his 19 years in le bagne de Toulon, he could have undertaken a career in small-town politics instead of priest-thievery.  2017's ["strong disagree"] production of Les Bienheureux earns gains in welfare, education, government size, compassion, and inclusiveness.

Lastly, I need to choose a history for my nation, its story of how it came about.  My list of options are violent segregationists; recently discovered undiscovered tribe; sackers and salvagers; like-minded isolationists; plucky, malnourished pioneers; ethnic-cleansing refugees; diplomatic homeland wranglers; civil bloodbath survivors; and long-suffering but still optimistic pilgrims.  I like the idea of helping refugees (by subjecting them to the world that runs by my rules), so there we go.  Foreign aid, compassion, and culture are all trending, while apathy is decreasing throughout the land.  Flavor text: "Fled bloodthirsty regime bent on extermination; now shaken and stirred."

I've given my new nation the name, Bodetesence.  (/boʊdətiːsɪns/)  Don't make faces.

I have the opportunity to choose a "classification" or "pretitle" for my nation (e.g. republic, theocracy, fiefdom).  It doesn't effect anything in the nation, and I can write a custom one once my nation has a population of 500 million.  I'm going with "The Free Land of Bodetesence".


Vexillology is the study of flags.

Your city flag is terrible.  Your state flag probably is too.

As an extremely amateur vexillologist, I've designed a flag for the nation, and while it's not the most-beautiful flag out there, it's representative of how I want this nation to develop.  Three people IRL have an explanation for the flag's symbolism, but I'm keen to hear guesses and opinions from everybody, so I'm not going to spoil things.  (The words are commentary, not actually part-and-parcel with Bodetesence's flag.)

The currency of Bodetesence is the diqaal.  I always type that in; I like how it looks.

I need to choose a national animal.  Previously I've chosen the ape, as it's considered one of the smartest animals, but I'm thinking I want something new.  I'm thinking… Xuánwǔ (also the Black Tortoise), one of the Four Benevolent Animals.  Furthermore, beyond being "benevolent … it represents the north and the winter season."  Yay!

Now I need a motto for my nation.  With apologies to Wil Wheaton, it's previously been "Don't be a dick."  I've come up with a long motto for my own sake, and a shorter one (the third line of the whole thing) for the game.

populus, animalium, terra
probitatis, sacrificium, praestantia
tutela aliud potissimum

A few technical details (email, password, etc.) later, and we have a nation!

Right off the bat, I'll tell you a few things.  [NOTE: Everything in this paragraph can also be seen at Bodetesence's NationStates page.]  Bodetesence is, based on the decisions I've already discussed, currently being classified as a "Father Knows Best State" where the civil rights are "below average", the economy is "reasonable", and political freedom is "unheard of".  I'm really not happy about that last one.  What follows is the current summary of my nation (also at the NationStates profile).

The Free Land of Bodetesence is a fledgling, orderly nation, remarkable for its frequent executions, complete lack of prisons, and public floggings. The compassionate, cynical population of 5 million Bodetesenceans are ruled by a mostly-benevolent dictator, who grants the populace the freedom to live their own lives but watches carefully for anyone to slip up.

The large, well-organized government prioritizes Welfare, although Defense, Law & Order, and Education are also considered important, while Spirituality receives no funds. The average income tax rate is 43.6%, but much higher for the wealthy.

The Bodetesencean economy, worth 171 billion diqaals a year, is quite specialized and led by the Tourism industry, with significant contributions from Furniture Restoration, Gambling, and Beef-Based Agriculture. Black market activity is frequent. State-owned companies are common. Average income is 34,379 diqaals, and evenly distributed, with the richest citizens earning only 2.2 times as much as the poorest.

Crime, especially youth-related, is totally unknown, thanks to a well-funded police force and progressive social policies in education and welfare. Bodetesence’s national animal is the Xuánwǔ.

Bodetesence is ranked 55,719th in the world and 2,376th in the West Pacific for Largest Gambling Industry, scoring 2,231.89 on the Kelly Criterion Productivity Index.

That's all it takes!  A new nation is upon the world.  Now comes the fun part.

NationStates' nation states are further tailored, cultivated, grown, and led by means of governmental decisions on issues facing the citizenry.  These are presented as a paragraph or two describing what the rabble is on about, and then the suggestions of two to seven influencers from the nation.  These influencers may be other governmental chiefs, religious leaders, the homeless, military generals and admirals, someone lost and looking for the restroom, family members, etc.  I may choose any one of the options for relief, and the government will implement it… sometimes with unexpected side-effects.

Issues are written by other NationStates players, vetted by some cabal of volunteers, and then let loose upon everyone.  Issues, once resolved by me, are replaced by new ones every five hours or so.  Issues ignored will stay in the queue.  I also have the option to dismiss any given issue if I just don't feel compelled to take any action on it at all.  As the NationStates help page says, "This is the equivalent of ignoring an issue until people stop talking about it. If you were a real government, you'd do this all the time, of course. But it's usually more interesting if you take a position."

I'll get started on my first issue tomorrow!


Dear Leader