|Flag of Golgothastan|
|Motto: "Home to the most ignorant class of infidels"|
|No Map Available|
|Region||The West Pacific|
|NS Sunset XML|
The Nominally Liberal Fluffarchy of Golgothastan is a nation in the West Pacific. A contiguous landlocked country, on the regional map it is on the largest southern continent, surrounded by unclaimed territory. The United Nations generally categorises Golgothastan as an Anarchy or a Civil Rights Lovefest; the latter epithet is greatly preferred, and the characterisation of "a (mostly) liberal (somewhat) democratic (kind of) republic" is also popular.
Golgothastan is not a large nation in any sense of the word. Its area is quite tiny - one-fifth of its territorial allowance - and its population of 40 million is small on a global scale. Still, it is totally not insecure about its size, and bought that Lamborghini because it genuinely loves classic automobiles. Its economy is chronically underdeveloped and it is generally classified as an LEDC, though not as a Third World country. However, Golgothastan does well in world rankings based on civil and political freedoms, literacy and the environment; it is also the number one nation in the world in terms of per capita turnip consumption.
Despite having a historic acceptance of immigrants and tolerance of diversity, Golgothastanis retain a distinct ethnic heritage. Basically, imagine someone whose diet consists of root vegetables and stale cheese, who lives in a neo-Stalinist high-rise surrounded by ten other neo-Stalinist high-rises, and the highlight of whose week is the latest article on innovations in tractor technology. Now imagine there's 40 million of the fuckers. Yeah.
The nation has had a short and unremittingly boring history: initially colonised by farmers, these were quickly supplanted by bureaucrats to tell the farmers what to do, and most subsequent developments have involved trying to find a balance (i.e. as many bureaucrats for as few farmers as possible). At one point they thought having a monarch would enliven things, and people always dressed up for the coronations, but after a while they started to want to do things, so they had to get rid of that. Now the political system is a chaotic mess; ok, the political system is still a chaotic mess, just with fewer crowns. The guiding principle of Golgothastani political philosophy is the Nice/Not Nice system of Fluffarchism.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 Geography
- 3 History
- 4 Government and politics
- 5 Foreign relations
- 6 Economy
Golgothastan is named after Golgotha, the place where Jesus Christ was crucified (and -stan because all good nations are called -stan; plus one of the Founding Cousins' nephews was called Stan and his parents couldn't afford an iPod). This is now seen as a bit nasty really, although generally not as aspiring to the level of Not Nice, because frankly, it's not like Christians have had a perfect record either: as such, Golgothastanis generally mumble something about it being an ancient word for "peace" or "harmony". Unfortunately, some latter generations have begun to really believe this, and the exact meaning has become a subject of hot dispute: a recent Peace/Harmony knife-fight left 18 dead.
Golgothastan occupies a small plot in the centre of the largest southern continent of the West Pacific. It is surrounded by unclaimed territories and its politicians live in perpetual fear of someone showing up and claiming them (when they really should be living in perpetual fear of the citizenry checking their accounting records). It is a contiguous state, though everyone wishes those weird North Golgothastanis weren't quite so contiguous. The country has a variable terrain, from flat, grassy farmland in the east to slightly elevated, marginally less grassy farmland in the west. In the middle there is a big mountain that everyone is very proud of. Although the nation has no coastline, the heavy annual rainfall keeps the system of lakes and rivers well topped-up, and occasionally engulfs everyone in horrendous flash-floods. But sometimes afterwards, there are rainbows.
Ok, so the terrain isn't actually that variable. But all the other nations say that, and it's good for tourism, and besides, a little white lie never really hurt anyone. Most of it does actually consist of fairly flat land. This has the advantage of making it easy to walk and build on, and the disadvantage of being morbidly depressing and conducive to devastating flooding. Although the flooding can occasionally kill millions and leave infrastructure to a crumbling, pre-medieval mess, most Golgothastanis are philosophical about this: their infrastructure is already a crumbling, pre-medieval mess, and they wouldn't exactly miss their neighbours, who they think are probably Communists. The rivers in fact form an important part of Golgothastan's economic makeup: they supply fresh water with an efficiency the government could never match, contain many tasty fish, and are used for freight transportation and drowning excess kittens.
Aside from the odd hill, Golgothastan's only major elevation is the somewhat unimaginitively named Mount Golgothastan. An abrupt pimple in the otherwise serene texture of the nation, most Golgothastanis harbour a secret fear that it is in fact the product of a gigantic, radioactive mole that will one day burst free and devour them all. Interestingly, the government - which conducted assorted questionable nuclear experiments there when they were feeling bored one day - has never denied this rumour's veracity.
