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Dev Diary #42 – Cultural Secessions

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Welcome back to another chapter in this rundown of features that might tear your lovely nation apart! Last week we discussed Revolutions, which is where politically engaged members of your society rise up to change your country in favor of a certain Law. Today we will discuss another type of Civil War: Cultural Secessions, which is where Pops in your nation of a certain culture demand their right to self-determination and carve out their own country from yours. These types of Civil Wars have some similarity in mechanics but ultimately serve two very different purposes. Just like revolutions can be seen as a failure to balance the economic and political needs of different classes against each other, secessions can be seen as a failure to see to the needs of Pops of certain cultures within your borders. Often this can come about as the result of aggressive expansion or systematic oppression of Pops of certain cultures (or indeed, the religions commonly associated with those cultures). Just like revolutions there are several paths to go down in order to deal with the problems secessionists might cause. Back in the Migration dev diary we briefly mentioned a mechanic called Turmoil. Turmoil is the effect of having too many Radicals in your country, and has effects both on the state level and on entire cultures worldwide. To understand cultural secessions we have to understand Turmoil a bit better first. Turmoil measures social friction and conflicts between Pops. This can include crime, violence, angry protests, and more. When a substantial part of a state’s total population are made up of Radicals, Turmoil is created and negative effects start to be applied: there’s a certain amount of Tax Waste, modeling all the different costs of the types of unrest Turmoil represents; and the state’s migration attraction decreases substantially, because nobody wants to move to an area where trouble is brewing.


Louisiana appears to be going through some difficulties. Could that be a slave revolt brewing?

As you might recall from the Political Movements dev diary, Radicals can originate from a number of sources, including drops in material wealth, being below the minimum expected Standard of Living, or supporting a movement that’s not being listened to. But one additional major cause of radicalism tends to be Discrimination - particular discrimination of literate Pops. Which begs the question, if discrimination creates radicals, and radicals lead to turmoil, and turmoil hurts your economy - why would any country discriminate against parts of their population in the first place? First, discrimination is governed by Laws, and most countries start out with Laws that would cause certain cultures or religions to be discriminated against - even if such Pops aren’t even present in the country at game starts. You don’t pick and choose which cultures or religions to discriminate against, it’s all based on your Laws and how similar other cultures and religions are to your country’s primary culture(s) and religion. These Laws are supported by Interest Groups, so while you can try to put an end to your discriminatory practices by changing your Citizenship and Church & State Laws, certain groups might not be pleased with you if you do. Second, discriminated Pops get paid less than their non-discriminated peers. This in turn makes ownership shareholders - and potentially all non-discriminated Pops in states where discriminated Pops live - richer, as they get a larger piece of the productivity pie. Therefore, putting an end to discrimination would hurt their personal finances, which causes them to Radicalize - and they have more Political Strength to hurt you with than the discriminated Pops do. Third, discriminated Pops have considerably less Political Strength than their peers. If you’re worried about potential uprisings, getting rid of discriminatory practices could certainly help you in the long-term, but in the short-term it will empower the formerly discriminated to make stronger demands. It might be tempting to retain the status quo unless you’re prepared to take the fight with both the conservative elements of your society and the newly equal citizens who might want to see a few changes. But since discrimination occurs on a cultural basis (and if not cultural then often religious, which often maps back to a certain cultures anyway), this means that even if Pops of a certain culture represents a small proportion of the population in your country, the proportion of Pops within that culture that are Radical could be very large indeed. So in addition to measuring Turmoil on the state level, we also measure it on a culture level, and on a culture-in-country level.


The Maghrebi culture might not have very high Turmoil overall because most of them live in Tunis and Morocco where they aren’t discriminated against, but within France the Turmoil among Maghrebi Pops could reach higher levels.

