Basic Information Short Name: Rationalists Full Name: French Rationalist Republic Capital: Paris Flag: Standard french flag; the Rationalist make extensive use of Bridges in their iconography Color: blue Provinces: Continental France. The oversea colonies have all been lost. If continental France is too much, then bleed away the outer regions and we can say that they are lawless and potentially culturally french but not actually governed by us. Description France was badly bloodied by the great wars, its manpower and treasures bled and its colonies increasingly agitating for independence. To assist in its reconstruction, France invested heavily in autonomous machines and these same machines turned upon their 'masters' during the machine tyrant attacks of 1920. Bled in flesh and treasure, the French republic was ill-ready to defend itself against the machines and it was only the defeat of the Machine Tyrant in other theaters that allowed French survival. Ultimately the combined stresses of the Great War and the Machine Tyrant attacks were enough to break the French Republic and in the aftermath, its colonies, seeing France too weak to defend them, or to press her claims upon its protectorates, began to agitate for independence. With little power to assert its will, let alone a truly functional government, the Republic was quick to recognize their independence in the hopes of at least maintaining good trade relations. The years between 1921 and 1929 saw the French elect 'le Parti Radical Rational', leftist social-liberals with a strong technocratic/academic influence. A small group of thaumaturges, with ancestral roots in the philosophical societies associate with the salons of the 17th and 18th century, forms the core of the party and holds dominant positions within the government. Today France is a nation torn asunder and torn asunder again. Its great cities are a mixture of ruins and ambitious reconstruction projects. Its military is hugely undermanned. Without its colonies, its industries have had to contract and retool, and, in necessity, turning again to machines. Its government is young, idealistic, and largely both naive and untried. Despite this, the Rationalist have adapted rapidly, reverse-engineering the automatons of the Machine Tyrant and applying the knowledge widely in industrial, commercial, administrative, and military applications. Philosophy Towards Machines and Machine Intelligence: Sentience & Machine Mind: The rationalists believe that the complex 'machine soul' driving the 'sentience' of automatons is limited and indeed can be explained with sufficient understanding as the functions of a logical and ordered programming. As such, they do not believe that machines may have 'free will'. Unfortunately, this has led to the logical comparison to the human mind and consequently, many rationalists believe that the human brain is similarly limited, and operates as a sort of complex 'program' responding to environmental inputs and evolutionary programing. Still, for many, this is 'good enough' and while there is a nihilist undertone to Rationalist teachings, it is not dominant. Use of Automatons and 'Sentient' Machines: The rationalists are inherently suspicious of 'sentient' robots, as they do not understand what their primary objectives are or how their programing became so complex (just as they are, often, suspicious of humans for the same reason). This, and the consequences of the Machine Tyrant attacks and the vulnerability of their people to a second attack, has limited the use of complex 'machine souls' within the republic despite wide-spread technological education and aptitude and cultural openness to technology generally. Instead the Rationalist Republic widely uses 'pre-sentient' automation, akin to 'machine-learning' in OTL. A rationalist republic machine may learn to be more and more effective effective at coordinating logistics, balancing a flying machine, or cleaning a factory, but it would not be able to hold a conversation or argue philosophy as might machines with more complex 'machine souls'. Civil Aspects Politics: France is a democratic republic with the 'le Parti Radical Rational' holding power since the re-establishment of French government (the Fourth Republic) after the collapse of the 3rd Republic during the Machine Tyrant's attacks. Le Parti are left-leaning (which it believes is the logical and rational culmination of social evoluation) and have implemented progressive income tax, social insurance, expanded educational opportunities, and labor cooperatives schemes. They are progressives, and strongly anti-royalist and anti-clerical/church. Most parti members are highly educated/academics, priding themselves on rationalism, logic, technological futurism, and within the party there is wide support for atheism. The thaumaturge core continues to have an oversized influence in both the Parti and the wider political arena with extensive influence within the French intelligence services. While the Parti currently enjoys wide popularity, their opposition are the 'Bloc National', traditionalists with support from the Church, the army, and imperialists. Economy: Rebuilding