Monday, June 14, 2010

The Outer Elite

The Outer Elite is what most people, common Coalition subjects and outsiders alike, usually think of when they think of the upper class of Coalition society. It is the doctors, engineers, military officers, high government officials and other visible authority or expert figures that do most of the skilled labor or professional service provision that comprise the Outer Elite. Of these groups, the Army Medical Corps is the most visible as it is the most widespread.

The Inner Elite created the Outer Elite caste as "useful idiots": a class of people that are, like the common folk, kept in the dark about what's really going on (and who is really in control) but are permitted a certain degree of training and education in order to channel natural talent away from becoming a threat and into becoming a useful asset.

A certain degree of social mobility is part of this caste's creation; the very best and brightest amongst the common people are identified as early as possible and co-opted into their ranks (in a manner that resembles the Psi Corps of Babylon 5, in that it isn't an option to just refuse; most parents, being worshipful of many Outer Elite groups, think of it as a great honor- and, wisely, they get treated well for complying).

Most Outer Elite households work hard to ensure that their sons maintain that status, and that their daughters marry as high up as they can manage; that this resembles the society of the English Regency period is not at all an accident- the Inner Elite deliberately manufactured dogma to create this zeitgeist and tweak it now and again to maintain its effectiveness. The fortunes of such a family rely greatly on the performance and reputation of its men in service, and somewhat on the "success" of its women when taken into marriage. (More on that in another post.)

Commonfolk households are similar in their ambitions; it's just that their sights tend to be lower. Rather than climb into medical school, most are hoping to qualify as medics. (Note: "Nurse" is not a term in use; Coalition nurses are Army medics that are currently not in the field, having rotated out to train new medics or just to take a light tour in a base hospital.) Medics are hoping that their sons, thanks in large part to their active teaching at home, can work their way into becoming Army Doctors. Similar divisions are in place in the technical field; the grandfather is a grunt, the father a tech and the son an engineer.

The Coalition States doesn't have a separate law-enforcement agency; this is handled by Army and Intelligence assets as required, with the local militia taking the role of the beat cop or county sheriff. Its judiciary is a unified one, such as it is, with all people under military law; these courts exist not to find justice, but to maintain order and readiness, and would offend civil libertarians (that survived long enough to see one)- it's often just a prelude to punishment, and that is in large part to the omnipresent surveillance used.

Most of the manpower in the Outer Elite goes into the medical system, with a lot of medics and doctors spread throughout the States either working out of base hospitals or deployed into field hospitals. Base hospitals are common as every farming community has one (integrated with its citadel), and retired doctors are often put into administrative positions at the base hospital where they live. (Yes, this means that Rambo's being looked after by Hawkeye.) It is commonplace to use cybernetics for medical purposes, but augmentation is strictly controlled; lots of retired soldiers have a few parts, but any serious rebuild means being officially marked as dead and a transfer to the Immortals.

Second most common is the Technical group, as they handle infrastructure of all sorts (other than medical). Roads, communications, power production and distribution, building construction, etc. are all handled by them somehow and that keeps these guys busy. While the retired technicians can handle most everyday work in their communities, active-duty techs get called in on occasion when the locals need Army assets to get a job done. Engineers are often put into authority positions upon retirement. (So Rambo goes to the hospital where Hawkeye works, and he gets there on roads built by one of John Wayne's many characters in a car made by Q.)

As for the Army and Intelligence, most of their officers and agents also fall into this group. Inner Elite members use these two groups most often to cover their own movements within Coalition society. They often find that their careers stall out around the Major or Colonel rank, however, and that they get shunted out of tracks that lead other to the General's Club in favor of useful--but dead-end--positions such as managing basic training for this or that area, being put into command of a garrison in the middle of nowhere, or something else that's a political snub but an institutional necessity.

Spies get similar problems. Most are not James Bond types. They operate boring networks of informants, look after the tavern operations, scout out an area prior to the Army invading it, or other necessary--but dead-end--jobs. If they piss off their superiors, they get all of the exciting and adventurous tasks (because they're meant to die in action); the worst are filled with crap intelligence and sent into traps fully expected to either die or break under interrogation (and then die, either at enemy hands or as traitors upon return).

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