Golgothastan is the only nation in the world that the International Meteorological Organisation has classified as having a climate of "depressing". This does not refer to air pressure, but rather the fact it rains all the damn time. However, foreigners often fail to understand how important the rain is to Golgothastani culture: if it didn't rain so much, the days when it didn't wouldn't be such joyous occasions. Similarly, even though the nation is carpeted with snow in winter, and it always manages to turn to grey sludge, for a time it covers up the eyesore of turnip field upon turnip field upon turnip field. Oh god, make it stop.
Despite the lack of variety in Golgothastani habitats it has quite a diverse array of flora and fauna, including some of the oldest forests in the region, and several species of animals extinct elsewhere. This has been helped by the strength of the national conservation movement; as well as forcing governments to make environmental concerns a priority, they have succeeded in preserving Golgothastan's natural heritage without being too obnoxious about it. Every year, Golgothastan hosts the Our Leafy Friends concert, a huge musical festival which attracts tree-huggers from around the globe, and who then proceed to get really high. The strength of environmental protection has inhibited economic development to some degree, although there are efforts to try to promote eco-tourism and profit from the green image of the nation by selling environmentally-friendly products. Ok, that is pretty obnoxious.
The modern state of Golgothastan was colonised in the 1920s; however, for a long time before this, maybe even back to when there were still DINOSAURS! the area was populated by tribes that lived peacefully and worked the land. When the first colonists arrived, the ties of universal love transcended barriers of language and culture, and everyone got on really well. But this meant almost all of the natives then died of smallpox. So, um, sorry about that.
By 1926 colonists had begun streaming into Golgothastan, seeking a land free from persecution. This meant most of the early colonists just ended up lying around all day and getting baked, and it took some while before any real development towards a nation emerged. Archaeologists are still uncovering some of the original bongs used by the first colonists, remarkable finds that strangely get tied up in lab analysis for months on end.
The first major settlement was at New New York, where a farming complex was soon developed to raise cattle and organize land use. Other early settlements included New New New York, New New New New York, New New New New New York and New New New New New New York, at which point the first national congress of delegates convened, coming to the unpopular conclusion that a bit more originality in naming might be required. This particularly annoyed the Mayor of New New New New New New New York, who'd already had the sign for his office door printed off and everything. After a while, networks of communes, towns, farms and leper colonies began to band together to organize a system of government. Then the first Great Reawakening happened, when they realized that instead, they could all just go get stoned again, and thus political unification took a little while longer in coming.
The Golgothastani Republic
In 1933 the Golgothastani Republic was formed as a nation by the Founding Cousins. These were mostly second- or third-generation immigrants who lacked, perhaps, the parental sensibilities of some other nations - explaining why the Constitution's Article 27 was "And we can stay out as long as we want, even on school nights" - and also influenced by the pursuits of the early colonists - thus making Golgothastan's original Constitution the only one in the world to begin "We, the People, in order to get a killer buzz..." At this point, however, Golgothastani historians pretty much run out of cannabis jokes, which were never exactly comic manna from heaven anyway. The Constitution took care of freedom of religion, speech, assembly, all that shit, and was generally considered to be not bad for a bunch of addled turnip-farmers with yeast infections.
The young nation got off to a rocky start. In addition to the country's economic woes, there was widespread political dissent as people began to realize that now they lived in a formal state, they were going to have to get jobs, pay taxes, sort out mortgages, and that this was all boring. This proved very unpopular and led to "the National Grumble", a period in which rioting occurred daily. This can be distinguished from all other sectors of Golgothastani history, in which rioters took weekends off. Civil disobedience quickly became a national pasttime, with people from all corners of the country uniting in joyous harmony to go roll over a couple of police cars and throw eggs at the government buildings. Golgothastan's national parliament has been burned down a record 47 times, and now convenes in a tool shed (nominally to save money, but in fact so the Speaker can huff paint thinner). However, the early days of the Republic were culturally rich, producing many great works of art, literature and music that kicked off the vibrant and active decades to come.
Civil Chess Match
In 1971, Golgothastanis decided by plebiscite that their nation had been around long enough, and that it was time for a civil war. The problem was the incredible reluctance of anyone to do any fighting, and the paucity of military resources. While the government grumbled that these hippies didn't mind fighting with policemen, oh no, the people came to an acceptable conclusion: the champion chess players from North and South Golgothastan faced off in a gruelling encounter. If the North won, they would be allowed to peacably secede; if the South won, the Northern player would have to kiss a girl on the lips for a whole minute. Ewwww! Fortunately for everyone involved, the match ended in a stalemate; it has been noted the Southern representative deliberately turned down an opportunity to take the queen's rook, possibly fearing a recurrence of the cootie epidemic that ravaged the nation back in '64.
