Witness: policy responses in the face of disaster

Greetings, Edgeryders!

So a handful of us are working on something on the sidelines: a card-based game of adverse events that happen to Witness and the kind of policies that a district can bring to bear against it.

The loose working definition of an ‘event’ here:

  1. Difficult to predict and protect against ex-ante; only the effects can be dealt with
  2. Affects a substantial percentage of the population; enough to make it a policy problem

For example: a Great Flood wipes out houses and infrastructure. A virus ravages the population. A major trading enterprise folds on its debts, causing a string of collapses that trigger market failure. A n armed force invades from a rival district, with numbers far greater than existing justice systems to handle.

What, in your opinion, are the policies that our Distrikts can deploy in the face of such events, and what are the Distrikt-specific requirements for these policies?

For example, in the highly authoritarian Covenant, the leading figure can declare conscription of all able-bodied. In the highly bureaucratic Hygge, a similar move would require a proposal and several votes from its body politic on the proposal. In the market-led minarchism of Libria, major corporation A may chose to raise an army of mercenaries to protect its assets, shareholders and (possibly) market, while corporation B may supply arms to the invaders. And I don’t even know what Avantgrid will do, given how live-and-let-die it is.

For now, let us make some assumptions: implementation is as perfect as can get, we are limited only by the constraints of the social contract we uphold, and of the policies, we broadly consider only three basic types:

Distributive policies

Distributive policies extend goods and services to members of an organization, as well as distributing the costs of the goods/services amongst the members of the organization. Examples include government policies that impact spending for welfare, public education, highways, and public safety, or a professional organization’s benefits plan.

Regulatory policies

Regulatory policies, or mandates, limit the discretion of individuals and agencies, or otherwise compel certain types of behavior. These policies are generally thought to be best applied when good behavior can be easily defined and bad behavior can be easily regulated and punished through fines or sanctions. An example of a fairly successful public regulatory policy is that of a highway speed limit.

Constituent policies

Constituent policies create executive power entities, or deal with laws. Constituent policies also deal with fiscal policy in some circumstances.

I understand some answers are going to be very specific and some head-scratchingly broad. That is fine: this is to test out the resilience of the philosophies behind the economies we have created. Using the examples I have given of events, what would each Distrikt do?

@petussing, @Nightface, @hugi, @amelia @alberto, @Joriam, @FrankDieters @matthias @zaunders - thoughts?

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Black Swan events. Which brings up an interesting aspect. Nassim Nicholas Taleb insists that the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is NOT a Black Swan event – it was perfectly predictable as of the 2003 SARS outbreak, to say nothing of being reinforced by MERS in 2012. The only question was “when?” Taiwan’s and to a lesser extent Hong Kong’s response to SARS-CoV-2 were predicated on this limited predictability. So we will have to distinguish between “true” Black Swans and events which have a predictive aspect. And this means that more data-driven Distrikts will have an edge in formulating policy toward such events.

So: virus. Is it a new virus? A virulent form of an old virus? I kind of like the idea of an ancient previously unknown virus released by snow-melt in Siberia… then it’s a true Black Swan (although of course the existing preparedness of the health care sector is a factor), and we get to design the thing from bottom to top.

Great Flood. Do you mean tsunami, as in the 2004 Indian Ocean seaquake? I’d argue that this would be “better” than a cyclone (or maybe you want a cyclone), because it could affect all Distrikts somewhat equally – otherwise, geography is destiny, as with the 2011 Tohoku tsunami in Japan – in that one there were all sorts of specifics tied to Japan, such as the height of the wall at the nuclear facility in Fukushima, that made a huge difference.

An armed invasion from a nearby rival Distrikt would NOT be a true Black Swan – it would be an event with a long-term level of likelihood that spikes, presumably as a result of something, such as a diplomatic row, an accidental death or deaths, or else the leadership of one Distrikt decides to commandeer resources from another. Covenant is a likely suspect for aggression. It would be interesting for Avantgrid to have something along the line of the Swiss system of “everyone have a gun in the closet and train yearly so as to have a 100% citizen guerrilla force”…

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Agreed. The 2004 seaquake (a tsunami by the time it got to Sri Lanka) was very much what I had in mind. Although I don’t buy Taleb’s insistence on Cov2 not being a true Black Swan. ‘When’ and ‘where’ are enormous questions, as well as ‘how does it spread’; you’d need a condition of perfect prediction to be able to say those aren’t true Black Swans. If we apply that, then nothing is really a Black Swan . . .

