Why no “socialism” or “capitalism”?

Some readers have remarked that the Alplai seem “socialist” or “welfare-statist,” yet the Alplai themselves don’t distinguish between different schools of economics; in Chapter Sixteen, when two Terai youth are discussing politics with some Alplai, and they ask about economic views, one of the Alplai responds: “Economics is economics.”

Why no such distinction? There are several reasons for this, rooted as far back as the rise of the Concordance. With the abandonment of warfare by nation-states, and eventually mass violence, the idea of promoting conflict between different groups also grew distasteful. This factor, combined with the advent of democratic government during the Conversionist era, led to those groups advocating change to prefer a strategy of evolutionary reform; adversarial approaches such as calls for “revolution” were avoided, with groups more often accusing their opposition of adopting such tactics.

As a consequence, organized groups such as guilds also adopted a more corporatist approach; encouraged by governments to form guild councils, they coordinated their actions and shared information so as to assure wider benefit. This further led to being more open to innovation in both technical and social areas, thus promoting gradual change as the Alplai entered their industrial age.

As the Alplai evolved towards greater democracy, major parties adapted their political ideologies to appeal to emerging classes. Egalitarians increasingly advocated for a more equitable distribution of resources, as an extension of their original program of universal suffrage and civil rights. Traditionalists, while supporting “strong leadership,” further asserted that responsible leadership included being mindful of the needs of the population; they would thus be one of the first parties to endorse a form of government-sponsored welfare. Conversionists, appealing to their ideas of representative government, quickly followed suit, while the relatively new Pragmatist party saw effective management of various resources for social benefit as essential to effective government overall. Even the Radicals embraced the new model of economics, while calling for greater decentralization and democratization.

The Alplai economic model strongly resembles the “mixed” economies seen in much of Europe, especially the Nordic countries. They would view libertarian or “classical liberal” economics as outdated and even paradoxical – first because they expect that government should serve the people who elect them; and secondly, on a more foundational level, since government creates and regulates money to facilitate economic activity, government is also obligated to make sure that such activity is done in an orderly and equitable fashion. Similarly, the Alplai would see a total command economy as inhibiting growth, innovation and incentive; thus they see a role for market forces and individual initiative, while also assuring that wealth is not accumulated among too small a percentage of the population.