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Society, including clothing styles and fashion in general, are all rather more conservative and old-fashioned-seeming than the real world.

Most people in the world, or at least in the great powers, work a six day week with Sunday off. Most people do not travel far from their place of birth other than when in military or government service.

Religion, particularly Christianity, has remained strong over the centuries rather than being whittled away. This has partly arisen because of the existence of a strong religious power in the New Commonwealth, which has kept other nations religious as a reaction to it. In most areas the state religion combines state support with a good deal more real belief than in the real world, although also a great many people who only pay lip service to the church. No-one, not even the Dutch, imagines that a state without a church forming a major part of it is practical, or even possible. Even if non-Christian (such as Islam), a state religion of one sort or another is considered a necessity for every nation.

Most nations conduct prayers before action, and before meetings of all sorts.

Racism and sexism remain largely institutionalised, though there are varying degrees of tolerance in different places around the world. Homophobia is institutionalised everywhere.

Although by real world standards quite backwards in its stance on social affairs, the Catholic Church in Puritan World does allow its services to be conducted in the local language of the worshippers. The current Pope is Alexander X.

All nations believe in, and use, the death penalty, and all of them use beatings and generally some form of torture as a standard part of the interrogation process. All also practise at least some form of gun control.

There are no internationally-applicable laws equivalent to the Geneva Convention that govern the treatment of prisoners of war and other such matters.

Slavery still exists in the non-Commonwealth parts of the world, although the Commonwealth effectively destroyed the slave trade by the early nineteenth century. Most slaves are found in the South American and African colonies of European powers, and in the Ottoman Empire, though there are some in Europe itself. Many European nations use slavery as a criminal punishment, or simply as a way of disposing of political opponents of various kinds.

Most nations have some form of National Service, usually military in nature.

Duelling still exists among the upper classes of Europe. However, since the machine gun industrialised war, and particularly since the Russian War, it has been in decline, and although duels do occasionally happen, they are unusual, and outside of a few of the Italian states, normally at least nominally illegal.

With Britain wracked by religious strife and civil wars, and with its society much less free because of this, it became much less of a haven for religious and other dissidents. North America, firmly under the control of the Puritan New Commonwealth, also did not provide such a haven. Only the Netherlands did so, and even it was limited because of its wish to avoid too much unnecessary conflict with its neighbours.

This has led to the ideals of the Enlightenment becoming far less deeply rooted than in the real world. Instead, in most of the monarchies of Europe, the victory of the monarchy over the aristocracy and commons alike has become complete. This has led to a world with fewer incentives for entrepreneurship, more class barriers, more centralization, and more government control. Along with other causes, this has significantly delayed its industrial revolution compared to the real world.

There has been little development of either Romanticism or genuine Nationalism, and there are no totalitarian political movements similar to those of the real world. However, there is also very little democracy and little freedom. Virtually every country in the world is quite rigidly authoritarian. Class systems also tend to be very rigid. The poor are poorer, and the rich richer than at the same technological level in the real world.

People tend to see their loyalty to their country as a matter of loyalty to monarch and church, rather than to an abstract nation or an ethnic identity. As a result, the European empires are less challenged both at home and abroad. Opposition tends to still take the form of competing sects, traditionalist movements in non-Western colonies, and dynastic pretenders almost everywhere.

However, these factors have not produced any revolutionary ferment such as that found in the backward monarchies of the real world, as there is little to inspire them. Instead, it generates a great deal of pessimism regarding this world, and a focus on the next.

All of this makes opposition movements quite easy for the active secret police networks of all of the major nations to track. Sometimes they do their best simply to destroy these movements. In others they simply observe and infiltrate them.

Many European nations encourage all of the forms of entertainment that are banned in the New Commonwealth, in particular theatre, cabaret, alcohol, tobacco, singing, dancing and the eating of fine food are widespread. Propaganda-based cabarets poking fun at the New Commonwealth are also always popular.

Most nations provide at least a basic level of free education to all of their people, and have some form of welfare state in place. However, in the majority of these nations, the limit of the welfare state is the provision of workhouses for the unemployed, to ensure that they do not starve in the streets while also providing them with a means of contributing to society. Some of these workhouses are reasonably civilised places to live. Others are more than a little hellish.

In the New Commonwealth this welfare state has been extended to include the provision of universal medical care and education. In other nations people have to provide for themselves. For the rich this is, of course, not a problem, but for the poor this normally requires their paying in to one of various forms of health insurance. The exact form of this insurance varies from nation to nation.

The World in 1996 | The New Commonwealth | The Octuple Alliance | The Rest of the World

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