The Covenant

Episode Notes

The Covenant is religious institution Distrikt of Witness, tracing its history back to the grand powers of Roman Catholicism.

For this season, Europarama joins forces with Edgeryders and their Science Fiction Economics Lab as they had an incredible idea. Instead of writing academic papers, they decided to channel out-of-the box economic research by building the world of Witness. 

Witness is a fictional city floating in a post-climate change Planet Earth, where people are organised by districts each experimenting a different social contract and a different economic model, but all of them connected by being constrained in that floating space. 

The Covenant is perhaps the least-understood among all the major Distrikts of Witness. Notable visitors have describe it alternatively as "a kind of feudal paradise" or a "fascist religious hegemony" or "a work of art". As always, the truth lies somewhere in between. 

The Covenant is indeed a religious institution, tracing itself back to the grand powers of Roman Catholicism. Broadly united under the Officium Auctoritatis Summae - loosely rendered as "the Office of the Highest Authority", and generally shortened to "Auctoritatis", it is possibly the single greatest concentration of material wealth on Witness. Magnificent churches stud the landscape, surrounded by carefully planned farms and estates; buildings of singularly brutalist art nouveau style line the streets of Hyborean, the 'center' sprawled around the Officium.

A unique feature of The Covenant’s economy is the strong role played by monasteries and other religious institutions. While by no mean numerically prevalent, these institutions tend to be over-represented among the most advanced, most successful operations. This observation led economist Malivalaya Nut to describe The Covenant as a dual economy, where two sets of economic agents with completely different objective functions co-exist. 

In a series of empirical investigation of The Covenant’s economy, Nut discovered a pattern: the economic activity of religious institutions tends to be amplified by businesses that are legally part of the secular economy, but have evolved for taking advantage of the turbulence created by the existence of the religious institutions themselves – for example lifting innovations invented in the monasteries and re-engineering them for secular markets.


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Edited by Stefano Montali

Witness is a project by SciFi Economics Lab supported by EIT Climate-KIC and Nordisk Kulturfond