The Let's Play Archive

Master of Orion 2

by nweismuller

Part 43: A History of the Bifrost United Asteroid-Kombinate

Taken from "An introduction to Bifrost - A travellers guide"

A short history of the Bifrost United Asteroid-Kombinate!

The Bifrost United Asteroid-Kombinate (BUA-K) is one of the several [Asteroid Nations] of the Sol system. Like most of its fellows, it was founded as a small corporate mining-station, specifically by the Bifrost Conglomerate, during the initial expansion into the solar system following humanity's unification in order to provide material for Earth's reconstruction. Originally a continuation of several Scandinavian and Northern European corporations, the Bifrost Conglomerate quickly entered strategic partnerships with Vereinigde Sternmetall, the Mesopotamian Resource Investment Fund, and African Microfacturing, all of which had also laid claim to several asteroids in the same area.

In order to preserve unity, promote further cooperation, and ease transportation of material and goods, the various corporate entities agreed to move their assets closer together. While much of the equipment was automated, long-distance communication lag meant that a manned presence was necessary. In order to entice qualified personnel to apply for what was, at the time, a risky, stressful, dangerous job far from home in inclement conditions, the new Kombinate offered shares and stock-options entitling their workers to a dividend that would not be counted as part of their wages. These were the first stakeholder-citizens.

The Kombinates decision to use this incentive nearly proved to be their undoing, however. Organizing themselves into a union as the Kombinate facilities in the belt expanded, the workers soon came to have a certain influence over the decisions of the board by virtue of their collective shares in the company, and used their dividends and union dues to purchase more on the open market. The simmering conflict soon came to a head when the union demanded permanent representation to the board to act as spokespersons for their interests and proxy voters of their stock. Unwilling to accept this, the board threatened to fire thousands of workers, as well as having shipments of food from Earth halted, in retaliation. Lingering fears that some of the unionized workers harbored Communist sympathies exacerbated the situation.

At the end, however, cooler heads prevailed. During a three months long, closely monitored series of meetings held under the auspices of the United Republican Government's Bureau of Labour in New Delhi, the United Asteroid compact was hammered out as a compromise between the parties; The union would forgo to exercise the voting rights that came with their stock-portfolio, in exchange for the corporate headquarters of the Kombinate being formally moved to the asteroids, along with general improvements in living standards and their families being allowed to move with them. Additionally, the United Republican Government recognized the new Bifrost United Asteroid-Kombinate as an entity with full rights under the Constitution, with all the rights and responsibilities that came with it, including representation in the Great Senate.

While not the first instance of a corporate entity becoming a political power [see: United States, mid 21st century history - "Arkansas Inc", Mitsubishi Enclave of Okinawa, Madzimbabwe Conglomerate], the Bifrost United Asteroid-Kombinate is certainly the most recent. As part of the agreement when setting up their government, all stakeholder-citizens are required to own at least one share of the Kombinate stock to be able to vote for members of the board, which functions as the legislative branch of government. All residents, however, may vote for Stadtholder once every five years, who functions as the head of the executive. The judicial branch is appointed neither by the Stadtholder or the Board, but by the United Republican Government, bringing the Kombinate fully under URG law in all particulars. The Kombinate retains no military force, though it does have a local police force under the auspices of the URG.

As a curiosity, this means that the BUA-K is technically a classic Socialist state, given that all citizens are also shareholders in the corporation that owns all assets in the state's sphere of influence, and politically the BUA-K delegates to the Great Senate has remained composed of staunch Social Democrats. However, the practical effect of the chosen mode of government combined with the strict judicial control of the URG, means that in practice the Bifrost United Asteroid-Kombinate has become a turbo-capitalistic player in the greater Republic economy, as its stakeholder-citizens seek greater yields on their company stock. Its involvement and participation with the URG and firm advocacy for Republican ideals has also made it a stalwart contributor to both the Navy, Army, and the RCSPS.