In the Eye of the Swarm
The US Government, Corporations, Extraterritoriality, and the Shadows Between
It has been years since the government lost the war of extraterritoriality with the Megacorps. In began with a series of small concessions that enabled the US Government to achieve partnership with the public sector against their agenda. These in-roads into the privatization of governmental responsibilities and the Federal domain set dangerous precedents which were then capitalized by the corporations over time through lobby or outright corruption, leaving the United States and most of the world in the state in which it exists today.
Although there are certainly businesses that operate within the confines of the Federal jurisdiction, in the world of 2055, with the ability to incorporate comes the rights of extraterritoriality. For an exorbitant and reoccurring fee, a corporation has the option to, in effect, gain sovereign right over their domain, and citizenship, bypassing most of the traditional governmental mandates that could, annoyingly, have a negative impact on their profit margin. Corporate employees of these multinational conglomerates are, in effect, nationalized into the societal structure of the Megacorp. They are issued new forms of identification, are subject to a customized charter of corporate laws, and often rely on the corporation, and not the government, for their overall quality of life and their protection. In truth, once contracted, the average corporate employee will spend the whole of their life confined to a corporate campus. The quality of service offered by these corporations in this capacity…varies.
As a whole, while corporations dominate society, the government's presence is still felt and many in the awakened world live out their days in the public sector. The overall conditions of living outside of corporate influence tend to be worse, but, most commonly, with less restrictions to individual freedom. Within the Federal domain, citizens can come and go as they please, across state boundaries, and have far more options in terms of personal choice on how they live their lives. Put simply, in contrast to those of corporate affiliation, federally bound citizens are less regulated, monitored, and restricted.
Hidden in the guise of bureaucracy and amongst the mundane of accepted societal establishment, there is a twisted, symbiotic war for control between these entities. While corporations continuously strive for more independence from government mandates and laws, they depend upon this same entity for their most basic needs. The stark truth is that without the foundation of such things as a shared sustainable infrastructure, national defense, sanitation, and other societal cornerstones, corporations could not exist.
Although this might seem to grant the government entity quite a bit of control over it’s corporate counterparts, they find themselves in a similar situation. The cost to incorporate and gain extraterritoriality has slowly risen over period of a great many years, and the government has continued to find uses for for this ever increasing source of funds. In truth, the government has grown so dependent on this corporate sponsored income that, were these entities to fail, it is difficult to see how the government would function at all.
What remains in the wake of this grudging relationship, is a cold-war like struggle for control. For the many corporations that exist, this means paying constant attention to their government counterpart, attempting to ensure that their interests are protected while, most often, also frustrating the interests of their rivals. The government strategy has generally focused on taking advantage of the sheer number of corporate partners which exist within the confines of the nation and playing upon the rivalries that emerge from home grown capitalistic interest.
Corporate monopolies, as always, are enemy to the economic and political balance, however, through societal evolution, they have been accounted for. In the few instances where such relationships have threatened the equilibrium of political power, the Government has been swift to act. In the end, the rights of extraterritoriality are technically rented, and not bought, and can be revoked in cases where the interests of the nation are threatened. Certainly, such measures are not taken lightly, however there is precedent, and many say that the Government’s continued and significant investment in the country’s military has very little to do with national defense.
This does not, of course, account for the state of every individual. In the cracks between those clinging to government defined freedom and those who have sold their souls for the promise of utopia exist the SINless, the Fabricates, and the unwanted children of both worlds. Lost in the chaos of the Metroplex, these societal phantoms blend into the bureaucracy, continually eluding the notice of political machine. Though many of these individuals are simply a product of the sins and neglect of society, it is, in the shadows between these two paragons of capitalism and corruption, that those with a particular set of skills and a certain moral flexibility make their living.
Where open engagement between rival corporations or with the Government can be very costly, deniable assets often provide an attractive alternative. Although for some time, such individuals were somewhat rare, they were enough in demand and contracted with enough regularity to have grown to fill the vacuum between supply and demand to become what they are today.
To most of the wage slaves and citizens of the world, these individuals are only a spook story of common criminality dressed in fantasy. However, to those savvy to the ways of the shadows, these assets are simply a very effective and deniable way of doing business; a recourse for when lobby and negotiation have failed; a more tactical alternative to outright and open war.
They are called mercenaries; paramilitaries and criminals; the lost, the disenfranchised and the degenerate. These are the soldiers who wage today’s perpetual and secret war for the Metroplex. These are Shadowrunners.