Hmm. Need to think about this one, mainly to narrow the question. Thinking cap on…

@yudhanjaya Great idea. Indeed as mentioned there’s an array of possibilities here. My little gray cells are already working on it.

Hi @yudhanjaya, i’d like to share this experience and case study from the district where i live https://postpandemicuniversity.net/2020/10/12/opening-district-spaces-to-collaboration-education-and-research-by-inclusion-and-simulation-in-a-post-covid-society/

Federico- I have looked at the article you referenced and the exploratory brainstorming tool, as well as Ezio Manzini’s 2013 article. A lot to process, and this is not my field, so I will share my impressions and thoughts about the applicability of what you offer to the problem as formulated by Yudhanjaya above.

First: Yes, I am very aware of Schumaker’s “Small is Beautiful”, The Whole Earth Catalog, so-called “appropriate design”, and similar branches of this tree from the 1970s. A previous iteration of this social and academic phenomenon, IMHO, can be found in Britain’s Arts and Crafts movement of the late 19th century, based on the writings of John Ruskin and described in William Morris’ utopian novel “News From Nowhere” (1890). It is hardly new. Which is not at all to say that it is not worthy of study and adumbration, but that we should recognize the deep roots of this movement.

As a faculty member of Houston Community College, interested in how HCC can operate not only as a training ground for students from this area, but also looking for ways in which the College might more explicitly serve the community of which it is an institution, your programs and overall approach are of deep interest to me. I would like HCC to develop something similar to what you describe – I confess I am particularly interested in encouraging collaboration between HCC students and local entrepreneurs, and perhaps the kind of platform you mention could be adapted for this purpose or other related efforts. We don’t use Moodle any more as an LMS, but we use Canvas, and there is every reason why it could be a launching pad for something similar to what you describe. So, very much yeah. But that is personal and professional, and doesn’t address the point at hand.

For this particular exercise of developing cards, it seems your “open source canvas” (click on this in your indicated article) “Post-Pandemic University Design Canvas” is an interesting tool. The “layers” would be the various Events, such as virus, tsunami, invasion, debt-driven financial collapse, and others if we decide to have them. The vertical entries would be the various Distrikts, such as Hygge, Avantgrid, Covenant, etc. Then each block will contain a narrative about what each Distrikt would do in response to each given Event. Is that what you had in mind?

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Just a note on Black Swans: Maybe there is reason to at least tentatively rate them 0-100%, on the idea of “Oh yeah – this is for sure at least a 97.6% Black Swan”, or “Naw, this isn’t more than a 50% Black Swan” and such, keeping in mind that bloody little is a true Black Swan, as you say.

Ok, here we go. I nominate myself senior Augur of all things Covenant, and so I am going to have a go at that.

Borrowing from Jason Hickel’s Less is More, I characterize The Covenant as an economy whose direction is more or less directed by its ruling institutions. This sets it far apart from the economy we all live in: the directions it takes are heavily conditioned by the imperative of capital to seek monetary returns. Nevertheless, both our economy and that of The Covenant operate under material resource constraints.

So, if a Really Important Event That We Should Definitely Look At happens in The Covenant, The Auctoritatis consults with the big shots (mostly members of the clergy), who have their thumb on the pulse of the Distrikt, and then makes a decision. The decision is, of course, an allocation decision: how much of the Distrikt’s resources to throw at the problem.

Let’s imagine a limit case: the Really Important Event is found to be life-threatening for the Distrikt itself, or otherwise (morally, for example) unacceptable. In this case, the Auctoritatis throws all her weight behind what becomes, effectively, a Holy War.

Constituent policies come easy in The Covenant, because (a) their institutions are hierarchical. They descend from monasteries, and many are monasteries, so they have a long tradition of summoning particularly capable or resourceful monks or nuns and giving them dispensation from the rules and a new mission to fulfill as their own path to serving God. That makes it extremely easy to conjure task forces, new agencies, swarms or whatever. And (b) the Hyborean Order is the backbone of all this: a hierarchy that emanates directly from the Auctoritatis, with an ethos of service-to-the-command close to the military’s (think Medieval military orders). The HO shortens considerably the execution times of constituent policies in The Covenant.

Distributional policies also come easy. The Covenant is, after all, a high-level planned economy. Somebody in the Officium has the whole Leontief matrix of the Distrikt’s economy on a spreadsheet, and the Officium as a whole has substantial control on where the inputs go. In a true emergency, they can mobilize a lot of resources. Even private “Grow and Multiply” companies can be lured (or bullied) into participating in the scheme (“war production”), with the promise of some attractive technology transfer from the hi-tech monasteries.