There was no rematch, and the resultant bathos led to a week-long festival of rioting in which people took it in turns to burn each other in effigy. The return to normal business brought the brief flowerings of economic prosperity as the first wave of industrialisation swept the nation: Old Man Jenkins bought a colour television. Ooooh. This alien infiltration produced a technophobic backlash, and another week of rioting. Golgothastan's persistent underdevelopment is mystifying, huh, really mystifying.
The Anarchist Experiment
In the late 1970s, anarchism became very popular in Golgothastan. The country had long been associated with anarchist tendencies and there were many popular anarchist movements, but these were generally regarded simply as people who knew where the good riots were at, rather than as political visionaries. Nonetheless, the nation changed its flag to a black banner striped with red and green, an emblem it keeps to this day, and finally voted - yeah, Golgothastani's aren't big on irony - to become an anarchy in 1978.
The early days were good. Admittedly, people ran through the streets burning down each others' houses and waving aggressive banners, there was random and sporadic violent disorder, and property was redistributed according to the theory that all people with shotguns are entitled to an equal share of the common bounty, but then, this had pretty much been the case anyway; many Golgothastanis who lived through the period historians term "The Anarchist Experiment" remain unaware any political change occurred.
The reason for the failure of The Anarchist Experiment was primarily that the Golgothastanis weren't suited to its demands. While many retain a romantic attachment to anarchism, most now admit that they had not properly considered what it would involve. Further, while Golgothastanis may appear a kind, gentle and hospitable people, they are in fact lying, thieving, deceitful bastards who need a bit of reigning in by the government. There were some experiments to set up communal councils and organize anarcho-syndicalist authorities, but Golgothastanis were generally unable to see the difference between them and an elected government, and finally chose to revert to democracy, which at least then allowed them to buy cool T-shirts lauding anarchism.
After yet another democratic government failed to do anything except piss off foreign nations and raise taxes, the people decided a new change was in order, and another plebiscite was held. Options for the new form of government included military dictatorship, theocracy, totalitarian communism, or five more years of pussified liberalism. Although pussified liberalism won handsomely, monarchy got a surprising support from write-in candidates. The nation considered this, decided it might make for an interesting change, and decided to find a monarch.
Golgothastan had no royal bloodline, and so it was decided that a good old-fashioned contest would be held. Champions from home and abroad travelled to the capital, New New York: trials included jousting, archery, swordsmanship and rhetoric. In the decider, Stephen Gherkin successfully removed a bra with only one hand and, after he'd had a clip round his ear from his disapproving mother, was crowned King of Golgothastan. Unfortunately, the Gherkin family suffered an incredibly high mortality rate, all dying with symptoms suggesting scorpion poisoning, meaning that by 1998 there had been seven monarchs. Rudi Gherkin, Stephens' second cousin and head keeper at the New New York Zoo arachnid house, was crowned, instituting a seven year reign of blood and terror involving secret police, arbitrary detention and human rights abuse.
He was assassinated using a toaster-bomb in 2005 and his government toppled by rioters, but many admitted that while they had seen the bad side of monarchy and longed for a return to parliamentary democracy, things had at least been interesting for a little while. The monarchy period had also proved very inspiring to a new generations, who wrote lots of flowery poetry abouting liberty bleeding and the birth of freedom.
With the monarchy overthrown, Golgothastan returned to a republican form of "government", electing a President and Ministers. Later on, they wrote a constitution, though this turned out to consist of nothing more than poorly transcribed snippets of The West Wing dialogue written on cocktail napkins. Golgothastan decided to reenter the world, but this involved looking at the rest of the people in the world. Mortified, they shrank back and returned to a hermitic form of semi-isolation.
The return of democracy has brought neither stability nor prosperity, and electing a Stability-Prosperity coalition didn't work either. Drat, and we thought it was so clever. The nation continues to struggle economically while crime rates remain high. Attempts to solve either problem have proved unpopular and unsuccessful, and all-in-all, Golgothastanis look around them and see a country not so vastly different from the uninhabitable wreck their ancestors first encountered. Except for the dodgy foreign cable channels, which makes life worth living again.
