"Fanatics have their dreams, wherewith they weave
A paradise for a sect"
Keats, The Fall of Hyperion
The six million Belters are a diffuse population, scattered across hundreds of habitats and thousands of ships. Most of these habitats are in the main belt itself, although Belter groups also inhabit the Saturnian rings and the Kuiper belt. The Belt habitats are a technological wonderland, a collection of artificial worlds with unnatural landscapes replete with wonders.
The fundamental social and organizational unit of the Belt is the polis. Each of the poleis consists of a set of linked, self-governing habitats and their associated factories and mining ships.
Of necessity, the Belt habitats are self-contained ecosystems, capable of sustaining life for an indefinite period using only solar or nuclear power. This lack of reliance on external resources makes it almost impossible for groups from outside the habitat to impose any kind of structure on their societies- it is relatively easy to destroy a cylinder city, but much harder to control it. As a result the Belt hosts a huge diversity of synthetic phylai. There are myriad systems of government, social structures and moral philosophies. The governmental systems alone are almost too numerous to list: agoric societies, communist states, autocracies, anarchies, democracies, parthenogenetic hives, theocracies, transhuman collectives, and even monarchies and other similarly implausible systems. Indeed it is said that every such system ever invented by humanity is in use somewhere in the Belt.
However, despite the great diversity of the asteroid cities, most of the inhabitants of the asteroids consider themselves as Belters, a group totally distinct from the 'flatlanders' of Earth and Mars. The Belt, as far as it exists at all, is this region of shared culture that extends throughout the main belt and stretches more tenuously into the outer system.
The Belt has no overall government, but the hard work of the Ceres Diplomatic Service has managed to minimise open conflicts between the rival factions.
The future of Ad Astra