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The colonial empire of the United Nations enabled by the Charter of 2280, and that evolved into a nearly totalitarian state ruled by the largest and wealthiest Corporations.
During the Age of Consolidation that historians call the late twentieth, twenty-first, and twenty-second centuries, Corporations consolidated in a manner similar to the nation states of the time. Competition became limited to three to five enterprises in each industry or marketplace, and tightly managed to the mutual benefit of the competitors within governmental regulations. Product dominance was negotiated so that all the competitors could operate profitably to the satisfaction of their shareholders.
By the end of the twenty-second century, space transportation technology had made possible the economical colonization and exploitation of the inner solar system and the inner gas giant planets. Upstart enterprises began competing with the established multi-national corporations for asteroid mineral rights and settlement rights on the Moon, Mars, and the moons of Jupiter and Saturn. The United Nations executive branch was overtaxed by the massive Tower project and the completion of the nation state integration into a planet-wide governmental bureaucracy. The demands on a professional bureaucracy coupled with the political pressures placed on the General Assembly by the Corporations’ lobby, and an inept Chief Executive created an explosive mixture that Pieter ter Houck and the Committee of Fifty-One acted to resolve.
The Corporations Colonial Charter of 2280 – or The Charter in common reference – was a revolutionary document in human history. It was the ultimate consolidation: The synthesis of government and commerce into one entity. Under the Charter, the Corporations –acting as a legislative, executive, and judicial body – had complete control over the Terran colonial expansion. Corporations were free to operate their colonial holdings as they saw fit. Employees were at the complete mercy of the Corporation because, within the colony, the management controlled all commerce, food, housing, goods, and services.