Government and politics
The first thing to say about the political system is that, while very political, it is no kind of system. It would be better described as the political blrghff. Golgothastan has been a democratic unitary constitutional liberal democratic parliamentary social democratic republic since 2005; no one is convinced what all of those mean, but it's better to be safe than sorry. The first Constitution, believed to be the inspiration for Kevin Ayers' Stranger in Blue Suede Shoes, has been lost to time; the new one is by no means perfect, but mentions liberty quite a bit and has some stuff about being the time to reach for the skies, so it must be pretty good. Government comes at all levels - national, county, town, district - and no one is really sure which takes precedence. There are sweeping democratic freedoms, including universal suffrage, secret ballot and regular elections, but turnout is habitually low. In another example of foreign misconceptions of Golgothastani society, this is often taken as an indication of apathy: in fact, when they really care about something, they reach for the pitchfork, and rioting is considered the highest form of political expression.
The government has three branches. The executive is the President, whose main responsibility is to act as a focus of blame for the latest national failure. However, the pay is good and you get all the chicks. The legislature is the national parliament, which writes long and beautifully worded laws that no one ever reads and no one ever listens to me and why won't you ever play my way, it's not fair, I'm going home, no I'm not crying! The Golgothastani combines corruption and incompetence in admirable proportions, with none of them quite clever enough to realize how easy it would be to seriously defraud the public. The judicial branch, which interprets and enforces all laws, consists of one man, Judge Dredd. He used to march around barking "I Am The Law!" and stomping on people's faces, but now he is pretty old, very deaf, and needs help going to the bathroom. Crime rates have actually dropped in the last year as people begin to feel sorry for the old fellow.
The major political parties are the social democratic Prosperity Party, the libertarian Stability Party, the industrialist Green Party, and the environmentalist Technology Party. Other parties include the Liberty Party (conservative), the Law and Order Party (anarcho-communist), the Socialist Party (capitalist) and the Capitalist Party (socialist). The Technos hold the current majority in parliament, after all other parties disclaimed responsibility for the latest recession by pretending they had no seats and thus allowed them to nip in the back door; the current President is Stability-Prosperity co-candidate Bort Chocowitz.
The key to modern Golgothastani political philosophy is Fluffarchism, the phenomenally successful theory popularised by UN representative Jack Weisgaarden. In his time at the United Nations, Weisgaarden noted the tendency of other nations to blame everything on the damned fluffies, yet equally the curious absence of anyone actually admitting to be a damned fluffy. He decided that such a position would actually prove quite convenient: if one did something right, then it would boost the global image of fluffies and more people might associate with it, and if one did something wrong, then people wouldn't care and instead simply say, "Oh, don't worry, he's just a fluffy".
Drawing together the key elements of supposed fluffy disposition - social and political liberalism, environmentalism, social justice and anti-militarism - and combining them with his somewhat inelegant take of bits of Rawls and Mill in a crude utilitarian/anti-utilitarian mix, he came up with the Nice/Not Nice principle. His book, Let's Be Nice And Not Be Not Nice, was a bestseller and many Golgothastanis try to live their lives by it, while laws are usually attempts to put its tenets into operation.
Fluffarchism holds that we should do things that are Nice, like making stuff for people, sharing, and listening to what others say. Equally, we should avoid doing things that are Not Nice, such as hurting other people, littering, and being selfish. However, Fluffarchism's teachings on the role of government action are sketchy and controversial, usually making use of the How Nice? scale of approximation. Hence although it is Not Nice to be a Nazi, censorship is so Not Nice that censorship of Nazism is Not Nice.
Naturally, this leads a lot of political questions at best vague, or at worst totally unanswerable. For example, killing is definitely Not Nice. But so is forcing others to suffer pain. Hence euthanasia can be accepted as Nice even though it can involve a Not Nice practice. When such confusions arise, the natural response of Golgothastanis is to shake their head and say "oh dear oh dear oh dear". Then they have a drink. They think about it a little more, and then mumble "no good will come of it". Then they have another drink, and although they are now feeling better, still have to have a couple more drinks before they can stop scratching their heads and saying "what a pickle". Then they get up on the table and dance!
The final ingredient of Fluffarchism - and the reason for its not being called simply Fluffism or Fluffyism - is Jack Weisgaarden's mental state. First, it must be said that he is probably a very nice man who has had a rough time of it (though in his darker moments some of his statements do tend to pour doubt on this). He has worked very hard, well, he's worked, and he is a bit tired now, with very little to do. Hence, silly and unpractical as his cock-eyed theory might be, no one has the heart to tell him this and worries that doing so might be the last straw, and so people go along with it and effusively praise it within his earshot, because otherwise it would be Not Nice.
