Which is more important, blood or culture?

The nation of Hypothica was once a colony of the nation of Hardcastle.  It broke away 240 years ago and has since overshadowed Hardcastle in power and influence, largely by taking in so many immigrants over the years that it has about five times the population.  But the culture of Hypothica is still largely based on Hardcastle’s culture

Now a Hardcastle time traveler has gone back 250 years and has changed history so that Hypothica didn’t break away 240 years ago.

When he returns to the present he finds everything much the same as before.  Hypothica is still independent (it broke away much later).  The rest of the world is much the same as before.  The differences are A) Hypothica now has about half the population of Hardcastle and B) Hypothica has a lot more people of Hardcastle ancestry than before.

Our time traveler now comes to you, an important figure in Hardcastle society from 250 years ago, and explains the situation.  He asks you to choose between two possible futures.  He can undo the change he made, in which case the future Hypothica will dominate the world and will do so more or less with Hardcastles culture but very few of Hypothica’s people will be descended from Hardcastle.  Or he can leave the change in place, in which case Hardcastles cultural influence on the world will be much reduced but there will be a lot more people of Hardcastle descent in Hypothica.

Which would you prefer?


  • Kingfisher12

    I prefer culture.

    I think this is the Roman ideal, and one that permeates most concepts of Empire.

    Even in empires that promoted an ideal of racial superiority and racial purity (many of them), few of them suggested that the master race should be a majority. Most figured that the ideal situation would be a small ruling class of racial elites over a vast empire of inferior races.

    My guess is that even though the people of Highcastle ancestry constitute a minority in the original timeline, they occupy most of the positions of power, and in general are more influential than the average Hypothican of different ancestry. Globally, it would seem that the original timeline is better for the Highcastle Race overall, even though they don’t constitute a majority.

    I think even most racists would prefer the original timeline.

    • whtllnew

      In the new timeline you have about 30% more descendants. Does that affect your answer? Would a higher number affect your answer?

      • Kingfisher12

        For me, the number of direct descendants would be less important than the relative status of my ideological descendants.

        As an important figure in Highcastle, it would be more important to be immortalized in the history books, than in the gene pool. And I’d prefer to have a few descendants that honored me with their greatness, than a multitude of posterity that live below their heritage.

  • Matthew Schweigert

    I would need to know how my descendants faired in either time line. That likely answers your question.

    • whtllnew

      Assume that, in the new, altered timeline you have 30% more descendants and the ones still behind in Hardcastle did just as well in both timelines while the Hypothica descendants have ten times as much land (not ten times as much money, ten times as much land).

      • Matthew Schweigert

        Sounds like a toss up. Possession of land may be the oldest recognized form of wealth but a strong lineage is as close as we may get to immortality.

  • Kit.

    Which would you prefer?

    I would prefer to imprison him for a year.

  • André Leclerc

    Immigration works great as long as the civilizations at play are compatible and the melting runs smoothly.

    No problem for the 1750-2000 A.D. bracket, not so much from 2000 and up.

    The choice I would make then and the one I would make going forward would be different.

  • If I’m interpreting the scenario correctly, are you saying that Hypothica has 10x fewer people under the “late breakaway” scenario than it did under the “early breakaway” original scenario? That seems very unlikely, why on earth wouldn’t the 19th century Hypothica colony have taken as many immigrants as (say) the 19th century independent Hypothican nation did, surely the economic factors would have been largely the same whether Hypothica was still a colony or an independent nation in the 19th century?

    To me, I don’t think I’d care very much about which of the two scenarios was kept. In both cases, Hypothica’s culture is largely based on Hardcastle’s culture, and in both cases Hypothica seems successful and prosperous. Actually in fact I suspect that the x10 Hypothica would be much more dynamic and successful due to the extra immigrants and their hard work over generations, but I appreciate that I hold a minority viewpoint re: immigration.

    So in both cases Hypothica and Hardcastle can be close allies and enjoy a special relationship (I think I’ve guessed who “Hardcastle” are based on:-)).

    • whtllnew

      [why on earth wouldn’t the 19th century Hypothica colony have taken as many immigrants as (say) the 19th century independent Hypothican nation did,]

      I don’t know. Why did Canada take in so few immigrants that we currently have ten times the population in spite of being about the same size?

      • I’m afraid I’ve no idea why Canada didn’t take so few immigrants? Kingfisher, our resident Canadian, any thoughts?

      • Kingfisher12

        It didn’t.

        Canada has always had about 10% the population of the USA (as far as 1851 – before Canada gained independence)

        The growth rate of Canada and the USA has been roughly the same for their entire history. Higher in some decades, lower in others. We have a lot more land, it’s true, but in general most of it is less hospitable to people than it is south of the 49th.

        And in general, the composition of immigration has been similar too, with the exception of the forced immigration in early US history. In more recent history it’s diverged a little – you get more immigration from Latin America, we get more from Asia.

        Culturally, I guess we are slightly more ‘British’ than the US., (Quebec would disagree), but in fact I think both Canada and the US are more in line with 17th century British culture than 21st century Britain is.

        If The USA had not separated from Britain when it did, but instead all separated as a whole country a century or so later, I would bet that the combined, larger Dominion of America would have a Westminster system of government, but would be culturally, demographically, economically, and militarily similar to what exists now (maybe a little less belligerent). Be less isolationist, and the British Commonwealth would dominate the whole world (And America would dominate the Commonwealth).

        • Interesting points, KingFisher, glad to hear that population growth rates in the US and Canada are very similar. On the cultural point, I’m sure you’re right about 17th century British culture vs 21st century British culture; of course that could cut both ways, perhaps 21st century British culture is better than it was in the 17th century:-)

          On your last speculation, it’s arguable that America with a Westminster style government could actually avoid most of the recent gridlock frustrations, by having fewer checks and balances on the Executive branch. Of course, that could also cut both ways!