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Island Community

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Hello, I was thinking, as I often do, say if you were given an Island of about 100 square miles, in the middle of the sea. You have 99 people under your control, you being the 100th and it is your goal to create a self sufficient civilisation on this island. The point of this is to be as imaginative but as realistic as possible, you are able to decide what your people are called and what they look like. I will limit your people to being general humanoids with three basic needs - food, water, and shelter. Then you can name the island's resources, you are only allowed one staple food, one precious metal, and one building resource. For example if I had a human settlement (to be boring) I would have grain, gold and wood. Then you have to list a few jobs and assign workers to them, remember we have to keep it as realistic as possible. A currency and an economic system must be created. There are no threats on the island, there is nothing but what has been stated. Your people need food, they need houses, they need currency to gain these things but most of all they will need effective management of these things. My example, I would have four work forces, the first would be chopping and creating things from wood. The second would be mining and refining gold. The third would be growing and selling grain. The fourth would be controlling politics and currency at different levels. So the more "gold" you mine the more currency your people get thus the leader can pay for gold operations to continue as well as your people paying for food and houses (from wood operations) to continue. So in my example I would have the following jobs. Gold miner - Mines gold Gold Transporter - Takes gold to bank Wood Chopper - chops down trees Wood Transporter - takes trees to craftsmen Craftsmen - Creates houses and tools and takes to merchant Farmer - grows and takes food to merchant Merchant - buys and sells goods. Postmen - Takes votes and messages to people Banker - controls costs buys/sells gold Leader - voted in/out sends things to vote (e.g. who is banker) Now how far would you take it, this is a simple community model (with the acceptation of the postmen and transporters). The Question is simple, how far could you take it, and how much or how little pointless bur racy would you add to make the system work? What about checks and balances does my banker have too much power? Give it a try. Don't limit yourself to humans either, try and be original.

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with 100 people, there is no need for development of a currency. At best it may make things a little easier to barter with, but at 100 people, you're still best off in a cooperative development society.

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Quote:
Original post by Talroth
with 100 people, there is no need for development of a currency. At best it may make things a little easier to barter with, but at 100 people, you're still best off in a cooperative development society.


Without wanting to go too much off topic...

In my opinion, there is no need for currency in any size of community, we would simply be better of simply co-operating, spreading resources and objects around in a matter that best benefits the community as a whole. However, we are humans who are inherently selfish and need some measure of how well we have achieved in life.

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Okay, I see a flaw in my plan. So what in your opinion would be the correct population to introduce currency?

I know it would be far simpler to not introduce currency but for the purpose of this experiment I would like to keep currency in, to see how people would try and create fairness and to stop one person becoming to powerful, or even creating a powerful job and letting all the others be less important.

This is just an experiment under a nice fantasy setting.

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I would have humans, and I'd have as resources Rice, Copper, and Bamboo.

Bamboo would be easy to make into huts and houses, and I'd eventually migrate all my civilians underground into earthern houses ('dugouts'), to keep in the warmth during winter, and hold in the cool-air during summer.

I'd use copper as currency, because if there is a limited supply of it, and is the only metal, it'd be just as valuable as gold or silver, but has the added benefit of being able to craft it into tools. In fact, I wouldn't even have a currency, going for a more communistic approach, which I believe would work with such a small population.

I'd have these 'primary' occupations:

Bamboo worker
Rice worker
Earthern worker
House worker
Mine worker

Bamboo workers would be assigned to cut down and gather bamboo, and trim them to the sizes needed for the house workers to use in construction.

Rice workers would plant, harvest, and tend for our rice crops.

Earthern worker would dig trenches for irrigating the rice, dig pits for underground houses, and make bricks out of mud.

House worker would build the houses in the pits the Earthern workers dig, using the bamboo pre-cut by the bamboo workers.

Mine workers would mine the copper and break/remove large rocks from the rice fields.

My system would be set up like this:

A member of my civilization would have to cycle through each of the occupations, so nobody would get stuck doing any of the 'difficult' work, while others get to stay with the 'easy' work. Every two years, you'd switch to a new job, so in 10 years, you'd have worked with each group. Everyone above age 14 would be considered an adult, and will be assigned a spot on one of the worker groups. Until they turn 18, they'll be given the easier jobs in whatever group they are in (mining/rice harvesting/digging).

I'd also have each work group be broken into two sub-groups. Two groups of miners, two groups of rice-gatherers, two groups of earthern workers, etc... Each group would have a leader, who directs them, and who permanently has that job (unless voted out by 60% of the population - voting will be held when any 10 people agree a vote needs to be held).

This leader would be selected by majority vote, with the idea being that the selection would be based off of how well he manages people, and how well he knows that particular job. Any leader must be over 40, to ensure he has had experience already in all the job types.

Since there are two subgroups, there would be two leaders for job type. Two earth workers, one for each earth worker group. These leaders would be expected to actually do the work themselves, as well as direct others. This wouldn't be a 'get out of hard labor, by managing others' job position.

I would also have several specialized jobs, such as 'Cook' and 'Copper smith', which would hold 2 or 3 people each. How these positions would be choses, I'm not sure. There would be no 'head leader' of the community, they'd vote on things if neccesary and when neccesary.

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I'm amazed that anyone believes that mining is necessary at all and wastes their precious people on maintaining a mine. Certainly running even a small mine would be barely doable with 100 people with some equipment, let alone managing to complete the rest of the society's needs.