the economy and generating wealth and wide financial opportunity and security for the population has been the primary focus of the post-war government. Industrial and worker cooperatives under central planning models are being implemented widely but still experimental in many ways. Manpower shortages have meant wide-scale implementation of new machine technologies, including the afore-mentioned pre-sentient automatons which are core to many industries. Despite these efforts, France has necessarily had to tighten its belt in the wake of the Machine Tyrant's attacks and the loss of its colonies. The flow of raw resources from colonies is not nearly as extensive and now must be repaid fairly in finished goods. Diplomacy: Badly battered and having lost its colonies, the French Rationalist Republic's anti-monarchy, anti-clerical position are sure to anger some. Still, with a wide variety of neighbors experiencing much more extreme forms of strange ideological government, todays' France may seem almost reassuring in its 'vanilla' perspectives and challenges. The Rationalist Republic did not support imperial/colonial action against Arabs in the former Middle Eastern colonies and specifically denounced the action of the renegade imperialists and remnants of the pre-Machine Tryrant government in Syria who acted without French orders or support. The Rationalists are suspicious of sentient machines and especially suspicious of sentient machines in positions of political or administrative power. Research: The rationalist government are strong supporters of wide-scale education and proponents of technological solutions to social and other problems. Its universities are well-funded and meritocratic-based subsidies for attendance a cornerstone of the current government. The current academic/technocratic culture means philosophy and natural sciences are widely studied not just by academics but across the increasingly literate population as a means of social advancement and cultural pride. The Rationalist Republic government is assisted by venerable and aging but none-the-less extremely potent analytical engine, "Delecluze". As mentioned above, they make wide-scale use of pre-sentient 'dumb' machine souls in many applications and 'coding' as a science and as a profession is growing exponentially as is the use thereof in industry, commerce, communications, and administration. Military Aspects Army: The French military is undermanned but well-armed, the fruit of French technological expertise. A core of battle-hardened veterans do their best to train post-war recruits. One new investment in the army since the machine attacks has been an acceleration of incorporating thaumaturges into the armed services. These often also serve as political officers. Presently almost all fighting groups can expect dedicated magical support of varying capability and prowess. A second investment has been the incorporation of pre-sentient 'dumb' machine souls in applications as diverse as supporting the balance for flying machines, accelerating range-finding and targeting for naval guns, and logistic and communications support at a strategic level. A third application, specifically to counter enemy automatons is electronic counter-measures, heavy wireless telegraphy (radio) 'interference' meant to isolate mechs from one-another and prevent effective coordination and communication between them. Mechs and various military automatons are operated by humans and never wholly independent or 'sentient'. Navy: What few ships survived the Tyrant's attacks continue to serve as the core of the French navy, its officers and crew hardened veterans. New ship-building has been very limited and largely focused on trials for technological concepts of academic-minded/connected senior officers more than actual military applications. Air Force: Like the navy, the airforce is largely made up of the remnants of the Machine Tyrant's attacks. The pilots and support crew are very competent, battle-hardened veterans but their numbers are small and expansion and recovery of the airforce has not been prioritized. Small experimental programs dedicated to pilotless, wireless telegraphy-controlled combat aircraft is in its infancy. Intel: The French Rationalist Republic has a competent intelligence apparatus and enjoys better funding than does the military. It is divided into three departments: - Troisième Agence- foreign intelligence and espionage - Le Directoire Centrale- counter-intelligence - Coopérative d'Intelligence Police- domestic intelligence in support of police activities Additionally, the thaumaturge core of the government have extensive direct influence in the affairs of the three main branches of French intelligence and the intelligence services themselves are enriched in 'thaumaturges' to enable secret communication, scrying, and more. Signals intelligence is growing rapidly and the Rationalist Republic intelligence operations are increasingly competent at both electronic counter measures (see army, above) and electronic signal interception. Indeed the Troisième Agence operates both small submarines and lighter than air balloons for that express purpose.