As we know from the Migration diary, if a whole culture has high Turmoil, this can result in the emergence of Mass Migration targets - states across the globe that temporarily gain the ability for Pops of those cultures to mass migrate there. This is the “peaceful” resolution to Discrimination - eventually, Pops who suffer systematic discrimination and see no improvement to their material conditions to compensate will simply pack up and move to someplace where they’re accepted. But if Pops in a country suffer high Turmoil and live on one of their Cultural Homelands, they may instead start a Secession Movement. This could be the case for the Maghrebi population of Algiers, for example: they’re not only being oppressed, but they’re being oppressed on land they feel is theirs by right, and the obvious solution is to kick the French out of there. However, an Algerian that moves to Nice after their homeland was colonized and introduced to the French market will not try to start a secession movement for a Maghrebian sovereign state in southern France. A Secession Movement functions a lot like a Revolutionary movement. It will gradually escalate in intensity until it reaches a threshold, after which point one or several states will break off from the country to form their own, then launch a Diplomatic Play. Much like Revolutionary and Political movements, you can deal with these by trying to fix the underlying issues - whether the discrimination or the lack of material comforts - or by suppressing the troublemakers using decrees or the Home Affairs institution. If you can get the situation back under control you can dodge the secession for this time, but the movement might of course return if conditions worsen. You can also deal with it more permanently by simply ceding the land to secessionists. In this case you would release a nation, including all Homelands of that culture in your possession. One benefit of this approach is that you can release the nation as a Subject, permitting you to still meddle in their affairs and exploit their economy even while you grant them at least some degree of self-determination. With no Homelands now left in your possession, the secessionist movement will vanish immediately.


Another option when releasing a nation is to play as them, which immediately puts you in charge of that country instead!

But if you do not do any of these things, the secession will take place. This launches a Diplomatic Play where the country seceded from automatically gains the “Crush the Uprising” war goal, which if enforced will return the seceded states to their possession. The secessionists on the other hand only need to defend themselves! Unlike with Revolutions, a secession can (sort of by definition) result in a white peace where the seceding country is simply left to exist. Just like in Revolutionary Plays, other countries with Interests or certain Pacts are able to intervene on behalf of either country. Most importantly, if the culture seceding is already a Primary Culture in another country - for Maghrebi, that would be Tunis - that country is automatically invited to join the Play on the defender’s side. Should they succeed to beat France, the seceding states would then become part of Tunis. In addition, as soon as such a Secession Play has commenced, there is a chance that secessionist movements for this culture will break out in other countries, even if they don’t meet the Turmoil threshold! The classic example for this is Poland. Polish Pops live on Homelands across Prussia, Austria, and Russia. If any one of these countries mistreat the Poles to the point where they break away and form Poland, Polish pan-nationalist movements might break out in the other two countries as well. This potentially means having to fight all three countries for their independence!


Will the three Great Powers unite in crushing the Polish nationalist movement? Or perhaps one will graciously give up their parcel of land to Poland and start bankrolling them instead, hoping to weaken their rivals and maybe gain a new puppet state in the process?

Cultural Secession and Turmoil is a pretty classic take on anti-blobbing mechanics - if you aggressively expand too quickly your new subjects will get angry, will become more of a liability than an asset to you, and may even try to take their land back. But with Victoria’s thematic focus on nation-states and pan-nationalism, these interact with the core mechanics of Pops, Cultures, Homelands, Radicals, Turmoil, and Diplomatic Plays to give you more tools to influence the situation than just pacing your conquests. Perhaps you will be a benevolent imperialist conqueror, who abhors Discrimination and Incorporates every new state to extend the benefit of your Institutions to them, convincing the newly conquered that they’re better off under your rule? Or perhaps you will exploit their natural resources but release them as a Subject nation integrated into your market as soon as they get rowdy? Or you build good relations with a neighboring power who's also oppressing this population so you have a natural ally in case you need to put down a rebellion together? Or you stay in your own lane while putting Interests all around you, so you can get involved in these conflicts when they happen to others in order to create buffer states aligned with you? That’s all for me for a little while! Next week Ofaloaf will give us a peek at how we handle a very special butterfly of a civil war that’s not really a revolution, not really a cultural secession, but that includes elements from both: the American Civil War.

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