History: Galacian culture and society

More brainstorming and rambling for AW:P.

Galacia is the only nation in north of the equator that didn’t start off as a splinter of the Boscan empire: as such, many of the common cultural and political conventions found throughout the continent do not apply there.

The most obvious difference is the prevalence of high technology; an overwhelming majority of Galacians have embraced human augmentation technology to the point where the average citizen has as much electronic processing power in their head as a small town in neighbouring Littorand. Many Galacians (but by no means all) use this supersaturation of computer technology to engage in constant communication with their friends and neighbours. Similarly, Galacian government is mostly run by referendum: semi-sentient polling AIs ping every registered voter in the nation for input on legislation – for most adult Galacians, the act of voting is so customary that it is closer to an autonomous reflex than a conscious decision.

While Galacian mores were likely quite different from meta-Boscan norms even before the explosion of technology, cyberisation has changed them further to the point where much Galacian conversation happens through channels simply not available to unagumented humans. This often makes cross-cultural interaction strained: Galacians are often frustrated by their inability to adequately convey their thoughts to their unaugmented neighbours, while “natural” humans often find Galacians to be distracted or obtuse in conversation.

Body language, while still present, plays a much smaller role in Galacian dialogue than with normal humans – it is likely that electronic communication, directly or indirectly, fills this gap. Spoken language remains the central focus of a conversation, but is incredibly dense; most Galacians talk in half-sentences and make no attempt to water down technical or subcultural terms in conversation: the assumption is that the listener’s own computational resources will be able to fill in the blanks, allowing the speaker to simply make their point.

While every Galacian is entirely an individual, many grow to depend on the constant flow of language and ideas between themselves and others, to the extent that some of the most thoroughly interfaced are unable to function socially without access to electronic infrastructure.

The best insight into this phenomenon came from a minor border skirmish between Galacia and Littorand in its early years of independence; many of the Galacian POWs became agitated when kept apart from their fellow prisoners, in some cases even falling catatonic after prolonged isolation. Other prisoners only experienced mild discomfort, while yet more seemed to be completely unaffected by separation. The military doctors called in to supervise the prisoners were unable to find any useful pattern among the victims, and Galacian psychologists who worked with the prisoners after their repatriation were no more successful. The Galacian army – or “Autonomous Defence Force” – now takes special care to screen all of its volunteer recruits for this isolation sickness.

Politically, Galacia is insular to the point of xenophobia. Most of its citizens consider representative democracy to be only slightly less oppressive than full-blown dictatorships or absolute monarchies, and its foreign policy is consequently frigid. The nation has formal diplomatic relations with only a handful of its neighbours, and its borders were closed to all non-citizens for nearly twenty years in the aftermath of the second Boscan civil war.

It is a little surprising, then, that the cultural outlook of most Galacians tends to be highly cosmopolitan. Foreign foods, fashions, entertainments, and even figures of speech have saturated Galacian culture since the border controls were relaxed, and tourists tend to be received warmly. It seems that the Galacian disdain for governments other than their own does not extend to a rejection of foreign cultures or individuals – the decades-old political standoff between Galacia and the rest of the world seems to be more the result of its people’s single-minded embrace of personal freedom than of any sense of cultural superiority.

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