I am not sure about regulatory policies. In general, the ethos of The Covenant is that, when the Powers That Be make a recommendation, they normally have a point. This is certainly true at the top (Officium, Scholae, Hyboreans, monasteries…) but I have not gotten around to imagining where a normal citizen, say a bartender or electrician, stands in all this. I imagine something like Sweden during the COVID pandemic: try to stay away from outright “rules”, focusing instead on information and recommending a responsible behavior.

Is this roughly what you wanted, @yudhanjaya?

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@petussing, yes. Layers containing narratives, or scenarios, as speculative design for districts might bring values for building sustainable futures and empower identity of the communities. I’d like to discuss further about it in a videcall if you are up for this.

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Yes – thank you – I am up for a video call. Some time next week, if possible – preferably after 11 AM Central US time (which is 6 PM in Rome, if I’m right), and my 3-year-old daughter may join us anyway, depending on her mother’s schedule as a free-lance interpreter

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Nice, thanks. So, based on this, some notes for encoding policies as cards (these are thoughts/distillations/trying to make sense of 'how to play as a top-down policymaking agent responsible for making sure this society survives):

Gameplay:

There are two types of cards: events and responses. The responses are policy decisions drawn from each Distrikt. Events deal damage across various categories: responses counter events and recover damage (and in some cases deal damage elsewhere). Distrikts have some native weaknesses to certain categories (for example, the Assembly has weak infrastructure) and take more or less damage depending on their political makeup. The responses available and the way you play also changes depending on the Distrikt.

Events are dealt out at a constant rate from an event deck kept face-down. Some events can summon other events (for example, a Great Flood can also summon the Infrastructure Damage and Minor Pandemic cards). Players draw responses from decks kept face-down. They can only draw a limited number of responses per turn.

THE DISTRICTS / DECKS

The Covenant

Easiest to encode. The Covenant is a very rich theocracy: the Vatican on steroids.

The Covenant is owned by various religious orders and sub-sects, all of which are landowners. Constitutionally, operations are run by chambers of civilians / laypersons recruited to the post; they convene at the Council. However, practically, all major officials are advised by the religious orders that they or the land they administrate are affiliated with, the the Auctoritatis is a combination Speaker of Parliament / Executive President with supreme authority. Major religious sects form a Cabinet of sorts - the so-called ‘Permanent Seats’ on the Council - and can advise the Auctoritatis, but it’s like the Pope’s advisors.

The Covenant has a very strong manufacturing economy. Agriculture is localized to each church: churches and communities that aren’t self-sufficient to some degree (at least bottom tier of Maslow’s) don’t last too long. Church’s ‘wealth’ can be measured in coin, but it’s bought by the labor and land that can be commanded.

It also has a dual economy: the bulk of intellectual labor and higher education is done by monks, who consider the idea of free markets to be distasteful if not downright heretical, but around major points of operation are businesses - incorporated with permission - that reverse-engineer findings or aggressively hire lay brothers and sisters to create products that can then be sold internally or exported. Most of these products are not the cake, but the icing. These companies can be bossed around.

The Institute for the Works of Religious handles a lot of finance: think of them as an AI-run Lloyds. They are the sole entity like this, so a single point of failure; but most church funds are separate from the IWR and decentralized.

TL;DR: decentralized economy, to an extent, similar to Middle Ages; no Central Bank, but a Treasury, yes; single point of control; lots of single points of failure; robust to market failures to a degree. You play policies as the equivalent of Innocent III going all medieval on a modern theocracy. It’s a straightforward play: you directly counter events with response cards, drawing from the limited amount available to you at any given time.

Libria

Minarchist cyberpunk. The law (aka the Watchmen) are confined to matters of justice - enforcing property laws, protecting citizens against aggression, theft, breach of contract and fraud. The Griefing Charter allows the Watchmen to step in and arrest people for malicious intent that can be proven to infringe on someone’s profit at no material benefit to the attacker (ie: purely grudges). Everything else is left to markets.

This, by design, is incredibly difficult to control from a single point of view. There are large corporations. There are actual gangs - the Voxel Dogs, the Senators, and the Seasiders - who have set themselves up as ‘private security’ and expanded into VC roles. Market manipulation is possible, if you’re careful - including ponzi schemes and false banks.

The only way to play this District is to be a ‘concerned agent’ flush with cash, buying goods and services and redirecting them to places and people. Some actions that you can take have to involve destroying markets to remove bad agents. Each ‘policy’ card lists a corporation that will carry out the action for you (flavor text) for a price that will hit your cash reserves.

