Among those who survived the end times of the Euro-Sino Empire, most lived nasty, brutish, and short lives.
Yet within seven generations all had joined the Federation of Watersheds and accepted their ways.
Most did live most of their life in a village of their choice as mobility was maintained. Any villager could petition the Federation for assistance in relocating to an accepting and acceptable village.
No two villages or cities were the same as each was an ongoing experiment in living constrained only by the best guesses of their inhabitants and ultimately by the contingencies of survival and hardship.
The Federation constrained only the expansion of villages and city-states into the 80% and their use of any force or coercion against their neighbors. Thus within the Pax Federation did villages flourish within limits.
Yet failure was an option and some villages did fail. Villagers could vote with their feet if another village or a city would accept them.
For as many recreational drugs as were known were there villages to embrace them—some one and some all. The non-user minority did vote with their feet as most villages embraced limits to drug use or eschewed them altogether.
Individuals who did value their entheogens found villages of kindred others. But many did not prosper and limits on individual usage arose. To remain functional the villagers would partake only on occasion.
In some villages only alcoholics lived, but such few villages became little more than the stuff of cautionary tales.
Every conceivable way of life was there for the trying, but those who made poor choices became ever fewer. Thus did Federation culture evolve.
Some villages were of adult males only, others of adult females only. Their children as young adults could to the city go, and those who to opposite gender were drawn could in due time to a mixed-sex village go, their offspring to raise.
There were almost as many individualistic villages as there were types of individuals, and thus did diversity, such as worked, flourish. But only because failure was an option.
By considered consensus the Federation did set some behavioral limits. Children were citizens of the Federation and some needed Federation protection. Children could not consent to genital mutilation.
Children could not consent to ignorance, so access to education and the Gog was judged a fundamental human right.
Gog was a digital intelligence of whom questions could be asked. The Gog knew both reason and evidence. From Gog came the best available knowledge and answers.
Yet all humans were encouraged to question, challenge, and correct the Gog. Reason and evidence be praised!
All human differences, save those that could not be tolerated, were tolerated.
Some villages consisted solely of pedophiles, yet children did not among them live, but only animatronic dolls were among them. Thus did pedophiles live without prosecution, nor by doing harm to others.
A resident pedophile could only to another pedophile village move, as child-friendly villages would decline to accept them, and obligate pedophiles born elsewhere could to a pedophile village of their choice move, thus minimizing issues and allowing the pedophile to live in the best of possible worlds.
There are always issues. The Federation was willing to consider options.
Even freedom has limits. Only learning has none in need of limiting.
No village was forced to accept a petitioner. Some humans had few options, while those who lived right and well were sought after and had many. Thus did Federation culture evolve.
The benefits of being Federation were immense, via both road and fiber-optic, and the cost slight.
Each community was largely free within their claimed 20% to live by their best guess.
The cost communities paid to be part of the Federation was to agree to Federation limits on avarice and to allow Federation scientists to observe and report to the world their successes and failures that all might learn to emulate their successes and avoid their failures.
There was no taxation of villages as the Federation was funded by interwatershed trade, yet all were represented, and watershed representatives set limits to Federation funding.
The mandate of the Federation was to serve the planet's 80%, then the human's 20%, and then the humans and their interests.
The Federation scientists did guess and test, their science to develop. To know the planet required more than human intelligence, and such intelligence did develop.
Within ten generations humans and their machines were back in orbit, to better peer into the Cosmos, its wonders to behold.
The best science from before the collapse was recovered and exceeded, but more sought after this time was the wisdom to use the technology it spawned.
Weapon's technology held no interest, as the nation-states had passed away, and no city-state would or could challenge the Federation, much less one village challenge another as all were under Federation protection. The Federation had left-over weapons, but never used them, and most became museum pieces.
Solar technology developed, most villages were powered by it, and many cities developed under its shade in the sunny parts of the planet, their work to be done when the sun shone.
There was global transportation, low energy and slow as time was no longer money.
Intelligent, autonomous sailing machines did ply the waters, their safe harbors to find.
On land, machines with rotating legs did crawl from place to place, solar powered, their cargo to deliver, while information traveled at the speed of light.
Emergency transport was by glider. From city or village, drone gliders, lofted to great high by external compressed water packs, did glide to a needed destination.
The critically ill could from village to city go by self-guided air ambulance in haste without waste.
Early on, Federation scientists had perfected birth control technology. All children were by choice, limited only by possession of a transferable birth certificate. The act of reproduction involved an agreed upon cessation of the use of birth control.
As reproductive technology advanced and as humans became better informed, humans came to want children lacking their genetic disorders. Genetic therapy became accepted.
With the ability to disfavor the frequency of some genes in the population came the ability to favor other genes.
Some villages and cities decided to experiment with genetic reproductive technology. The Federation did closely monitor. The results encouraged others to experiment, and thus did the Federation evolve.
Some genes coding for what was almost universally judged to be aversive to the bearer approached extinction. The genes were preserved, not unlike the smallpox virus of old had been, by Federation scientists for variations sake, but none came to be reintroduced into the gene pool.
Other traits judged beneficial to the bearer increased in frequency. Health became the norm, but maximizing longevity did not. Life and death on a finite planet were understood to be inseparable. Only if humans died could new ones be born. In death is life.
Over time the ability to learn, to iterate towards truth, to live free from deception, did increase. Thus did they of the Federation evolve.
In time, the science and technology of the Federation begat small scale fusion power which made the fusion sphere of the solar system unneeded. Cities bore underground, the vast caverns illuminated by fusion too cheap to meter.
Rapid transport was by underground tubes, all surface roads were restored to Nature. Tubes allows for human transport to hidden exits unto the remotest parts of Nature, its minimally intruded upon wonders to behold.
So intrusive did village life come to appear that all but 2% of the land was restored to Nature conservancy, as villages too did move underground, their fusion plant to power.