New Home - People and Culture
The Caste System
New Home's caste system was created by the cruel Overlords who ruled the world for the first 300 years after colonisation. During the 'Landfall Hierarchy' period, the caste system was a rigidly enforced means of social control. Today the Overlords are long gone, but the caste system remains as an important social structure.
The highest caste is the 'Favoured', which consists of the nobility and their extended families. The nobility control every major aspect of life on New Home. Each family governs a city or province, or controls a large area of economic activity. They send representatives to the "Grand Convocation", which drafts legislation, selects the monarch and controls the judiciary.
There are hundreds of members of each noble family many of whom take no part in the family 'business'. In all, less than one percent of New Home's population are Favoured.
The Favoured can usually be identified by their entourage of retainers. They normally wear their household crest, as do their servants. In recent years sophisticated robots are increasingly replacing human servants, especially for younger, more independent minded nobles.
All favoured ones are addressed as 'sir' or 'maam', and eye contact should be avoided. Failure to observe these customs may result in a beating delivered by the Favoured one's followers. Such beatings are not strictly legal, but they are widely accepted as normal. Few police forces will take action against the perpetrators.
When travelling off New Home, these rules are necessarily relaxed. Off-world police are unlikely to be tolerant of 'unprovoked' assault. Nevertheless, it is always unwise to casually insult a New Home noble.
Below the Favoured ones are the 'Commoners'; New Home's well educated professional caste. Today, Commoners form the majority of New Home's population (c. 60%). They have well paid jobs and live in large comfortable homes. The wealthiest Commoners can afford servants of their own, although none will affect the ostentatious entourages of the nobles. Most Commoner households possess at least one robot servant.
Offworlders find Commoners the most approachable New Homers. They have a sophisticated urban outlook. Only their attitudes to other castes surprises visitors. Naturally they show the proper deference to their Favoured masters, but their disdain for the lower castes can be quite shocking. It is considered quite acceptable to beat a lazy or disrespectful servant.
Most Commoners are nominally Anglican Christians, but many of them practice no religion in their daily lives.
Historically, the Peons were manual labourers who worked in factories or on the land, and who owned little or no property. Today, Peons are servants, drivers, gardeners and so on. Most policemen and the bulk of the armed forces are also from the Peon caste. About 35% of New Homers are Peons.
Surprisingly, most Peons are not unhappy with their low status. They work hard and strive to improve their lot, or at least that of their children. Most Peons are devout Calvinist Christians.
The Underclass form the remaining 4% of New Home's population. They are the dispossessed who have no place in society. Originally, the Underclass were mostly of Asian descent. They performed only the most menial of jobs, if any at all.
Today the Underclass remains a vast underprivileged population. Those who stay on New Home prosper through art and performance, or make a living as prostitutes or criminals. Many leave New Home for a life of asteroid mining or as free traders.
Surprisingly, the Underclass have a monopoly on computer programming. New Home's other castes consider programming to be an unsavoury occupation, and so the Underclass has made it their own. The Clusters' best programmers are trained in New Home's Virtual University Of Software Engineering.
The Wheel of Life religion originated in the New Home Underclass over a thousand years ago. It still claims adherents even today. These Wheelies are very different from their cousins on New Colchis though. The older New Home branch emphasises good works and has little to do with the spirit world. Radical Wheelies from New Colchis have established missions in recent years, with some degree of success.