Due to the current glaciation, the Sahara has changed back from desert to plain, and is now one of the breadbaskets of the Solar System. As such, its internal organization is firmly under the hands of the Acrotects. Populations, species counts, irrigation, and the like are even more closely regulated than elsewhere on Earth. The total population is 95 million.
Several aquafers and fossil rivers have revived in the current climate, and the Nile has acquired new branches. The landscape is a carefully composed scattering of farming areas and wilderness zones, with most big cities on coasts and rivers.
While Earth as a whole no longer has a list of tolerated religious positions, some individual territories do, including the Saharan States. Ideolatry and irreligious positions are on the tolerated list by fiat of the Terran government, but the bulk of the population are Concilian or Entrega, with a large minority of Zurvanites (a religion descended from Zoroastrianism). The Saharan States also have the largest Jewish population in the Old Skies, possibly in the galaxy.
There is no legal bar to political position based on religion, if your position is on the tolerated list. But it is effectively impossible to get elected or appointed to public office without being monotheist. Ideolators, though the religious default in the Terran Union as a whole, are something of an alien aristocracy in the Saharan States, found mainly in the cities.
The government is a parliamentary democracy, with a prime minister and three popularly elected presidents. The parliament is divided into two houses, EcoDemo and EcoTaxo, representating by population of geographical district and by population of "taxon" respectively.
"Taxon" is roughly "race." Officially represented taxa include AIs, different breeds of neo-beast, major neo-human groups, and major resident extraterrestrial races. If you don't fall into any of the taxa specifically listed, you are represented by the "miscellaneous" M.P.s. The list of taxa is reviewed regularly.
The districts include stretches of land, as you would expect, but also several city-states, as if Chicago and Illinois were separate states. Cairo, Carthage, Algiers, and Darasan are each their own district. Rucpaan and Hanzir divide the aerostats between them into two aeriel districts.
All the major political parties in the Saharan States are meritocratic and include local branches of the First Meritocracy and Mandarin parties. The Saharan and Populist Meritocracy parties are the main local parties.
The Saharan States follow the general form of the planetary government for citizenship: universal adult sufferage that must be kept up by a certain level of participation in elections and referenda to avoid paying a fine (unless you deliberately sign yourself out of the electorate). Unlike the planetary system, the Saharan States permit committing to a term of public service as an alternative to a monetary fine.
In addition to the presidency and the parliament, a major part of the government is the Ministiriate, descended directly from the time of the old Solar Ministries government. National-level ministers are appointed until retirement jointly by the presidency and parliament. The most important ministries are the Ministries of Justice, Ecology, and Ethics. The Ministry of Justice constitutes the court system. The Ministry of Ecology reports to the Acrotects more than to its own government, and its survey agents are required to take low-level loyalty compulsions to the Acrotects.
The Ministry of Ethics is like a much less conspicuous Ministry of Education, but it is concerned only with ethical education. Yes, it's a propaganda ministry, but steps have been taken to make it a civilized one. It uses the carrot far more than the stick. It is constitutionally denied power to censor or bring charges against anyone. Its policies at any given time are steered by the parliament.
The Ministry of Ethics insists on ethical instruction for minors, convicts, indentured, and other captive audiences. Its other major tool is paying propaganda bonuses to publishers and authors for extoling good views, including: piety, marital fidelity, honesty, care of minors, taxon equality, and industry. The Ministry is constitutionally forbidden from including political loyalties on the list of rewarded views.
The Ministry's policies, and differences between policy and practice, are constant sources of public criticism. Since freedom from censorship is one of the values they extol, the Ministers of Ethics must of course say that they wouldn't have it any other way.
The economy is a free market with fairly heavy regulation. Regulations have the stated goals of guarding against fraud and monopoly, protecting the ecology, ensuring a shallow income gradient, providing social safety-nets, and (since producing food is the main reason for the Saharan States to exist, so far as the rest of the Terran Union is concerned) centering the work-force on agriculture.
The Saharan states have a relatively large population of neo-beasts, especially neo-horses. Even now, horses find a heavily agricultural territory to be more comfortable than other available habitats.
Ostrich racing is the region's distinctive sport.
Saharan marriage laws require a 50-year minimum term, unless ended prematurely by divorce. Marriages are required to be monogamous, heterosexual, and conspecific (including AIs of a given species' neurodynamics in that species).
Using one's birthright to have a child requires a writ of reproduction, which is given only after the parents submit plans for the care and education of the child. All legal adults are assumed competent to be parents, barring contrary evidence.
There are severe penalties for operating heavy machinery while incapacitated – drunk driving and moral equivalents.
The use of stunners, splice jobs, and zeening are allowed, but eunuchism, anthropophagy, and debilitating vices are not.
A quarter of Saharan farm land is owned by religious bodies, mostly Consilian and Etregado.
In addition to the survey agents of the Ministry of Ecology, a large number of Acrotectural rangers work in the Saharan States. They effectively out-rank the local agents, though they are in different hierarchies. The Acrotects' rangers are often both sapidaries and verifiers – highly trained investigators.
The Saharan States are notable for being a place that old aristocrats retire to, when their regimes end. The area is home to a large number of surviving Imperial Champions, Sapphire Mechanarchists, and Sruvanvas.
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Copyright © Earl Wajenberg, 2010