The Republic of New Rome is the most powerful and significant “neutral state” in galactic politics. Defining itself as “above” the rivalries of the three superpowers, it is proud of its status of being independent of the ideological fighting between the three states. Consequently, the superpowers view New Rome as a pariah and usually refuse to have anything to do with the “galaxy’s last democracy.”
New Rome was founded by Italian thinker Costantino Pesaresi, a social democrat whose parents had managed to flee Rome during the Collapse. During the early days, the American intelligence agency was burdened with the logistics of moving American and allied infrastructure to Columbia and neighboring systems, so Pesaresi’s parents were free to teach him what the Americans would have called “subversive antipatriotism.” By the time Pesaresi was an old man, he had already gained a following , especially among the poorer immigrants to the new systems, and his actions finally caught the eye of the American government. Not wanting to martyr the man and cause a revolution, Pesaresi and his followers were offered amnesty if they fled American space. Pesaresi took the offer, seeing the exile as an opportunity to create his ideal state without having to overthrow a pre-existing one.
The exiles landed in what they would call the Brundisum System, formerly the Omsk System of the USSR. Pesaresi declared the creation of the Republic of New Rome, stating that it would do what the founding fathers of the United States could not: create a free, equal society that would not degrade into tyranny. Already terraformed, the sparse Soviet settlements had been firebombed by the American Navy before its flight to Columbia, giving the New Romans a good start. Soviet terraforming equipment was found scattered throughout the system, in various states of disrepair, giving the settlers hope for the future.
New Roman expansion met with some opposition from various factions during the wars that would form the Conseil Systems and United Technocracies, but for the most part New Rome expanded into virgin space. New Rome’s population exploded with an influx of immigration, putting more demands on the country’s terraformers. The terraforming, despite the predictions of more cynical experts, succeeded, but another problem replaced them: industry. The New Roman worlds were prosperous and ripe for agriculture, but New Rome lacked the industry to successfully farm these worlds and feed the still-growing population. Manual labor was needed, and incidentally many immigrants had come to New Rome lacking much of anything, taxing New Rome’s welfare system. At the same time, many New Roman nativists complained about the possibility of immigrants a job and salary, claiming that they had entered the country illegally and therefore did not deserve New Roman jobs (although ironically, these same New Romans by and large did not want to take the farming jobs open to them). The New Roman government offered what they believed was the perfect solution: temporary indentured servitude. Lower-class immigrants would hire themselves out to farming corporations, while the corporations would in turn pay for their housing, food, and other necessities, while giving them a salary as well. For several decades, this plan more or less worked, but eventually the descendants of most of these indentured servants were mostly uneducated, only knowing the farming trade, and the corporations eventually learned to charge the “servants” for necessary tools, sapping away their salary and forcing their descendants into servitude as well. With the servants unable, and in many cases unwilling, to abandon their trade, the system of indentured servitude eventually became institutionalized and common.
Industrialization never really came to New Roman farming, with most industry gearing itself up for defense against the ever-expanding superpowers and trade with said superpowers nearly nonexistent. The issue was finally set in stone during the 2600s when the “Platonics” took power and declared that the slaves were “born to be slaves” and that while rulers could arise from these slaves, for the most part they would not. They also reasoned that New Rome would need able bodied slaves to defend itself against superpower aggression (the military argument was bolstered when an alliance of xenos, led by the gusano directorates, invaded New Rome in a quest to exterminate mankind), to save the lives of true citizens. However, emancipation is still possible for a slave who manages to earn enough to buy his freedom, and slave work has gone from being agricultural to service work for rich New Rome
Politics and Ideology
The institution of democracy, while still-extant in New Rome, has also been worn down over the years. Voting rights were at first universal, but immigrants were excluded. This, along with the eligibility to run for office, eventually came to include only citizens, and then only citizens who “served the state,” either by paying welfare taxes (a system which came to include only the richest New Romans) or serving in the military. The Platonics of the 2600s had almost created a meritocracy in New Rome, before they were ousted by the currently-reigning Gracchi faction, famously declaring that all citizens were equal and which continues to promise suffrage but has yet failed to deliver. They have changed the old New Roman voting system, in which the senators which represent the richest New Romans vote first and when “enough votes” (a number that constantly changes to the advantage of the rich). However, both the Platonics and the Gracchi support the system of New Roman senators and presidents not owning private property, but this is not surprising as this law is not really enforced and most senators own entire continents on the more sparsely-populated worlds.
The Platonic faction in New Roman politics is, naturally, inspired by Plato’s book "The Republic", but its ideology has been changed in order to maintain covert Coalition support. The core idea the Platonics promote is the rule of “philosopher kings” over all of New Rome, who just happen to be members of the Platonic movement. They support a sort of meritocracy in New Rome, increasing the difficulty with which slaves can free themselves and turning them into “servants of the state”: warriors and servants trained from birth to be ever-loyal to and defend New Rome. Most infamously, they promote a system of eugenics, killing off genetically-deformed babies and sterilizing adults with known genetic disorders. They actively oppose the democratic system in New Rome, arguing that it would decay into the same tyrannies that the old Roman Republic and United States succumbed to. The Gracchi, their main opponents, run on the platform that all New Roman citizens (specifically excluding slaves) are equal, and that any sort of institutionalized hierarchy is unjust. They promote the redistribution of senate-owned land (in practice, land owned by Platonics) to the poorer citizens of New Rome. Because of their insistence on equality, they tend to get the support of the Conseil, but their insistence on a more planetary and less centralized form of government causes friction between Conseil agents and Gracchi politicians.