Why So Many Raiders?

That is a valid and legitimate question. Why should there be a persistent and almost permanent caste of raiders, wastelanders, and general human scum in a setting where space travel is no more dramatic than trans-continental travel in the Petroleum Era? Shouldn't technology and social systems be more than sufficient to eliminate the underlying causes of raider culture? Shouldn't world governments and hypercorps be more than able to deal with a lawless wasteland?

The short answer is yes, the Cosmic Era has every tool to end the Wastelands, end the longstanding Raider culture, and resettle and re-civilize the entire globe. The reason why is more complicated.

1. Raider is Mad Max Punk, and the Aesthetic is Cool

This is the most important reason, Raiders and their violent culture, their complete lack of civility, is cool. It's cathartic because the Raider is simple, a raw bundle of urges that wants to just get paid, laid, and altered through drugs. Wasteland punk is cool, the Raiders are a heavily armed version of Burning Man meets Mad Max, meets Cyberpunk.

2. Cultural Atavism

Every society needs a pressure release valve, and one of the problems today is that there is no release valve. There is nowhere to go, no escape, so tensions keep rising. To keep people calm and level in the Cosmic Era, the malcontents, dissidents, troublemakers, and such are simply thrown out of the Arco-cities. They go outside the wall to survive or die, and the outcome doesn't matter to the arco dwellers, or the people who live in space, or on the offworld colonies.

Raiders have their own niche in the Cosmic Era, they are part of the forbidden. Raider goods and art are prized inside the arco cities, partly because they are hard to acquire and not really repeatable to Cosmic Era technology. Another aspect is the fetishization of the raider. They are commonly depicted in low brow media as violent hypersexual demi-monsters. Raider females are the object of femmedom fantasies. Raider males are spun into degenerate miscegenation, cuckold, and rape fantasies. To arco-dwellers, raiders are the degenerates that gnaw at the edges of society, a fetish, a race to be discriminated against, a feral sort of savage that can be put on display like aborigines and pygmies were in the 17th and 18th centuries.

3. Durkheim and Arcopolarization

Durkheim's Theory is one of my favorites, you can't have a large well funded police state if you don't have a large well funded threat to society to justify the cost. The Arcologies and the people in power are in favor of authoritarian systems and central controls. Having the existence of the Wastelands and the Raider culture is a huge justification for having militarized police, fortress cities, and an Orwellian surveillance state. And if the police state rubs someone the wrong way, see section 2. Without the Raiders, the arco-cities would look much worse as a personal choice.

4. Corporate Incarceration

Resources in terms of space and manpower in the Cosmic Era are limited, and one of the offenses of the Petroleum Era was not the Police State, it was the Prison State. Rather than keep a massive number of people in prisons for profit, the Cosmic Era has the option to use the militaristic police and fortress cities to simply take criminals and throw them out of the cities, exile to the Wasteland, fresh meat for the raiders. This lets the state use exile as an effective deterrent. Anything justifying long term imprisonment is easily handled with exile. The same goes for almost any other crime. Rather than putting rapists and murderers in prison, they're exiled. This isn't being tossed out the doors, that is saved for soft dissidents. Hard criminals and psychopaths are flown well away from the arcologies and are left in the Wastelands near some Raider camp. Live or die, it means nothing to the arco boys.

5. The Orbital Faction

The Atlantic Federation is making the transition from a Terrestrial power to a Solar Power. An increasing amount of its social and cultural elite are leaving Earth. The Federation corps are moving their operations offworld as well. Banking and finance, stock markets and investment firms are now staging themselves from arcologies in space, in orbit, on other moons or planets. Luna is the new Cayman Islands. No one living on a three mile wide chrome wheel in space is going to give two shits about poor people on Earth. To them, the Arco-dwellers are the middle class, and the Wastelands are not even worth noticing. No one cares if the rats in the landfill are fighting.

6. The Glassenheim Foundation

The Glassenheim Foundation, which is covered in the Orbital Faction section, has its own uses for the Raiders and the Wastelands. The Anunnaki are playing a very long game about world domination. They have insinuated themselves into the Atlantic Federation and have major inroads in organizations like {SEMDRC] and the other hypercorps. Like Durkheim, the Anunnaki have a use for the Wastelands and the Raiders. They are part of the Utopia Initiative. Ultimately the Raiders will have a major role in destabilizing the terrestrial governments as well as their actions slowly and surely removing the ruins of the Petroleum Era, clearing the way for the Anunnaki's vision of an Edenic Earth, free from man's contamination where only they will have dominion.

7. Viral Programming and Gene Manipulation

The men and women who are fed to the Wastelands are modified before they are set loose into the wild. As per all the above items listed, it would be problematic if the Wastelanders banded together and created their own faction. Nothing ruins a nation's plans quite like another nation appearing and contesting them and their plans. The modifications are made in the exile process, usually through the administration of vaccines. The cover story is that they don't want the exiles to get off easy, dying from diseases long eradicated in the Arco-cities. There is no dengue fever, malaria, cholera, smallpox, and other ancient stalkers of humanity inside the great cities. Outside, that is not the case. There is a viral load in the vaccines as well. The gene editing virus causes a number of changes in a host, the most obvious being an increase in the size of the adrenal glands as well as profound changes in the parts of the brain that govern aggression, reproductive urges, and self-preservation.

Raiders have been genetically modded to be violent, horny, insular people suited to tribal level subsistence.

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