There literally is no free lunch here. You should be able to take on debt, with the idea that when the bank comes calling in x turns, a number of cards proportional to the size of the debt are taken from you. In line with ‘billionaire philanthropy’, every so often you are gifted a relatively small amount of free cash that will be nowhere near enough to solve all your problems in one go.

Hygge

Extreme UN bureaucracy, welfare state. Hygge runs an economic system inspired by the social democracies of the second half of the twentieth century. The economy is mixed: most manufacturing, retail and services is run by for-profit private corporations. State-owned enterprises control the provision of most public services, like social security, banking, and infrastructure. Additionally, some Distrikt-owned companies compete with their private-sector counterparts in several key markets. These companies tend to provide basic, no-frills product and services at a competitive price: Hygge’s policy makers believe this to increase price competition and provide access to those markets to lower-income households.

Macroeconomic policy is executed by two powerful institutions: Hyggebanki, the central bank, and the Ministry of Provisioning and Planning for Public Purpose, commonly called Mp4 or Hensigt

Hyggebanki is the only legal issuer of the local currency, the Danegeld; it also functions as the main financial regulator. Hensigt is in charge of managing Hygge’s Distrikt budget, and is deeply concerned with:

  1. Infrastructure provision (water, energy, transport, health care, education…). This is more or less constant over time.

  2. Reducing unemployment. Any citizen that wants a job with Hensigt has a right to one. Remuneration of guaranteed jobs is set to be more than sufficient to provide for a fairly basic lifestyle, but noticeably lower than what the private sector pays for a similar job.

  3. Public investments. These are new projects, like major infrastructure upgrades. In order to get the green light for one of these, Hygge political leaders need to make sure that they do not create inflation; and that no competing project is more attractive than the one being considered.

To play this Distrikt, you need to play as a Hensigt agent. The primary policies you can deploy are along those three lines above. Because of the bureaucratic nature, to do anything, you have to achieve political consensus. Which is to say you need to play multiple of the same card to trigger a policy change. The more widespread the policy, the more of that card you need to play? This is a weak state early-game, but as you take more cards from the policy deck, and start building ‘political power’, it becomes a late-game juggernaut.

Centralized economy. Large market collapses, huge spending, anything that leads to inflation can REALLY fuck with the system, especially since you now need to waste time gathering votes to do anything. Plus, the public service employment system is designed for a slow absorption over time and cannot handle a mass exodus of people fleeing the public sector or vice versa.

Upshot is: democratic socialist state, huge military presence, obsessed with fairness. Very wealthy Hyggians are a rarity, because they’re taxed heavily. Has UBI and default low-cost services in most sectors, so small market collapses hit less hard, citizens are by default more resilient to most damage.

The Assembly

Another doozy. The Assembly is ALL about self-organization and collective action. Decentralized infrastructure, ability to cobble together comparatively inefficient but robust infra in the wake of damage. Citizens, by default, have to have some infrastructure provision skills. Authority figures are listened to, but you need to get access to them.

Currency is held at a constant for each citizen. Decentralized blockchain based currency: wallets are refilled or readjusted to give enough for the basics. You cannot stockpile money; nor can you be really poor.

This kind of system disincentives competition and spurs collaboration; anyone who wants to compete is over in Libria. All tech is open source, so incredibly rapid adoption of innovation, similar to what we see in programming ecosystems. You can’t really impose penalties or regulations in this system: that’s all handled at a local community justice level. You can only add / incentivize / organize protest / champion.

Theoretically every agent has as much power as every other agent, but that’s horseshit in practice.
Let’s assume that you can summon ‘influencers’ that can persuade people to do x, y, z. Is that even practical? Let’s also assume that you can influence the common resource pool by including or excluding various parties (policies). How might this work?

Avantgrid:

Impossible to play from a top-down POV, I think. Almost complete self-determination. I can only think of a preacher hopping island to island preaching change (takes a couple of turns at least to cover them all) with a die roll on whether the locals agree or not.

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How about some randomness? Concerned citizens roll out several policies (cards?). These are cheap and fast to initiate, but they only succeed in probability. Is that too lax?

@petussing here is my email monaco.federico@gmail.com to agree on a day for the videocall and channel

Here’s a take at the Assembly, @yudhanjaya.

The Assembly’s economy has three strengths.

