by Max Barry

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Very Basic Summary

The Attempted Non-Republic (a.k.a. the Loose Syndicate Confederation, a.k.a. the Relatively Tolerable Abomination, a.k.a. the Semi-Organized Syndicate of Collectives/Collective of Syndicates, a.k.a. etc. etc. etc.) of Sierra Lyricalia was formalized in its current organization in C.E. 2175 with the intent of organically evolving a society in which the classical socialist and anarchist belief that the state is an unnatural aberration from the best and most fulfilling way to organize public life would become evident; and subsequently allowing it to "wither away." The people of Sierra Lyricalia would be the first to recognize that the Great Decay has been slow going; but as the First Article of Concession states, "Disbanding the state or a department or policy thereof is not per se progress; where the state previously served a real function that cannot be substantively assumed by a syndicate or by the people: is not anarchy, but chaos; not frugality, but penury; not the good of the people, but the victory of capital."

The country's government draws its legitimacy from the Deconstitution (or as it is formally named, the Scheme of Orderly Dissolution, with Articles of Concession to Necessity), and from the continued suffrance of the people of Sierra Lyricalia (generally referred to as either "Lyricals," "Lyricists" (this usage is somewhat old-fashioned), or simply "Citizens").

There are four major branches of government: Legislative, Executive, Judicial, and Experimental. The first three serve the typical functions that they would in an ordinary adverse-relationship-style federal republic; that is, they Legislate, Execute, and Judge, and have powers over (and submissions to) each other to ensure no small part of government assumes too much power. The Experimental branch of government is charged with altering or abolishing government powers piecemeal, in defined areas, for limited times, to test new ideas for advancing the Great Decay. In cases which the Acceleration Court deems it successful, the program is instituted nationwide (or industry-wide, as the case may be).

The Legislative functions of government are carried out by the bicameral Parliament. The upper house is the House of Scrum, or typically just "the Scrum." Anyone can be a member of this body, subject to the requirements of having a pulse and having previously voted in at least three national elections. De facto, this makes the minimum age to hold office 20 years of age, as the voting age in Sierra Lyricalia is 16 for national elections (syndicates, of course, set their own requirements for internal elections).

Members of the Scrum are known (though rarely addressed) as Delegates, and are picked by getting an absolute total of 300,000 votes. Membership is not limited by geography or district; rather, each Delegate represents the 300,000 people who voted for her, and only those people, for a three-year term. Ballots for Scrum elections have five preference slots; ballots are sorted out in random order so that once 300,000 votes are reached by a candidate from first-preference ballot slots, all remaining first-preference ballots for that candidate go instead to their second preference, and so forth. Voters whose ballots are useless (that is, all voters who listed all five of their preferences as candidates who didn't need them, i.e. all five candidates reached 300,000 prior to these voters' ballots being counted) are invited to re-vote for five new candidates. This entire system is viewed by most people as tedious, chaotic, and overly complicated; however, more than 80% of registered voters vote in every election, and complaints about disenfranchisement are the lowest of any representative government in history as of this writing.

The lower house is the Leadership Council; it consists of Representatives, each elected by the voting membership of any syndicate, semi-collective partnership, sanctioned soviet, or Hostile-Managed-Company Employees' Labor/Trade Union (HMCELU, in verbal conversation abbreviated "HCLU" or "him-sell-you"). Reps serve a four-year term. The LC's two major duties are to legislate as a house of parliament in (as circumstances warrant) cooperation with and/or antagonism to the Scrum, as in any other legislative body; and to act as the state's matured venture capital arm. When a small business grows large enough to command a certain amount of market share in its particular industry, its actions thereafter affect not only its own employees, but the market in general, and the people as a whole. Therefore the entire nation has a stake in a company's actions, and justice requires that that stake be represented. In fine, a company's freedom from state involvement is inversely proportional to its size and scope. The Leadership Council's mandate is to involve the government in the operation of companies which have grown too large to operate justly under the control of their own original investors, in such industries as require economies of scale; and oversee the breakup of all other companies. That is, where the interests of the people as a whole dictate that a company remain enormous and not be broken up, the LC invests in it, takes over the board of directors, and facilitates the conversion of the company from private ownership to worker ownership. Much of the board of directors is gradually yielded back to the new employee-owned and -elected leadership as private owners are bought out and either kept as fellow employees or released back into the venture capital wild to find new things to invest in.

The Executive is based upon a presidential system. The President serves a five-year term, with a two-term maximum; and is head of state and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and head of the Executive branch. Executive branch departments, ministries, and bureaucracies are called Houses. In practice, the day-to-day is overseen by the Executive Secretary, who is chosen from among the Scrum delegates but elected by vote of the Leadership Council. The ExecSec gives up her Delegate seat upon assuming office.

The Judicial Branch's two most famous and powerful courts are the S.L. Supreme Court and the Acceleration Court. The Acceleration Court is picked from among the nation's various citizens by the President, with the approval of the Scrum. Judges serve a three-year term. There are no term limits for judges on the Acceleration Court, but the maximum age at which one can serve on the Court is 45. On an AC judge's 45th birthday (or after the weekend, depending), he or she is ceremonially ejected from the building by the other judges, a party is thrown, and a replacement judge appointed as soon as is practical.

Other than the Acceleration Court, the Executive and Judicial branches are very boring and not worth much detailed summarization.

Even though the ultimate goal of most Lyricals and of the country itself is the eventual destruction of the state, very few deny both 1) that the country does in fact have a massive government, and 2) that the time is not yet ripe for it to be done away with. Dissenters from point 2 above call themselves either Dissolvers or Abolitionists, though they are typically labeled "Premature Eradicators" by others, especially by those who often have dealings with other, more enthusiastically statist powers.