Also, precious metals? Why do I need those? I'd swap those out for a more useful metal any day - or more likely a useful plant or renewable resource.

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When you say the island is to be self-sufficient, do you exclude the possibilities of having kids and population grow? What happens if a settler die? What do you do with the old, and the disabled that can't really work, or people in different social/psychological modes?

Say, a small group of the 100 people found that they could be self-sufficient if they just live by the shore and fish. Do you let them live on their own?

Comment:

In a normal society that is not driven by consumer products, you don't need a constant supply of stuff that are not consumed constantly. Say bamboo cutting: once the houses are built, you don't need more bamboos. Once the initial houses are built, most of the bamboo workers should be assigned to do something else, such as farming.

The same goes for metal tools. If your society is not trying to make weapons, you don't actually need a lot of metals. Once a knife is made, it could be used by many people many times. Potteries are easy to make. But if you have a lot of bamboo you could just go all bamboo.

So if you along this line, you get how a society like that would actually function: there are times when everyone is doing the same thing (for example, during harvesting period, everyone has to harvest, since there is nothing else worth doing), and there will be time when no one need to do anything and people get to just relax, play music, stuff like that.

Then you get to a problem where, since the houses and tools last so long, the society has no need to constantly make them, but if the society does not make them, the craft and art (the method of making them) could get lost. Therefore the society needs artists and teachers who continue to work on those things to perserve and maintain the art (the way to make things).

Comment on currency:

You start to need it when people can't know personally who they are talking to and have no sense of what people are doing. You do not need currency if the whole society runs on a command system.

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Quote:
Original post by thk123
Quote:
Original post by Talroth
with 100 people, there is no need for development of a currency. At best it may make things a little easier to barter with, but at 100 people, you're still best off in a cooperative development society.


Without wanting to go too much off topic...

In my opinion, there is no need for currency in any size of community, we would simply be better of simply co-operating, spreading resources and objects around in a matter that best benefits the community as a whole. However, we are humans who are inherently selfish and need some measure of how well we have achieved in life.


It's been tried, and it fails. Currency, in its pure economic role, is just a handle on resources. It's just a way to make exchanging of goods more convenient. Its cultural connotation is certainly a result of our need for power and affirmation, but it's still necessary for a large economy.

However, I agree that in a community of around 100 people, a currency is unnecessary. In an island community whose main aspiration is just to survive, cooperation is far more likely to be the order of the day.

Let currency and an economic system be an emergent phenomenon, not an artificial fixture. This is, after all, how it happens in the real world. You wanted realism, right? Is gold really that valuable on a desert island in the middle of the ocean?

As far as mining goes, I guess you could just have metal rich rocks on and close to the surface. The main mining activity is then just prying them out of the ground, and smelting them. I would probably invent an imaginary metal that just happens to be flexible enough utility-wise to be used for all kinds of tools (like mining equipment) and other applications (nails?).

I think if you're going to simplify the situation to just three resources, you're better off making up imaginary types. I think that bamboo would work as a building resource, though.

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Usually on an actual island the main source of food is fishing. If fishing isn't a major supply of food, 1 square mile will not produce enough food to feed one person at a preindustrial technological level. Unless they are herbivores who can eat grass. If they're humans, having only one staple crop is going to result in terrible nutritional problems unless we imagine it to be some sort of perfect superfood.

One of the biggest problems on a real island is availability of fresh water - desalination may be necessary, unless the island is in a large lake.

On an island of 100 square miles it will only be slightly more than 10 miles from any point on the island to the most distant other point on the island. A healthy human can walk 10 miles in a day, and an athletic one can run it in 2 hours, so no postal system is necessary.

I agree that a barter system makes more sense than currency. If you really need a currency make it be an abstract unit of one day's labor or the amount of food needed to feed a person for a day.

Another problem, if they are actual humans, is that 100 people is not a large enough genetic pool to be healthy indefinitely if they form monogamous pairs. I would go with something like a central matriarchal village in charge of plant foods and weaving things out of plant fiber (possibly also raising chickens or pigs, and planting trees), and the men living around the edge of the island in groups focused on fishing, making boats, and carving stuff out of fish bone and shell.

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Known Facts.
One Farmer with technology from 2000 years ago (using ox) has an average harvest of 2 peoples' annual food supply. One person can farm enough for two people to eat on average.
The planting time is usually one to two weeks, in other words, plowing is only two weeks of hard effort, and then watering the plants is all that's left.
A good harvest is when your plants are large enough for harvest in the summer, and again in the fall, double harvest.
Normal harvest are in the fall, and only about two weeks of harvest.
An ox can plow 1 acre in a day, and there are 640 acre in a square mile.
Another way to say is that a person only needs 7 acres of farmland to survive, so 1 square mile is more than enough for one person to live. One person will take a longer time to plow 7 acres without an ox, but they only need to plant 7 acres each year to have enough to live for a year.
During the preindustrial era, each person needs 7 acres of farmland to survive, so 640 is greater than 7 so people will have plenty of land, but how much of it is fertile is the question. Each person needs 7 acres of fertile land.

Speaking about genetics, there needs to be at least 140 pairs of people to have enough genetic diversity. Scientific studies shows that fifth cousin to eighth do not have any inbreeding depression.

Another deal is, in the inner city (town square or marketplace or downtown), population density cannot exceed 7000 per square mile with one story buildings, 14000 per square mile for 2 story buildings, etc. If you simulate civilization, then the population is expected to grow over time.

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