  • The first is decentralized production, with a social reward for producing-to-consume. This in itself eliminates some chokepoints. Short of across-the-board planetary change (sunlight decreases 20% everywhere), it is difficult to plunge the whole energy and food systems in the Assembly into a crisis.
  • The second is experience in collaboration across economically independent entities (this originates in the twin supply crises of the early days). This increases the speed and focus of response beyond that of a traditional market economy like Libria’s – though it’s not as responsive as a fully planned one.
  • The third is experience in managing the price vector. This is done automatically through failsafes in the e-commerce platform, but of course someone had to agree on the thresholds for the failsafes to kick in.

All this means that the Assembly is very well equipped for facing events that are not lightning-fast and quickly worsening . For example, in the case of an epidemics, we can imagine a consensus forming quite rapidly with respect to the speed of propagation of the virus, and the reaction be faster and more effective than what we have seen (in the West at least) with COVID. A tsunami (it’s difficult to imagine great floods in a floating city) would instantly wipe out a lot of infrastructure, but never all of it (decentralization!), and leave the know-how to rebuild more or less intact.

On the other hand, a Blitzkrieg-style armed invasion has the potential to do very serious damage. After taking control of the terrain, the invading army could proceed seizing every last solar panel, biotech lab and farm, and then it’s game over – or at least, down to organizing an underground resistance.

The way I see this happening is easiest to describe starting from constituent policies. In the Assembly, their natural form is the metacoop: a cooperative of cooperatives. Imagine you need to run a vaccination campaign. The companies possessing the relevant skill (medical, logistics), which in the Assembly are normally coops, would associate relatively quickly in one or more coops and entrust the new entity(-ies) with the task of producing the public good. The finance would ultimately come from, well, everybody. Everyone is a member of a healthcare coop, because a coop is a way to collective provision of something cooperators need, and everyone needs healthcare.

At this point, the distributive policy is clear: the new entity or entities simply provide citizens with the goods. The books are balanced by the citizens themselves, who pay for the service at average cost (no profit margin).

Metacoops in charge of a problem could then demand regulatory policies as a condition to be able to do their job: “we can eradicate this parasite of olive trees in six months, but the stock of olives-derived products must be destroyed, and their trade and consumption forbidden for this duration”. We have not gotten around to endowing the Assembly with an explicitly stated governance system, but we can imagine some kind of central government with the authority to introduce and enforce legislation to this effect.

Re-reading now Kim Stanly Robinson’s Mars Trilogy to see if I can come up with a political system that would be a good fit.

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Worth a try!

Aha, this is fantastic. We now have regenerative bits of infrastructure (but up to a certain level). As encapsulated in a card like so:

Specialization is for Insects:

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, design a microgrid, write a sonnet, plough a field, build a wall, die gallantly.”
Citizens of the Assembly are self-organizing pioneers. Combined with decentralized electricity and water microgrids, this means the Assembly recovers bare-bones infrastructure fast.

Heal your Infrastruture at a rate of 1 point every 2 turns.
This effect stops if Infrastructure is equal to or greater than 5.

On The Shoulders of Giants:
The Assembly rewards cooperation, not competition. Anyone who wants to compete is over in Libria.

Assembly tech and infrastructure are open source, leading to rapid adoption in innovation, similar to what we see in programming ecosystems. It’s very difficult for people to profit from huge advantages over each other.

Any addition to Infrastructure also adds +1 to Civil Liberties.

(The two cards have some nice synergy with each other - the Assembly is perfectly capable of slowly recovering up to a baseline level of infra and social structure, provided they don’t get hit by things too fast).

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Echoes of Alpha Centauri:slight_smile:

Indeed! Indicators that you try to maintain are *Ecology, Economy, Infrastructure, *
Public Health and Public Opinion. Here’s a preview of the Covenant, for example. Lots of options for economic recovery and reallocation of goods by fiat.

Divine Rite:

Auctoritatis, your merest wish and whim becomes the policy that guides us all. On any turn, you can sacrifice -1 point from any indicator to give +1 to another. -1 to Public Opinion every time this ability is used.

If Public Opinion hits 0, congratulations! Your nation has become an Autocracy; your citizens are slaves and vassals, and yourself the supreme tyrant above all. Unlike other states, you can continue this way, but you suffer a Rebellion! on every third turn.

Hyborean Order:
“Ora et labora” chant the monks. Labor is seen as a devotional activity; those of the Faith refuse to produce cheap goods, preferring instead to build to last. Accordingly, any damage to Infrastructure is reduced by 1 point.