Golgothastan is far too busy trying to sort out its internal problems to have many foreign objectives and far too disorganized to have anything approaching foreign policy, though it has somewhat disinterestedly hopped regions from the now-defunct homeland of Noviona to Wysteria to Liberalia to the West Pacific. Golgothastanis have got used to the perpetual hum of helicopters, and fully expect a few further migrations yet. Furthermore, lacking any military power - hell, lacking any military at all - Golgothastan has had little impact on the international scene. They generally welcome open trade relations, however, and maintain embassies with a few nations.
Golgothastan was briefly a member of the United Nations but resigned after National Systems of Tax passed, rejoining on actually reading the resolution and then resigning again following UN Biological Weapons Ban. Although this has since been repealed and replaced with the much better UN Bio Agent Convention all the commotion was a bit much and Jack Weisgaarden, the Golgothastani representative to the UN, had to lie down for a long while. Now he rambles around the UN Headquarters unable to find his shoes; he occasionally appears in The Strangers' Bar but no one takes much notice of him.
Mr Weisgaarden's comments have, as with all good observers, been mostly confined to haughtily complaining about how no you're doing it wrong, see if I was doing it, I don't know why we joined this bloody organization in the first place. This has included arguing against Repeal "Legalise Euthanasia", throwing a wobbly about the Abortion Legality Convention, getting into a pissing contest over Developed Economic Advancement, a grumpy rant that kicked off official discussion on Help Prevent Ozone Depletion, and trying - and failing - to get Chemical Transport Standards deleted. However, he spoke in support of Orbital Space Safety Act. Other addresses to the UN have included sarcastic complaints about the rightwards legislative turn, a couple of proposals that never made it anywhere, and an exchange with a fellow Jack about national sovereignty.
Golgothastan has a paltry expenditure on defence that is exceeded by spending on office supplies for the Department of Peace, but contrary to some perceptions it does maintain an extremely limited armed forces, mostly consisting of harmless old boys who get their kicks out of marching up and down with rusting rifles over their shoulders, calling everyone "Reggie". Nor should it be assumed that Golgothastanis are not a militant people: just try insulting their cooking, and you'll see how militant a frying-pan can be. However, they much prefer to direct this violence at one another, and particularly at their government, than with a bunch of people in a land far away who they have no particular quarrel with. Golgothastan has fought in no wars, nor even been invaded; however, a group of Scouts did once get locked in a museum of military history overnight, and were promptly awarded the nation's highest decoration for valour. The military has two branches, the Army and Navy; there is no Air Force, although little Timmy Cohen has a pretty mean flick of the wrist with his paper aeroplane. Being a landlocked state, Golgothastan has only limited naval capabilities and requirements, which are mostly limited to ensuring the free flow of river traffic. They have two boats, but only one set of oars: this was a deliberate move to teach a symbolic lesson about sharing, or else going round in a circle all the time. It's real cute. In total, almost 150 Golgothastanis are on active military duty, and another 12 are considered reservists. The Department of Peace has control over military affairs, but mostly lets them run their own show. Golgothastan is a member of no international military organizations nor signatory to any such treaties. It has never developed or used NBC weaponry and campaigns against such things: indeed, they were among the first items officially recognised as Not Nice. The nation maintains a few military bases, all unused, as diversions for bored rioters.
With a GDP of a little over $72 billion and a GDP per capita of $1,824, Golgothastan's economy can be best described as "weak", "insignificant", "developing", "relatively poor" or "totally sucking donkey's balls", depending on ones economic perspective. Having experimented with everything from command economy to a totally free market to the abolition of property rights, Golgothastan has now returned to a mixed system i.e. one that pisses off everyone, left and right. Most businesses are small, and there are few powerful corporations (excluding the government-front ZOMGOMNISMASHMEGADEATHCORPULTRA, used to protect legitimate businesses by acting as a decoy duck for anit-corporate protestors). There is stringent government regulation, particularly on environmental matters, and an expansive social welfare system.
Paucity of natural resources and crippling laziness in the workforce combine to perpetually stall efforts at developing Golgothastan's industries. A further problem is the extraordinary allowance for public holidays, at an average of more than one per week. However, income is distributed much more equally than in many nations, and the government's public aid efforts have mitigated some of the worst effects of the shattering poverty in which their citizens live. This state of affairs has bred a certain degree of gruff indifference into Golgothastanis, most of whom look down upon the very wealthy (but try to nick their watch anyway).