Dual Economy:
Monasteries constantly manufacture high-quality goods, but are forbidden to increase their prices, on grounds of greed being a sin and markets being morally dubious. These are good problems to have for saecular corporations, who reverse engineer products of the monasteries and adapt them for large-scale industrial production.
This makes the Covenant resilient to market failures. As long as the Economy indicator is above 2, the Covenant automatically recovers its economy at the rate of 1 point every 2 turns.

Papal Re-election:
The Auctoritatis has passed from this Earth, their flesh made divine. A new Auctoritatis must be elected. Until this all-important act is done, see nothing, do nothing, be nothing.
The Covenant is immune to world events for one turn. It cannot be damaged. Roll 1d6; if 3 or above, a new Auctoritatis is succesfully elected and you may resume next turn; if not, the succession fails, political infighting takes over, and the Covenant dissolves into Civil War (-6 to all indicators).

Excommunicado
Dissenters are excommunicated, cast out beyond the light. May God have pity on their souls, for we will not.
Recover +3 Public Opinion. This card can be only used 3 times in a game session.

Demand Tithe
To tithe is to place God as our first priority. Trust in God’s abundance, show your faith, and He will provide on Earth as in Heaven.
+1 to Economy.

Indulgence:
“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”
In times of need, those who give freely are forgiven their sins. In the Middle Ages, indulgences supported charities and hospitals; as it once was, so it shall be. God is merciful to those who aid His Instruments.
+2 to Economy and -1 to Public Opinion

Hyborean Crusade
By the power vested in us, we declare a holy war upon a cause that displeases us; be they the enemy, the planet, or even the forces of entropy itself!
Pick a single indicator. On your next turn, that indicator recovers by 4 points. You cannot act for a turn after the recovery - crusades take time to organize and disperse.

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Reading the comments and thinking about the broad question at the beginning of it, I would like to insert a couple of thoughts for consideration on the overall dynamics of policy-making in case of a black-swan event.

Democracy and executive action is a double edge sword
Disrupting events often have as response a call for strong leadership and swift action. Even in democratic systems like Hygge citizens would not accept a sluggish reaction in case of a flood, economic meltdown, etc. The democratic evaluation whether or not the response was correct will be debated after the fact. Besides that, nearly every democratic system has fail-saves in place with which -in case of emergency – the bureaucratic system is bypassed for a certain amount of time. Realtime examples are the bank crisis’, Covid-19, etc. But, acting on these powers will cause social unrest and protest, because they conflict with the core social contract. Although – in case of Hygge – people expect the government to protect the society as a whole, authoritarian policy-making will -at a certain point – be unacceptable. Therefor coping with a crisis in that way comes at a cost and a card played with caution.

Crises response as a tool
Which brings me to another point. Crises often have two dimensions. One is the crises or emergency itself. This calls for mitigating measures. The focus in this thread is on how -given the social contract of any given Distrikt – these would come about and what they could be.

There is -IMHO- a second dimension to be considered and that is how the crisis response benefits groups and political agendas in the long term. Crisis response is often characterized as being highly dynamic, with fragmented information and little space for public debate about the measures taken. Considering the motto “Never waste a good crisis” the crisis management could well be a tool in shaping the social- economic fabric of a Distrikt. This could be for better or worse, depending on what side of the fence you are. Recent research by Isabelle Desportes underlines this.

For example: if in a certain Distrikt a part of the population is considered a thread to the status-quo, it would be easy to blame or marginalize them in order to make them leave the Distrikt rather than to let them gain momentum to create a micro-Distrikt. Also policy could limit the extent of relief for certain groups. In Hygge this would be probably evoke social unrest, but in times of crises public opinion could be volatile. Certainly in Hygge the separation of -for example The Dandelion Republic – is still considered a undesirable glitch in history by some groups.

The quality of institutions is key
Third point I would like to make is based on the research done by Povitkina Persson on the impact of democracy and institutional quality on crisis management. It is argued that “fewer people being affected by natural disasters only in settings where institutional quality is high. When institutional quality is low, more people seem to
suffer in democracies than in authoritarian states”. This could very well be a consideration looking at Distrikts like Avantgarde and Libria, but also in a micro-Distrikt like The Dandelion Republic.

Micro-Distrikts as ghost in the machine?
This brings me to my last thought: in the card game the Distrikts are the main players. Would it be a consideration to include – maybe in the mid stadium of the game – the concept of micro-Distrikts? A black-swan event could be the trigger for groups to be disappointed with the execution of the social contract of a Distrikt and break away from the pack.